Monday, May 31, 2021

The Year of the Series - Suede to Rest + A Pretty Deceit

 


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:  Suede to Rest (A Material Witness Mystery #1) by Diane Vallere

Blurb:  When Polyester (Poly) Monroe inherits her great uncle's shuttered fabric store she also inherits a family mystery.  Just who murdered her great aunt on the night of Poly's high school graduation - and could they still be around to make sure the past stays in the past.

My Thoughts:  I really love Diane Vallere's stories and this might just be my favorite series.  Not only is it a store jammed packed with gorgeous vintage (albeit dusty) fabric but there's also figuring out old family secrets along with Poly figuring out just what it is she really wants in life.  Poly has a lot of decisions to make and quite a lot of people are trying to make those decisions for her.  The conclusion is a little disjointed but getting there is such fun I'm willing to forgive - plus reading this one has me wanting to reread the next two books in the series!  My Rating: Liked It!


Goodreads:  A Pretty Deceit (A Verity Kent Mystery #4) by Anna Lee Huber

Premise:  Weird things are going on at Verity's aunt's house.  There's missing items, damage from airman who occupied the house during the war, and a missing maid.  But before Verity can finish looking into that she's pulled into a mystery from the past featuring old friends and wartime secrets.

My Thoughts:  I really love this series.  Verity and Sidney are so glamorous and capable and I love the addition of their friends Max and Alex.  Both mysteries are intriguing and work well together. I enjoy how they work together and with Max and Alex though there is bits of tension there.  One mystery is a bit more of a traditional mystery with a dead body and a murdered but kind of surrounding it is a cat and mouse kind of chase with intrigue and history dating back several years into the middle of Word War I.  The characters in the book are still dealing with the fall out from the war and it shows in different ways but at the same time life is still going on and I thought the balance of that was very well done.  This story isn't flawless - I'm not a big fan of the master criminal element that has been in this book and the last book and the physical affection between Verity and Sidney gets mentioned a bit too much (not romance level but I could have used less of it) but it was such an entertaining read that it didn't bother me.  The next book in this series comes out in August so I'm calling myself caught up with this one!  My Rating: Really Liked It!

Sunday, May 30, 2021

Life with Leukemia (And Some Reading) - May 30

 
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 long week.  Will had a spinal tap on Wednesday which he did great with and we were able to figure out what had happened the last time that had given him a rough wake up and correct it.  Then after that it was chemo and finally we collapsed at home at about 4 in the afternoon after a pretty grueling day.  On top of that it's steroid week which keeps him from getting really solid sleep so he just feels worn out.  Luckily, it's only for 5 days but we are counting down!  

It's hard to believe this is the last weekend in May.  This is the end of my birthday month which I have been happily celebrating with presents for me.  The last batch will be arriving this week and I'm looking forward to it. My waffle maker was in a bit of a snit and died on me so I replaced it with an R2D2 waffle maker from shopDisney and we will be having Star Wars waffles very soon.  Will has even agreed to try them and he's not a fan of waffles.  Other then lots of online shopping not much has been going on here.

Currently:


Reading:  Murphy's Slaw by Elizabeth Logan and Pilgrim's Rest by Patricia Wentworth

Listening:  The Sign of Four by Arthur Conan Doyle

Watching:  A lot of the YouTube channel This Gathered Nest because I like watching family life on a small farm without actually having to deal with livestock.  Also, I'm getting my true crime fix with Kendall Rae's YouTube channel.  

Have a great week and happy reading!

Saturday, May 29, 2021

Witch - Keeper Shelf Review

Goodreads:  Witch by Barbara Michaels

Rating: Really Liked It
Source: Purchased

Description:  A silent stranger moves in twilight shadows...It was more than her dream house. For Ellen March, buying the secluded old house nestled in the pine woods marked the start of a new life. Now she could put her failed marriage behind her, enjoy the quiet solitude of small town life, and get to know her worldly new neighbor, handsome Norman McKay... But strange visions began to cloud her mind - the shadowy figure of a woman, a ghostly white cat - and Ellen's safe haven slowly became her prison. Had she buried the past? Or had a dark legend come back to haunt her...?

Genre:  Suspense

Why I Picked This Book:  I'm re-reading all my Keeper Shelf books to see if they still deserve their place.

My Impression:  Another Michaels that will keep its place on my Keeper shelf but probably not one I will reread often.  In most ways I like this one a lot.  Ellen is a good character who I found interesting and likable.  She's trying to find her own identity after living in a family style situation with her daughter, her late sister's husband and his sons.  She is incredibly fond of all the children and has found herself uncomfortably fond of her late sister's husband.  Since it sounds like late sister has been dead for many years there's nothing inappropriate in this other then that she fears her affection is unreturned.  And so with her family scattered to various ends of the earth she buys a house in rural Virginia and begins to attempt to make a life of her own.

