Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Year of the Projects - Castle Shade + No Farm, No Foul

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.

Project:  Series

Blurb:  The queen is Marie of Roumania: the doubly royal granddaughter to Victoria, Empress of the British Empire, and Alexander II, Tsar of Russia. A famous beauty who was married at seventeen into Roumania's young dynasty, Marie had beguiled the Paris Peace Conference into returning her adopted country's long-lost provinces, single-handedly transforming Roumania from a backwater into a force.
The castle is Bran: a tall, quirky, ancient structure perched on high rocks overlooking the border between Roumania and its newly regained territory of Transylvania. The castle was a gift to Queen Marie, a thanks from her people, and she loves it as she loves her own children.

The threat, that is less clear. Shadowy figures, vague whispers, the fears of girls, dangers that may only be accidents. But this is a land of long memory and hidden corners, a land that had known Vlad the Impaler, a land from whose churchyards the shades creep.

When Queen Marie calls, Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes are as dubious as they are reluctant. But a young girl is involved, and a beautiful queen. Surely it won't take long to shine light on this unlikely case of what would seem to be strigoi?

Or, as they are known in the West...vampires.

My Thoughts:  I am now caught up on this series! This was an interesting read set in a country I know very little about other than basic vampire lore.  Here Russell and Holmes tackle a case full of folklore with a touch of political intrigue and possibly a puppet master manipulating things behind the scenes.  Holmes and Russell have to figure out what is real and what is just illusion.  One of my favorite things is having Holmes and Russell work together to solve a mystery and there was a bit more one on one time than I would have preferred.  That said this was entertaining and kept me guessing and sent me down the rabbit hole to learn more about Queen Marie and the rest of the Romanian royal family.  My Rating:  Really Liked It! (4 Stars)

Project: Series

Blurb:  On her blog, The Farmer’s Daughter, Shelby McDonald is growing her audience as she posts recipes, gardening tips, and her experiences raising two kids and running Love Blossom Farm in the small western Michigan town of Lovett.
Working the farm is demanding but peaceful—until that peace is shattered when the minister’s wife is murdered on Shelby’s property during a fund-raiser for a local church. But the manure really hits the fan when Shelby’s good friend veterinarian Kelly Thacker emerges as the prime suspect. Shelby decides to dig in and find the murderer by herself. As more suspects crop up, she’ll have to move fast—before someone else buys the farm. . . .

My Thoughts:  This was a cute mystery.  I liked Shelby and enjoyed the farm as the setting along with the use of blog posts to move the story forward.  The mystery itself was interesting and a minister's wife who seems sweet but may have a bit more to her is definitely an intriguing victim.   I did guess the who but not the why fairly early on but it was fun to see how Shelby got it all worked out.  It did get slightly eye rolly that every adult male seems to fall in love with Shelby and her teenager daughter drove me absolutely crazy.  This was enjoyable but not the most memorable.  I have the 3rd book in the series on my shelf and I like it enough to read that book but maybe not enough to buy the 2nd book.  My Rating: Liked It! (3 Stars)

Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Top Ten Tuesday - Ten Nonfiction Books On My TBR

Today I'm linking up with Top Ten Tuesday hosted by 
That Artsy Reader Girl which is all about lists.  Since lists are one of my favorite things this is one of my favorite linkups!  Today's topic is a school freebie.  My primary way of learning at the moment is nonfiction books and here are 10 on my TBR.

1.  How to Keep House While Drowning: A Gentle Approach to Cleaning and Organizing by KC Davis - The past couple of years have just been about treading water with my son's leukemia diagnosis.  Now that his treatment is within 6 months of completion I'm starting to feel like I'm finally coming up for air and this book really appeals to me.  

2.  Heiresses: The Lives of the Million Dollar Babies by Laura Thompson - I'm fascinated by the American heiresses who ended up marrying into the British Aristocracy.  

3.  The Churchill Sisters: The Extraordinary Lives of Winston and Clementine's Daughters by Rachel Trewethey - I know a bit about Winston and Clementine Churchill but nothing about their children and this sounds fascinating.

4.  The Case of the Murderous Dr. Cream: the Hunt for a Victorian Era Serial Killer by Dean Jobb - I've heard of Dr. Cream but I know nothing about his actual crimes.

5.  The Falcon Thief:  A True Tale of Adventure, Treachery and the Hunt for the Perfect Bird by Joshua Hammer - I know nothing about this book or falcons in general but this sounds interesting.  

6.  Close Calls: How Eleven US Presidents Escaped From the Brink of Death by Michael Spradlin - This one just sounds fascinating.  

7.  The Last Voyage of the Andrea Doria: The Sinking of the World's Most Glamorous Ship by Greg King and Penny Wilson - I've never heard of this ship but I love books about ships and shipwrecks.  

8.  Feline Philosophy: Cats and the Meaning of Life by John Gray - So I won't learn to much from this but it sounds fun.

9.  Code Name: Lise: The True Story of World War II's Most Highly Decorated Spy by Larry Loftis - I read another book by Loftis earlier this year and really enjoyed it. This sounds just as interesting.

