Monday, February 28, 2022

Wedding Bell Blues - Cozy Mystery Review

Goodreads:  Wedding Bell Blues (A Tourist Trap Mystery #13) by Lynn Cahoon

Rating: Liked It
Source:   Publisher

Description:  Jill couldn’t love police chief Greg King more—so why does that engagement ring still feel funny on her finger? At least she’ll have a chance to show it off this Saturday at their engagement party. Just in time for the event, a new dress shop has opened in town, Exquisite Gowns for You, specializing in designer wedding gowns and other custom-fit dresses.

But Jill’s excitement turns to shock when she comes by to pick up her dress for the party and discovers a dead body in the shop. New owner Harper Sanchez is behaving strangely and becoming more mysterious than anyone expected. Despite Greg’s warnings to leave the case to him, Jill can’t help looking into the murder. Somebody in South Cove is dressed to kill—and if Jill’s not careful, she may not live to wear her wedding gown . . .

Genre: Mystery - Cozy

Why I Picked This Book:  This is one of my favorite series and I'm always on the lookout for the next book.  

My Impression:  I think I might be in a bit of a mood because this is a the second book in a favorite series that I've a read in the last few weeks and the second book that just wasn't as good as I was expecting.  

When a new character is introduced in a long running mystery series you know they're either going to be murdered or suspected of murder (and periodically actually guilty of murder) and this one is no different.  Harper has opened a custom dress shop and while most people are excited vintage clothing shop owner and Jill's fiancĂ©, Greg's ex-wife is making no secret of how angry she is to have a newcomer invading her turf as she sees it.  

I enjoyed getting a bit more background info on Sherry.  She's tough to like and the backstory didn't help me like her but it did help my sympathize with her.  I also liked the development of Jill and Greg's relationship.  Yes they've been together awhile but they've never really sat and worked out the details of how they are going to spend their future.  They need to get  a LOT better about communicating and at times Jill gets stuck in her own head which can get annoying.

The main thing that kept this book from being a winner with me was the weakness of the mystery.  I did guess what was going on their pretty early and it lost a lot of page time because there was so much stuff going on in the characters personal lives.  As well a character who is connected with the mystery's behavior is so bizarre that it makes the conclusion seem obvious as well as make me wonder how intelligent the character was.  

Even the strongest series has some weaker titles and this is what I feel like happened here.  I enjoyed visiting South Cove and Coffee, Books and More and seeing what was up with Jill, Greg, Emma, and everyone else.  

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Definitely!  Even though this wasn't my favorite this is a series I always enjoy reading.

Would I Recommend this Book?  I would recommend starting with an earlier book.  Partly because this isn't the strongest book and partly because this series is so much better if you understand the relationships between the characters

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

Saturday, February 26, 2022

Life with Leukemia, a Puppy and Some Reading

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:

Nothing!  I took a break from review books for the week.


Reading:  Saddled Up 4 Murder by J.C. Eaton and Last Girl Ghosted by Lisa Unger

Listening:  The Search by Nora Roberts - I started listening to this one at the beginning of the week but then decided a serial killer book even one with a romance in it wasn't the best idea when Jason was out of town so I took a break and listened to a few other books.

The best news is that my dad got a new puppy and we got to over and meet him.  His beloved Sheltie passed away right after Christmas and we were all so excited when he picked up this adorable floof.  Will fell in love immediately.  

Will's numbers were finally high enough where he could get his 2nd Covid vaccine.  He has to have another one before he counts as fully vaccinated since he has a compromised immune system but it is such a relief to at least get the 2nd one.  It looks like the NG tube will be coming back this week.  We aren't super happy about it but are resigned.  I think he's mostly not looking forward to it actually going in.  I think we are going to try some different feeding times instead of just having the pump running overnight to see if we can kick start his appetite and get him used to getting a full stomach at certain times.  

Rover has two more puppy classes before he starts his Manners class.  We had some family come over this weekend and he just got so excited.  He's so smart and learns quickly but we've got a lot of work to do.  Plus he's only 4 and a half months old so he's a baby yet.  His favorite thing right now is carrying a stick around on a walk.  

