Wednesday, July 31, 2019

The Duke is But a Dream - Historical Romance Review

Goodreads:  The Duke is But a Dream (Debutante Diaries #2) by Anna Bennett

Rating: Just Okay
Source:  Publisher

Miss Lily Hartley is the anonymous mastermind behind the ton’s latest obsession: The Debutante’s Revenge, a titillating advice column for ladies on the marriage mart. To keep her identity secret, Lily delivers her columns disguised as a chimney sweep—which is all well and good, until she unwittingly lands in the middle of an ugly tavern brawl. Fortunately, the devastatingly handsome Duke of Stonebridge sweeps in to rescue her.Unfortunately, Lily’s dressed as a boy—and holding rather incriminating evidence linking her to the scandalous column. Drat.


When Eric Nash, Duke of Stonebridge, sees a helpless lad receive a nasty blow to the head, he’s outraged. But when he discovers there’s a beautiful woman hiding beneath the chimney sweep’s cap, he’s positively stunned. Nash would happily escort her home, but she’s forgotten her name—leaving him little choice but to take her in himself until he can locate her family. But the closer he gets to finding them, the more he doesn’t want to let her go.


Lily’s trying to figure out exactly who she is…in more ways than one. With so much at stake—her column, her reputation, and even her heart—she needs a plan, and she needs it fast. Before Nash finds her family. Before he learns who she is. Before they fall totally, completely, and utterly inconveniently in love.

Genre: Romance - Historical

Why I Picked This Book: 
I've been wanting to read this author for awhile and I've only read a couple of amnesia plots.

My Impression: I'm going to start with the positive.  I really enjoyed Bennett's writing style.  It was bright and fun and her characters really did seem to come alive.  I loved Delilah and actually found myself wishing this was her story and not her brother Nash's.  The pace was fast without feeling rushed and I flew through the book.

BUT, unfortunately, I had some issues which overshadowed many of the things I really loved about it.  Where to start...  I think really it's all wrapped up in one major issue.  I just couldn't quite buy Lily's behavior.  I get that this is fiction and that this is an amnesia plot with basically comes with a warning to suspend belief but I felt like my belief was so suspended it had gone on vacation.  Lily felt like a modern character wedged into a historical setting and frankly I think I would have rolled my eyes even in a modern setting.  As well, while I love the title Debutante's Revenge, the content seems unbelievable (especially since it was started by 3 unmarried ladies) and frankly a bit dangerous.  I found myself so irritated at Lily that it overshadowed my enjoyment of the book itself. 

This isn't the last I'll read of Bennett.  Even my favorite authors have a book that just doesn't work for and I feel like I may have started on that book with Bennett.  I'm looking forward to reading more from her but I think I'll skip the Debutante Diaries series.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  I'll definitely read more of this author but I think I'll skip this series.

Would I Recommend this Book?  I wouldn't recommend this book but I think the author is definitely worth trying.

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

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday - Ten Books I'd Have on My TBR for a Read-a-thon

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 Freebie.  Ever since I started blogging I've really wanted to do a read-a-thon but the timing has never worked out - like not once in six years.  And it isn't like I won't have all that much time to read it's always a weekend or week that everything has conspired against me and I will have absolutely zero time to read.  So for the past couple of years I've tossed around the idea of kind of doing my own read-a-thon some day when I'm able to actually make it work  If I did do that here are ten books that would be on my list.

1.  The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman - This has been on my TBR since before it came out and it's been sitting on my shelf staring at me for almost as long.  I think this would be a good one to throw into a read-a-thon since it's a little bit different from my usual reading.

2.  Funerals are Fatal by Agatha Christie - I love a classic Christie mystery and this is a good one and next on my list.

3.  Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty - I listened to Big Little Lies last year and thoroughly enjoyed it and this one sounds really good too! 

4.  Hot Winter Nights by Jill Shalvis - It's about 700 degrees outside and so a winter-y book sounds good.  Plus, Shalvis is always a fun read.  And this is a review book I really meant to read last year so a little catch up is always good.

