Wednesday, July 17, 2019

The Pawful Truth - Cozy Mystery Review

Goodreads:  Thew Pawful Truth (Cat in the Stacks #11) by Miranda James

Rating: Very Good
Source: Publisher

Description: In addition to his library duties and his role as doting grandad, Charlie has enrolled in an early medieval history course offered by young, charismatic professor Carey Warriner. Charlie feels a bit out of place- his fellow classmates are half his age- except for Dixie Bell Compton, another ‘mature’ student. When Charlie hears an angry exchange between her and their professor, his interest in piqued. He’s even more intrigued when she shows up at his office asking for a study partner. Charlie turns her down and is saddened to learn just a few days later that Dixie has been killed.
Charlie wonders if Professor Warriner had anything to do with Dixie’s death. Warriner is married to a fellow professor who happens to be a successful author. There are rumors on campus that their marriage was on the rocks. Was Dixie's death the result of a lovers’ triangle gone bad? Charlie soon discovers that the professor’s wife may have some secrets of her own and his suspect list is only getting longer.

As he and Diesel step further into the tangled web of relationships, someone else is viciously killed. Whose jealousy finally erupted into murderous rage? Was it a crime of passion or is there another more sinister motive? Charlie races to unravel this mystery: and to draw out the culprit, he may just have to put his own life on the line…

Genre: Mystery - Cozy

Why I Picked This Book:  I've really enjoyed the last few books in the series so of course I couldn't resist this one!

My Impression:  This is one of those series that feel like visiting old friends as soon as you open the book.  This can be both good and bad.  Sometimes series with such developed characters and communities will have a book where the primary plot gets a little lost in all the character interaction and that was definitely the case here.  The mystery itself was very good but there were a number of times when it was a little lost.  It also developed a little late in the book which led to a fairly rushed feeling ending and a few threads that never felt fully wrapped up.

However, this was a thoroughly enjoyable read and I especially enjoyed the relationship between Azalea and Ramses the kitten.  We also got to catch up with Charlie's children and grandchildren which has factored into previous books.  This was everything a cozy mystery should read - enjoyable, fast paced with characters you just want to spend time with.  My only complaint was the mystery was a little weak and sometimes overshadowed by the fun characters.  If you're new to the series then this is probably not the book to start with but if you're a long time fan then I think you'll love it.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Absolutely!  I can't wait until the next book and really want to read the earlier books in the series.

Would I Recommend this Book?  If you love cozies I highly recommend this series but you may want to start with an earlier book.  If you're a long time fan of the series then I think you'll enjoy this one as much as I did.

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

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday - Auto-Buy Authors

Today I'm linking up with Top Ten Tuesday hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl which is all about lists.  This week's Top Ten list is about Auto-Buy Authors.  I'm bad about having Auto-Buy Authors and then not reading them and letting quite a collection stack up.  There's been a time or two (or more) that I've decided an author is the one for me then proceeded to buy all of their books without actually trying them.  And then of course I discover I can't stand their books.  These are not those authors!

1.  Kate Morton - I just finished my 4th Kate Morton and I can safely say that I will buy anything she comes out with.  I love the world she creates and the family secrets that are always hidden in the stories.

2.  Nora Roberts - I've been reading Nora Roberts for years and I will pick up anything by her as soon as I see them.  Plus, I loved her response to the whole plagiarism scandal that blew up a few months ago which made me appreciate her even more.

3.  Sabrina Jeffries - Jeffries is a romance author I trust.  No matter what the plot is (including secret child) I trust her to make it work and so far she has never let me down.

4.  Jill Shalvis - When I start a new Shalvis book I know it's going to be fun and entertaining with the occasional darker topic addressed.  There's usually going to be a dog who will also be fantastic.

5.  Emilie Richards - Richards is another author I've been reading for years and I love how she handles complicated relationships.  Her latest book had a touch of suspense to it that I absolutely loved and I will always pick up a book of hers.

6.  Katherine Reay - I've actually only read one book by this author but I loved it so much she made the list on the strenght of that alone!

7.  Laura Lee Guhrke - Another author I've been reading for years and I really feel like she's a bit neglected in the historical romance genre.  Her books always have great characters and are thoroughly enjoyable with an occasional unique twist.

8.  Jenn McKinlay - I adore McKinlay's cozy mysteries and I discovered I loved her contemporary romance as well so if I see a book by her I read it!

9.  Jenny Colgan - I've known about Colgan for years but she only recently made this list with her trilogy (fingers crossed there are more to come) set on the Isle of Muir off the coast of Scotland.

