Saturday, September 30, 2017

52 Pins in 52 Weeks - A Few Pins I've Done Lately

I love Pinterest!  I love pinning directly from my favorite blogs as well as just going through the stuff other people have pinned and getting some ideas from them.  The problem is that lately we've been trying to steer clear of rich heavy foods and sweets which of course is most of my pins.  So my relationship with Pinterest become more of a love/hate relationship than the previous unicorns and rainbows.  However, things are on the up and I'm finding things that work for us and this healthier lifestyle we're trying out.

So here are a few recipes that I've made and loved lately -

1.  One Sheet Pan Roasted Garlic-Parmesan Chicken Tenders and Green Beans with Fresh Grape Tomatoes from Cooking Classy  - This one was so good and so easy!  I finished the green beans off with a sprinkle of Maldon salt and they were absolutely delicious.  This has been one of favorite meals lately.  Sometimes I'll add some brown rice or roast some red potatoes but this also works for a meal all on its own.

2.  Slow Cooker Asian Sweet Chili Sesame Chicken from Carlsbad Cravings - I've been relying on my Slow Cooker a pretty good bit so this one appealed to me.  While the store bought sweet chili sauce does have some sugar in it the rest of the sauce isn't loaded with brown sugar which is a problem I've had with a lot of other Asian inspired sauces.  With steamed vegetables and brown rice this is a quick yummy dinner and typically provides quite a lot of left overs.

3.  Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas from The Recipe Critic - We love tacos around here and this recipe is a fun twist on the usual chicken soft tacos we regularly have.  I didn't crisp up the edges and I ended up having to replace half the orange juice with red wine vinegar because the oranges I had weren't feeling particularly generous.  With homemade tortillas and a little bit of a spicy crema this was delicioius!

4.  Brown Sugar Oatmeal Cookies from the Pioneer Woman - Everyone deserves a treat and these cookies make even my neutral at best about oatmeal cookies husband happy.  What I really like is that this recipe is super easy to half so you end up with a manageable amount of delicious oatmeal cookies!

What Pins have you done lately?  (And sorry for the lack of pictures! Next time will be better!)

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

Friday, September 29, 2017

Friday Linkups - The Betrayed

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:
Have you ever slept with a favorite, beloved book under your pillow, or cradled in your arms?

My Answer:
No I haven't though I do have a mild panic attack is my Kindle isn't exactly where I thought it was.  Does that count?

I'm getting ready for Halloween with this week's book The Betrayed by Heather Graham.  I love her Krewe of Hunters series.  There's paranormal crime and some good romantic suspense.  This one involves ghosts, beheadings, and the heroine has a really big dog which makes me happy!

The Beginning:
"They got me, my old friend.  They got me."
Aidan Mahoney woke with a start.

My Thoughts:
I'm very glad I can't see ghosts.  Being woken up like this sounds exhausting!

The 56:
"Yes, but... thankfully, the victims were dead before their heads were removed."

My Thoughts:
When the victim being dead before having their head removed is the good news I'm thinking it's not a good day.

So what do you think?  Keep reading?

Thursday, September 28, 2017

A Cajun Christmas Killing - Cozy Mystery Review + Giveaway

A Cajun Christmas Killing: A Cajun Country Mystery by Ellen Byron

A Cajun Christmas Killing: A Cajun Country Mystery Cozy Mystery 3rd in Series Crooked Lane Books (October 10, 2017) Hardcover: 304 pages ISBN-13: 978-1683313052 E-Book ASIN: B06XW23LPG

Maggie Crozat is back home in bayou country during the most magical time of the year. In Pelican, Louisiana, Christmastime is a season of giant bonfires on the levee, zydeco carols, and pots of gumbo. Except, this year, the Grinch has come to stay at the family-run Crozat Plantation B&B. When he floods travel websites with vicious reviews, Maggie thinks she’s identified him as rival businessman Donald Baxter. That is, until he’s found stabbed to death at Maggie’s workplace. And Maggie and her loved ones become top suspects. The Crozats quickly establish alibis, but Maggie’s boyfriend, Detective Bo Durand, remains under suspicion. With Bo sidelined during the investigation, Maggie finds herself forced to work with an unlikely ally: longtime family enemy Rufus Durand. Her sleuthing uncovers more suspects than drummers drumming, and lands her in the crosshairs of the murderer. The sleigh bells are jingling, and the clock is ticking for Maggie and Rufus, who must catch the killer or it will be the opposite of a Joyeux Noël in A Cajun Christmas Killing, the recipe-stuffed third installment of USA Today bestselling author Ellen Byron’s Cajun Country mysteries.
My Thoughts:  Honestly, I was surprised to see that the author isn't a resident of Louisiana.  This is not a window dressing setting.  I felt like this was taking place right in the middle of small town Louisiana complete with references to the humidity and an eccentric cast.  I loved catching up with the Crozat family - especially Maggie's Grandmother who is always an entertaining character.   The mystery is well-plotted and thoroughly enjoyable though after reading the first two I really expect no less.  It was an extra treat to have former nemesis Rufus Durand turn into a partner in crime as he and Maggie have to work together to clear Bo as well as catch the murderer.  Rufus has been a little over the top nemesis-y in the last two books so I really enjoyed seeing his character fleshed out a little more in this book as well as getting some relationship growth between Maggie and Bo.  If you enjoy cozy mysteries and you haven't read this series you need to fix that ASAP!  This is a fun series with solid mysteries and characters I love to visit. Rating: Very Good

About The Author
Body on the Bayou, the second in Ellen's Cajun Country Mystery series, won the Left Coast Crime Lefty Award for Best Humorous Mystery, and was nominated for a Best Contemporary Novel Agatha Award. Her debut book in the series, Plantation Shudders, made the USA Today Bestsellers list, and was nominated for Agatha, Lefty, and Daphne awards. Ellen is also a recipient of a William F. Deeck-Malice Domestic Grant from the Malice Domestic Convention. Her TV credits include Wings, Still Standing, and Just Shoot Me, as well as network and cable pilots. As a journalist, she's written over 200 magazine articles for national publications. Her plays, published by Dramatists Play Service, include the popular Graceland and Asleep on the Wind. A native New Yorker and graduate of Tulane University, Ellen lives in the Los Angeles area with her husband, daughter, and the family’s spoiled rescue dogs.
Author Links
Purchase Links Amazon B&N
 a Rafflecopter giveaway

