Friday, December 31, 2021

Reading Recap - 2021 Resolution Check Up

 1.  Read 156 Books - I read 221 (though I may finish another one before the year officially ends tonight). 

2.  Catch up or finish 10 series - I caught up or finished 18 this year!

3.  Read 20 books off my shelf - 24 books off my shelf

4.  Read 5 Nonfiction Books - I more then doubled my goal with 12 books read!  

5.  Track the location of the fiction books I read - Done! I visited 34 states and 15 different countries through my books this year.

6.  End the year with less then 5 overdue review books that were published in 2021 -  I have 0 overdue books from 2021!  Every review book I got this year I reviewed and I worked through my 2020 review books.  Now to tackle the rest of the backlog!

7.  Finish the Miss Marple books - Done!  I finished the last Miss Marple book on December 30th.

8.  Finish the Miss Silver books - There were WAY more Miss Silver books then I thought.  I was thinking there were maybe 15 or so and it turns out there were actually 32.  I finished 19 and will finish the rest in 2022.  

9.  Read the books on my Classic Mystery list - Done!  I finished all 10 books on this list.

10.  Read 5 Books from the Backlog Books - Done!  Though I stopped tracking after 5 so I'm not sure how many I ended up getting read but it was way more then 5.

So 9 out of 10 accomplished but honestly I'm pretty much calling it complete since I'm pretty happy with how many Miss Silver books I ended up reading even though I didn't read them all.

Thursday, December 30, 2021

The Year of the Series - Year Recap

 After the calamity that was 2020 I didn't want to give myself serious reading goals but I did want to do something to help my book stacks get a little more under control.  I've tried getting rid of the ones I want to read but unfortunately I want to read all the books I own.  So I decided to focus on series.  There are so many I have that I abandoned halfway through or came in halfway and never read the first few.  I made a list of ten series and the next book I had to read in them and rolled in new books and series as I go along and catch up.  

My Grand Total For the Year - 18 Series!

1.  The Bakeshop Mysteries by Ellie Alexander - Caught Up.  The most recent book was released this week and I'm hoping that it will be going strong for quite some time.

2.  Keepsake Cove by Mary Ellen Hughes - Finished.  Unfortunately, this series was published by the now defunct Midnight Ink and I definitely feel like this is a series gone to soon.

3.  Vintage Magic by Annette Blair - Finished - I love the idea of this series involving a vintage dress shop and ghosts but the plots were more then a bit crazy and I don't love a love triangle.

4.  Merry Ghost Inn by Kate Kingsbury - Finished.  This was a fun 3 book series about a haunted bed and breakfast.  It wasn't the most memorable series but I did enjoy the books.

5.  Material Witness by Diane Vallere - Finished.  This is another short lived series but I always enjoy Vallere's quirky fresh writing style.

6.  Verity Kent by Anna Lee Huber - Caught up and I think the most recent one was the best one yet so I'm really looking forward to the next book.

7.  Library Lovers by Jenn McKinlay - Caught up.  This is a favorite bookish series and I'm already looking forward to the next book even though the most recent one just came out.

8.  Veronica Speedwell by Deanna Raybourn - Caught up.  Love this series and am excited to already have a review copy of the next book due out in early 2022.

9.  Victorian Village by Sheila Connolly - Finished.  This wasn't the strongest series but it was interesting I was hooked by the idea of the mansion left like a time capsule.

10. Ethnic Eats by Kylie Logan - Finished.  Even though the main character frequently annoyed me I always ended up really enjoying the books.

11. Second Chance Cat Mystery by Sofie Ryan - Caught up.  This is another favorite series full of characters I always enjoy spending time with.

12. Mainely Needlepointers by Lea Waite - I was sad to see this series finish.  It wasn't the most consistent series in terms of mystery but I got quite attached to the characters.

13.  Writer's Apprentice by Julia Buckley - Finished?  I think.  It's been over a year since the previous book came out and Buckley is writing at least 2 new series.  I liked a lot about this series but didn't love that the relationship between the main character and her significant other often took center stage.

14. County Cork Mysteries by Shelia Connolly - Kind of finished.  I read the first 5 books but really struggled with the last few and when I didn't own the next book and my library didn't have it either I decided to call it done on this one.

15. Family History Mysteries by Brynn Bonner - Finished.  I'm so sad to see this series done as I absolutely loved it.  Sadly the author doesn't seem to be writing under either of the names I've found for her anymore.  

