Thursday, June 24, 2021

Books from the Backlog - The Pickled Piper


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!


Goodreads:  The Pickled Piper by Mary Ellen Hughes

Blurb:  The Cloverdale fair offers Piper a sweet opportunity to promote her business. With her new assistant, Amy, she sets up a booth centered around an eye-catching display of the ever-popular dills in an old-fashioned barrel of brine.
But things soon turn sour when fairgoers witness a fight between Amy’s boyfriend, Nate, and town council blowhard—and bagpipe player—Alan Rosemont. When Rosemont is found floating in Piper’s barrel, Nate becomes the prime murder suspect. With Amy’s boyfriend in a pretty pickle, there’s no time to dillydally. But as Piper searches for the real killer, she needs to be careful to preserve her own life…or she may end up a pickled Piper herself.

Why It Needs to Come Off the Shelf:  I love another series by this author and I've had this book sitting on my shelf for years!

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Lady Sunshine - Fiction Review

Goodreads:  Lady Sunshine by Amy Mason Doan

Rating: Liked It
Source: Publisher

Description:  For Jackie Pierce, everything changed the summer of 1979, when she spent three months of infinite freedom at her bohemian uncle’s sprawling estate on the California coast. As musicians, artists, and free spirits gathered at The Sandcastle for the season in pursuit of inspiration and communal living, Jackie and her cousin Willa fell into a fast friendship, testing their limits along the rocky beach and in the wild woods... until the summer abruptly ended in tragedy, and Willa silently slipped away into the night.

Twenty years later, Jackie unexpectedly inherits The Sandcastle and returns to the iconic estate for a short visit to ready it for sale. But she reluctantly extends her stay when she learns that, before her death, her estranged aunt had promised an up-and-coming producer he could record a tribute album to her late uncle at the property’s studio. As her musical guests bring the place to life again with their sun-drenched beach days and late-night bonfires, Jackie begins to notice startling parallels to that summer long ago. And when a piece of the past resurfaces and sparks new questions about Willa’s disappearance, Jackie must discover if the dark secret she’s kept ever since is even the truth at all.

Genre: Fiction 

Why I Picked This Book:  I can never resist a going back to an old place and digging into past secrets so of course I couldn't resist this one!

My Impression:  I think a lot of people will really love this one.  The author has a very flowy sense of style and manages to make the setting come alive without giving it too much structure.  Jackie is a good lead as she is a little bit apart from it all.  While she does love music she was never in the music industry and in both timelines is a bit of an outsider looking in.  She's likable and relatable even if a bit conflicted at times.  Her memories of the summer of 1979 are touched with gold with hidden darkness.  She can't resist remembering but at the same time her reflexive action is to retreat.  

I enjoyed both timelines and it was interesting how the property can't help but draw musicians.  In both Jackie is trying to figure things out.  In the 1979 she is desperate to fit in and learn more about her mother and in the 1999 she is still stunned that she ended up with the estate and is trying to race her demons and figure out what she wants.  My only real issue and what kept me from really loving it was the "secret" premise.  I love a book where past secrets are discovered but I get impatient when there is no progress to discovering what the secret is - especially if the main characters know it or at least have a pretty good idea.  This is one of those books.  Part of what keeps the secret under wraps for so long is Jackie's own fears about facing what happened or discovering more which made it better but it still kept me from being too hooked.  This was a good read and this is an author that I will definitely seek out in the future

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Absolutely.  I really enjoyed the writing style and will be looking for more books from this author.

Would I Recommend this Book?  Definitely!  Especially if the secret issue doesn't bother you.  It's a lighter read but an interesting one.

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

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Virtual Vacation TBR

 


This summer we won't be traveling but I'm getting a little stir crazy stuck at home so I've decided I'm going on a virtual vacation with a little help through my bookshelves.  It won't be quite as relaxing but it will be quite a lot cheaper and at no point will I have to wait any kind of line or wear anything but comfy clothes so it kind of all works out.  Here are the books that I'm going to "travel" with this summer.

France:

I've never been to France so I'm taking a bit of a whole country tour with a fiction and two nonfictions.


1.  A Paris Apartment by Michelle Gable

2.  The Art of French Eating by Ann Mah

3.  The French House: An American Family, a Ruined Maison, and the Village that Restored Them All by Don Wallace

Napa Valley, California

I'm actually not really a wine drinker but Napa Valley looks gorgeous and Roberts never fails to pull me into the story so I figure this will be quite an interesting visit!


4. The Villa by Nora Roberts

Scotland

A two book tour of Scotland.  One involves a falling apart family  and a castle while the other involves a murder.  They both involve bookshops.


5.  The Bookshop on the Shore by Jenny Colgan

6.  Lost Books and Old Bones by Paige Shelton

Greece

This trip to Greece won't be relaxing as there will be lots of scuba diving, mystery uncovering, and deep dives into history but it will be lots of fun.


7.  The Sea King's Daughter by Barbara Michaels

Louisiana

We spent 4 months in New Orleans in 2019 and 2020 and I miss it so much so I thought I'd do a visit both in New Orleans and up River Road.


8.  The Stalking by Heather Graham

9.  Fatal Cajun Festival by Ellen Byron

The Hamptons

I love summer and heat doesn't bother me but Louisiana in the summer is daunting for just about anyone so I'm going to finish up with a quick trip up north to New York where there will be antique shopping and house clearing out in The Hamptons.


