Saturday, January 30, 2021

Life with Leukemia (and Some Reading) - January 31

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

This was another good week!  Will's energy was really good and he's been feeling pretty good.  We got to hang out with the therapy dog in clinic again which was so fun.  He's such a sweet dog and we are both always so excited to see him - I may be more excited then Will.  

Tomorrow we head back up to Memphis for some high dose chemo.  With the Covid rules there is only one caregiver allowed at appointments and in housing so it will just be Will and me.  At this point I have no idea how long we will be there.  I've heard everything from 3 days to 4 weeks and a few things in between.  We are packing heavy and will just roll with it.  If it ends up being closer to the 4 weeks Jason will come up on weekends and stay in a hotel so we won't be completely separated for all that time and he can help us restock on food and snacks.  And worse case we do have access to the hospital cafeteria it's just not our first choice.   With food taken care of we will just be able to relax and Will can get the rest he'll need.  He has to have a spinal tap and a few different tests plus some pretty hefty meds so it'll be tough but he's tougher and it's nothing he hasn't had before but it does wear him out.  If you pray or send positive vibes we could use all we can get coming his way on Tuesday.


First Degree Mudder by Kate Dyer-Seeley and On Borrowed Time by Jenn McKinlay (though I'm almost done with this one)

Listening:  How Right You Are, Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse

Watching:  I've been watching some of the Signed, Sealed, and Delivered on Hallmark.  It's super cheesy but lots of fun.

Have a great week and happy reading!

The Elusive Mrs. Pollifax - Classic Mystery Review


Goodreads:  The Elusive Mrs. Pollifax (Mrs. Pollifax #3) by Dorothy Gilman

Rating: Loved It!
Source: Purchased

Description:  While waiting for a view of her night-blooming cereus, the mild-seeming Mrs. Pollifax received urgent orders for a daring mission to aid an escape. Soon, the unlikely-looking international spy was sporting a beautiful new hat that hid eight forged passports....

Genre: Mystery - Classic

Why I Picked This Book:  I have been loving this series so of course I had to pick up the next book!

My Impression:  I'm so torn on this series!  I'm not sure if I desperately want to meet me Mrs. Pollifax because she is absolutely fantastic in the most practical good sense kind of way or if I really really don't want to meet Mrs. Pollifax because there is always total chaos around her.  I do know that if I am ever caught up in some kind of International Incident I definitely want her with me.  

There was nothing I didn't love about this book.  I loved seeing Mrs. Pollifax with her Garden Club friends.  I loved seeing her deal with the Bulgarian government.  I loved her relationship with the American tourist and the Bulgarian underground.  I loved reading the interaction between Carstairs and Bishop.  I loved the pacing.  I loved the story.  I loved the ending.  Seriously, this was so much fun.  Is it realistic?  Not in the slightest - it's hard to see how it could be less realistic.  However, Gilman walks an amazing line between not leaning into the comedy of the story and not taking the story too seriously either of which could have ruined the book.  While I think it is better to read at least the first book in the series so you can understand just how Mrs. Pollifax got entangled with the CIA this book can definitely be read on its own if you want a fun read and are okay with suspending belief.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Absolutely!  I've already got the next one on my shelf.

Would I Recommend this Book?  Definitely!  If you're in the mood for something light this would be a perfect read.  

Friday, January 29, 2021

Friday Fives - Five Long Running Series I'd Love to Tackle

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.  I have deemed 2021 the year of series for me and have made a list of series that I can realistically catch up on or finish by the end of the year.  The key word there is "realistic".  Here are 5 series that I'd love to catch up on but the book count is just a little high to make that realistic goal!

1. The Mrs. Jeffries series by Emily Brightwell - I came to this series late but have loved every book I've read in the upstairs/downstairs historical mystery series and would love to to back to the beginning but at 39 books that seems unlikely for awhile.

2. Murder, She Wrote by Jessica Fletcher and assorted authors - I love the TV show but never thought the books would be very good until I picked up one a couple of years ago.  It gives just the same cozy feeling as the books but at 52 books I won't be realistically reading all of these in a year.

3. The Meg Langslow series by Donna Andrews - At 28 books this series is relatively small compared to the other two and I have read several of the books already.  I'm hoping to start making a little progress on this one since I do love the mysteries I've read so far and adore the bird pun titles.

4. Krewe of Hunters by Heather Graham - I do enjoy this paranormal romantic suspense series though it can be a bit inconsistent.  I've read a few of the early ones and some of the more recent ones but I have so many of the 35 books left to go that I'm probably not going to get it finished up anytime soon!

