Monday, December 31, 2018

A Year in Reading - 2018 Wrap Up

Can you believe 2018 is over?  It didn't end up going quite like I thought I did and I definitely fell short on my reading goals for this year.  I did learn a lot that I plan to put into work next year and I read a lot of books I really enjoyed so I'm still calling this year a reading win.

Create some kind of system for incoming books -  I actually did this and for the most part it's working really well.  I cleared out a small bookshelf that is only for incoming books and worked out a fairly simple filing system.  My usual problem is that I try to over organize and end up with an overly complicated system which of course fails.  I'm pretty proud of myself for keeping it simple and workable.  

Complete the Modern Mrs. Darcy 2018  Reading Challenge -I completed 8 out of 12 so could be worse could be better.  I'm going to do this again in 2019 but focus a little more on the harder for me categories.

Read 200 Books - Nope.  I was really sick this fall and that seriously impacted my reading especially combined with a few low reading spots earlier in the year.  I made it to 146.  

Focus on reading my own books - .  I started out okay on this but got overwhelmed fairly quickly.  When I wasn't reading review books I was more tempted by library books than my own books which probably means I need to go through my books and clean out my inventory a bit.  

Read more nonfiction - I'm pretty sure I read 1 nonfiction book this year so this is definitely a fail  

Participate in at least one readathon -  Giant fail here.  I still love the idea of doing this but this year just didn't quite work out for me.  I do have a few ideas of making it happen in 2019 though.

Keep an eye out for independent bookstores - We ended up not traveling nearly as much in 2018 as we did in past years so I wasn't able to make much progress on this.  I do plan to continue this for next year and really just in general.  

Make progress on a series I've neglected - Yes and no.  I've read more books from series that I started years ago but I haven't caught up on any series.

Spend some time using a coloring book while listening to an audio book - I only did this a few times but I really enjoyed it when I did.  I'd like to make this more of a habit in 2019 because it is so relaxing and I spend far too much time watching TV when I could be making progress on my TBR.

Stats of 2018:

Number of Books Read: 146

A Brush With Shadows by Anna Lee Huber - I heard great things about this series so I wasn't surprised that I enjoyed it but I was thrilled with just how much I loved it.

Caroline: Little House Revisited by Sarah Miller - I was nervous going into this one. I loved the Little House books so I was a bit afraid to see the story through the POV of an adult but I loved it and it really brought the peril of living on the frontier home to me.

As You Wish by Cary Elwes - I love the movie and I love the book.  If you can get it on audio.  You won't regret it.


Honestly I enjoyed most of the books I read this year but these are a few I enjoyed less than the rest.

Queen Anne's Lace by Susan Wittig Albert - I loved the ghost aspect and was disappointed it wasn't explored more than it was.  As well there was a LOT going on and the mystery felt a bit lost at times.

Say No Moor by Maddy Hunter - I love the idea of a cozy set around travel to exotic locations but the characters drove me crazy and the situation they got themselves into was so past realistic that it was just too much and my standards are pretty low.

The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher - I wanted to love this - I really did.  And I did enjoy parts of it but I think I was expecting the Star Wars version of As You Wish and it just wasn't.

How was your 2018 Reading Year?

Saturday, December 29, 2018

This Week in Reading - December 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:

Nothing!  I'm planning on doing a little post Christmas shopping for me but haven't gotten around to it yet.


Reading:  Finishing up/rereading bits and pieces of books.  I don't want to start anything new until January 1st.

Listening:  Nothing right now though I'm trying to decide what my first audio book will be for 2019

Watching:  So many movies!  We've watched Big Jake (loved it), the new Murder on the Orient Express (liked it more than I expected), The Thin Man (entertaining), Cary Grant's last film called Walk Don't Run (really funny), Frisco Kid (also really funny) and a few others.  We are also watching The Haunting of Hill House on Netflix though I can only manage 1 episode a day.

Off the Blog:

We had a lovely Christmas which included a fairly lazy Christmas day which was nice.  We watched a version of A Christmas Carol Christmas night which I really enjoyed and may be our new tradition.  Other than that we've spent most of this week getting ready for the Tornado's birthday and then celebrating it.  He's 9 now which blows my mind.

