Friday, August 31, 2018

Friday Linkups: Meet Me in Atlantis

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 have a YouTube channel?  If so, do you post review blogs?

My Answer:
I don't but lately I've been obsessed with YouTube but haven't found many book channels.  If you have a channel or have a favorite book channel please let me know!

This week's book is one I picked up at a trip to Parnassus Books in Nashville.  I had to buy a book and I love travel/project memoirs so Meet Me in Atlantis by Mark Adams looked perfect.  And now two years later I'm actually going to start it!

The Beginning:
We had just met the previous week in Bonn, my new German acquaintance and I, and here we were on the west coast of Africa on a hot Thursday morning, looking for an underwater city in the middle of the dessert.

My Thoughts:
That sounds like a fun adventure but I think I'd want to know the person I was traveling with a bit longer than a week.  Travelling doesn't always bring out the best in people!

The 56:  
Here the inhabitants lived on the sweet fruits of a flowering plant "so delicious that those who ate of it left off caring about home." Homer may have been describing the Tunisian island of Djerba, where date palms grew plentifully and still do.

My Thoughts:  
I love this kind of theorizing - trying to find the truth in legends.

So what do you think?  Keep reading?  Any favorite YouTubers?

Thursday, August 30, 2018

The Guests on South Battery - Fiction/Mystery Review

Rating: Good
Source:  Goodreads

With her extended maternity leave at its end, Melanie Trenholm is less than thrilled to leave her new husband and beautiful twins to return to work, especially when she’s awoken by a phone call with no voice on the other end—and the uneasy feeling that the ghostly apparitions that have stayed silent for more than a year are about to invade her life once more.

But her return to the realty office goes better than she could have hoped, with a new client eager to sell the home she recently inherited on South Battery. Most would treasure living in one of the grandest old homes in the famous historic district of Charleston, but Jayne Smith would rather sell hers as soon as possible, guaranteeing Melanie a quick commission.

Despite her stroke of luck, Melanie can’t deny that spirits—both malevolent and benign—have started to show themselves to her again. One is shrouded from sight, but appears whenever Jayne is near. Another arrives when an old cistern is discovered in Melanie’s backyard on Tradd Street.

Melanie knows nothing good can come from unearthing the past. But some secrets refuse to stay buried....

Genre: Mystery/Paranormal/Women's Fictioon

Why I Picked This Book:
  I've been wanting to read this series forever because it has ghosts and home renovations and Charleston which are pretty much high points on my list of favorite things.  

My Impression:
What I Loved:
Pretty much the whole plot.  I loved the old houses.  I loved figuring out why Jayne was left this old house.  I loved the archeology style dig in the backyard and seriously anytime anyone mentions secret passages I'm all in and ready to pull out my Nancy Drew notebook and magnifying glass.

The setting!  Charleston was so well developed it was a character in it's own right.  I really want to go back for a visit and gawk at all the gorgeous old houses.

The pacing.  I felt like this was a pretty fast read and it was never one I had any difficulty getting into.  I'd pick it up just planning to read a page or two and put it down three or four chapters later.

What Didn't Work For Me:
The characters and how they interacted with each other.  This was the main thing that dropped this from a 4 star really liked to a 3 star liked it mostly rating.  Where do I even start - So Melanie is over the top with the tracking the twins every move which would have been a little eye rolly but what really bothered me was how she and her husband Jack treated the whole parenting thing.  Everyone has a different style of doing things but it annoyed me that Jack mocked all her charts and spreadsheets and just didn't do them but at the same time she set up this whole complex system and expected him to abide by them especially since it did seem like they were sharing caregiving.  As well everyone's attitude over Melanie's weight was just plain weird.  I was okay with her stepdaughter wanting her to eat healthier but all the comments from everyone around her as well as her favorite bakery refusing to sell her donuts was just weird.  As well her complete denial that the reason that her clothes and shoes didn't fit wasn't because they had shrunk but because her body had changed.  The twins have been around for months.  What was she wearing during her maternity leave?  The denial felt so complete that it was a bit bizarre.  *deep breath* End Rant.

There were a few plot points that felt unresolved or just disappeared that felt a little strange.  I know this is a continuing series so maybe that has something to do with it but I found it a little jarring.

