Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Solutions and Other Problems - Nonfiction Graphic Novel Review

Goodreads:  Solutions and Other Problems by Allie Brosh

Rating: Really Liked It
Source: Library

Description:  Allie Brosh returns with a new collection of comedic, autobiographical, and illustrated essays.

Solutions and Other Problems includes humorous stories from Allie Brosh’s childhood; the adventures of her very bad animals; merciless dissection of her own character flaws; incisive essays on grief, loneliness, and powerlessness; as well as reflections on the absurdity of modern life.

This full-color, beautifully illustrated edition features all-new material with more than 1,600 pieces of art.

Genre:  Nonfiction - Graphic Novel

Why I Picked This Book:  I really enjoyed Brosh's blog when it was active and her previous book.  I was so excited when I saw this book had an official publish date and couldn't wait to read it.

My Impression:  Allie Brosh never fails to make me laugh until I cry and this book was no exception.  There were some stories that made me laugh, some that made me cringe, some that broke my heart, and all entertained.  I love her drawings that illustrate the book.  They look simple but portray so much emotion and add so much to the feel of her stories.  As well I'm just absolutely fascinated by how her mind works.  There were a few things (especially about pets) that had me looking a little side eyed at my cat and a few things that were completely incomprehensible to me but still had me laughing.

The one thing that I feel is missing from this book as opposed to Jenny Lawson's books is the lack of personal connection.  I love how Brosh's mind works but I want to know more about her.  I do understand and respect her desire for privacy, however. 

This book is massive but is mostly illustrations and makes for a quick read.  I enjoyed reading a few chapters here and there throughout the day.  It made for a nice little treat.  Brosh's humor is probably not for everyone so if you are new to her work checking out her blog might be a good idea.  In addition to the humorous stories she does touch on some incredibly serious topics such as suicide, grief, and depression but not in a detailed deep dive kind of way.  

I'm so glad I was able to read and enjoy this book and I can only hope that Brosh doesn't disappear for as long between books this time!

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

Would I Recommend this Book?  I would - especially if you enjoy Jenny Lawson or have enjoyed Brosh's earlier stories.  

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Ten Books On My TBR That Are Set in Spring

The daffodils have come and gone and the tulips will start blooming soon here which means we have maybe a month before the humidity kicks in and the mosquitos come out which is as close as we get to Spring here in the South.  That makes me wonder just what books on my TBR I could read to keep that Spring feeling going and here are 10 I found.   

1.  Demise in Denim by Duffy Brown - I love books about clothes - especially vintage clothes - so this book about a consignment store owner has been on my TBR for awhile.

2.  A Whisker of Trouble by Sofie Ryan - I've loved the later books in the series and am going back and reading the earlier books.  

3.  Dyeing Wishes by Molly McRae - Another series that has been on my TBR for ages!

4.  Guilty as Cinnamon by Leslie Budewitz - Not only is this one set during the Spring but it involves spices which calls me because I've been loving getting back to baking and cooking lately.

5.  Left Fur Dead by J.M. Griffin - It's a cozy mystery involving a main character with pet bunnies.  How very Spring-y.

6.  Murder's No Votive Confidence by Cristin Breecher - This may be the best pun title I've ever seen and I loved the most recent book in the series!

7.  Criminally Cocoa by Amanda Flower - Another book that's been on my TBR for ages and another one that appeals to me with my enjoying cooking and baking lately.

8.  On the Lamb by Tina Kashian - This one is set around Easter and sounds just oh so Spring-y.

9.  The Chocolate Bunny Brouhaha by JoAnna Carl - The word brouhaha is just not used enough and throw a chocolate bunny into the mix and there's no way I could resist.

10. Murder Most Fowl by Edith Maxwell - Maxwell is an author I've been wanting to read for awhile and this series and the season this book is set in really appeals to me.

Do you have any spring books on your TBR?

