Sunday, March 31, 2019

This Week in Reading - March 31

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 Printed Letter Bookshop by Katherine Reay - It's  about a woman who inherits her aunt's bookshop.  There's some finding yourself going on, family secrets and a sale thwarting staff all centering around a bookstore.  (Blog Tour)

Summer on Mirror Lake by Joann Ross - I've enjoyed the first two books in this series and this one involves a librarian which is always a selling point for me.  (Publisher)


Reading:  An Artless Demise by Anna Lee Huber and False Mermaid by Erin Hart

Listening:  It took me longer to finish up The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith than I expected so I just finished it Friday and won't start another audio book until Monday.  I'm thinking either Shadow Spell by Nora Roberts or Untraceable by Laura Griffin

Watching:  We are getting through a list of Disney movies - So far we've watched Coco and Wreck it Ralph and it's either Frozen or Tangled this weekend.  I'm really enjoying having an official family movie night.  Other than that I haven't been watching much TV though we've been really loving March Madness.  War Eagle!  Also binge watching NCIS and really enjoying it.  I was more than a little nervous when Abby left but I really like Casey.

Off the Blog:

A bit of a crazy week but for no real reason.  You know where you spend all your time feeling frazzled and rushed and behind but aren't actually accomplishing anything or doing anything?   That was my week.  It was spring pictures at the Tornado's school.  I'm chairing picture days this year so I had to be there all day and it was definitely more than a bit like herding cats but it got done!

It's finally some warm weather but the bugs aren't out so we spent all last weekend outside!  I took a break from gardening last year but I'm excited to get things planted this year.  We don't get a lot of sun so I'm going to stick to a few tomato plants in the sunniest areas (because nothing is better than a fresh tomato) and stick to herbs and flowers for cutting in the rest of the beds.  I might get a pepper plant or two but it will depend on what I see that interests me.  I'm excited to get started and see what happens when I try to work with our actual environment a little better. 

Also, I got an essential oil diffuser in my FabFitFun box this week and I'm excited to use it but I don't know what essential oils I should use.  Any essential oil recommendations?  Or blends?  Or tips?  I'm not quite sure what I'm supposed to do with it but I'm very excited.

On the Blog:

What Happened:

Friday:  Friday Fives - Five Favorite Audio Narrators
Saturday:  2019 Reading Recap - First Quarter

What's Coming Up:

Monday:  Reviews from the Children's Section - 10 Middle Grade Books I Want to Read
Tuesday:   Top Ten Tuesday - Ten Things That Will Make Me Pick Up a Book
Wednesday:  An Artless Demise - Historical Mystery Review
Thursday:  Mother's Day Mayhem - Cozy Mystery Review
Friday: Friday Fives - My 5 April Reads
Saturday: TBD

Have a great week and happy reading!

Saturday, March 30, 2019

2019 Reading Recap - First Quarter

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 have finished the first quarter all ready???

1.  Read 200 Books in 2019 - So I'm pulling this back to 150.  I'm just over 30 books right now and I'm feeling fairly happy with my reading pace.  I'll reevaluate next time.

2.  Complete the Modern Mrs. Darcy Reading Challenge (here) and the Read Christie 2019 Challenge (here) - I've completed 4 and a half out of 10 on the Modern Mrs. Darcy Challenge and 1 out of 11 on Agatha Christie.

3.  Read 4 Nonfiction Books -  I read 1!  I listened to Dead Wake by Erik Larson and loved it.   I'm looking forward to reading more by him and just more nonfiction in general. 

4.  Read 10 Books I Already Own - So far I've only read 2 but I'm in the middle of another one so I'm feeling pretty good about this.

5.  Make Progress On Series I've Enjoyed But Neglected - Read 5 off of this list - I completely forgot about this one so I'm at 0 out of 10 but I'm going to focus more on it next quarter.

6.  Read at least half the books this list and this list -   I'm trying to make some progress on some of the lists I enjoy making! - I've read 5 out of 10 on the 1st list but only 1 off the 2nd.  

7.  Read 4 Classics - or at least books I have deemed classics -  None yet but I've got a few on audio that I'm hoping to get into soon.

8.  Try 10 new cookbooks either purchased or from the library. - And this would be the one I completely forgot about but I do have a stack of cookbooks from the library waiting for me to page through.  I think I'm going to review them so I have a solid way to check them off.

How are you doing on your 2019 resolutions?

Friday, March 29, 2019

The Friday Five - My Favorite Audio Book Narrators

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.  This week's Top Ten Tuesday topic was all about audio books and got me thinking about my favorite narrators.  A great narrator can really take a good audiobook and elevate it straight to amazing and here are five I always look for.

1.  Imogen Church - Church should narrate all thrillers.  Her voice is so flexible that she makes every character sound unique while never sounding overdone and her pacing makes me feel like I"m on the edge of my seat the whole time.  My favorites she's narrated are In a Dark Dark Wood and The Woman in Cabin 10 both by Ruth Ware.