10.  Hearse and Gardens by Kathleen Bridge

Do you have any virtual vacation plans this summer?  Or actual vacation plans?
 

Monday, June 21, 2021

The Princess Spy - Nonfiction Review

Goodreads:  The Princess Spy by Larry Loftis

Rating: Really Liked It!
Source: Library

Description:  When Aline Griffith was born in a quiet suburban New York hamlet, no one had any idea that she would go on to live “a life of glamour and danger that Ingrid Bergman only played at in Notorious” (Time). As the US enters the Second World War, the young college graduate is desperate to aid in the war effort, but no one is interested in a bright-eyed young woman whose only career experience is modeling clothes.

Aline’s life changes when, at a dinner party, she meets a man named Frank Ryan and reveals how desperately she wants to do her part for her country. Within a few weeks, he helps her join the Office of Strategic Services—forerunner of the CIA. With a code name and expert training under her belt, she is sent to Spain to be a coder, but is soon given the additional assignment of infiltrating the upper echelons of society, mingling with high-ranking officials, diplomats, and titled Europeans, any of whom could be an enemy agent. Against this glamorous backdrop of galas and dinner parties, she recruits sub-agents and engages in deep-cover espionage to counter Nazi tactics in Madrid.

Even after marrying the Count of Romanones, one of the wealthiest men in Spain, Aline secretly continues her covert activities, being given special assignments when abroad that would benefit from her impeccable pedigree and social connections.

Filled with twists, romance, and plenty of white-knuckled adventures fit for a James Bond film, The Princess Spy brings to vivid life the dazzling adventures of a remarkable American woman who risked everything to serve her country.

Genre: Nonfiction - Biography

Why I Picked This Book: I read the memoir The Spy Wore Red years ago and loved it so was really curious to get a more objective story.

My Impression:  I read Aline Griffith's memoir years ago and while I loved it I always wondered just how much of it was true.  The reality is that there was more truth then I expected and even with her embellishments and changes the true story was just as riveting as the story she told if not more so.

Aline was an extraordinary young woman who was willing to do extraordinary things and was able to adapt quickly and think on her feet.  Her efforts during the war while maybe lacking in movie level drama were riveting and intense and I was incredibly impressed by her abilities and her discretion.  

I wouldn't say that this reads like fiction - especially at the beginning when Loftis is introducing Aline and the other players in the book as well as explaining the setup both in Spain and the US.  Once Aline gets to Spain the pace quickens and I flew through the last half.  I really enjoyed that Loftis pointed out the differences from the true story and the memoir as well as gave a wrap-up as to what happened to the various people that we meet through the book.  

This was an interesting look into an area of World War II that I haven't come across very often.  While Aline's book is mentioned quite a few times I don't feel like you need to be familiar with it or her before reading this one though I'd be surprised if you don't immediately search it out after finishing this one.  I've already ordered a copy!  

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  I enjoyed Loftis' writing style.  While he doesn't make nonfiction read like fiction I felt like he told a good story with an even hand and backed up where he was getting his information.

Would I Recommend this Book?  If you're interested in World War II or interesting women in history I think you would enjoy this read.

Sunday, June 20, 2021

Life with Leukemia (And Some Reading) - June 20


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

What I Got:

The Spy Wore Red by Aline, Countess of Romanoes - After reading The Princess Spy by Larry Loftis I had to pick up this book for a reread! (Library)

The Official Downton Abbey Cookbook by Annie Gray - When I was at the library picking up the above book I saw this one and couldn't resist checking it out too! (Library)

Currently:


Reading:  Lady Sunshine by Amy Mason Doan and The Whole Cat and Caboodle by Sofie Ryan

Listening:  A Dangerous Collaboration by Deanna Raybourn

Watching:  Not much but Will has become obsessed by The Food Theorists on YouTube and has spent the last few days telling me all about tricks grocery stores use to get you to buy more.  Pretty sure I fall for all of them.

Other Stuff:  


June 19, 2020


June 16, 2021

It has officially been a year since Will was diagnosed with Leukemia.  What a crazy and scary year it has been but we have made it.  He's such a tough kid and his attitude through all of this has been amazing.  He's had his ups and downs but for the most part he's been up and his sense of humor and serious levels of sarcasm never fail to prevail.  He's fascinated by anesthesia and how it works and actually looks forward to procedures so he can question the anesthesiologist.  And he's absolutely loved getting to hang out with the therapy dog at the affiliate here.  

Every comment and card and message I've gotten from everyone here has meant so so much.  I'm so glad we've been able to stay together as a family but this is so isolating - especially with Covid protocols and having this little space to vent or talk and having you all be so supportive has saved my sanity more then a few times.  Leukemia treatment is a long (but overwhelmingly successful) journey.  We've made it a year and have 84 weeks to go!  If you are interested in following Will's story he does have a Facebook group here.  

I hope everyone has a great week and happy reading!

Saturday, June 19, 2021

The Listening House - Classic Mystery Review

Goodreads:  The Listening House by Mabel Seeley

Rating: Liked It
Source: Publisher

Description:  After losing her copywriting job, young Gwynne Dacres seeks a place to live when she stumbles upon Mrs. Garr’s old boarding house. Despite the gruff landlady and an assortment of shifty tenants, Gwynne rents a room for herself. She spends her first few nights at 593 Trent Street tensely awake, the house creaking and groaning as if listening to everything that happens behind its closed doors.