Monday, March 29, 2021

Death at High Tide + Body in the Attic - Mini Reviews

Goodreads:  Death at High Tide by Hannah Dennison - I thoroughly enjoyed previous books by Dennison so I couldn't wait to dive into this book about Evie Mead, a recent widow who has inherited a much smaller estate then she expected, and her sister Margot who has flown in from LA to help.  After finding a letter that indicates a hotel on a tiny island off the coast of Cornwall might belong to Evie, the two sisters book a trip to scout it out.  Unfortunately, the hotel isn't quite the resort they were hoping for and murder soon follows them.  I didn't love this one.  Up until the last few chapters I basically wanted all the characters with the exception of Evie to take a very long walk of a very short pier.  They were just horrible and mean to everyone involved.  Really the fact they all hadn't been murdered years before was kind of surprising.  There was a lot of setup at the beginning and the murder didn't happen until almost halfway through the book but since this is the first book in a series this wasn't really an issue for me.  The bad guy wasn't too big of a shock though I didn't put all the pieces together until the end.  The end did have me a little curious to see how the next book plays out but for the most part I was glad to see the end of the book.  If my library gets the second book in audio I might give it a listen but I won't be searching it out.  My Rating:  Just Okay

Goodreads:  The Body in the Attic by Judi Lynn - This is the first book in a series about Jazzie Zanders and her cousin Jerod who flip houses with the help of their handyman Ansel.  There excitement about getting a gorgeous house for a song turns to horror when the old cedar chest contains a skeleton - and not just any skeleton but the remains of Jazzie's long missing aunt, Lynda.  As the three work to remodel the old house they can't help but learn the secrets of Lynda and the former owner.  This was a fun read.  I love books about home renovation and Jazzie does not shrink from any heavy lifting.  She, Jerod, and Ansel are nice people who love what they do and it's a lot of fun to read about.  Jazzie's involvement in the investigation does strain believability a bit but not enough to dampen my enjoyment.  This is a fun engaging mystery that wrapped up nicely and is the start of a series that I'm looking forward to continuing.  However, while the mystery never fades to the background there is a developing romance that does get quite a bit of page time so if you don't like that in your mysteries you might want to give this a pass.  My Rating:  Really Liked It!

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Life with Leukemia (And Some Reading) - March 28


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

This was a good week.  Will's energy was really good and we were  able to play some board games and have some fun all together.  Because this was the first time he's felt like himself in awhile I decided this week was spring break and we just worked on having fun and relaxing.  This has not been the best school year but we will catch up - that's the beauty of homeschooling it takes way less time to catch up.  His blood sugar was up into an acceptable level at his appointment this week which was a huge relief and we are still working on eating and just getting calories in.  It's really hard to eat when your body just doesn't want to but he's trying and has improved so baby steps. Next week will be a spinal tap with sedation (hopefully - last time we were in pre-op and they cancelled because his platelets were too low) and a chemo/steroid combo that can make him feel pretty bad but I'm hoping that since he's feeling so good now it won't hit him too hard.

I can of had a lazy week.  When I wasn't playing with Will I tried to get in as much reading time as I could.  It's been nice to take little pockets of time to read.  Normally I only read at night and squeeze in an audio book in when I'm driving or doing laundry or things like that so it feels kind of luxurious to settle down in my chair and read for a few minutes in the middle of the day.  I've also done yoga everyday in March.  I've been doing the March Yoga with Adriene calendar on YouTube but have been changing it up when her video for the day is a little more ambitious then I'm feeling.  I've really been enjoying it and feel like I'm moving better so I'm planning on continuing that plan for April.


Solutions and Other Problems by Allie Brosh
, A Murder is Announced by Agatha Christie, and Deadly Editions by Paige Shelton

Listening: Penny for Your Secrets by Anna Lee Huber

Watching: Not much other then YouTube but I'm thinking of trying Schitt's Creek on Netflix.  My attention span hasn't been all that great lately but this sounds like it might be a good fit.

How has your week been?  Happy reading!

Saturday, March 27, 2021

The Key - Classic Mystery Review

Goodreads: The Key by Patricia Wentworth

Rating: Loved It!
Source: Purchased

Description:  Michael Harsch's long years of work were nearly at an end. The following day he was looking forward to handing over his precious formula to the government. But the next morning he was in no fit state to hand over the formula - he was dead. It looked like suicide, but Miss Silver knew it was murder.

Genre: Mystery - Classic

Why I Picked This Book:  I'm trying to read all the Miss Silver books this year and this was the next one on the list.

My Impression:  Oh how I love the relationship between Miss Silver and DI Frank Abbott and this book showcased that beautifully.  Abbott is so blasé and confident about everything but his total adoration of Miss Silver and his amusement at her ability to fluster or surprise his usually unflappable boss DCI Ernest Lamb is just a delight.  My only complaint in this book is that Miss Silver arrives later in the book but thankfully once she's there she takes the lead.