16.  The Seven Sisters by Lucinda Riley - Caught up?  There's supposed to be one more but tragically Lucinda Riley died earlier this year.  I've had heard that her estate has sanctioned another author and I'm really hoping we don't have to wait too long.

17. Cajun Country Mysteries by Ellen Byron - Finished.  This is another series I'm sad to see go as I've really enjoyed the characters, the setting, and the mysteries themselves.

18.  The Silver Six Mysteries by Nancy Haddock - Finished.  This was a fun series with a multigenerational cast.  It's not a favorite but I did enjoy it.

And I've made lots of progress on:

A Book Collector Mysteries by Victoria Abbott

Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes by Laurie R. King

I'm really enjoying both of these and will finish them in 2022.

Sum Up:  This project was a lot of fun!  I got a pretty good number of books off my shelf and really learned how much more enjoyable a series is when read in order.  I've never been particularly fanatical about reading every series in order but I was really surprised by how much reading in order built up my enjoyment of my series even if there aren't that many continuing plots.

The only negative is that the overwhelming bulk of what I read was in the cozy mystery genre.  Cozy mysteries are my favorite and that isn't going to change but in 2022 I want to try to get a bit more variety in my reading.  I am planning on continuing with this project in 2022 and have several series are earmarked to be rolled in but I will also be reading off a few other lists to get a little more variety.

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Bake, Borrow, and Steal - Cozy Mystery Review

Goodreads: Bake, Borrow, and Steal (A Bakeshop Mystery #14) by Ellie Alexander

Rating: Really Liked It!
Source:   Publisher

Description:  As the autumnal hues of November fall over the Shakespearean hamlet of Ashland, Oregon, Jules and her team at Torte are working on their biggest event ever. They’ve been invited to create chocolate showpieces for the gala opening of a new exhibit, Shakespeare’s Lost Pages at SOMA. The museum, located on the campus of Southern Oregon University, is getting ready to unveil the Bard’s lost manuscript, Double Falsehood, which is being touted as the greatest artistic discovery of modern times. In addition to molding luscious, silky chocolate into magnificent structures, Torte will be serving an authentic Elizabethan feast straight from the pages of a sixteenth century cookbook featuring Lardy cakes, Frangipane tarts, and jellies with chestnut cream.

Jules has underestimated the amount of work required to pull off such a culinary feat. She finds herself in the strange position of feeling frazzled and stressed as the day of the gala approaches. However, her team rallies around her and once the massive works of chocolate art are safely installed at the museum, she can finally let out a sigh of relief and revel in the excitement of the grand celebration. But her relief is short-lived. Right before the unveiling, news quickly begins to spread that Shakespeare’s lost manuscript is missing. Not only that, but the security guard tasked with keeping the priceless artifact safe has been killed. Is this a case of a heist gone terribly wrong? Or could it be that a killer is lurking in the museum archives?

Genre: Mystery - Cozy

Why I Picked This Book:  This is one of my favorite series so of course I had to pick up the latest book!

My Impression:  I love this series and this was no exception.  I love that this one really centered around Shakespeare.  Shakespeare has always been in the background and talked about as Ashland is home to a Shakespeare theater and Jules' stepfather regularly quotes the Bard.  So to have a mystery full of Shakespeare lore and history was lots of fun.  As well, because the acutal crime took place at a museum opening we had a bunch of new characters and a new setting but also got to enjoy the familiar characters and location of Torte.

The mystery is an intriguing one.  Who stole the manuscript, what's going on behind the scenes at the museum becuase there is all kinds of tension, and last but not least do either of those have to do with the murder that happens soon after the theft?  I enjoyed this book from beginning to end and as always enjoyed my time in Ashland with the crew from Torte.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author? Of course!  Ellie Alexander is fast proving to be one of my favorite authors.

Would I Recommend this Book? Definitely!  If you like cozy mysteries this series is not to be missed.  You can jump in here without any issues but I think you will enjoy this book more if you start from the beginning of the series.

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

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Top Ten Tuesday - My Favorite Books of 2021


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 Favorite Books of 2021.  I'm not counting rereads but that's pretty much the only restriction.  If I read it this year it counts no matter when it was published.  Here are my 10 Favorite Reads of 2021.

1.  Once Upon a Wardrobe by Patti Callahan - I don't have enough words to express how much I loved this book.  It made me cry but was so heartwarming and wonderful that I loved every second of this book.

2.  Q's Legacy: A Delightful Account of a Lifelong Affair with Books by Helene Hanff - 84, Charing Cross Road of my favorite books of all time but I was disappointed in the follow up and it took me years to pick up this one.  This was another one I absolutely loved.  It was a delight from beginning to end.