2.  Jayne Entwistle - Not only is her name absolutely delightful but her voice lives up to the promise.  I love her narration of the Flavia de Luce series.  I love her ability to clearly portray hidden glee.

3.  Actors - This is more of a broad category than a specific narrator but with few exceptions actors are the narrators of some of my favorite audio books - David Tennant and Kate Winslett are two of my favorite.  They know how to use their voices and I never pass up a chance to listen to a celebrity memoir read by the celebrity.  I've really enjoyed Amy Poehler, Tina Fey, Mindy Kaling, and Cary Elwes' books especially.

4.  Amanda Ronconi - I love Ronconi's books for funny contemporary romances especially.  She has just the right sound for light and quirky and is always entertaining.

5.  Rosalyn Landor - I always enjoy a book read by Rosalyn Landor though her voice doesn't always jump out at me the way others sometimes do.  What she does beautifully is make the story come alive but in a subtle way.

Who are some of your favorite narrators?

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Books from the Backlog - A Killer Read

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 is the first mystery in a cozy series I know nothing about - A Killer Read by Erika Chase.  

Blurb:  For the first meeting of the Ashton Corners Mystery Readers and Cheese Straws Society, six friends gather in Molly Mathews's old Southern mansion-including Lizzie Turner, a reading specialist with a penchant for mysteries. But the mystery book club meeting becomes the scene of an actual murder when a stranger is shot--and nobody knows who the victim is, or how Molly's antique gun came to be used as the murder weapon.
Then Lizzie begins finding mysterious manuscript chapters in her mailbox. As she and the book club members try to read between the lines, Molly surfaces as the next name on the killer's list...

Why It Needs to Come Off the Shelf: A mystery book club that takes place in an old mansion and a mysterious manuscript make this one sound too good to keep putting off.  And now I want cheese straws.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

The Goodbye Cafe - Contemporary Fiction Review

Goodreads:  The Goodbye Cafe (Hudson Sisters #3) by Mariah Stewart

Rating: Very Good
Source: Publisher

Description:  California girl Allie Hudson Monroe can't wait for the day when the renovations on the Sugarhouse Theater are complete so she can finally collect the inheritance from her father and leave Pennsylvania. After all, her life and her fourteen-year-old daughter are in Los Angeles.
But Allie's divorce left her tottering on the edge of bankruptcy, so to keep up on payments for her house and her daughter's private school tuition, Allie packed up and flew out east. But fate has a curve-ball or two to toss in Allie's direction—she just doesn't know it yet.

She hadn't anticipated how her life would change after reuniting with her estranged sister, Des, or meeting her previously unknown half-sister, Cara. And she'd certainly never expected to find small-town living charming. But the biggest surprise was that her long-forgotten artistry would save the day when the theater's renovation fund dried up.

With opening day upon the sisters, Allie's free to go. But for the first time in her life, she feels like the woman she was always meant to be. Will she return to the West Coast and resume her previous life, or will the love of her family be enough to draw her back to the place where the Hudson roots grow so deep?

Genre: Fiction - Contemporary

Why I Picked This Book:  The first book in this trilogy was one of my favorite reads of 2017 and I enjoyed the previous book last year.

My Impression:  I was a little hesitant about this one.  I loved the first sister, Cara, and I loved her book.  I really liked the second sister, Des, and I really liked her book.  However, the third sister, Allie, was never a character I warmed to.  She was so prickly and hostile and just not very nice.  It was hard to imagine that I would really enjoy getting to know her and see her story unfold.  However, I trust Mariah Stewart so I took a deep breath and started reading.  And for awhile I still didn't like Allie.  She is making better decisions but for the first third or so she can still be more than a bit sharp with those around her.  As well, while her relationship with her daughter, Nikki, is sweet and provides some needed softness, I didn't understand a lot of her thoughts regarding Nikki's future.  Nikki is nothing but enthusiastic about the town and being involved with her newfound family.  As well, she has made solid friendships with some really good kids and is constantly involved with new projects.  Allie seems unable to see this and assumes that Nikki will of course start looking down on all the stuff in the small town despite all the evidence to the contrary. 

The relationship between Ben and Allie took awhile to develop.  Actually it took awhile to even turn to not antagonistic.  In a previous book Allie and Ben had a confrontation and it took a long time for things to thaw.  At the beginning I just didn't see how anything could ever happen. And at the beginning I just wasn't sure I'd ever really like Allie.  However, I was wrong on both counts.  I think the struggle made the connection all the more real and by a third of the way in I can say I really liked Allie and felt truly connected with her even though I still wanted to shake her a time or two (or more).  Despite my rocky relationship with Allie at the beginning I never had a rocky relationship with the book.  From the beginning it pulled me and had me fully invested in the lives of the Hudson sisters and the town. 