The mystery itself is a classic locked door in a way.  Michael Harsch is found dead in such a way that suicide seems like the only viable option.  However, Michael Harsch had also finished up a valuable project that could aid the war effort immensely so Major Grant Albany is dispatched to the area to stay with a relative and look into things a little closer.  What follows is a nicely paced small village mystery with a heaping helping of World War II era issues.  

I love the characters that Wentworth creates.  Each person in the village is so well drawn and vivid that I could almost picture the town.  There's a small touch of romance, a lot of gossip, and more then a few secrets.  While not the most fast paced and action packed it was a charming mystery that did keep me guessing.  The beauty with the Miss Silver books is that it is only a technical sense that they each contain Miss Silver but are really in no way related so if you find one that sounds intriguing you can jump in right there without having to go back to the beginning.  

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Absolutely!  I can't wait to pick up the next one.

Would I Recommend this Book?  If you love Miss Marple you really need to meet Miss Silver though I do recommend skipping the first book - it's good just not Wentworth's usual charm.

Friday, March 26, 2021

Friday Fives - Five Audio Books I Want to Get Soon

 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 been really loving audio books lately - especially since my library added Hoopla.  Here are 5 audio books I'm planning to check out soon.

1.  Hideaway by Nora Roberts - I enjoy Roberts' books and especially on audio so I'm looking forward to listening to this one.

2.  The Stranger Diaries by Elly Griffith - The plot on this one sounds really intriguing and I've really enjoyed other books by Griffiths so I'm excited to give this one a try.

3.  Death on the Sapphire by R.J. Koreto - I've read a couple of other books by Koreto and I read I believe the last one in this series years ago and loved it so I was super excited to see the first book at my library.

4.  Clouds of Witness by Dorothy L. Sayers - I read the first Lord Peter Wimsey book a couple of years ago and liked it but never continued so I'm looking forward to listening to this one.  

5.  Be Our Ghost by Kate Kingsbury - This title makes me giggle and I've enjoyed other books in this series so this sounds like it'll be a fun listen.

What audio books are on your To Listen list?

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Books from the Backlog - The Book of Killowen

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 Book of Killowen by Erin Hart

Blurb:  An ancient volume of philosophical heresy provides a motive for murder in this haunting, lyrical novel of forensics, archeology, and history--the fourth in an acclaimed suspense series. What sort of book is worth a man's life? After a year away from working in the field, archaeologist Cormac Maguire and pathologist Nora Gavin are back in the bogs, investigating a ninth-century body found buried in the trunk of a car. They discover that the ancient corpse is not alone--pinned beneath it is the body of Benedict Kavanagh, missing for mere months and familiar to television viewers as a philosopher who enjoyed destroying his opponents in debate. Both men were viciously murdered, but centuries apart--so how did they end up buried together in the bog?

While on the case, Cormac and Nora lodge at Killowen, a nearby artists' colony, organic farm, and sanctuary for eccentric souls. Digging deeper into the older crime, they become entangled in high-stakes intrigue encompassing Kavanagh's death while surrounded by suspects in his ghastly murder. It seems that everyone at Killowen has some secret to protect.

Why It Needs to Come Off the Shelf:   I remember really enjoying the first couple of books in the series but I really didn't like the third book so I want to try this one and either really enjoy it or DNF it and get it off my shelf.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

The Year of the Series Mini Reviews - God of the Hive and Final Exam


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.

God of the Hive by Laurie R. King
- Going into this book I was a bit on the fence about this series.  I started reading this series featuring an older retired Sherlock Holmes and his young wife Mary Russell close to 20 years ago with long breaks in between.  The book prior to this one ended on a bit of a cliffhanger and I fully intended to go right into this one but I didn't so the beginning was kind of rough trying to remember events that I had read years ago.  However, once things got rolling I was swept into this series and I remember why I used to hunt down each new book.  I was pulled into the story and by the end I was waiting with baited breath to see how things would play out.  Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes are just as sharp as ever and seeing them scramble to deal with an unclear situation with enemies lurking in the shadows made for a compelling read.  I would love to go back and reread this series from the beginning but I am so excited to pick up the next one and this time it won't be years!  If you're new to this series this is not the book to start with - it's definitely best to start at the beginning or at least the book before this.  My Rating:  Really Liked It!