It doesn't go quite the way she expected. She knows the house was occupied by the town "witch" over a hundred years ago but she's not prepared for the stigma that is still attached to the house and its occupants and she's definitely not prepared for the attitude of the townspeople.  The end is quite page turning and definitely page turning with one of the (to me) most terrifying villains Michaels has ever created.

Now what will keep this from being a regular reread?  I'm very sensitive to animal cruelty of any kind and this one edges towards that line for me.  There are absolutely no details given and Ellen's cat comes through the book completely fine and untouched (though she is occasionally indignant as she is a cat AND Siamese) but the mentions were enough for me to not find this reread very comforting. 

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Absolutely!  Barbara Michaels is a favorite and I really want to read more under her other pen name - Elizabeth Peter.  

Would I Recommend this Book?  I would if you like mild psychological thrillers and don't mind the caveat I mention above.

Friday, May 28, 2021

Friday Fives - Five Agatha Christie Books You Can Skip


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.  It's no secret that I love Agatha Christie but the woman wrote over 100 books counting her nonfiction and romances under her Mary Westmacott pseudonym so not all of them are going to be winners.  Here are 5 I would NOT recommend.


1.  Partners in Crime (1929) - This is a short story collection featuring Tommy and Tuppence who are by far her weakest detectives.  This one may have been absolutely delightful when it came out as in each story the two try to solve crimes in the style of a different famous detective.  The problem is the majority of the detectives listed have faded into obscurity making this one a bit tedious.


2.  Postern of Fate (1974) - Another Tommy and Tuppence and one of Christie's very last books.  This one is disjointed at best and incredibly confusing at worst.  The timeline is impossible to pin down and activities that fill pages are completely meaningless which is unusual for Christie.


3.  Curtain (1975) - This was actually written in the 1940s and is actually very good with a very unique mystery.  My issue with it is that it is the last Poirot story and it was not the end I wanted for him.  I found it all a bit sad.


4.  Passenger to Frankfurt (1970) - This is one of her standalones and honestly I just don't have much to say about it.  Christie is no stranger to international intrigue but where it was a fun adventure when she was writing it in the 1920s this one is just kind of boring.


5.  Murder on the Links (1923) - This one is fine but I feel like she's still finding her footing (it's her 3rd book, 2nd Poirot) and figuring out the partnership between Poirot and Hastings.  I don't dislike this one but it's definitely not memorable and one that you could easily miss.

Have you read any of these?  Do you agree they can be skipped?


Thursday, May 27, 2021

Books from the Backlog - The Stepdaughter


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 Stepdaughter by Georgina Cross

Blurb: It’s a normal afternoon when I walk out the patio doors of our kitchen to check on Mia, my stepdaughter, who is swimming in our backyard pool. But she’s gone. My heart stops when I see the back gate is open, her pink, fluffy towel lying folded on a chair. I was just feet away. Why didn’t I hear her scream? Who took our little girl?
My husband can’t understand how I could I have let his daughter disappear. And when the police come asking questions, I wish I could wind back time to that normal afternoon when I was cooking lasagna for my family, Mia’s favorite. I can tell the officers don’t believe me: they’ve cast me as the evil stepmother.

I just wish I could understand the messages I’ve found from my husband on Mia’s phone: I’m so sorry, I still love you. And why his wedding ring is found at the bottom of the pool after Mia disappeared. He never told me it was missing. What else is he hiding?

But the detective keeps asking me where I was during those ten minutes when Mia vanished. And I can’t tell her my secret. From the way she’s looking at me, I know she thinks I did something to my stepdaughter. Mia and I haven’t always been that close and sometimes she drives me nuts, just like any normal teenager, but I would never hurt her.

Why It Needs to Come Off the Shelf:  I haven't read many physiological thrillers lately and I'm looking to change things up a bit.  Plus, this is a local author that I definitely want to support.

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Death in Bloom - Cozy Mystery Review

Goodreads:  Death in Bloom (A Flower House Mystery #1) by Jess Dylan

Rating: It's Okay
Source: Publisher

Description:  Sierra Ravenswood is the new part-time employee of the Flower House, a flower shop in Aerieville, Tennessee. It's true she didn't expect to be back in her hometown at twenty-eight-years-old, but after her dream of making it as a singer in Nashville crashed and burned, she's just grateful to have found a soft place to land.

Because, after all, Sierra firmly believes in being optimistic and positive about life, so she's sure she won't have to work at the Flower House forever. But things take a decidedly negative turn when a customer drops dead in the middle of her new bouquet-arranging workshop at the store. When it's discovered he was poisoned by a snack at the event, everyone at the workshop, including Sierra, is on the suspect list. To make matters worse, her boss has gone AWOL and left the store to her for the cost of one dollar, leaving Sierra in charge of both his store and his high-energy Corgi puppy, Gus.

The town is on edge, and Sierra knows that murder is something that an upbeat attitude and a bouquet of sweet-smelling roses can't fix. She's determined to figure out whodunit, before anyone else in town meets an untimely reason for needing funeral flowers.