10. Hazel Gaynor - I'm still pretty new to Gaynor but what I've read I've loved.  Her covers are always stunning and her blurbs always catch my interest.

Who are some of your auto buy authors?

Monday, July 15, 2019

Layover - Mystery Review

Goodreads:  Layover by David Bell

Rating: Good
Source: Publisher

Description:  Joshua Fields takes the same flights every week for work. His life is a series of departures and arrivals, hotels and airports. During yet another layover, Joshua meets Morgan, a beautiful stranger with whom he feels an immediate connection. When it's time for their flights, Morgan gets up to leave, leans over and passionately kisses Joshua, lamenting that they'll never see each other again.
As Morgan slips away, Joshua is left feeling confused by what just happened between them. That's when he looks up and is shocked to see Morgan's face flashing on a nearby TV screen. He's even more shocked when he learns the reason why--Morgan is a missing person.

What follows is a whirlwind, fast-paced journey filled with lies, deceit, and secrets to discover the truth about why Morgan is on the run. But when he finally thinks every mystery is solved, another rears its head, and Joshua's worst enemy may be his own assumptions about those around him...

Genre: Mystery 

Why I Picked This Book:  I really enjoyed his previous book and this sounded intriguing.

My Impression:  I love David Bell's writing style.  Right from the start I'm pulled in and completely connected to the story.  I found the police investigation absolutely fascinating and loved when the POV shifted to the police detective Kimberly.  The investigation really kept me reading - what happened to the missing entrepreneur, was his brother involved, and just how was the woman in the airport involved?  I thought her struggles with balancing time for her daughter and her job seemed very realistic and not overdone. 

I had some problems with the main plot involving Morgan and Joshua that started at the airport.  I was interested and really wanted to find out just what was going on but Joshua's decisions made me want to shake him.  I get that he was floundering in both this professional and personal life but some of his choices were flat out insane and stalker-y.  But while I was rolling my eyes at Joshua's impulsiveness I was flying through the pages to see just what happened next and dying to see how it resolved.   I wasn't disappointed!

This is the 2nd book from David Bell but it won't be my last.  Even when his characters drive me crazy his writing style pulls me and his intriguing plots keep me up way too late!

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Absolutely!  I'd like to pick up some of his previous books and I'll be looking for the next book too!

Would I Recommend this Book?  I would.  If you enjoy psychological thriller type mysteries then I think you'd enjoy this one.

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

Sunday, July 14, 2019

This Week in Reading - July 14

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:

The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman - I've been wanting to read this author since her last few books but I couldn't pass up this one.  (Audible)

Under Currents by Nora Roberts - I've actually taken a pass on Roberts' most recent books but this one sounds good and I've been enjoying romantic suspense in audio.  (Audible)

Molded 4 Murder by J.C. Eaton - I love this series and honestly I didn't even read the blurb.  (NetGalley)


Reading: No More Time by Suzanne M. Trauth and Mrs. McGinty's Dead by Agatha Christie

Listening: I finally finished Suddenly One Summer by Julie James and am just starting What We Find by Robyn Carr

Watching:  Still not much other than an occasional crime show.

Off the Blog:

Nothing new.  More rental house madness but the end (fingers crossed) is in sight.  We are heading down to Birmingham for a post wedding party this weekend.  More physical therapy but the end is in sight there as well. 

On another note I'm unofficially doing the Modern Mrs. Darcy Reading challenge this year and one of the categories is to read a book recommended by someone with great taste so could you recommend a book?  Any genre, old, new, whatever - what is a book that you always recommend?

On the Blog:

What Happened:

What's Coming Up:

Monday:  Layover - Mystery Review
Tuesday:  Top Ten Tuesday - Ten Auto-Buy Authors
Wednesday: The Pawful Truth - Cozy Mystery Review
Thursday: Books from the Backlog
Friday: Friday Fives
Saturday: TBD

Have a great week and happy reading!

Saturday, July 13, 2019

The Forgotten Room - Historical Fiction Review

Goodreads:  The Forgotten Room by Karen White, Lauren Willig, and Beatriz Williams

Rating: Good
Source:  Library

Description: 1945: When the critically wounded Captain Cooper Ravenal is brought to a private hospital on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, young Dr. Kate Schuyler is drawn into a complex mystery that connects three generations of women in her family to a single extraordinary room in a Gilded Age mansion.
Who is the woman in Captain Ravenel's portrait miniature who looks so much like Kate? And why is she wearing the ruby pendant handed down to Kate by her mother? In their pursuit of answers, they find themselves drawn into the turbulent stories of Gilded Age Olive Van Alen, driven from riches to rags, who hired out as a servant in the very house her father designed, and Jazz Age Lucy Young, who came from Brooklyn to Manhattan in pursuit of the father she had never known. But are Kate and Cooper ready for the secrets that will be revealed in the Forgotten Room?

