Thursday, May 31, 2018

Books from the Backlog - Meet Me in Atlantis

Today I'm linking up with Carole's Random Life in Books for Books From the Backlog.  This gives us a chance to feature books that have been collecting dust on our bookshelves for far too long.

This week's book is Meet Me in Atlantis: My Quest to Find the 2,500 Year Old Sunken City by Mark Adams.  I picked this up when I went to Parnassus in Nashville and it was featured as a staff pick.  That was two years ago...
Description:  A few years ago, Mark Adams made a strange discovery: Everything we know about the lost city of Atlantis comes from the work of one man, the Greek philosopher Plato. Then he made a second, stranger discovery: Amateur explorers are still actively searching for this sunken city all around the world, based entirely on the clues Plato left behind.

Exposed to the Atlantis obsession, Adams decides to track down these people and determine why they believe it’s possible to find the world’s most famous lost city and whether any of their theories could prove or disprove its existence. He visits scientists who use cutting-edge technology to find legendary civilizations once thought to be fictional. He examines the numerical and musical codes hidden in Plato’s writings, and with the help of some charismatic sleuths traces their roots back to Pythagoras, the sixth-century BC mathematician. He learns how ancient societies transmitted accounts of cataclysmic events—and how one might dig out the “kernel of truth” in Plato’s original tale.

What books are gathering dust on your shelves?

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Seashells, Spells, and Caramels - Cozy Mystery Review

Rating: Very Good
Source: Author

Imogen’s spent her twenties in Seattle, saving every penny and missing every party, to follow her dream of opening her own bakery.

When that dream goes up in flames, she accepts a spot in a mysterious baking contest—one she doesn’t remember entering. She travels to a bustling, medieval village off the coast of France and discovers an enchanting world of magic and mystery, and learns that she, too, possesses powers.

Unable to so much as cast a spell, Imogen struggles to keep up with the other witches and wizards who have come from all over the magical world to the Water Kingdom's big competition. She juggles relationships with a sweet new friend, a snarky baking fire, and a brooding, handsome baker. As Imogen falls for this bewitching world, she fears she won’t master her magic in time to win the job of Royal Head Baker, and will be forced to return to the shambles of her non magical life.

It only gets worse, when a competitor drops dead in the middle of the big white baking tent, and Imogen’s the prime suspect. Now, she’ll not only have to survive the vampire and psychic judges, but also clear her name by finding the real murderer, before they strike again.
With a killer on the loose, a missing prince, and the Summer Solstice Festival fast approaching, Imogen will have to bake like her life depends on it- because it just might.

Genre: Mystery - Cozy/Paranormal

Why I Picked This Book:
  This was sold to me as The Great British Bake Off with magic, witches, and murder so how could I resist it?

My Impression:
  I'm been in a bit of a grumpy mood when it comes to my reading lately.  Nothing has been bad but very few things have really wowed me or made me happy.  I wouldn't necessarily say this wowed me but it did make me happy and was a delight to read.  It was short and fun with lots of tasty baked good mentions, a little world building, and even a touch of romance.

Imogen is in a bad spot when the book starts.  She's scrimped and saved and sacrificed her personal life in order to save enough to open a bakery and she's never quite fit in anywhere.  Just when her bakery dream is in reach everything goes up in smoke - quite literally.  She doesn't believe in magic and she has no knowledge of any world other than the regular human world.  Just as she's reeling from a terrible accident she finds herself reeling from a whole host of new information including mermaids, multiple kingdoms, and the truth about herself.

Imogen is a fun character and a fairly believable one.  She cries a lot in the beginning which was pretty understandable as she's so clearly out of her element.  I enjoyed her friendship with Maple and the other contestants and the fact that she really just tried to focus on the baking competition and didn't spend to much time worrying about the magic of it all even though she was obviously confused and overwhelmed.  I kind of figured out the who of the mystery ahead of time but there were plenty of surprises left to discover.  By the end I was satisfied with the few plot points that were wrapped up but definitely want to spend more time in Imogen's new world.