A chain of chilling events leads to the gruesome discovery of a mutilated body in the basement kitchen, dead of unknown circumstances. Was it an accident or murder? Under the red-black brick fa├žade of the old house on Trent Street, Gwynne uncovers a myriad of secrets, blackmail, corruption, and clues of a wicked past. As she closes in on the truth, the cold, pale hands of death reach for Gwynne in the night…

Genre: Mystery - Classic

Why I Picked This Book:  I've been wanting to read more classic American mysteries and I couldn't resist picking this one up when it was rereleased this month.

My Impression:  I'm a huge fan of classic mysteries - particularly those written by women authors like Christie, Sayers, Marsh, and Wentworth.  However, most of my reading has been limited to British authors with only one Mary Roberts Rinehart read.  So when I saw that this book was originally published in 1938 I couldn't resist.  Mabel Seeley is a new name to me and it seems like quite the crime that she isn't better known.  

I'm not sure this is a British vs American style issue or just my reading experience but if you're expecting an Agatha Christie clean straightforward mystery you are going to be quite surprised.  Like with Mary Roberts Rinehart's books the atmosphere is so palpable in The Listening House it's essentially a character in itself.  593 Trent Street oozes sinister vibes and all of the residents live with the feeling hovering over their head  every day - and that's before the rather gruesome murder.

I really enjoyed this read.  I really liked Gwynne.  She's kind of backed into a corner but she's got a good head on her shoulders and is not afraid to make herself heard.  The other residents of the house are intriguing and figuring out just who is what they seem and what they are hiding is entertaining.  I really had no idea of the whos and the whys until the very end.  My only real issue was the uneven pacing.  The last half had me really hooked but while I enjoyed the first half it was quite a bit slower.  That aside, this was an interesting read and a great choice if you're wanting to investigate some American classic mysteries.  

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Definitely!  I'm hoping more of her books are republished but I'll also be on the lookout for them elsewhere.

Would I Recommend this Book?  If you enjoy atmospheric classic reads this is a good one to pick up.

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

Friday, June 18, 2021

Friday Fives - Five Series That Do NOT Need to Be Read in Order



I'm taking a bit of a break from my usual Friday Linkups to try something a little different.  I'm in a list making kind of mood so I thought I'd start making random five lists.  Sometimes they'll be bookish other weeks not so much.   This year has been all about the series.   While most of the books I read are in series I was never one who had to read a series in order.  Well this year I've been discovering just how important reading a series in order just happens to be!  That said not ever series needs to be read in order and here are 5 that come to mind.


1.  Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot by Agatha Christie - I'm cheating a bit because these are two different series but both are series that can easily be read in any order.  In fact the last book in both series were written in the 1940s but weren't published until the 1970s so Christie didn't even write them in order!  


2.  Miss Silver by Patricia Wentworth - This is pretty much the same as the two above.  Yes it's technically a series but the only connection is that Miss Silver and some of the various detectives show up in every book.  There are some repeat characters but you don't need to know who they are and the mysteries are in no way connected.


3.  Murder, She Wrote by Jessica Fletcher (and which ever author was writing it at the time) - This series is on 50+ books and I have read about 4 of them.  Just like the television show that this is based on where you can watch any random episode and completely understand what's going on you can pick up any book without any issue.  


4.  Krewe of Hunters by Heather Graham - This paranormal romantic suspense series is essentially a series of trilogies that come out every year.  Those trilogies are loosely connected but the only connection between them and the rest of the book is that at least one character in the couple is a member of the FBI's special department of paranormal investigators.


5.  Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse - Now you do want to make sure that Bertie appears in the book but other then that I think you can jump in anywhere- and I do recommend them in audio if you can get them!

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Books from the Backlog - A Dark and Stormy Murder


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!

Goodreads:  A Dark and Stormy Night by Julia Buckley

Blurb:  Camilla Graham’s bestselling suspense novels inspired Lena London to become a writer, so when she lands a job as Camilla’s new assistant, she can’t believe her luck. Not only will she help her idol craft an enchanting new mystery, she’ll get to live rent-free in Camilla’s gorgeous Victorian home in the quaint town of Blue Lake, Indiana.
But Lena’s fortune soon changes for the worse. First, she lands in the center of small town gossip for befriending the local recluse. Then, she stumbles across one thing that a Camilla Graham novel is never without—a dead body, found on her new boss’s lakefront property.

Now Lena must take a page out of one of Camilla’s books to hunt down clues in a real crime that seems to be connected to the novelist’s mysterious estate—before the killer writes them both out of the story for good...

Why It Needs to Come Off the Shelf:  While I've read the last couple of books in this series I've never read the first few and I think it would help me enjoy the series even more.

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Death Brings a Shadow + Antiques Fire Sale - Mini Reviews


Goodreads:  Death Brings a Shadow by Rosemary Simpson

Blurb:  In spring 1889, Prudence and Geoffrey set sail from New York Harbor on a private yacht bound for Bradford Island, where her friend Eleanor Dickson is to be wed. The Sea Islands along the Georgia coast serve as a winter playground for the likes of the Carnegies, Rockefellers, Vanderbilts, and Dicksons. Despite her Yankee pedigree, Eleanor is marrying a Southern gentleman, Teddy Bennett, and Prudence is thrilled to be the maid of honor.
But days before the wedding, the bride is nowhere to be found. A frantic search of the island turns up her drowned corpse in an alligator-infested swamp. Prudence is devastated, but as they prepare the body for burial, she and Geoffrey discover evidence of bruising that indicates Eleanor was held under--most dishonorably murdered.
Determined to seek justice for her beloved friend, Prudence begins to investigate with Geoffrey's help and is quickly led into a morass of voodoo spells and dark deeds from the days of slavery. As Prudence and Geoffrey pursue a killer, they soon discover that Eleanor will not be the last to die on Bradford Island ...