The Forgotten Room, set in alternating time periods, is a sumptuous feast of a novel brought to vivid life by three brilliant storytellers.

Genre: Fiction - Historical

Why I Picked This Book:  I loved the premise of this and have enjoyed books by all three authors so this seemed like a must read.

My Impression:  Three women - all searching for something, all connected to a society mansion, a ruby necklace and a miniature portrait.  I was fascinated by all the links and connections and the stories of each of the women.  Olive, Lucy, and Kate each have their own story to tell and each have their own mysteries that they want to solve.  Of the three I found Lucy's the least compelling though I liked her very much and found one of the answers she found very sweet.  I was most interested in Kate's story and would have liked more about her.  She's tough and very smart and more than a bit lonely.  I liked Olive the least though I found her story fascinating.  She's a little immature and while I can understand her desperation she definitely hasn't much thought much about how she's going to implement her plan.

I was impressed with how well the stories fit together.  With each chapter the POV changed but while each character had a distinct voice at no point did the book feel incoherent or jumbled.  If the front cover didn't state that this was a collaboration of 3 authors I don't think I would have realized it from the seamless execution.

While I enjoyed the stories I wanted a bit more.  A little more character development and a bit more expansion on just how events played out.  I think I wanted the end spelled out for me a little more too.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  I'd read books by any of these authors again - especially Beatriz Williams.

Would I Recommend this Book?  If you enjoy historical fiction then I think you'd enjoy this book.

Friday, July 12, 2019

Friday Fives - Top Five Favorite Books of 2019 So Far

I'm taking a bit of a break from my usual Friday Linkups to try something a little different.  Michelle over at Because Reading is Better Than Real Life   used to do a Five on Fridays that I always enjoyed and I've seen a few other variations on the theme.  As well I'm in a list making kind of mood so I thought I'd give start making random five lists.  Sometimes they'll be bookish other weeks not so much.  Since it's just over halfway through the year I thought I'd take a look back at my reading and pull the 5 books I enjoying reading the most this year.  Since this is kind of casual and unofficial I'm counting rereads which I normally don't do but I'm feeling a bit rebellious. 

1.  Dead Wake by Erik Larson - I've been wanting to read Erik Larson's books for years and have always been fascinated by the sinking of the Lusitania.  I found this fascinating and am looking forward to reading more from him.

2.  The Printed Letter Bookshop by Katherine Reay - This was one of those perfect books at the perfect time.  I loved the characters and the bookshop and just everything about it. 

3.  Dark Witch by Nora Roberts - I read this one right when it came out but was a little meh about it.  I picked it up on Audible during a sale and decided to relisten to it and thoroughly enjoyed it.  I went on to listen to rest of the trilogy and really enjoyed it.

4.  The Labors of Hercules by Agatha Christie - I love Agatha Christie and I love her short stories.  This is a Hercules Poirot collection and the setup is so fun and it's got a great variety of stories.  It's light and refreshing and I really enjoyed reading it again.

5.  Flowers in the Rain and Other Stories by Rosamunde Pilcher - This is a short story collection that I forget about for months on end and then occasionally just have to reread it.  Pilcher passed away earlier this year and I knew I had to reread this collection.  It's sweet and endearing and so incredibly Pilcher.

What are some of your favorite books so far this year?

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Books from the Backlog - Little Beach Street Bakery

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!  This week's book is Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan.

Goodreads:  Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan

Blurb:  Amid the ruins of her latest relationship, Polly Waterford moves far away to the sleepy seaside resort of Polbearne, where she lives in a small, lonely flat above an abandoned shop.

To distract her from her troubles, Polly throws herself into her favorite hobby: making bread. But her relaxing weekend diversion quickly develops into a passion. As she pours her emotions into kneading and pounding the dough, each loaf becomes better than the last. Soon, Polly is working her magic with nuts and seeds, olives and chorizo, and the local honey-courtesy of a handsome local beekeeper. Drawing on reserves of determination and creativity Polly never knew she had, she bakes and bakes . . . and discovers a bright new life where she least expected it.