10. The Castle on Sunset: Life, Death, Love, Art, and Scandal at Hollywood's Chateau Marmont by Shawn Levy - I can't resist the title!  

Do you have any nonfiction books on your TBR?

Monday, August 29, 2022

A Certain Darkness - Historical Mystery Review

Goodreads: A Certain Darkness (A Verity Kent Mystery #6) by Anna Lee Huber

Rating: Really Liked It! (4 Stars)
Source:   Publisher

Description:  March 1920: Life has turned unsettlingly quiet for former British Intelligence agent Verity Kent and her husband, Sidney. But even that false calm is about to end. As threats remain, the French authorities soon request Sidney’s help with a suspect who claims to have proof of treason—shortly before she is assassinated. And Verity, too, is called to investigate a mystery.

The murder of a Belgian lawyer aboard a train seems at first to be a simple case of revenge. But the victim was connected to British Intelligence, and possessed papers detailing the sinking of a gold-laden German ship during the war.

As Verity and Sidney dig deeper, they discover their cases are intertwined—and a lethal adversary persists. Officially, the Great War may be over, but this is a battle of nerves and wits they cannot afford to lose…

Genre: Mystery - Historical

Why I Picked This Book:  This is a favorite series.

My Impression: This isn't a typical mystery.  Yes, there's a dead body and Verity and Sidney do figure out who killed him but the murder isn't nearly as important as the information that the dead man was carrying.  The focus of this book and this series in general is more on dealing with the aftermath of World War I.  While the war is over there are still secrets lurking in the shadows and emotions are still running high.

I really like how much this series focuses on World War I which is not something I know a huge amount about.  Spending time with Verity and Sidney as they searched through Belgium and viewed the aftermath of the war as well as dealing with their own memories was really interesting.   I feel like Verity and Sidney are both growing quite a lot as characters and a couple which is really good to see.  

This is not a series that you can jump in at whatever book.  While the basic mystery is standalone the story arc that has been running through the bulk of the series connects to most aspects of the mystery and the characters involved.  

I really enjoy this series and Verity and Sidney.  There is some setup for the next book at the end of this book and I'm so excited for it.  

Would I Read More of this Series/Author? Of course!  I really enjoy this series and everything else I've read by this author.

Would I Recommend this Book? While I don't recommend starting with this book I highly recommend this series.

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

Sunday, August 28, 2022

Life with Leukemia, a Puppy, and Some Reading - August 28

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

What I Got:

The Backup Plan by Jill Shalvis - Shalvis is one of my favorite authors and this one sounds like such a fun one.  (Publisher)

Secrets in the Stacks by Lynn Cahoon - The first book in this cozy mystery series is one of my favorites of the year so far so of course I had to pick up this second book.  (Publisher)

All is Bright by RaeAnne Thayne - I love Thayne's Christmas books and it's been a couple of years since I read any of them so I'm really looking forward to this one.  (Publisher)

Snowed in For Christmas by Sarah Morgan- I'm trying to mix in a little more fiction with my mysteries and I've enjoyed books by this author in the past.  (Publisher)

The Raven Thief by Gigi Pandian - While it wasn't a favorite I liked the first book in this mystery series involving a magician and a family whose business is secret staircases and hidden rooms.  I'm hoping this book is a bit stronger than the first book and am looking forward to it.  (Publisher)


Steeped to Death by Gretchen Rue and Peach Pies and Alibis by Ellery Adams

Listening:  Crime and Poetry by Amanda Flower

This was a pretty quiet week.  Will's labs looked good and the x-rays that were done on his legs showed slight demineralization in his heels and knees which isn't unusual for long term chemo and steroid intake.  This explains the pain he's been having and because it's so late in treatment it's unlikely that he'll develop any bone density issues.

I've been working with Rover a lot this week and he did great in class the other day.  He'll be 1 in October and I feel like we are starting to see him calm down a little and in certain moments but we've still got a ways to go.  I do really enjoy working with him so that really helps.

I'm still fighting fatigue but I got a prescription for a migraine medicine that is making a huge difference which is making me pretty happy.  I've started to make an effort to go to bed earlier and am hoping that better sleeping hours will help.  Other than that I've been doing some reading and assistant teaching two different dog classes which I'm really enjoying.  I've enjoyed the changes we've made to Will's school curriculum and am looking forward to really getting into a routine.

Have a great week and happy reading! 

Saturday, August 27, 2022

Be Buried in the Rain - Keeper Shelf Review

Goodreads: Be Buried in the Rain by Barbara Michaels

Rating: Loved It! (4.5 Stars)
Source:   Purchased

Description:  The Past Holds Terrors... 

There are secrets buried at Maidenwood--dark secrets that span generations. Medical student Julie Newcomb, who once spent four miserable childhood years at this rundown Virginia plantation, would rather not resurrect ancient memories, or face her own fears.
That Can't Be Forgotten

Yet Julie cannot refuse her relatives' plea that she spend her summer caring for the bedridden--but still malevolent--family patriarch. Reluctantly, Julie agrees, praying that life at Maidenwood will not be as bleak as before. From the first, though, Julie finds Maidenwood a haunted place, not merely echoing with grim reminders, but filled with dark secrets that will become part of her life even today.