Final Exam by Carol J Perry -
This book is in my Year of the Series project but honestly I was already working on getting caught up because it is one of my absolute favorite series and this one did not disappoint!  I especially enjoyed that Lee's Aunt Ibby is front and center around this one.  The book starts with Lee and her cameraman, Francine following a tip to an old abandoned granite quarry.  A tip has led the police to the resting place of a 40 year old missing person case.  That resting place just happens to be in a car 100 feet down in the quarry and the missing person just happens to be Aunt Ibby's high school sweetheart - the very same high school sweetheart who stood her up for senior prom.  And since there is a reunion being planned Aunt Ibby is very much in touch with her 5 of her best friends from high school and is knee deep in mysteries.  I liked getting to know Ibby on more of a personal level then just as Lee's confidante and research extraordinaire.  I love Lee's new position as investigative reporter as she is able to really dig into the investigations and I love having the crew from the news station involved.  Francine, Marty and Rhonda are some of my absolute favorite side characters.  This is a great cozy series with characters I love hanging out with, mysteries that keep me guessing, and just a splash of paranormal.  I'm already looking forward to picking up the next book in the series.  My Rating: Really Liked It!

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Top Ten Tuesday - Funny Book Titles on My 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 about Funny Book Titles.  This past year I've been all cozy mysteries all the time and there is nothing that cozy mysteries love more then a great pun of a title or a play on a classic title.  Here are 10 of my favorites on my TBR.

1.  A Tale of Two Cookies by Eve Calder -I do love a literary reference in a cozy series and this series about a bakery is always lots of fun.

2.  Manor of Dying by Kathleen Bridge - This is an author I've been wanting to read for awhile as her mysteries always seem to involve some element of old homes and renovation and this title just makes me laugh.

3.  Read and Buried by Eva Gates - It's not uncommon in a bookish cozy title to switch "Dead" for "Read" and this is one of my favorite titles.

4.  Be Our Ghost by Kate Kingsbury - I do break into the Disney song whenever I read this title but I am looking forward to this book in the haunted bed and breakfast series.

5.  Shot Through the Hearth by Kate Carlisle - This home renovation series always has the best titles and this one is one of my favorites!

6.  A Killer Read by Erika Chase - This may not be the funniest title but I do like the simplicity of it.

7.  Cockatiels at Seven by Donna Andrews - Really I could have made a list using titles from just this series but stuck with just one.

8.  The Whole Cat and Caboodle by Sofie Ryan - Another one that makes me laugh and really caboodle is just a fun word!

9.  Arsenic and Old Books by Miranda James - This book is a play on the title of one of my favorite movies so I couldn't not include it!

10. The Pint of No Return by Ellie Alexander - This is one of my favorite cozy authors but somehow I've yet to read this series set around a brewery.  And this title is just fabulous.

What titles make you laugh?

Monday, March 22, 2021

Danger in Numbers - Romantic Suspense Review

Goodreads:  Danger in Numbers by Heather Graham

Rating:  Really Liked It
Source: Publisher

Description: A ritualistic murder on the side of a remote road brings in the Florida state police. Special Agent Amy Larson has never seen worse, and there are indications that this killing could be just the beginning. The crime draws the attention of the FBI in the form of Special Agent Hunter Forrest, a man with insider knowledge of how violent cults operate, and a man who might never be able to escape his own past.

The rural community is devastated by the death in their midst, but people know more than they are saying. As Amy and Hunter join forces, every lead takes them further into the twisted beliefs of a dangerous group that will stop at nothing to see their will done.

Doomsday preppers and small-town secrets collide in this sultry, twisty page-turning thriller.

Genre: Mystery - Romantic Suspense

Why I Picked This Book: I enjoy Heather Graham's romantic suspense and this sounded like a good read.  

My Impression:  This was a candy bar of a book.  It's not a plot that will really stick with me and make my top ten list for the year but it was just a fun and tasty treat and a book I thoroughly enjoyed from the first page to the last.  

We meet Special Agent Amy Larson who is an agent with the state of Florida and FBI Agent Hunter Forrest right at the beginning.  Amy isn't super thrilled to have the FBI stepping into what she considers a state case.  While she made her reluctance known I didn't feel like she was ever over the top about it and once Hunter proves himself an able investigator who isn't ego driven she is happy to work with him.  I really enjoyed that both lead characters behaved like adults, were willing to listen to each other, and valued the other's opinion.  The inevitable relationship that developed also seemed appropriate.  They were two adults in a tense situation who had a lot in common.  While it developed quickly it didn't feel like it went from disdain to I will take a bullet for you overnight.  All in all, while the characters weren't hugely developed I was very happy with what I got.

The mystery was a creepy one that kept me invested in the story.  I don't feel like anything was surprising but the pacing and atmosphere were good enough that I didn't care.  I couldn't wait to see how it all played out.