5.  Under Current by Nora Roberts - I love Nora Roberts' romantic suspense but her last few books just hasn't grabbed me.  This latest one though sounds really good and a fast paced read would be great.

6.  A Perilous Undertaking by Deanna Raybourn - I loved the first one in this historical mystery series and keep meaning to back to it but just haven't quite made it.  This seems like a good time.

7.  Queen of the Road by Doreen Orion - It seems like it'd be a good idea to mix in a little nonfiction and I love some road trip nonfiction.

8.  Lonesome Road by Patricia Wentworth - Patricia Wentworth is second only to Agatha Christie in my love of classic mysteries and this is one I've been wanting to read.

9.  Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson - I feel like every read-a-thon needs a classic and because I'm not super ambitious I figured I'd go with a classic children's adventure story. 

10.   I'd Rather Be Reading by Anne Bogel - And after all that reading a little nonfiction about reading from one of my favorite bloggers/podcasters sounds perfect.

What would you read on your read-a-thon?  Have you ever done an actual one?

Monday, July 29, 2019

And Then There Were Crumbs - Cozy Mystery Review

Goodreads:  And Then There Were Crumbs (A Cookie House Mystery #1) by Eve Calder

Rating: Very Good
Source: Publisher

Kate McGuire's life was sweet in Manhattan before she lost her restaurant job and fianc� both. But sometimes that's just the way the cookie crumbles, and soon she finds herself starting from scratch in the island town of Coral Cay, Florida. It has everything she's looking for: sunny beaches, friendly locals, and a Help Wanted sign in the bakery shop window. Once she convinces the shop's crusty owner Sam Hepplewhite to hire her, Kate can't tie on her apron fast enough. Little does she know that trouble, like warm dough, is on the rise. . .

Stewart Lord is a real estate developer with a taste for a different type of dough: the green kind. He knows that he could make a killing by purchasing the Cookie House from Sam, who flat-out refuses to sell. But when Stewart turns up the heat on Sam--then turns up dead after eating a fresh batch of Sam's cinnamon rolls--all eyes focus on the town's beloved bakery. When the police arrest Sam for murder, Kate must somehow prove that her curmudgeonly boss is innocent. Enlisting the help of a team of lovable locals, Kate sets out to catch the real culprit with his hand in the cookie jar...before someone else gets burned.

Genre: Mystery - Cozy 

Why I Picked This Book:  Cozy mystery with a pastry chef.  I'm not strong enough to resist that!

My Impression:  Oh this one was a fun one!  For starters Kate is a great character.  She's smart and independent but ever prickly.  She has been impulsive in throwing up her whole life and relocating to Coral Cay but that's not normal behavior to her.  The community is also amazing.  I love the whole locals/tourist dynamic and the characters in this book are all kind of behind the scenes characters in a tourist town.  Maxi is my absolute favorite and my only real complaint is that I don't have access to really good Cuban food.  The food descriptions are mouth watering and this is not a book to be read on an empty stomach.  There is also a mysterious dog who adds a bit of whimsy and adorableness and humor.

The mystery is a good one and is one of those - Who wouldn't want to kill the victim - kind of murders.  I loved the reason for everyone getting involved in the investigation and I LOVED that they put together a team and that team was a book club. 

This wasn't absolutely flawless.  It did drag just a bit in the middle and I did find myself getting a little impatient with the pace.   However, it wasn't hard to put it up or hard to read at any point and this is probably one of my favorite cozies of the year!  I can't wait for the next book!

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Absolutely!  I'm hoping the next one comes out soon and we don't have to wait a whole year.

Would I Recommend this Book? 
If you enjoy cozies this is a great intro to a new series.

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

Sunday, July 28, 2019

This Week in Reading - July 28

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 Lost Vintage by Ann Mah - I remember reading the reviews for this one when it first came out and thought it sounded fantastic so I jumped at the chance to be on this blog tour.  (Blog Tour)

The Seekers by Heather Graham - I love the Krewe series and love that she's been doing kind of trilogies each year so I had to pre-order this one.  I'm really looking forward to reading it! (Purchased)

A Killer Edition by Lorna Barrett - I've read this series on and off for years and am looking forward to the newest addition to the series.  (Publisher)


Reading:  Almost done with Life Among the Savages by Shirley Jackson and finishing up The Duke is But a Dream by Anna Bennett.