Genre: Mystery - Gothic

My Impression: Michaels does such a great job with a atmosphere in this book.  You can just feel the dilapidation and misery of this Virginia plantation with a solid heaping helping of humidity and unsavory secrets.  

Julie is a good main character.  The book was published in 1985 but other then lack of cell phones doesn't really feel dated.  Julie isn't afraid to speak up for herself and let her opinions be known - except when it comes to her grandmother, Martha who just exudes evil.  She's coming to grips with a past she increasingly realizes that she doesn't remember and trying not to fall into past pitfalls.  Her cousin Matt is also interesting character and I liked how clear he was about what was his political persona and what was his real thoughts.  

What kept this from being a 5 star read for me was that I wanted more detail on the end.  There is a nice sum up on some things but I still wanted a bit more.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Of course!  Michaels is one of my favorite others and I can't wait to pick up the next book by her.  This has definitely earned its spot on my Keeper Shelf.

Would I Recommend this Book? If you enjoy a good Gothic family story with a bit of mystery then I think you'll really enjoy this book.

Friday, August 26, 2022

Friday Five - Five of My Favorite True Crime YouTube Channels

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.  While I don't read much true crime I love watching true crime and lately I've really been enjoying these true crime channels on YouTube.

1.  That Chapter - I love this channel!  Mike comes off as such a sweet guy and has a great sense of humor.  I think he does a good job of adding humor without coming off as disrespectful.  I really like that he covers cases from all over the world and he has a fantastic Irish accent.

2.  Georgia Marie - Georgia Marie covers a wide variety of cases and historical issues with lots of empathy and detailed research.  Occasionally she also posts bookish videos which I also enjoy.

3.  Danielle Kirsty - Danielle is one of the makeup and murder YouTubers and it's always amazing to see the looks she creates.  She also covers a wide variety of international cases and has a podcast as well.  

4.  Danelle Hallan - Danelle does a lot of videos on ongoing cases or cold cases with a focus on trying to raise awareness about an injustice or a missing person.  She also just did a series on cases that resulted in laws changing - like the case that created the Amber Alert.  

5.  Gabulosis - Gabby focuses on vintage crimes that are 20+ years old.  She covers solved, unsolved, and Doe cases and is absolutely fascinating.

Do you enjoy true crime?

Thursday, August 25, 2022

Books from the Backlog - Flight of Dreams

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:  Flight of Dreams by Ariel Lawhon

Blurb:  On the evening of May 3rd, 1937, ninety-seven people board the Hindenburg for its final, doomed flight to Lakehurst, New Jersey. Among them are a frightened stewardess who is not what she seems; the steadfast navigator determined to win her heart; a naive cabin boy eager to earn a permanent spot on the world’s largest airship; an impetuous journalist who has been blacklisted in her native Germany; and an enigmatic American businessman with a score to settle. Over the course of three hazy, champagne-soaked days their lies, fears, agendas, and hopes for the future are revealed.

Flight of Dreams is a fiercely intimate portrait of the real people on board the last flight of the Hindenburg. Behind them is the gathering storm in Europe and before them is looming disaster. But for the moment they float over the Atlantic, unaware of the inexorable, tragic fate that awaits them.

Brilliantly exploring one of the most enduring mysteries of the twentieth century, Flight of Dreams is that rare novel with spellbinding plotting that keeps you guessing till the last page and breathtaking emotional intensity that stays with you long after.

Why It Needs to Come Off the Shelf:  I read another book by this author and enjoyed it and this one sounds interesting but it's just been gathering dust on my shelf.

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

A Treacherous Tale - Cozy Mystery Review

Goodreads:  A Treacherous Tale (The Cambridge Bookshop Series #2) by Elizabeth Penney

Rating: Really Liked It! (4 Stars)
Source:   Publisher

Description:  Lately, Molly has been feeling that she might have fallen into a fairy tale: she's reinvigorated the family bookshop Thomas Marlowe—Manuscripts and Folios, made friends in her new home of Cambridge, England, and is even developing a bit of a romance with the handsome Kieran—a bike shop owner with a somewhat intimidating family pedigree.

Having recently discovered The Strawberry Girls, a classic children's tale, Molly is thrilled to learn the author, Iona York, lives nearby. But while visiting the famous author at her lovely cottage in nearby Hazelhurst, an old acquaintance of Iona's tumbles off her roof to his death.

Then, when one of Iona’s daughters—an inspiration for the original Strawberry Girls—goes missing, Molly begins to worry this story might be more Brothers Grimm than happily-ever-after. Especially after Molly learns about the mysterious long-ago death of Iona’s husband and co-author of The Strawberry Girls…could past and present crimes be linked? Molly must put the clues together before someone turns this sweet tale sour.

Genre: Mystery - Cozy

Why I Picked This Book:   I enjoyed the first in the series and this one sounded too good to resist!