September 17 – Island Confidential - CHARACTER INTERVIEW
September 17 – 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, & Sissy, Too! – SPOTLIGHT September 18 – Valerie's Musings - GUEST POST
September 18 – Bibliophile Reviews – INTERVIEW 
September 19 – A Holland Reads – GUEST POST
September 20 – Girl with Book Lungs - REVIEW, CHARACTER INTERVIEW
September 20 – A Cozy Experience – REVIEW
September 21 – My Journey Back - REVIEW, INTERVIEW
September 22 – Readeropolis – INTERVIEW
September 23 – Bookworm Cafe - REVIEW, INTERVIEW
September 24 – Mystery Thrillers and Romantic Suspense Reviews - SPOTLIGHT
September 25 – Cozy Up With Kathy - CHARACTER GUEST POST
September 25 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW
September 25 – View from the Birdhouse – REVIEW
September 26 – The Mysterious Ink Spot – REVIEW
September 26 – StoreyBook Reviews – REVIEW \
September 27 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – INTERVIEW
September 27 – A Blue Million Books - CHARACTER INTERVIEW
September 28 – I Wish I Lived in a Library – REVIEW
September 28 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW
September 29 – Brooke Blogs – CHARACTER GUEST POST
September 29 – Teresa Trent Author Blog – REVIEW
September 30 – Varietats – REVIEW
October 1 – Back Porchervations – REVIEW
October 1 – Melina's Book Blog - REVIEW, GUEST POST

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Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Sleep Like a Baby - Mystery Review

Sleep Like a Baby (An Aurora Teagarden Mystery) by Charlaine Harris

Rating: Good
Source: NetGalley

Description:  In the latest installment of the #1 New York Times Bestselling Charlaine Harris's Aurora Teagarden series, Robin and Aurora have finally begun their adventure in parenting. With newborn Sophie proving to be quite a handful, Roe's mother pays for a partially trained nurse, Virginia Mitchell, to come help the new parents for a few weeks. Virginia proves to be especially helpful when Robin has to leave town for work and Roe is struck with a bad case of the flu.One particularly stormy night, Roe wakes to hear her daughter crying and Virginia nowhere to be found. Roe's brother Philip helps her search the house and they happen upon a body outside... but it isn't Virginia's. Now, not only does she have a newborn to care for and a vulnerable new marriage to nurture, Roe also has to contend with a new puzzle - who is this mystery woman dead in their backyard, and what happened to Virginia? This heart-pounding and exciting next installment of the Aurora Teagarden series will leave fans happy and hungry for more.

Genre: Mystery

Why I Picked This Book:  I love this mystery series and was so excited to see it was back last year.

My Impression: I'm a little biased because I love these characters.  I've been with Aurora through a strange inheritance, a few failed relationships, and a whole bunch of other things.  So I love seeing her becoming a mom, being happy with Robin, and with a good relationship with Phillip, her half-brother.  I also loved the actual mystery here.  Where did the babysitter go and just who is the dead woman in the backyard?  There were several scenes in this one that just gave me chills.  I was wrapped up in the mystery right from the start and didn't want to put it down.

However, there were a few flaws.  I mentioned I'd been a reader of the series from the beginning but the previous book came out last year and the one before that came out almost ten years ago or so.  The problem is that the book references a few events and characters from long ago.  And it's not a "this character from book 3 was at the grocery store and we said hello" kind of mention.  It's important to the mystery.  I found myself clutching at shadows trying to remember things that had happened years ago which detracted from my reading experience.  I'm not sure what it would be like reading this one if you were completely new to the series.

So while this isn't my favorite in the series it was still a lot of fun.  Catching up with Aurora, Robin, and Phillip and the side characters is like catching up with old friends.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Absolutely!  I'm already waiting for the next book and would love to reread this series.

Would I Recommend this Book? If you enjoy mysteries this is a great series.  While most mysteries can be read at any order this series is one you might want to start at the beginning with.  There is a lot of character development.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday - Books with Characters Who Do Go Home Again

This week's Top Ten Tuesday topic from The Broke and the Bookish is Books That Feature Characters Who x.  I'm focusing on characters who are coming home because that's one of my very favorite plots though normally at the beginning the character is not in a good place having lost their job, had a nasty breakup/divorce, or frequently both.  But they usually also end up finding out what actually makes them happy and finding their place in the world which is some of my favorite feel good reading.  Here's a few of my favorites.

1.  The Cafe by the Sea by Jenny Colgan -  This was a recent read for me but I absolutely loved it.  Flora escaped her tiny little Scottish island just as soon as she could and fled to the far more glamorous London.  When we meet Flora at the beginning of the book she's a little immature and desperate to stand out though all she seems to do is fade into the background.  When work sends her back to her home she resists with everything she has.  The last half especially is pure comfort reading!

2.  Better Get to Livin' by Sally Kilpatrick - This was one of those accidental NetGalley grabs where I didn't really know what I was getting but ended up absolutely loving it.  Presley Cline has come home to small town Tennessee after her Hollywood dreams crash and burn with the help of some compromising photos.  There's ghosts, a little bit of romance, and a whole lot of humor!

3.  The Liar by Nora Roberts - I had found a few of the previous books from Roberts a little on the meh side until I picked this one up by chance at the library and remembered why I enjoyed her books so much.  Shelby Foxworth is a new widow and recovering from a terrifyingly abusive marriage as well as crippling financial debt.  She takes her 3 year old daughter back to Tennessee and reconnects with family and herself.  It's fairly predictable but completely enjoyable.

4.  Plantation Shudders by Ellen Byron - Maggie Crozat has returned from New York to her family's plantation B&B in Louisiana and lands in murder right from the start.  There's a quirky family, a little bit of romance, some interesting romance and all kinds of murder.

5.  Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen - So I'm late to the Sarah Addison Allen fan club but I'm definitely a full fledged member.  This book was wonderful and I loved seeing Sydney's journey home as well as Claire learning to accept that she's back.

6.  A Holiday for Murder by Agatha Christie - There's a few people returning home for Christmas this year - there's a prodigal son, an old friend (or is he), and the granddaughter who is returning to a home she's never visited.  There's lots of Christmas cheer as well as Christie's most violent murder - dedicated to her brother-in-law who wanted something bloody.

7.  Twisted Threads by Lea Wait - Angie Curtis left small town Maine as soon as she could - running from her mother's notoriety as well as the mystery of what happened to her.  Now her grandmother needs her and Angie comes home though it's not quite what she expected it to be.