Jason ended up unexpectedly going to New Orleans for work this week.  He got out right before the Mardi Gras crowds went really crazy but enjoyed being there.  It was our home away from home for quite awhile and we miss it.  It was weird having him gone as we've gotten used to having him home all the time.  He's worked from home since March of 2020 and at this point there are no plans to change that.  

Have a great week and happy reading!

Anna, Where Are You? - Classic Mystery Review

Goodreads: Anna, Where Are You? by Patricia Wentworth

Rating: Really Liked It!
Source:   Purchased

Description:  The delightful Miss Maud Silver is at it again in this engrossing mystery. When a young governess named Anna Ball disappears, Miss Silver is called in to investigate. As she intensifies her search for the solution to the governess's mysterious disappearance, the suspense and terror mount.

Genre: Mystery - Classic

My Impression:  This was my first book of the year and if this was an omen for how my reading will go for the rest of 2022 it will be an unexpected but good year.  From the blurb I kind of had an idea of how this book was going to be but I wasn't even close.

The main character, Thomasina, is a relatively typical Wentworth heroine.  She's reasonable attractive and intelligent.  There's a love interest floating around who is a little more bossy then I would put up with but isn't too bad given the date the book was published.    But while Thomasina is the Wentworth heroine, Miss Silver actually is the main character.  She takes a more active role in the investigation and actually goes in undercover as a governess much to Inspector Frank Abbott's dismay.  I loved seeing her in her full governess role and it is easy to see why so many of her former pupils are still so fond of her and loyal to her.  

The mystery itself is a touch darker then the usual Miss Silver book and far from the usual more straightforward story.  The end took me by surprise and I enjoyed seeing Miss Silver in a more active role in a darker environment.

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

Would I Recommend this Book?   Yes!  This was a solid mystery and a fun read.

Friday, February 25, 2022

Friday Fives - Five Mini Reviews

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.  Today I'm sharing 5 short reviews for some random books I've read recently.

Under Currents by Nora Roberts - This is a fairly typical Nora Roberts romantic suspense novel.  It had strong likable characters that both have some trauma in their past and a page turning pace.  I liked that Zane's story was the focus as in the last two books the plot has mostly focused on the female leads.  I loved Zane's family and I enjoyed getting to know Darby and enjoyed the bits of landscaping mentions.  I listened to this and as usual January LaVoy did a fantastic job.  My Rating: Really Liked It!

Sacred Evil by Heather Graham
- This is the third book in the Krewe series and quite an interesting one.  The main character felt more like NYPD Detective Jude Crosby while the Krewe of Hunters with film expert Whitney Tremont in the lead were definitely more on the side lines of the investigation.  I enjoyed this take on the Jack the Ripper comes to New York story with the modern day murders.  It was a fun fast listen (narrated by Luke Daniels) that kept me engaged and entertained.  However, there were a few plot holes and some obviously artificial misdirection that kept this from being a total winner for me.  My Rating: Liked It!

Murder on Cape Cod by Maddie Day
- This is the first in a cozy mystery series involving bicycle shop owner Mackenzie "Mac" Almeida who is also a big fan of cozy mysteries.  When she quite literally stumbles over a body walking home she and her brother are both perfect suspects  so she and her cozy mystery group can't resist the chance to get involved.  I enjoyed this mystery.  Mac is a fun character and I loved the Cape Cod setting.  I did wish for a bit more group feedback in the investigating since it is supposed to be the book club investigating.   I will most likely pick up the next book in the series and do want to see how the series develops.  My Rating: Liked It!

Murder by the Book by Lauren Elliott -
This is another first in a cozy series set in a small New England coastal town.  After a series of tragedies, Addie inherits the estate of a great-aunt she doesn't even remember which includes a big house packed with old books and enough money to start the small bookstore that she's always dreamed of.  Things don't go quite as smoothly as planned when the bakery owner next door is far from welcoming and the tea shop owner who becomes her first friend in town is arrested for murder.  Addie is suddenly a target and is swept into an investigation involving old books and past secrets.  I'm a sucker for any mystery that involves any kind of antiques so I really enjoyed this.  There were a few things that Addie was a bit dense about (the mystery of who stole her keys was more then a bit obvious) and I also wish she would communicate a bit better with Mark on a personal level.  I enjoyed this one and this is another series I'm looking forward to seeing how it develops.  My Rating: Really Liked It!