If you're looking for a light read with a creepy story and likable main characters then this is a great read.  For me this is the definition of a beach read - except for the fact that I might get so into the story that I'd forget to reapply sunscreen!

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  I would - especially if I need another bookish candy bar!

Would I Recommend this Book?  This is a great book to pick up if you're looking for something light and fast paced with a creepy story.

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

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Life With Leukemia (And Some Reading) - March 21

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

This week was a much better week!  Will's energy level is still pretty low but not nearly as low as it was.  His blood sugar is testing really low which isn't unusual for kids in treatment for Leukemia so we are trying to get that under control just with diet so we don't have to add finger pricks and any other meds.   But on a positive not he was invited to be a special judge at a car show run by an organization called Eli's Block Party that raises money for childhood cancer research.  The founders lost their son to brain cancer in 2017 and continue to do car shows and all kinds of fundraisers and help organize stuff all over the country.  It's amazing cause.  Each show brings in a kid under active treatment from the community to give away a special prize with the only criteria being the car the  kid likes best.  We aren't really car people and hadn't even been to a car show so we weren't really sure what to expect but it was a lot of fun.  Turns out Will has a strong preference for newer Mustangs which was interesting.  

This was really the first thing we did with people around and it was outside and distanced but it made for a big day.  I think we all wanted to take a nap when we got home!

I've been feeling like I was sliding into a bit of a reading slump but I think what I figured out is just I needed to break up the type of book I was reading.  I had been reading more character focused books and realized I was getting to the point where most of the characters in most of the books were just annoying me but luckily I picked up a more plot driven book and I think it has cleared away the slump.


Reading:  The Key by Patricia Wentworth and What the Devil Knows by C.S. Harris

Listening:  The Body in the Attic by Judi Lynn

Watching:  I've been watching The Con which is a true crime show about cons.  I'm finding it absolutely fascinating and it does make sense how people get caught up in crazy things.

Have a great week and happy reading!

Friday, March 19, 2021

Friday Five - Five Non Cozy Authors I Want to Read

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 I've been focusing on series which for me means primarily focusing on cozy mysteries.  Cozy mysteries are definitely my preferred read at the moment but it's not the only genre I read and in fact all of those genres have long lists of authors that I haven't read but am just dying to try.  Here are 5 non-cozy authors whose books I hope to pick up soon - and somehow 4 out of 5 have K names.  Not sure what that's about.

1.  Kate Quinn - I love historical fiction - especially set during World War II and every book by this author has sounded amazing.

2.  Kristy Woodson Harvey - This is another author whose books I've been meaning to try since the first one came out.  They all sound absolutely wonderful and summery.

3.  Kelley Armstrong - I first heard of Kelley Armstrong when I first started blogging (probably early 2013) and I meant to read her then but somehow never did.

4. Katherine Arden - I actually own a few books by this author and have meant to listen to The Bear and the Nightingale in December for at least the last few years.

5. Patti Callahan Henry - Her latest book has really cemented my desire to read her books and I am hoping to pick up some on audio soon.

What authors are on your must read list?

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Books from the Backlog - Toured to Death

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:  Toured to Death by Hy Conrad

Blurb: Book a ticket with this all-new mystery series featuring Amy and Fanny Abel, a spunky mother-and-daughter duo of travel agents who find their mystery tour becoming all too real. . .
while Fanny takes care of the business end of Amy's Travel in New York City, Amy is traipsing around Monte Carlo, managing their first mystery-themed excursion, a road rally in which guests compete to solve a fictional murder along the way. Amy still has reservations about partnering up with her mother. But both women, having lost the men in their lives, need a fresh beginning.

The trip starts off without a hitch. Clues quickly mount, the competition is lively, and just when the suspense is peaking, the writer they hired to script their made-up mystery is found murdered in his New York apartment. Suddenly, on top of running a new venture together, mother and daughter must solve a real-life case of foul play, while trying not to drive each other bonkers. But Amy and Fanny are ready, willing, and Abel to track down a clever killer with some serious emotional baggage, one who will go to any lengths to keep dark secrets from seeing the light of day. . .

Why It Needs to Come Off the Shelf:  This has been sitting on my review shelf since 2015 and since I won't be traveling anytime soon a bit of virtual travel sounds like fun.