Genre: Mystery - Cozy

Why I Picked This Book:  I can never resist a cozy and I can't remember the one the last time I read one involving a florist.
  
My Impression:  I think this series has a lot of potential.  The small town it is set in is interesting with a nice amount of quirk without being too crazy.  I really loved the focus on flowers and find all their different meanings intriguing.  As well the friends Sierra makes make for an interesting team and I can't forget about Gus!  I can never resist a book with a puppy!

My main issue with the book is most likely a first book issue.  There's a lot of setup - who Sierra is, why she's moved back to her home town, her general attitude towards life, etc.  This slowed the book down and at times seemed to crowd out the mystery.  I'm hoping this will not be an issue in future books as this was a first book in the series.  Other then that I did have a few issues with Sierra.  She just seems so immature at times and while she is an adult it's sometimes hard to remember that she is one.  Because of that her mentions of "signs" and that kind of thing were a little difficult to take seriously.  

Overall, this wasn't a favorite but it is the start of a series that I do have hope for.  I like the premise and the side characters.  I'm not sure this is a series I would recommend yet but definitely one I'll keep an eye on.  

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  I will pick up the 2nd book in the series but not sure about after that.

Would I Recommend this Book?  Probably not unless you're a huge cozy lover and love books involving flowers.  

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

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Top Ten Tuesday - Miss Marple Quotes


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 all about quotes so I'm pulling 10 favorite quotes from the infinitely quotable Miss Marple"!


1.  "Gentleman are frequently not as level-headed as they seem" The Body in the Library

2.  "It really is very dangerous to believe people.  I never have for years" Sleeping Murder

3.  "I know that in books it is always the most unlikely person.  But I never find that rule applies in real life." The Murder at the Vicarage

4.  "If people do not choose to lower their voices, one must assume that they are prepared to be overheard." At Bertram's Hotel

5.  "A very nice woman.  The kind that would so easily marry a bad lot.  In fact, the sort of woman that would marry a murderer if she were ever given half a chance." Nemesis


6.  "The great thing in these cases is to keep an absolutely open mind.  Most crimes, you see, are so absurdly simple." The Moving Finger

7.  "Any coincidence is always worth noticing.  You can throw it away later if it is only a coincidence." Nemesis

8.  "One does need so much tact when dealing with the young." A Caribbean Mystery

9.  "Clever young men know so little of life." The Murder at the Vicarage

10. "Murders always find it difficult to keep things simple.  They can't keep themselves from elaborating." A Caribbean Mystery

I do love Miss Marple's thoughts.  You never quite know what she's going to say!

Monday, May 24, 2021

See Something - Cozy Mystery Review

Goodreads: See Something (Witch City Mystery #11) by Carol J. Perry

Rating:  Really Liked It
Source: Publisher

Description:  Salem's WICH-TV program director Lee Barrett is about to discover no good deed goes unpunished...

Lee has been promoted from field reporter to program director. Keeping track of all the shows and managing the local TV personalities--including a cowboy, a clown, and a performing dog--has her head spinning. Perhaps that's what makes her take pity on the distraught woman she finds sitting alone on a bench on the Salem common. When she realizes that the poor woman doesn't even know her own name, Lee takes her into the warmth of the home she shares with her Aunt Ibby and their clairvoyant gentleman cat, O'Ryan. Maybe Lee can use her own psychic gifts to divine the woman's identity.

Lee's detective beau Pete Mondello wants to talk to the Jane Doe, but before he can investigate, he's called to a crime scene. A body has been found washed up in a narrow harbor cove. As harmless as her new houseguest seems, Lee can't help but wonder if she may be harboring a killer...

Genre: Mystery - Cozy

Why I Picked This Book:  This is a favorite cozy mystery series and one that I'm so excited to be caught up on!

My Impression:  I was underwhelmed by the previous book in this series so I was a little nervous that the series was about to go off the rails so this one was a pleasant surprise.  I thoroughly enjoyed it from beginning to end.  It's a little different from the usual mystery.  It's not really a whodunnit - that's pretty clear within the first quarter of the book - but the main question is just what did they do and who all was involved and just how they're going to be caught.  And the unraveling it all makes for some pretty entertaining reading!  Changing up the focus of the mystery was fun as I read a lot of mysteries and can usually guess who the killer is.  Here, because the killer is already known I had no idea just how it was all going to come together and couldn't wait to find out.  

I enjoyed the Angels' involvement.  I'm a big fan of any kind of team collaboration when it comes to mystery solving and Ibby, Louise, and Betsy are the dream team when it comes to tracking down basically anything.  As well, I enjoyed Lee's change in job and seeing all the day to day work with designing programs and I was so glad to see Ranger Rob and Katie the Clown back in action.  It keeps her close to the action and the news room but without all the running around.  Of course, I always love spending time with O'Ryan, Lee's big orange cat who may just be the best animal side kick there is.