I have thoroughly enjoyed this series and loved not only seeing Allie's character really develop but also spend more time with Cara, Des, and Barney.  It was a delightful read from beginning to end.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  I would.  I've found Stewart's books a bit inconsistent but when I enjoy them I really love them. 

Would I Recommend this Book?  If you like women's fiction and sibling relationships this is a fantastic read though I recommend you go back and start with Cara's story - The Last Chance Matinee.

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

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday - Ten Favorite Audio Books

Today's Top Ten Tuesday topic from That Artsy Reader Girl is an Audio Freebie.  So I'm talking about my favorite audio books.  Not my favorite books that I happened to listen to but books where the audio really enhanced the book - made me love it even more!

1. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows - The multiple narrators really brought this book alive.  I think I would have enjoyed it in print form but it was extra special in audio.

2.  A Week in Winter by Maeve Binchy - Pretty much the same thing as above.  I really loved this one and while I think I would've loved it regardless of format it was another one I loved a little extra because I listened to it.

3.  Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick - This was funny and interesting but Anna Kendrick's performance really made it laugh out loud funny. 

4.  The Child by Fiona Barton - This was a good thriller but I loved the different POVs with the different narrators really kept me hooked.

5.  Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Rides Again by Frank Cottrell Boyce - Honestly this book wasn't nearly as good as Ian Fleming's original book but David Tennant did the narration and really he should narrate all children's books.

6.  The Chillbury Ladies' Choir by Jennifer Ryan - Another multiple POV with multiple narrators.  I laughed I cried and I absolutely loved this book but I think it really connected with me through the audio.

7.  Matilda by Roald Dahl - I think I would have loved this book if I had read it but it's hard to imagine it beating the Kate Winslett narration.

8.  In a Dark Dark Wood by Ruth Ware - Imogen Church should do all thriller narration.  Her voice makes everything more suspenseful. 

9.  As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride by Cary Elwes - I think this would be fine to read but you'd be missing so much by not listening to it.  All the different actors who participate in this audio book really make it extra special.

10. Let's Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson - I read this first and enjoyed it but adding in Jenny Lawson's narration makes it extra hilarious.

What are some of your favorite audio books?

Monday, March 25, 2019

The Cliff House - Contemporary Fiction Review

Goodreads: The Cliff House by RaeAnne Thayne

Rating:  Very Good
Source: Little Bird Publicity

Description: After the death of their mother, sisters Daisy and Beatriz Davenport found a home with their aunt Stella in the beautiful and welcoming town of Cape Sanctuary. They never knew all the dreams that Stella sacrificed to ensure they had everything they’d ever need. Now, with Daisy and Bea grown, it’s time for Stella to reveal the secret she’s been keeping from them—a secret that will change their family forever.
Bea thought she’d sown all her wild oats when she got pregnant far too young. The marriage that followed was rocky and not destined to last, but it gave Bea her wonderful, mature, now eleven-year-old daughter, Marisol. But just as she’s beginning to pursue a new love with an old friend, Bea’s ex-husband resurfaces and turns their lives completely upside down.

Then there’s Daisy—sensible, rational, financially prudent Daisy. She’s never taken a risk in her life—until she meets a man who makes her question everything she thought she knew about life, love and the power of taking chances.

In this heartwarming story, Stella, Bea and Daisy will discover that the path to true happiness is filled with twists and turns, but love always leads them back home.

Genre: Fiction: Contemporary

Why I Picked This Book:  I love RaeAnne Thayne and was really curious to see what she did with a more women's fiction format. 

My Impression:  Okay this was not what I expected!  I love Thayne's romance but they're definitely a bit on the sweeter side.  I mean I always love the characters and they frequently have some pretty significant and darker issues but there's always a touch of sweetness.  I guess I was expecting the same here and there's was a bit more edge than I was expecting.  I mean the edge was low key and this was definitely heartwarming but I can't even quite explain it.  Maybe it was a change of tone?  Maybe it was a bit of tension in the relationships?  Regardless, I didn't feel quite like I was reading a RaeAnne Thayne.  And while I love Thayne's romances I don't mean this is in a negative way at all.

The relationship between the three women is complex.  They love each other and are clearly there for each other and are very supportive but they also have secrets that run deep and don't always use their best judgement in trying to protect the other. 

I really enjoyed the change of POV as each woman has quite a story to tell.  I especially enjoyed the time with Daisy's character as not only did I appreciate her love of logic and order but she also had the most intriguing secrets.  Bea could be a bit dense and there were times I wanted to shake her but more in a loving way than an exasperated way.  She could be kind of clueless but I could understand where she was coming from so it wasn't to irritating.  As well I enjoyed Stella's character evolution as she had spent so much time taking care of everyone else while never focusing on her own wants and desires.  It was fun watching all the characters evolve and find their own happiness. 

I thoroughly enjoyed this read.  Not only are the three main characters likable and realistically flawed but the men who inhabit their lives are as well.  These are characters I really liked getting to know and I was sad to see them go as I read the final page.  To sum up - RaeAnne Thayne can do no wrong and I will be reading all of her books!