Listening:  I'm about to start The Secret Sister by Brenda Novak.  I don't know much about this one but it sounds good and suspense-y.

Watching:  We watched Ralph Breaks the Internet and enjoyed it.  It was a bit darker than the first one so I wonder if the Tornado would have enjoyed it if he had been 5 or 6.  

Off the Blog:

This week started out crazy with dealing with contractors for more rental house fun but we are almost done thankfully.  As with any house you can always find something more to do but the photos are taken, the property is listed and the property manager says it looks great.  Now fingers crossed we get a renter who doesn't grind gum into the carpet.

We are thinking about going on a spontaneous vacation though not sure exactly where or when but before the Tornado starts school.  We're leaning towards Gatlinburg/Great Smoky Mountains just because it's familiar and always fun.  I think with everything that has gone on this summer we aren't looking for new adventures.

On the Blog:

What Happened:

What's Coming Up:

Monday:  And Then There Were Crumbs - Cozy Mystery Review
Tuesday:  Top Ten Tuesday - Freebie
Wednesday: The Duke is But a Dream - Historical Romance Review
Thursday:  Forgotten Bones - Mystery Review
Friday: Friday Fives - August Reads
Saturday: TBD

Have a great week and happy reading!

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Fade to Black - Romantic Suspense Review

Goodreads:  Fade to Black (Krewe of Hunters #24) by Heather Graham

Rating: Good
Source: Library

Description: Starring in a cult TV show was a blessing for Marnie Davante, especially now that her former fame could support her future dream of starting a children’s theater. So she’ll work the convention circuit. But then a costar is brazenly murdered in front of her. With a killer who vanishes into thin air with seemingly inhuman skill, and strange events plaguing Marnie, she feels she can’t even trust her own senses.
Although his dear departed parents were famous actors, PI Bryan McFadden is about as far from Hollywood as you can get. The former military man is reluctant to get involved in such a bizarre case, but it quickly becomes obvious that Marnie is in grave danger, and he is compelled to help. It’s unclear if the killer is an obsessed fan or something more sinister. Could the show’s cast be cursed? How can Bryan keep Marnie safe when it becomes apparent there’s a force determined to make this her final curtain call?

Genre: Romantic Suspense - Paranormal

Why I Picked This Book:  I love this series and I really liked the cult TV series aspect.

My Impression:  This is the kind of book that makes me look forward to the Graham's Krewe of Hunter series.  It's fun, fast paced, has a decent mystery, and a some ghosts floating around for a little extra bit of flavor.  If you're looking for well developed characters this one isn't for you.  Marnie is very likable but definitely on the flawless side and while Bryan is smart and capable he's a bit flat.  He's pretty much your regular tall dark and handsome hero that just happens to see ghosts.  I liked Marnie's cousin Bridget and the rescue dog George but they aren't given very much page time.  But the plot is so fast paced that the lack of well developed characters is definitely a sacrifice I'm willing to make.  I really wasn't sure who did it until the very end.  I had a suspicion but I had a suspicion of about 3 other characters so I'm not sure that counts.  I loved the Comic Con settings and the world of the still famous but somewhat out of work former TV star.

While this is book #24 in the series the series is so loosely connected that it really is a stand alone.  Since Bryan has 2 brothers that have the ability to see ghosts and seem to have some kind of investigative training I suspect this is the start of a trilogy of sorts.  This isn't the most memorable of reads but it was an incredibly fun one with a fast pace and an interesting setting.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Yep - Heather Graham's Krewe series is an auto-buy for me.

Would I Recommend this Book?  If you enjoy romantic suspense with a touch of ghosts than this is a fun read.

Friday, July 26, 2019

Friday Fives - Five Books on My TBR That Take Place at the Beach

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 I'm traveling to the beach through books on my TBR that I'm dying to read.