3.  The Sun Sister by Lucinda Riley - I listened to most of the series this year and I think this one set mostly in Australia was my favorite.

4.  Be My Ghost by Carol J. Perry - This was such a fun cozy and has such a wonderful premise.  Not only did I enjoy the first book but I can't wait to see what happens next in this series.  

5.  Mastering the Art of French Eating by Ann Mah - It'll be awhile before I'm able to travel to France but this was a wonderful virtual tour of France.

6.  Death in Castle Dark by Veronica Bond- This was another first book in a new cozy series where not only did I love the read itself but I am so excited to see where this series goes.  

7.  The Alice Network by Kate Quinn - This has been on my TBR since it came out and this year I finally got around to listneing to it.  At times it was a tough listen but it's definitely one that has really stuck with me.

8.  The Last Bookshop in London by Madeline Martin - This is another book that really stuck with me.  I loved Grace and her story pulled me in from the very beginning.

9.  Midwinter Murder: Fireside Tales From the Queen of Mystery by Agatha Christie - These aren't my favorite short stories from Agatha Christie but it was so special to come across a few stories I hadn't read before that this book had to make that list.

10. Murder Most Fair by Anna Lee Huber - I have really been enjoying this historical mystery series but loved that we saw a more vulnerable main character in this latest book.

What were some of your favorite books from 2021?

Monday, December 27, 2021

Curse of Salem - Paranormal Fiction Review

Goodreads: Curse of Salem (A Bishop/Special Crimes Unit #20) by Kay Hooper

Rating: Not For Me
Source:   Publisher

Description:  The small town of Salem has been quiet for months--or so Bishop and his elite Special Crimes Unit believe. But then Hollis Templeton and Diana Hayes receive a warning in Diana's eerie "gray time" between the world of the living and the realm of the dead that a twisted killer is stalking Salem, bent on destroying in the most bloody and horrifying way possible the five families that founded the town.

The stakes are high, especially for new friends Nellie Cavendish and Finn Deverell, both members of the Five, and this time Bishop and his wife Miranda will lead the team to hunt down a vicious killer and uncover a dark and ancient curse haunting Salem.

Genre: Fiction - Paranormal

Why I Picked This Book:  The blurb reminded me a bit of Heather Graham's Krewe of Hunter series and I thought it might be fun to try another paranormal series.  

My Impression:  This book didn't work for me.  I think my expectations going in where more towards Graham's series which is more of a paranormal add on to the real world.  This book is a bit deeper in the paranormal with people with all kinds of different powers and a different set of orders and rules.  

I'm not sure I gave it a fully fair chance as this is the 20th book in the series and this is the one I'm starting with.  However, while I'm sure I would have understood a bit more about the world and how the characters are connected to each other I don't think this book would have worked for me regardless.  Neither the pacing nor the writing style worked for me.  There are a lot of characters and it felt like the plot jumped around quite a bit.  Suddenly, we would be introduced to a new character who hadn't been mentioned before who had a different set of skills and their own motivations.  With all the head jumping I never felt particularly invested in any of the characters or super interested in what they were doing.  As well, the characters all felt a bit flat and other then name and talent didn't particularly stand out from the others.  I also felt like the story leaned way more towards over explanation without much showing.  Even when the characters were in the middle of a hunt for a killer there was never realy a sense of urgency.

Overall, this book just didn't click for me.  If you are interested I do recommend starting from the beginning as there are a lot of characters and world building in this book.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author? I wouldn't read more books from this series as I just don't think it works for me.  I might pick up something else from this author as she does seem to write a lot of suspense which I typically enjoy.

Would I Recommend this Book? I wouldn't but if the blurb does grab you and you read heavier paranormal stories then I do it might work better for you.  If that is the case I do recommend starting from the beginning of this series.

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

Saturday, December 25, 2021

Life with Leukemia (And Some Reading) - December 26

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

What I Got:

Another week of nothing!  I'm working on what books I want to tackle for next year so I'm trying really hard not to add anything to my shelves for a bit.  After the new year I'm going bookshopping though!


Reading:  Sleeping Murder by Agatha Christie

Listening:  Cajun Kiss of Death by Ellen Byron

I hope all who celebrate had a very Merry Christmas and that those who don't had a wonderful and restful day.  I don't know if it was all the chaos of new puppy-ness or just 2021 in general but Christmas really snuck up on us. We were scrambling to get up any kind of tree at all and went with the small one we usually put in a different room as our main tree.  My sister-in-law was exposed to Covid at the beginning of the week so they weren't able to come but we were able to get together with everyone else Christmas eve and Christmas day.  Will had a good time and it's amazing to remember last Christmas when he was so sick and couldn't stay away for more then an hour or so at a time compared to now when he's so much more himself.

