Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Ten Hercule Poirot Quotes I Love

 Back in May I did a post on 10 Miss Marple quotes so of course I must list 10 favorite Hercule Poirot quotes!  If nothing else his ego would not tolerate being left out!

1.  My name is Hercule Poirot, and I am probably the greatest detective in the world - The Mystery of the Blue Train

2.  Words, mademoiselle, are only the outer clothing of ideas - The ABC Murders

3.  It is deplorable!  To remove all the romance - all the mystery!  Today everything is standardized! - Evil Under the Sun

4.  Everything must be taken into account.  If the fact will not fit the theory - let the theory go. - The Mysterious Affair at Styles

5.  Every murderer is probably somebody's old friend.  You cannot mix up sentiment and reason.  - The Mysterious Affair at Styles

6.  It is always the facts that will not fit in that are significant. - Death on the Nile

7. Wherever there is human nature, there is drama.  But - it is not always just where you think it is.  - The Kind of Clubs (short story)

8.  Convention decrees that a woman must make a decent pretence of mourning for her husband. - The Tragedy at Marsdon Manor (short story)

9.  The English people, they have a mania for the fresh air.  The big air, it is all very well outside, where it belongs.  Why admit it to the house.  - The Murder of Roger Ackroyd

10. He was not nice, no.  But he was alive and now he is dead, and as I told him once, I have a bourgeois attitude to murder, I disapprove of it.  - Cards on the Table

So what do you think?  Are you a Poirot fan?

Monday, August 30, 2021

Murder Most Fair - Historical Mystery Review

Goodreads:  Murder Most Fair (Verity Kent Mysteries #5) by Anna Lee Huber

Rating:  Really Liked It
Source:  Publisher

Description: November 1919. A relaxing few weeks by the seaside with her husband, Sidney, could almost convince Verity Kent that life has returned to the pleasant rhythm of pre-war days. Then Verity's beloved Great Aunt Ilse lands on their doorstep. After years in war-ravaged Germany, Ilse has returned to England to repair her fragile health—and to escape trouble. Someone has been sending her anonymous threats, and Verity's Secret Service contacts can only provide unsettling answers.

Even deep in the Yorkshire Dales, where she joins Verity's family for the holidays, Ilse encounters difficulties. Normally peaceful neighbors are hostile, seeking someone to blame for the losses they've endured. When Ilse's maid is found dead, Verity must uncover whether this is anti-German sentiment taken to murderous lengths, or whether there is a more personal motive at work. Could Verity's shadowy nemesis, Lord Ardmore, be involved? And if so, how much closer to home will the blow land when he inevitably strikes again?

Genre: Mystery - Historical

Why I Picked This Book:  This is a series that I worked to catch up on this year and it's also one I really enjoy so of course I couldn't pass up the newest book!

My Impression: I really love this series but I did feel like it was starting to get a tad bit predictable in the last book.  The focus on Lord Ardmore as a all powerful nemesis can get a bit old.  This one was a really nice shake up and we got to see a more vulnerable side of Verity as she faced her demons which I really enjoyed.  There have been mentions of Verity's German family connections but I liked getting a bit more information there as well seeing a different scene of her war work. 

Verity's Great Aunt Ilse is an interesting narrator.  So often she's is the picture of reliability and then with a single statement that'll go out the window so it made for an intriguing mystery.  I was hooked by both the mystery of the 2nd deserter and the murder from the first page even though the murder doesn't occur until halfway through the book.

While there is a decent amount of action all throughout the book this is more of a character building book then a plot building book.  Seeing Verity among her family was interesting and eye opening.  As usual, I thoroughly enjoyed Anna Lee Huber's writing and really enjoyed this book.  I was so glad to see more development of the characters and to see them get more confidence in their relationship.  This is a reliable series and this one may just be my favorite yet!

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Absolutely!  I have thoroughly enjoyed everything I've read from this author and I will be looking for the next Verity Kent book.

Would I Recommend this Book? I would recommend this series though I strongly recommend starting from the beginning.  If you've been reading this series from the beginning I think you'll really enjoy this one.

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

Sunday, August 29, 2021

Life with Leukemia (And Some Reading) - August 29

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:

Getaway with Murder by Diane Kelly - This takes place in an Inn in the Blue Ridge Mountains and is the first in a new series so I'm looking forward to this one! 

An Eggnog to Die For by Amy Pershing - I enjoyed the 1st book in the series though it wasn't a favorite so I'm hoping this second book clicks more with me.

Murder, She Wrote: Debonair in Death by Jessica Fletcher and Terrie Farley Moran - I have been loving the MSW series and was really pleased to see they brought in a cozy mystery author so I'm excited about this one.


Reading:  A Whisker of Trouble by Sofie Ryan and Deadly Summer Nights by Vicki Delany

Listening:  A Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes

Watching:  We switched up our streaming services and picked up HBO Max so I've been re-watching Friends from the first season and absolutely loving it!

Comet has been very busy guarding the house lately.  Any time he sees any one outside he is right at the window and if the UPS man dares to walk up to the door he goes tearing through the house to hide.  It's really quite a study in bravery.

Will woke up not feeling well Friday.  No fever but severe nausea, no energy, and super super pale.  Thankfully, he's feeling better and we didn't have to head to the hospital but it made for a long couple of days.  I'm not sure if it was from the transition off steroids and to a different IV chemo or if he picked up a germ from his in person class.  It is good that even suppressed his immune system was able to deal with whatever it was.  