5. Cat in the Stacks by Miranda James - At a mere 13 books (with the 14 scheduled for this spring) this is by far the shortest in the list.  I've read a few and really enjoy them and hopefully I can get to a point where I can get caught up on this series in 2022.

Are there any massive series that you love?  Are you caught up?

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Books from the Backlog - The Secret Life of Violet Grant


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 Secret Life of Violet Grant by Beatriz Williams

Blurb:  Manhattan, 1964. Vivian Schuyler, newly graduated from Bryn Mawr College, has recently defied the privilege of her storied old Fifth Avenue family to do the unthinkable for a budding Kennedy-era socialite: break into the Mad Men world of razor-stylish Metropolitan magazine. But when she receives a bulky overseas parcel in the mail, the unexpected contents draw her inexorably back into her family’s past, and the hushed-over crime passionnel of an aunt she never knew, whose existence has been wiped from the record of history.
Berlin, 1914. Violet Schuyler Grant endures her marriage to the philandering and decades-older scientist Dr. Walter Grant for one reason: for all his faults, he provides the necessary support to her liminal position as a young American female physicist in prewar Germany. The arrival of Dr. Grant’s magnetic former student at the beginning of Europe’s fateful summer interrupts this delicate détente. Lionel Richardson, a captain in the British Army, challenges Violet to escape her husband’s perverse hold, and as the world edges into war and Lionel’s shocking true motives become evident, Violet is tempted to take the ultimate step to set herself free and seek a life of her own conviction with a man whose cause is as audacious as her own.

As the iridescent and fractured Vivian digs deeper into her aunt’s past and the mystery of her ultimate fate, Violet’s story of determination and desire unfolds, shedding light on the darkness of her years abroad . . . and teaching Vivian to reach forward with grace for the ambitious future––and the love––she wants most.

Why It Needs to Come Off the Shelf:  I've really enjoyed other books by Beatriz Williams and this was the book of hers that first caught my eye but somehow I've never read it even though I've owned a copy for over a year.

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Mrs. Jeffries Demands Justice - Historical Mystery Review

Goodreads:  Mrs. Jeffries Demands Justice (Mrs. Jeffries #39) by Emily Brightwell

Rating: Liked It!
Source: Publisher

Description:  Former Inspector Nigel Nivens is desperate to get away from his current assignment in the East End of London but even his powerful family can't help him after he maliciously tried to hobble Witherspoon's last homicide investigation. But Nivens has a plan. After a particularly audacious robbery in Mayfair, Nivens arrests three members of a gang of robbers. He's made sure the charges against the three will stick as he's paid an informer to testify against the brothers when the case comes to court. The snitch, a nasty little fellow, lies his head off in court and the brothers are convicted. Unfortunately for Nivens, the snitch is murdered with a gun from the Niven's family home and there are witnesses who overheard Nivens threatening him (apparently, he wanted more than the few pounds Nivens paid him to lie). But the most damning evidence is that a pillow used to silence the shot is found in Niven's home. This time, Nivens knows he's in real trouble. The investigating officer as well as the rank and file constables working the case hate him and he's fairly sure they're not overly concerned with proving his innocence. Desperate and terrified, he does the only thing he can to save himself-he begs Inspector Witherspoon and Mrs. Jeffries for help.

Genre: Mystery - Historical

Why I Picked This Book:  I really enjoy this series and couldn't resist picking up the next book in the series.

My Impression:  I've only been reading this series for a year or two but it has quickly become one of my favorites and while this one wasn't one of my favorites I still very much enjoyed it.  There's a team aspect about the series that really appeals to me.  I love that there's a whole above board investigation with Inspector Witherspoon and Constable Barnes but at the same time there's a whole amateur team effort run by the housekeeper, Mrs. Jeffries and a whole assortment of maids, footman, neighbors and friends.  All the characters (with the exception of Nivens who is the worst but thankfully doesn't take up too much page time) are likable and each has their strengths as well as their own personalities.  

While I did very much enjoy seeing the awful Inspector Nivens in some serious hot water this is probably my least favorite of the series that I've read so far.  The East End of London is way outside of the usual investigation grounds of the downstairs crew and it felt like it slowed down the pace quite a bit as they hit dead end after dead end.  That's not to say this is a bad read.  It's still a fun read with a solid mystery and likable characters it just felt a bit slower then I usually expect from this series.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Definitely!  This is a series I really enjoy and would like to start from the beginning of this one.