What kept me from being wowed was that while I liked the characters I didn't feel a serious connection to them and certain aspects felt a little rushed.  Part of this is because this is a fairly short book where a number of things will be more explored as the series goes along.  However, I did really enjoy it and it was a fun read during a blah reading time.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?
  Absolutely!  I already downloaded the 2nd book and am looking forward to learning more about Imogen and the Water Kingdom.

Would I Recommend this Book?
  I would if you enjoy paranormal cozies.  This was a lot of fun!

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Summer Reading for a Resistant Reader

School is out here in Alabama! And with school being out comes the dilemma of just what to do with next couple of months.  We have plans - hikes, camps, trips and a few other things - but I want to get some reading time in as well.  The Tornado (age 8) isn't quite as thrilled by that idea.

So a few things - he's 8 and just finished 2nd grade.  According to the latest testing he's reading on a 5th grade level but he's a bit of a lazy reader and if I hand him a chunk of a book he's going to dig in his heels.  He's also a fairly sensitive kid in a way and things that spook him or seem scary tend to stick for awhile.

Here are a few books that I have on his TBR (whether he likes it or not) for this summer but I would love some more suggestions!

The Clue of the Papyrus Scroll by Dee Garretson and JM Lee 
Reason:  We read the first book in the in this new series and he really enjoyed it.  As well he's a big fan of The Boxcar Children and listens to the audio books of the original series on a regular basis.

Pirate Spacecat Attack by Geronimo Stilton
Reason:  Geronimo Stilton is a familiar character and these were really the first chapter books we tried.  Plus he loves cats so the fact that this involves cats who are spacecats AND pirates seems appealing.

Plants vs Zombies: Grown Sweet Home by Paul Tobin 
Reason:  I'm not particularly proud of this but he loves the Plants vs Zombies video game and I'm hoping this graphic novel about the game might catch his attention.

A Wrinkle in Time: The Graphic Novel by Madeline L'Engle and Hope Larson 
Reason:  He's enjoyed some of the graphic novel type books lately and I love this story and think it would translate wonderfully to graphic novel form.

Darkness of Dragons by Tui Sutherland 
Reason:  I don't know much about this series but he was interested in the series when he saw the cover at the bookstore and he loves dragons.

So those are the 5 books on my 8 year old's summer reading list.  I would love some recommendations if there are any great series that he needs to read!  

Monday, May 28, 2018

Heron's Landing - Contemporary Fiction Review

Rating:  Very Good
Source: Blog Tour

Working as a Las Vegas concierge, Brianna Mannion is an expert at making other people’s wishes come true. It’s satisfying work, but a visit home to scenic Honeymoon Harbor turns into a permanent stay when she’s reminded of everything she’s missing: the idyllic small-town charm; the old Victorian house she’d always coveted; and Seth Harper, her best friend’s widower and the neighborhood boy she once crushed on—hard. After years spent serving others, maybe Brianna’s finally ready to chase dreams of her own.

Since losing his wife, Seth has kept busy running the Harper family’s renovation business and flying way under the social radar. But when Brianna hires him to convert her aging dream home into a romantic B and B, working together presents a heart-stopping temptation Seth never saw coming. With guilt and grief his only companions for so long, he’ll have to step out of the past long enough to recognize the beautiful life Brianna and he could build together.

Purchase Links

Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble

Genre: Fiction - Contemporary

Why I Picked This Book:
  JoAnn Ross is an author I've been seeing around for awhile but have never read and I adored the cover!

My Impression:
  Oh this was lovely!  I thoroughly enjoyed my first visit to Honeymoon Harbor and enjoyed that it does have a sense of humor about it's cutesy name.  The community feel is strong here and it feels like it has a lot of depth and history to it.  

I really liked Brianna.  She's been very successful in the hospitality industry and has been very career focused for years.  Her decision to move back home made sense and I loved that she had a plan and funds to back up that plan.  It always strains credibility more than a little when a character starts renovating an old house after quitting their old life on what seems to be a hope and a dream.  She's also eager to readjust her priorities and focus a little more on friends and family as well as what makes her happy.  It was nice to watch her do something that she was good at but also reset her personal life a bit.