Why I do feel a little ranty about what didn't work for me I did enjoy the reading experience of the book.  I loved the ghosts the discoveries, and the overall feel of the series.  I wonder if the characters would have annoyed me so much if I had been a long time reader of the series.  This is probably one of those series that is probably best started from the beginning but it can be enjoyed if starting here.  If you love ghosts and old houses and don't mind characters that sometimes need a good shaking I think you'll enjoy this series.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  I would.  This is the second book by Karen White - the other was one of her more women's fiction - and have enjoyed her writing style in both.  I am looking forward to reading the first of this series and maybe getting to know Melanie a little better so I don't want to smack her.

Would I Recommend this Book?
  I would but would recommend you start with the first book.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

A Tale of Two Kitties - Cozy Mystery Review

Rating:  Good
Source: Goodreads

With a well-placed paw on a keyboard or a pointed stare, Kathleen’s two cats, Hercules and Owen, have helped her to solve cases in the past—so she has learned to trust their instincts. But she will need to rely on them more than ever when a twenty-year-old scandal leads to murder…

The arrival of the Janes brothers has the little town of Mayville Heights buzzing. Everyone of a certain age remembers when Victor had an affair with Leo’s wife, who then died in a car accident.

Now it seems the brothers are trying to reconcile, until Kathleen finds Leo dead. The police set their sights on Leo’s son and Kathleen’s good friend Simon, who doesn’t have much of an alibi. To prove her friend innocent, Kathleen will have to dig deep into the town's history—and into her sardine cracker supply, because Owen and Hercules don't work for free...

Genre: Mystery - Cozy

Why I Picked This Book:
  I'd always skipped this one because I've never really been a fan of cat cozies but I've branched out a bit lately and have enjoyed a few other series involving cats so I figured it was time to try this one.

My Impression:
  Somehow I didn't realize that the Magical Cats mentioned in the series title were actually MAGICAL cats.  It's not over the top magic but they definitely have some tricks and they use them in such fantastically cat ways that it was pretty fun.

I love a good librarian main character and like in many of my favorite cozy librarian series Kathleen spent a lot of time actually IN the library so I was really able to get a sense of kind of a "day in the life".  There's a pretty solid community here and I think coming in at book 9 did put me at a slight disadvantage.  It wasn't confusing but I didn't feel as much like I was visiting old friends as I think it would have felt if I was a long time reader of the series.  However you have to start somewhere and if you don't want to go back to book 1 this is an enjoyable mystery!

I liked the pace of the mystery.  It wasn't the fastest but we got just enough information at just the right amount to really keep me interesting.  I also liked the emotions of the characters.  Family situations are complicated and emotions are very rarely straightforward.  It was nice to see that covered well in a cozy.

This was a really enjoyable mystery a series I suspect I'll enjoy more as I read more books from it.  I loved the cats and there were several moments where they made me laugh just from their sheer cat-ness.  I'm looking forward to continuing with this series! 

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?
  Definitely!  I already have the next book in the series and I'm looking forward to trying it.

Would I Recommend this Book?
  If you enjoy cat cozies than you really must be reading this series!

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday - Back to School Freebie

This week's Top Ten Tuesday topic from That Artsy Reader Girl is a back to school freebie.  I don't read a lot of books involving school as even when I read middle grade it's typically adventure type books so they take place during the summer or in the magical middle grade land where school doesn't exist.  However, back to school always makes me think of learning new things and with temperatures starting to get cooler I'm in the mood for books that might be slightly heavier or drier.  Add in to the fact that I'm really trying to get in more nonfiction this year and I think this freebie will be all about the nonfiction I've added to my TBR recently. All 10 of these are books I know virtually nothing about so if you've read any of them please let me know what you thought!

1.  Leave Me Alone, I'm Reading: Finding and Losing Myself in Books by Maureen Corrigan - I've actually read another book by this author that I really didn't like but this book is about reading and how could I pass up that title?

2.  Lady on the Hill: How Biltmore Estate Became an American Icon by Howard E Covington Jr - We went to the Biltmore on our honeymoon and ever since then I've been fascinated with the Biltmore and the people who actually lived there so this book really appeals to me.

3.  Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think by Brian Wansink - I've been trying to eat healthier and exercise more and all that stuff so I'm curious to see if this book gives me any insights that I'm missing.

4.  Dinosaurs in the Attic:  An Excursion into the American Museum of Natural History by Douglas Preston - I just love the title and the idea of what's all hiding in storage in the huge museums.

5.  The Irish Game: A True Story of Crime and Art by Matthew Hart - I did a binge of Raiders of the Lost Art on Netflix and have been fascinated by art theft so I'm so curious about this one.