Will has been having a lot of leg and foot pain over the last few weeks and it looks like there's a lot of nerve pain and loss of strength in his legs which is leading to some issues and when he compensates to feel steadier that causes even more issues.  This is super common with leukemia kids because they are taking so much medication for so long that there does end up being a build up and an increase in side effects.  We were able to get in for a last minute appointment to have him fitted with leg and foot braces which will hopefully help with the pain and prevent any injuries.  I hate that there will be one more visible thing to show that he's sick but I'm hoping that this will be as positive an experience as the feeding tube has been and help with the pain so he can be more active.

Will's birthday is this week!  It's crazy to believe he'll be 12 in just a few days.  Rover is now 10 weeks old and gets bigger every hour.  He's doing great on house training but is in full puppy teething mode.  I will not be sad when that's over.  He's got such a fun personality though it makes up for it.

Have a great week and happy reading!

Merry Christmas!


To all who celebrate I hope you and yours have a wonderful Christmas!

Friday, December 24, 2021

Friday Fives - Five Books I Read This Year Set at Christmas Time

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 Friday before Christmas I'm looking at 5 Christmas-y books I read this year.

1.  The Twelve Jays of Christmas by Donna Andrews - I love all the bird puns in this series and this was such a fun Christmas-y mystery.

2.  Twelve Slays of Christmas by Jacqueline Frost - Another play of Twelve Days of Christmas!  This mystery takes place at a tree farm and is the most Christmas-y book I've read in awhile.

3.  Once Upon a Wardrobe by Patti Callahan - There is so much in this book other then Christmas but the scenes involving a Christmas gift are absolutely magical.  

4.  God Rest Ye, Royal Gentleman by Rhys Bowen - I enjoy this series and loved seeing Georgie deal with her family and have her first Christmas as a married woman.

5.  Thread the Halls by Lea Wait - I love this cover and so enjoyed this series.  I love having a virtual white Christmas but glad I don't have to deal with the snow (and murders!) in real life!

Have you read any books set during Christmas this year?

Thursday, December 23, 2021

Books from the Backlog - Rolling Stone

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:  Rolling Stone by Patricia Wentworth

Blurb:  A con man named Spike Reilly was dying an agonizing death in a Brussels hotel. Next door, the erstwhile sleuth and wanderer, Peter Talbot, was very much alive. And in a moment of brilliance and madness, Peter knew that he could adopt the dying man's identity and use it as his passport into a dangerous ring of thieves.
Reborn Spike Reilly, Peter followed a trail of coded messages that led first to a well-appointed English manor, a house full of well-appointed guests, and then to the true identity of Spike's employer: Maud Millicent Simpson, England's most deadly woman. After steering him through the theft of a priceless painting, Maud then had a second job for "Spike": kidnap and kill a beautiful young lady. For Spike Reilly it might have been all in a day's work. But for Peter Talbot it meant playing a role within a role within a role - and somehow coming out alive!

Why It Needs to Come Off the Shelf:  I was thinking about my 2022 reading goals.  In 2021 I decided I wanted to read all the Miss Silver books by Wentworth but it turned out there were WAY more then I thought.  So I decided to make it into a 2 year challenge and throw in the stand alone books as well.  That's when I discovered this one that I had put on another shelf and somehow haven't read!

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

The Year of the Series - The Wolfe Widow + Murder in the Bayou Boneyard

After the calamity that was 2020 I didn't want to give myself serious reading goals but I did want to do something to help my book stacks get a little more under control.  I've tried getting rid of the ones I want to read but unfortunately I want to read all the books I own.  So I decided to focus on series.  There are so many I have that I abandoned halfway through or came in halfway and never read the first few.  I made a list of ten series and the next book I had to read in them and will be rolling in new books and series as I go along and catch up.  Here are two reviews from that list that I've read recently.

Goodreads:  The Wolfe Widow (Book Collector Mystery #3) by Victoria Abbott

Blurb:  Vera Van Alst doesn’t normally receive visitors without appointment, but she agrees to see the imperious Muriel Delgado upon arrival. Shortly thereafter, Jordan is told that her position is being terminated. Evicted from the Van Alst House, Jordan is determined to find out what hold Muriel has over her erstwhile employer. 