We've all kind of shifted to staying up really late and sleeping late which is going to make the going back to school/work brutal but for now it's really fun.  Now we're figuring out what to do for New Years Eve.  I'm not big on the whole finding a sitter hassle but I do like doing something a little special.  Last year we went to this restaurant that has lots of games and things (kind of like Chuck E. Cheese but cleaner and with better food) and I think that's what we will do again.  The Tornado loves it and it's a lot of fun.  

Right now I'm working on reading stats for last year and book lists for next year.  This year didn't quite turned out like I wanted but I did get some fantastic books read!

On the Blog:

What Happened:

What's Coming Up:

Monday:  2018 Reading Wrap Up
Tuesday:  First Books of 2019
Wednesday:  A Book List of Some Sort
Thursday:  A Book List of Some Sort
Friday:  A Book List of Some Sort
Saturday: TBD

Have a great week and happy reading!  Happy New Year!

Nine Authors I Want to Read in 2019

I've been heavy into YouTube makeup channels this year and one tag that's going around on those is Nine Cosmetics Companies I Want to Try in 2019.  So of course I had to make a list of those but then it occurred to me how well it would translate into a bookish list.  So here are 9 authors I've been meaning to read and am finally going to make happen in 2019.

1.  Susanna Kearsley
Book I'm Going to Try - Bellewether
Reason:  There's ghosts and historical mysteries and it sounds like one I'd enjoy.

2.  Kristin Hannah
Book I'm Going to Try - Winter Garden
Reason: Because I got it on sale at Audible so it seems like a good place to start.

3.  Mary Alice Monroe
Book I'm Going to Try: The Beach House
Reason: It's listed as the first in the Beach House series AND I saw a Hallmark movie that was loosely based on the book and enjoyed it.

4.  J.D. Robb
Book I'm Going to Try:  Naked in Death
Reason:  It's the first in the series and I've heard this is one best read in order.

5. Ann Cleeves
Book I'm Going to Try: White Nights
Reason:  This is actually the 2nd in the series but the 1st doesn't really appeal to me so I thought I'd start here.

6.  Edith Maxwell/Maddie Day
Book I'm Going to Try: Flipped for Murder (Maddie Day) or A Tine To Live, A Tine To Die (Edith Maxwell)
Reason: They're both the first in a series and I own both.

7.  Jen Campbell
Book I'm Going to Try:  The Bookshop Book
Reason:  I've been wanting to read it for ages and I just read a good review for it.

8.  Joy Ellis
Book I'm Going to Try:  Crime on the Fens
Reason:  I've read tons of good reviews and I've been loving more traditional type mysteries lately.

9.  Michelle Gable
Book I'm Going to Try: A Paris Apartment
Reason:  The apartment in the title has been shut up for 70 years.  That alone is reason enough to read this book!

Have you read any of these authors?  What authors do you want to read in 2019?

Friday, December 28, 2018

She Stopped for Death - Cozy Mystery

Rating: Very Good
Source: Purchased (Audible)

Jenny Weston and her mother, Dora, have been receiving strange midnight visits. Bear Falls's own elusive and highly secretive poet, Emily Sutton, has lived her life cloistered away with her sister in a house at the edge of Pewee Swamp. But now, Emily's started leaving scraps of poetry in Dora's Little Library, and Dora makes it her mission to befriend the sheltered woman.

Meanwhile Zoe Zola, almost famous author, Little Person, and the Weston's quirky next-door neighbor, is hard at work on a new book, this one about the inner life of Emily Dickinson. And once again, Zoe's literary work starts making uncanny connections with the events in her own world as Emily Sutton reemerges into society. But Zoe begins to suspect things aren't anywhere near normal at Emily's swamp house or in the lives of the people she claims have abandoned her...until looking further into the poet's half-truths leads Zoe and Jenny to a horrible murder.

The chaos surrounding the ensuing investigation grows even more hectic with Emily’s increasingly erratic behavior, the arrival of a young woman searching for her missing poet uncle, and yet another betrayal in Jenny's love life. And only poetry can set the truth free in Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli's charming second Little Library mystery, She Stopped for Death.