We were able to get some really good school days in and some relaxing time in between.  I'm trying to keep things simple and not add in all the things but there are so many fascinating subjects to cover I want to get to them all.  I keep reminding myself baby steps.  

I've had some insomnia this week which has enabled me to get lots of reading done which was good but has left me feeling a bit sleepy which I haven't enjoyed.  I've been getting in a 20 minute light workout or yoga in each day this week and I think that's helping.  

Have a great week and happy reading!

Saturday, August 28, 2021

4:50 from Paddington - Classic Mystery Review

Goodreads:  4:50 from Paddington (also titled What Mrs. McGillicuddy Saw) by Agatha Christie

Rating:  Really Liked It!
Source:  Purchased

Description: For an instant the two trains ran together, going in the same direction side by side. In that frozen moment, Elspeth, riding in the one train, witnessed a murder in the other. Helplessly, she stared out her carriage window as a man remorselessly tightened his grip around a woman’s throat. The body crumpled. Then the other train drew away.

Who, apart from Miss Marple, would take her story seriously? After all, there were no suspects, no other witnesses... and no corpse. Not the police.

Genre: Mystery - Classic 

Why I Picked This Book:  I'm reading all the Miss Marple books this year and this was the next one!

My Impression: My main complaint with this book is that Miss Marple plays only a background role. She's an instrumental character in the story but doesn't have as much page time as I'd like.  Lucy Eyelesbarrow is a suitable replacement (with a fantastic surname) and her introduction into the plot made more sense then Miss Marple randomly showing up at a private home.  

This is a fun mystery with a dramatic start, a twisty mystery, and a solid conclusion.  There is a very limited pool of suspects and seemingly nobody had the opportunity to be the killer.  It has been years since I've read this one and I had quite forgotten the killer so this was a bit like reading it for the first time and it was a delight.  The Crackenthorpe family is rather dreadful (with the exceptions of the boys and Emma) but fun to read about.  Guessing the motive was and intriguing as guessing the murderer.

If you are new to Agatha Christie and Miss Marple this would be a great place to start.  While it is technically the 7th Miss Marple book almost all of them can be read in any order with no problem.  

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Of course!  Agatha Christie is a favorite author and I already have the next Miss Marple ready to go.

Would I Recommend this Book? Absolutely!  If you enjoy cozy mysteries you should give Miss Marple a try.

Friday, August 27, 2021

Friday Fives - Five Classics I Didn't Read in School But Want to Read Now

 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 actually read a pretty decent number of classics in high school and for some reason required reading never really bothered me too much so there were quite a few I really enjoyed (and quite a few I really hated - I'm looking at you Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man).  In college I was a computer science major and only had to take a bare minimum of Literature classes so I didn't really add to that list then.   Here are 5 classics I never read in school but are on my list of books I want to read now.

1.  Persuasion by Jane Austen - I'm slowly working my way through Austen's books and this is next on my list.  

2.  The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas - This is one of my dad's favorite books but somehow I have never read it.

3.  The Turn of the Screw by Henry James - I'm thinking of getting this one on audio.  It seems like it would be a good listen.

4.  The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins - I loved The Woman in White so of course I need to read this one.

5.  The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde - This one is on my desk and I'm planning on reading it in either September and October.  

Have you read any of these?  What classics have you not read but want to read?

Thursday, August 26, 2021

What the Cat Dragged In - Cozy Mystery Review

Goodreads:  What the Cat Dragged In (Cat in the Stacks Mystery #14) by Miranda James

Rating:  Really Liked It!
Source:  Publisher

Description:  Librarian Charlie Harris and his faithful feline companion, Diesel, have inherited Charlie’s grandfather’s house, along with a deadly legacy: a decades-old crime scene, in this all-new mystery in the New York Times bestselling Cat in the Stacks series.

Charlie has always believed that his grandfather had sold his house to his longtime tenant, Martin Hale. So when Martin dies, Charlie is surprised to discover the house was not left to Martin but instead belongs to Charlie. As he and Diesel check out the house he remembers fondly from his childhood, he is pleasantly surprised that it is in better condition than expected. That is, until they find a literal skeleton in a closet.

While the sheriff’s department investigates the mysterious remains, Charlie digs deeper into the past for clues to the identity of the bones and why they are there. But the cold case heats up quickly when Martin’s grandson is found dead on the farm.

As Charlie delves into his own family history, he encounters many people who might have been motivated to take a life. But Charlie and Diesel know that things are not always what they seem, and that secrets seemingly lost to time have a way of finding their way back to haunt the present.

Genre: Mystery - Cozy

Why I Picked This Book:  I love this series and I love mysteries involving family history so there was no way I was passing this one up!  

My Impression: I kind of feel like this book was written for me.  I really enjoy this series.  I love Charlie and Diesel and all the side characters and then you throw in the inherited house that Charlie was unaware of AND the deep dive into family history and I was in bookish heaven.  The book starts out with a bit of a bang with Charlie and Diesel arriving at his grandfather's home that he thought had been sold decades before.  Within minutes Diesel has discovered a dead body and the mystery gets rolling.

There's a lot to clear up and figure out with just who is the skeleton in the house and just who killed the dead body found in the yard.  I flew through this book loving the addition of new characters and following Charlie as he learned more about his family that he never really felt very connected to.  As well I loved getting a little more in-depth look at Stewart and Haskell who have always been likable side characters but I've never really felt like I knew much about them.  