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Off the Wild Coast of Brittany - Fiction Review

Goodreads:  Off the Wild Coast of Brittany by Juliet Blackwell

Rating:  Really Liked It
Source: Publisher

Description:  Natalie Morgen made a name for herself with a memoir about overcoming her harsh childhood after finding a new life in Paris. After falling in love with a classically trained chef, they moved together to his ancestral home, a tiny fishing village off the coast of Brittany.

But then Francois-Xavier breaks things off with her without warning, leaving her flat broke and in the middle of renovating the guesthouse they planned to open for business. Natalie's already struggling when her sister, Alex, shows up unannounced. The sisters form an unlikely partnership to save the guesthouse, reluctantly admitting their secrets to each other as they begin to heal the scars of their shared past.

But the property harbors hidden stories of its own. During World War II, every man of fighting age on the island fled to England to join the Free French forces. The women and children were left on their own...until three hundred German troops took up residence, living side-by-side with the French women on the tiny island for the next several years.

When Natalie and Alex unearth an old cookbook in a hidden cupboard, they find handwritten recipes that reveal old secrets. With the help of locals, the Morgen sisters begin to unravel the relationship between Violette, a young islander whose family ran the guesthouse during WWII, and Rainier, a German military customs official with a devastating secret of his own.

Genre: Fiction 

Why I Picked This Book:  Blackwell is an author I always enjoy and I absolutely loved a fiction dual timeline book by her that I read last year so I couldn't resist this one.

My Impression:  I love home front stories, I always enjoy Juliet Blackwell's books and this one reminded me a touch of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society which is one of my favorite books.  So my expectations going in to this one were crazy high. 

Unfortunately, it didn't quite live up to them.  Both stories are fascinating.  An island of women left on their own when all their men go off to war.  Left to care for the young and the elderly, find food on an island, and deal with a German occupation the women must band together for survival.  The story pulled at me but I had trouble really connecting with Violetta.   In the present day story line I had the same issue with Natalie.  The story of the lifestyle blogger whose perfect life is falling apart and isn't sure what to do is interesting but Natalie was so frozen I got frustrated with her at times.  I also felt like it had a bit of a slow start.  While we were introduced to the characters it took a little while for the story to gain real traction.

Just because I didn't love it as much as I expected doesn't mean I didn't enjoy it because I absolutely did.  Alex is a great character and while I wished that she and Nat would just talk to each other I loved how the sister relationship evolved.  I also loved the setting and the home renovation.  Alex is just so capable and Natalie seemed so helpless at times that it was interesting to see them play off each other.  I loved the history of the island and the house and seeing the changes between life there during the war and present day life.  Blackwell's writing style never disappoints and is always quick to draw me in and makes the setting come alive even when the story isn't the fastest.  

While not perfect this was an enjoyable read in an unusual setting.  I'm already looking forward to more of Blackwell's fiction titles.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Absolutely!  I love Blackwell's mysteries and fiction.

Would I Recommend this Book?   If you enjoy dual timeline fiction I think you would enjoy this one!

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

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Top Ten Tuesday - My Spring 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 My Spring TBR.  I love making these TBRs every season and have gotten much better about actually getting some of these actually read so I have high hopes for this spring list!

1.  What the Devil Knows by C.S. Harris - I've really enjoyed this historical mystery series that is slightly darker then my usual cozies.  I'm looking forward to reading this one soon!

2.  An Invincible Summer by Mariah Stewart - I have a bit of a checkered history with Stewart's books but I enjoyed her last trilogy and have high hopes for this one.

3.  Phantoms and Felonies by Lucy Ness - I read the first book last year and loved it so I can't wait to read the second book in the series.

4.  See Something by Carol J. Perry - I love this Witch City Mysteries series and this is the newest book.  Now I just have to finish catching up on the series before this one is published!

5.  Murder on Wall Street by Victoria Thompson - This is another favorite historical mystery and one I always look forward to reading.  

6. The Pearl Sister by Lucinda Riley - I have really enjoyed this series and am hoping to get several of them read this year.  I love the sound of this story but this is my least favorite sister so I'm a little hesitant.

7.  Mastering the Art of French Eating by Amy Mah - This has been on my TBR for ages and now seems to be the time to read this!

8.  A Dangerous Collaboration by Deanna Raybourn - Once I read this I will be officially caught up with this series!

9.  The Key by Patricia Wentworth - This is next on my Miss Silver list.  I may have underestimated how many there are and need to get reading!  Luckily, I always enjoy a Miss Silver book.

10.  A Likely Story by Jenn McKinlay - This is the next book in the Library Lovers cozy mystery series which I am almost caught up on!