Why It Needs to Come Off the Shelf:  I do want to read it but I also discovered that the Romance Package (or whatever they're calling it now) on Audible has the 2nd one so I need to read this one so I can listen to that one.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Ten Years a Nomad - Nonfiction Review

Goodreads:  Ten Years a Nomad: A Traveler's Journey Home by Matthew Kepnes

Rating: Just Okay
Source: Publisher

Description:  New York Times bestselling author of How to Travel the World on $50 a Day, Matthew Kepnes knows what it feels like to get the travel bug. After meeting some travelers on a trip to Thailand in 2005, he realized that living life meant more than simply meeting society's traditional milestones, such as buying a car, paying a mortgage, and moving up the career ladder. Inspired by them, he set off for a year-long trip around the world before he started his career. He finally came home after ten years. Over 500,000 miles, 1,000 hostels, and 90 different countries later, Matt has compiled his favorite stories, experiences, and insights into this travel manifesto. Filled with the color and perspective that only hindsight and self-reflection can offer, these stories get to the real questions at the heart of wanderlust. Travel questions that transcend the basic "how-to," and plumb the depths of what drives us to travel — and what extended travel around the world can teach us about life, ourselves, and our place in the world.
Ten Years a Nomad is for travel junkies, the travel-curious, and anyone interested in what you can learn about the world when you don’t have a cable bill for a decade or spend a month not wearing shoes living on the beach in Thailand.

Genre: Nonfiction - Memoir

Why I Picked This Book:  I'm fascinated by lives that are completely different from my own and that I really don't have a desire to replicate.  No part of me wants to stay in hostels and wander around the world for ten years (especially the whole month of no shoes part) but I'm fascinated by those that do live like that.

My Impression:  I don't think I read the blurb closely enough because I was expecting stories about what it was like to travel the world for 10 years and how the author tackled practical challenges of traveling without really a plan or budget.  I wasn't expecting quite so much insight and self-reflection.  And there is a lot of self-reflection and a whole bunch of talking about the psychology behind travel and our desire to travel or not travel.  It started feeling a bit repetitive early on and that didn't get better.  I ended up feeling like the author was just trying to justify his own choices and I wanted to reach through the book and tell him to relax and just live his life which he kept talking about doing exactly that. 

The travel stories were interesting when we eventually got around to them.   While no part of me will be staying in a hostel in a room with six other strangers I did find reading about the experience interesting.  I also liked just the snapshots of all the different areas all over the world.  It was definitely intriguing to get a glimpse of the road less traveled.  Unfortunately, the balance seemed to skew far more towards the author explaining his choices which had the book falling a bit flat for me.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  I'd probably be interested in an article or blog post from him but I doubt I'll be picking up a book again.

Would I Recommend this Book?  Probably not and definitely not without checking out his blog (Nomadic Matt) first.

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

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday - How to Tell if You're a Character in a ...

Today I'm linking up with Top Ten Tuesday hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl which is all about lists.  This week's Top Ten list is a character freebie so I thought I'd do how to tell if you're a character in a few of my favorite genres.  You never know when you're in a cozy mystery and it's best to be prepared!  So here are a few tips to help you tell if you're a character in a...

Cozy Mystery

1.  You own some kind of small retail store - it can be a bookstore, a clothing store, or a hobby store of some time.  It could also be a cafe or bakery.  Maybe an antique store or a bed and breakfast.  But whatever it is it needs to be small enough where you only have a couple of employees (who are cool with you running out on very short notice for hours on end) and a group of regular customers.

2.  You live in a small town that seems to have a fairly transient population.  There's always someone new who is moving to town to open another store, restaurant, or bed in breakfast of some kind. 

3.  You have an extreme sense of curiosity, very few boundaries, and no problem going up to acquaintances and asking them very personal questions.

Contemporary Romance

1. You have a very tight group of friends.  Like kind of strangely tight.  You're all single and very different and in totally different careers and have very different ideas on marriage and dating as a whole.  Bonus points if you all have different hair colors.

2.  You have just moved to a new town or apartment building and said new town/apartment building is full to the point of bursting with single guys in your approximate age range who are incredibly good looking and spend a massive amount of time in the gym without actually seeming to spend a massive amount of time at the gym.

3.  You know in some capacity an older woman who has no filter and no fear of announcing what she thinks to anyone in the vicinity.  She has no problem meddling and setting up situations to force you to be alone with one of the above guys.

Women's Fiction

1.  A parent has recently died (or grandparent or mentor) and they had an enormous dilapidated house that you must either live in for a certain amount of time or get cleaned out (or both)

2.  Some kind of workplace catastrophe has occurred and you have somehow lost your job, significant other (he was kind of a creep so no great loss), and sometimes even your house.  OR you've been married for a long time and thought everything was going fine if maybe not exciting until the husband shows up and announces that things are not only not fine but he's leaving and occasionally he'll have a mistress on the side.

3.  For whatever reason you are escaping (see above two reasons) to a beach on the east coast.  I'm not sure why one must go to the Eastern seaboard to recover but apparently it's a rule.