6.  A Pig in Provence: Good Food and Simple Pleasures in the South of France by Georgeanne Brennan - Good food and simple pleasures sounds pretty amazing.

7.  Rescue Artist: A True Story of Art, Thieves, and the Hunt for a Missing Masterpiece by Edward Dolnick - This is another art theft book thanks to my Raiders of the Lost Art binge and I'm looking forward to it.

8.  Still Life with Chickens: Starting Over in a House by the Sea by Catherine Goldhammer - How could I resist that title?  Plus I love a good starting over book.

9.  To Marry an English Lord: Or How Anglomania Really Got Started by Gail MacColl -Another title I couldn't resist and since about 90% of the books I read are set in the UK I figured this was appropriate.

10. Time Was Soft There: A Paris Sojourn at Shakespeare & Co by Jeremy Mercer - Another bookish book and is there any bookish place more iconic than Shakespeare & Co?

Do you have any nonfiction that is calling your name?  Have you read any of these?

Monday, August 27, 2018

Maybe For You - Contemporary Romance

Rating: Very Good
Source: Publisher

She’s never had a no-strings fling. He’s never had anything else. But maybe this time will be an exception?

After a year of mourning her fiancé, Alexis Parker has worked hard to rediscover what she wants out of life. Fresh out of the military and back stateside, her brother offers her a marketing job at the Stag Distillery. Ready for a new challenge, Alexis agrees to accompany her new co-worker Jake Cooperon a Stag cross-country promotional tour. He may have an infamous playboy reputation, but Alexis is surprised to find out that there is more to him than meets the eye. And she likes what she sees. . .

Jake promised Alexis’s brother that he’d be an absolute gentleman. Of course, that was before he and Alexis hit the road, and they both agree that what Alexis’s big brother doesn’t know won’t hurt him. The plan: to keep their fling confined to the RV, and everything will go back to normal once they head home. Things progress in ways neither of them could have imagined, and Jake realizes that he and Alexis make a perfect mix. Can he convince her that he’s ready to shake things up and give true love a shot?

Genre: Romance - Contemporary

Why I Picked This Book:
I loved the road trip feel to this one and I'm always looking for a god contemporary.  I also really liked a book in another series by this author earlier this summer.

My Impression:
  This is the second book by Nicole McLaughlin that I've read and the second that I've thoroughly enjoyed.  In the previous book I found the characters unique and interesting and this book was no exception but in a totally different way.  Both Alex and Jake have some complicated baggage.  Alex is still grieving the loss of her fiancé a year earlier and trying to navigate a life completely different from the one she expected.  Jake has some pretty serious insecurities from childhood struggles with learning disabilities.  McLaughlin walked a fine line between making the baggage realistically complicated and messy without making it feel angsty and melodramatic.

The road trip vibe was really fun.  I really liked how the friendship between the two had grown up at the beginning of the book but the road trip really put the spotlight on them.  Not only did they have to sort through their own personal issues but they also had to deal with the bond they had and what it meant both in the moment and in their real life.

This is book 3 in the series but as with most romances there is no issue starting here.  I am anxious to go back and read the first two so I can get to know Dean, Charlotte, TJ, and Jen better.  I absolutely flew through this one and enjoyed getting to know Alex and Jake as well as the community at Stag Distillery.  This a great romance that's light but with heart and with characters you can't help but root for.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?
  Absolutely!  This is the 2nd book by this author that I really enjoyed and I'm looking forward to reading more of her books.

Would I Recommend this Book?
  If you enjoy contemporary romance than this is a must read author.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

This Week in Reading - August 26

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

What I Got:

Thread Herring by Lea Waite - I LOVE this series but am so behind on it.  However, this one involves a tattered coat of arms and a secret document from 1757 involving a foundling child.  I'm so in!  (NetGalley)

Santa Puppy by Lynn Cahoon - I love the Tourist Trap series and so there was no way I could pass this one up.  (NetGalley)

The Body in the Attic by Judi Lynn - The title sounds like a Nancy Drew book and there's a skeleton that's identified by a locket.  Of course I needed this one!  (NetGalley)

Hot Winter Nights by Jill Shalvis - I love Jill Shalvis and I've been loving this series so I'm really looking forward to this one.  (Edelweiss)


Reading:  The Guests on South Battery by Karen White and Second Chance at Two Love Lane by Kieran Kramer

Listening:  Speaking from Among the Bones by Alan Bradley but I'm almost done and I'm going to get back to Written in Red by Anne Bishop

Watching:  We watched Jaws last night.  Somehow I've gone my whole life without ever seeing it!