Would I Recommend this Book?  I would definitely recommend this series though this might not be the book to start with.  Really any of the earlier books would be a great choice.

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

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Top Ten Tuesday - Ten New to Me Authors I Read in 2020


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 New to Me Authors in 2020.  2020 was mostly comfort reading for me so I wasn't expecting very many new authors but I actually got quite a few in.

1.  Margaret Loudon - I enjoyed this first book in the series about an American author who becomes the writer in residence for a bookstore set in an English village.  I'm really looking forward to seeing how this series progresses.

2.  Kate Belli - I love historical mysteries so I was super excited about Deception by Gaslight.  It wasn't my favorite but it's a series I think has so much potential.

3.  Dashiell Hammett - I love the Sam Spade movies so I was so excited to listen to The Maltese Falcon.  Unfortunately, it's one of the few books where I can say that the movie is better.

4.  Lucy Ness - Haunted Homicide was essentially Nancy Drew for grown ups and it's a series that I'm so excited to continue.

5.  Alyssa Maxwell - I picked up Murder at Crossways because it was set in Rhode Island and really enjoyed it.  I've had several books by Alyssa Maxwell on my shelves for years and I'm exited to catch up in the series.

6.  Gil Hornby - 2020 was the year of mysteries but Miss Austen was one of the few exceptions.  

7.  Elizabeth Logan - The first two books in this cozy mystery series set in a diner in Alaska were both really enjoyable and a bit different.

8.  Lian Dolan - Another mystery exception but I really enjoyed The Sweeney Sisters and all the family secrets.

9.  Beverly Long - This was a mystery but this series is definitely not cozy!  However Ten Days Gone and the 2nd book were some of my most enjoyed mysteries.

10. Amor Towles - After so much time saying I WAS going to read this book I finally did pick up A Gentleman in Moscow and read my first book by Towles.

What new to you authors did you discover in 2020?

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Life with Leukemia (and Some Reading) February 24

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

This week was way better then last week.  The chemo combo this week was much easier and his numbers are way up.  He did have to have a blood transfusion which makes for a long day but the transfusion is kind of like an instant energy boost and after he got some rest he's felt much more like his old self the last few days.  And even better we got to hang out with one of the St Jude therapy dog who is just a love.  It definitely made the time pass faster.  Because his immune system being so much stronger we were able to have some visitors (distanced and masked) and that has been so much fun and good for all our moods.

This past week I started doing yoga again for the first time since Will was diagnosed and it has made such a difference in my headaches and just general stress level.  I used to do lots of classes but in the past couple of years I had switched to just YouTube channels.  Yoga with Adriene and Sarah Beth Yoga are my favorites.  I've been keeping it really low key - more stretching then actual yoga - and short - no more then 10 or 15 minutes - and I've been really loving it.  


ReadingMrs. Jeffries Demands Justice by Emily Brightwell and A Curio Killing by Mary Ellen Hughes - though both of these should be finished today.

ListeningDangling by a Thread by Lea Wait

Watching:  I watched an Aurora Teagarden mystery on Hallmark Movies and Mysteries this week and enjoyed it.  It's pretty cheesy and not at all like the original books but it's lots of fun and I've got one more before I'm completely caught up.

Have a great week and happy reading!

Saturday, January 23, 2021

The Crying Child - Gothic Mystery Review

Goodreads:  The Crying Child by Barbara Michaels

Rating: Loved It! 
Source: Purchased 

Description:  Trapped between madness and imagination...

From the moment she arrived on King's Island, Joanne McMullen knew that her sister's grief over losing her child had driven her dangerously close to madness. Jo grew anxious when Mary confided that she heard a thin, insistent wail that rose up beyond the dark Maine woods. And Mary’s desperate midnight searches for the anguished voice aroused a chilling terror within Jo. Maybe Mary was losing her mind. But then it came again—the mystifying cry in the night. And this time Jo heard it, too...

Genre:  Mystery - Gothic

Why I Picked This Book:  I adore Barbara Michaels and this is one of my favorites.  I wanted to make sure it deserved its place on my Keeper Shelf.