I really enjoyed this series.  There's some character growth as well as a fun mystery that kept me guessing.  I'm already looking forward to more from this author and can't wait to find out more about the new series that is mentioned in the notes.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Absolutely!  This is a favorite cozy author and I can't wait to read more from her.

Would I Recommend this Book?  If you enjoy cozies with likable characters and a touch of paranormal this series is a winner.

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

Sunday, May 23, 2021

Life with Leukemia (And Some Reading) - May 23


 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 another good week!  We are kind of getting to the point where 2 weeks out of 4 are pretty much normal and then there's a tough week and kind of recovery week.  Hopefully Will have more normal time and less tough times but thinking of how far he's come we'll take it.  This coming week Will has another spinal tap and a tough round of meds but we are trying to reduce some of the side effects though the big one is he has a hard time sleeping on steroids and that kind of non-fixable thing unfortunately.  

Jason has gotten his 2nd vaccine and it went pretty smoothly.  He felt a little foggy headed and sleepy the next day but not too bad.  Even though he's not at full immunity (he does work from home and is able to isolate pretty easily) we were able to visit family who IS at full immunity including my aunt and her husband who we haven't seen since Christmas of 2019.  It was a really nice bit of normalcy.  

Reading wise I'm making good progress on getting through my series and I'm getting to be a big believer in starting from the first book which I never really thought mattered

Currently:


Reading:  Suede to Rest by Diane Vallere and Murphy's Slaw by Elizabeth Logan

Listening:  A Pretty Deceit by Anna Lee Huber

Watching:  I haven't been watching much other then YouTube but there are some Hallmark Mystery movies that I want to watch.

Have a great week and happy reading!


Saturday, May 22, 2021

Dead and Gone - Mystery Review

Goodreads:  Dead and Gone by Dorothy Simpson

Rating: Liked It
Source: Purchased

Description:  During a small and uncomfortable dinner party, Virginia Mintar, wife of a prominent lawyer, disappears, and is found hours later in the garden well of her estate. Inspector Luke Thanet and his partner, Sergeant Mike Lineham, quickly discern that Virginia's scandalous behavior had earned her the rage of family, friends, and lovers. Who had been finally driven to kill her?

Genre: Mystery - Police Procedural

Why I Picked This Book:  I feel like I have read Dorothy Simpson in the past and enjoyed her books plus the premise intrigued me.

My Impression:  This book was published in the '90s so I refuse to call it a classic BUT it has all the feels of a good classic mystery.  There's relatively no blood, the plot is fairly stream lined and to the point, and the detectives are likable but not in the slightest bit quirky.  The Mintar family has been plagued with tragedy.  First their oldest daughter elopes with an unsuitable man and after several years not only have they not heard from her but they are unable to trace her.  Then the wife goes missing during a dinner party only to be found in the well the next day  

DI Thanet and his trusty sergeant are on the case and not only are they smart and capable but they are also extremely nice ordinary men.  Their personal lives do come a bit - especially Thanet's as we see his wife and scenes at home while they wait for news of their daughter who is going through a difficult first pregnancy.  These are not the kind of detective from many procedurals where the detective is so dysfunctional I sometimes wonder how they've managed to hold any kind of job or basically get through the day.  Thanet is an ordinary nice guy who I can easily imagine being friends with.  He even thinks to buy his wife a Christmas present during the investigation!

The mystery is an interesting one with lots of possibilities and I really wasn't sure who the killer was or why until the very end.  Like many classic style mysteries it was a touch dry but not so dry that it was boring.  I do wish the conclusion had been laid out a little different as there are a few events that happen right at the end so it was hard to focus solely on the reveal.  Simpson is an author that I'm looking forward to reading more from and I especially looking forward to seeing more of her police team.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Definitely!  This is a series I'm hoping to start from the beginning and I'm really looking forward to seeing more of these characters.

Would I Recommend this Book?  If you enjoy a straight forward classic style mystery then I think this would be a book you'd enjoy!

Friday, May 21, 2021

Friday Five - Five Books I've Read Recently



I'm taking a bit of a break from my usual Friday Linkups to try something a little different.  I'm in a list making kind of mood so I thought I'd start making random five lists.  Sometimes they'll be bookish other weeks not so much. This week I'm sharing 5 short reviews of books I've read recently.  