The Secret, Book & Scone Society by Ellery Adams -
Ellery Adams is a name I've seen quite a lot of since I started reading cozies but is an author I've never read before.  I picked this one up on a whim on Audible and am so glad it did!  In a lot of ways this is a typical cozy mystery.  A friend of the main character is accused of murder so main character gets involved in order to prove friend's innocence.  What sets this book apart is a magical realism feel to the town and the writing style in general.  Nora has been living in her self imposed prison when the death of a stranger causes her to open up just a little and somehow finds herself friends with a group of women who have their own secrets and damage.  I really enjoyed this one.  This mystery was a good one but even more the characters really hooked me.  I was sad to see the book end but excited to know this is the first in the series so I can see more of these characters and see how they and their world develops.  My Rating:  Really Liked It!

Thursday, February 24, 2022

Books from the Backlog - The Vanishing Season

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 Vanishing Season by Joanna Schaffhausen

Blurb:  Ellery Hathaway knows a thing or two about serial killers, but not through her police training. She's an officer in sleepy Woodbury, MA, where a bicycle theft still makes the newspapers. No one there knows she was once victim number seventeen in the grisly story of serial killer Francis Michael Coben. The only one who lived.
When three people disappear from her town in three years―all around her birthday―Ellery fears someone knows her secret. Someone very dangerous. Her superiors dismiss her concerns, but Ellery knows the vanishing season is coming and anyone could be next. She contacts the one man she knows will believe her: the FBI agent who saved her from a killer all those years ago.

Agent Reed Markham made his name and fame on the back of the Coben case, but his fortunes have since turned. His marriage is in shambles, his bosses think he's washed up, and worst of all, he blew a major investigation. When Ellery calls him, he can’t help but wonder: sure, he rescued her, but was she ever truly saved? His greatest triumph is Ellery’s waking nightmare, and now both of them are about to be sucked into the past, back to the case that made them...with a killer who can't let go.

Why It Needs to Come Off the Shelf:  I have a copy of this on my NetGalley shelf gathering dust and have read amazing reviews of this series.  

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Mrs. Pollifax on Safari - Classic Mystery Review

Goodreads:  Mrs. Pollifax on Safari (Mrs. Pollifax #5) by Dorothy Gilman

Rating: Loved It!
Source:   Purchased

Description:  Now the incredible Mrs. Pollifax has been sent on a safari to smoke out a very clever international assassin whose next target is the president of Zambia.
“Just take a lot of pictures of everyone on that safari,” the CIA man told her. “One of them has to be our man.”
It sounded simple enough. But it wasn’t. Because shortly after Mrs. Pollifax started taking pictures, someone stole her film. And right after that she was kidnapped by Rhodesian terrorists. And right after that—well, read for yourself....

Genre: Mystery - Adventure

Why I Picked This Book:   I'm reading all the Mrs. Pollifax books in chronological order and this was the next one up.

My Impression: This was so much fun!  I was in a bit of a grumpy mood book-wise when I picked this one up and it was like a breath of fresh air.  Mrs. Pollifax goes from practicing karate in her living room to undercover on a safari in Zambia.  The only thing more exciting then her new hat is the possibility to connect with an old friend.

This was a fun bit of nonsense.  It's entirely unrealistic but so much fun.  Emily Pollifax is a woman of great resources and tons of common sense.  She's quick on her feet and nice with a good dash of humor.  It was interesting to see her not only in a perilous situation but in a decision where she really has to choose who to protect.  While she has been in plenty of dangerous situations before this is the first where she is under real mental stress.   And even better she may just have met her match in the best possible way.

I have thoroughly enjoyed this series so far and this just may have been my favorite.  

Would I Read More of this Series/Author? Absolutely!  I'm looking forward to seeing where Mrs. Pollifax goes next!

Would I Recommend this Book?  If you can let go of the need for believability and just go along for the ride then you really must give this a try.  It's such fun!

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

My Virtual Travel TBR

It will be awhile before we are traveling to any fun destinations and as someone who used to travel all the time I'm starting to get a bit restless.  Since I won't be booking actual plane tickets anytime soon (actually I prefer road trips - don't have to deal with a rental and no luggage restrictions.  I do NOT pack light) I'm planning some virtual trips.  Here are a few of my upcoming destinations.