Off the Blog:

This has been a very quiet week.  We are getting back in the habit of school and all that.  J hasn't had to travel this week though he may be heading out again soon.  I'm getting excited because I made the final arrangements for our trip to Disney World in October.  We were just there last year but I think I'm even more excited to go back!

I've started a good exercise routine mixing in YouTube exercise videos (I discovered the playlist function and it's been on) and interval running.  I have some old injuries especially a damaged ankle so I'm taking the running thing very slowly and carefully but so far I'm really enjoying it.  Any tips or warnings for new runners?

On the Blog:

What Happened:

What's Coming Up:

Monday:  Maybe For You - Contemporary Romance Review
Tuesday:  Top Ten Tuesday - Back to School Freebie
Wednesday:  A Tale of Two Kitties - Cozy Mystery Review
Thursday:  The Guests on South Battery - Mystery/Fiction Review
Friday:  Friday Linkups with Current Book
Saturday:  After Many Years + Lighthouse Beach - Mini Reviews

Have a great week and happy reading!

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Toucan Keep a Secret + Dim Sum of All Fears - Cozy Mini Reviews

Goodreads:  Toucan Keep a Secret (Meg Langslow #23) by Donna Andrews

Blurb: Meg Langslow is at Trinity Episcopal locking up after an event and checking on the toucan Meg's friend Rev. Robyn Smith is fostering in her office. After hearing a hammering in the columbarium (the small building where cremated remains are held), Meg finds an elderly parishioner lying dead on the floor of the crypt. Several niches have been chiseled open; several urns knocked out; and amid the spilled ashes is a gold ring with a huge red stone.

The curmudgeonly victim had become disgruntled with the church and ranted all over town about taking back his wife's ashes. Did someone who had it in for him follow him to the columbarium? Or was the motive grave robbery? Or did he see someone breaking in and investigate? Why was the ruby left behind?

While the Chief Burke investigates the murder, Robyn recruits Meg to contact the families of the people whose ashes were disturbed. During this task, Meg learns many secrets about Caerphilly's history--and finds that the toucan may play a role in unmasking the killer. Clues and events indicate that a thief broke into the church to steal the toucan the night of the murder, so Meg decides to set a trap for the would-be toucan thief--who might also be the killer.

My Thoughts:  I've seen this series around for years and probably even own a few but I don't think I've ever read one of the previous 22.  However, the title was just too good to pass up so I decided to take a chance!  One of my favorite things about a cozy mystery series is when starting the book feels like reuniting with old friends.  Normally this doesn't happen unless I've been reading a series for awhile but I kind of felt that right from the start here.  I found Donna Andrews' writing style so relaxed and so engaging that I was instantly pulled in.  I was really surprised with just how easy it was to jump in this far into the series.  I had no problems getting into the story and keeping track of who was who.  The mystery was really good though to be fair the digging into past mysteries is probably my favorite storyline but I felt it was done really wonderfully here with lots of bits and pieces of information, gossip, and research.  I'm really curious to read more from the series so I'm excited that I have 22 books to catch up on!  Don't let that this is #23 scare you away.  This is a fun series with a really interesting and likable main character set in a small town peopled with entertaining but not over the top characters.  Rating:  Very Good

Goodreads:  Dim Sum of All Fears (A Noodle Shop Mystery #2) by Vivien Chien

Blurb:  Lana Lee is a dutiful daughter, waiting tables at her family’s Chinese restaurant even though she’d rather be doing just about anything else. Then, just when she has a chance for a “real” job, her parents take off to Taiwan, leaving Lana in charge. Surprising everyone―including herself―she turns out to be quite capable of running the place. Unfortunately, the newlyweds who just opened the souvenir store next door to Ho-Lee have turned up dead. . .and soon Lana finds herself in the midst of an Asia Village mystery.

Between running the Ho-Lee and trying to figure out whether the rock-solid Detective Adam Trudeau is actually her boyfriend, Lana knows she shouldn’t pry into the case. But the more she learns about the dead husband, his ex-wives, and all the murky details of the couple’s past, the more Lana thinks that this so-called murder/suicide is a straight-up order of murder. . .