1.  Beach Town by Mary Kay Andrews - I've had a physical copy on my shelf for years and this is an author I've been wanting to read for even longer.  Plus, this one just sounds pretty fun.

2.  Ten Beach Road by Wendy Wax - This is a series I've been wanting to read almost as long as the book above and I've been told it's one that must be read in order.  Luckily this one sounds fantastic and I'm hoping to read it soon. 

3.  Summer at Willow Lake by Susan Wiggs - I love Susan Wiggs' contemporary books and this one happens to have a crumbling house and someone who is giving up their busy city life to do some soul searching.  All it's missing is brown paper packages tied up with string to be all of my favorite things.

4.  An Embarrassment of Mangoes: A Caribbean Interlude by Ann Vanderhoof - I do love a travel memoir and this one sounds pretty fun though I know just about nothing about it.

5.  Adrift on St. John by Rebecca M. Hale - I've read books in another series by Hale that were a bit odd but interesting so I'm curious about this one which seems to be more of a straight forward mystery.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Books from the Backlog - The House at Royal Oak

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 know nothing about but I was so excited about when I found it at the local used bookstore that I just had to buy it even though it was a bit more expensive than my usual limit.

Goodreads:  The House at Royal Oak by Carol Eron Rizzoli

Blurb: One spring, Carol Eron Rizzoli and her husband Hugo bought a dilapidated farmhouse in the tiny village of Royal Oak, Maryland, on the edge of the Chesapeake Bay. They spent two years transforming it into a bed and breakfast, which took them twice as long and cost three times as much as they had originally estimated (on the back of a napkin). As they struggled to restore the house and open the B&B, Carol and Hugo were also slowly acquainting themselves with the rural community of Royal Oak, rich in custom and culinary traditions, and populated by neighbors with particular views on politics, hunting, wildlife, and of course, newcomers from the big city.
Written with honesty and humor, The House at Royal Oak is a journey to the heart of what it means to start over and chase a dream. Part inspirational account of reinventing yourself at mid-life, part love story about learning what matters most in a relationship, it is above all a book about home: what it means, and the unexpected places we find it.

Why It Needs to Come Off the Shelf - I love the concept of this one and was really excited about this one when I found it at the store but I've yet to pick it up.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

No More Time - Cozy Mystery Review

Goodreads:  No More Time (A Dodie O'Dell Mystery #5) by Suzanne Trauth

Rating: Good
Source: Author

Description:  Restaurant manager Dodie O’Dell has found her niche in the cozy New Jersey town of Etonville, creating menus that make a delicious double-act with the community theater’s productions. Now she’s ready for a vacation at the Jersey Shore town she called home before a hurricane hit. Sun, salty air, and seagulls make for a nostalgic escape from regular life—until a contingent from Etonville arrives to compete in a Jersey Shore theater festival.
Roped into helping her former boss cater the event, Dodie also gets a visit from her old flame, Jackson, who’s hoping to revive his charter boat business and is looking for a place to crash. Before Dodie can tell him that ship has sailed, Jackson’s partner is found murdered on his boat. Dodie knows her ex is a mooch, but she’s sure he’s no killer. But as she follows a trail of evidence that leads into her own past, Dodie stumbles on a dangerous conspiracy theory that could bring the festival to a shocking finale…

Genre: Mystery - Cozy

Why I Picked This Book:  I've been wanting to try this series since it first landed on my radar a few books ago.  I love the mix of food, theater, and murder.

My Impression:  Going into a new cozy series - especially if I'm jumping in in the middle - I always have a few questions in my head.  Why is the main character in the middle of the investigation?  Does she run around like a crazy person and demand that people answer her questions?  Is she someone I'd want to be friends with?  Is the community surrounding her a place I enjoy visiting?  And is the mystery solid and entertaining with a conclusion that makes sense?  And for this book I can give a resounding yes to all questions. 