My Thoughts:  I really wanted to love this one.  I really enjoyed the previous book and had such high hopes for this one but it didn't really come to be.  The mystery was okay though a bit disjointed but my primary problem was with Prudence herself.  She is completely out of her element and refuses to read the room or take advice from Geoffrey who is on her team and far more familiar with the way things work.  After awhile she just comes off as immature and arrogant.  As well she makes a logic jump that made no sense at all given the knowledge that she had while reaching the conclusion.  Unfortunately, the book is told primarily through Prudence's eyes and by the end I was glad to see the last of her.  I did really enjoy the previous book so I might pick up another book in the series but it definitely won't be one that takes place out of New York.  My Rating: Just Okay

Goodreads:  Antiques Fire Sale (A Trash and Treasure Mystery #14) by Barbara Allan

Blurb: That local theater diva of a certain age, Vivian Borne—a.k.a. Brandy’s Mother—is sheriff of Serenity County now, but still hot on the trail of precious antiques. On a tour of the historic Wentworth Mansion, the two dedicated dealers are aglow at the treasure trove of priceless objects . . . never dreaming everything will turn to ashes, hours later.
A charred corpse in the ruins is identified as the mansion’s caretaker, a one-time flame of Vivian’s. But Tony Cassato—Brandy’s beau and Serenity’s Chief of Police—throws cold water on Sheriff Vivian’s suspicions of murder. Then Brandy spots a certain familiar item for sale on the Internet, and Mother suspects the fire is just a smoke screen.
When their doggie detective, Sushi the shih tzu, sniffs out a second body in the woods, Mother and Brandy turn up the heat on a homicidal torcher. Because any killer who takes on the Borne girls is playing with fire.

My Thoughts:  Well this was a zany bit of fun!  I've heard mixed reviews about this series and honestly I can see why.  The writing style is very distinct with fourth wall breaking and a story telling feel that is at times heavily shaded by the speaking character's perspective.  The story feel reminded me a bit of Tonya Kappes' books so if you enjoy her stories I think you'd like this one.  As well for the 14th book in the series I had absolutely no problem jumping in here.  The narrator, Jeanine Bartel, did a fantastic job and enhanced my enjoyment of the story.  The mystery was an entertaining one with some serious hijinks but some solid investigative work.  I'm not sure this is a series I'll seek out to finish or read the backlog of but if I see any books by this author or this narrator on audio I'll definitely give them a try.  My Rating:  Liked It!

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Top Ten Tuesday - Summer TBR


Today I'm linking up with Top Ten Tuesday hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl which is all about lists.  Since lists are one of my favorite things this is one of my favorite linkups!  Today's topic is 

 


1.  A Place Like Home by Rosamunde Pilcher - Pilcher is a favorite author and I love her short stories so I had to pick up this new collection of short stories.  Pilcher died in 2019 making this extra special.

2.  Murder Most Fowl by Donna Andrews - I love this series so I have to read the newest book!

3.  The Moon Sister by Lucinda Riley - I was so saddened to hear of Riley's death last week after a long battle with cancer.  This was already on my list to read but now there will be an extra bit of poignancy.

4.  The Secret Staircase by Sheila Connolly - I started this series on a whim last year and am looking forward to picking up the last book.

5.  Murder Most Fair by Anna Lee Huber - I am fully caught up on the Verity Kent series and have enjoyed all the books so I can't wait to pick up this newest one.


6.  The Spy Wore Red by Aline, Countess of Romanones - I read this book years and years ago and really enjoyed it but now that I've read Larry Loftis' biography I need to do a reread!

7.  Latter End by Patricia Wentworth - One of my goals this year is to read all the Miss Silver books in chronological order and this is the next book.

8.  The Stalking by Heather Graham - I always like Graham's Krewe of Hunter books during the summer.  They're creepy and suspenseful but still light reading.

9.   Death in Castle Dark by Veronica Bond -Murder in a castle and the first in a new cozy series.  It looks really fun.

10. The Whole Cat and Caboodle by Sofie Ryan -This is a series I've recently rolled in to my Year of the Series project.  I've read the later books but somehow never read the first few so I'm going to work to fix that.

What are you hoping to read this summer?

Monday, June 14, 2021

Murder, She Wrote: Killing in a Koi Pond - Cozy Mystery Review

Goodreads: Murder, She Wrote: Killing in a Koi Pond (Murder, She Wrote #53) by Jessica Fletcher and Terrie Farley Moran

Rating:  Liked It!
Source: Publisher

Description:  After traveling to Bethesda for a mystery writers' conference, Jessica Fletcher decides she's earned a vacation and takes a train to Columbia, South Carolina, to visit her old college friend Dolores, who has recently married her third husband, Willis Nickens, a wealthy and cutthroat businessman. They've moved into an opulent historic home with plenty of space for guests, and Jessica is ready for a week of shopping, gossiping, and relaxing at the grand estate.