My Impression:   This is such a good cozy series set in a picturesque English village in a gorgeous sounding old bookstore.  I love Molly and her enjoyment in learning how to navigate life in England after growing up in Vermont and gets to know the part of her family that has been an ocean away most of her life. Molly is also getting to know her mother better as they explore the area she grew up. 

The mystery was an interesting one.  Just what was an antique dealer doing up on the roof of a cottage being rethatched and how does it connect with an accidental death that happened years before.  And what does all of that have to do with a missing college student?  Interwoven into the investigation is the text of "The Strawberry Girls' a fairy tale-esque children's story that takes place just where the murder does.  The reveal was interesting and a bit unexpected.  

This is a wonderfully cozy English mystery with likable main characters and a bit of history thrown in.  

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

Would I Recommend this Book?  If you like cozy English mysteries this is a fantastic read that I think you'll really enjoy.  

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

Tuesday, August 23, 2022

Top Ten Tuesday - Ten Series I'm Reading Right Now

Today I'm linking up with Top Ten Tuesday hosted by 
That Artsy Reader Girl which is all about lists.  Since lists are one of my favorite things this is one of my favorite linkups!  Today's topic is Completed Series I Wish Had More Books.  I read a lot of series but couldn't come up with more then a couple so instead I'm listing the 10 series I'm currently reading.

1.  This Old Homicide (Fixer-Upper Mystery) by Kate Carlisle - I've read the very first book and some of the later books but have a bunch more to go!

2.  Peach Pies and Alibis (A Charmed Pie Shoppe Mystery) by Ellery Adams - I read the first book in this series years ago but never continued which is too bad since it's a fairly short series and I own all the books.

3.  Pint of No Return (A Sloan Krause Mystery) by Ellie Alexander - I'm caught up on another series by Alexander that I absolutely love and want to read more from this series.  I loved the first book and am about to start the second one.

4.  Antiques to Die For (A Josie Prescott Antiques Mystery) by Jane K. Cleland - I've read the later books in this series but am slowly catching up on the earlier books.  I'm fascinated by antiques and really enjoy the focus in this book.

5.  Crime and Poetry (Magical Bookshop) by Amanda Flower - This series has been on my TBR since the first book came out and even though I own most of them I still haven't read any.

6.  Bought the Farm (Farmer's Daughter Mysteries) by Peg Cochran - I'm cheating a little on this series.  I somehow ended up with the first and third of this three book series.  I enjoyed the first book but not so much I want to go out and buy the second book so I think I'm going to read books one and three and call it done.

7.  Naughty in Nice (Her Royal Spyness Mysteries) by Rhys Bowen - I've read the early books and the later books in this series and am looking forward to getting caught up on the middle books.

8.  Mrs. Pollifax and the Golden Triangle (Mrs. Pollifax) by Dorothy Gilman - I've been reading my way through the Mrs. Pollifax books this year and every one has been an absolute delight.  Can't wait to pick this one up!

9.  Vanishing Point (Miss Silver) by Patricia Wentworth - I've been reading the Miss Silver series over the last year and a half and am getting close to the end.  

10.  Close Up (Burning Cove) by Amanda Quick - I always enjoy a good romantic suspense and this one set in the 20s and 30s is becoming a favorite.  

What series are you reading?  Or what series do you wish had more books?

Monday, August 22, 2022

Buried in a Good Book - Cozy Mystery Review

Goodreads:  Buried in a Good Book (By The Book Mysteries #1) by Tamara Berry

Rating: Really Liked It! (4 Stars)
Source:   Library (Audio)

Description: A thriller writer who knows way more than anyone should about death and dismemberment
Her young daughter who's more intrigued by dead bodies than she probably should be

An isolated cabin in the woods that's probably―definitely―hiding something

The tiny mountain town that seems less than troubled by a sudden abundance of murders

Bestselling thriller writer Tess Harrow is almost at the end of her rope when she arrives with her teenage daughter at her grandfather's rustic cabin in the woods. She hopes this will be a time for them to heal and bond after Tess's recent divorce, but they've barely made it through the door when an explosion shakes the cabin. Suddenly it's raining fish guts that a human arm?

Tess was hardly convincing Gertie that a summer without Wi-Fi and running water would be an adventure. Now she's thrust into a murder investigation, neighbors are saying they've spotted Bigfoot in the woods near her cabin, and the local sheriff is the spitting image of her character Detective Gabriel Gonzales―something he's less than thrilled about. With so much more than her daughter's summer plans at stake, it's up to Tess to solve this case before anyone else gets hurt.

Genre: Mystery - Cozy

Why I Picked This Book:  I've seen some great reviews for this one and it sounded like such fun I couldn't resist.

My Impression: This was such fun!  The author does a fantastic job of making this funny and even a touch zany without crossing into silly.  As well Tess jumps to conclusions and comes up with crazy plots in her head but she's so enthusiastic about it that I couldn't help but like her and enjoy going along for the ride.  As well, Gertie is a great teenager.  She sulks and can be difficult but that's not all there is to her.  She's smart and loyal and feels like a very authentic character.