I fully understood why Dodie got involved in the investigation and why she ended up putting up with Jackson far longer than she really wanted to.  He really has a bit of lost child about him and it'd almost seem like kicking a puppy to turn your back on him.  Her investigation, particularly given her past experience, makes sense and is subtly done.  I found her a likable character and one who wasn't too perfect which was nice.  As well I loved the mix of theater and restaurant and beach communities.  There are some quirky side characters with a full range of craziness and likability and are all people I'm looking forward to seeing again.  And finally while the mystery took a bit to really get going I was full in along with the way and pleased with the conclusion.  While the mystery did take a bit to get going this was never a slow read and I enjoyed seeing and getting to know the characters. 

This was book #5 but I had no problem jumping in here and figuring out the whos and whats of the situation.  I do think this is one of the series that gets better the more you read just because you get to know the characters and are more and more connected with each book.  This was a fun read and a series that I am so looking forward to continuing! 

Would I Read More of this Series/Author:  Absolutely!  I really enjoyed this one and am looking forward to exploring this series more.

Would I Recommend this Book?  If you enjoy cozies than I absolutely do!

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

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday - Settings I'd Love to See More Often

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 Settings I Want to See More Often (or at all).  I'm sure there are plenty of books that are set in these locations/time periods but I just want some more in my reading life!

1.  Cornwall - I love Rosamunde Pilcher's books that are set in Cornwall but I haven't found many other authors who have set books there.

2.  Prince Edward Island, Canada - I fell in love with Prince Edward Island through L.M. Montgomery's books and I'd love to see more of the island.

3.  Australia - I think I've only read one book set in Australia and I was disappointed by how little the setting affected the story.  I have several books set in Australia on my TBR but have yet to get to them.

4.  Wales - I don't think I've ever read a book set in Wales but I'd really like to find one.

5.  Greece - I'm fascinated by the history of the country and how it intertwines with the present. 

6.  Appalachian Mountains/Great Smoky Mountains National Park - I love this area and there is so much bizarre history intertwined with both the trail and the mountains that I'd love to see it more often in books

7.  Charleston, South Carolina - I love Charleston and love books that are set there.  Even though I have several series that take place here I always want more!

8.  New Orleans, Louisiana - Pretty much same as above

9.  World War II Hollywood - While I don't really love war stories I love books set during WWI or WWII that take place on the homefront.  I'd love to see one that took place during the war in Hollywood

10.  Regular everyday France - I've read a number of books where people are wandering through France for whatever reason but only a couple about people who live fairly normal lives in France or people who don't live in France but have family who live in France and are visiting them.  I like seeing the country in a more homey kind of way. 

What settings would you like to see more often?

Monday, July 22, 2019

Montauk - Historical Fiction

Goodreads:  Montauk by Nicola Harrison

Rating: Good
Source: Publisher

Description:  Montauk, Long Island, 1938.

A simple town on the brink of a glamorous future.

A marriage drifting apart.

A life on the edge of what is and what could be...

An epic and cinematic novel by debut author Nicola Harrison, Montauk captures the glamour and extravagance of a summer by the sea with the story of a woman torn between the life she chose and the life she desires.

Montauk, Long Island, 1938.

For three months, this humble fishing village will serve as the playground for New York City’s wealthy elite. Beatrice Bordeaux was looking forward to a summer of reigniting the passion between her and her husband, Harry. Instead, tasked with furthering his investment interest in Montauk as a resort destination, she learns she’ll be spending twelve weeks sequestered with the high society wives at The Montauk Manor—a two-hundred room seaside hotel—while Harry pursues other interests in the city.

College educated, but raised a modest country girl in Pennsylvania, Bea has never felt fully comfortable among these privileged women, whose days are devoted not to their children but to leisure activities and charities that seemingly benefit no one but themselves. She longs to be a mother herself, as well as a loving wife, but after five years of marriage she remains childless while Harry is increasingly remote and distracted. Despite lavish parties at the Manor and the Yacht Club, Bea is lost and lonely and befriends the manor’s laundress whose work ethic and family life stir memories of who she once was.