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Absolutely!  I will read anything RaeAnne Thayne writes.

Would I Recommend this Book?  If you enjoy books with strong family relationships then this is a must read!

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

Sunday, March 24, 2019

This Week in Reading - March 24

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

What I Got:

Mistress of the Ritz by Melanie Benjamin - I loved her previous book, The Girls in the Picture, and not only does this one have a gorgeous cover but the premise really appeals to me.  (Publisher)

Aunt Dimity and the Heart of Gold by Nancy Atherton - This was a fun surprise!  I've been wanting to read this series forever so I'm really looking forward to this one.  (Publisher)

Mother's Day Mayhem by Lynn Cahoon - I can never pass up a Lynn Cahoon and this is the newest in my favorite series of hers.  (NetGalley)

Sconed to Death by Lynn Cahoon - I love a cozy title pun and this is a pretty great one.  While this isn't my favorite series by Cahoon it is still very enjoyable and I'm looking forward to seeing what Cat is up to now.  (NetGalley)


Reading: I'm almost done with The Parting Glass by Emilie Richards and am going to start Scandal in Skibbereen by Sheila Connolly

Listening:  I'm finishing up The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith and am about to start The Wizards of Once by Cressida Cowell

Watching: I've really been enjoying The Voice and we've been watching Disney movies on movie nights to start getting ready for Disney World later this year.  We watched Coco and I really enjoyed it.  This weekend I think it's going to be Tangled.

Off the Blog:

We finally decided on our big vacation for the year!  We normally take a big vacation in October and then sprinkle a few extended weekend trips throughout the rest of the year.  This year we are going to Disney World - again.  It's actually the third year in a row we've been and I'm beyond excited.  Disney is one of my favorite places and I would cheerfully visit two or three times a year with or without children.  We'll probably head down to the beach and maybe up to the mountains once or twice as well but for now I'm full into Disney planning. 

I'm struggling with the whole concept of lunch at the moment.  What do you eat for lunch during the weekday?  I always mean to come up with something for lunch - preferably a salad or soup or something I can make at the beginning of the week and eat from the rest of the week - but never do or when I do try I can never come up with anything to eat.  Right now I'm going with a sandwich but it's kind of boring and I'd love something a bit healthier.

On the Blog:

What Happened:

What's Coming Up:

Monday:  The Cliff House - Contemporary Fiction Review
Tuesday: Top Ten Tuesday - My Ten Favorite Audio Books
Wednesday:  The Goodbye Cafe - Contemporary Fiction Review
Thursday:  Books from the Backlist
Friday: Friday Fives - My Five Favorite Audio Narrators
Saturday: First Quarter Wrap Up

Have a great week and happy reading!

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Secrets of the Tulip Sisters - Contemporary Romance Review

Goodreads:  Secrets of the Tulip Sisters by Susan Mallery

Rating: Very Good
Source: Library (Audio)

Description:  Kelly Murphy's life as a tulip farmer is pretty routine—up at dawn, off to work, lather, rinse, repeat. But everything changes one sun-washed summer with two dramatic homecomings: Griffith Burnett—Tulpen Crossing's prodigal son, who's set his sights on Kelly—and Olivia, her beautiful, wayward and, as far as Kelly is concerned, unwelcome sister. Tempted by Griffith, annoyed by Olivia, Kelly is overwhelmed by the secrets that were so easy to keep when she was alone.
But Olivia's return isn't as triumphant as she pretends. Her job has no future, and ever since her dad sent her away from the bad boy she loved, she has felt cut off from her past. She's determined to reclaim her man and her place in the family…whether her sister likes it or not. For ten years, she and Kelly have been strangers. Olivia will get by without her approval now.

While Kelly and Olivia butt heads, their secrets tumble out in a big hot mess, revealing some truths that will change everything they thought they knew. Can they forgive each other—and themselves—and redefine what it means to be sisters?

Genre: Romance - Contemporary

Why I Picked This Book:  To be honest the title grabbed me!  I love tulips and on top of that I can't resist books about sisters.

My Impression:  I've always enjoyed Susan Mallery's writing style but I kind of burned out on her Fool's Gold series so I was really excited to try her more stand alone novels.   I was really excited about this one mostly based on the title - I love tulips and I love books about sisters as only an only child can!  I thought I was going to have some mixed feelings about this one.  I loved Kelly and the world she lived in right from the beginning but I wasn't so sure what I was going to think about Olivia.  She comes off a little self involved at first but once she starts to adjust to being home I immediately fell in love with her too.  She's smart, she knows what she's good at, and she's mature.  Her relationship with her sister had some rocky moments but I really appreciated the way they listened to each other and were able to apologize when needed.  It was really fun watching Olivia gain confidence and figure out what she wants and Kelly begin to start dealing with her issues and letting people help her occasionally.  I especially enjoyed how important the sister relationship was to both of them and how delighted they were when they began to realize that the potential to develop a close bond was really there.