Missing!: Mysterious Cases of People Gone Missing Through The Centuries by Brenda Z. Guiberson - I loved the concept of this one as I'm fascinated by missing persons cases.  It's a middle grade which made the first case choice - Jimmy Hoffa - a bit odd as the editing his story needed to make it child friendly was intense and made it feel a bit disjointed.  The chapters devoted to DB Cooper, Amelia Earhart, Barbara Follet, William Morgan and the Three Princes were more successful.  However, despite that I found the writing style over simplified and stilted.  I think younger children (say ages 7 to 9) might enjoy this if they were fascinated by the subject but I think my 11 year old would find the writing far too young for him.  My Rating:  Just Okay


Framed in Lace by Monica Ferris
- I listened to the first book about this cozy series about Betsy, a woman who inherits a needlecraft store, Crewel World, from her sister (and consequently solves her sister's murder) and enjoyed it even though it wasn't may favorite. The premise of this one - involving a skeleton found on a boat that had been sunk for 50 years - caught my interest and seemed to good to pass up.  I love an old mystery being solved and this didn't disappoint.  Old secrets and hidden agendas are brought out into the light and the Monday Bunch at Crewel World are caught up in the investigation.  I enjoyed this one and loved seeing Betsy's growth with learning about needlecraft as well as her learning to adapt to a small Minnesota town.  However, the conclusion seemed screamingly obvious to me and that dampened my enjoyment a bit.  My Rating: Liked It


Dead in a Flash by Brynn Bonner -
I'm fascinated by genealogy so I couldn't resist a cozy mystery where the main characters are professional genealogists.  Somehow, I ended up with the fourth book in the series but I had no problem jumping in at this book.  The focus is far more on the case then the characters - not that the characters aren't likable.  The mystery in this book is (very) loosely based on the Sodder Children disappearance which made it all the more interesting to me.  The mystery was a touch obvious but I enjoyed the reading experience so much it didn't matter.  In fact, I enjoyed this so much that even before I finished I ordered the first three books in the series.  My Rating:  Really Liked It!


The Readaholics and the Poirot Puzzle by Laura DiSilverio -
I do love a bookish mystery and this one centering around a book club where they are reading one of my very favorite books was impossible to resist.  When Amy-Faye Johnson's brother gets entangled in the murder investigation involving his erratically behaving business partner Amy-Faye and the rest of the Readaholics scramble to find the real killer.  I love a murder where there are people lining up to murder the victim and this was definitely the case here.  The victim had all kinds of nasty habits between drinking and womanizing and just generally being a weaselly jerk.  The main problem is finding someone who knew him and didn't want to kill him.  This was a fun mystery that I enjoyed (even if Amy-Faye and several other Readaholics weren't the biggest fans of Murder on the Orient Express).  It's probably not the most memorable of mysteries but it was a fun bookish escape for a bit.  I've been reading this series backwards and so now have only the 1st to read and I will probably pick that one up if I come across it.  My Rating: Liked It


The $64 Tomato by William Alexander -
I wanted to love this memoir about a man and his garden but this was a no go for me.  I made it through almost 100 pages before I realized I just didn't care anymore.  If this had been a review book I probably would have held on as Alexander is a solid writer but because it wasn't I decided I didn't want to listen to his pompous ramblings anymore.  It's too bad because I think any gardener can relate to a garden project spiraling out of control but he took it a bit over the top with hiring landscape architects, having soil shipped in and irrigation set up as well as just his general somewhat condescending tone.  My Rating: DNF

What books have you read recently?

Thursday, May 20, 2021

Books from the Backlog -


Today I'm linking up with Carole from Carole's Random Life of Books for Books from the Backlog.  I really enjoy the chance to feature a book that's been hiding in the piles of books for far too long!

Goodreads:  A Paris Apartment by Michelle Gable

Blurb:  When April Vogt's boss tells her about an apartment in the ninth arrondissement that has been discovered after being shuttered for the past seventy years, the Sotheby's continental furniture specialist does not hear the words “dust” or “rats” or “decrepit.” She hears Paris. She hears escape.
Once in France, April quickly learns the apartment is not merely some rich hoarder's repository. Beneath the cobwebs and stale perfumed air is a goldmine, and not because of the actual gold (or painted ostrich eggs or mounted rhinoceros horns or bronze bathtub). First, there's a portrait by one of the masters of the Belle Epoque, Giovanni Boldini. And then there are letters and journals written by the very woman in the painting, Marthe de Florian. These documents reveal that she was more than a renowned courtesan with enviable decolletage. Suddenly April's quest is no longer about the bureaux plats and Louis-style armchairs that will fetch millions at auction. It's about discovering the story behind this charismatic woman.

It's about discovering two women, actually.

With the help of a salty (and annoyingly sexy) Parisian solicitor and the courtesan's private diaries, April tries to uncover the many secrets buried in the apartment. As she digs into Marthe's life, April can't help but take a deeper look into her own. Having left behind in the States a cheating husband, a family crisis about to erupt, and a career she's been using as the crutch to simply get by, she feels compelled to sort out her own life too. When the things she left bubbling back home begin to boil over, and Parisian delicacies beyond flaky pâtisseries tempt her better judgment, April knows that both she and Marthe deserve happy finales.

Why It Needs to Come Off the Shelf: This has been on my library list since it came out and when I found it on Book Outlet last year I knew that was a sign that it was time to read it.  And it's still on my shelf!  It sounds absolutely fabulous!


Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Murder, Take Two - Cozy Mystery (And Year of the Series) Review

Goodreads:  Murder, Take Two (A Witch City Mystery #10) by Carol J. Perry

Rating: Liked It
Source: Publisher

Description:  As a Salem, Massachusetts, native, WICH-TV field reporter and amateur sleuth Lee Barrett is well versed in the region’s lore. So when the murder of revered local professor Samuel Bond resembles a killing from almost two centuries ago, everyone is on edge. Especially assistant professor Cody McGinnis . . .

Not only did Cody have differences with Bond, he even taught a course on the historic murder. And when his fingerprints and ladder are found at the crime scene, the police are certain of his guilt. Cody’s family, however, believes otherwise and asks Lee for assistance. Now, with the help of her clairvoyant cat, O’Ryan, her tech-savvy librarian aunt and housemate Ibby, and Pete Mondello, her handsome detective beau, Lee will delve deeper than ever into Salem’s past—and into her own psychic gifts—to find the real killer—before someone else is history . . .

Genre: Mystery - Cozy

Why I Picked This Book:  I really love this series and am trying to catch up on this series (which I pretty much have!  There's one more that's due out at the end of the month that I have to read but then I'm officially caught up!)

My Impression:  This is without a doubt one of my very favorite cozy mystery series.  I love the characters and enjoying spending time with them.  I love that there's frequently a "team" element to the investigation and usually a research one as well.  I love the supernatural element and that it doesn't overshadow the basic investigation.  And how can I resist a Salem setting AND a big orange cat?

That said, this is probably my least favorite in the series so far.    There's a lot of promise here - the murder that closely mirrors a historical murder, a team of investigators, and a Clue party based off the board game.  However, it didn't really feel like all of these different threads really came together.  It kind of feels like Lee ping pongs between all the different threads without really picking one and fleshing anything out.  The Clue party is fun but seems a bit random and the tie to the past murder is mentioned enough that I'm aware of it but I wanted more from that particular plot point.  It wasn't bad and I did enjoy it but this is a series I expect a lot from and if you weren't already a fan of the series I don't think this one would keep you interested.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Definitely!  I'm already looking forward to picking up the next book and I'm hoping it's more what I expect from the series.

Would I Recommend this Book?  If you enjoy cozy mysteries with a touch of supernatural then I definitely recommend this series but I don't recommend starting with this book.

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

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Books On My TBR That Take Place On The Beach

 

It'll probably be awhile before we head to the beach and really the last time I was at the beach was January of 2020 so it wasn't exactly swimming weather so I'm not sure that really counts.  So if I can't go to the beach the next best thing is to read books that are set on the beach!


1. A Hundred Summers by Beatriz Williams - This is a bit of a vintage beach trip but how can I resist that cover?

2.  Three Sisters by Susan Mallery - I'm not a huge fan of Mallery's romances but I love her more women's fiction and this one looks good and beachy.

3.  Lowcountry Boil by Susan M. Boyer - I love this cozy mystery series though I've never read the first book somehow.  Love the South Carolina beach feel.

4.  Summer at Shell Cottage by Lucy Diamond - The beach I'll be visiting here is over in England and will probably be far too cold for my very wimpy self to even think about getting in the water but it sounds absolutely lovely!

5.   Sea Swept by Nora Roberts - I read this trilogy soon after it came out and while I remember a lot of things about beaches and sailboats I remember very little else so I thought it might be fun to pick up.


6.  A Caribbean Mystery by Agatha Christie - This is a reread for me but I'm rereading all the Miss Marple books this year and this is one I'm especially looking forward to picking up.  I mean it's Miss Marple solving a murder on a Caribbean island.  Who can resist that?

7.  Death by the Sea by Kathleen Bridges - Murder in a beachfront hotel!  

8.  Well Read, Then Dead by Terrie Farley Moran - This series takes place in a book town and a cafĂ© that is also a bookstore!

9.  By Book or By Crook by Eva Gates - A library that just happens to be in a lighthouse on the Outer Banks.  A nice little beachy vacation!

10. The Sea King's Daughter by Barbara Michaels - This one takes place on a beach in Greece with lots of archeological digs and diving and swimming and sun.  It's also pretty creepy and there's quite a lot of peril with some Gothic undertones.

What kind of vacations do you like to take through books?

Monday, May 17, 2021

As The Christmas Cookie Crumbles + Be Our Ghost - Mini Cozy Mystery Reviews


Goodreads:  As the Christmas Cookie Crumbles (Food Lover's Village Mystery #5) by Leslie Budewitz

Blurb:  In Jewel Bay, all is merry and bright. At Murphy’s Mercantile, AKA the Merc, manager Erin Murphy is ringing in the holiday season with food, drink, and a new friend: Merrily Thornton. A local girl gone wrong, Merrily’s turned her life around. But her parents have publicly shunned her, and they nurse a bitterness that chills Erin.

When Merrily goes missing and her boss discovers he’s been robbed, fingers point to Merrily—until she’s found dead, a string of lights around her neck. The clues and danger snowball from there. Can Erin nab the killer—and keep herself in one piece—in time for a special Christmas Eve?