8.  Daring to Dream by Nora Roberts - This is an old one from Nora Roberts but I love it.  Margo's glamorous model life goes up in smoke after her money runs out and some compromising photos kills her career.  She comes home to her friends, her mother she's never thought understood her, and the man she never quite got off her mind.  Just thinking about this one makes me want to do a reread!

9.  Meet Your Baker by Ellie Alexander - Jules Capshaw comes home to work in the family bakery - Torte - after life as a cruise ship pastry chef loses its sparkle.  There's a whole lot of murder in this pretty theater town in Oregon but Torte has become one of my favorite fictional places.  If you enjoy foodie cozies this is one not to miss.

10. The Beach at Painter's Cove by Shelley Noble - I'd wanted to read Shelley Noble for years because her covers are always so pretty so I jumped at the chance to read this one and loved it.  After her grandmother has a bad fall Izzy goes home to the place she always loved but felt pushed out of.  There's family secrets, some misunderstandings and so much rebuilding.

What are your favorite books that feature characters who do go home again?

Monday, September 25, 2017

The Winter Wedding Plan - Blog Tour Contemporary Women's Fiction Review

The Winter Wedding Plan by Olivia Miles

Rating: Very Good
Source: Publisher

Description:  Charlotte Daniels has made her share of mistakes, but now that she's a single mom, she vows to do better--and that starts with a new career. Working at her sister's event-planning company is just the fresh start she needs.
Kate Daniels has finally forgiven Charlotte for her betrayal, but forgetting it is harder. But as the holidays approach and Kate has her own wedding to plan, she has no choice but to turn to Charlotte for help to throw a high-profile client the holiday party of the season.

Charlotte leaps at the chance to redeem herself . . . until this irresistible client asks her to pretend to be his fiancée for the party. She knows their charade won't come without consequences--not just for her fresh start with Kate, but also for her own daughter.

As Kate's wedding draws near and Charlotte's fake romance starts to feel more and more real, will she fall back into the mistakes of her past, or finally prove herself to Kate once and for all?

Genre: Women's Fiction/ Contemporary Romance

Why I Picked This Book:  I really enjoyed the previous book in this series and I was really looking forward to reading Charlotte's story since she was kind of the villain in the last book.

My Impression:  I love a pretend romance turned not so pretend!  It's definitely on my list of favorite tropes.  This however isn't the fun romp this trope typically is.  These characters have some serious issues.  Charlotte started out as the villain in the first book, One Week to the Wedding, though it became apparent by the end that all was not as it seemed.  In this book the focus is much more on Charlotte and if anyone needs a hug and a helping hand it's her.   What she thought was a new beginning is quickly falling into pieces around here and she's desperate to prove to her family that she's not the irresponsible selfish child she was before as well as committed to earning a second chance with her sister Kate.

I couldn't help but root for Charlotte and while she did make things harder on herself by not fully explaining her precarious financial position to her family I understood her reasoning.  I did want to shake her family for not really looking at Charlotte and realizing just how close to breaking she was.

Greg Frost is a bit like Charlotte, alone and trying to be everything to everyone else all at once.  The fake relationship is offered in desperation and accepted in desperation but it was wonderful to watch the act of desperation start to lead to a little more strength and maybe even a little bit of healing.  Olivia Miles' books aren't fun romps but they are sweet with lots of heart and characters that seem like friends.

Would I Recommend this Book?  I would!  This is a good series with lots of feels.  If you haven't read the first book you'd probably be okay jumping in here though to really understand the dynamics between Kate and Charlotte you should go back and read One Week to the Wedding.  I don't think you'll be disappointed!

Sunday, September 24, 2017

This Week in Reading - September 24

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:

Just one this week!

Promise Not to Tell by Jayne Ann Krentz - I requested this awhile ago but wasn't sure if I was going to get it so I was super excited when the approval came through.  Krentz has proven to be an author I really enjoy.  I'd love to tackle her backlist but for now reading her current books is working out okay!  (NetGalley)


Reading: Last Christmas in Paris by Hazel Gaynor and Stolen Marriage by Diane Chamberlain

Listening:  I just finished Faithful and am now waiting for The Chilbury Ladies' Choir by Jennifer Ryan.  I'm next on the list!

Watching:  I started watching Steampunk'd on Hulu which is a competition show involving teams designing Steampunk inspired rooms.  I'm not really a big fan of Steampunk but this show has proven super addictive!

Off the Blog:

This weekend we are camping!  We probably should stay home and get stuff done since we're heading to Disney next weekend but the weather's too good to pass up and I'm really looking forward to just hanging out and relaxing.  We are actually staying local but the park is gorgeous and we got a campsite over looking the city so I think it'll be really pretty at night.

On the Blog:

What Happened:

What's Coming Up:

Monday: The Winter Wedding Plan - Contemporary Romance Review
Tuesday:  Top Ten Tuesday - Books That Feature Characters Who Come Home
Wednesday:  Sleep Like a Baby - Mystery Review
Thursday: A Cajun Christmas Killing - Cozy Mystery Review
Friday: Friday Linkups with current book
Saturday: What I've been doing on Pinterest These Days

Have a great week and happy reading!

Saturday, September 23, 2017

To Be Where You Are - Fiction Review

To Be Where You Are (A Mitford Novel) by Jan Karon (Amazon)

Rating: Good
Source: Publisher

Description:   After twelve years of wrestling with the conflicts of retirement, Father Tim Kavanagh realizes he doesn't need a steady job to prove himself. Then he's given one--but what, exactly, does it prove? Meanwhile, newly married Dooley and Lace face a crisis that empties their bank account and turns their household upside down. Is the honeymoon over? Is this where real life begins? As the Mitford Muse editor stumbles on a quick fix for marital woes and the town grocer falls in love for the first time, Father Tim and Cynthia receive an invitation to yet another family wedding.
But perhaps the bottom line is this: While a star blinks out in the Mitford firmament, another soon blinks on at Meadowgate, and four-year-old Jack Tyler looks forward to the biggest day of his life--for now and forever.
Jan Karon weaves together the everyday lives of two families, and the cast of characters that readers around the world now love like kin.

Genre:  Fiction

Why I Picked This Book:  I've heard of Karon's beloved Mitford series for years so I couldn't pass up the chance to read the newest release.

My Impression: After reading this one I completely understand why this series is so loved.  These characters are REAL.  They're not perfect but they're not over-flawed, they're just your regular everyday people leading their regular everyday lives and trying to do their best and I couldn't helpu but fall a bit in love with them and the town of Mitford as a whole.