My Impression:  I love this book so much and this reread didn't change that at all.  There's bits of history, a mystery, a touch of romance, fantastic enormous cats, and a ghost.  Jo makes for a likable heroine.  She loves her sister who has been pretty much like a mother to her and would do anything to help her but she also has her own secrets.  She loves and appreciates history and architecture even if she doesn't like antiques.  Since this book was published in the early 1970s I'll forgive her.  She's also intelligent enough to question what's happening but not so hard headed that she refuses to believe the obvious.  I loved her evolving relationship with Will, the local doctor as well as her appreciation for the island that is suddenly her new home.  Mary and Ran aren't quite as well developed.  Mary is at a breaking point for the majority of the book and Ran is more then a bit worried and desperate to fix the problems.  

I devoured this book in two sittings and if I had a bit more time could probably have finished it in one.  If you enjoy not so scary ghost stories this is a great read.  Barbara Michaels is astonishingly readable and this is one of her best efforts.  I will say that if miscarriages or infertility are a sensitive spot for you you might want to give this a miss.  The book does handle these issues sympathetically but the attitude about miscarriages in general was so different in the early 1970s that it could be stressful.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Absolutely!  Michaels is a favorite and I'm hoping to read through more books on my Keeper Shelf to see if they can still live there.

Would I Recommend this Book? This is a curl up with a cozy blanket and a nice cup of tea kind of read.  If you want a good ghost story that's easy to read and fast paced this is a great choice.

Friday, January 22, 2021

Friday Fives - Honorable Mention Series


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.  My big focus for 2021 is to make progress on all the series I've been neglecting.  I made a list of 10 but of course there are so many more then that!  Here are 5 series that didn't quite make the list but are ready for when I catch up on the original 10.

1.  Rest Ye Murdered Gentleman by Vicki Delaney - This one has been on my TBR for ages and somehow I started reading the series backwards.  I've read the most recent couple of books but never picked up any of the earlier books.

2.  Killer in the Carriage House by Sheila Connolly - I listened to the first book in this series and while it wasn't a favorite I did enjoy it and there were some very intriguing hints for future books so I'd like to continue the series - especially since there are only 3.

3.  Paint the Town Dead by Nancy Haddock - Another series I read backwards.  I read the 3rd book and enjoyed it when it came out and then listened to the 1st book a few months ago so if I read the 2nd book I can check this series off the list.  Plus, it's just a lot of fun!

4.  Dangling by a Thread by Lea Wait - I absolutely adored the first few books in this series but somehow never finished it.  I'm really looking forward to this one.

5.  A Dark and Stormy Murder by Julia Buckley - This is another series I've read kind of backwards.  I read and enjoyed the most recent books but missed the first couple.

Do you have any series you want to finish in 2021?

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Books from the Backlog - Ghost Ship

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:  Ghost Ship by P.J. Alderman

Blurb:  A recent transplant to Washington State’s charming seaside town of Port Chatham, Jordan is still getting used to sharing her slightly run-down but historic lodging with ghosts. As if living with the long-deceased isn’t enough of a challenge, she’s just found a corpse: The town’s notorious womanizer Holt Stillwell is lying on the beach with a bullet in his head.

Before Jordan can reel in a suspect, another victim surfaces. And this one isn’t taking murder lying down. Holt’s ancestor Michael Seavey, the Pacific Northwest’s most infamous shanghaier, has materialized in Jordan’s house, seeking to solve his own death in a suspicious shipwreck in 1893. With two murders to solve and a killer on the loose, Jordan faces yet another equally terrifying prospect: her growing attraction to the very alive and criminally attractive pub owner Jase Cunningham.

Why It Needs to Come Off the Shelf:  I loved the first book in this series and really need to read this one.  It's been on my shelf for years!

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Top Ten Tuesday - Ten Books I Meant to Read in 2020

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 Ten Books I Meant to Read in 2020.  There are so many but here are 10 that come to mind!

1.  Murder, Take Two by Carol J Perry - I am really enjoying the Witch City mystery series and I really meant to read the most recent one in 2020 but it took me longer to get caught up on the series (still working on it!) then I expected.

2.  Who Wants to Marry a Duke by Sabrina Jeffries - I've seriously neglected basically any genre other then cozy mysteries in 2020 but Jeffries is one of my favorite historical romance authors and I really meant to read this one.

3.  Death at High Tide by Hannah Dennison - Dennison had a cozy mystery series that I really enjoyed so I was excited to start this new series but it didn't happen.  I am hoping to get to this one very soon though.

4.  Little Bookshop of Murder by Maggie Blackburn - August and September were a full month of cozy releases and this one fell through the cracks.

5.  A Fatal Fiction by Kaitlyn Dunnett - Basically the same reason as above.  I do love the sound of it and am really hoping to get to it in 2021.