But the morning after she arrives, Jessica discovers Willis facedown in the koi pond, and despite what the police think, she's sure foul play is involved. She hadn't known Willis long, but it's clear to her that he didn't concern himself with making friends. The question isn't if her friend's husband was murdered but by whom.

Genre: Mystery - Cozy

Why I Picked This Book:  I've been really enjoying this series and was thrilled to see a cozy author taking over.

My Impression:  I was so excited to start this one when I saw a cozy mystery author would be taking over the series.  While I had enjoyed the previous author his work was a little more thriller-y then I expected from Jessica Fletcher.  It was fun but this book mirrored the show more closely in feel.  

In this book Jessica is visiting an old friend who is newly married.  Instead of the charming prince Jessica had heard about the new husband seems to be nothing short of a bully - something everyone but his besotted wife is aware of.  It's not particularly shocking when after a very awkward and unpleasant dinner he is discovered dead in the koi pond.  Suspects are thick on the ground but the local sheriff seems zeroed in on just one - the new bride and Jessica's old friend.  So of course Jessica has to get involved!

This was a fun read with lots of yummy food descriptions and even more interrogations.  I did guess who the killer was and why but I enjoyed the read enough that that didn't bother me.  The secondary characters are a bit flat and I would have enjoyed a bit more of an explanation as to what was going on between the killer and victim.  However, this was such a fun fast paced read that these felt like pretty minor issues.  I'm really hoping that Moran continues with this and I'm especially looking forward to one set in Cabot Cove!

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

Would I Recommend this Book?  If you enjoy cozy mysteries - and especially if you are familiar with the television show - I think you would really enjoy this read.

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

Sunday, June 13, 2021

Life with Leukemia (And Some Reading) June 13


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

This has been a bit of a stressful week.  One of Will's counts came back wonky so he didn't get IV chemo but at this point it's not really anything to worry about.  These kids get so much medicine over so long of a time that sometimes their bodies need a rest and that's what was most likely going on here.  Because he didn't get the IV chemo and just has been doing oral chemo he's actually feeling pretty good and there are no symptoms that anything more serious is going on which is good.  We are on week 35 and the fact that means there are best case scenario 85 weeks to go is wearing on us a little.  They told us when Will was first diagnosed that it's a marathon not a sprint and that's really hitting home right now.  The long term treatment is why the cure rate is so high so I feel guilty feeling worn out by all of it.  We also have gotten bad news about 2 families we've met over all this.  One learned their child has had a relapse at week 114 and the other got unbelievably bad news.  Both had the same diagnosis as Will so it's hit us pretty hard even though his treatment is going great.  It's brought home that anything can change on a dime I think.

I've been trying to keep myself distracted so in between video games with Will I've been playing GeoGuessr and it's been a nice distraction.  Basically it drops you down anywhere in the world using Google Maps and you can kind of move around to figure out where you are.  Then you guess and it tells you how close you were.  I've been weirdly close and crazy off but it's been fun.  I only do 1 game a day which is 5 maps because any more and you have to pay for it but it's been a nice bit of distraction.  I've also been reading and feel like I've managed to avoid the slump I felt was coming on last week.

Currently:


Reading: 
The Listening House by Mabel Seeley and House of Many Shadows by Barbara Michaels

Listening:  Hitting the Books by Jenn McKinlay - I've read this but don't remember it at all so I thought I'd listen to it before I marked this series done.

I'm still not watching much other then YouTube though really I've mostly been listening to audio books and not watching anything.  I miss getting into a really good show or movie but it hasn't been happening lately.

Have a great week and happy reading!

Saturday, June 12, 2021

Murder with Mirrors - Classic Mystery Review

Goodreads:  Murder with Mirrors by Agatha Christie

Rating: Really Liked It!
Source: Purchased

Description:  A man is shot at in a juvenile reform home – but someone else dies…

Miss Marple senses danger when she visits a friend living in a Victorian mansion which doubles as a rehabilitation centre for delinquents. Her fears are confirmed when a youth fires a revolver at the administrator, Lewis Serrocold. Neither is injured. But a mysterious visitor, Mr Gulbrandsen, is less fortunate – shot dead simultaneously in another part of the building.

Pure coincidence? Miss Marple thinks not, and vows to discover the real reason for Mr Gulbrandsen’s visit.

Genre: Mystery - Classic

Why I Picked This Book:  I'm rereading all the Miss Marple books this year and this was the next book in line!

My Impression:  This is one of the Miss Marples I don't really remember much about but I think should be on the under appreciated titles list.  Miss Marple is visiting an old friend, Carrie Louise, at her estate which is also a rehabilitation center for juvenile delinquents.  Carrie Louise thinks she is offering an old friend of limited means a bit of a break from financial worries and plenty of relaxing surroundings and good food.  What Carrie Louise doesn't know is that Miss Marple has been sent by another old friend who feels that something is amiss in Carrie Louise's world but doesn't know precisely what.  And obviously, Miss Marple is the one for figuring out just what is going on!

This is an interesting read and clearly a plot that Christie had a bit of fun with.  There's a lot of family tension and more then a few possible suspects as well as more of a few theories as to just what is going on.  This is the kind of situation where Miss Marple really shines.  She's imbedded in the household and all the possible suspects are available for chatting.  It's really quite fun to watch her in action.  When it all comes out I think most readers will be quite surprised at just how it was all managed.   

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Of course!  I've already got the next one ready to go!