I think my favorite story line involved Dooley, Lace, and Jack Tyler.  Jack Tyler is such a sweet heart though he didn't ring quite true as a 4 year old.  Their struggles take the whole "when it rains it pours" expressions to new levels - some in a literal sense - and it felt so authentic.  I enjoyed Father Tim and Cynthia's story line as well though they didn't have very much page time.  Avis, who runs The Local, started out as kind of grumpy but it didn't take me to long to develop a soft spot for him.

This book is just nice.  The characters are nice, the town is nice and it was a thoroughly nice experience reading it!  While it did take me some time to get everyone straight and Karon confused me occasionally by jumping focus without making it clear just who exactly we were focusing on.  This was probably my only issue with coming into the series so late.  However, this in no way affected my enjoyment of the read. I completely understand just why this series is so popular and I"m looking forward to visiting Mitford again soon.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  I would!  This is a great hot tea and a warm blanket kind of book when you're wanting something calm and sweet without being sappy and a bit of humor.

Would I Recommend this Book?  I would.  This isn't a quick or action paced read but it's calming and nice and like visiting with old friends.  If you're in the mood for that than I think you'd enjoy this book.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Friday Linkups - Splintered

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:
In regards to banned book week, what are your favorite books that have been banned or challenged?

My Answer:
Going off this list of the most commonly challenged books in the U.S. I think 2 of my favorites are The Great Gatsby by F.Scott Fitzgerald and Wrinkle in Time Madeline L'Engle.

This week's book is a little different from my usual reads in that I don't typically read fantasy or YA and Splintered by A.G. Howard is both.  I am, however, really enjoying it and all it's wonderful terrifying weirdness!

The Beginning:
I've been collecting bugs since I was ten; it's the only way I can stop their whispers.

My Thoughts:
This is a pretty good indication that our main character is not your run of the mill average high school student!

The 56:
"She lost it," I blurt. "Attacked me."

My Thoughts:
And another indication that all is not well - especially since the main character is talking about her mother in this one.

So what do you think?  Keep reading?  What banned or challenged book is your favorite?

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Wicked Deeds - Romantic Suspense Review

Wicked Deeds (Krewe of Hunters) by Heather Graham (Amazon)

Rating: Very Good
Source: NetGalley

Description:  Eager to start their life together, historian Vickie Preston and Special Agent Griffin Pryce take a detour en route to their new home in Virginia and stop for a visit in Baltimore. But their romantic weekend is interrupted when a popular author is found dead in the basement of an Edgar Allan Poe-themed restaurant. Because of the mysterious circumstances surrounding the corpse, the FBI's Krewe of Hunters paranormal team is invited to investigate. As more bizarre deaths occur, Vickie and Griffin are drawn into a case that has disturbing echoes of Poe's great works, bringing the horrors of his fiction to life.
The restaurant is headquarters to scholars and fans, and any of them could be a merciless killer. Except there's also something reaching out from beyond the grave. The late, great Edgar Allan Poe himself is appearing to Vickie in dreams and visions with cryptic information about the murders. Unless they can uncover whose twisted mind is orchestrating the dramatic re-creations, Vickie and Griffin's future as a couple might never begin...

Genre: Romantic Suspense - Paranormal

Why I Picked This Book:  I can never resist a Krewe book.  I've also really come to like Vickie and Griffin and how can I resist a book where the ghost of Edgar Allan Poe visits.

My Impression: This checked so many boxes for me!  History, historical mysteries, and ghosts are all things that make me a happy reader and this had all 3 in spades.  I really enjoyed all the Poe mentions and it made me realize just how little Poe I've actually read.  I'm hoping to correct that!

It was fun to see Vickie and Griffin in action again.  They're adjusting to more of a long term relationship and to a change in dynamics as Vickie will be going to the FBI academy and Griffin is trying to treat her more as a partner than someone he needs to protect.

The book is thick with creepy atmosphere between all the Poe related mentions (and Poe himself appearing), creepy wine cellars and evil lurking in the shadows.  It made for a thoroughly enjoyable, completely Halloween-y read.  My only issue was that at times the actual mystery seemed to fall to the background as I got more wrapped up with everything else.  While, like most Krewe books, this can be read as a stand alone I think you'd enjoy it more if you started with the first book Vickie and Griffin are in - Dying Breath.

If you're looking for a book to get in the Halloween mood but are looking for creepy more than horror this is the perfect book!  One of my favorite spooky reads so far this year!

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Absolutely!  I'm glad I've got a few of the earlier Krewe books to read while I wait for the next book!

Would I Recommend this Book?  If you enjoy romantic suspense this is a great series and this mini-series involving Vickie and Griffin is one of the strongest sets.  If you're a Heather Graham fan already you won't be disappointed.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

A Strange Scottish Shore - Historical Fiction Review

A Strange Scottish Shore (Emmeline True Love #2) by Julianna Gray (Amazon)

Rating: Good
Source: NetGalley

Description:  Scotland, 1906. A mysterious object discovered inside an ancient castle calls Maximilian Haywood, the new Duke of Olympia, and his fellow researcher Emmeline Truelove, north to the remote Orkney Islands. No stranger to the study of anachronisms in archeological digs, Haywood is nevertheless puzzled by the artifact: a suit of clothing, which, according to family legend, once belonged to a selkie who rose from the sea in ancient times and married the castle’s first laird.
But Haywood and Truelove soon discover they’re not the only ones interested in the selkie’s strange hide, and when their mutual friend Lord Silverton vanishes in the night from an Edinburgh street, the mystery takes a dangerous turn through time, which only Haywood’s skills and Truelove’s bravery can solve…

Genre: Historical Fiction

Why I Picked This Book:   This sounded like a historical mystery with an archaeology element.

My Impression:  Well that was not what I was expecting!  Reading the blurb I was expecting a fairly straight forward historical mystery with maybe a little tough of magic.  Instead, what I got was a time travel fiction.  There's a slight problem here - I'm not a big fan of time travel fiction.  But since I recently discovered that Juliana Gray is also Beatriz Williams whose books I've really been enjoying lately, I kept reading.

I liked the characters.  Emmeline is quick on her feet, logical, but also in a bit of turmoil regarding her feelings for Silverton.  Max is less than enthused about his recent rise to dukedom, he's intensely loyal to Emmeline, as well as completely curious about just what is going on.   Silverton has the air of your typical good natured aristocratic rake but even at the beginning it's clear there is more to him and as the book goes on his character development is fascinating.