The romantic relationships were really nice with a number of sweet moments in each one.  I don't want to say too much because I really enjoyed watching different relationships develop with no expectations.  This was definitely a book that I thoroughly enjoyed with an ending that made me smile.

Audio note - I thought Tanya Eby did a good job with the narration.  She was able to make characters sound distinctly different without coming off as theatrical.  I'm not sure she's one of my favorite narrators but she's definitely one I'd listen to again.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  I would.  While I kind of burned out on her series romances I've really been loving these more stand alone books.

Would I Recommend this Book?  If you enjoy books about sisters this is a must read!

Friday, March 22, 2019

Friday Fives - Places I Want to Visit

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. Today is one of those not so much weeks and I'm thinking about the Top 5 Places I Want to Visit.  I'm keeping this list of the very realistic side and stick with places in the US and mostly places that are within driving distance.  I have a pretty strong tolerance for driving distance because I HATE spending money on plane tickets and rental cars and there's the added issue that I cannot pack light to save my life.

1.  Washington, DC -  We've been here several times but never with the Tornado.  I'm leaning towards going next year right at the end of school.  He'll be 10 1/2 and I think able to appreciate everything he's seeing.  Plus there's just so much to see!

2.  Charleston, South Carolina - I visited to Charleston years and years ago and J spent a couple of weeks there on a business trip and loved the city (and brought me back a huge sweetgrass basket which is one of my favorite things).  But it's been years and I desperately want to go back.

3.  St. Augustine, Florida - I've never actually been here but J and his family used to go here all the time when he was a kid and we've been talking about going back lately.  I love that there's a beach AND lots of history.

4.  Natchez, Mississippi - I've been to Natchez once years and years ago and it's gorgeous.  The old mansions, the history, the food.  I think it would be a fantastic weekend trip.

5. Savannah, Georgia - Somehow I've never been to Savannah but I really want to go!  I'm hoping to plan a trip in the near future.

Where are five nearby-ish places you want to visit?

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Murder Once Removed - Cozy Mystery Review

Goodreads: Murder Once Removed (Ancestry Detective #1) by S.C. Perkins

Rating: Good
Source: NetGalley

Description:  Except for a good taco, genealogist Lucy Lancaster loves nothing more than tracking down her clients' long-dead ancestors, and her job has never been so exciting as when she discovers a daguerreotype photograph and a journal proving Austin, Texas, billionaire Gus Halloran's great-great-grandfather was murdered back in 1849. What's more, Lucy is able to tell Gus who was responsible for his ancestor's death.
Partly, at least. Using clues from the journal, Lucy narrows the suspects down to two nineteenth-century Texans, one of whom is the ancestor of present-day U.S. senator Daniel Applewhite. But when Gus publicly outs the senator as the descendant of a murderer--with the accidental help of Lucy herself--and her former co-worker is murdered protecting the daguerreotype, Lucy will find that shaking the branches of some family trees proves them to be more twisted and dangerous than she ever thought possible.

Genre: Mystery - Cozy

Why I Picked This Book: I love genealogy and I love cozy mysteries so a genealogist solving a cozy mystery sounds like the best thing ever. 

My Impression:  I wanted to absolutely love this and there were a lot of things I loved about it.  I mean solving a modern day murder and a murder that happened over 150 years ago?  How could I not love that?  I liked Lucy and her friends and office mates and I really enjoyed how much Lucy was fascinated by the hunt for facts.  I loved the links between past and present and really wanted to be right there researching with Lucy.

But unfortunately while I wanted to love it I didn't quite make that jump completely.  I enjoyed it yes but it didn't quite live up to my expectations.  The writing felt a little clunky and the explanations seemed overdone.  I'm hoping this is a first book in the series issue and once the characters and premise are established the second book will be a much smoother read.  As well the mystery got a bit convoluted.  As I've mentioned I really enjoyed the past and present intersecting but at times it felt unnecessarily complicated.

This was a fun read that I did enjoy even though I didn't love it as much as I expected.  I do plan on continuing this series and I'm hoping that some of the "bumps" will be smoothed out in the 2nd book. 
 Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  I would!  While this wasn't perfect this is definitely a series I think has a lot of potential and I did really enjoy digging around in genealogical research with Lucy.

Would I Recommend this Book?  I would with reservations.  If this is a topic that you love than I think you'd enjoy this but if you're lukewarm on genealogy/history I'm not sure you'd enjoy it as much. 

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

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Movie Night at the Library - A Handful of Classic Movies

Lured (1947)
Starring: Lucille Ball, George Sanders, Charles Coburn, and Boris Karloff

Premise:  Lucille Ball is an American dancer in London who gets involved in a murder investigation and ends up helping Scotland Yard.