6.  A Sprinkling of Murder by Daryl Wood Gerber - This one looks so good and I love the gorgeous cover but honestly I started reading this during the summer and just never did get into it so I put it down and didn't make it back by the end of the year.   The time I picked it up was really crazy though so I'm hoping it was a mood issue and not a book issue.

7.  Antiques Fire Sale by Barbara Allan - I have no idea why I didn't get around to this one but I didn't and then I read some negative reviews about the series so that didn't push it up the list but I'm hoping to get it read this year.

8.  Dead in the Doorway by Diane Kelly - Another one that for no particular reason I didn't get to but one I'm really hoping to pick up this year.

9.  Death Brings a Shadow by Rosemary Simpson - This was a book from 2019 that I really meant to read in 2019 and didn't so then I really meant to read it in 2020 but obviously didn't.  So I'm hoping 2021 is the year for this book because I really liked the book from this series that I did read.

10. Of Literature and Lattes by Katherine Reay - Reay's Printed Letter Bookshop was one of my favorite books of 2019 so I just knew I'd be buying this book and loving it in 2020 but it didn't happen.  Maybe this year?

What books did you mean to read to read in 2020 but just didn't get to?

Monday, January 18, 2021

Mini Cozy Mystery Reviews - #1


Goodreads:  It Takes a Coven (Witch City Mystery #6) by Carol J Perry

The Premise: When someone seems to be killing the witches of Salem, MA Lee Barrett knows she has to get involved.  Between being maid of honor and friend and former student, Shannon's wedding and her new kind of job at the news station as an investigative reporter she doesn't have a lot of time but luckily her big orange cat O'Ryan, boyfriend Pete who also happens to be a police detective, and researcher extraordinare Aunt Ibby are there to help.  

My Thoughts:  This is one of my favorite cozy mystery series and this book did not disappoint.  Obviously, with the Salem setting witches have always been a part of the story and with Lee's gift of visions there's always been a bit of a paranormal element.  However, in this book both witches and the supernatural are front and center.  I enjoyed seeing more of the Wiccan population of Salem and was intrigued by the mentions of Bridget Bishop.  I definitely would enjoy learning more about her.  The mystery itself was very entertaining and really kept me guessing right up to the end.  There was some receptiveness and it took a bit for the investigation part to get really up and running but it was enjoyable from beginning to end.  The audio of this series is done by C.S.E. Cooney and she does a fantastic job.  My Rating: Really Liked It!

Goodreads:  Dead in the Doorway (House-Flipper Mystery #2) by Diane Kelly

The Premise:  Whitney and her cousin Buck are taking their considerable construction skills and flipping a house that needs some major updating in a charming little neighborhood.  The charm quickly disappears when Whitney finds an unexpected tenant and a body blocking the front door.  

My Thoughts:   This was a fun home renovation mystery with lots of neighborhood coziness and figuring out which one of the delightful poker playing crew just might also be a murderer.  I liked Whitney - she's practical and very competent but also relatably nosy.  She did cross the line a time or two but nothing outside of the ordinary in a cozy.  The mystery was good and the conclusion unexpected.  The chapters in the cat's perspective were sweet but didn't really add anything to the story and while I enjoyed the cat's presence I could have done without his POV.  This was the 2nd book in the series and I have the 1st book sitting on my shelf and I'm looking forward to picking that one up.  Rating: Liked It!

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Life with Leukemia (and Some Reading) - January 17

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

This week has been okay.  Will was feeling really good for most of the week but unfortunately the chemo/med combo he got Wednesday is one that he struggles with and he's not been feeling so hot the last few days.  Luckily, the main thing he has trouble with is the steroid and that's only a 5 day burst so we will be done with that soon.  I'm not sure who is counting down more - us or him.  He did have a Zoom class with the group of kids he had classes with in the pre-Covid days so that was good.  I got hit with a migraine at the end of the week and have felt really drained since.  We haven't done much this weekend so hopefully we will all recharge a bit.  


Mrs. Jeffries Demands Justice by Emily Brightwell and The Elusive Mrs. Pollifax by Dorothy Gilman

Listening:  Bells, Spells, and Murder by Carol J Perry

Watching: I've been binging the Smithsonian channel lately.  There's a show that has an American who has married into the British Aristocracy touring impressive homes and it's very peaceful and pretty.

Have a great week and happy reading!