My Thoughts:  I read an earlier book in this series and really enjoyed it but I think I might have liked this one even better!  Erin Murphy is days away from her wedding and in the middle of the holiday shopping season when Merrily Thornton is killed.  On the surface it looks like an easy case to close but Erin is convinced that all is not how it seems - especially when it comes to Merrily's past.  The investigation was interesting with lots of twists and turns and the end came as a surprise to me which does not happen often!  While I own them I've yet to read the earlier books in the series but it just landed itself next in line for my Year of the Series project.  If you enjoy foodie/small town cozies this one is a must!  My Rating:  Really Liked It!


Goodreads:  Be Our Ghost (A Merry Ghost Inn Mystery #3) by Kate Kingsbury

Blurb: The Merry Ghost Inn is well and truly open for business. Melanie West, her grandmother, Liza, and their beloved sheepdog/wolfhound mix, Max, are rapidly getting the hang of running their charming bed-and-breakfast inn on the rocky Oregon coast. Not that business goes without a hitch―when your hostelry boasts its own laughing resident ghost, you’d better be expect the out-of-the-ordinary. But Melanie and Liza take it all in stride...until a hotshot real estate developer arrives in Sully’s Landing, touting his plans to build a tacky amusement arcade smack dab in the middle of the tasteful cliff-side town.  No one in Sully’s Landing can stand the gaudy developer, but it’s still a shock when he ends up murdered. It’s even more shocking when Liza’s friend, Doug, emerges as the chief suspect. Melanie and Liza put on their sleuthing caps yet again and set out to clear Doug’s name.

My Thoughts: This is a fun conclusion to a fun series.  I like Melanie quite a lot and enjoy her page time.  Liza is ... well she's a lot.  I usually adore grandmother/granddaughter relationships but Liza can be trying at times with her insistence on investigating this murder despite everyone else's reluctance and the occasional peril.  The main mystery was entertaining with lots of possible suspects.  I do love when the murder victim is one that pretty much everyone wants to murder.  There is also a background mystery that has been around since the beginning of the series that is nicely resolved in this book and the series ghost makes a few appearances.  This isn't the most memorable cozy series but it is good on audio and appears to be concluded so if you like a cozy with a little bit of ghostly action this might be one to pick up.  My Rating: Liked It

Sunday, May 16, 2021

Life with Leukemia (and Some Reading) - May 16

 


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 pretty good week.  We've hit a point where Will has pretty solid energy and needs a way to get it out that doesn't put him at risk for any kind of falling or put him into contact with lots of people.  When it warms up we are probably going to start going to my dad's and using his pool but right now the water is way too cold for my wimpy self.  But until then we are trying to be creative.  

The weather has been pretty crazy here which I think has been causing my headaches so I haven't had the best week and throw in some insomnia and I'm a bit of a mess. I did get a nap in on Saturday and some quiet reading so I'm feeling a bit better.  In between headaches and doctors appointments we've been playing Animal Crossing and doing lots of trading.  I think I'm enjoying it even more then Will!  

Currently:


Reading:
  Death in Bloom by Jess Dylan and The $64 Tomato by William Alexander

Listening:  Murder, Take Two by Carol J. Perry

Watching:  Nothing really other then YouTube and I haven't found any new channels lately.

Have a great week and happy reading!

Saturday, May 15, 2021

The Life and Times of Miss Jane Marple - Fictional Biography Review

Goodreads:  The Life and Miss Jane Marple by Anne Hart

Rating: Liked It    
Source: Library

Description:  This is the definitive companion to the MISS MARPLE novels, films and TV appearances.

‘I have had a lot of experience in solving different little problems that have arisen.’

Most of the ‘little problems’ tackled by Miss Marple occurred in the pretty rural village of St Mary Mead and came in the shape of murder, robbery and blackmail. In the 40 years of her career, she even solved cases as far afield as London and the Caribbean. But though she usually masqueraded as ‘everybody’s favourite great aunt’, what was she 'really' like?

In this authorized biography of the world’s most famous female sleuth, Anne Hart combs through the 12 novels and 20 short stories in which Miss Marple appeared, uncovering clue and amassing all the evidence to solve the most difficult case of them all – the mystery of Miss Marple.

Genre: Fiction

Why I Picked This Book:  I'm a huge Agatha Christie fan and am rereading all the Miss Marple books this year so thought this would be interesting to pick this one up now.

My Impression:  Well this was interesting and not quite what I was expecting.  I think I was expecting more of a narrative nonfiction fiction whereas this was almost a series of essays that broke down the life of Miss Marple from different angles.  In some ways it read a bit like a book report with lots of quotes backing up the author's statements.  