All of the Above:

You have a pet and not just any pet but a pet with a big personality who you discuss things with and who answers you in some way. This pet also gets into things or gets out or causes some kind of problem at very strategic moments.

What do you think are signs that you're in a book in a certain genre?

Monday, July 8, 2019

A Family of Strangers - Fiction Review

Goodreads: A Family of Strangers by Emilie Richards

Rating: Very Good
Source: Blog Tour

Description: All her life Ryan Gracey watched her perfect older sister from afar. Knowing she could never top Wendy’s achievements, she didn’t even try. Instead Ryan forged her own path while her family barely seemed to notice.
Now Wendy shares two little girls with her perfect husband while Ryan mourns the man she lost after a nearly fatal mistake in judgment. The sisters’ choices have taken them in different directions, which is why Ryan is stunned when Wendy calls, begging for her help. There’s been a murder—and Wendy believes she’ll be wrongfully accused.

While Wendy lies low, Ryan moves back to their hometown to care for the nieces she hardly knows. The sleuthing skills she’s refined as a true-crime podcaster quickly rise to the surface as she digs for answers with the help of an unexpected ally. Yet the trail of clues Wendy’s left behind lead to nothing but questions. Blood may be thicker than water, but what does Ryan owe a sister who, with every revelation, becomes more and more a stranger?

Is Wendy, who always seemed so perfect, just a perfect liar—or worse?

Genre: Fiction - Contemporary

Why I Picked This Book:  I love Richards' books and I really enjoyed that the main character is a true crime podcaster.

My Impression:  I've been reading Emilie Richards book for probably close to 20 years and every time I pick one up I know I'm in for an emotional and enjoyable read.  This lived up to my expectation with a little bit of a twist.  While I expect characters I immediately connect with I wasn't really expecting the touch of suspense which was quite a welcome surprise.  I loved Ryan's job and the references to investigating cold cases as she and her colleague tried to figure out just what was going on with Wendy. 

The emotional elements that I expect from Richards were still very much present as Ryan wrestled with her relationships with her parents, sister, and nieces.  I also enjoyed that Holly and Noelle weren't the perfect friendly children that are so often portrayed in fiction.  They have zero interest in making things easy for Ryan and something seems very much wrong with them. 

I've really enjoyed Richards' books in the past but I think this one was probably my favorite.  I absolutely loved the addition of the mystery and it kept me up late into the night completely wrapped up in the story.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Absolutely!  I always enjoy Richards' books and I'm hoping we get a little suspense in future books too!

Would I Recommend this Book?  Definitely!  If you enjoy fiction with well developed characters and complicated relationships than this author is one you should definitely try.

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

Sunday, July 7, 2019

This Week in Reading - July 7

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:

The Pawful Truth by Miranda James - This is the latest in the Cat in the Stacks mystery series which so far I've been really enjoying. (Publisher)

Heiress Gone Wild by Laura Lee Guhrke - 


Reading:  Finishing up Distant Hours by Kate Morton and Ten Years a Nomad by Matthew Kepnes

Listening:  Still listening to Suddenly One Summer by Julie James.  It's taking forever but that's no fault of the book.

Watching:  We haven't watched much though we did see The Secret Lives of Pets 2 in theaters this weekend.  It was pretty cute.

Off the Blog:

Wedding is done!  And here are a few pictures to share.  I had to restrain myself from going super overboard and am limiting to four.  The bottom is a picture of Emma with my grandparents who were absolutely delighted with the whole thing.  The ceremony took place in one side of the double parlor in the home and was gorgeous.  Above that is the wedding party on the steps.  And then there's just a picture I thought was sweet. 

We were very pleased by the venue when we chose it and were impressed above and beyond anything we could have expected.  The food was fantastic and perhaps the most Southern of reception spreads that could be done.   If anyone is looking for kind of a random gorgeous place to be married let me know!  I'm trying to think of other events we can have just so we can rent it again!  They decided to spend a week in Charleston before getting back to regular life.  Emma starts her new job teaching 8th graders at the end of the month.

The rest of us spent the rest of the week being as lazy as humanly possible.  

On the Blog:

What Happened:

What's Coming Up:

Monday:  A Family of Strangers - Fiction Review
Tuesday: Top Ten Tuesday - Character Freebie
Wednesday: Ten Years a Nomad - Nonfiction Review
Thursday: Books from the Backlog 
Friday: Friday Fives
Saturday: TBD

Have a great week and happy reading!