Genre: Mystery - Cozy

Why I Picked This Book:
  I enjoyed the first book and was curious to see just what would happen next.

My Impression:  This was a fun 2nd entry into a different and entertaining series.  I love the literary mentions - in this case most relate to Emily Dickinson - and how they're woven through the book.  I also really enjoy spending time with Zoe Zoella, Dora Weston, and seeing what the other quirky resident of Bear Falls are up to.  The main character, Jenny, can be a little challenging.  She tends to be a bit whiny and is stuck in limbo right now.  She can be more than a bit defensive when anyone suggests she make some kind of plan which can makes me want to shake her at times.  However, there is some growth in this one that has me really excited to see what happens next for Jenny.

The mystery is intriguing.  I did have a pretty good guess as to how it was going to all work out but I thoroughly enjoyed investigating all the possibilities.  This is a fun series with literary and fairy tale touches.  While Jenny sometimes needs a good shake I can understand her actions and I love the rest of the characters.  I'm really looking forward to seeing what happens in this fun quirky series next!

Audio Note:  This is narrated by Marguerite Gavin and I really enjoyed her performance.  She was animated without being dramatic and read at a nice pace.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?
  I would.  I have the 3rd book and am looking forward to reading it!

Would I Recommend this Book?
  If you like cozies with a literary bent I definitely recommend this series.  While you can jump in here I do think it'd be better to start at the beginning.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Books I Might Buy Myself for Christmas

Christmas has come and gone and while it was a delightful time full of family and too much food it was decidedly lacking in new books.  So I thought I might make use of some of the recent quiet to make myself a list of books to buy as my late Christmas present to me.

1.  I'd Rather Be Reading by Anne Bogel - How can I resist that title and I've really enjoyed Bogel's podcast.  I haven't found a book about books or reading that I really loved but I have high hopes for this one.

2.  Lady on the Hill: How Biltmore Became an American Icon by Howard E Covington Jr. - We went to Biltmore years ago and I fell in love with it.  I'd love to know more about it.

3.  The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax by Dorothy Gilman - I've been wanting to reread Gilman's books for ages and honestly I'm not 100% sure I ever read this one.

4.  What Angels Fear by C.S. Harris - I read a more recent book in this series earlier this year and really enjoyed it.  I'd like to go back to the beginning of this series.

5.  Thimble Summer by Elizabeth Enright - I adore Elizabeth Enright's books but somehow have never read this one.  I think I need this one to complete my collection.

6.  The House at Riverton by Kate Morton - I've been loving Kate Morton's books lately and this is one I haven't read yet.

7.  The Bookshop Book by Jen Campbell - I've been wanting to read this one for ages and just saw a fantastic review for it over at Lark's blog which gave me a push to read it.

8.  Cress by Marissa Meyer - I read and loved the first two books in this series last year but haven't been back to it.  I'm thinking about getting it on audio because it has quite the page count.

9.  The Anatomist's Wife by Anna Lee Huber - This is another series I tried this year and really enjoyed.  And another one I want to go back to the beginning to read.

10. Artifact by Gigi Pandian - I love cozy mysteries and I love the archeological/treasure hunt aspect of the series and really need to try for the beginning.

Did you get many books for Christmas?  Any books you're thinking of treating yourself to?

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

A Beautiful Blue Death - Historical Review Mystery

Rating: Very Good
Source: Purchased

On any given day in London, all Charles Lenox, Victorian gentleman and armchair explorer, wants to do is relax in his private study with a cup of tea, a roaring fire and a good book. But when his lifelong friend Lady Jane asks for his help, Lenox cannot resist another chance to unravel a mystery, even if it means trudging through the snow to her townhouse next door.
One of Jane's former servants, Prudence Smith, is dead -- an apparent suicide. But Lenox suspects something far more sinister: murder, by a rare and deadly poison. The house where the girl worked is full of suspects, and though Prudence dabbled with the hearts of more than a few men, Lenox is baffled by an elusive lack of motive in the girl's death.
When another body turns up during the London season's most fashionable ball, Lenox must untangle a web of loyalties and animosities. Was it jealousy that killed Prudence? Or was it something else entirely, something that Lenox alone can uncover before the killer strikes again -- disturbingly close to home?

