Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Mocha, She Wrote - Cozy Mystery Review

Goodreads:  Mocha, She Wrote (Bakeshop Mystery #13) by Ellie Alexander

Rating: Really Liked It
Source: Publisher

Description:  Summer has ushered in a new season in the charming hamlet of Ashland, Oregon. Torte is bustling with tourists taking in star-drenched shows at the Elizabethan, setting out to hike in the surrounding Siskiyou Mountains, and sampling the bakeshop’s summer lineup of raspberry lemon tarts and mint mojito cold brews. Jules and the team are buzzing with excitement when they learn that Andy, Torte’s head barista, has been selected to compete in the West Coast Barista Cup.

The prestigious competition draws coffee aficionados from up and down the coast to Ashland. The winner will not only claim to be best-in-brew, but also be awarded a hefty cash prize. Andy’s nervous about his chances, but Jules is confident that her star barista will shine. However, things take a grim turn when head judge Benson Vargas spits out Andy’s first offering, claiming it to be the worst thing to ever touch his lips—and hours later, is found dead clutching Andy’s creamy latte. Suddenly Torte’s favorite barista becomes the number one suspect. There’s no roast for the weary. Jules will have to sleuth out whodunit to clear Andy’s name and catch a killer before she ends up with one foot in the grounds.

Genre: Mystery - Cozy

Why I Picked This Book:  This is one of my favorite cozy mystery series and there was no way I could resist that title!

My Impression:  Ellie Alexander never disappoints!  This was a fun cozy read with a gorgeous setting and even better foodie descriptions.  Between Sterling's savory concoctions, Jules's pastries, and Andy's coffee creations there is always something mouth watering and tempting being described.  

This book really focused on Andy who has been a regular character since the first book and has long been my favorite.  While I hated seeing him in such a stressful place I did enjoy getting some focus on his character.  As well, Jules has some developments in her personal life and is reestablishing her routines and just how her life works.  

I do love when the victim has more enemies then friends and that was definitely the case in this book.   Benson Vargas has more then a few people who weren't sorry to see him go and with very good reason.  He's pretty dreadful.  I enjoyed the unravelling of the mystery and loved seeing Andy take a more active role. Both Andy's competition and Jules changes do push the mystery a bit towards the background occasionally throughout the book.  However, I love the characters in this series so much that that isn't a problem for me.  If you're looking for a fun series with characters you feel like your friends with in a gorgeous town this series is a must!

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

Would I Recommend this Book?  If you are a cozy lover you must read this series!  I would probably start with an earlier book so you can get to know the characters but really you'd have no problem jumping in right here.

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

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Top Ten Tuesday - Most Anticipated Releases for 2nd Half 2021


Today I'm linking up with Top Ten Tuesday hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl which is all about lists.  Since lists are one of my favorite things this is one of my favorite linkups!  Today's topic is about the releases for the second half of 2021 that I'm most looking frward to reading! o I always struggle a bit with this topic as I'm not the best at keeping up with release schedules so here are 10 I found that are definitely going (or are already) on my TBR list!


1.  Death on the Shelf by Allison Brook - I love the Haunted Library series and can't wait to get started on this one.

2.  Railroaded 4 Murder by J.C. Eaton - Another favorite series and another one I can't wait to start reading.  

3.  Murder at Mallowan Hall by Colleen Cambridge - This is the first in a cozy series that I'm so excited about I can barely stand it.  The main character is a housekeeper and not to just anyone - but to Agatha Christie.  A cozy mystery about Agatha Christie's housekeeper??  Yes please!

4.  Murder Most Fair by Anna Lee Huber - This is the next book in the Verity Kent series which is one I just recently caught up on and I'm looking forward to seeing what happens next.

5.  The Unknown by Heather Graham - I always love Graham's romantic suspense and this one takes place in New Orleans which is one of my favorite places.  


6.  Death at the Crystal Palace by Jennifer Ashley - This is one of my favorite historical mystery series and there's no way I'm not picking up this newest book!

7.  Three Words for Goodbye by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb - Gaynor is an author whose books I've really enjoyed but it has been far too long since I've picked any of her books up.  This sounds like a good read!

8.  The Night She Disappeared by Lisa Jewell - A little creepier then the rest but I always enjoy Jewell's books - especially on audio and I'll be picking this up on Audible as soon as it's available.

9.  What the Cat Dragged in by Miranda James - This series makes me want a Maine Coon cat like Diesel and I always enjoy seeing what's going on in Charlie's world.  Plus, I always love the titles.  

10. The Christmas Bookshop by Jenny Colgan - And of course I have to have a Christmas book!  I haven't even read the blurb on this one but it involves a bookshop and Jenny Colgan so I figure I'll love it!

What books are you looking forward to in 2021?