If you are not already invested in this series then this might not be a good place to start - especially if family history mysteries are not your bookish catnip.  This isn't the most action oriented mystery and there's very little actual feeling of danger for most of the book.  This is more of a character building story but I found it an absolute delight.  And once again I'm finding myself wanting to find a Maine Coon just like Diesel!  

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Absolutely!  I'm really looking forward to seeing where this series goes and I hope one of the characters we met in this book becomes a permanent character in the book.

Would I Recommend this Book? If you enjoy this series already get this book immediately!  If you're new to the series you may want to start with an earlier book but if you are a mystery lover I think you'll enjoy this series.  

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

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

The Secret Staircase - Cozy Mystery Review

Goodreads:  The Secret Staircase (Victorian Village #3) by Sheila Connolly

Rating:  Liked It
Source:  Publisher

Description: Kate Hamilton is feeling good about her plans to recreate Asheboro, Maryland as the Victorian village it once was. The town is finally on her side, and the finances are coming together.

Kate's first goal is to renovate the Barton Mansion on the outskirts of town. Luckily, it's been well maintained in the century since the wealthy Henry Barton lived and died there. The only substantial change she's planning is to update the original kitchen so that it can be used to cater events in the building. But when the contractor gets started, he discovers a hidden staircase that had been walled in years earlier. And as Kate's luck would have it, in the stairwell is a body.

After her initial shock wears off, Kate is relieved when the autopsy reveals that the man had died around 1880. Unfortunately, it also reveals that his was not a natural death—he was murdered. And serious questions remain: who was he and what was he doing there?

Kate begins a hunt to identify the man and figure out what he was doing at the Barton Mansion. But when a second body is found—this time from the present day—Kate realizes that real dangers lie in digging up the past...

Genre: Mystery - Cozy

Why I Picked This Book:  I've enjoyed other books by this author and enjoyed the previous books in this series.  

My Impression:  I really enjoy Connolly's writing - especially when she's digging into history in her mysteries.  When that happens you can feel Connolly's personal interest in history and genealogy really come alive.  That is very much the case in this book.  Connolly has been dancing around the edges of figuring out the story of the owners of the beautiful mansion on the edge of town, Henry and Mary Barton, without fully revealing the story.  Because I'm fascinated by everyday people history and genealogy I was fully invested in that story and really enjoyed the book.  

That said the focus on the history of the house pushes the mystery to the backburner a bit and the actual modern day dead body isn't found until halfway through the book.  Even the Victorian Village part gets pushed aside and I found the very casual air of the planning and budgeting of this huge project a bit hard to believe.  Kate is a bit of a wishy washy character and sometimes I just wanted to scream at her to clearly communicate with Josh or for him to do likewise.  

This is not the book to start the series in.  The focus of the book is the Henry Barton story which has been slowly developing over the course of the last two book.  That story is wrapped up here with a bit of a side of mystery. 

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Sadly, Sheila Connolly died in April 2020 after a battle with cancer so most likely this is the last book that she wrote.  She was one of the first cozy authors I discovered years and years ago and has given me hours of reading enjoyment.  I do have several books of hers that I have yet to read and am looking forward to reading them.  

Would I Recommend this Book? I recommend this series IF you enjoy a heavy dose of history in your mystery and don't mind the mystery not being the focus.  If you're interested in the series I strongly recommend starting with the first book.  

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

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Ten Review Books That Have Been Gathering Dust on My Shelf for Far Too Long

 I've been feeling pretty proud of myself lately when it comes to NetGalley.  The early years were full of requesting sprees which ended up with me having soooo many books and then of course I couldn't read them all.  In the last two years I've been practicing moderation and have reviewed every book I've requested so far in 2021 and only have two books leftover for 2020.  I'd still like to make some progress on the books I picked up in the years of wild abandon!  Here are 10 I'd like to get around to reading soon.

1.  Day of Vengeance by Jeanne M. Dams (September 1, 2014) - Dams was one of the first cozy authors I ever read back in the late 1990s/early 2000s so I was surprised when I came across this one but somehow never got around to reading it.  

2.  No River Too Wide by Emilie Richards (June 24, 2014) - I've actually started this book at least twice but somehow never get more then about 100 pages in before something happens that prevents me from continuing.

3.  Night of a Thousand Stars by Deanna Raybourn (September 30, 2014) - This is a favorite author but I haven't read much of her historical fiction and this one looks really good.

4.  If You've Got it, Haunt It by Rose Pressey (December 2, 2014) - This cozy mystery involves ghosts and vintage clothes so it was basically written for me but somehow I never read it.

5.  The Beekeeper's Daughter by Santa Montefiore (April 14, 2015) - I absolutely loved another book by Montefiore and I was so excited to pick this one up but never read it.

6.  Murder at Beechwood by Alyssa Maxwell (May 26, 2015) - I love historical mysteries and have had this series on my radar for quite some time - and have actually had this on my Kindle for YEARS.

7.  Second Chance Summer by Jill Shalvis (June 30, 2015) - I really enjoy Shalvis' books but somehow only read the 3rd book in this trilogy.  That book was not one of my favorites but I really should still read this one.

8.  First Degree Mudder by Kate Dyer-Seeley (November 29, 2016) - Ellie Alexander is one of my favorite cozy authors and I really enjoyed this series under the Dyer-Seeley name.  This is the final book that somehow I never got around to reading!