What do you want to read this spring?

Monday, March 15, 2021

Picture Perfect Frame - Cozy Mystery Review

Rating: Really Liked It
Source: Publisher

Description:  As the owner of Coffee, Books, and More, Jill Gardner likes to support other Main Street businesses, so she attends a paint-and-sip event where, sadly, her brushstrokes look more like blobs. It’s still fun, though—aside from some disruption by a couple doing more sipping than painting. Jill’s police-detective boyfriend is on alert, but a designated driver volunteers to take the drunken pair back to their bed and breakfast, and everything seems resolved. Until the wife’s body turns up the next morning back in the studio.

The victim, Nan, is from out of town, so it’s hard to imagine who’d have a motive aside from her spouse. Now, in between puzzling over her fortuneteller neighbor’s strange behavior, preparing for her best friend’s wedding, and pouring cups of java at the bookstore, Jill must uncover the secrets of Nan’s life and find out who wanted her out of the picture . . .

Genre: Mystery - Cozy

Why I Picked This Book: This is one of my favorite cozy series so I couldn't resist picking up the newest book in the series.

My Impression:  Starting a new Tourist Trap Mystery is like going back to visit friends and this one was no different.  There are a few changes in South Cove these days - a few new businesses, a new barista in the Coffee, Books and More family and a St. Patrick's Day Street Festival to get ready for.  One of those new businesses is one of those drink wine and paint places which leads Jill and friends into an uncomfortable encounter with a tourist who has done far more of the first and not nearly enough of the second.  Still it's a bit shocking when that tourist ends up murdered in the very place they had had their class.  Jill's complete and total lack of artistic talent had me laughing and I could relate to her all the more.  

There's a lot going on in this mystery with regular business at the bookstore, town business, current relationship issues, past relationship issues, and general snooping.  While this did make the book busy it wasn't chaotic - instead it was like just hanging out with Jill and tagging along while she gets involved in the investigation and tries to sort through all the information she's picking up.  I really enjoy the dynamics between all the characters (though I won't be sorry to see the end of the Bridezilla version of Amy) and am really growing to like Deek and Evie - the two newer members of the series.

The mystery is a good one with lots of digging into the past and uncovering secrets.  I do wish the ending was a little more developed which is my standard complaint with this series.  I was satisfied with the ending but just wish it started to unravel a little earlier in the book then it did.  This is probably a series best read from the beginning as it is so character driven but it is such a consistent and enjoyable series that I don't think any cozy reader will be disappointed!

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Absolutely!  I'm already looking forward to my next visit with Jill and Greg.

Would I Recommend this Book?  If you're a cozy lover this is a fun series though I do recommend starting from the beginning.

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

Saturday, March 13, 2021

Life with Leukemia (And Some Reading) - March 14


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

Well March has not started out quite as strong as I had hoped.  Will is struggling with the transition back to one of the chemo meds he had gotten a break from and has just been feeling awful most of the week.  No red flags to indicate anything to worry about but it's still stressful and I hate it for him because he's so tired of not feeling well.  Prior to this diagnosis he was very rarely sick and never more for a day or two and lately he's felt bad more often then not.  Big picture I'm so grateful for the incredible research done at St Jude that turned childhood Leukemia into an overwhelmingly curable disease but day to day sometimes it can feel overwhelming.  98 weeks of treatment to go.

I was doing the Yoga with Adriene March calendar on YouTube but my old neck injury started flaring up so I had to switch to some more gentle stretches.  If you get tension headaches or have any neck and shoulder pain I've found this video from Sarah Beth Yoga's YouTube channel to be AMAZING.  You can do it sitting in bed or on the couch too which I love.  I managed to get a couple of visits in with my chiropractor so I'm feeling tons better and am back to the calendar.  Other then that and taking care of Will not much has been going on around here.  Oh I did get a new Kindle!  My beloved 7 year old Paperwhite finally got a bit too quirky for comfort and I was forced to replace it because it wasn't turning any pages at all or two at a time.  I went back and forth on the different options but after much debate I ended up just going with a new Paperwhite (but green this time) and I'm so loving it and I love that it's waterproof so if pool time is ever an option again I don't have to worry about it getting damaged.


Reading:  Off the Wild Coast of Brittany by Juliet Blackwell and Brat Farrar by Josephine Tey

Listening:  Final Exam by Carol J. Perry

Watching:  Not much.  I've mostly had YouTube going in the background.