Saturday, January 16, 2021

The Body in the Library - Classic Mystery Review

Goodreads:  The Body in the Library by Agatha Christie

Rating:  Really Liked It!
Source:  Purchased

Description:  It’s seven in the morning. The Bantrys wake to find the body of a young woman in their library. She is wearing evening dress and heavy make-up, which is now smeared across her cheeks.

But who is she? How did she get there? And what is the connection with another dead girl, whose charred remains are later discovered in an abandoned quarry?

The respectable Bantrys invite Miss Marple to solve the mystery… before tongues start to wag.

Genre: Mystery - Classic

Why I Picked This Book:  I'm reading through the Miss Marple books and this was the next one.

My Impression:  Looking at my Goodreads account apparently I read this last time in 2012 and I gave it an underwhelming 3 stars.  I don't know what I was thinking at the time but I absolutely loved this book when I picked it up this time.  Sometimes I have a vague memory of the premise when I pick up a Christie mystery to reread but the end is just as much a surprise to me as it was the first time.  This is one that really stuck with me as soon as I picked it up I remembered all the whos and whys of the mystery.  That didn't detract from my enjoyment one bit and even knowing just what was going to happen I was still a bit on the edge of my seat as I waited for Miss Marple to reveal all she knew.  

Sir Henry Clithering and Mr. and Mrs. Bantry are back from the previous book and it was a joy to see them working together and with the rather unimaginative Inspector Slack to solve a very puzzling mystery.  I especially loved the scene between Miss Marple and Miss Diana Lee as well as a scene between Miss Marple and Mrs. Bantry that reveals just how well Mrs. Bantry knows her husband and how protective she is of him.  It was really sweet.  

This mystery is a twisty one and with lots of questions and no answers until Miss Marple is able to see through all the deceit for a thoroughly satisfying solution.  I had forgotten just how much I enjoyed Miss Marple stories and the past three books have just been an absolute delight to read.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Absolutely!  I can't wait for the next book in the Miss Marple series.

Would I Recommend this Book?  Definitely!  While I love Poirot Miss Marple just might be my favorite Christie detective.

Friday, January 15, 2021

Friday Fives - Five Nonfiction Books I Hope to 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. One of my resolutions for 2021 is to read at least 5 nonfiction books and here are 5 at the top of my list.

1. The $64 Tomato: 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 - This is another used bookstore find that I know nothing about but the title makes me laugh so I'd like to finally give it a try.

2.  The Last Castle: The Epic Story of Love, Loss, and American Royalty in the Nation's Largest Home by Denise Kiernan - We went to the Biltmore years ago and I found the house absolutely fascinating though it was hard to imagine people actually living there.  I'd love to know more about it.

3.  Missing!: Mysterious Cases of People Gone Missing Through the Century by Brenda Z. Guiberson - I'm fascinated by missing persons cases and this one of sounds fun.  It's a Middle Grade which might make this a good read aloud.

4.  The House at Royal Oak by Carol Eron Rizzoli - This is a used bookstore find that has been sitting on my shelf for a couple of years now.  I know nothing about it other then it's about fixing up an old house so I think it's time to read it.

5.  The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson - I have read 2 books from Larson and one I absolutely adored and the other I was kind of meh on so this one will be the tie breaker.

Is there any nonfiction books on your TBR for 2021?

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Books from the Backlog - Silent Auction


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:  Silent Auction by Jane K. Cleland

Blurb:  The autumn foliage is in full fiery glory on a beautiful day in the little coastal town of Rocky Point, New Hampshire. Josie Prescott arrives at the town’s renovated lighthouse to conduct an antiques appraisal and is horrified to discover the bludgeoned body of her neighbor Zoë’s beloved nephew, Frankie. The owners of the lighthouse are avid antiques collectors, and Josie soon begins to suspect that a scrimshaw tooth from their collection may be the key to solving the crime that has shaken Rocky Point, and broken her dear friend’s heart.

Why It Needs To Come Off My Shelf:  I love antiques and antique shopping but haven't had much opportunity to go in 2020 but I do enjoy this series so a little virtual shopping and murder solving sounds fun right now.

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

The Shadow Sister - Fiction Review

Goodreads:  The Shadow Sister (The Seven Sisters #3) by Lucinda Riley

Rating: Really Liked It!
Source:  Purchased (Audible)

Description:  Star D’Aplièse is at a crossroads in her life after the sudden death of her beloved father—the elusive billionaire, affectionately called Pa Salt by his six daughters, all adopted from across the four corners of the world. He has left each of them a clue to her true heritage, and Star nervously decides to follow hers, which leads her to an antiquarian bookshop in London, and the start of a whole new world.