Seth is a nice guy and is impossible not to like.  I was a  little worried about how his grief over the death of his wife who died 2 years before would be handled.  I liked that Ross confronted the issues head on and nothing was brushed under the rug.  I loved the complications of his parents' marriage and how he ends up being a bit in between and regularly landing in TMI territory.  It provided a lot of humor but I also felt like I was able to understand the family bonds a bit better.

Honeymoon Harbor is a lovely read with a wide range of characters that I'm really looking forward to reading more about.  I do wish it was real as I would love to visit and stay in Heron's Landing myself!

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Absolutely!  I'll be looking forward to seeing more from this series and exploring previous series from this author.

Would I Recommend this Book?
  I would!  If you like Robyn Carr or RaeAnne Thayne I think you'd really enjoy this book.

Author's website:

Sunday, May 27, 2018

This Week in Reading - May 27

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:

Four Funerals and Maybe a Wedding by Rhys Bowen - I've been reading this series for awhile but I'm a few books behind  Of course when I was offered this newest one there was no way I could resist! (Publisher)

Disorderly Conduct by Mary Feliz - I really enjoyed the first one in the series and am hoping to catch up on it this summer.  (NetGalley)

The Lacemaker's Secret by Kathleen Ernst - This is a new to me series but I love the sound of it.  There's antique lace, a body in a century old oven, and a bit of history.  (NetGalley)

Be Our Guest by Kate Kingsbury - I read the first book in the series but somehow missed the 2nd but that didn't keep me from getting the 3rd! (NetGalley)

In Want of a Knife by Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli - Pretty much the exact same as the one above! (NetGalley)


Reading:  The Hollow by Agatha Christie  and Seashells, Spells, & Caramels by Erin Johnson

Listening:  Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics by Dan Harris.  So far I'm finding this pretty interesting. 

Watching:  I've been watching a PI show on the Investigation Discovery app.  It's not great but it is entertaining.  As well I watched Nancy Drew, Detective on TCM which was pretty fun.

Off the Blog:

School has ended and so we are going up to Nashville this weekend to celebrate.  We're staying at the Opryland Hotel which I've never been to before.  I'm not sure if it's going to be amazing or tacky but regardless it should be fun.  I'd like to go to the Hermitage (Andrew Jackson's house) Saturday but not sure if the weather will cooperate.  I'm fighting off a cold and downing medicine like crazy so it may all seem like a fever dream - we will have to see!

On the Blog:

What Happened:

What's Coming Up:

Monday:  Heron's Landing - Contemporary Romance Review
Tuesday:  TBD
Wednesday:  Seashells, Spells, and Caramels - Cozy Mystery Review
Thursday:  TBD
Friday:  Friday Linkups with Current Book
Saturday:  TBD

Have a great week and happy reading!

Saturday, May 26, 2018

The Lying Game - Mystery Review

Rating: Just Okay
Source:  Library - Audio

On a cool June morning, a woman is walking her dog in the idyllic coastal village of Salten along a tidal estuary known as the Reach. Before she can stop him, the dog charges into the water to retrieve what first appears to be a wayward stick, but to her horror, turns out to be something much more sinister...

The next morning, three women in and around London—Fatima, Thea, and Isabel—receive the text they had always hoped would NEVER come, from the fourth in their formerly inseparable clique, Kate, that says only, “I need you.”

The four girls were best friends at Salten, a second rate boarding school set near the cliffs of the English Channel. Each different in their own way, the four became inseparable and were notorious for playing the Lying Game, telling lies at every turn to both fellow boarders and faculty, with varying states of serious and flippant nature that were disturbing enough to ensure that everyone steered clear of them. The myriad and complicated rules of the game are strict: no lying to each other—ever. Bail on the lie when it becomes clear it is about to be found out. But their little game had consequences, and the girls were all expelled in their final year of school under mysterious circumstances surrounding the death of the school’s eccentric art teacher, Ambrose (who also happens to be Kate’s father).

Genre: Mystery

Why I Picked This Book:
  Ware's previous two books were easily two of my favorite reads of the year so there was no way I could pass this one up!