Saturday, July 6, 2019

2019 Reading Recap - 2nd Quarter (Halfway Done!)

So once a quarter I like to revisit the resolutions I made at the end of the year.  Partly for encouragement, partly because there is not much I love than tracking data, and the rest to make sure I didn't forget a resolution which very much happened this time around.  I blame the year itself because somehow it got left on fast forward.  I mean how could we be halfway through all ready???

1.  Read 200 Books in 2019 - I changed this to 150 and I'm currently at 67 so a few books behind but not so far behind I can't catch up.

2.  Complete the Modern Mrs. Darcy Reading Challenge (here) and the Read Christie 2019 Challenge (here) - I'm doing okay here.  I've made some progress on the Agatha Christie challenge and though I haven't made any on the MMD challenge I feel like I'm still in good shape.  

3.  Read 4 Nonfiction Books - After reading a true crime book back in April and a book of journal entries that was hiding on my TBR for ages my total stands at 3.  I think I can easily read 1 more this year to make this goal.

4.  Read 10 Books I Already Own -I'm doing pretty good here though I don't have the exact count.  This last month I've been doing a lot of rereads and thoroughly enjoying them!

5.  Make Progress On Series I've Enjoyed But Neglected - Read 5 off of this list - I've completely neglected this one this quarter.  Definitely need to catch up!

6.  Read at least half the books this list and this list -  Same as above.  Definitely need to focus here!

7.  Read 4 Classics - or at least books I have deemed classics - I hadn't read any in the first quarter but I made up for it here by listening to Sense and Sensibility and A Study in Scarlet.  Two more and goal completed and I definitely think I can make it!

8.  Try 10 new cookbooks either purchased or from the library. - I've done 3 but have come to a screeching halt.  I just got a couple of new ones from the library that I'm really looking forward to trying so I'm hoping to get back to cooking soon.

 How have you done with your reading goals so far in 2019? 

Friday, July 5, 2019

Friday Fives - July Reading

I'm taking a bit of a break from my usual Friday Linkups to try something a little different.  Michelle over at Because Reading is Better Than Real Life   used to do a Five on Fridays that I always enjoyed and I've seen a few other variations on the theme.  As well I'm in a list making kind of mood so I thought I'd give start making random five lists.  Sometimes they'll be bookish other weeks not so much. Since this is the first Friday in July I'm picking 5 books to read this month.  I've been giving each month a theme and while I had been thinking this month's theme would be "Beach" I'm finding June has left me worn out and way behind.  So this month is all about the comfort reading and catching up.

1.  Beach Town by Mary Kay Andrews - I've been wanting to read this one for quite some time and I pulled this to read this summer.  I'd really look to finally get to it.

2.  Meet Me in Atlantis by Mark Adams - I actually started this one back in April but didn't make much progress.  I enjoyed what I read and would like to focus on this one for a bit.

3.  Mrs. McGinty's Dead by Agatha Christie - I've been trying to read an Agatha Christie a month but didn't get around to this one in June.  I always find Christie soothing so this sounds perfect.

4.  Queen of the Road: The True Tale of 47 States, 22,000 Miles, 200 Shoes, 2 Cats, 1 Poodle, a Husband and a Bus with a Will of Its Own by Doreen Orion - The subtitle makes me laugh and this sounds like a fun travel-y book to get into this month.

5.  Thursdays with the Crown by Jessica Day George - I loved the first two books in this series and am looking forward to continuing it.  Plus, I intended to read this as my June middle grade and it just didn't happen.

What do you want to read this July?

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Books from the Backlog - The Tale of Holly HOw

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!  This week's book is one I had completely forgotten about until I redid my shelves a month or so ago.  I've had it for literally years and was really looking forward to it when I bought it.  Isn't that always the way.

Goodreads:  The Tale of Holly How by Susan Wittig Albert

Blurb:  Everyone in Sawrey likes Ben Hornby. So when Beatrix finds the shepherd dead in the meadow and suspects foul play, she wonders who would have done such a thing. A trio of village cats has an idea: When Ben breathed his last, his sheep must have seen his killer before scattering. So they set out to find the far-flung flock. Although she’s distracted by duties at the farm and the sad plight of a young girl, Beatrix must get to the bottom of this. As the stories intertwine, Beatrix and the creatures realize that, to solve this case, all of Sawrey, both the two- and four-legged inhabitants, must work together... 

Why It Needs to Come Off the Shelf: A cozy mystery solved by Beatrix Potter seems kind of summery and very fun.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

The Blackbird Season - Reviews from the TBR Shelf

Goodreads: The Blackbird Season by Kate Morretti

Rating: Somewhere between Good and Just Okay
Source: Library (Audio)

Description:  Where did they come from? Why did they fall? The question would be asked a thousand times....Until, of course, more important questions arose, at which time everyone promptly forgot that a thousand birds fell on the town of Mount Oanoke at all.
In a quiet Pennsylvania town, a thousand dead starlings fall onto a high school baseball field, unleashing a horrifying and unexpected chain of events that will rock the close-knit community.