Northern Ireland

An Irish Country Doctor by Patrick Taylor
- While I've been to Ireland several times through books I've never been to Northern Ireland and this looks like an interesting trip.


Crocodile on the Sandbank by Elizabeth Peters
- This trip requires a little bit of time travel but it will be worth it to have Amelia Peabody show me around her latest project.


Thin Ice by Paige Shelton
- Books are pretty much the only way I want to deal with snow so it's fun to visit Alaska in bookish form.  The murder part would put a bit of a damper on the vacation thing though.

New Orleans, Louisiana

The Unforgiven by Heather Graham
- I'll take a pass on the whole ghostly murder stuff but I desperately miss New Orleans and Graham does a good job of showcasing the atmosphere.

The Lake District in England

Now and Then Friends by Kate Hewitt
-  This looks like a beautiful place to visit and this book looks just as fantastic.  

Key West, Florida

Death in Four Courses by Lucy Burdette
- It's been years since I've been to Key West and I'd love to go back.  This trip involves food which is good and murder which is bad but you win some you lose some.

Charleston, South Carolina

Lowcountry Boil by Susan M. Boyer
- I love Charleston and this trip will include Charleston and some of the coastal islands.  


The Shadow of Death by Jane Willan
- A trip to a Welsh Abbey sounds quite lovely especially to one that makes award winning cheese.


The Christmas Bookshop by Jenny Colgan
- I've gone to Scotland with Jenny Colgan before and it's always a trip I enjoy.


The Only Woman in the Room by Marie Benedict
- I don't think this will be an upbeat trip but Austria with Hedy Lamar sounds to good to miss.  

Where are your books taking you in the next few months?

Monday, February 21, 2022

The Year of the Projects - The March Madness + The Gardner Heist

I do love a good list.  It gives a nice sense of order and focus and I love making lists about the books I want to read.  Last year I focused just on series I was behind on.  The project went great and I caught up on a ton of series but I felt like I was neglecting other books on my shelf and books at my library.  This year I have a few lists going - Series, Library, Clear Off My Shelves, and a random TBR Bingo where I pull books off my Goodreads TBR.  Here are a few of my most recent reads.

Goodreads: The Marsh Madness (A Book Collector Mystery #4) by Victoria Abbott

Project: Catch Up on Series

Blurb:  Jordan works hard to improve Vera Van Alst’s collection of classic detective stories. So when Chadwick Kauffman—heir to the Kauffman fortune—offers a very good price on a fine collection of Ngaio Marsh first editions owned by his recently deceased stepfather, she is thrilled to meet with him at his fabled summer estate, Summerlea.
The next day, Jordan and Vera are shocked to read that Chadwick has died in a fall from the grand staircase at Summerlea. But when the picture in the paper is of a different man, it becomes clear that the ladies are victims of a scam. And they’ll have to unmask the imposter fast, because someone is trying to frame them for murder…

My Thoughts:  I'm so sad that I only have one book left in this series.  I have really come to love these characters - even Vera - and will miss them when I have finished the last book.  This was an interesting mystery and the author has done a good job of mixing up the type of mystery in each book.  In this book nothing is what it seems and when the dust settles it becomes clear that someone is targeting Jordan and everyone she holds dear.  Sherry is quickly becoming one of my favorite side characters of all time and I loved seeing her in this book as well as Lance and I liked that Jordan isn't giving him or her friend Tiffany a free pass for their behavior in the last book but isn't making a big deal of it either.  The mystery surprised me which doesn't happen all that often and I was sad to see this book end.  My Rating:  Really Liked It!

Goodreads: The Gardner Heist by Ulrich Boser

Project: TBR Bingo

Blurb:  “The True Story of the World’s Largest Unsolved Art Theft,” The Gardner Heist by Ulrich Boser is a fascinating account of a brazen and amazing criminal act—a book that could help police and investigators solve the mystery of the 1990 break-in and burglary at Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. “A tantalizing whodunit” (Boston Globe) and a “riveting, wonderfully vivid account [that] takes you into the underworld of obsessed art detectives, con men, and thieves” (Jonathan Harr, author of The Lost Painting), The Gardner Heist is true crime history at its most spellbinding.