The mystery was a good one.  There are so many pieces and figuring out how they all come together kept me completely hooked on the story.  Tess comes up with a number of plausible (and some implausible) theories.  I really liked how she worked with the sheriff and her daughter as well as the librarian she becomes friends with.  

I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of this one and can't wait to get the next book in the series.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Absolutely!  I'm already impatiently waiting for the second book in the series to come out.

Would I Recommend this Book? If you enjoy mysteries or quirky books this is a must read!

Sunday, August 21, 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:

I thought I was going to have a no new book week but at the last minute we ended up going to this store to pick up a Godzilla funko pop for Will and it has a sizable used book section.  So of course I had to browse the mystery section!

Kaleidoscope by Dorothy Gilman - I am loving Gilman's Mrs. Pollifax series and am trying to pick up all of her non-Pollifax books.  

Death, Bones, and Stately Homes by Valerie S. Malmont - I know nothing about this series or this author but this one looked interesting and I couldn't resist it.  

Children of the Storm by Elizabeth Peters - I'm picking up all the Peters books I see because I'm planning to read more from her and I really enjoyed the first Amelia Peabody book. 

Nine Coaches Waiting by Mary Stewart - I'm reading my way through the Mary Stewart books and this is one I haven't read.

Doomed to Die by Dorothy Simpson - Ditto above.

Mrs. Malory and a Death in the Family by Hazel Holt - I used to love the Mrs. Malory books but it's been years and years since I've read any so I've been picking them up when I see them.

The Man with a Load of Mischief by Martha Grimes - I used to love these but I read one a few years ago and was underwhelmed.  When I saw this first book in the Inspector Jury series I thought I'd pick it up and reevaluate the series.


Reading:  A Certain Darkness by Anna Lee Huber and The Thursday Night Murder Club by Richard Osman

Listening: The Magnolia Palace by Fiona Davis

This was a pretty low key week.  Will was feeling pretty good though his energy is low.   He's also been having a lot of joint pain so we had to go get X-rays.  Most likely this is just neuropathy but there are a couple of different conditions that can happen with long term chemo and steroid use that we need to rule out.  Both are treatable but the sooner treated the better.  He's fallen down a bit of a rabbit hole with Godzilla movies and is really enjoying watching them.  He's gotten a bit obsessed with Godzilla and King Kong at the moment.  

Rover is being a bit of a wild boy right now and is driving me crazy.  He's doing great in classes once he focuses but getting him to focus is sometimes a challenge.  I don't know if this is an age thing (he's 10 months old so right in the middle of puppy teenager time) or just a reaction to us being gone so much when Will was in the hospital or a bit of both.  

Other than that I've been trying to get caught up on rest and volunteering in puppy class and entry obedience class and am really loving that.  

Have a great week and happy reading!

Saturday, August 20, 2022

Mrs. Pollifax and the Hong Kong Buddha - Classic Mystery Review

Goodreads: Mrs. Pollifax and the Hong Kong Buddha (Mrs. Pollifax #7) by Dorothy Gilman

Rating: Really Liked it! (4.5 Stars)
Source:   Library

Description:  Although recently married, Mrs. Pollifax is packed and ready to go to China, where a young agent, Sheng Ti, holds the answers to goings on at the sinister Feng Imports—a one-time agency front. Only Mrs. Pollifax has earned Sheng's trust, and only she can possibly stop what turns out to be a frightening and ominous plot involving drugs, smuggled diamonds, a famous cat burglar turned Interpol agent, a mysterious psychic, and, of course, murder...possibly her own!

Genre: Mystery - Classic/Adventure

My Impression:   I love this series and I love Mrs. Pollifax.  I never want to go to any destination and see her there but if I ever do get in any trouble she is who I would want coming to rescue me!  Here we see Mrs. Pollifax settling into her life as a newly married woman but that doesn't keep her from jumping at the chance to return to China - especially when she finds out that a friend she met last time she was in the country could be in danger.

This book is a bit different than previous books.  Mrs. Pollifax is not immediately thrown into an adventure.  She's sent to try and and figure out what is going on with another agent and that involves more leg work then I'm used to seeing her do.  I really enjoy seeing Mrs. Pollifax really become an agent.  She's still the funny, intelligent, practical woman that she's always been but she has some experience now and uses it.  As well, there are some darker tones to this book.  While it is not graphic there is more violence then I remember showing up in previous books.  

This didn't keep me from enjoying the book and in fact I appreciated the added depth.  As well I really appreciated seeing a couple of characters from previous books.  This is an entertaining story that's a quick read and one I thoroughly enjoyed!

Would I Read More of this Series/Author? Absolutely!  I already have the next book ready to go.

Would I Recommend this Book?  I would!  I do recommend you read the first book just to see how the whole setup started and you have to suspend belief a bit but it's worth it for a fun entertaining story.

Friday, August 19, 2022

Friday Five - Five Short 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. This week I'm sharing 5 quick reviews for books I've read recently.