It seems Muriel has designs on Vera’s money and property—not to mention a particular interest in her collection of Nero Wolfe first editions. When Jordan discovers a deadly connection between Muriel and the Van Alst family, it’s up to her to put the house in order and stop a killer from going back to press.

My Thoughts:  This was a fun addition to this series which so far I've really been enjoying.  Not only where there lots of classic mystery references (Nero Wolfe/Archie Goodwin this time) but it's not so much of a whodunnit but a what exactly is going on and why.  There actually isn't a murder at all.  That said there's a lot of investigating to find out just what is going on in the Van Alst house and what is Vera Van Alst hiding in her past.  I liked seeing Jordan network with those around her and make the best use of her contacts without the help of her two best friends whom she has grown to depend on.  It's not the most realistic book but I was so entertained that this didn't bother me.  Really my main issue was that I found the excuse her friends give for being MIA is seriously lacking.  This is a fun series that I think most cozy readers and classic mystery lovers will enjoy.  I listened to the audio and enjoyed it so much I finished it in a day.  My Rating:  Really Liked It!

Goodreads:  Murder in the Bayou Boneyard (Cajun Country Mystery #6) by Ellen Byron-

Blurb:  Maggie Crozat, proprietor of a historic Cajun Country B&B, prefers to let the good times roll. But hard times rock her hostelry when a new cell phone app makes it easy for locals to rent their spare rooms to tourists. With October--and Halloween--approaching, she conjures up a witch-crafty marketing scheme to draw visitors to Pelican, Louisiana.
Five local plantation B&Bs host "Pelican's Spooky Past" packages, featuring regional crafts, unique menus, and a pet costume parade. Topping it off, the derelict Dupois cemetery is the suitably sepulchral setting for the spine-chilling play Resurrection of a Spirit. But all the witchcraft has inevitably conjured something: her B&B guests are being terrified out of town by sightings of the legendary rougarou, a cross between a werewolf and vampire.

When, in the Dupois cemetery, someone costumed as a rougarou stumbles onstage during the play--and promptly gives up the ghost, the rougarou mask having been poisoned with strychnine, Maggie is on the case. But as more murders stack up, Maggie fears that Pelican's spooky past has nothing on its bloodcurdling present.

My Thoughts:  I really enjoy this series and in no small part because of the cast of side characters.  It doesn't hurt that this series features a side character with one of my favorite redemption arcs - Rufus Durante.  At the beginning of the series Rufus is the Crozat family's arch nemesis but as the books go on he humanizes and they eventually become good friends.  I love that this occurs with Rufus still keeping his personality.  He's become one of my favorite characters and I always enjoy his page time.  I love all the spooky stuff in this book with all of Pelican throwing themselves into the Halloween spirit.  The end was a bit of a surprise.  I had some suspects but was surprised by the way everything evolved.  This is a fun series with all the Cajun spooky fun there is.  My Rating: Really Liked It!

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Top Ten Tuesday - Books I Hope Santa Leaves

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 Books I Hope Santa Leaves.  I've been taking a break from book shopping lately so I have more then a few I wouldn't mind showing up under the tree!

1.  Your Guide to Not Getting Murdered in a Quaint English Village by Maureen Johnson and Jay Cooper - How could I not want this based on the title alone?

2.  The Rose Code by Kate Quinn - I finally read The Alice Network this year and loved it so now I need more from this author.

3.  Around the World in 80 Trees by Ben Lerwill and Kaja Kajfe - So intrigued by this concept.

4.  The Mystery of Mrs. Christie by Marie Benedict - Anything about Agatha Christie instantly catches my attention.  

5.   Unearthing the Secret Garden:  The Plants and Places That Inspired Frances Hodgson Burnett by Marta McDowell - The Secret Garden is one of my favorite books and this one sounds really intersting.  

6.  The Christmas Bookshop by Jenny Colgan - I love Jenny Colgan and this cover is beyond gorgeous and Christmas-y.  

7.  The London House by Katherine Reay - I read a book by this author and absolutely loved it and really want to read more from her.  

8.   How the Penguins Saved Veronica by Hazel Prior - First the title is fabulous and second I've heard great things about this series.  

9.  The Case of Murderous Dr. Cream: The Hunt for a Victorian Era Serial Killer by Dean Jobb - I thought this sounded fascinating and I know nothing about this case.  

10. The Life and Times of Hercule Poirot by Anne Hart - I read Hart's book about Miss Marple and found it interesting and there's quite a bit more material about Poirot so I'm curious about this one.