Then there's the plot.  This gets a little tricky because my issues with it are mostly personal preference.  The writing and pacing are fantastic and I think the time travel elements are very well done.  I did have some questions about the hows and whys that I don't think were fully explained though a few of the details are cleared up. I think the world building was also well done and the different time periods felt very different.   However, this wasn't the book I wanted it to be.  I loved the 1906 Scottish setting and really wanted to explore the mystery of just what was going on with the Selkie suit and this just really wasn't that.    Had I been better prepared for what it was I probably would have enjoyed it more though I'm not sure I would have requested it in the first place.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  I would certainly read more of this author under this name or Beatriz Williams but I probably wouldn't read more of this series.

Would I Recommend this Book?  If you like time travel books or more fantasy related stories I think you'd enjoy this.  Just don't go in expecting an Edwardian mystery.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday - My Fall TBR

This week's Top Ten Tuesday topic from The Broke and the Bookish is Fall TBR.  I LOVE this topic because I get to think about the books I want to read in whichever season.  I'm not that great at actually reading them but I do enjoy picking out books for this list!

1.  The Circular Staircase by Mary Roberts Rinehart - I love Agatha Christie and the rest of the classic British mystery authors but I sometimes forget about the classic mystery writers over here and Mary Roberts Rinehart was one of the best.  I read this one years and years ago but remember nothing about it so I'm looking forward to reading it again.

2.  Faithful by Alice Hoffman - Several people have recommended this one to me (LaLa I'm looking at you!) and I've been wanting to try Alice Hoffman for years so I figure this will be the one!

3.  Rainshadow Road by Lisa Kleypas - This is a reread for me and one of my favorite contemporary series by Kleypas.  I don't do much rereading but I love it and always try to schedule one in.  Whether or not it happens has nothing to do with it!

4.  Ghost Night by Heather Graham - This is the 2nd book in a romantic suspense trilogy that's full of ghosts and set in Key West.  I read the first one and loved it and listened to the first 2 chapters of the 3rd book and loved it so I really need to read book #2 so I can go finish up book 3!

5.  The Hollow by Ransom Riggs - I read Miss Peregrine several years ago and really enjoyed it but even though it was a super fast read I haven't gone back and continued the story.  Part of the problem is that I really want to read them in print because of the photographs which means I have to go get a physical copy of the book either from the store or the library and it always slips my mind.

6.  Cold as Ice by Julie Mulhern - This is one of my absolute favorite cozy mystery series and one of the few I'm actually caught up on!

7.  Death Overdue by Allison Brook - I love coming in at the beginning of a series and this cozy mystery series involves a main character who is a librarian and that library just happens to have a ghost!

8.  Sweet Tea and Sympathy by Molly Harper - I've read one Molly Harper book several years ago and always meant to read more so I jumped at the chance to review this one!

9.  Sleep Like a Baby by Charlaine Harris - The Aurora Teagarden series is a kind of cozy mystery series that Harris has recently restarted and I'm so excited because it was my favorite by her! I'm really excited to see what Aurora is up to now.

10. Dead of Winter by Wendy Corsi Staub - I read this previous book in this series about modern day Lily Dale and really enjoyed it.  I've read a little about the history of Lily Dale and it's a fascinating place so I'm looking forward to revisiting it.

What books do you want to read this fall?

Monday, September 18, 2017

Ramblings from the Stacks - Knowledge Gaps

This all started when I was playing a video game version of Jeopardy with J one day.  I was killing it.  I had basically answered all the questions on history and literature and had held my own in topics involving words that start with L and another one that dealt with football.  And then came astronomy.  Now I like to think I know a little bit about quite a lot but it turns out when it comes to astronomy I know less than zero.  Seriously, not only did I not answer any of the questions but I had absolutely no clue about what the answer could be.  My mind was a blank.

It turns out astronomy is one of my knowledge gaps.  Somehow in all the years of school and reading and working in the aerospace industry and being married to someone who works in the aerospace industry I somehow have absolutely no knowledge of stars.  I know some basic facts about planets but on stars - there's nothing.

I have some others - I discovered recently that I know almost nothing about French aristocracy other than Louis XVI and my grip on Asian history is incredibly weak.  How does this happen?  And more importantly how do you fix it?  Or should you fix it? Do I really need to know the political struggles of China and Japan in the 1600s?  Should I make myself research astronomy when it's clearly a subject that doesn't particularly interest me?

What do you think?  What are your knowledge gaps?

Sunday, September 17, 2017

This Week in Reading - September 17

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:

I Was Anastasia by Ariel Lawhon -  I'm pretty excited about this one.  I really enjoyed a previous Lawhon book I've read and I'm fascinated by Russian history.  The Anastasia story is one that especially intriguing.  (NetGalley)

Chained by Eileen Brady - I read the first book in this cozy mystery series about a veterinarian but then kind of forgot about it so I'm looking forward to catching up on it.  (NetGalley)

Many a Twist by Sheila Connolly - Connolly is one of my favorite cozy mystery authors and Ireland is one of my favorite settings so I had to request the newest entry into Connolly's cozy mystery series that is set in Ireland!  (NetGalley)


Reading:  To Be Where You Are by Jan Karon and Sleep Like a Baby by Charlaine Harris

Listening:  I just got Faithful by Alice Hoffman and I'm really looking forward to it.  

Watching:  I did a "Best of" rewatch of How I Met Your Mother but J and I haven't really settled on a show to watch together.  I'm thinking we might give River on Netflix a try.  Anyone watched that one?

Off the Blog:

Friday night we took Eleanor and her husband out to the Melting Pot to celebrate their wedding.  It was a lot of fun but so much food!  It doesn't seem like much because everything is just small bites but by the end I was stuffed.

We're still dealing with the whole mailbox catastrophe.  I'm not enjoying having to pick up my mail every few days!  We're also getting quotes which I hate doing because I always feel bad about not hiring someone if I like them and it seems like they really want the job.  And there's always the fear of making the wrong decision.

We are going camping next weekend and then the week after we are heading to Disney World!  I'm so excited but I've got so many chores and errands to get done with both trips that my to do list is getting a little unmanageable!

On the Blog:

What Happened:

What's Coming Up:

Monday:  Ramblings From the Stacks - Knowledge Gaps
Tuesday:  Top Ten Tuesday - Fall TBR
Wednesday:  A Strange Scottish Shore - Mystery Review
Thursday: Wicked Deeds - Romantic Suspense Review
Friday:  Friday Linkups with Current Book
Saturday: To Be Where You Are - Fiction Reivew

Have a great week and happy reading!