My Thoughts:  The movie itself was fine.  The plot was fairly predictable and the acting was enjoyable.  It was entertaining but not one I'll really remember or rewatch.  What was interesting was seeing Lucille Ball as a kind of vixen starlet type character instead of the comic roles she's most famous for.  She's beautiful and a good actress but knowing what she can do with comedy and her crazy flexible expressions it kind of seems like a waste to see her in a more traditional role knowing what she can do.  If you see this come up it's worth watching but not worth going out of your way.

Brigadoon (1954)
Starring: Gene Kelly, Van Johnson, and Cyd Charisse

My Thoughts:  This was another one that was fine.  The plot was a bit weak but the dancing was lovely and the singing was gorgeous.  Really the ability to watch these three stars in the same movie was amazing and Gene Kelly and Cyd Charisse dancing together is always worth watching.  As well I love Van Johnson's more practical sarcastic character.  I'm glad I watched it but probably won't take the time to watch it again.  If you like musicals and dancing than keep an eye out for this otherwise I think you could skip it without missing much.

The Iron Petticoat (1956) 
Starring:  Katharine Hepburn and Bob Hope

My Thoughts:  This was a lot of fun!  Katharine Hepburn was the perfect Russian pilot and Bob Hope's somewhat silly antics were a perfect pairing.  There's a few different things going on here.  You have the Russian/American conflict as well as Hepburn's own internal conflict about wanting to be the tough pilot and wanting to be pretty and loved.  This had lots of fun little comedic moments and I imagine that it's one of those that you could rewatch and find a different little moment or joke every time.  There's a lot of physical comedy and it can all be a bit over the top but with these two together it totally worked.  I'm not usually a Bob Hope fan but I think this film played to his strengths while keeping him a bit in line.  And seriously I just love Katharine Hepburn.

What have you been watching?

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday - Spring TBR

This week's Top Ten Tuesday topic from That Artsy Reader Girl is one of my favorites - My Spring TBR.  I love the seasonal TBRs.  I never read them all but it's so fun going through all my books and picking ten books I want to try to focus on.

1.  The Cliff House by RaeAnne Thayne - I love Thayne and I'm really excited to read this more women's fiction from her.

2.  The Parting Glass by Emilie Richards - This is a reread but it's one of those rereads where it's been so long since I originally read it that it really doesn't count. 

3.  Vanish with the Rose by Barbara Michaels - Another reread though this one is more recent and it's one of my favorites. 

An Artless Demise by Anna Lee Huber - I read the most recent book from this mystery series last year and loved it so I'm super exccited to read this one!

5.  The View From Alameda Island by Robyn Carr - I've been loving Robyn Carr this year and this one looks a little different but so good!

6.  Have You Seen Luis Velez by Catherine Ryan Hyde - I discovered Catherine Ryan Hyde last year and was so thrilled to have finally read one of her books so I'm super excited to read this one.

7.  Rainy Day Sisters by Kate Hewitt - I signed up for the Romance Package on Audible and was thrilled to see this is one of the titles that is included.  I've been erally wanting to read this one for years and looking forward to listening to it.

8.  The Goodbye Cafe by Mariah Stewart - I have been loving this women's fiction trilogy and am excited for this final book.  This is about my least favorite sister but I trust Stewart to make this one amazing!

9.  Ghost Moon by Heather Graham - I love the kind of paranormal romantic suspense that Graham writes and I thoroughly enjoyed the first two books in this trilogy so I'm excited to read this last one.

10. False Mermaid by Erin Hart - I read the first two books in this mystery years and years ago and have had this one sitting on my shelf for years.  I'm looking forward to reading it and getting back to the series. 

What do you want to read this spring?

Monday, March 18, 2019

Ramblings from the Stacks - Book Collecting

I've never really thought of myself as a book collector.  I don't keep most of the books that I read unless they're either sentimental or I know I'm going to reread it.  I'm not drawn to beautiful copies though I definitely appreciate them and understand why other people have to have them.  My focus is on the story and the packaging is never really high on my interest list.   But lately I've discovered - or I guess I should say rediscovered - that what I am is a book hunter.

Years ago in college one of my regular haunts was a used bookstore just off campus.  I'd go in with lists of authors or titles I wanted and spend an hour wandering the shelves.  I collected all the Agatha Christie mysteries - always keeping an eye out for older editions because their original sale price was cheaper and the bookstore charged 50% of the original price.  My collection of Agatha Christies is rag-tag and mismatched and in varying states of disrepair but I remember how much I enjoyed scanning the shelves. 

My budget isn't as tight as it was in those days and more and more I've been turning to Amazon or a new bookstores.  I do like buying new books.  I like fresh clean pages and feeling like I'm supporting the author. But lately I've started going back to the used bookstore - a different one this time.   And I've rediscovered the fun of scanning every single title just looking for a specific author or a title that catches my eye.  This has not been good for my bookshelves but it has given me a much needed shot of excitement about reading all the books that are hiding there.  I still buy new books and always will but I don't think I'll be giving up the used bookstore anytime soon!

Are you a book collector?  Are you a book hunter?