1. Tight Rope by Amanda Quick - I love the Burning Cove series and I really enjoyed the 3rd book in this series featuring former trapeze artist, Amalie Vaugh, and engineer and investigator, Matthias Jones.  Amalie especially is an interesting character with a bit of a daring spirit without being dumb about it.  Matthias is a bit quieter but has some interesting traits as well as a personal and professional connection to Burning Cove's notorious resident, Luther Pell.  The mystery is an interesting one with lots of twists and turns that kept me guessing.  I'm already looking forward to the next one!  My Rating: Really Liked It (4 Stars)

2.  The Killing at Kingfisher Hill by Sophie Hannah - I really enjoyed the first 3/4 of it but it felt a bit like Hannah wrote herself into a bit of a plot corner as there were so many bits and pieces of mystery that it became convoluted at the end and not every issue was really addressed.  I'm a huge Agatha Christie fan and have enjoyed these Poirot books by Sophie Hannah.  Hercule Poirot doesn't feel exactly the same but it feels like the author respected and understood the character.  I also really enjoy Poirot's sidekick in this series - Scotland Yard Inspector Catchpool.  He's as nice as Hastings but slightly less gullible.  My Rating: Liked It (3 Stars)

3.  The Cider Shop Rules by Julie Anne Lindsey
- I really enjoy this series and this third book might be my favorite one yet.  Winnie is a great main character and I love her family and friends - especially Dot with all of her animal rescues.  The pumpkin patch murder scene was interesting and I liked that Winnie was torn between investigating and staying out of it.  I especially enjoyed the character growth with Colton and meeting his family.  This was a fun mystery with some suspense and a tense reveal.  My Rating: Really Liked It! (4 Stars)

4.  Teaching From Rest:  A Homeschooler's Guide to Unshakable Peace by Sarah Mackenzie - The Read Aloud Family 
 by this author was one of my absolute favorite books and so inspirational when we were making the transition to homeschooling.  I was so intrigued by this one as we can all use a little peace and teaching from a calmer place also was appealing.  Unfortunately, this wasn't quite what I wanted it to be.  This is a very short book - only about 90 pages - and to me reads much more like a devotional than a book with any practical advice.  If you are interested in this I would recommend trying to find a used copy or one through the library.  My Rating: Not For Me (1 Star)

5.  The Book of Cold Cases by Simone St. James -
This is my first book Simone St. James but it won't be my last.  I listened to the audio version of this one and was completely caught up in the slowly unraveling story about a decades old murders and a house and woman that seem permanently stuck in 1977 - the year the murders occurred.  I found the story compelling and creepy and really liked seeing Shea's modern day investigation progress as well as trying to understand Beth as she was growing up in the 1960s and 70s.  I will definitely be picking up more books from this author and I highly recommend the audio version.  My Rating: Really Liked It! (4 Stars)

Thursday, August 18, 2022

Books from the Backlog - The Pint of No Return

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 Pint of No Return by Ellie Alexander

Blurb:  No other festival compares to Oktoberfest in Leavenworth, Washington. The whole town is buzzing with excitement over this year’s activities and eagerly awaiting Nitro’s latest offering Cherrywizen, made with locally sourced cherries. But local brewmaster Sloan Krause is tapped out. Between trying to manage the pub, her pending divorce with Mac, and her mounting feelings for Garrett, she’s fermenting in internal turmoil.

To complicate matters, dreamy movie star Mitchell Morgan and his production crew have arrived in the village to film during the authentic Bavarian brewfest. Mitchell has his eye on Sloan and a taste for Nitro’s Cherrywizen. Sloan escapes his advances for good when she finds Mitchell slumped over the bar. Is this a case of one pint too many, or has Mitchell been murdered by microbrew?

Why It Needs to Come Off the Shelf:  I got this off NetGalley ages ago without realizing it was the 2nd book in the series.  Now that I've read the first book I really need to read this one!

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

The Bookshop of Yesterdays - Fiction Review

Goodreads:  The Bookshop of Yesterdays by Amy Meyerson

Rating: Really Liked It! (4 Stars)
Source:   Publisher

Description:  A woman inherits a beloved bookstore and sets forth on a journey of self-discovery in this poignant debut about family, forgiveness and a love of reading.

Miranda Brooks grew up in the stacks of her eccentric Uncle Billy’s bookstore, solving the inventive scavenger hunts he created just for her. But on Miranda’s twelfth birthday, Billy has a mysterious falling-out with her mother and suddenly disappears from Miranda’s life. She doesn’t hear from him again until sixteen years later when she receives unexpected news: Billy has died and left her Prospero Books, which is teetering on bankruptcy—and one final scavenger hunt.

Genre: Fiction

Why I Picked This Book:   Bookstores, family secrets, and journeys of discovery - how could I resist?

My Impression:  I love books about self-discovery and even more so if it involves a bookstore.  Miranda thinks she has her life figured out.  She's teaching history and has just moved in with her boyfriend but then news of her estranged uncle's death sends things spiraling.  Years ago, Miranda's uncle disappears from her life with almost no explanation leaving a hole in her life.  When she receives a mysterious package shortly before she finds out about her uncle's death she embarks on one last scavenger hunt but with much higher stakes then her childhood hunts.