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Hallmark Cozy Mystery Movies I'm Loving

Hallmark Movies and Mysteries Channel has been making my heart happy lately by turning all kinds of cozy mysteries into movies!  Now since I'm chronically behind in pretty much all my reading, watching, and listening I haven't gotten around to watching all these adaptations but I thought I would share 2 I'm really enjoying and 1 that fell a little flat.  Even though some of these have been released some time ago Hallmark replays them on a regular basis so if you're interested you should have no trouble catching them.

The Aurora Teagarden Mysteries based off the series by Charlaine Harris

Movies in Order of Release:
A Bone to Pick (watched)
Real Murders (watched)
Three Bedrooms, One Corpse (watched)
The Julius House (watched)
Dead Over Heels
A Bundle of Trouble

My Thoughts:  I've watched the first 4 and have really enjoyed them.  While Harris' original series is got a little more grit and grimness than most cozies the Hallmark version has smoothed out the edges and upped the cozy factor.  Even Aurora's prickly coworker has softened though they'll never be friends.  All but the most recent movie are based (very loosely) on the books but the tone is so much lighter that if neither will spoil the other for you.  My favorite character is Martin who appears in Three Bedrooms, One Corpse though Aurora's friend Sally, the reporter, is a close second.  As well I'm in love with the concept of the Real Murders Club and have been really glad that not only does it stick around through several movies (unlike in the books) but at times they get together and discuss the case that Aurora is working on.  I want to be in that club!

This is a Hallmark movie so there's some cheesiness but the mystery has been entertaining and well done and the cast is pretty stellar which makes these a good choice for when you're in the mood for a movie and a cozy mystery at the same time.  My favorite so far is The Julius House and least favorite is A Bone to Pick.  It isn't bad but suffers a little from series setup as it's the first.  While you could jump in at any movie this series may be best watched in order as there is quite a bit of character development.

Garage Sale Mysteries based off the two books by Suzi Weinert

Movies in Order of Release:
Garage Sale Mystery (watched)
Garage Sale Mystery: All That Glitters (watched)
Garage Sale Mystery: The Deadly Room (watched)
Garage Sale Mystery: The Wedding Dress (watched)
Garage Sale Mystery: Guilty Until Proven Innocent (watched)
Garage Sale Mystery: The Novel Murders (watched)
Garage Sale Mystery: The Art of Murder
Garage Sale Mystery: The Beach Murder
Garage Sale Mystery: Murder by Text
Garage Sale Mystery: Murder Most Medieval
Garage Sale Mystery: A Case of Murder

My Thoughts:  I love this series!  I love Jennifer (Lori Laughlin) and her friend and business partner Dani (Sarah Strange) and seeing what new things they pick up for their antique store and how it manages to pull them into a murder.  They're both just nice people and I really like that Jennifer has a friendly relationship with the police department.   This series makes me want to go antique shopping while simultaneously making me want to avoid it so I don't fall over any bodies.

As usual there's a certain amount of triteness but it hasn't kept me from enjoying the movies.  There are some actor changes as the movies progress but it hasn't bothered me more than an occasional "Is that the same guy that played Jennifer's husband in the last movie?" thought.  My favorite so far is The Wedding Dress but only by a little bit and I've really enjoyed all of them so I don't have a least favorite.  I haven't read the books these are based on so I have no idea how well they connect but the movies are probably my favorite.  While these aren't one note characters there isn't much relationship development so you can jump in anywhere.

Flower Shop Mysteries based off the books by Kate Collins

Movies in Order of Release:
Flower Shop Mystery: Mum's the Word (watched)
Flower Shop Mystery: Snipped in the Bud (watched)
Flower Shop Mystery: Dearly Depotted (DNF'd)

My Thoughts:  I don't like these at all for some reason.  The 1st one was okay but I made myself watch the 2nd and finally turned the 3rd off 20 minutes into it.  The acting is good and the mysteries are pretty decent but the movies just didn't work for me.  I think the chemistry between the Abby (Brooke Shields) and Marco Salvare (Brennan Elliot) feels very forced as well as Abby coming off almost aggressively curious.  This is no reflection on the books as I haven't read them so can't say how closely these follow the books but I do love the concept and plan on reading them.  However, when it came down to it I found Brooke Shields' portrayal of the main character just a little too jarring to watch.

Have you watched any of the Hallmark cozy mysteries?  What did you think?

Friday, September 15, 2017

The Summer That Made Us - Fiction Review

The Summer that Made Us by Robyn Carr

Rating: Loved it
Source: Little Bird Publicity

Description:  That was then... For the Hempsteads, two sisters who married two brothers and had three daughters each, summers were idyllic. The women would escape the city the moment school was out to gather at the family house on Lake Waseka. The lake was a magical place, a haven where they were happy and carefree. All of their problems drifted away as the days passed in sun-dappled contentment. Until the summer that changed everything.

This is now... After an accidental drowning turned the lake house into a site of tragedy and grief, it was closed up. For good. Torn apart, none of the Hempstead women speak of what happened that summer, and relationships between them are uneasy at best to hurtful at worst. But in the face of new challenges, one woman is determined to draw her family together again, and the only way that can happen is to return to the lake and face the truth.

Genre: Fiction 

Why I Picked This Book:  It's by Robyn Carr.  How could I turn that down?

My Impression:  Sometimes a book just clicks with you and ends up being exactly what you wanted in that moment.  This was one of those books for me. For one thing this checked a lot of boxes for me.  I love ensemble casts, I love books that involve elements of the past, and I love characters that are trying to find something in their environment and within themselves and this one had all three.  The characters that this book really focuses on are Meg, Charley, and Krista.  Both Charley and Krista are really trying hard to help Meg who has stage 4 cancer and all three are trying to figure out just what went wrong that summer.  There was more than just the tragic drowning of the youngest cousin.

I typically avoid books that involve the death of a child but this one is handled in such a way that while it was sad and tragic it didn't wallow in the gut wrenching sadness of it all.  The focus was more on how that event had changed everything and was there more to it.  While I wouldn't classify this as a mystery there is some suspense as the 3 cousins probe their memories and try to reconnect and figure out how everything had gone to pieces the way it did.

There are lots of visitors to the lake house this summer.  Family members, spouses, and a character or two from the past.  They add a complexity to the book as each character means forging a new connection and making peace with the old.  There's a lot of sadness but it never felt overwrought or manipulative and there is a lot of joy and healing that balanced that out for me.  Overall, this is comfort reading at its finest.  There's heart, there's love, there's more than a little bit of drama and there are characters that I will miss now that I've put the book down.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Absolutely!  I typically enjoy Carr's books and this was my favorite one yet.