My Impression: 
This is such a hard review to write!  Ruth Ware's previous 2 books were on my favorites lists for the last 2 years.  I loved them.  I loved trying to figure out just what had happened and was on the edge of my seat for every twist and turn.  I felt like I was holding my breath the entire way through the book.  This one?  Not so much. 

So I've been trying to write this for a ridiculous amount of time and have deleted paragraph after paragraph of rambling so when all else fails - make a list.

What Bugged Me -
1.  I actually liked Isa but so many of her choices made me want to reach in and give her a shake.  I get that you make stupid choices when you're a teenager but so many of her problems were caused by lying as an adult when she knew better.  The problems with Owen were entirely self-inflicted.  If she had even told him a partial truth things would have been better.

2.  I think the legal system in the UK is very different than it is in the US (not that I"m all that familiar with it but I watch and read a lot of murder related books so I feel like an expert).  I just don't feel like the repercussions for the big secret would be as scary here as it is to the characters in the book - especially given their age and the time passed.

3.  The repetitiveness.  I mean I get that they're all worried and stressed and scared and making all kinds of terrible decisions but it felt like the last half of the book was mostly that over and over.  I feel like Ware had a pretty good story but didn't have the page count so she had to come up with 200 pages at the last minute.

What I Liked:
1.  I really liked Isa and Fatima and even Kate and Thea though it took a little longer to warm up to them (especially Thea).  I believed they shared the bond that they did and even though they didn't see much of each other anymore were still close friends.  I liked that all 4 were very different but it was still easy to believe they were friends. 

2.  The ending.  Even though there were parts of this book that drove me up the wall Ware still has the ability to make me stand still - barely breathing just listening to the end.    As well I enjoyed the first half of the book.  It wasn't my favorite Ware book but I enjoyed it.

3.  The setting.  I love Ware's ability to make the setting come alive and turn a fairly innocent place into something ominous and seriously foreboding.  I could just feel the sinister atmosphere of the old mill.

Audio note: Imogen Church once again does the narration for Ware's book and once again it is fantastic.  She manages to give all the characters slightly different voices with slightly different accents and it's really wonderful.  I think I'd listen to Church read tax codes and enjoy them

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?
  I would but it's based on her previous two books and not on this one.

Would I Recommend this Book?
  While I would recommend this author I wouldn't recommend this book.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Friday Linkups - The Hollow

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

This Week's Book Blogger Hop Question:
Do you remember the first book you read by yourself?

My Answer: 
I think I learned to read without realizing I knew how to read.  I do remember the day in first grade when we got to bring home our readers to show our parents what we were learning.  And I remember being so excited that I could read it and I wanted to read the whole thing.  That was really the first book I remember sitting down and reading and being aware that I knew how to read it.

I'm going back to an old favorite - The Hollow by Agatha Christie - today.  Agatha had some mixed feelings about this book and always said she regretted putting Poirot in it.  I have seen it in play form which does not feature Poirot and I have to admit that it does work just fine without his little grey cells.  However, I always enjoy seeing him so the addition in the book is not a hardship.  This is one of the few where he's really a background character (until the final reveal of course)

The Beginning:
At 6:13AM on a Friday morning Lucy Angkatell's big blue eyes opened upon another day, and as always, she was at once wide awake and began immediately to deal with the problems conjured up by her incredibly active mind.

My Thoughts:
While I can't form coherent thoughts at 6:13AM I can definitely relate to Lucy's ability to come up with problems!

The 56:
Gerda set her jaw.  Not very much farther now.  Not that she wanted to get there.

My Thoughts:
Poor Gerda.  Coming up on a very unwanted destination is never much fun.

So what do you think?  Keep reading?  Do you remember the first book you read to yourself?

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Books from the Backlog - The House on Tradd Street

I'm linking up with Carole's Random Life in Books for Books from the Backlog.  This is a fun meme that spotlights books that have been hiding in our massive stacks of books for far too long!

This week's book The House on Tradd Street by Karen White.  It has ghost, history, home repair, a Charleston setting, a bit of romance and a mystery.  It might as well be written for me!

What book is hiding in your backlog?