Would I Recommend this Book?  I would!  Miss Marple books can be read in just about any order and since this one takes place away from her home it's especially easy to just jump in here.

Friday, June 11, 2021

Friday Fives - Five Recipes I've Made Recently

 


I'm taking a bit of a break from my usual Friday Linkups to try something a little different.  I'm in a list making kind of mood so I thought I'd start making random five lists.  Sometimes they'll be bookish other weeks not so much.  This week is one of the not so much!  I've been getting back to experimenting a little with new recipes and I thought I'd share 5 recipes I've made recently and what I thought.


1. Longhorn Garlic Parmesan Crusted Chicken from Plain Chicken - Longhorn is a steak house chain that we do takeout from A LOT as it is in Will's very short list of places that he will eat (picky kid + chemo taste buds do not make for easy eating).  I've had this chicken a few times and thought it might be fun to give this copycat recipe a try and was so glad I did!  I liked it better then the restaurant version as it was less rich and heavy and really had more flavor.  I cooked the chicken at 425 until done and for the 2nd part I just put it back in the oven for a few minutes and it worked great. I'll definitely make this again.

2.  Soft Chocolate Chip Cookies from Picky Palate - Will loves softer chocolate chip cookies and my favorite cookie recipe leans more towards the chewy so I thought I'd give this a try and they were SO good.  I mean granted chocolate chip cookies are pretty safe but these were delicious and the texture was perfection.

3.  Easy Cheesy Baked Tortellini from InstruPix - This was surprisingly good for how simple it was.  I used Rao's Marinara sauce and refrigerated tortellini and probably only about a cup of cheese and it was so good.  It also makes a ton and heats up beautifully AND you could prepare it ahead of time and just pop it in the oven when you were ready.  Another one that will make it onto our regular rotation.  


4.  Lemon Drop Bars by Mom on TimeOut - Oh my these are so good and pretty easy as far as lemon bars go.  My only issue is the candied lemon zest topping.  It tasted good but I didn't love the texture it added.  I think I'd either half it or skip it all together next time I make it (and there will be a next time)!

5.  Chicken Lazone from Plain Chicken - This blog seems to be a reliable one for me when it comes to main dishes as this is the 2nd chicken recipe I've made from them recently that I've really loved.  It's basically a spice encrusted chicken in a cream sauce and it is delicious!  I left out the cayenne pepper but used all of the chili powder and it really wasn't very spicy at all.  I served it with mashed potatoes but it would be great with rice or pasta as well.  

What have you been cooking lately?  


Thursday, June 10, 2021

Death on the Night of Lost Lizards - Cozy Mystery Review

Goodreads:  Death on the Night of Lost Lizards (A Hungarian Tea Shop Mystery #3) by Julia Buckley

Rating: Really Liked It!
Source:  Publisher

Description:  Hana Keller and her tea-leaf reading grandmother are used to finding the perfect savory treats to pair with a delicious cuppa at her family’s tea house but when a local professor is killed, she uncovers a serving of suspects instead…

Hana Keller is getting ready for a lovely holiday season. She decides to host a tea at her apartment for her closest friends. During the cozy get-together, one of Hana's friends gets a call that a murderer is on the loose and that the women should be careful. Hana soon learns that Sandor Balog, a professor of Hungarian Studies at the local college, has been viciously killed.

Hana gets one of her visions that she is going to be pulled into the professor's death somehow. When Erik, her handsome detective boyfriend, finds several suspects at the Tea House, Hana knows she must now investigate. And when the wrong man is arrested, things come to a boil and Hana finds herself in the path of the real killer.

Genre: Mystery - Cozy

Why I Picked This Book:  I read the 2nd book last year and loved it so there was no way I was passing this one up!

My Impression:  This book series is dangerous in multiple ways!  For one thing I find myself absolutely craving Hungarian food - especially desserts and we don't really have a good Hungarian restaurant in town so I'm pretty much days away from going on a baking binge and then eating all the treats on my own!  The food descriptions are that amazing.  As well, I have a huge weakness for antique porcelain and have quite a collection and there are always mentions of Herend porcelain that make me want to go down that particular rabbit hole which would hit my book budget HARD.  

But those problems aside this book (and the previous one) was just a delight from start to finish.  There are some psychic notes but not so much that the book feels paranormal.  It almost has a magical realism feel but without the magic taking over.  If you're not a fan of paranormal or magical realism it's such a side issue I don't think this would bother you.  The characters are people I'd like to be friends with - especially Hana and her family.   

With all my rambling, you'd think the mystery gets pushed to the side but it never does.  From the beginning the mystery is front and center and really kept me reading.  I loved the dive into the Hungarian community and found the investigation fascinating.  This was a fast read that I was sad to see the end of!  I'm glad that I missed the first book so that I can go back and read that while I wait for the next book in the series.  And I'm going to need to seek out some of the amazing treats Hana talks about.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Absolutely!  I've enjoyed everything I've read by this author though this series is my favorite.

Would I Recommend this Book?  Definitely!  This is a fun cozy mystery with a bit of a different feel and makes for a fast light read.

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

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

The Art of Betrayal - Mystery Review

Goodreads:  The Art of Betrayal (A Kate Hamilton Mystery #3) by Connie Berry

Rating: Really Liked It
Source: Publisher

Description:  Spring is a magical time in England--bluebells massing along the woodland paths, primrose and wild thyme dotting the meadows. Antiques dealer Kate Hamilton is spending the month of May in the Suffolk village of Long Barston, enjoying precious time with Detective Inspector Tom Mallory. While attending the May Fair, the annual pageant based on a well-known Anglo-Saxon folktale, a body turns up in the middle of the festivities.