I was surprised to learn just how little personal information there really is about Miss Marple in her 12 books and collection of short stories and how inconsistent some of the descriptions are.  Miss Marple has always just been Miss Marple in my head and to see all these differences laid out was really interesting.  However, if you're not a huge fan of Miss Marple and Agatha Christie's books I think this is not going to be a book for you.  Even for big Marple fans it can be a bit dry and like I mentioned earlier at times reads very much like a book report.  While I didn't love the book as much as I expected I do feel like I have a better handle on the character Christie created and I did end up enjoying the read.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  I am planning to read this author's book on Poirot but probably wouldn't read anymore.

Would I Recommend this Book?  If you are a huge Miss Marple fan I think you will find this book interesting.  Otherwise, I'd give it a pass.

Friday, May 14, 2021

Friday Fives - Five Books I Bought At the Used Bookstore


I'm taking a bit of a break from my usual Friday Linkups to try something a little different.  I'm in a list making kind of mood so I thought I'd start making random five lists.  Sometimes they'll be bookish other weeks not so much.  This week I gave myself a joint full immunity + birthday present and visited the local used bookstore.  Here are five of the books I picked up.


1.  The Lions of Fifth Avenue by Fiona Davis - This book was one I really wanted as soon as I saw it on the new release lists so I was thrilled to find it at the bookstore.


2.  Meet Me in Monaco by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb - Gaynor was on my list of authors to look for and I couldn't resist this one.


3.  Summer at Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan - I loved the first book in the series so couldn't resist picking this one up as well.  I need more puffin side kicks!


4.  The Unseen by Heather Graham - I've been enjoying Graham's version of romantic paranoromal suspense and I love her Krewe series so I picked this one up.


5.  A Comedy of Heirs by Rett MacPherson - Of course I had to pick up a cozy!  And I couldn't reisst this one with a professional genealogist.  

I picked up a few more but these are the 5 on the top of the stack.  What books have you bought lately?

Thursday, May 13, 2021

Books from the Backlog - The Anatomist's Wife


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 Anatomist's Wife by Anna Lee Huber

Blurb:  Scotland, 1830. Following the death of her husband, Lady Darby has taken refuge at her sister's estate, finding solace in her passion for painting. But when her hosts throw a house party for the cream of London society, Kiera is unable to hide from the ire of those who believe her to be as unnatural as her husband, an anatomist who used her artistic talents to suit his own macabre purposes.Kiera wants to put her past aside, but when one of the house guests is murdered, her brother-in-law asks her to utilize her knowledge of human anatomy to aid the insufferable Sebastian Gage—a fellow guest with some experience as an inquiry agent. While Gage is clearly more competent than she first assumed, Kiera isn't about to let her guard down as accusations and rumors swirl.
When Kiera and Gage's search leads them to even more gruesome discoveries, a series of disturbing notes urges Lady Darby to give up the inquiry. But Kiera is determined to both protect her family and prove her innocence, even as she risks becoming the next victim...

Why It Needs to Come Off the Shelf:  This year is all about the series for me and I'm almost caught up her Verity Kent series and would love to start working on getting caught up with another of my favorite historical series - the Lady Darby mysteries.

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

The Year of the Series - The Pearl Sister + Late Checkout



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.


The Pearl Sister by Lucinda Riley
- After the death of their adopted father, six sisters receive the clues they need to discover the story of their past and one by one they each go on a journey.  This book centers around the 4th sister, CeCe and her story takes her not only deep into the history of her past and an unfamiliar country but also starts her on a journey to figure out just who she really is.  

My hopes were not high going into this book.  I've really enjoyed the previous books but CeCe had gotten on my last nerve since book 1 and I didn't see how I could possibly make it through an entire book with her as the main character.  But honestly, this one may just be my favorite so far.  CeCe will probably always be a challenging person but by being able to see inside her head I felt like I understood her so much better and ended up deeply sympathizing with her and even liking her.  My knowledge of Australian history is just above nonexistent so I found this book about the pearl industry and the Aboriginal people absolutely fascinating.  The women in this book are strong characters and life very rarely comes easy to them but I couldn't help but admire them and respect them.  I absolutely loved CeCe's story and hope there are some tidbits about her in the next books so I can check in with her.  My Rating: Loved It!

Late Checkout by Carol J. Perry - It is Halloween again in Salem, MA and in the 9th outing of The Witch City Mysteries, Lee Barrett is trying to keep busy despite her field reporter hours at news channel WICH-TV being cut in half.  She's busy planning the station's anniversary show and volunteering at the library when she discovers a dead body in the stacks.  

This was a fun cozy with lots of research into the past as Lee tries to find out what happened to the old stars of the station and just who the dead body in the stacks was.  I really enjoyed all the research and Lee's extra time around the station with Rhonda and the rest as well as seeing Aunt Ibby in her home turf of the library.  Despite all of that this was probably my least favorite entry in the series and most of that was due to the ending.  While I did think the reasons and the murderer made sense but the way the reveal was done felt a little like a cop out and was kind of odd.  That said, my least favorite book in this series is still a solid read and I can't wait to read more from Lee, Pete, Aunt Ibby, and especially O'Ryan! My Rating: Liked It!