Would I Recommend this Book?  Yes!  Even if you aren't typically a romance reader if you enjoy books involving family relationships and connections I think you'd enjoy this one.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Eight is Enough - Nonfiction Review

Eight is Enough: A Father's Memoir of Life with His Extra Large Family by Tom Braden

Rating: Good
Source: Publisher

Description:  Tom Braden had a colorful career: He parachuted into Nazi-occupied France, directed the CIA’s covert operations program during the early years of the Cold War, ran for public office, owned a newspaper, served as executive secretary for the Museum of Modern Art, and cohosted the CNN show Crossfire. He counted among his friends David Brinkley, Robert Frost, Kirk Douglas, and Nelson Rockefeller. But Braden considered fatherhood both his most important job and his biggest adventure. No wonder; he and his wife, Joan, a State Department official and Washington society hostess, raised eight children during one of the most tumultuous periods in American history.
In this diverting family memoir, Braden shares a treasure trove of amusing anecdotes—from the time his youngest daughter’s pet sheep interrupted a dinner party with a Supreme Court justice to the telegram US Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy sent after the birth of the Bradens’ eighth child: “Congratulations. I surrender.” (The Kennedys had seven children at the time). With wit and wisdom, Braden also addresses some of the most serious issues, including drugs, alcohol, and premarital sex, faced by parents in an era of deep distrust between generations.

When ABC proposed adapting Eight Is Enough for television, Braden found the idea so preposterous he sold the rights for one dollar. The award-winning series starring Dick Van Patten and Betty Buckley ran for five seasons and launched the Hollywood careers of many young actors, including Willie Aames and Ralph Macchio. A celebration of the joys and tribulations of fatherhood, Eight Is Enough speaks with warmth, humor, and compassion to parents and children everywhere.

Genre: Nonfiction - Memoir

Why I Picked This Book:  While I've never watched the show (my husband is still shaking his head in horror over THAT revelation) I thought this sounded really interesting.

My Impression:  This memoir is really more of a collection of essays over the course of a number of years.  This style really works for Braden's writing style and makes it possible to keep track of which kid is which.  Eight may be enough but it's also a LOT to keep track of!  Most of the stories revolve around the challenges of managing a household of eight children which led for some pretty entertaining moments.  Braden adds a lot of humor to the situation.  It's clear he loves his wife and his family but at the same time I have a feeling he spent a lot of time either tuning out the chaos or with very strained patience and rueful humor.

I think my favorite story was the one about the Braden children vs. the Kennedy children but they were all enjoyable.  This wasn't a book I flew through but one I tended to pick up and read an essay from as needed.  This is perfect travel reading, sick bed reading, or to read during the commercial breaks as you obsessively watch hurricane coverage on The Weather Channel.  I hadn't watched the show when I started reading it but I'm off to find some episodes now!

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  I would!  I really enjoyed his writing style and his sense of humor.

Would I Recommend this Book?  Yes!  If you're looking for an entertaining memoir that allows you to dip into here and there this is perfect!

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

The Chesapeake Bride - Contemporary Romance Review

The Chesapeake Bride (The Cheseapeake Diaries #11) by Mariah Stewart (Amazon)

Rating: Very Good
Source: Publisher

Description: Architect Cassidy Logan has sworn off good-looking adventurers. Newly divorced, she’s focused on building ecologically friendly, historically accurate homes on the Chesapeake Bay for her father’s construction company. Traveling to Cannonball Island—where there has been no new construction in nearly one hundred years—Cass is sensitive to the heritage of the island, and has come up with plans so perfect she’s determined to buy a home for herself. Even the fact that Owen Parker—a local who she dismisses as a lightweight and a player—seems to be everywhere isn’t enough to deter her from building her dream house.
Owen Parker is and always has been sinfully handsome and wickedly clever, a magnet for mischief as well as girls. He’s a rolling stone, going and doing whatever appeals to him, from flying a mail plane in Alaska, to working on a cattle ranch in Australia, a shrimp boat in Louisiana, and surfing and diving in Costa Rica. When an old friend offers him a job salvaging a sunken ship on the Chesapeake Bay, Owen gladly accepts. Something’s been telling him it was time to head home to Cannonball Island, and a job is as good an excuse as any. And he’s totally smitten by the pretty architect on the scene, but it seems he’s finally met a woman who’s immune to his charms. Sooner or later, Owen will have to face the reason why he always runs, because this time, leaving just might be harder than staying.

My Impression:  In the past I've had a bit of a complicated relationship with Mariah Stewart.  Some of her books were fantastic but some were meh.  However, I think it's time to be done with that as the last few books - including this one- have been firmly in the fantastic realm.

The romance was good though there are some strong "thou dost protest too much" elements.  Owen is definitely going to leave as soon as he finishes the job he's on.  Just ask him, he'll tell you.  Cass is quite convinced Owen is a player and anyway she has no interest in being in a relationship.  Just ask her, she'll tell you.  This can easily be overdone and fall into the irritating category but that wasn't the case here.  It just explained why they were a little reluctant to jump into a relationship.  I really liked both characters.  Cass is intelligent and committed to doing the best job she can rebuilding and selling some of the houses on Cannonball Island.  I liked that her motivations were really to do a good job and honor the history of the island and not just get ahead.  Owen is a nice guy who is committed to his family - especially his great-grandmother which was lovely to see.  He's self aware to realize that there may not be that much time left with her and is trying to figure out what to do about it.  As well, he's able to really apologize when he needs too which is also a big plus in my book.

This isn't strictly a romance.  We see a lot of the community of Cannonball Island especially which I really loved.  I loved seeing the history of the place and enjoyed the discussions on how to realistically preserve it so that the past residents won't be forgotten.  Stewart has created a world that I really enjoyed visiting and am already longing to revisit.  While some of the earlier books didn't wow me the last few have been wonderful and this is a series I'm really looking forward to continuing with!