As she drifts further from the society women and their preoccupations and closer toward Montauk’s natural beauty and community spirit, Bea finds herself drawn to a man nothing like her husband –stoic, plain spoken and enigmatic. Inspiring a strength and courage she had almost forgotten, his presence forces her to face a haunting tragedy of her past and question her future.

Desperate to embrace moments of happiness, no matter how fleeting, she soon discovers that such moments may be all she has, when fates conspire to tear her world apart…

Genre: Fiction - Historical 

Why I Picked This Book:  I love this time period and I've been on a roll with loving historical fiction lately.

My Impression:  I have mixed feelings about this one.  I love historical fiction and this was a fun time period to visit and I really enjoyed seeing the day to day life of the summer people and just how the details were managed.  I also enjoyed Harrison's pacing.  Even when I was getting frustrated with certain aspects of the book it was always easy to read. 

However, I did have two issues with the book.  While I enjoyed Harrison's efforts to make 1938 Montauk come to life the level of detail was just a bit two much and bogged the story down at times.  Also, while I felt sorry for Beatrice there were multiple times where she seriously annoyed me.  She seemed completely unaware of the way things were in the society world but it's mentioned multiple times that she and Harry have been married five years and she's hardly been living under a rock so why was she so shocked that the Jewish newsman wasn't instantly accepted?  Or to find out that hanging out with the woman who does the laundry is unacceptable and could potentially get the woman in trouble?  She cannot see the point of this exclusion or not think it's right but to be so unaware was hard to believe.  There was another character who clearly knew a great deal about her but she never thought to question this.  These things made it hard for me to really believe in her intelligence and just frustrated me.

Despite my rant above I did enjoy this book and found Harrison's writing style very readable.  While I wanted to strangle Beatrice at times I did enjoy the reading experience and will be keeping an eye out for future books.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author:  While this wasn't my favorite I did enjoy it and think Harrison has a lot of potential so I'll definitely be looking for future books. 

Would I Recommend this Book?  I would with some slight reservations though if you enjoy historical fiction I think this will be an author to look out for.

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

Sunday, July 21, 2019

This Week in Reading - July 21

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:

Singapore Sapphire by A.M. Stuart - I've been loving historical mysteries lately and I really loved that this one was set in Singapore.  (Publisher)

The Christmas Keeper by Jenn McKinlay - I was super excited to get this on NetGalley.  I love McKinlay and I love her mysteries and I really enjoyed the one romance of hers that I read.  (NetGalley)

The Art of Theft by Sherry Thomas - I enjoyed the previous books in this series so I couldn't resist this one when it got offered.  I'm looking forward to reading more of Charlotte's adventures.  (Publisher)


Reading:  Life Among the Savages by Shirley Jackson and No More Time by Suzanne M. Trauth

Listening:  I finished Suddenly One Summer by Julie James which I enjoyed and am currently really enjoying What We Find by Robyn Carr.

Watching:  I've watched a couple of episodes of Dr. Pimple Popper on TLC.  It's by far the grossest thing I've ever seen but somehow I can't quite seem to quit watching it.

Off the Blog:

Not much has been going on here.  Finishing up the rental house (we might be done!  It's listed and there's only a few little exterior repairs to do which we are hiring done) so please cross your fingers and send good vibes and everything else that we get a renter soon.  It's been a long six weeks!  Physical therapy is still going on for my neck.  I worked a lot on strengthening exercises last time which I liked because I feel like I'm making progress but I've been in some serious pain most of this week.  If anyone has neck problems have you had any luck finding a pillow that helps?  I got this fancy pillow that's supposed to help with neck pain but I'm not sure what I think about it.  It's super hot so we've been staying inside when we can.  We get just enough rain to turn the outside into a sauna but that's Alabama in July for you!

On the Blog:

What Happened:

What's Coming Up:

Monday: Montauk - Historical Fiction Review
Tuesday: Top Ten Tuesday - Ten Settings I Want to See More Of
Wednesday: No More Time - Cozy Mystery Review
Thursday: Books from the Backlog
Friday: Friday Fives
Saturday: TBD

Have a great week and happy reading!