Beloved baseball coach and teacher Nate Winters and his wife, Alicia, are well respected throughout town. That is until one of the many reporters investigating the bizarre bird phenomenon catches Nate embracing a wayward student, Lucia Hamm, in front of a sleazy motel. Lucia soon buoys the scandal by claiming that she and Nate are engaged in an affair, throwing the town into an uproar...and leaving Alicia to wonder if her husband has a second life.

And when Lucia suddenly disappears, the police have only one suspect: Nate.

Nate's coworker and sole supporter, Bridget Harris, Lucia's creative writing teacher, is determined to prove his innocence. She has Lucia's class journal, and while some of the entries appear particularly damning to Nate's case, others just don't add up. Bridget knows the key to Nate's exoneration and the truth of Lucia's disappearance lie within the walls of the school and in the pages of that journal.

Genre: Mystery (Kind of)

Why I Picked This Book:  I was intrigued by the blurb and I liked that there were multiple narrators for the different POVs

My Impression:  Huh... I'm not sure how I felt about this one.  Part of the problem were expectations.  I was expecting a mystery style thriller with an unreliable narrator or two.  However, there really wasn't much of an investigation and really not much actually happens.  The bulk of the book is centered around secrets and rumors that are floating around a small Pennsylvania town.  None of them are good and range from harmful to life destroying.

The characters aren't particularly likeable though I could sympathize with Alicia.  She married the golden boy and expected a fairy tale life and it didn't come to be.  Their son shows signs of being on the Austism Spectrum fairly early and from then on Alicia's life focuses completely on her son to the exclusion of her husband.  It's a dynamic that I think happens pretty regularly in families with young children.   Bridget seems very nice but kind of one dimensional and Nate is the type of guy that wants to be everyone's friend even if it isn't the best decision.

I was a bit frustrated as it felt like the serious topics - bullying, sexual assault and even the murder - were handled quickly or brushed aside while so much page time was devoted to who is saying what and how everyone feels.  As well I was frustrated by the date jumping. I had a hard time keeping up with the timeline though part of the problem may have been that I was listening to the audio which made it impossible to really go back and check dates.

This wasn't my favorite listen.  I did enjoy the narration by Cassandra Campbell, Gibson Frazier, Joy Ozmanski, and Rebekah Ross and I love when different POVs are handled by different narrators.  However, between the issue with the dates, the lack of investigation structure, and the rushed dealings of the serious subjects I was a bit frustrated with the book itself.  I did find the writing compelling and would give another book by this author a try but it wouldn't be top priority.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  I would though only if the blurb really interested me.

Would I Recommend this Book?  Yes with reservations. This is more about how gossip works and devastates and spreads versus an actual mystery so if you're okay with that you should be fine.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday - Childhood Favorites

Today I'm linking up with Top Ten Tuesday hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl which is all about lists.  This week's Top Ten list is about your childhood favorites.  Here are some of my favorite books as a kid - books I read over and over and books (well some of them) that I still own.

1.  The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett - I read this over and over and I reread it a few years ago and enjoyed it just as much.  The odd thing is that I've never read anything else by Burnett.  I picked up A Little Princess and just never was able to get into it.

2.  The Four Story Mistake by Elizabeth Enright - I don't know how I got my copy of this book or how I missed picking up any other Enright books but I adored this one and read it until my copy just about fell apart.  As an adult I've tracked down the rest of her books and I love them all.

3.  Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery - I resisted reading this series but then I saw the movie with Megan Follows and read the whole series in a weekend.  I still reread it periodically. 

4.  Eight Cousins by Louisa May Alcott - I have very strong emotions (mostly negative) about Little Women but I loved Eight Cousins and reread it countless times.  I did get a copy of the sequel which I should reread.  I read it at around 11 or 12 and didn't like it because of what happened to dashing Charlie. 

5.  Belles on Their Toes by Frank B Gilbreth Jr and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey - I loved Cheaper by the Dozen but the one I reread over and over was the sequel.  I loved seeing the dozen as teenagers and young adults.

6.  The Secret of the Old Clock by Carolyn Keene - I loved all the Nancy Drew books - the original series, the remakes, the off shoots - just all of them.