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

A Howl of Wolves - Mystery Review

Rating: Very Good
Source: Publisher

Sam Clair figures she’ll be a good sport and spend a night out at the theater in support of her upstairs neighbors, who have small parts in a play in the West End. Boyfriend (a Scotland Yard detective) and all-round good sport Jake Field agrees to tag along to what is apparently an extra-bloody play filled with dramatic, gory deaths galore. So Sam expects an evening filled with faux fatalities. Until, that is, the curtain opens to the second act, revealing a dummy hanging from the rafters, who’s been made up to look suspiciously like Campbell Davison, the director of the production.

When Sam sees the horrified faces of the actors onstage, she realizes that this is indeed not a dummy, but Davison himself—and this death is not part of the show. Now everyone wants to know: who killed Campbell Davison? As Sam learns more about the murdered man, she discovers that he wasn’t all that well-liked amongst the cast and crew, so the suspect list grows. The show must go on—but Sam knows a murderer must be apprehended, so she sets out to find out what happened, and why.

Genre: Mystery

Why I Picked This Book:
  I had enjoyed a previous book in this series and couldn't resist this one!

My Impression:
  This was a fun one!  This is one of those mysteries where the day to day life of the main characters takes up almost as much page time as the mystery itself.  Sometimes this can get tedious but luckily in this book Sam, Jake, Kay and the rest of their world is entertaining and engaging.  I also loved the behind the scenes look at life on stage and at life behind the desk at a publishing office.

This is not one of those books where the main character has a cool job and mentions it occasionally but never ever goes to it.  We go to work with Sam a pretty good bit and between all the book talk and the selling books talk and the meeting authors talk I could have had an entire book of nothing but that.  I love that Sam is good at her job and driven but also has a fairly balanced personal life.  Her relationship with her mother, Helena, was entertaining and felt authentic as well as her relationship with Jake.  Jake is CID and is usually involved in the official investigation of whatever Sam is sticking her nose into.  I liked that he clearly didn't want to talk about the case with her but she was so interested and asked such good questions that he would forget he felt that way from time to time.

The mystery itself is fascinating with lots of behind the scenes peeks at rehearsals.  I loved seeing how it all ran and just what everyone did.  While I did have a guess at the killer I wasn't convinced I was correct until the very end.  Between trying to figure out just who had killed the director in such a brutal way and wanting to spend more time with Sam this made for a can't put down read!  

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

Would I Recommend this Book?
  I would.  This is a fun mystery with an interesting look into the publishing world.  

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday - My Favorite Character Names in Agatha Christie Mysteries

This week's Top Ten Tuesday topic from That Artsy Reader Girl is all about character names.  I don't think I really have favorites when it comes to names and just thinking about all the names I like out of all the books I've read seems a bit mind boggling.  So I decided to narrow it down to my favorite names in books by my favorite author - Agatha Christie.  There's no real reason I like the names other than I think the first and last work nicely together or that they fit exactly the kind of personality the character has.

1.  Beryl Gilliat (The Harlequin Tea Set)

2.  Gwenda Reed (The Sleeping Murder)

3.  Elsa Greer (Five Little Pigs)

4.  Verity Hunt (Nemesis)

5.  Captain Philip Lombard (And Then There Were None)

6.  Linnet Doyle (Death on the Nile)

7.  Emily Arundell (Dumb Witness)

8  Ariadne Oliver (Hallowe'en Party and several others)

9.  Jane Finn (The Secret Adversaries)

10. Anne Meredith (Cards on the Table)

What are some of your favorite character names?

Monday, May 21, 2018

Ramblings from the Stacks - Library Wanderings

This is a bit of an embarrassing confession for a book worm but I tend to freeze up in a bookstore.  It's not that I don't want to buy books it's just that I have soooooo many and there are soooo many that I want to buy that I end up caught between feeling like I shouldn't buy anything and feeling like I should buy everything.

Luckily I don't have the problem at the library!  I love my local library branch.  It's a small facility but they have a great collection and it's easy to have books transferred from other branches.  The staff is super nice and always helpful.  When the Tornado was little we went to story time pretty regularly and the children's librarian is fabulous.