My Thoughts: I think my opinion of this suffered a little because I read it right after I read the above book which I loved immediately.  This one was an easy read that pulled me in right away but I didn't connect to it as much as the first one.  It too a little bit longer to really get going with Lana having to navigate some family issues and is kind of stuck in a transition phase and she tries to figure out what she really wants to do with her life.  I liked her friends and the different stores in  Asia Village and I really enjoyed that the reader is given a real sense of the community.  When the murder happens the story picks up and I really enjoyed the investigation.  This involves my 2nd favorite mystery type - the person with all the secrets - so I really enjoyed watching everything come to light and come together.  This was a good mystery with a unique setting and an interesting main character.  While it's book #2 it didn't feel like I was missing any information or was confused.  I would like to pick up the first book and will be looking forward to book #3.  Rating:  Good

Friday, August 24, 2018

Friday Linkups - The Guests of South Battery

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:
Where do you post your reviews besides your blog?

My Answer:  
Just Goodreads.  I did post on Amazon but got blocked from reviewing not too long ago.  I probably could argue it but I just haven't felt like putting the time into it.  I do pin them on Pinterest but not as regularly as I should.

This week's book is one I'm super excited about The Guests on South Battery by Karen White.  I loved a book I read earlier this year by Karen White and not only is this set in Charleston which is one of my favorite places but it also involves ghosts and old houses which is super exciting.

The Beginning:
There is no escaping the dead.

My Thoughts:
Well that's somewhat ominous.

The 56:
She stopped and faced me.  "I don't like old houses, and seeing this hasn't really changed my mind.  I'm ready to list it as is."

My Thoughts:
I can't imagine not liking old houses so her thinking has me a bit curious here.

So what do you think?  Keep reading?

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Books from the Backlog - Murder at the Brightwall

Today I'm linking up with Carole from Carole's Random Life of Books for Books from the Backlog.  I really enjoy the chance to feature a book that's been hiding in the piles of books for far too long!  Today's book is Murder at the Brightwell by Ashley Weaver.

Blurb:  Amory Ames is a wealthy young woman who regrets her marriage to her notoriously charming playboy husband, Milo. Looking for a change, she accepts a request for help from her former fiancé, Gil Trent, not knowing that she’ll soon become embroiled in a murder investigation that will test not only her friendship with Gil, but will upset the status quo with her husband.

Amory accompanies Gil to the Brightwell Hotel in an attempt to circumvent the marriage of his sister, Emmeline, to Rupert Howe, a disreputable ladies’ man. Amory sees in the situation a grim reflection of her own floundering marriage. There is more than her happiness at stake, however, when Rupert is murdered and Gil is arrested for the crime. Amory is determined to prove his innocence and find the real killer, despite attempted dissuasion from the disapproving police inspector on the case. Matters are further complicated by Milo’s unexpected arrival, and the two form an uneasy alliance as Amory enlists his reluctant aid in clearing Gil’s name. As the stakes grow higher and the line between friend and foe becomes less clear, Amory must decide where her heart lies and catch the killer before she, too, becomes a victim. 

Why It Needs to Come Off the Shelf:  I was so excited about this one when I got my copy and I meant to read it right away.  I've been in a mood for historical mysteries lately and while shopping my own shelves I came across it.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

My Classic Movie Essentials - Arsenic and Old Lace (1944)

Setting: 1940s Brooklyn, New York though there is no mention of the war so it could easily be 30s or 50s.

Mortimer Brewster - Cary Grant
Elaine Harper - Priscilla Lane
Jonathan Brewster - Raymond Massey
Dr. Einstein - Peter Lorre
Aunt Abby - Josephine Hull
Aunt Martha - Jean Adair
"Teddy Roosevelt" Brewster - John Alexander

Premise:  A drama critic learns on his wedding day that his beloved maiden aunts are homicidal maniacs.  Hijinks and mayhem ensue.

My Thoughts:  This is billed as a farce which it is but it isn't what I usually associate with the term farce.  This isn't a Three Stooges kind of humor (not that there's anything wrong with that) relying on physical humor or just pure silliness to get a laugh.  This is a perfectly ordinary man who finds himself in the most absurd situation with rather dire implications for two people who he genuinely cares for.  Throw in a very sinister brother and another who is convinced he's Teddy Roosevelt.  This is one of those movies with a lot of chaos - people talking over each other and frequently at cross-purposes - which is one of my favorite types of humor.