What books are you hoping Santa leaves under your tree?  

Monday, December 20, 2021

Twelve Slays of Christmas - Christmas Cozy Review

Goodreads:  Twelve Slays of Christmas (A Christmas Tree Farm Mystery #1) by Jacqueline Frost

Rating:  Really Liked It!
Source:   Library

Description:  When Holly White's fiance cancels their Christmas Eve wedding with less than two weeks to go, Holly heads home with a broken heart. Lucky for her, home in historic Mistletoe, Maine is magical during Christmastime--exactly what the doctor prescribed. Except her plan to drown her troubles in peppermints and snickerdoodles is upended when local grouch and president of the Mistletoe Historical Society Margaret Fenwick is bludgeoned and left in the sleigh display at Reindeer Games, Holly's family tree farm.

When the murder weapon is revealed as one of the wooden stakes used to identify trees on the farm, Sheriff Evan Grey turns to Holly's father, Bud, and the Reindeer Games staff. And it doesn't help that Bud and the reindeer keeper were each seen arguing with Margaret just before her death. But Holly knows her father, and is determined to exonerate him.The jingle bells are ringing, the clock is ticking, and if Holly doesn't watch out, she'll end up on Santa's naughty list.

Genre: Mystery - Cozy

Why I Picked This Book:   I've been wanting to read a Christmas cozy and I've heard great things about this series.

My Impression: This was such a fun start to a cozy series!  It's hard to get more Christmas-y then a Christmas tree farm in December in a town named Mistletoe.  Holly is a likable main character.  Her curiosity and her concern for her family's financial well being felt very natural.  As well, her reaction to finding a dead body and her concern when she was threatened both for herself and for her family feel realistic without tipping into melodramatic.  I loved Reindeer Games and all the staff - especially Cookie and Holly's parents.  Though all the treats mentioned had me craving holiday themed sweets!

This is the first in the series and Holly is going through some major life changes so there is a lot of setup and explanation but it never felt bulky or slow paced.  In fact, in fact like I was getting to know a delightful group of people and the town they live in as well as getting to learn all the traditions of Mistletoe.  If this was a real place I would absolutely love to visit it during the Christmas season though I'm not sure how well I would dealt with all the snow.  

My only minor issue was that because there are a number of characters that we are being introduced to it took me a minute sometime to remember who a particular character was.  This only happened a time or two and I don't expect it to be an issue in future books.  I'm so excited to see where this series goes and to spend more time with the characters.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author? Absolutely!  I'm already looking forward to reading the 2nd book.

Would I Recommend this Book? If you enjoy holiday cozies this is a series I think you'd enjoy!  The audio was absolutely fantastic if you'd prefer to go audio book.

Saturday, December 18, 2021

Life with Leukemia (And Some Reading) - December 19

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

What I Got:

Nothing!  I took a week off from shopping and getting new review books!


Reading:  Curse of Salem by Kay Hooper (my reading time has taken a hit!) and Picture Them Dead by Brynn Bonner

Listening:  The Missing Sister by Lucinda Riley

This picture is from December 9th.

Same place but 9 days later.  

We are pretty sure if we watch Rover closely enough we will actually see him grow - especially his feet.  He's got such a funny personality and is such a sweetie though I won't be sad when we get past the housebreaking/biting phase.  

He and Will are still the best of friends.  Will has been having quite a bit of nerve pain in his feet which is keeping them running around to much together.  We are working on some medication to help and he's working with his physical therapist which should also help.  Unfortunately, this is pretty common for long term chemo and steroids and there is a limit on how much better it can get until he's done with treatment.  The good news is we are officially halfway through.  He's completed 62 weeks + the previous 2 phases which totaled about 4 months.  If everything goes well he will be done with chemo in 58 weeks.

I can't believe Christmas is Saturday!  I'm so not ready!  I think we are pretty much done with gift buying but I need to spread everything out to double check and I know I have an errand or two to finish up but hopefully it'll be relatively small stuff.  Are you ready for Christmas?

Have a great week and happy reading!

The Bat - Classic Mystery Review

Goodreads:  The Bat by Mary Roberts Rinehart

Rating: Really Liked It!
Source:  Publisher

Description:  Neither threats nor unearthly sounds could budge Miss Cornelia from the isolated country mansion she shared with her pretty niece, hysterical maid, laconic butler, and the nice young man who just might be a fugitive. Even knowing that she was a prime target for the vicious, elusive killer known as The Bat didn't faze this spirited spinster. Miss Cornelia longed to play detective, and on a storm-swept night, she got her chance at the game -- and her turn at The Bat!
Genre: Mystery - Classic

Why I Picked This Book:  I'm trying to read more classic mystery authors.  