My Thoughts:  I wasn't sure how I would like this because this is an unsolved case but I ended up being fascinated from beginning to end.  The author explores the history of the Gardner Museum, the rise of art theft, museum security (or more accurately - the lack thereof), and a number of the major theories about who was behind the theft and where the paintings are now.  Boser's writing style is clean and to the point and hooked me from the beginning.  All the information he shared (with the exception of two little blips in the last two chapters) felt crucial to understanding the different theories and really had me thinking.  After reading this The Gardner Museum is now up at the top of my list of places I want to visit in Boston.  As well I felt a new appreciation for the art itself and I can see just what about the heist fascinates so many people.  My Rating:  Really Liked It! 

Saturday, February 19, 2022

This Week with Leukemia, a Puppy and Some Reading - February 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:

When She Dreams by Amanda Quick - I really enjoy Quick's historical romantic suspense and this looks like a fun one.  (Publisher)

Under Lock and Skeleton Key by Gigi Pandian - I read a book in another series by another author and this first in a new series about a woman who works for a company that makes secret staircases and hidden reading nooks and happens to stumble over dead bodies.  (Publisher)

Bound by Murder by Laura Gail Black - I have enjoyed the two previous books about an antiquarian bookseller and am looking forward to this one.  (Publisher)


Reading:  Deadly Director's Cut by Vicki Delany and Consigned to Death by Jane K. Cleland

Listening: Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

Rover had a play date with two puppy friends from puppy class and had the best time running around.  One of the puppies is an Australian Shepherd and she kept trying to herd him which was entertaining.  He was not a big fan of being herded so he kept turning on her and chasing her.  All 3 dogs wore themselves out.  He has 3 more puppy classes and then will start Manners 101 the next week.  There are a lot of people trying to get in and a limited number of spots so I was so glad to get in.  He's doing great with training but we've got a lot of work to do with him!  I'm not sure if he has the temperament for therapy work but I definitely want to do agility and obedience with him and maybe scent work and tracking as well.

Will's numbers crashed this week.  This is good in that it shows that the chemo is working but bad that it leaves him so vulnerable to any kind of infection.  I'm a little worried because the last time his ANC was this low he ended up in the hospital for a few days so we have stayed pretty isolated and he has stayed home.  The good thing is that we think this is a reaction to his vaccine and not an illness or infection that he is fighting off so I'm hoping we can put off hospital time.

I've had two favorite series latest entries fall a bit flat for me and I'm starting to wonder if I'm the problem.   Both were kind of character building vs plot driven and I found myself getting just annoyed with the characters.  I'm trying to do a bit of genre flipping to see if that will help.  

Have a great week and happy reading!                  

Sleeping Murder - Classic Mystery Review

Goodreads:  Sleeping Murder by Agatha Christie

Rating: Loved It!
Source:   Purchased

Description:  Our indomitable Miss Marple turns ghost hunter and uncovers shocking evidence of a very old crime.

Soon after Gwenda moved into her new home, odd things started to happen. Despite her best efforts to modernize the house, she only succeeded in dredging up its past. Worse, she felt an irrational sense of terror every time she climbed the stairs.

In fear, Gwenda turned to Miss Marple to exorcise her ghosts. Have they dredged up a “perfect” crime committed many years before?

Genre: Mystery - Classic

Why I Picked This Book:  This is the final Miss Marple book!

My Impression: While this was the last book Agatha Christie published she actually wrote it during World War II and held onto it until her death.  While Poirot's final mystery has a strong air of finality, Miss Marple's final story is just another tale of her adventures.  It's actually a little bizarre if reading in chronological order as Miss Marple suddenly gets far more active and several side characters suddenly come back to life.

The mystery starts with a coincidence which is a bit unusual for Christie but as Miss Marple points out coincidences do happen.  The rest of the mystery is solid investigation as Gwenda, her husband and Miss Marple dig into the past.  It also explores the risks of digging into a "sleeping murder" and stirring up the past.  This has long been one of my absolute favorite Christie books and a reread did not disappoint.  

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?   Of course!  Christie is one of my very favorite authors and this is one of my very favorite books.

Would I Recommend this Book? Definitely!  This is such an interesting Miss Marple and one I think most mystery readers would enjoy.