Sunday, March 17, 2019

This Week in Reading - March 17

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

What I Got:

Death Waits in the Dark by Julia Buckley - I enjoyed the previous book in the series though it wasn't a favorite.  However, this blurb really grabs me and I love the cover so I have high hopes.  (Publisher)

Buried in the Stacks by Allison Brooks - I really enjoy this series about a haunted library.  I mean it involves a haunted library so how could I not like it?  (NetGalley)


Reading: Murder Once Removed by S.C. Perkins and The Parting Glass by Emilie Richards

ListeningThe Silkworm by Robert Galbraith I'm enjoying it though it is a bit slow going.

Watching:  The Voice and the new Hallmark movies.  So far I'm loving The Chronicle Mysteries, Murder 101, and The Crossword Puzzle series.

Off the Blog:

This week is spring break and I must say it is not a moment too soon.  This whole spring forward nonsense killed me.  I'm one of the weird people who doesn't mind it getting dark earlier but I hate having to readjust to this part of the time change.  Not only do I feel like I'm losing an hour of sleep but I'm constantly convinced it's an hour earlier than it is so I feel like I'm losing part of my day.  I'm not a fan if you can't tell.  We are going to Mississippi to visit my grandparents this week for a few days but for the bulk of the week we will be home relaxing.  I'm really looking forward to it.

On the Blog:

What Happened:

What's Coming Up:

Monday:  Ramblings from the Stacks - Book  Collectiong
Tuesday:  Top Ten Tuesday - Spring TBR
Wednesday: My Classic Movie Viewing
Thursday:  Murder Once Removed - Cozy Mystery Review
Friday: Friday Fives
Saturday: TBD

Have a great week and happy reading!

Saturday, March 16, 2019

What I've Been Loving This Winter

I am not a fan of winter.  I mean I love a good sweater and a pair of boots and I adore not dying between my car and the store entrance but honestly I see no reason for the temperature to drop below 50.

1.  Burt's Bees Lip Balm - I take a lot of allergy medications which means perpetually dry skin and I tried a lip mask with lanolin to try and help out the whole chapped lip situation.  Well turns out I'm allergic to lanolin and chapped became the understatement of the year.  I had a tube of this stuff and after my regular chap-stick wasn't making a dent I tried this and it saved my life! 

2.  Clinique All About Eyes Eye Cream - My face had a rough few months.  Right about the time I figured out I was allergic to my lip mask I also discovered I was allergic to my eye cream.  My face was part alligator and it was awful. bThis stuff saved my life!

3.  Superga Cotu Sneakers - I bought these back last spring and liked them but over the winter I've been loving them this winter.  They're not flats so they keep my feet warm, they're not leather so all the rain can't destroy them and  I just love them.

4.   Hallmark movies - I've been watching true crime shows for ages but lately they haven't been too great for me but Hallmark has really stepped up.  I'm loving the new mysteries and the traditional straight up romances.  They're a lot of fun and are great to have on in the background.

5. RachhLovesLife on YouTube  - I've been loving this YouTube channel.  She tests different internet recipes and hacks with mixed results and she has a Sims4 series that is just hilarious.

What have you been loving this winter? 

Friday, March 15, 2019

Friday Fives - Cookbooks I Want to Test

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.  This week is all about cookbooks.  Last year I wasn't really enjoying cooking and really had lost interest in cookbooks or new recipes.  Over the last few months I've been starting to get back into it and have really been enjoying trying out new recipes or flipping through new cookbooks.  Here are five that have caught my eye and that I'm looking forward to testing.

At My Table: A Celebration of Home Cooking by Nigella Lawson - I adore Nigella Lawson but for some reason I haven't gotten her most recent book yet. 

Food for Life: Delicious and Healthy Comfort Food From My Table to Yours by Laila Ali - I saw Laila Ali on Top Chef a few weeks ago and really liked her.  I also like that this book is supposed to be healthy AND comfort food so I'm excited to check it out.

Cook Like a Pro: Recipes and Tips for Home Cooks by Ina Garten - The Barefoot Contessa's cookbooks are some of my favorites.  They're not always the easiest recipes but the results are always delicious.

Cravings: Hungry for More by Chrissy Teigen - I really enjoyed Teigen's first cookbook and I like her attitude towards food in general so I definitely want to check this one out.

Dinner Made Easy with Six Sisters' Stuff: Time Saving Recipes for Busy Mom from Six Sisters' Stuff - Six Sisters' Stuff - Six Sisters' Stuff is one of my favorite food blogs and one I've had really great luck with.  While I do love Pinterest for recipes I love the format of cookbooks best.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Books from the Backlog - Second Chance Summer

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 in the dusty recesses of my Kindle I have discovered a book that's calling to be read - Second Chance Summer by Jill Shalvis.