9.  Pursuit of a Parcel by Patricia Wentworth (April 26, 2016) - Wentworth is one of my favorite classic mystery authors and I was so excited to pick this one up when it was republished back in 2016.  And then I never read it.  *sigh*

10. The Spies of Shilling Lane by Jennifer Ryan (June 4, 2019) Ryan's Chillbury Ladies' Choir was one of my favorite books the year it came out so of course I HAD to get this one.  And now she's released another book so I need to read both!

This of course isn't anywhere close to all of the books but these are 10 that caught my eye going through my Blogger Shame Shelf! Have you read any of these?  

Monday, August 23, 2021

Railroaded 4 Murder - Cozy Mystery Review

Goodreads:  Railroaded 4 Murder(Sophie Kimball #8) by J.C. Eaton

Rating:  Really Liked It!
Source:   Publisher

Description:   Phee's marriage to Marshall Gregory promises to be the wedding of the year in Arizona's Sun City West--that is, if you ask her mother Harriet. But before she can walk down the aisle, it looks like she has to solve one more murder. At a model train exhibit, Phee, Harriet, and their beloved Chiweenie, Streetman, discover the body of Sun City West's railroad club president, with an incriminating tap shoe near his lifeless corpse.

Wilbur Maines may have loved model trains but apparently he was not a model husband. There are rumors of affairs with hot-to-trot hobbyists the Choo-Choo Chicks. The police suspect his wife--and Harriet's friend--Roxanne, who dances with the Rhythm Tappers, but Phee's mom is convinced they're on the wrong track. Before the poor woman is railroaded into spending the rest of her life behind bars, Phee, Harriet, and the book club ladies will need to do some fancy footwork, infiltrate the dance group, and find the real culprit before the killer leaves the station...

Genre: Mystery - Cozy

Why I Picked This Book:  This is one of my absolute favorite cozy series so I couldn't resist this newest book!

My Impression: I love this series!  And with each book I think I love it even more.  As usual this was a fun one.  The mystery is solid, the investigation was well done and the characters are all likable and entertaining.  I love Phee, Marshall, Nate, and Augusta and I am always entertained by Phee's mom, Harriet and the rest of the community of Sun City West.  I'm glad I don't have Aunt Ina and Harriet calling me but I do love reading about all the trouble they pull Phee into.

When president of the railroad club is found murdered his wife, Roxanne, is an immediate suspect but Phee, Harriet and the rest of Operation Agatha are convinced she's innocent.  Nate and Marshall trust Phee's instincts but are hampered in an official investigation by the fact that Sun City West's police are convinced they have found their murderer.  I loved the interaction between Phee and Augusta as well as Marshall's faith in Phee.  The mystery came to a bit of a surprising conclusion - after some antics from Streetman and a show by the Rhythm Tappers of course.  

I thoroughly enjoyed this read and cannot wait till the next book.  While you can dive into the series here without too many problems it is a series best read in order so you get to know all the different characters that make up the series.  

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Of course!  I can't wait until the next book.  

Would I Recommend this Book? If you're a cozy mystery lover you must try this series!  It's so fun without being over the top.

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

Sunday, August 22, 2021

Life with Leukemia (And Some Reading) - August 22

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:

Staging is Murder by Grace Topping - The first book in this mystery series about a house stager came up in my TBR Roulette and I was so intrigued by the plot I went on and picked up the book.  (Purchased)


Reading:  Murder Most Fair by Anna Lee Huber and French Fried by Kylie Logan

Listening:  Death in Dark Blue by Julia Buckley

This week has been pretty calm.  Will maintained weight so we were able to put off the NG tube (temporary feeding tube through the nose) for another week.  In some ways I think he'd actually be relieved to get it so he wouldn't have to worry about food anymore but at the same time the actual getting it kind of weirds him out.  A picky kid who was never super interested in food combined with chemo is NOT a good combination!  We had kind of kicked around the idea of visiting a relative who lives at the beach.  She's very careful and has a private beach so we'd really be able to isolate while still being on vacation but after talking to his oncologist I don't think it's in the cards for us.   His immune system is so sensitive to the chemo he's getting that it has dramatic drops and doesn't stay suppressed but stable like a lot of kids' do.  It's a small thing but we were hoping for some beach time.  He has his in person class coming up this week and we are working on getting our homeschool routine back strong.  

I've been working on getting an exercise routine firmed up and it's nice to be getting a little bit of movement in.  I've also been getting in some reading which has been even better!  Between those two things and making sure I have everything planned out for Will's school that's about all I've gotten done.  My energy level has been junk and I suspect that fact that it seems to do nothing but rain has something to do with it!  I'm hoping for some sunshine (and maybe some pool time!) this week.  

Have a great week and happy reading!

Saturday, August 21, 2021

The Sea King's Daughter - Keeper Shelf Review

Goodreads:  The Sea King's Daughter by Barbara Michaels

Rating:  Really Liked It!
Source:   Purchased

Description: Since Sandy Frederick first set foot on the volcanic Greek isle of Thera, this breathtaking place of ancient myth and mystery has haunted her dreams. Joining her estranged, obsessed father on a dive to find astonishing secrets from the ocean's floor, she cannot shake the feeling that she was meant to be here; that some ancient, inscrutable power is calling to her. But there are others who have been eagerly waiting for her arrival to drag her into a tangled and terrifying web of secrets, dark superstition, betrayal, blood, and death. And suddenly Sandy's heritage and her destiny could be her doom.