The Teddy Roosevelt character is hilarious with lots of bugle blowing and yellow fever victims.  His expression when the new police officer doesn't salute is hilarious and he never drops the over the top Teddy Roosevelt personality.  I love Cary Grant in this movie.  He's so suave and elegant at the beginning and by the end he's so not and it's kind of fun to see him unravel as the movie goes on.  Peter Lorre is wonderful as well.  He plays such a fantastic spineless villain and his whining added a nice element of humor to Raymond Massey's evil Jonathan.

This story was originally a play and the aunts and Grant's love interest, Elaine, are played by the actresses who had originated the characters of Broadway.  I can definitely see the more theatrical acting in the aunts especially which at times makes their performances feel a little stilted or exaggerated.  However, it's also fitting with the characters so I didn't really feel like it was distracting.  As well, while the terms used to describe mental illness are definitely from the time I don't feel like it made light or made fun of any mental health issues and none were insulting (mostly just the terms insane or crazy and I think the occasional nuts).  The characters were all kind and supportive to Teddy (other than neighbors complaining about his bugle blowing in the middle of the night which frankly seems reasonable).

What Makes This Movie Essential - Cary Grant.  Pretty much everything Cary Grant does is essential and this is one of his best comedic roles.

Read Alike - For some reason I'm thinking the Royal Spyness series by Rhys Bowen.  Other than the time period there really isn't anything in common but they both have the same chaotic humor with some murder mixed in.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday - Books to Pull You Out of a Slump

Today's Top Ten Tuesday topic from That Artsy Reader Girl is Books to Pull You Out of Reading Slump.  This topic is really perfect timing as I've been fighting a reading slump for a few months now.  It hasn't actually happened but I feel it lurking in the corners of my reading.  Do you ever feel like that?  As you'll be able to tell from the list most of my reading slumps are caused by my mood and I'm usually feeling over tired or blah or just in a need of comfort reading!  So here are ten that I might be reading soon!

1.  Three Blind Mice and Other Stories by Agatha Christie - I love a short story when I'm in a slump and this collection is one of my favorites.  Christie is a master of the short story and this collection is some of her best.

2.  The Chronicles of Avonlea by L.M. Montgomery - This is another great collection of short stories - in this case children's stories.  While Anne Shirley is not the center of any of the stories she is a side character in many and mentioned in the rest.  They're just sweet stories with a bit of humor.

3.  The Blue Bedroom and Other Stories by Rosamunde Pilcher - This is essentially the grown up version of the book above.  The themes and characters are a bit more adult but they all have that same feel good kind of ending.

4.  Let's Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson - This is funny and interesting and at times even a little sad.  It's also kind of an essay format which always works better for me when I'm in a slump.

5.  84, Charing Cross Roads by Helene Hanff - This short little book is a collection of letters between New York based writer Helene Hanff and a bookstore in London.  The book descriptions are gorgeous, the letters are fascinating and it's just a delight of a read.

6.  House of Many Shadows by Barbara Michaels - Or Smoke and Mirrors, or Vanish with the Rose, or Wings of the Falcon, or okay most of her books.  While they can be a bit dated they're Gothic-y bits of fun.

7.  Gone Away Lake by Elizabeth Enright - If my childhood self could have written the perfect book this would have been it.  It's a community of abandoned Victorian cottages and two children get to run around and have adventures in the ruins.  It's just happiness in a book.

8.  Jewels of the Sun by Nora Roberts - A character who is trying to find her own happiness, lots of fairy tales and an over the top perfect Irish setting make for the book version of chamomile tea.

9.  And Then He Kissed Her by Laura Lee Guhrke - This is a straight up historical romance with a heroine who is just fantastic.  She's smart and speaks her mind and is aware of how to take care of herself and is also likable and relatable.  I want to be friends with her!

10. The Case of William Smith by Patricia Wentworth - A mysterious man working at a toy shop who has no past and some of my favorite characters from Wentworth's Miss Silver series as well as a lovely ending makes this just a lovely read.

What do you look for to get you out of a reading slump?  

Monday, August 20, 2018

Three Things Tag

I saw this tag months ago when Grace at Rebel Mommy Book Blog did it back in April.  She got it from Bookmark Lit who got it from a lifestyle blogger.  It looked so fun that I couldn't resist joining in even if it's a few months late.

1.  Three Things I'd Never Give Up:  
Coffee - How does one survive mornings and mid afternoons without it?
Baths - I take one every night or I can't get to sleep - this is on top of a shower every morning - I'm very clean
Mascara -  I have decent eyelashes but they're reddish and without mascara I have no eyes

2.  Three Favorite Vegetables:
I'm not really a vegetable person so this was took some doing.  I'll go with butternut squash, green beans, and tomatoes (I know it's technically a fruit but I'm counting it as a vegetable.)