The Blurb:  Cedar Ridge, Colorado, is famous for crisp mountain air, clear blue skies, and pine-scented breezes. And it's the last place Lily Danville wants to be. But she needs a job, and there's an opening at the hottest resort in her hometown. What has her concerned is the other hot property in Cedar Ridge: Aidan Kincaid-firefighter, rescue worker, and heartbreaker. She never could resist that devastating smile . . .
The Kincaid brothers are as rough and rugged as the Rocky Mountains they call home. Aidan has always done things his own way, by his own rules. And never has he regretted anything more than letting Lily walk out of his life ten years ago. If anyone has ever been in need of rescuing, she has. What she needs more than anything are long hikes, slow dances, and sizzling kisses. But that can only happen if he can get her to give Cedar Ridge-and this bad boy-a second chance . . .

Why It Needs to Come Off My Shelf:  This is actually a review book that's been hiding on my Kindle far too long.  I really enjoy Shalvis' contemporary romances and I have no idea what's taken me so long to actually get to this one.  I did read the last one in this series (trilogy?) and spent most of the book wanting to shriek at the heroine so that could be part of the reason for my hesitation.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Chocolate a la Murder - Cozy Mystery Review

Goodreads:  Chocolate a la Murder (Perfectly Proper Paranormal Museum Mystery #4) by Kirsten Weiss

Rating: Good
Source: NetGalley

Description:  It's Wine and Chocolate Days in San Benedetto, and paranormal museum owner Maddie Kosloski has sweet dreams about her new Magic of Chocolate exhibit. Her latest attraction is a haunted Mexican whisk called a molinillo that rattles if someone lies.

When Maddie visits the town's new boutique chocolate shop, she finds one of the owners dead and covered in melted cocoa. Maddie's determined to catch the killer, and she soon uncovers deadly dealings in the world of artisan chocolate. But the deception surrounding those dealings are enough to make the molinillo rattle all night. Will Maddie have to temper her passion for sleuthing before a killer makes her fate bittersweet?

Genre: Mystery - Cozy 

Why I Picked This Book:  I've read the first three mysteries in this quirky cozy and enjoyed them so how could I pass up one about chocolate?

My Impression:  I read a lot if quirky cozy mystery series but I think this one just might be the quirkiest.  Between the paranormal museum itself and Maddie's own distinct level of hot messness there's a lot of craziness going on.  Most of that is a lot of fun though sometimes Maddie does drift a bit into too stupid to live and her friend Adele's uptightness can drive me crazy.  Both are fairly minor though.

The mystery was definitely different.  I've read a death by drone mystery recently and thought that was unique but I must say death by chocolate literally might be even stranger.  I enjoyed the mystery and all the mayhem - connected or otherwise - that occurred around it.  I enjoyed catching up with Maddie, Leo, Adele, Harper, and everyone else in Maddie's life and seeing what was happening at the museum this time. 

This is a really fun series and a thoroughly enjoyable mystery.  And for once a mystery involving chocolate didn't make me crave chocolate!

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  I would.  This is a fun series and I'm always curious to see what the next haunted artifact the Paranormal museum gets in!

Would I Recommend this Book?  If you enjoy quirky cozies this is a fun series.  While you can definitely jump into the mystery here it is probably better to start at the beginning so you can get a feel for all the different relationships.

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

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Ten Books With Spring-y Covers

Like everyone else I'm so tired of winter.  I'm tired of the grey and the rain (we don't really get snow) and being cold and all that.  I'm ready for color and sunshine and things actually blooming!  Here are a few covers that have me in a Spring-y mood.

1.  The Sweetest Thing by Jill Shalvis - Somehow this is the only book in the Lucky Harbor series I never read.  Not quite sure how I missed it but I definitely want to fix that.  The pink and the blue look all happy and springy.

2.  A Killing in Antiques by Mary Moody - Summer here is too hot for anything outdoors so this outdoor festival with the bright colors just screams the first taste of nice weather.

3.  The French House: An American Family, a Ruined Maison, and the Village that Restored Them All by Don Wallace - I'm not exactly sure why this cover reminds me about spring.  Maybe it's the restoring the house?  Maybe it's France?

4.  Mastering the Art of French Eating:  Lessons in Food and Love From a Year in Paris by Ann Mah - Sidewalk cafes seem like spring-y things and apparently France does mean spring to me.

5.  Only Enchanting by Mary Balogh -  I love these colors and the feel of this cover.

6.  Pall in the Family by Dawn Eastman -  All the green and the blue sky just makes me happy and I kind of want to know about the dog in the mailbox.

7.  Cloche and Dagger by Jenn McKinlay - I have been wanting to read this one for ages ad something about the balconies and the colors just screams the beginnings of warm weather.

8.  Dreaming Spies by Laurie R. King - I won't be reading this one this spring because I've got several to read in this series before I get to this one but the cherry blossoms just call to me.

9.  The Enchanted Wood by Enid Blyton - I love the fairies in the woods.

10. Picnic in Provence: A Memoir with Recipes by Elizabeth Bard - So apparently France does equal spring to me but the lilac and sage green in the cover isn't hurting!