Genre:  Mystery

Why I Picked This Book:
  I love classic style British mysteries and this series has been being recommended to me for years!

My Impression: 
This book has been on my TBR for years.  In fact I've had this particular book sitting on my shelf since at least pre-blogging times.  I'm kind of kicking myself for taking so long because I absolutely loved it.  It has the clean precise (and rather bloodless) murder mysteries of the classic mystery authors like Agatha Christie and Dorothy L. Sayers but with modern pacing.

Charles Lennox is the primary character with fantastic support from his neighbor and long time friend Lady Jane, his butler Graham, his doctor friend Thomas McConnell, and his brother Edmund.  The mystery starts out fairly simple.  A maidservant, who was formerly employed by Lady Jane, has died in what is originally believed to be suicide.  Lady Jane is not satisfied with this and neither she nor Charles are particularly fond of the maid's employer.  The mystery quickly becomes more puzzling and more intense and less and less begin to make sense until Charles manages to get everything sorted out.

I loved Charles.  His fastidious reminded me just a little of Sayers' Lord Peter Wimsey though I think Charles is kinder and more compassionate.  I also loved his distaste for cold, his desire for warm boots in the snow, and his reluctance to leave his warm dry house with its roaring fire on a cold dreary night.  I loved the ensemble cast feel as the mystery developed and that while Charles was clearly in charge he valued the input of those around him.

This was a delightful mystery with lots of twists and turns.  Now I need to go find book #2!

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?
  Yes!  I'm already looking forward to reading more about Charles Lennox

Would I Recommend this Book?
  If you love classic mysteries than this series is a must read.

Monday, December 24, 2018

Eggs on Ice - Cozy Mystery Review

Rating: Good
Source: Publisher

Some say that casting crusty attorney Allen Sharpe as Scrooge in the Kindred Players production of "A Christmas Carol" is just playing to type. He's not the most beloved man in town. In fact, you'd have a dickens of a time finding someone who liked him. Still it's a shock when the Ghost of Christmas Past stabs him during the first rehearsal. Suzanne, co-owner of the Cackleberry Club café, Kindred's favorite combination diner, craft store and bookshop, chases the murderer out of the building but loses him in the alley.

As the days pass the list of suspects grows longer. Is it the disgruntled partner? The former secretary whom Sharpe sexually harassed? Or is it fellow owner of the Cackleberry Club, Toni's almost ex-husband, Junior? The women of the Cackleberry Club are determined to find the killer before he can add another victim to his Christmas list.

Genre: Mystery - Cozy

Why I Picked This Book:
  No one writes a cozy like Laura Childs and I love this cover.  

My Impression:
  I do love a Christmas-y cozy mystery and how can a mystery get more Christmas-y than Scrooge getting murdered on stage at a rehearsal for A Christmas Carol?  I love murders that happen right in front of people and half the fun is figuring out the how along with the who and the why.  The mystery was a lot of fun with lots of suspects and motives and all kinds of Christmas-y fun.  The identity of the killer kept me guessing and I flew through this book.

It's not the most memorable of mysteries and the characters (including Suzanne) aren't always the most likable.  However, it's the perfect read for this crazy busy kind of year.  Light and fun - Laura Childs never disappoints.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?
  Absolutely!  I always enjoy a Laura Childs mystery.

Would I Recommend this Book?
  This is fun but I prefer Childs' Scrapbook Store series or her Tea Shop series if you're new to her books.

* I received this book in exchange for an honest review.  As always my opinions and impressions are completely my own. *

Saturday, December 22, 2018

This Week in Reading - December 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:

Honestly, I have no idea.  I feel like I got a book or two at least but I'm so discombobulated at this point I really have no idea.


Reading:  Honestly not much and probably won't until Christmas day when everything will be done and we have a day of laziness.