I normally stay on a fairly strict reading schedule but when I'm stressed or heading towards a reading rut I enjoy a good wander through the shelves and pick up anything that catches my eye.  Not only is it very relaxing but it tends to show me what genre I'm in the mood for at the moment.

Here are a few books I picked up in my last wandering:

Castle in the Mist by Amy Ephron - This is for my Middle Grade review in June.  I actually had another book scheduled but when I saw this on an end cap in the kids' section when I was looking for books for the Tornado and couldn't resist.

Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen - When the weather gets warmer Sarah Addison Allen's books always call to me and this year Lost Lake pretty much jumped in my library bag.

The Craving Cure by Julia Ross - I've had some low blood sugar issues lately and know I need to cut down on how sugar I eat but my giant sweet tooth doesn't always agree.  When I saw this one on an endcap I had to pick it up.

Lost and Found Sisters by Jill Shalvis - I had gotten the novella and the 2nd book in this series and knew that it was time to read the first so I couldn't resist it when I saw it.  It ended up being the perfect book for my mood.

Rock City by Tim Hollis - I love Rock City in Chattanooga, TN.  It's cheesy and touristy but so pretty and I always enjoy a visit.  I found this small little book in the nonfiction shelves and enjoyed reading about how the place started.

What books have you picked up on a whim?  Are you a library user?

Sunday, May 20, 2018

This Week in Readng - May 20

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:

Beautiful Exiles by Meg Waite Clayton - This an author I've seen around for ages and always meant to try.  When I was offered this historical fiction about the relationship between Ernest Hemingway and journalist Martha Gellhorn.  I'm really looking forward to it!  (Publicist)

Selling Dead People's Things by Duane Scott Cerney - The cover of this one is a bit disturbing but the book itself is a nonfiction about estate sales and appraisers and antique stores.  I spend a decent amount of time going to antique stores and have spent some time at estate sales so I'm curious about the behind the scenes look. (NetGalley)


Reading:  A Howl of Wolves by Judith Flanders and Ghost Night by Heather Graham

Listening:  Nothing right now.  I'm next in line for an audio book at the library and until then I'm listening to podcasts.  Luckily my backlist is HUGE so there's no shortage of things to listen to!

Watching:  Not much really.  I'm not loving this season of Dancing with the Stars which is my favorite indulgence.  The shortened season which means constant double eliminations which I don't enjoy and I feel like I don't get to know the celebrities which is kind of the whole point along with lots of sparkles.  I think we're going to go back to watching the original Star Trek movies soon because despite Shatner's dubious acting they are a lot of fun.

Off the Blog:

We are in end of the school year madness which means the Tornado and I are both exhausted and sunburned.  It was Field Day Friday and I volunteered to help run a station which meant I had to project instructions over the voices of lots of kids of various ages for about 4 hours.  I may get my voice back in the next few days we'll see.  The Tornado had a blast and while I did try and swipe sunscreen on him every time I saw him I didn't get his face very well.  I'm slightly scorched which surprised me.  The whole school was outside all day playing games and running around and playing water games and eating snowcones.  It was fun but that followed by a very loud chaotic birthday party Saturday makes me want a nap!

I'm signing the Tornado up for tennis lessons so we're going to meet the instructor today and the Little Passports subscription box shipped so it should be here this week.  I'm super excited to start getting the boxes from different countries and think it'll be a fun addition to summer.  Other than that we've got a few weekend trips and I think we're going to get a few lazy days in early on.

This coming week is Eleanor's birthday but we celebrated with her Friday.  It's been quite a big year for her with the wedding right after last birthday and the birth of the little one just a few weeks ago.  We brought dinner and cupcakes and presents to her house and I got lots of baby snuggles so it was a fun night.  He's 6 weeks old and is so expressive and adorable!  I've gotten to babysit some which is always fun.

On the Blog:

What Happened:

What's Coming Up:

Monday: Ramblings from the Stacks - Library Wanderings
Tuesday:  Top Ten Tuesday - Ten Favorite Character Names
Wednesday: A Howl of Wolves - Mystery Review
Thursday:  Books from the Backlog
Friday:  Friday Linkups with Current Book
Saturday:  Spring Favorites

Have a great week and happy reading!