I liked Miranda and sympathized with her frustration that everyone important in her life was keeping secrets from her.  I was fascinated by Prospero Books and the behind the scenes with trying to haul a failing bookstore back into the black.  The big secret was a surprise but one where I could sympathize with everyone involved.  I didn't love the romantic element but while it is important to the story it isn't central so I it didn't bother me too much.

This is my first book by this author but I will be on the lookout for more books by Meyerson.

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

Would I Recommend this Book?  If you enjoy women's fiction with bookish overtones I think you'll enjoy this book.

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

Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Top Ten Tuesday - Books I Love Written 10 + Years Ago

Today I'm linking up with Top Ten Tuesday hosted by 
That Artsy Reader Girl which is all about lists.  Since lists are one of my favorite things this is one of my favorite linkups!  Today's topic is Books I Love Written 10+ Years Ago.  So I'm still a bit shocked that 10 years ago is 2012 because in my head 10 years ago is sometime in the 1990s but that aside I'm looking over books I've read recently and looking at books I really enjoyed that are at least 10 years old.

1.  Mrs. Pollifax and the Hong Kong Buddha by Dorothy Gilman - Really I love every Mrs. Pollifax book I've read but this was just the most recent.

2.  The Silent Pool by Patricia Wentworth - Another one where I pretty much love every book by this author.

3.  Vision in White by Nora Roberts - Roberts has so many books that are rereads for me and this is one I reread and enjoyed recently.

4.  Crocodile on the Sandbanks by Elizabeth Peters - This was an entertaining read and I loved meeting Amelia Peabody.

5.  Three Blind Mice and Other Stories by Agatha Christie - I love most Agatha Christie books and this collection of short stories was an especial favorite.

6.  The Walker in Shadows by Barbara Michaels - Elizabeth Peters is another name for Barbara Michaels and I've enjoyed all the books I've read under both names though they have completely different tones.

7.  Mrs. Jeffries Dusts for Clues by Emily Brightwell - I have really enjoyed the most recent books in this series and have found the earlier books in the series as well.

8.  Dead Men Don't Ski by Patricia Moyes - I'm trying to broaden my classic mystery reading and this was a great mystery.

9.  The Fairy Godmother by Mercedes Lackey - I don't read much fantasy but I really enjoyed this one.

10. Henrietta Who? by Catherine Aird - Another classic mystery author whose books I'm trying to read more of.  

What books have you enjoyed that were written 10+ years ago?

Monday, August 15, 2022

The Year of Projects - Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency + Death On Tap

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.

Project:  Clear Off My Shelves

Blurb:  What do a dead cat, a computer whiz-kid, an Electric Monk who believes the world is pink, quantum mechanics, a Chronologist over 200 years old, Samuel Taylor Coleridge (poet), and pizza have in common?
Apparently not much; until Dirk Gently, self-styled private investigator, sets out to prove the fundamental interconnectedness of all things by solving a mysterious murder, assisting a mysterious professor, unravelling a mysterious mystery, and eating a lot of pizza – not to mention saving the entire human race from extinction along the way (at no extra charge).

To find out more, read this book (better still, buy it, then read it) – or contact Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency.

My Thoughts: This book was an absolutely bizarre but entertaining journey.  I spent the first little while wondering how it was all going to come together (especially the part about the electric monk whose job is to believe things) and the rest of the book completely pulled in but still wondering how it was all going to come together.  I kind of picture Douglas Adams' plotting this out with a white board filled with lots of pictures and random sentences and lots of string connecting everything.  It's nonsense yet weirdly logical and funny but with a layer of seriousness.  If you are new to Douglas Adams' bizarre sense of humor then Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy might be a better one to start with but if you've read that enjoyed it then this is a good one to pick up.  My Rating: Really Liked It! (4 Stars)

Blurb:  When Sloan Krause walks in on her husband, Mac, screwing the barmaid, she gives him the boot. Sloan has spent her life in Leavenworth, Washington becoming an expert in brewing craft beer, and she doesn’t have time to be held back by her soon-to-be ex-husband. She decides to strike out on her own, breaking away from the Krause family brewery, and goes to work for Nitro, the hip new nano-brewery in the Bavarian-themed town. Nitro’s owner, brewmaster Garrett Strong, has the brew-world abuzz with his newest recipe, “Pucker-Up IPA.” This place is the new cool place in town, and Mac can’t help but be green with envy at their success.
But just as Sloan is settling in to her new gig, she finds one of Nitro’s competitors dead in the fermenting tub, clutching the secret recipe for the IPA. When Mac, is arrested, Sloan knows that her ex might be a cheater, but a murderer? No way. Danger is brewing in Beervaria and suddenly Sloan is on the case.