Why I Picked This Book:  I like to reread all the books on my Keeper Shelf from time to time to make sure they still deserve their place there.

My Impression: Okay, so this isn't Michaels' best.  The story is a bit convoluted and there are some aspects that aren't really fleshed out.  To be fair Sandy does say at the end that she still can't explain some things that happened but it makes for a kind of eerie mythical read at times.  The romance aspect is a bit dated and Sandy is a bit of a shallow character.

All of that said it is still such a fun read!  The setting alone earns this a place on the keeper shelf and everything Michaels writes is just so incredibly reading and captivating.  The plot is well paced and kept me fully pulled in and invested in the story.  I liked that some characters weren't redeemed while others absolutely were and nothing is quite what it seemed.  While Sandy isn't the deepest character she is incredibly honest about herself and her motivations and matter of fact about who she is which I enjoyed.  

All in all, while this isn't my favorite Barbara Michaels it still is a lot of fun and one I always enjoy revisiting.  It will be going right back to it's place on my Keeper Shelf until the next time I'm wanting a little bit of Ancient Greece with sinister atmosphere and ulterior motives.  

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Absolutely!  Michaels is a favorite of mine and I always enjoy revisiting her books.

Would I Recommend this Book?  If you want a bit of an eerie story and can suspend belief then I think you would enjoy this one.

Friday, August 20, 2021

Friday Fives - Five Recipes I've Made 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 is one of the not so much!  I've been getting back to experimenting a little with new recipes and I thought I'd share 5 recipes I've made recently and what I thought.

1. Creamy Cheesy White Chicken Chili from Yammie's Noshery - We have a go to chicken chili recipe so I was a little hesitant but this was so good and completely different from our other one so now we have two chicken chilis.  I followed the recipe exactly except that instead of using a rotisserie chicken I just boiled a couple of chicken breasts and shredded them.  It's got a touch of spice and is a yummy filling soup.  It reminded me a bit of an enchilada or taco soup.  

2.  Cheddar Cream Biscuits from Plain Chicken - I realized in the middle of cooking the other night that bread would go well with the meal so I threw together this biscuit recipe and it was so easy!  I'm not sure the cheese crumbles mentioned in the recipe still exist but grated cheddar works fine.  It's a one bowl and stir kind of recipe and I didn't cut it out into rounds but almost more like wedges and it worked great.  They also held up well for munching on the next day.

3.  Lemon Bundt Cake from Chef in Training - I made this cake for 4th of July and it was so yummy!  I did leave the zest out of the icing because I thought I had more lemon then I did but other then that I stuck to the recipe and it was so good!  I didn't do the pretty icing stripes but instead kind of iced the top half of the cake and it was still really pretty.  

4.  Hot German Potato Salad from No Biggie - This is the only type of potato salad my husband likes but I've yet to find a recipe I really like.  This may be the keeper.  It was really easy and very tasty.  I used the teeny tiny red potatoes and next time I will definitely use bigger potatoes  because I think my sauce to potato ratio was a little off but otherwise it was so good and heated up well the next day.  A good side dish for just about anything.

5.  Skillet Chicken in Balsamic Caramelized Onion Cream Sauce from Little Spice Jar - This was a touch more trouble then the other recipes but not too bad.  I didn't have fresh thyme or red pepper flakes so I substituted 1/3 teaspoon of dried thyme and a pinch of chili powder but otherwise followed the recipe exactly.  It was really good - especially with mashed potatoes - and definitely worth the extra few minutes it took me.

Have you discovered any new recipes lately?

Thursday, August 19, 2021

Books from the Backlog - Death at First Sight

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

Blurb:  Since she left her psychiatric practice in New York City to open up a psychic shop in her hometown on Long Island, Cass Donovan has given her fair share of readings to conflicted customers. But what she sees in Ellie Hawkins’ future doesn’t bode well.

When Ellie’s mother Marge publicly confronts Cass about the reading, the embarrassment makes her want to curl up and die. But when she later stumbles across Marge’s body—and is arrested for her murder—Cass is suddenly the star of Bay Island’s rumor mill.

Out on bail, Cass is determined to prove her innocence and save Ellie from meeting the fate in her unfortunate vision. But even with the help of her friends Bee and Stephanie, Cass will have to channel some serious sleuthing instinct to find the real killer...

Why It Needs to Come Off the Shelf:  I read the most recent book in the series in July and really enjoyed it.  It reminded me that I never read the first book in the series which reminded me that I bought the first book years ago and still haven't read it!

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

The Year of the Series - A Dark and Stormy Murder + Buy a Whisker

 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:  A Dark and Stormy Murder (Writer's Apprentice Mystery #1) by Julia Buckley

Premise:  Lena London has landed her dream job as the assistant to her favorite author who just happens to live in the same town as Lena's best friend.  But before the writing and catching up can begin a dead body is found on the beach and Lena discovers her new friend and neighbor is under suspicion for his estranged wife's disappearance.

My Thoughts:  I have really enjoyed the last two books in this series but really felt like I was missing something when it came to how all the characters were connected.  I'm so glad I went back to the beginning to see Lena meet Camilla, Sam, and Adam as well as the rest of Blue Lake and understand just how she knew Allison.  The mystery is an interesting one and with Lena being new to town she doesn't really know who to trust or who anyone even is.  This book contains a murder mystery that is wrapped up within the book as well as a mystery that evolves over several books.  For that reason I do think this is a series best read in order.  This is a great cozy with lots of bookish goodness.  I really enjoyed the writing aspect and the beginnings of the different relationships.  I'm looking forward to continuing the series.  My Rating:  Really Liked It

Goodreads:  Buy a Whisker (Second Chance Cat Mystery #2) by Sofie Ryan

Premise:  When the loan hold out over a big development project is murdered Charlotte's Angels are on the case - with Sarah and Elvis the cat in tow of course!