3.  Three Favorite Fruits: 
Peaches, Cantaloupe, and lately I've been in a grape phase.

4.  Three Shows I Watched Faithfully from Beginning to End;
Friends, Firefly, and The Middle

5.  Three Places I Want to Visit in the US
Southern California - We're talking about doing this next year and I'm so excited!  Disneyland and the San Diego Zoo are both high on my list
Maine - It looks gorgeous
Charleston, SC - I've actually been here before and I loved it but it's been so many years I don't think it counts

6. Three Places I Want to Visit Outside the US
England - specifically London - This is another trip that's probably coming up in the next couple of years and I'm so excited.

7.  Three Things I Always Have on Me - 
My phone, a hairband or clip, contact safe eye drops

8.  Three Qualities I Like About Myself -
I'm good at tackling new experiences/skills
I'm fairly organized
I'm a fairly fast learner

9.  Three Qualities I Don't Like About Myself -
I don't have the best follow thru
I can be self centered
I go back over interactions with people and obsess over what I did wrong

10. Three Most Recent Movies I've Watched:
Desk Set with Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy
Dead Over Heels - An Aurora Teagarden Hallmark Mystery movie
The Maltese Falcon with Humphrey Bogart

11.  Three Things That Are Always in My Car -
Tissues, hand sanitizer, assorted receipts that really need to be thrown away

12. Three Most Recent Phone Calls
Husband, Lawn Service, and Hair Dresser.  To be fair I don't talk on the phone very much.  Most people I communicate with through text.

13.  Three Books I Read and Loved in High School
Shell Seekers by Rosamunde Pilcher
Tess of the D'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
Secret Adversaries by Agatha Christie

14.  Three Most Used Makeup Products:
Mascara, concealer, eye liner

15.  Three Pet Peeves:
Leaving shopping carts in the middle of the parking lot, littering, and talking loudly on the phone in a waiting room

16.  Three Things That Make Me Laugh:
My husband, my son, Jenny Lawson's blog The Bloggess

17.  Three Things That Make Me Cry:
Anytime anyone else cries,  Any kind of reunion in a book/show/movie, stubbing my toe - gets me every time.

I hope if you enjoyed this that you'll do your own three things!  Please come back and let me know so I can see your choices!

Sunday, August 19, 2018

This Week in Reading - August 19

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:

Marigold for Malice by Bailey Cattrell - I've been wanting to read this book since the first book came out because the covers are all gorgeous and it sounds like a lot of fun.  I'm really looking forward to this one! (Publisher)

The Cats Came Back by Sofie Kelly - I've never really been a "cat" cozy person but this series involving magical cats looks fun so I'm thinking I might be changing my mind! (Publisher)

Hitting the Books by Jenn McKinlay - This is one of my favorite cozy series and I loved the last one so I'm super excited to read the next entry.  (Publisher)

Drink Me by Nick Perry - This is a little different for me but I couldn't resist a book of Alice in Wonderland themed cocktails!  I can't wait to try some.  (Publisher)


Reading:  I just finished Fade to Black by Heather Graham and am about to start Meet Me in Atlantis by Mark Adams which I'm looking forward to.  I also just started the Mystery of Three Quarters by Sophie Hannah which is the newest Hercule Poirot.  

Written in Red by Anne Bishop and mixing in Keep Moving by Dick Van Dyke which is more about aging than the memoir I was expecting.

Watching: I've been watching some of the Hallmark Movie Mysteries - I'm in the middle of a Hailey Dean marathon right now but I don't think it's a series I'll continue.  It's okay but there's a few things about it that annoy me.  The Garage Sale Mysteries are my favorite.

Off the Blog:

It's been a bit of a weird week.  J has been out of town for the last two weeks and just got in late Friday night.  Work took him to the Southern California area so I've had him scouting out some areas.  I think we're going to go to Disneyland/Legoland/San  Diego Zoo and anything else I can come up with in the area next year.  Any recommendations would be appreciated.

Mostly, I'm still getting used to not having Spots around.  Sadness aside it's just so unbelievably weird not to have a dog around.  I didn't realize how many of my routines involved her or just how much I talked to her.  I think the cat really misses her too.  He seems to be looking for something most of the time and needs a lot more attention.  He's a pretty needy cat at the best of times but that's really ramped up lately.