My Thoughts:  I've been a long time fan of Alexander's Bakeshop Mystery series and based off this book I think I might enjoy the Sloan Krause series just as much.  Sloan is a likable capable main character with an interesting backstory that I hope gets explored in later books.  She's a bit unsure of herself but she makes a good team with new brewmaster Garrett as they try to get the new nano-brewery off the ground.  The mystery was an intriguing one though fairly straightforward but it did keep me guessing.  As well there's some good setup of interesting characters in the town of Leavenworth that I'm hoping we see lots more in future books.  I'm not much of a drinker and definitely not a beer drinker but the some of the descriptions of the beer in this book had me wishing Nitro was a real place!  I'm looking forward to continuing this series and spending more time with Sloan and company.  My Rating:  Really Liked It! (4 Stars)

Sunday, August 14, 2022

Life with Leukemia, a Puppy, and Some Reading - August 14

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

What I Got:

A Trip with Trouble by Diane Kelly - I really enjoyed the first book in this series so I was excited to pick up the 2nd book.  (Publisher)

A Death in Door County by Annelise Ryan - This is the first in a new cozy series involving a monster hunter.  It sounds completely different from anything I've ever read and I think I'm either going to absolutely love it or be really meh about it but my hopes are high.  (Publisher)

A Good Dog's Guide to Murder by Krista Davis - Davis is a cozy author that has been around since I started reading cozies but I have read very few of her books.  I'm a little nervous about jumping in mid-series but this one sounds really good.  (Publisher)

The Ghost and the Stolen Tears by Cleo Coyle - I've really enjoyed the previous books that I've read in this series and I'm really looking forward to this latest book.  (Publisher)


Reading:  A Treacherous Tale by Elizabeth Penney and No Farm, No Foul by Peg Cochran

Listening:  The Bookshop of Yesterdays by Amy Meyerson

It has been a crazy couple of weeks!  The last Sunday Post I wrote a couple of weeks ago I mentioned that Will's numbers were super low and we were crossing our fingers that he didn't end up with a fever.  Well Sunday morning he woke me up complaining of a headache and when I took his temperature - sure enough he had a temperature of about 101.  In Leukemia world this means heading straight to the ER.  When they ran his labs his numbers had dropped even farther and we ended up being admitted.  His numbers dropped to zero and he developed a mouth sore which is super common with long term chemo and apparently chemo in general.  Because he had no immune system there was nothing to clear it up even with regular IV antibiotics and anti-virals.  He ended up staying inpatient for a solid week but now his numbers are back up and he is feeling so much better.  We spent most of last week getting caught up on our sleep.  Even though the night nurses were all fantastic its still hard to sleep in a hospital!

This week he is starting school.   I ended up revamping all our homeschool curriculum and am so excited to get started.  Will is less excited but is agreeable so I'll take that as a win. 

Dog-wise Rover started his next obedience class this past week and it was very obvious we've been off schedule and have had a crazy few weeks.  He was a bit bonkers but we've been working on training in different locations and I'm hoping with that and his 1st birthday being around the corner he'll gain a little self control!  I'm volunteering for Puppy class and the beginning Manners class and am really enjoying working with all the dogs.  Rover's going to start taking a scent work class in September I think and I'm really curious to see how he'll do.  Apparently they're always looking for volunteer search and rescue dogs so that's a potential option if he does well.

Have a great week and happy reading!

Saturday, August 13, 2022

Reading Recap - July 2022

Monthly Total - 27 - I had to recount because it didn't feel like that good of a reading month but I guess I got more read than I though!

Monthly Breakdown:

Audio:  9

Print:  10

Kindle: 8

Mystery: 17 

Romance: 4

Fiction: 4

Non-Fiction: 1

Middle Grade:

Favorite Book of the Month:

The Librarian Spy by Madeline Martin - This is the 2nd book by Martin I've read and I've absolutely loved both.

Round Up the Usual Peacocks by Donna Andrews - On the other end of the fiction spectrum was this cozy mystery full of mayhem and more then a few scenes that made me laugh out loud!

Least Favorite Book of the Month

Teaching From Rest by Sarah Mackenzie - I absolutely loved this author's previous book but this book was very short in length and information that I felt I could really apply to our homeschool.

My Virtual/Bookish Travel

I visited two new states this month: 
West Virginia

And I had quite a lot of international travel!  In addition to my usual bookish trips to England and Scotland I also went to:

Where did your books take you this month?


Friday, August 12, 2022

Friday Five - August TBR

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.  Normally I do my monthly TBR on the first Friday of the month but last week was chaos so I'm a bit behind.  But here are the 5 books I'm hoping to read (or have already read!) this month.

1.  A Certain Darkness by Anna Lee Huber - This is the most recent book in one of my favorite series and I'm really looking forward to reading this one!

2.  Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams - I love Adams' sense of humor and this has been on my TBR shelf for ages so I'm really looking forward to reading this one.

3.  The Bookshop of Yesterdays by Amy Meyerson - This book has been gathering dust on my NetGalley shelf but it looks lovely and I'm looking forward to giving it a try.

4.  Death on Tap by Ellie Alexander - I love this author's Bakeshop mysteries but haven't read her series around a brewery in Leavenworth, Washington.

5.  Buried in a Good Book by Tamara Berry - This is a newish book and I've heard great reviews for it so I want to read it before the series really gets going.

What are you hoping to read this month?