7.  A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle - I reread this a few years ago and was really surprised by how much I liked it as a kid because it is so different from everything else I enjoyed then or really now.  However, it is a wonderful story and now I want to read the rest of the series - which to be honest I didn't know existed until a few years ago!

8.  Mystery Behind the Wall by Gertrude Chandler Warner - I loved the whole Boxcar Children series but this one about a scavenger hunt left by the last resident of the house was my very favorite.

9.  The Ghost at Dawn's House by Ann M. Martin - I loved all of the Babysitter's Club books but this one was my favorite.  It had ghosts, mysteries,and secret passages so how could I not?

10.  The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis - This was the only book from the Chronicles of Narnia that I read as a kid.  Unlike a few other books I actually had the whole series but mine was sorted in order printed so this one was followed by Prince Caspian which I never could quite get through.

What were some of your childhood favorites?

Monday, July 1, 2019

A Beach Wish - Contemporary Fiction Review

About A Beach Wish

• Paperback: 384 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (June 25, 2019)

New York Times bestselling author Shelley Noble returns to the beach in her latest summer read about the family we create and the wishes we make that can shape us. Zoe Bascombe has never said no to her family. When she blew her Juilliard audition, she caved to their wishes and went to business school. But when her mother dies and leaves instructions for Zoe to spread her ashes at a place called Wind Chime Beach, she defies her brothers and starts out for a New England town none of them has ever heard of and discovers a side of her garden club mother that her wildest dreams hadn’t imagined. Zoe has another family. Her first instinct is to run home. Instead she is caught in the middle of her feuding new relatives. With one family fighting among themselves and the other not speaking to her, Zoe must somehow find a way to bridge her new life with her old. For the first time in her life, Zoe must make a stand for her family—both of them. If only she can only figure out how. Her answer lies at Wind Chime Beach where for generations people have come to add their chimes to the ones already left among the trees. And when the wind blows and the air fills with music, their secrets, dreams, and hopes are sent into the world. There’s a message for Zoe here—if she has the courage to open her heart.

My Thoughts:  I'm fairly new to Shelley Noble's books but I've been enjoying catching up and this latest one was probably my favorite one yet.  I really liked Zoe.  She wasn't perfect and sometimes her choices puzzled me but I really enjoyed watching her discover the puzzle her mother left her all while discovering what makes her happy.  I won't lie - this plot definitely falls under my favorite things category - and this book definitely didn't disappoint!  I've had a busy few weeks and this was a nice soothing brain vacation.  It was easy to get into the story and easy to connect with the characters and a fun setting that was perfectly beachy and quirky.  This is a great summer read and cements Noble as one of my go-to authors for an enjoyable contemporary fiction read with great characters.  Rating: Very Good  (4 Stars)

Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

About Shelley Noble

Shelley Noble is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of Whisper Beachand Beach Colors. Other titles include Stargazey Point, Breakwater Bay, and Forever Beach—a story of foster adoption in New Jersey—and four spin-off novellas. A former professional dancer and choreographer, she lives on the Jersey shore and loves to discover new beaches and indulge her passion for lighthouses and vintage carousels. Shelley is a member of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and Women’s Fiction Writers Association. Find out more about Shelley at her website, and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

Sunday, June 30, 2019

This Week in Reading - June 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:

Booking the Crook by Laurie Cass (Publisher)

Bewitched and Betrothed by Juliet Blackwell (Publisher)


Reading: A Beach Wish by Shelley Noble and Layover by David Bell

Listening: I finished A Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Dyle (narrated by Stephen Fry) and enjoyed it though it wasn't quite what I was expecting.   I just started Suddenly One Summer by Julie James which I'm enjoying but haven't had much of a chance to listen to it.

Watching:  Not much but I'm hoping to get some binge watching in next week.  I don't know what I'm going to binge watch though - any suggestions?  

Off the Blog:

I'm not sure how this week went as I'm writing this on Monday right before I head out of town.  I'm picking up Emma and the two of us plus the Tornado are going to get the venue set up for her wedding.  Fingers crossed that everything goes smoothly as we're going to do a lot of winging and last minute scrambling!  Emma has had a big couple of months.  She got her degree at the beginning of May and just found out she has her first official job.  She'll be an 8th grade World History teacher in a little town south of where she'll be living.  She loved the feel of the school and is really excited.  Throw in the wedding and it's been quite the summer so far!

On the Blog:

What Happened:

What's Coming Up:

Monday:  Beach Wish - Fiction Review
Tuesday: Top Ten Tuesday - Childhood Favorites
Wednesday: TBD
Thursday: Layover - Thriller Review
Friday: Friday Fives
Saturday: Reading Wrapup 2019 - 2nd Quarter

Have a great week and happy reading!