Friday, February 18, 2022

Friday Five - Five Right Now Non-Bookish Favorites

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 a non-bookish one!  I'm looking at my five right now favorites.  These are things I'm really enjoying at the moment.

1.  Finch App - I got this app after seeing an ad on Instagram and am really enjoying it. It's free and there are no in-app purchases which I really like.  You get a cute little bird friend to check in with and the breathing exercises and stretches are actually decent.  I'm not big on journaling so I'm not using it to its fullest but I'm still really enjoying it.  I think its only on Apple products but if you have an iPhone I recommend it.

2.  Night Walks - I've been doing a LOT of dog walking lately and I've really been enjoying walks at night.  We've had some clear nights and I've been able to see lots of stars and it is just so peaceful.

3.  Cadbury Eggs - This is a bit controversial but I ADORE Cadbury Eggs.  The caramel ones are actually my favorite but I'm good with the cream ones too.  They've just started showing up in the stores again and I am so excited about it.

4.  My Agatha Christie 3-D Printed Bust - I found the shop 3DPrintedDebris that has a ton of 3D printed busts of authors and other historical figures.  I got the basic bust and it was very inexpensive and arrived quickly.  There are all kinds of options and the prices range from $14 to around $125 (I got the $14 option).  It's such a fun addition to my Agatha Christie shelf and makes me smile every time I see it.  

5.  Safiya Nygaard and Safiya and Tyler on YouTube - I've loved Safiya Nygaard's YouTube channel for years and have really been enjoying the streaming channel she and her husband have where the livestream something every week.  They do all kinds of fun projects like trying different Tik Tok hacks or viral crafts.  On her main channel she's done stuff from trying crazy fashion products to testing social media ad algorithms and a couple of videos ago worked a metal worker and melted and then recast silver jewelry.  They're fun and entertaining but both she and her husband just seem like nice and intelligent people.

What are some things you're enjoying right now?

Thursday, February 17, 2022

Books from the Backlog - Engaged in Death

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

Goodreads:  Engaged in Death by Stephanie Blackmoore

Blurb:  All appears peaceful in sleepy Port Quincy, Pennsylvania--but in this small town, old grudges die hard. . .
After dumping her cheating fiancé and cancelling the wedding, Mallory Shepard can't bear another disaster. So when the former bride-to-be unexpectedly inherits Thistle Park, a ramshackle mansion in her ex's hometown of Port Quincy, it's a problem she can't afford--literally. Abound with stray cats, peeling wallpaper, and nosy neighbors, Mallory is dying to sell it off--once she finally fixes up both the place and her messy life. . .

Turns out, Thistle Park has its charms. But the honeymoon phase is abruptly cut short when an unwanted visitor is found dead on the front lawn. Enlisting the help of her sister Rachel, Mallory vows to unveil the killer before she herself becomes married to the suspect list. . .

Why It Needs to Come Off the Shelf:  This is one of my seriously overdue NetGalley books and recently one of my favorite cozy mystery YouTubers has been talking about it and it sounds really fun.

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

An Impossible Imposter - Historical Mystery

Goodreads:  An Impossible Imposter (Veronica Speedwell #7) by Deanna Raybourn

Rating: Liked It
Source:   Publisher

Description:  London, 1889. Veronica Speedwell and her natural historian beau Stoker are summoned by Sir Hugo Montgomerie, head of Special Branch. He has a personal request on behalf of his goddaughter, Euphemia Hathaway. After years of traveling the world, her eldest brother, Jonathan, heir to Hathaway Hall, was believed to have been killed in the catastrophic eruption of Krakatoa a few years before.

But now a man matching Jonathan's description and carrying his possessions has arrived at Hathaway Hall with no memory of his identity or where he has been. Could this man truly be Jonathan, back from the dead? Or is he a devious impostor, determined to gain ownership over the family's most valuable possessions--a legendary parure of priceless Rajasthani jewels? It's a delicate situation, and Veronica is Sir Hugo's only hope.

Veronica and Stoker agree to go to Hathaway Hall to covertly investigate the mysterious amnesiac. Veronica is soon shocked to find herself face-to-face with a ghost from her past. To help Sir Hugo discover the truth, she must open doors to her own history that she long believed to be shut for good.