My Impression: This book is very similar to Rinehart's The Circular Staircase which was published in 1908.  There are overlapping names and a similar premise.  I haven't seen a clear answer on what exactly happened but it looks like after the success of The Circular Staircase Rinehart developped a play based on the book under the title of The Bat.  The play was also successful so the rewritten story became this book.  She was very clear to differeniate the two for licensing reasons and never fully confirmed that the The Bat is The Circular Staircase rewritten.

That said there is a lot of differences between the two.  From the beginning The Bat is chock full of a noir atmosphere and made for a fairly fast paced read.  I loved Miss Cornelia and Lizzie's hysteria was funny played off of Miss Cornelia's placid assumption of the events and the almost distanced thrill of being involved in an adventure.  There is a bit of hand wringing angst but not a surprising amount for the time this was published.  The ending did feel a bit disjointed as it all came together all at once but my questions were answered and I thoroughly enjoyed getting there.  

Would I Read More of this Series/Author? Definitely.  While the story in both books that I've read by this author have a similar plot the feel in both are completely different.  I'm looking forward to reading more from the author.

Would I Recommend this Book? If you enjoy books with a bit of a noir feel I think you'd enjoy this one.

Friday, December 17, 2021

Friday Fives - Five New To Me Authors I Read in 2021

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.   2021 wasn't my most versatile reading year but I did get more new to me authors read then I expected.   Here are 5 new authors that I tried.    

1.  Katherine Arden - I really enjoyed this beautiful and at times eerie fairy tale.  I'm so glad I finally read it this winter.  

2.  Brynn Bonner - I just finished this family mystery cozy series and have really enjoyed it.  I can't find that the author has written any more books which makes me sad as these books feel like they were written for me.  

3.  Julia Kelly - This was one of my first books of the year and I'm just sad I haven't read more from Julia Kelly.  This was lovely.  

4.  Larry Loftis - This is a nonfiction author I've been meaning to read but when he published a biography of a woman who has always fascinated I knew it was time.  This was an interesting read and I'm looking forward to reading more from Loftis.  

5.  Patti Callahan - I LOVED this book and am so excited to read more from this author.  

What new authors did you discover this year?

Thursday, December 16, 2021

Books from the Backlog - The Clairvoyant Countess

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 Clairvoyant Countess by Dorothy Gilman

Blurb:  Madame Karitska has a style all her own—a rare blend of psychic power, an exotic past, and an uncanny gift for common sense.

 As a psychic to the public, Madame Karitska has seen a lot.But when a chance encounter with Detective-Lieutenant Pruden of the Police Department catapults her into the unforseen, she must use all of her resources to keep danger--and death--at bay....

Why It Needs to Come Off the Shelf:  I really love Gilman's Mrs. Pollifax books and I have several of her stand alones now that that are just gathering dust.

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

The Year of the Series - Death in Reel Time + Fatal Cajun Festival

After the calamity that was 2020 I didn't want to give myself serious reading goals but I did want to do something to help my book stacks get a little more under control.  I've tried getting rid of the ones I want to read but unfortunately I want to read all the books I own.  So I decided to focus on series.  There are so many I have that I abandoned halfway through or came in halfway and never read the first few.  I made a list of ten series and the next book I had to read in them and will be rolling in new books and series as I go along and catch up.  Here are two reviews from that list that I've read recently.

Goodreads:  Death in Reel Time (Family History Mystery #2) by Brynn Bonner

Blurb:  If there’s one thing genealogists Sophreena McClure and Esme Sabatier have learned, it’s that every family has a black sheep— sometimes a whole flock of them. Their new client, Olivia Clement, is hoping to uncover the truth about her ne’er-do-well father, who disappeared before she was born. But Sophreena and Esme have barely begun delving into Olivia’s past when a present-day murder interrupts their schedule.
Someone has decided to prune the Clement family tree by getting rid of Olivia’s domineering son-in-law, Blaine Branch. Even without Esme’s psychic gift, it was easy to sense the tension between Blaine and his put-upon wife, Beth. Suspicion quickly falls on a young filmmaker and family friend who’s creating a documentary about their small town. Yet Soph and Esme become convinced someone else wanted to edit Blaine out, permanently. Buried deep in dusty boxes of memorabilia and 1940s film reels are vital clues, but it will take all of Sophreena’s deductive skill to expose the truth—before another victim fades to black.