Have a great week and happy reading!

Greygallows - Keeper Shelf Review

Goodreads:  Greygallows by Barbara Michaels

Rating:  Really Liked It
Source: Purchased

Description:  Lucy Cartwright placed her life and future into the hands of the dashing Baron Clare, despite the rumors of his dark, unsavory past. Trusting his kind words and gentle manner, she agreed to be his wife and followed the enigmatic lord to Greygallows, his sprawling country estate. But mystery, deception, betrayal, and danger surround the magnificent manor—a ghostly secret charges the atmosphere and terror reigns in its shadowed hallways. Lucy entered Greygallows willingly . . . and now she may never leave.

Genre: Fiction - Gothic

Why I Picked This Book:  I am re-evaluating all the books on my Keeper Shelf and seeing if they still deserve their place there.

My Impression:  Of all the books on my Keeper Shelf this one's status was most in jeopardy.  It's not one that sticks in my head or one I reach for when I'm feeling a slightly creepy comfort reread and I can't even remember the last time I read it.  This one is a bit different from the bulk of Michaels' books.  This one is not set in present day but instead in England in the later half of the 19th century.  She plays with Gothic elements in all of her books but in this one she leans into the Gothic format hard.  Lucy is weak and helpless (at first), Baron Clare is dark, mysterious and all kinds of sinister, and the manor house is cursed.  Throw in a heaping scoop of social issues and you've got a creepy reading experience to meet your Gothic needs.

I liked Lucy quite a bit by the end.  She starts off so incredibly sheltered and naïve but in her defense she is so sheltered that she really no other choice.  Another character tells her early in the book that the only thing wrong with her is ignorance and that is easily cured which was a sentiment I appreciated and very much enjoyed Lucy taking that to heart.  

As usual, Michaels writing style makes for an atmospheric and fast paced read that I was immediately sucked into.  The start was a bit slow for her but once the story gained traction I didn't want to put it down.  While this book will probably never be on my regular reread list it has definitely re-earned its place on my Keeper Shelf!

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Absolutely!  Michaels is a favorite and I'm hoping to read more under her Elizabeth Peters name as well.

Would I Recommend this Book?  If you enjoy fast paced reads with a tiny touch of creepiness then Barbara Michaels is absolutely not to be missed.

Friday, March 12, 2021

Friday Fives - Five Series I Want to Start Soon

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 decided 2021 is the year of the series and have picked 10 series to focus on but that doesn't keep me from noticing new series or wanting to put some older ones in my TBR.  Here are 5 series I've never picked up but I'll hopefully be starting soon.

1.  Forget Me Knot (A Quilting Mystery) by Mary Marks - Kathryn over at Book Date has started this series and is really enjoying it.  Even though I don't quilt I love books about quilting so I really want to start this one.

2.  Crime and Poetry (A Magical Bookshop Mystery) by Amanda Flowers - I have had an actual copy of this book on my shelf since it came out and somehow I still haven't started it (or read any of the other books).

3.  Better Homes and Corpses (Hamptons Home and Garden Mystery) by Kathleen Bridge - Renovating old homes and murder is pretty much a series that is made for me but even though I own several books in this series I've never read any of them.

4.  Flipped for Murder (Country Store Mystery) by Maddie Day - Honestly I don't know much about this series but Maddie Day (aka Edith Maxwell) is one of those names I see all over the genre and I really want to try this series.

5.  Hearse and Buggy (An Amish Mystery) by Laura Bradford - I've read a few other books by Bradford and enjoyed them and this series looks like a lot of fun.

Do you have any series that you're hoping to start soon?

Thursday, March 11, 2021

Books From The Backlog - Murder in the Mystery Suite

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!

Blurb:  Tucked away in the rolling hills of rural western Virginia is the storybook resort of Storyton Hall, catering to book lovers who want to get away from it all. To increase her number of bookings, resort manager Jane Steward has decided to host a Murder and Mayhem week so that fans of the mystery genre can gather together for some role-playing and fantasy crime solving.

But when the winner of the scavenger hunt, Felix Hampden, is found dead in the Mystery Suite, and the valuable book he won as his prize is missing, Jane realizes one of her guests is an actual murderer. Amid a resort full of fake detectives, Jane is bound and determined to find a real-life killer. There’s no room for error as Jane tries to unlock this mystery before another vacancy opens up…

Why This Needs to Come Off the Shelf:  It's been on it for years and somehow I've never picked it up even though a bookish resort sounds amazing!