My Thoughts:  I so enjoy this series and I'm so glad I went back to the earlier books to catch up.  I love seeing Sarah try to figure out her relationship with Mack and Nick and her absolute horror as the angels get pulled once again into another murder investigation.  I especially love the angels.  I love that Ryan walks the line of making them quirky but without making them too off the wall.  They're all competent capable people and their age doesn't change that.  It's actually a tool as Rose and Charlotte tell Sarah - no one notices an old woman.  I especially love Mr. P and his unexpected talents.  But the star of the show is Elvis the lie detector cat.  Elvis reminds me a bit of my cat - always around and always with an opinion to share though I suspect Elvis is much braver then my cat who would seriously object to going to the store and whatnot.  The mystery is good.  I do wish one aspect had been explored a bit more as it was brought up kind of early on and then would disappear for many pages before it was mentioned again.  That said this mystery and every book in this series has been an absolute delight with a fun mystery and a great cast of characters.  My Rating:  Really Liked It!

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

My TBR Bingo List for 2021

So at the beginning of the year I started my Year of the Series project and have really surprised myself with my success but even more with just how much I'm enjoying it!  So now I'm ready to start another project and figure out another way to focus on reading some books off my shelf.  This time I'm tackling a virtual shelf and looking at my Goodreads TBR.  I pruned it heavily back in December and got it down to a 566 which is not necessarily manageable but it way less unmanageable then it was when it 10 times as big.  So I'm combining my love of reading, my love of a good challenge, and my love of a random number generator (I'm always looking for ways to use it!) for my TBR Bingo.  Here's how it works - I pick 10 random numbers between 1 and 566 and and whatever books that are that number on my Goodreads is what makes it on the list.  Have I overexplained?  Does that make sense?   What's I finish that 10 I'll pick 10 new numbers.  Here is the first list!

1.  The Great Pearl Heist: London's Greatest Thief and Scotland Yard's Hunt for the World's Most Valuable Necklace by Molly Caldwell Crosby (#170) - So I'm starting off with a non-fiction and this is one that I've heard nothing about but I'm fascinated by jewels and art theft so this one looks good.  

2.   A Kiss From Mr. Fitzgerald by Natasha Lester (#239) - This is a historical fiction that my library has and it looks really good.  Unfortunately my library doesn't have it so it make some searching to find.  

3.  The Christmas Letter by Kathi Dailey (476) - I've heard a lot of things about this cozy author and have been wanting to read her books for ages so I'm looking forward to this one.

4.  Jell-O Girls: A Family History by Allie Rowbottom (505) - I know nothing about this one and don't remember why it got added to my TBR but it looks interesting.

5.  Death in Bloodhound Red by Virginia Lanier (566) - My stepfather read this one and was raving about it and it sounded like something I'd like so I thought I'd give it a try.

6.  The Gardner Heist: The True Story of the World's Largest Unsolved Art Theft by Ulrich Boser (172) - I've been wanting to read more books about art theft and apparently the random number generator decided to grant my wish and give me two!

7.  America's Presidents: Presidential Portraits in the National Gallery by National Portrait Gallery (508) - This is more of a book I'd like to own and look through (plus I think it'd be great for American History) then a book I want to read.  

8.  Time Was Soft There: A Paris Sojourn at Shakespeare & Co by Jeremy Mercer - I've read a few biographies or historical fictions that involved this bookstore and really do want to know more about it.

9.  Staging is Murder by Grace Topping - Yay another cozy!  And a series that sounds really good!

10. The Card Catalog: Books, Cards, and Literary Treasures by Library of Congress - This is another flip through book and it also looks like a fascinating one!

So here are my first ten.  Have you read any?  I'm surprised by how heavy on nonfiction the list ended up being.  

Monday, August 16, 2021

The Chocolate Raccoon Rigmarole - Cozy Mystery Review

Goodreads:  The Chocolate Raccoon Rigmarole (A Chocoholic Mystery #18) by JoAnna Carl

Rating:  Liked It!
Source:  Publisher

Description: A frantic late-night phone call from her right-hand woman Dolly Jolly brings Lee Woodyard to the scene of a break-in at the Warner Pier jewelry store next door to TenHuis Chocolade. To her shock, the suspect being held at gunpoint by police is Dolly's boyfriend, Mike Westerly, who was recently hired as a night watchman specifically to prevent break-ins. Dolly hopes Lee can help straighten out the crazy misunderstanding.

Even crazier? The thieves took nothing of value from the jewelry store, only swiping some snacks. It's another in a series of break-ins by burglars the media has dubbed the Cookie Monsters. They've been hitting shops selling everything from sunglasses to shoes but stealing only sweets: lollipops, cookies, even chewing gum!

It all seems pretty funny--until the discovery of a dead body. With her friends and community in danger, Lee must stop one very sour killer before someone else comes to a bitter end.

Genre: Mystery - Cozy

Why I Picked This Book:  I read an earlier book by this author and enjoyed it so wanted to try more from this series.