Genre:  Mystery - Historical

Why I Picked This Book:  I've really enjoyed this series and the premise of this one really caught my attention.  

My Impression:  This was not my favorite of the series.  For starters the mystery part mentioned in the blurb is resolved very quickly and the rest is not really a mystery but a bit of a heist situation with a look into Veronica's past.

I had two main issues with this book.  The first was the pacing.  Honestly, this felt a bit like it could have been a short story but it had to be a full length novel so a lot of extra conversations and other matters were thrown in to increase page count.  The real story didn't start to gain any traction until halfway through. The second issue I had was that Veronica seemed to spend a lot of time wringing her hands and worrying about what to do or what to tell Stoker.  It didn't really fit in with her usual personality which is straight forward even if it isn't comfortable.  Stoker knows she had a past and while not telling him the "secret" would have been a touch awkward it just doesn't seem to be as big of a deal as she makes it given the circumstances.  As well the various things that keep her from sharing seem contrived and also not fitting to her character.

Raybourn's writing style is strong enough that I did enjoy it.  As well, I think this book brings Stoker and Veronica to a bit of a watershed moment and forces them to seriously consider a few thing that they have been putting off dealing with.  I'm curious to see how that develops and am looking forward to a stronger plot with the next book.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  I would!  This is still a favorite series and one I'm looking forward to seeing more of.

Would I Recommend this Book? If you have been following this series then you should definitely pick this up though be prepared for a somewhat different story.  If you are new to this series the this is not the one to start with.

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

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

New Library List Additions


This year I'm really hoping to clear some of the books off my shelf but I also have a bit of a love for book shopping which does not help with that particular goal.  Sometimes when the urge to go book shopping hits really hard I go to my library's website and look at the books they just acquired and "shop" from that by adding the ones I want to my TBR list.  Here are 10 of my most recent additions to my list.

1.  The Other Family by Wendy Corsi Staub - I've enjoyed other books by this author and this looked interesting and a bit darker.

2.  Miss Morton and the English House Party Mystery by Catherine Lloyd - How could I resist that title?

3.  Nightwork by Nora Roberts - I may end up getting the audio of this one as I've been listening to Roberts' suspense titles lately and really enjoying reading them in audio but I'm looking forward to this one.

4.  Murder Book: A Graphic Memoir of a True Crime Obsession by Hilary Fitzgerald Campbell - This just looked so fun I couldn't resist it.

5.  Lost and Found in Paris by Lian Dolan  - I read another book by this author and enjoyed it and I love the title of this one.

6.  The Postmistress of Paris by Meg Waite Clayton - Basically ditto above.

7.  The Wrong Family by Tarryn Fisher - This looks really interesting and I've seen some great reviews of it.

8.  How the Penguins Saved Veronica by Hazel Prior - I saw a few great reviews by some of my favorite bloggers for a later book and it sounded so good I added this one to my list.

9.  The Midnight Hour: A Brighton Mystery by Elly Griffith - I have really enjoyed the books I've read in this series and want to pick this one up.

10. The London House by Katherine Reay - This is the author of one of my favorite books of 2019 and this sounds fantastic.  

What books do you want to pick up from your library?

Monday, February 14, 2022

Mini Reviews - 2 Cozy Mysteries


Goodreads:  Death in the English Countryside (Murder on Location #1) by Sara Rosett

Blurb:  Location scout and Jane Austen aficionado, Kate Sharp, is thrilled when the company she works for lands the job of finding locations for a new film adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, but then her boss, Kevin, fails to return from a scouting trip to England. Afraid that Kevin has slipped back into some destructive personal habits he struggles with, Kate travels to England to salvage Kevin’s and the company’s reputation before word gets out that he is missing.
Things go from bad to worse when Kate arrives in Nether Woodsmoor, a quaint village of golden stone cottages and rolling green hills, only to find no trace of Kevin except his abandoned luggage. Even the rumpled, easygoing local scout they consulted, Alex, doesn’t know where Kevin might be.

Increasingly worried about Kevin and with an antsy director waiting for updates about the preproduction details, Kate embarks on a search that includes a pub-crawl and cozy cottages as well as stately country manors. But Kevin remains missing, and she begins to suspect that the picturesque village and beautiful countryside may not be as idyllic as they seem.