A hundred years earlier, headstrong and independent Flora MacNichol vows she will never marry. She is happy and secure in her home in England’s picturesque Lake District—just a stone’s throw away from the residence of her childhood idol, Beatrix Potter—when machinations lead her to London, and the home of one of Edwardian society’s most notorious society hostesses, Alice Keppel. Flora is torn between passionate love and her duty to her family, but finds herself a pawn in a larger game. That is, until a meeting with a mysterious gentleman unveils the answers that Flora has been searching for her whole life...

As Star learns more of Flora’s incredible journey, she too goes on a voyage of discovery, finally stepping out of the shadow of her sister and opening herself up to the possibility of love.

Genre: Fiction

Why I Picked This Book:  I have really enjoyed the previous two books in this series and want to continue with them.

My Impression:  I wasn't quite sure what I would think of this one.  I loved Ally's story and out of all of the sisters Star's personality seemed the weakest so I wasn't quite sure if she would be able to hold up her story the way Ally had dealt with hers.  However, there was no need to be disappointed.  I absolutely loved this one.

It's very true that at the beginning and for a lot of the book Star is very unsure of herself.  She's a very quiet person who is used to being overshadowed by her sisters and also tends to be a bit of a pleaser - always following other people's leads.  I think her hesitation and second guessing were very realistic to her story.  Flora is a bit of a stronger character.  For most of her life she knows what she wants but is also driven by love and loyalty to family.  She's tough and resilient without becoming too prickly and I found her story as fascinating and compelling as Star's.

I really enjoyed watching both women's stories develop and come together.  I really liked how much closure there is to Star's which I felt was lacking a little in the first book.  The story discusses an interesting part of history as well as the trouble with figuring out what you really want to do in life. I loved seeing all the side characters in Star's world come to life and enjoyed learning more about the real life historical characters that people Flora's world.  I did have some reservations about the romance element but did feel it was handled well.

This is such an entertaining series and such a wonderful way to have these books connected but explore so many different worlds and cultures.  I do recommend the audio as I have listened to both this book and the previous book and they were wonderfully done.  

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Absolutely!  I'm a little nervous as Cece isn't the most likable character but I trust Riley to make her sympathetic.

Would I Recommend this Book?  If you enjoy historical fiction and multiple POVs this is a great series.  

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Top Ten Tuesday - My 2021 Bookish Resolutions

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 about My Bookish Resolutions for 2021.  I'm sticking with bookish resolutions because honestly I'm not making any personal resolutions this year.

1.  Read 156 Books - I read 172 in 2020 but it was a pretty good reading year so I'm lowering the bar a bit.

2.  Catch up or finish 10 series - There are so many books I'm only missing one or two books on and I hope to get those finished up this year.

3.  Read 20 books off my shelf - I own so many books and in 2020 books I bought books like it was my full time job so that didn't really help.  I'm hoping to read a ton more then 20 but I'm also trying to keep expectations reasonable.

4.  Read 5 Nonfiction Books - I love nonfiction but it's probably my most neglected genre.  I'm hoping to get at least a little in this year.

5.  Track the location of the fiction books I read - Last year my goal was to read books set in as many states as I could.  It was really fun but it did tend to dictate more what I was reading then I really wanted.  I do really love seeing where I "visit" through books so I do want to track even if I don't have a specific goal.

6.  End the year with less then 5 overdue review books that were published in 2021 - I have a tendency to go crazy on NetGalley and end up with way more books then I could possibly read.  I did better in 2020 but still ended the year with 8 2020 books that I have still not reviewed.  I'd like to get that down to less then 5 2021 review books at the end of the year.  

7.  Finish the Miss Marple books - I finished up the Poirot books in 2020 and read the first 2 Miss Marple books.  I'm planning to finish the Miss Marple books by the end of the year.

8.  Finish the Miss Silver books - The Miss Silver series by Patricia Wentworth has been a favorite series for years and years but somehow I've never read them all in order.  I started this in the last quarter of 2020 and want to finish in 2021.

9.  Read the books on my Classic Mystery list - I was loving classic mysteries in 2020 so I made a list and decided to continue diving into my definition of classic mysteries for 2021.

10.  Read 5 Books from the Backlog Books - Carole over at Carole's Random Life in Books has a fun meme every Thursday where we dust off a book that's been hiding on the back of our shelves and remind ourselves just why we need to read it.  My goal is to actually read some of the books I dust off!

What are your bookish resolutions for 2021?