Monday, June 28, 2021

Little Black Book - Cozy Mystery Review

Goodreads:  Little Black Book (A Bibliophile Mystery #15) by Kate Carlisle

Rating: Liked It!
Source: Publisher

Description:  Brooklyn has been happily settling into married life with her hunky husband, security expert Derek Stone, when a little black book arrives in the mail on a quiet Saturday afternoon. The book is a rare British first edition of Rebecca, and inside, Brooklyn finds a note from her old friend Claire Quinn, asking her to restore it to its former luster. The two women met while working as expert appraisers on the television show This Old Attic. Brooklyn appraised books on the show and Claire's expertise was in antique British weaponry, but they bonded over their shared love of gothic novels.

The day after the book arrives, Claire shows up at Brooklyn and Derek's home--in disguise. She believes her life is in danger, and as soon as Derek sits her down and questions her, Claire reveals that in the last few weeks she has experienced two near-fatal attacks, along with weird notes left in her mailbox, hang-up phone calls, and one very scary car chase. She's afraid that her past is catching up to her. When Claire was only nine years old, she witnessed several men, one of whom was her father, planning a terrible crime. And now it seems that she's been followed, bringing the threats against her literally to Brooklyn's doorstep. Can Brooklyn page through the clues to keep her friend's past from destroying their future?

Genre: Mystery - Cozy

Why I Picked This Book:  I really enjoyed the early books in this series and the plot of this one intrigued me.

My Impression:  This was a fun seriously cozy read!  While there are books involved it's not as bookish as the previous books I've read and while I do enjoy all the talk about antique and rare books it did make it a much faster read.  This book focuses a bit more on Derek's unusual past when a colleague he hasn't had contact in quite awhile sends him a book and then her niece shows up with the news that the colleague is missing.  What follows is a dash out of San Francisco to Scotland with a trip to Brooklyn's hometown of Dharma.  There's some check ins with characters from previous books but not so much that it feels like it takes up unnecessary page time.  

Claire is an interesting character and there are a few mysteries about her I'd like to see further explored.  And of course Brooklyn and Derek are likable and entertaining.  This book isn't perfect and suffers from the same flaws I've found in most of the books.  The characters are just a little too perfect and there are more then a couple of coincidences.  These might have kept me from absolutely loving this book but it did not interfere with my enjoyment.  If you enjoy bookish cozies this is a fun series to pick up!

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Definitely!  I'm looking forward to picking up the middle books in the series that I haven't read and will be looking for the newest.  

Would I Recommend this Book?  If you enjoy cozies with a bookish twist and are able to overlook characters that border on too perfect I think you'll really enjoy this series!

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

Sunday, June 27, 2021

Life with Leukemia (And Some Reading) - June 27


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

What I Got:


Mrs. Pollifax on the China Station by Dorothy Gilman - I've been reading this series and thoroughly enjoying them and I was delighted to see it was getting republished with this style of cover! (Purchased)

The Chocolate Raccoon Rigamorole by JoAnn Carl - This series has the absolute best titles and I couldn't resist this one even though this series is massive and I've only read a few. (Publisher)

What the Cat Dragged In by Miranda James - I love this series and I absolutely had to pick this one up. (Publisher)

Murder Always Barks Twice by Jennifer Hawkins - This one involves a corgi which is a nice change from all the cats in cozies plus it involves a literary festival so I couldn't resist!  (Publisher)

Currently:


Reading:  Mocha, She Wrote by Ellie Alexander and The Spy Wore Red by Aline, Countess of Romanones

Listening: The Girl Who Knew Too Much by Amanda Quick


This is pretty much sums up how we all feel this week!  Will has been on steroids this week and for some reason they are hitting him hard.  He's on them one week out of the month and the past few times haven't been too bad except for just some sleepiness. This time he's not feeling pretty bad and pretty cranky in addition to just the general exhaustion and being unable to sleep.  

I've had some insomnia this issues this week as well but luckily I'm really enjoying the books I'm reading so that takes the sting out of it a bit.  Other then that we've been playing video games - Will got the new Mario Golf which is weirdly fun and it doesn't involve fast reflexes so I can keep up!  

Have a great week and happy reading!


Saturday, June 26, 2021

Pilgrim's Rest - Classic Mystery Review

Goodreads:  Pilgrim's Rest by Patricia Wentworth

Rating: Really Liked It!
Source: Publisher

Description:  The two Miss Pilgrims, Columba and Janette, think its unwise to leave their fine ancestral home, Pilgrim's Rest. When their brother suffers a fatal fall only days after talking about selling it, and his son, barely escapes two near-fatal accidents, they suspect it deadly to leave. Surely, Miss Silver can determine why the house hates to be empty.

Genre: Mystery - Classic

Why I Picked This Book:  I'm reading all the Miss Silver books in order this year and this was the next one on the list.

My Impression:  The only thing better then an ancestral home with a curse is an ancestral home with a curse when Miss Silver gets involved!  The curse is hitting pretty heavy with unexplained deaths, a disappearance, and several unexplained accidents when Miss Silver gets called in on the scene.  And two of her favorite law enforcement officers are involved which makes it even better.  First there is Randall March who one was one of Miss Silver's pupils in her governess days and the other is Frank Abbott of the Scotland Yard who has no connection to Miss Silver's governess days but equally adores and is terrified of her.  The dynamics here are fantastic.  