My Impression:  I didn't remember much from the previous book I'd read in this series other then that I had enjoyed it.  This book features Lee, her husband Joe as they fall into the investigation of just who is breaking into local businesses and stealing only sweet treats.  Lee is a bit more concerned about the local Cookie Monsters the other business owners because sweet treats ARE her business.  But of course the mystery doesn't stay limited to the sweets but soon evolves into assault and murder.  

This is a cozier cozy with a fun setting and likable characters.  Both Lee and Joe are legitimately involved with the investigation and are working with the Chief of Police.  There are chocolate facts and recipes sprinkled throughout and the descriptions of the yummy treats are mouthwatering.  

The mystery is good with some red herrings and some characters with mysterious pasts.  I really wasn't sure who did it until the end which was fun.  This was a lighter fluffier or cozy but isn't so cutesy as to be silly.  Because I'm jumping in at book #18 there were a lot of characters to keep track of it and Lee has a couple of quirks that weren't really explained.  However, these were minor complaints and I enjoyed this one enough that I am definitely planning on rolling this series into my series project!

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Definitely!  I'm looking forward to reading the 16 books in the series that I haven't read yet.

Would I Recommend this Book?  If you enjoy cozies that are on the lighter side I think you would enjoy this one!

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

Sunday, August 15, 2021

Life with Leukemia (And Some Reading) - August 15

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:

Be My Ghost by Carol J. Perry - I love Carol J. Perry and I was trying so hard to resist picking up this first book in a new series but my willpower was only so strong and I ended up getting it.  (Publisher)

Miss Moriarty, I Presume by Sherry Thomas - This is a series that I really enjoy and the premise of this one looks really good!  (Publisher)


Reading:  The Secret Staircase by Sheila Connolly and The Case of William Smith by Patricia Wentworth

Listening:  The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson

Our week started off in the best possible way!  We got to visit the therapy dogs when they were doing their photo shoot for a calendar at the Space and Rocket Center.  Having a connection there is quite helpful!  Both dogs were there and Orbit who is the more reserved of the two and the one we normally see was so happy to see Will.  He ignored the rest of the people in the rest of the room and came and sat with Will.  

We got some kind of bad news at clinic.  Will's test results are mostly good but he can't keep his weight up.  Food was never a big priority for him pre-Leukemia but throw in all the taste bud changes thanks to chemo plus nausea and he's lost quite a bit of weight and none of the appetite stimulants seem to be working.  We are doing a bit of a Hail Mary this week with a different combination but it looks like he's going to have to have a feeding tube.  It'll be a temporary one through the nose but it's still not the best news.  Other then that it was a good week.  We started school and he's been doing well at home and he went to the in person physics class and did so well!  He's fascinated by the topic which helps and it's so good for him to be in a situation that doesn't involve me or someone medical.

My reading has slowed down this week as I've been so tired lately but I have started getting back into the habit of getting some exercise.  So far I'm alternating yoga and YouTube workouts and keeping it relatively short but when it cools down I'm hoping to get outside more.  

Have a great week and happy reading!

Saturday, August 14, 2021

Wicked Uncle - Classic Mystery Review

Goodreads:  Wicked Uncle (Miss Silver #12) by Patricia Wentworth

Rating:  Loved It!
Source:   Purchased

Description: When the menacing Gregory Porlock invites a group of unacquainted friends to his home, the house party takes on a sinister edge. The host himself is stabbed in the back, and it becomes clear to all that he was a blackmailer. But which of his unfortunate comrades would have thrust the fatal knife is up to Miss Silver to discover. Only she can see through the lies and motives, the clues and questions, to determine which guest made certain the party was over.

Genre: Mystery - Classic

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

My Impression: I don't think it's much of a secret that I absolutely adore Miss Silver.  While I enjoyed the first few Miss Silver books I feel like Wentworth is really hitting her stride from book 5 or so with the character.  This one is no different and this includes a rare Miss Silver in the wild sighting (or in this case a department store).  

Gregory Porlock is one Wentworth's usual very villainy villains and no one is particularly sorry to see him with a knife in his back.  Dorinda Brown is a good heroine.  She's a bit na├»ve but is not subject to fainting spells and has a good head on her shoulders.  I liked her quite a bit and I loved her first interaction with Miss Silver.  And of course anytime I get to watch Abbott and Lamb interact with Miss Silver I am a very happy reader.  

This is a fun read with a solid mystery and likable characters.  I think in the last few books Wentworth is really in a strong place and this book is no exception.  If you love Miss Marple you really must give Miss Silver a try.  While this is the 12th book that Miss Silver appears in this is in no way a series that needs to be read in order.  

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

Would I Recommend this Book? If you enjoy Agatha Christie's mysteries then I really recommend trying Patricia Wentworth and this was a particularly enjoyable book.  

Friday, August 13, 2021

Friday Fives - Mini Reviews for 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. 

1.  Beach Town by Mary Kay Andrews - This was a fun read about a movie location scout who ends up in a small Florida town for her latest project.  The characters did annoy me at times but the writing style was so engaging that I flew through this one.  I'll definitely try more from this author. My Rating: Liked It!

2.  The Spy Wore Red by Aline, Countess of Romanones -
I had to reread this after reading The Princess Spy by Larry Loftis which is about Aline.   While she did change things up and add a little more murder and mayhem the story is still fascinating. This was an entertaining read with an interesting POV into World War II history and is excellent companion read to the Loftis book.  My Rating:  Really Liked It!