I love the changing of the seasons—and I think summer into fall might be a favorite, being as how I relate to the whole “autumn of my years” thing. That’s how I see myself, anyway. If sixty is the new forty, I believe seventy must be the new fifty, eighty the new sixty, and so on. Therefore, I fall into that third quadrant. Don’t try to change my mind or confuse me with facts.
One of the reasons I love this time of the year: the steady influx of tourists into St. Dennis begins to wane. Not that I don’t love our visitors. Why, without them, St. Dennis would have continued to languish and would never have become the Eastern Shore mecca it now is. But there’s something sweet about having your hometown belong to you and yours again, even if it’s just for a while. I know soon enough the holidays will be upon us and many will flock to town for all the beautiful festivities—the Christmas House Tour, the weekend of caroling, the tree lighting at the square on Old St. Mary’s Church Road, Christmas at the Inn (a favorite of mine), and, oh, yes, the shopping! But this little respite between the beginning of September, when the families leave to return their offspring to school, and the holiday madness belongs to us, we old St. Dennis folk who like a little downtime.
Not to say there’s nothing going on here! There are new babies to celebrate and a special wedding on the horizon, one that makes me especially weepy. My dear nephew, Alec, will be marrying his lovely Lisbeth in an event that will be the talk of both St. Dennis and Cannonball Island for a long time to come. I’m not privy to all the details, mind you, but since my daughter, Lucy, is planning the wedding, I’ve heard bits and squeaks of what she has in mind, and it will, no doubt, be perfectly wonderful.
When we were children, Mama told us that when good folks passed, they earned a star in the heavens where they could sit and shine down on all the goings-on here on earth. Our brothers scoffed, but we girls believed her, and so it is that I know my beloved sister, Carole, will be watching happily from her star as her son marries his bride out on the point in just a few more weeks.
Thinking about the point makes me think of all the changes that are coming to Cannonball Island soon. So much, it could make your head spin! For the first time in roughly two hundred years, new dwellings will be going up on what had once been barren land. I heard from one in the know that some of the older homesteads—mostly those that have fallen into ruin or have been abandoned—will be replaced with new versions more suitable to modern living. Some are up in arms about this, but frankly, it’s about time. Those dilapidated old shells offer no shelter and, if anything, detract from the beauty of the island. My good friend Ruby Carter—the island’s matriarch—has given her blessing, and that’s good enough for me. Besides, Alec will be serving as the environmental consultant, so I feel confident that all will be well. The new homes are being designed with the island’s history in mind, so the legacy of those early settlers will be well protected. The architect is a lovely young woman who is serious about this project, so I know, eventually, all will be well.
Of course I do.
I know, too, that a certain islander with a “rolling stone” reputation will be finding his rolling days coming to a halt

before too long. It will be amusing, to say the least, to see him meet his match. Will he be bested?
The smart money’s on the new girl. That’s all I have to say about that.
And so much excitement over all the goings-on at the mouth of the river on the other side of Cannonball Island! Who knew such mysteries lay beneath the water, waiting to be discovered—and now that they have been, well, the flurry of activity these days has my poor old head spinning like an old-fashioned top. I cannot wait to see what they find, and I’m more than happy that one of the principal players is staying at the inn. Not that I’d pry, but if one overhears a snippet of conversation now and then . . . well, let’s just say it’s good to keep informed. Now, how all this is going to affect the construction that was slated to begin in November, well, I suppose everyone will have to wait and see. Could be there will be delays, which will keep the new girl around for a while longer and will keep the rolling stone on his toes.
My, what fun this will be~

Grace ~

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday - Ten Books I Loved During My First Year of Blogging

Today's Top Ten Tuesday topic from The Broke and the Bookish is a throwback freebie so I'm doing one of their suggested topics - 10 Books I Loved During My First Year of Blogging.  Now I officially started this blog in August of 2013 but I didn't put much effort into it until 2014 so I'm looking at some of my favorites from that year.

1.  The Tastemakers: Why We're Crazy for Cupcakes and Fed Up with Fondue by David Sax - I loved this book!  There's a lot of talk about how food trends start - some organically and some structured - and how they grow as well as a look at why some things catch on and some fizzle out.  It was also incredibly readable and entertaining.

2.  The Tyrant's Daughter by J.C. Carleson - This was an interesting Young Adult title where the main character is the 15 year old daughter of a deposed leader.  The family has fled the country and is essentially in hiding.  Suddenly Laila finds herself going from living in a very privileged but very controlled life to an American public school as the family struggles to adapt.

3.  When the Rogue Returns by Sabrina Jeffries - This book pretty much cemented Jeffries' status as one of my very favorite historical romance authors.  While one of my most hated plot devices in a romance is "the Secret" and secrets are the primary conflict in this book it was done so perfectly that I was instantly hooked.  This may be the one version of "the Secret" done right!

4.  Home to Seaview Key by Sherryl Woods - I loved this one!  It's a slow burn romance that focuses around older than usual romance novel characters (both MCs are in their mid to late 40s) and was just really wonderful.  I loved the world that Woods created and that the main focus of the story was the heroine finding her home again.

5.  The Birds and Other Stories by Daphne du Maurier - So I've seen bits and pieces of Hitchcock's movie The Birds and was always a little underwhelmed.  I mean how scary can birds really be?  Than I read the short story that Hitchcock had based the movie off of and got my answer - really freaking scary.  The rest of the short stories in this collection are good too but The Birds is a must read.  I've never felt quit comfortable around birds ever since.

6.  Guidebook to Murder by Lynn Cahoon - This is the first book in a series that would come to be one of my favorite cozy mysteries series.  It was a great introduction with a great mystery though I spent a lot of time screaming at the MC to just ask this guy if he was actually married.  She did eventually but these book characters are not great listeners!

7.  City of Jasmine by Deanna Raybourn - I forgot all about this one but it was so amazing!  The setting is 1920s Damascus and the heroine is a famed aviatrix who happens to get a photograph in the mail of a man who looks just like her deceased husband.  It's quite the adventure!

8.  Murder on the Home Front: A True Story of Morgues, Murderers, and Mysteries During the London Blitz by Molly Lefebure - This is the memoir of a woman who ended up being the secretary for the medical examiner in London during World War II.  She followed him around to all the crime scenes and everything.  It was absolutely fascinating.

9.  Delancey: A Man, A Woman, A Restaurant, A Marriage by Molly Wizenberg - I loved Wizenberg's earlier book and was so excited for this one.  It was totally different but did not disappoint.  I loved seeing just how much work it takes to get a restaurant off the ground and how it affects marriage, cooking and just general life.  On a side note I will never ever ever open a restaurant.

10. The Forgotten Seamstress by Liz Trenow - I love a good historical fiction and this one was marvelous.  I can't sew but this book made me want to learn and all the talk about the sewing workshops in the castle were just fascinating.

What are some of your favorite throwback reads?