I don't want to say too much about the mystery but it is a bit different from the usual Miss Silver book.  Yes it's all nice and cozy but a few aspects of the ending left me a bit surprised which is always fun.  This is a series in the very loosest sense of the word.  This is technically the 10th Miss Silver book but no book really builds on the other.  They are only linked in that Miss Silver is investigating a case.  I love the cozy feel of this series and I especially love that after 10 books Miss Silver never fails to delight and surprise me.  

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Of course!  I already have book 11 waiting on the shelf.

Would I Recommend this Book?  If you enjoy Miss Marple books then Miss Silver is not to be missed.

Friday, June 25, 2021

Friday Fives - Five Virtual Vacations Books Have Taken Me On This Year


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've been taking about traveling a bit lately and earlier this week I posted a list of virtual trips that I'm planning taking through the help of books so today I'm looking at trips books have already taken me on so far this year!


1.  Ashland, Oregon with Live and Let Pie by Ellie Alexander - I love this series and really the only thing that compares with Alexander's mouth watering food descriptions is her lovely descriptions of Ashland.  Before this series I didn't know the town existed but now it's high up on my list of places to visit.  


2.  Salem, Massachusetts with Bells, Spells and Murder by Carol J Perry - Salem has been on my To Visit list forever but this series has really cemented it's place on that list.  I love that in addition to the history of witches Perry also talks about the history of the town in general.  


3.  Coral Cay, Florida (which isn't real but feels enough like the Florida Keys I'm willing to let it go) with A Tale of Two Cookies by Eve Calder - I love the Keys and those small coastal Florida towns but it's been so long since I've been!  This book proved to be a nice little visit to tide me over until I can actually get there.  


4.  Australia with The Pearl Sister by Lucinda Riley - I can't say this book actually made me want to visit Australia but it was fascinating and I felt like I could visualize the areas that CeCe explored.  


5.  Charleston, South Carolina with Haunted Hibiscus by Laura Childs - I'm pretty sure I read this series mostly for the Charleston atmosphere.  The mysteries are entertaining but Childs brings Charleston to life and I very much enjoy my visits.

Where have books taken you this year?


Thursday, June 24, 2021

Books from the Backlog - The Pickled Piper


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


Goodreads:  The Pickled Piper by Mary Ellen Hughes

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

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

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Lady Sunshine - Fiction Review

Goodreads:  Lady Sunshine by Amy Mason Doan

Rating: Liked It
Source: Publisher

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

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

Genre: Fiction 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Virtual Vacation TBR

 


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

France:

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


1.  A Paris Apartment by Michelle Gable

2.  The Art of French Eating by Ann Mah

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

Napa Valley, California

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


4. The Villa by Nora Roberts

Scotland

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


5.  The Bookshop on the Shore by Jenny Colgan

6.  Lost Books and Old Bones by Paige Shelton

Greece

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


7.  The Sea King's Daughter by Barbara Michaels

Louisiana

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


8.  The Stalking by Heather Graham

9.  Fatal Cajun Festival by Ellen Byron

The Hamptons

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


10.  Hearse and Gardens by Kathleen Bridge

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

Monday, June 21, 2021

The Princess Spy - Nonfiction Review

Goodreads:  The Princess Spy by Larry Loftis

Rating: Really Liked It!
Source: Library

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

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

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

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

Genre: Nonfiction - Biography

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, June 20, 2021

Life with Leukemia (And Some Reading) - June 20


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

What I Got:

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

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

Currently:


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

Listening:  A Dangerous Collaboration by Deanna Raybourn

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

Other Stuff:  


June 19, 2020


June 16, 2021

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

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

I hope everyone has a great week and happy reading!

Saturday, June 19, 2021

The Listening House - Classic Mystery Review

Goodreads:  The Listening House by Mabel Seeley

Rating: Liked It
Source: Publisher

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

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

Genre: Mystery - Classic

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, June 18, 2021

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



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


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


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


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


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


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

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Books from the Backlog - A Dark and Stormy Murder


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

Goodreads:  A Dark and Stormy Night by Julia Buckley

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

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

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

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Death Brings a Shadow + Antiques Fire Sale - Mini Reviews


Goodreads:  Death Brings a Shadow by Rosemary Simpson

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Top Ten Tuesday - Summer TBR


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

 


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

What are you hoping to read this summer?

Monday, June 14, 2021

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

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

Rating:  Liked It!
Source: Publisher

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

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

Genre: Mystery - Cozy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, June 13, 2021

Life with Leukemia (And Some Reading) June 13


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

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

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

Currently:


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

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

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

Have a great week and happy reading!

Saturday, June 12, 2021

Murder with Mirrors - Classic Mystery Review

Goodreads:  Murder with Mirrors by Agatha Christie

Rating: Really Liked It!
Source: Purchased

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

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

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

Genre: Mystery - Classic

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

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

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

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

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