3.  The Girl Who Knew Too Much by Amanda Quick -
This falls under the category that I can "candy bar books".  It's tasty and fun but there's not much too it.  I love the 1930s glamourous resort setting and both Irene Glasson and Oliver Ward were entertaining and interesting main characters.  The main mystery was well done and kept me hooked while the side mystery was a bit over the top but also entertaining.  Will I remember this in detail in a few months?  No probably not but I will be picking up the next book set in Burning Cove!  My Rating: Really Liked It!

4.  Better Homes and Corpses by Kathleen Bridge - I can never resist a book that involves the main character clearing out a house or doing anything with antiques so I was really looking forward to this book about Interior Designer Meg Barrett helping a friend do the insurance inventory after the Queen Mother of the Hamptons is murdered.  I have mixed feelings.   The mystery is good and the unravelling actually was a surprise which doesn't happen to me very often. However, the second hand embarrassment was HIGH.  Meg never met a branch she couldn't smack into or a rug she couldn't trip over.  She ruins more clothes then a toddler and has more head injuries then Nancy Drew.  The good outweighed the bad so I will read the next book but if you don't love second hand embarrassment I'd give this series a miss.  My Rating:  Liked It 

5.  Taken at Birth by Jane Blasio -
This is the story of a woman who discovered she had been a "black market baby" and ended up blowing up the tightly head secret of the Hicks Clinic in a tiny town in North Georgia.  If you aren't familiar with the basics of the Hicks Babies story then I wouldn't recommend starting here.  Either do some serious deep diving online or watch the TLC documentary by the same name.  This is Jane's memoir and a look at how she went about her investigation and how she felt.  It's at times heartbreaking, brutal, and full of hope.  Jane's story is a tough one and she shares some of the personal stories are even tougher.  This isn't a book I would recommend for someone who struggles with infertility, any kind of pregnancy trauma, or adoption. This is a quick read and a fascinating one.  My Rating: Really Liked It!

What have you read lately?

Thursday, August 12, 2021

Books from the Backlog - Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Over the Moon

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:  Chitty Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Over the Moon by Frank Cottrell Boyce

Blurb:  The Tootings are stuck in 1966! Somebody’s stolen Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and left them behind. But that’s not their biggest problem. Their biggest problem is that Little Harry’s been kidnapped by whoever stole their magical car. There’s only one solution: the Tootings must find the Potts — the family that originally built Chitty. Sharing their combined knowledge of how Chitty works, the families may stand a chance of rescuing Little Harry and finding the most brilliant car in the world. But a fiendish criminal has different plans, ones that involve flying Chitty Chitty Bang Bang to the moon and putting an explosive scheme into action.

Why It Needs to Come Off the Shelf:   This is the fourth book in the series - the first is written by Ian Fleming (ie James Bond) and the other three by Frank Cottrell Boyce.  I adored the first much more straightforward one (that is NOTHING like the movie) but also appreciate the more off the wall sequels.  I'm looking forward to seeing just what kind of trouble the Tooting family gets into next - and how they get out it!

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

The Bookseller's Secret - Fiction Review

Goodreads:  The Bookseller's Secret by Michelle Gable

Rating:  Not For Me
Source:  Publisher

Description: In 1942, London, Nancy Mitford is worried about more than air raids and German spies. Still recovering from a devastating loss, the once sparkling Bright Young Thing is estranged from her husband, her allowance has been cut, and she’s given up her writing career. On top of this, her five beautiful but infamous sisters continue making headlines with their controversial politics.

Eager for distraction and desperate for income, Nancy jumps at the chance to manage the Heywood Hill bookshop while the owner is away at war. Between the shop’s brisk business and the literary salons she hosts for her eccentric friends, Nancy’s life seems on the upswing. But when a mysterious French officer insists that she has a story to tell, Nancy must decide if picking up the pen again and revealing all is worth the price she might be forced to pay.

Eighty years later, Heywood Hill is abuzz with the hunt for a lost wartime manuscript written by Nancy Mitford. For one woman desperately in need of a change, the search will reveal not only a new side to Nancy, but an even more surprising link between the past and present…

Genre: Fiction

Why I Picked This Book:  There was no way I could resist the plot and the cover of this one.  Plus, this author has another book that has been on my TBR for quite sometime.

My Impression: I really wanted to love this one.  I really loved another book about a London bookstore during World War II that I read earlier this year and I was excited about the present day POV and the literary search into the past.  Unfortunately, I never connected with any of the characters or became invested in the past or present storyline.

Other then basic name recognition I'm not super familiar with the details of the Mitford sisters.  After reading this I am a bit more curious about them and will probably do a bit of looking into them.  While rather horrible I am curious about the ins and outs of their lives.  However, that interest does not extend to wanting to read any of Nancy Mitford's works or finding any connection to her in this book.  As well, while I did like some of the side characters in the present day storyline I disliked the main character, writer Katie, so much that it kind of soured my feelings about that part of the book.  Katie comes off as whiney and aggressive to the point I could just not care about her.  

The author does a wonderful job of setting the scene and really makes the locations come alive but unfortunately in the book that skill does not translate to the characters.  When all is said and done, when it came to this book I found I just didn't care what happened to the characters or how the story evolved.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  I have another book by this author that I still plan on reading so I will cross my fingers and hope that the other book is a better fit.  

Would I Recommend this Book? Unless you are a huge fan of Nancy Mitford or this author I would say give it a pass.  

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