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Anything is Possible - Fiction Review

Goodreads:  Anything is Possible by Elizabeth Strout

Rating: Good
Source: Library (Audio)

Description: Short story collection Anything Is Possible explores the whole range of human emotion through the intimate dramas of people struggling to understand themselves and others.

Here are two sisters: one trades self-respect for a wealthy husband while the other finds in the pages of a book a kindred spirit who changes her life. The janitor at the local school has his faith tested in an encounter with an isolated man he has come to help; a grown daughter longs for mother love even as she comes to accept her mother’s happiness in a foreign country; and the adult Lucy Barton (the heroine of My Name Is Lucy Barton) returns to visit her siblings after seventeen years of absence.

Genre: Fiction - Short Stories

Why I Picked This Book:  I was surprised by how much I enjoyed her previous book so I really wanted to try this short story collection.

My Impression:  I read My Name is Lucy Barton last year and was surprised with how much I enjoyed it.  It was a fairly quiet book with the focus on getting to know the character that is Lucy Barton.  This is similar but instead of 1 character there are 9 short stories with each one focusing on a different character - all with a connection to Lucy in some way or another.  I thoroughly enjoyed each story and was pulled in quickly.  Some are sad, some are very everyday but in each there's a little bit of sadness and a thread of hope.  Because they were short there was none of the repetitiveness that can happen in a quiet character driven story.  I especially enjoyed seeing what had happened to the "Pretty Nicely" girls as well as the janitor who had been so kind to Lucy when she had been in school.  You don't need to have read Lucy Barton before reading this one but I think it would enhance the experience.  However, while I had read the book I didn't remember all that much about it and still loved this one.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  I absolutely would.  I love how the author mixes hope with sadness.

Would I Recommend this Book?  I would especially if you enjoy short stories.

Friday, July 19, 2019

Friday Fives - Five Books I Picked Up on a Whim This Year

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 is a bookish list about books I've picked up on a whim.  Most of these have been on my shelf or on a library list for years but for some reason - not connected with publishing date - I decided now was the time to read them.

1.  Dark Witch by Nora Roberts - I didn't really love this one when I first read it but I picked up on a whim in a sale on Audible and then decided to listen to it kind of on a whim and really enjoyed it.

2.  The Girl in the Cellar by Patricia Wentworth - Sometimes you're just in the mood to read something by a favorite author and this one in particular called to me.

3.  The Distant Hours by Kate Morton - I knew I was going to read this one at some point but had no plans to get to it anytime soon until I read the blurb.  I went straight to Amazon and ordered it right away.

4.  Slay in Character by Lynn Cahoon - I was flipping through my review books and this one jumped out at me and demanded to be read.

5.  The Long Way Home by Mariah Stewart - This was one of the first books I listened to after I got the Romance Package (or whatever they're calling it now) and for some reason this one jumped out at me.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Books from the Backlog - Biter Harvest

Today I'm linking up with Carole from Carole's Random Life of Books for Books from the Backlog.  I really enjoy the chance to feature a book that's been hiding in the piles of books for far too long! Today's book is one in a series that for some reason I've read every book in the series except for this one.  And it's not even like it's the most recent or the oldest.  Nope it's book 2 and yet I've managed to read 1 and 3 but for whatever reason skipped 2.  It's Bitter Harvest by Wendy Tyson.

Goodreads:  Bitter Harvest (Greenhouse Mystery #2) by Wendy Tyson

Blurb: Megan Sawyer should be shouting from the barn roof. Washington Acres survived its first year, the cafe has become a hot spot for locals, and Winsome's sexy Scottish veterinarian is making house calls-and not just for the animals! But as summer slips into fall and Winsome prepares for its grand Oktoberfest celebration, beer isn't the only thing brewing. When the town pub's owner is killed in a freak accident, Megan suspects something sinister is afoot in Winsome, but no one is listening. As nights grow longer and temperatures chill, Megan must plow through Winsome's fixation with autumn festivities to harvest the truth, before another dead body marks the season.

Why It Needs to Come Off My Shelf - Because if I read this one I can be caught up on a series!

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. *