Kate is even more shocked when she learns the murder took place in antiquity shop owner Ivor Tweedy's stockroom and a valuable Chinese pottery jar that she had been tasked with finding a buyer for has been stolen. Ivor may be ruined. Insurance won't cover a fraction of the loss.

As Tom leads the investigation, Kate begins to see puzzling parallels between the murder and local legends. The more she learns, the more convinced she is that the solution to both crimes lies in the misty depths of Anglo-Saxon history and a generations-old pattern of betrayal. It's up to Kate to unravel this Celtic knot of lies and deception to save Ivor's business.

Genre:  Mystery

Why I Picked This Book:  I really enjoyed the 2nd book in the series so I couldn't pass up the 3rd book!

My Impression:   Oh I enjoyed this!  I really liked the previous book in the series so going in I was a little concerned that this one wouldn't hold up but if anything it was even better.  This isn't quite a cozy but lacks the gore and graphicness of a police procedural so it's kind of in the middle.  Kate is a widow with adult children and Tom is in a similar setup.  The primary difference is that while Kate's mother is a delight (though unfortunately an ocean away) Tom's mother is not quite so lovely and in a much closer proximity which does lead to the occasional tense moment.   There is some regular life stuff like parents and children and talks of the future mixed in with the mystery which helped add dimension to Kate and Tom's otherwise intelligent and professional demeanors.

The mystery involves antiques, a present day murder and a past scandal which are all some of my favorite things.  I loved the exploration into all three aspects and seeing Kate and Tom work together as she works with an estate appraisal was really fun.  This wasn't the fastest paced mystery but I never felt like the story was dragging.  I thoroughly enjoyed all of this from the characters to the mystery to the history and this is an author I'm looking forward to reading more from!

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Definitely! I'm hoping to go back and read the 1st book before the next book in the series comes out.

Would I Recommend this Book?  If you enjoy straightforward mysteries with clever characters I think you'll enjoy this one!

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

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Ten Books I Want to Buy - June 2021

 

It's been awhile since I've made a book buying list so I thought now was the time to make one!  Here are ten books I'm hoping to buy soon!


1.  The Spy Wore Red by Aline, Countess of Romanones - I read this tons of times when I was a teenager and loved it and now that I'm reading The Princess Spy by Larry Loftis and finding out a lot of the behind the scenes stuff I feel the need for another copy!

2.  Into the Lion's Mouth: The True Story of Dusko Popov by Larry Loftis - I'm reading another book by this author and enjoying it so I want to pick up another book by him and this one looks intriguing.

3.  The Missing Sister by Lucinda Riley - This is a series I'm working on this year and am so excited for this final book.

4.  The Killings at Kingfisher Hill by Sophie Hannah - I've enjoyed the previous Poirot books by Hannah.  Even if the character doesn't read exactly like Christie's Poirot there's an affection and respect to the original creator that makes this series a great read.

5.  The Alice Network by Kate Quinn - This has been on my TBR for ages and now that I'm reading some other World War II espionage books now seems like the time to pick this one up.


6.  Seeing Darkness by Heather Graham - The Krewe of Hunters series by Heather Graham are just candy bars of books.  There isn't much substance but they're still tasty treats and this is the next one on my list to read.

7.  The Lion in the Living Room: How House Cats Tamed Us and Took Over the World by Abigail Tucker - This has been on my TBR for awhile and I think it'd be a fun read and one my son might enjoy too.

8.  The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher:  Murder and the Undoing of a Great Victorian Detective by Kate Summerscale - This one caught my eye quite awhile ago and I still haven't picked it up.  I love the look of it and am just curious about the subject matter.

9.  The Mystery of Mrs. Christie by Marie Benedict  - I'm a little bit on the fence about this one.  Agatha Christie is one of my very favorite authors and I've read quite a bit about the incident that this book is supposed to be about but I've heard some mixed reviews about Benedict's books.  I have a feeling this will either be a book I absolutely love or one I DNF.

10. The Daughters of George III: Sisters and Princesses by Catherine Curzon - I heard this one mentioned on a bookish YouTube channel that I always enjoy and I instantly added it to my TBR.  I'm always fascinated by the lesser known royals - especially from this era.  

What books do you want to pick up this month?



Monday, June 7, 2021

Ruby Red Herring - Cozy Mystery Review

Goodreads:  Ruby Red Herring (An Avery Ayers Antiques Mystery #1) by Tracy Gardner

Rating:  Liked It
Source: Publisher

Description:  After their parents' deaths, Avery Ayers and her teenaged sister, Tilly, take over the family business, Antiquities & Artifacts Appraised. Life in Lilac Grove is filled with jewels, tapestries, paintings...and the antics of eccentric Aunt Midge. But their world is rocked when they learn that the theft of a priceless ruby may be connected to their parents' demise.
The trouble starts when the Museum of Antiquities hires Avery to appraise a rare, resplendent ruby. It bears a striking similarity to a stone in the museum's bejeweled dragon's-head medallion. One of the dragon's ruby eyes was stolen long ago--replaced with a fake. Now, Avery's colleagues--pompous Sir Robert Lane and fatherly Micah Abbott--suspect they may have the missing gem. But facets of the case remain cloudy. Detective Art Smith is snooping around. Another body turns up. And Avery finds mysterious notes that, impossibly, seem to be written by her father.
Accompanied by her Afghan hound, Avery enlists Art's help in cutting the list of suspects who might have polished off her parents and swiped the jewel. Was it art collector Oliver Renell? Curator Nate Brennan? Actor Tyler Chadwick? Or was the theft an inside job, perpetrated by someone all too close to Avery? If she can't find the culprit, Lilac Grove may be the setting for Avery's own death.