Listening:  I finished up At the Back of the North Wind by George MacDonald which I ended up really enjoying and am now listening to Dashing Through the Snow by Debbie Macomber.

Watching:  I'm hitting the Hallmark movies hard until Christmas at least.  I've made decent progress on the Hallmark Checklist App because really there are very few things I love more than a checklist.

Off the Blog:

This weekend and tomorrow will frankly be quite the scramble.  I'm usually fairly organized but this has not been the case this year at all.  Not only was everything done last minute but there were several Christmas-y things that we usually do that just didn't happen.  The gifts are all bought except for a few last minute gift cards that will be gotten today and pretty much everything is wrapped.  We do our big celebration on Christmas Eve and on Christmas we're pretty lazy which I'm seriously looking forward to.  Later this week will be the Tornado's birthday (how is he 9?????) but that's to worry about another day.

On the Blog:

What Happened:

What's Coming Up:

Monday: Eggs on Ice - Cozy Mystery Review
Tuesday: My Favorite Christmas Books and Movies
for the rest of the week I'm not sure but there will be something!

Have a great week and happy reading!  Merry Christmas to all who celebrate!

Christmas-y Reads I Didn't Get Around to Reading This Year

Every year I swear I'm going to read all the Christmas-y books I can find and every year I have a big stack of books that I just didn't quite get around to reading!  This year I thought I'd make a list of the ones I didn't quite get around to reading so maybe I can remember for next year!

1.  Rest Ye Murdered Gentleman by Vicki Delany - This is a cozy mystery series set in a Christmas-themed town (I think).  I've enjoyed other mysteries by Vicki Delaney and the covers and titles for this series are wonderful.

2.  Mrs. Miracle by Debbie Macomber - And really every other Christmas-y book that Debbie Macomber has written.  I really enjoyed the Hallmark movie that was based on this one so I thought this would be a good one to try.

3.  Cardinal Cabin by Joanne DeMaio - The covers on DeMaio's books are so pretty and this one especially appeals to me.

4.  Twelve Slays of Christmas by Jacqueline Frost - How can I resist a title that is that perfect of a Christmas pun?

5.  Hot Winter Nights by Jill Shalvis - I have this one and love Jill Shalvis' books but somehow never got around to reading it.

6.  The Nightingale Before Christmas by Donna Andrews - I discovered this series (which all have bird related titles) this year and fell in love.  I'm looking forward to reading one of the mysteries set around Christmas.

7.  As the Christmas Cookie Crumbles by Leslie Budewitz - I read an earlier book in this series last year and loved it.  I've had this one since June or July but somehow never managed to read it!

8.  Ghosts of Greenglass House by Kate Milford - I read the first book in this quirky middle grade book last year and enjoyed it and am looking forward to continuing with this one.

9.  Christmas at the Cupcake Café by Jenny Colgan - Granted I need to read the first Cupcake Café book before I get to this one but I've been really loving Jenny Colgan's books lately and would love to read this one.

10. Seven Days of Us by Francesca Hornek - I saw some mixed reviews on this one but I love the idea of a family that doesn't always get along under quarantine over Christmas.

Did you have any holiday books on your list this year that you didn't quite get around to reading?

Friday, December 21, 2018

Friday Linkups - Eggs on Ice


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:
Does your book club have a book exchange for the holidays or any other time during the year?  If you don't belong to a book club, do you think something like that would be fun to do?

My Answer:
I don't belong to a book club and I do think I'd like a book exchange though I think it could be hard to find a book I don't already own!

This is my last Christmas-y read of the year and it's the newest in a cozy mystery series I've enjoyed in the past.  Eggs on Ice by Laura Childs has such a great cover and so far is proving to be a pretty fun holiday read!

The Beginning:
It was a Dickens of a night.

My Thoughts:
I love the mention of Dickens right at the beginning.  Sets the tone right from the start.

The 56:
Shinder coughed nervously into the phone.  "This is difficult for me.  I've never had to organize anything like that is before."

My Thoughts:
It's always hard to organize something big - especially for the first time and it's even harder to find someone who will organize something big!

So what do you think?  Keep reading?