I am starting to get back into reading.  I've had a few months where I've been kind of meh about it.  I was reading good stuff but for really the first time I can remember I just wasn't wanting to sit down and read.  That does seem to be getting better which is a huge relief!

On the Blog:

What Happened:

What's Coming Up:

Monday:  The Three Things Tag
Tuesday:  Top Ten Tuesday - Books to Pull You Out of  a Slump
Wednesday:  Classic Movie Essentials
Thursday:  Books from the Backlog
Friday:  Friday Linkups with Current Book
Saturday:  TBD

Have a great week and happy reading!

Saturday, August 18, 2018

The Masterpiece - Historical Fiction Review

Rating: Very Good
Source:  NetGalley

For the nearly nine million people who live in New York City, Grand Central Terminal is a crown jewel, a masterpiece of design. But for Clara Darden and Virginia Clay, it represents something quite different.

For Clara, the terminal is the stepping stone to her future, which she is certain will shine as the brightly as the constellations on the main concourse ceiling. It is 1928, and twenty-five-year-old Clara is teaching at the lauded Grand Central School of Art. A talented illustrator, she has dreams of creating cover art for Vogue, but not even the prestige of the school can override the public's disdain for a "woman artist." Brash, fiery, confident, and single-minded--even while juggling the affections of two men, a wealthy would-be poet and a brilliant experimental painter--Clara is determined to achieve every creative success. But she and her bohemian friends have no idea that they'll soon be blindsided by the looming Great Depression, an insatiable monster with the power to destroy the entire art scene. And even poverty and hunger will do little to prepare Clara for the greater tragedy yet to come.

Nearly fifty years later, in 1974, the terminal has declined almost as sharply as Virginia Clay's life. Full of grime and danger, from the smoke-blackened ceiling to the pickpockets and drug dealers who roam the floor, Grand Central is at the center of a fierce lawsuit: Is the once-grand building a landmark to be preserved, or a cancer to be demolished? For Virginia, it is simply her last resort. Recently divorced, she has just accepted a job in the information booth in order to support herself and her college-age daughter, Ruby. But when Virginia stumbles upon an abandoned art school within the terminal and discovers a striking watercolor hidden under the dust, her eyes are opened to the elegance beneath the decay. She embarks on a quest to find the artist of the unsigned masterpiece--an impassioned chase that draws Virginia not only into the battle to save Grand Central but deep into the mystery of Clara Darden, the famed 1920s illustrator who disappeared from history in 1931.

Genre: Fiction - Historical

Why I Picked This Book:
  I love a historical fiction and the blurb really pulled me in.  I love when a dual timeline is connected like this.

My Impression:
  Over the last few years Fiona Davis has added several books to my TBR but this was the first one I've picked up.  It definitely won't be the last.  Dual timelines are tricky at times.  Don't make them distinct enough and they're confusing.  If one plot is more intense than the other than one feels like a waste of time.  This was a good balance which made for an enjoyable read.  The time periods picked were smart.  1920s New York and 1970s New York might as well be on different planets and I liked that both women were facing very timely issues that felt appropriate for the time periods they existed in.

First, we had Clara in the 1920s desperately trying to make it as an illustrator and completely on her own in the city.  Clara is ambitious and opinionated and scared.  She gets so frustrated by the injustices and just the futility of trying to get someone to listen to her at times and I liked that she didn't always have the words to express her frustration which made her a character I could really relate too.  She wasn't always the most likable and at times I felt like her decisions were questionable but I enjoyed her story and was dying to find out just what had happened.

50 years later in a much more dangerous and run down Grand Central we have Virginia.  I really sympathized with Virginia who has found herself, after surviving breast cancer, newly and unexpectedly divorced.  She's trying to start over again and find her footing as herself even though she was a bit reluctant to do so.  My grandmother found herself divorced about this time period so I think that made this storyline a little more poignant for me.  As well, I loved a good discovery based plot and I was fascinated by Virginia's discovery of the illustrations and her fascination with them had me heavily invested.

I found this to be a quick read.  The characters weren't the most likable but I did find them to be sympathetic and interesting.  I'm so glad I took the time to finally read Fiona Davis and I'm already looking forward to reading more from her.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?
  Yes!  I'm already looking forward to my next book from her!

Would I Recommend this Book?
  If you enjoy historical fiction this is one you really should try.  I don't think you'll be disappointed!