Genre: Mystery - Cozy

Why I Picked This Book:  I can never resist a new cozy series and I love books about antiques and rare jewels so this one was calling my name.

My Impression: This is a fun start to the series.  At the beginning of the story Avery is starting to gain her footing at her parents' appraisal firm following their tragic death over a year ago.  Between herself and her glamorous Aunt Midge they are keeping Avery's younger sister, Tilly, focused on finishing up her senior year of high school and getting ready for college.  This hasn't been an easy transition for anyone and the trauma is still present but the family is starting to move on.  And just a sense of normalcy is returning a disturbing message arrives at the door warning Avery off a new job assessing a ruby that has connections to the last piece her parents worked on.  

What follows is quite an intriguing tale of collectors, rare jewels, mysterious keys, and things are not always what they seem.  Watching it all unfold was quite an adventure.  I always enjoy a mystery that isn't just a straightforward murder and this was definitely one of those.  It's definitely a first book with a lot of setup but that didn't bother me.  What kept this from being a 4 or 5 star book for me was that there is a lot more telling then showing which made for a slow start but once the story started gaining traction I was definitely pulled in.  I'm really curious to see where the series goes and to spend more time with the Ayers family.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  I would!  While this wasn't my favorite mystery of the month it is an intriguing start to a series.

Would I Recommend this Book?  If you enjoy cozy mysteries and books involving antiques I think you'd enjoy this mystery.

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

Sunday, June 6, 2021

Life with Leukemia (And Some Reading) - June 6


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

This week has been okay.  Will was on steroids last week and it actually went pretty well though steroids are always tough.  He's started having some pain and weakness which unfortunately is normal for this treatment and thankfully pretty mild for now.  We have a great physical therapist at the St Jude affiliate here and she's been really working with us on preventing things from getting worse and getting things better so we have a few treatment plans going there.  We are hoping my dad's pool will warm up enough soon so we can start using the pool which is great therapy and fun too.  

Other then that nothing too exciting.  We've been trying to tackle some of the projects that got neglected around the house.  I've been reading some but think I might need a genre shakeup so I might throw something a little different into the mix soon to shake things up.  I'm getting my hair cut this week after a year!  I'm not going to do anything massively different but I am excited.  

Currently:


Reading:  The Princess Spy by Larry Loftis and Death on the Night of Lost Lizards by Julia Buckley

Listening:  Death Brings a Shadow by Rosemary Simpson

Watching:  Just YouTube.  I found a true crime channel I'm really liking called That Chapter and I've been especially been enjoying an old favorite - The Try Channel where Irish people try all kinds of crazy food or drinks.

Have a great week and happy reading!

Saturday, June 5, 2021

May 2021 Reading Recap

 

Number of Books Read:  18 (This surprised me - it had kind of felt like a slow reading month)

Bookish Breakdown:

Mystery: 15
Romance: 1
Middle Grade: 1

Fiction: 1
Reread: 4

Print:  8
Ebook:  5
Audio: 5

Favorite Book of the Month


A Pretty Deceit by Anna Lee Huber -  Despite getting quite a number of books read this month I pretty much enjoyed all the books I read equally but the glamour of the characters made this post-World War 1 adventure stand out in my memory.  

Least Favorite Book of the Month: 

The $64: How One Man Nearly Lost His Sanity, Spent a Fortune, and Endured an Existential Crisis in the Quest for the Perfect Garden by William Alexander - I had such high hopes for this one and was so disappointed I ended up DNFing it  I think everyone who has ever grown tomatoes can relate to the title but the author came off as more then a bit pompous and after awhile I just couldn't care that he could see the faucets from his professionally installed irrigation system raising out of the professionally built raised beds in his professionally landscaped yard.

How was your May reading? 



Friday, June 4, 2021

Friday Fives - June TBR


I'm taking a bit of a break from my usual Friday Linkups to try something a little different.  I'm in a list making kind of mood so I thought I'd start making random five lists.  Sometimes they'll be bookish other weeks not so much.  Since this is the first Friday in June I'm looking at five books I plan on reading this month.


1.  A Palm for Mrs. Pollifax by Dorothy Gilman - I've been enjoying reading the Mrs. Pollifax books and since it's been awhile since I read the last one I definitely need to pick this one up!


2.  Lady Sunshine by Amy Mason Doan - I don't know all that much about this one other then some of it takes place in the late 1970s and it involves a famous family and a disappearance.  


3.  Antiques Fire Sale by Barbara Allan - I don't know much about this series but it's a cozy mystery featuring antiques so I really must give a try.


4.  A Dangerous Collaboration by Deanna Raybourn - I love this series and it is one I'm working on getting caught up on.  And once I've read this one I'll be fully caught up!


5.  The Princess Spy by Larry Loftis - I read Aline Griffith's book, The Spy Wore Red, at least 10 times years and years ago and loved it so I can't wait to get a more in depth look at what happened.  

What books are you hoping to read in June?