Monday, January 11, 2021

The Last Garden in England - Historical Fiction Review

Goodreads: The Last Garden in England by Julia Kelly

Rating: Really Liked It!
Source: Publisher

Description:  Present day: Emma Lovett, who has dedicated her career to breathing new life into long-neglected gardens, has just been given the opportunity of a lifetime: to restore the gardens of the famed Highbury House estate, designed in 1907 by her hero Venetia Smith. But as Emma dives deeper into the gardens’ past, she begins to uncover secrets that have long lain hidden.

1907: A talented artist with a growing reputation for her ambitious work, Venetia Smith has carved out a niche for herself as a garden designer to industrialists, solicitors, and bankers looking to show off their wealth with sumptuous country houses. When she is hired to design the gardens of Highbury House, she is determined to make them a triumph, but the gardens—and the people she meets—promise to change her life forever.

1944: When land girl Beth Pedley arrives at a farm on the outskirts of the village of Highbury, all she wants is to find a place she can call home. Cook Stella Adderton, on the other hand, is desperate to leave Highbury House to pursue her own dreams. And widow Diana Symonds, the mistress of the grand house, is anxiously trying to cling to her pre-war life now that her home has been requisitioned and transformed into a convalescent hospital for wounded soldiers. But when war threatens Highbury House’s treasured gardens, these three very different women are drawn together by a secret that will last for decades.

Genre: Fiction - Historical 

Why I Picked This Book:  So many reasons!  The cover is gorgeous, I love multiple timeline books, but mostly because my friend Tina over at Turn the Page recommended it.

My Impression:  Well this was just lovely.  Very rarely in a multiple POV book do I enjoy all the different POVs and find them all equally compelling but that was definitely the case in this book.  I might have looked forward to Emma's story just a little bit more but that's because she is putting the pieces of the past together and that's one of my very favorite things.  

All of the women featured are sympathetic and easy to connect with even if I didn't always like them or agree with their decisions.  Each woman's perspective was completely different and very well developed.  I especially enjoyed Beth's life as a Land Girl and Diana adjusting to her home being requisitioned and her life completely changing in an instant as well as Stella's below stairs perspective.  

I loved watching how everything unfolded and even though I'm not a gardener I enjoyed all the talk of flowers and garden architecture.  I would love to walk in Venetia's garden and explore all the different room.

This was my first Kindle read of 2021 and I thoroughly enjoyed it from beginning to end.  The only thing that kept it from being a 5 star read for me is that I really wanted just a little bit more of Beth and Diana's story (especially Beth) - something just felt a little unfinished there.  

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Absolutely! I have at least one other book by Julia Kelly on my TBR and I think this book just moved it higher up the list.

Would I Recommend this Book?  If you enjoy historical fiction especially one with a varied cast this is a must read.

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

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Life With Leukemia and Some Reading - January 10

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

Off the Blog: 

So on non-Leukemia news my step-daughter and her husband both have Covid.  His case looks like it's really mild and while she isn't feeling quite as well she's more in bronchitis/sinus infection level not feeling well.  What's really scary is their almost 1 year old started running a fever today.  Their pediatrician says his longs sound really clear and his oxygen levels are good so hopefully it's super mild or something teething related.  What's frustrating for them (and us) is that they've been so careful but her husband came into contact with one person who was not so careful and picked it up from that person.  It just takes one exposure.  

We have been extra isolating this week as Will's counts were really really low at his clinic appointment.  This in some ways is a good thing because it shows that he is extremely responsive to chemo which hopefully will mean less chemo all together but the bad thing is that this means his immune system is nonexistent.  We had planned for a masked outdoor visit with a few different family members for his birthday but that's been put on hold until at least next weekend.  I spoke with his new oncologist at clinic and she was great and definitely took the time to answer questions.  On an even better note Will has been feeling really good and is very much to being his old self which has been wonderful.  We've been having a good time playing video games and watching shows together and just overall enjoying that he's feeling good.  This journey has a lot of ups and downs but so far it's make us really appreciate the ups. Now if only I could get caught up on sleep.  I'm past exhausted right now and really want to get feeling better before we have to go back to Memphis in a few weeks.


Reading:  Dead in the Doorway by Diane Kelly and The Crying Child by Barbara Michael

Listening:  I'm almost done with The Shadow Sister by Lucinda Riley

Watching:  We finished the latest season of The Great British Bake-Off and thoroughly enjoyed it.  We were very pleased with the winner.  

Have a great week and happy reading!