My Thoughts:  I love this series!  I love the attention to detail when it comes to research and the stories that Sophreena and Esme dig up.  I really love that the genealogical research isn't window dressing to the mystery but is instead on equal footing and sometimes provides the key.  I love that there is a team effort as I always enjoy getting different perpsectives that that brings to the amateur sleuth experience.  The mystery was interesting and the research equally so.  If you don't enjoy books involving digging into the past this is series as a whole is definitely not for you.  I did figure out everything pretty early into the book but I enjoyed the story and the characters so much this didn't bother me.  I'm sad that I only have one book left in this series and that this author doesn't appear to be publishing any more books.  My Rating: Really Liked It!

Goodreads:  Fatal Cajun Festival (Cajun Country Mystery #5) by Ellen Byron

Blurb:  Grab your tickets for Cajun Country Live!, the pickers' and crooners' answer to the legendary New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. Maggie Crozat, proprietor of the Crozat Plantation B&B, plans to be in the cheering section when her friend Gaynell Bourgeois takes the stage with her band, Gaynell and the Gator Girls.
The festival's headliner, native daughter Tammy Barker, rocketed to stardom on a TV singing competition. She has the voice of an angel...and the personality of a devilish diva. But Maggie learns that this tiny terror carries a grudge against Gaynell. She's already sabotaged the Gator Girls' JazzFest audition. When a member of Tammy's entourage is murdered at the festival, Tammy makes sure Gaynell is number one on the suspect list.
Gaynell has plenty of company on that list--including every one of Tammy's musicians. Posing as a groupie, Maggie infiltrates Tammy's band and will have to hit all the right notes to clear her friend's name.

My Thoughts:  We are back in the bayou for the holiday that is second only to Mardi Gras - Jazz Fest.  I knew someone who went to LSU and they actually had a scheduled break just for Jazz Fest.  But this year Pelican, Louisiana is putting their toe in the water and having their very own music festival headlined by local girl made good - Tammy Barker.  Tammy is hardly the sweetness and light that she seems and she's almost immediately setting Maggie's teeth on edge by targeting Maggie's friend and Tammy's former highschool classmate, talented musician Gaynell.  This was quite a winding web of a mystery.  The first body to fall has lots of people who won't be shedding tears that he's gone and all the motives and finger pointing make for quite a mess that needs sorting out.  This was a fun mystery that kept me guessing to the end.  While Maggie's family does fade a bit into the background her group of friends makes up for it.   I had a few laugh out loud moments and thoroughly enjoyed my trip to Cajun country.  My Rating:  Really Liked It!

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Top Ten Tuesday - Winter 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 the Winter TBR.  I love making these TBR lists every season.  I very rarely read them all during the season but I like thinking about what I'd like to read!

1.  The Christie Affair by Nina de Gramont - Agatha Christie is one of my absolute favorite authors and this book sounds interesting!

2.  An Impossible Imposter by Deanna Raybourn - The Veronica Speedwell series is one of my favorites and this has a super intriguing blurb.  

3.  Evil in Emerald by A.M. Stuart - I have really enjoyed the first two books in this historical mystery series set in Singapore so I can't wait to read this one!

4.  Cheddar Off Dead by Korina Moss - This is a new cozy series that takes place in a cheese shop.  What's not to love?

5.  Heiresses:  The Lives of Million Dollar Babies by Laura Thompson - I've read a little bit about the American heiresses who ended up marrying into the British aristocracy and really find their stories fascinating.

6.  Mrs. Pollifax on Safari by Dorothy Gilman - I love the Mrs. Pollifax series but kind of stalled out on reading them.  This is the next one and it sounds like a lot of fun!

7.  Anna, Where Are You? by Patricia Wentworth - I had hoped to read all the Miss Silver books this year but it turned out there are WAY more then I expected.  This is the next book and it's one I haven't read yet so I'm really looking forward to it.

8.  The Lions of Fifth Avenue Fiona Davis - This was high up on my TBR so I was thrilled when I found it in a used bookstore.  Now to actually get around to reading it.  

9.  The Inspector and Mrs. Jeffries by Emily Brightwell - I love the Mrs. Jeffries series and really want to go back and read the first book.

10.  Jell-O Girls: A Family History by Allie Rowbottom - I know just about nothing about this book but it's been on my TBR for ages and I picked it when I combined a random number generator with my TBR so I'm looking forward to reading it.

What are you hoping to read this winter?