My Thoughts:  This was an interesting premise and an enjoyable mystery.  Kate is likable and is relatively quick with sharing with the police which is always nice.  I did figure out the mystery well before the reveal but I enjoyed getting their and seeing how it all unraveled.  I liked the Austen references and the English countryside descriptions that are sprinkled throughout but didn't go overboard.  I'm curious to see what happens next for Kate and am looking forward to reading more about the location scouting.  If you are looking for a quick light read in a beautiful setting and with mostly likable characters this is a good one to pick up.  My Rating Liked It.

Blurb:  When historian Jaya Jones receives a mysterious package containing a jewel-encrusted artifact from India, sent by her ex-lover the same day he died in a supposed accident in the Highlands of Scotland, she discovers the secrets of a lost Indian treasure may be hidden in a Scottish legend from the days of the British Raj.
But she's not the only one on the trail.

From San Francisco to London to the Highlands of Scotland, Jaya must evade a shadowy stalker as she follows hints from the hastily scrawled note of her dead lover to a remote archaeological dig. Helping her decipher the cryptic clues are her magician best friend, a devastatingly handsome art historian with something to hide, and a charming archaeologist running for his life.

When a member of the dig's crew is murdered, Jaya must figure out which of the scholars vying for her affections might be the love of her life--and which one is a killer.

My Thoughts:  Several years ago I picked up a review copy of a later book in this series but have never gotten around to reading it as I wanted to get caught up first.  This is a fun series.  I like the mix of history, treasure hunting, and crime.  Jaya is an interesting character.  While she does have a broad knowledge of British or Indian history her knowledge of her field is impressive and she is a competent investigator.  I really enjoyed the addition of Lane with all his mysteriousness.  The mystery was a fun one.  It's a bit far fetched but if you enjoy a good treasure hunt and some history mixed in I think you'll enjoy this one.  I'm curious to see how this series develops.  My Rating: Liked It

Saturday, February 12, 2022

Life with Leukemia and a Puppy (And Some Reading) - February 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.

What I Got:

'Til Death by Carol J Perry- This is one of my favorite cozy series and I was so excited to see this one so of course I had to pick up a copy.  (Publisher)

Wedding Bell Blues by Lynn Cahoon - This is another long running cozy series that I enjoy and I had to pick this one up.  (Publisher)

The Last Mile by Kat Martin - I picked this one up on a whim.  I really enjoy romantic suspense and this one looked interesting.  (Publisher)

Saddled Up 4 Murder by JC Eaton - This is another favorite series and one that seems to have changed publishers.  I'm so glad it is continuing.  (Publisher)


Reading: The Gardner Heist: The True Story of the World's Largest Unsolved Art Theft by Ulrich Boser and Wedding Bell Blues by Lynn Cahoon

Listening: Brownies and Broomsticks by Bailey Cates

Rover had a busy week.  Monday we had puppy class and he got to play with some of the other puppies.  He also did really well on the different activities and trainings that we were working on.  Once he gets over the excitement of saying hello to everyone he's calming down pretty well and is learning pretty quickly.  He's also not nervous at all and did well walking on different surfaces including moving ones.  Later in the week we went to an agility trial that my dad was running his dog at for some socialization and he did so well!  I was worried that he'd just be spinning in circles from excitement the entire time but he did great!  He met lots of people and dogs and was really well behaved.  He was so tired when we got home that he fell asleep on his water bowl and didn't move for quite some time.  

Will got through steroid week without too many issues.  We've added another medicine in that really does seem to be helping with the nerve pain and some of the steroid related irritation.  His immune system is still really suppressed so we had another week of lying low.  He is catching up on his sleep from not sleeping as well on steroids and between that and his low numbers he's a bit low energy and takes awhile to get woken up in the morning.  He's usually pretty groggy and out of it until almost noon.  So far they are still holding the feeding tube and we are working on getting him to eat but I can't help but wonder if his low numbers are connected to his lower nutrition.  

My week wasn't super interesting.  I mostly jumped between dog stuff with Rover and either health or school stuff with Will.  I did get a decent amount of reading done though which was nice.

Have a great week and happy reading!