Saturday, June 10, 2023

Reading Recap - May 2023

Monthly Total: 

Monthly Breakdown: 22

Print: 5
Ebook: 7
Audio: 10

Mystery:  16 
Fiction:  4
Nonfiction: 1 
Romance: 1

Favorite Book of the Month:

A Vintage Affair by Isabel Wolff - I knew nothing about this book involving the owner of a vintage fashion shop and I absolutely loved this one.

Identity by Nora Roberts - This one creeped me out a bit and also kept me hooked.

Least Favorite Book of the Month:

The Body in the Wetlands by Judi Lynn - This wasn't bad but it also didn't really grab me and there were a few aspects in the story that had me rolling my eyes.

Where My Reading Took Me in May:

U.S. Travel:

I visited Indiana and Connecticut for the first time for the first time this year
I also had some revisits to Georgia, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, California, New York, Washington, Maryland, and Vermont

International Travel;

Internationally I visited Scotland, Italy, England (a few times), and took a cruise to Havana, Cuba and back. 

Where did your reading take you in May?

Friday, June 9, 2023

Friday Five - Five Short Reviews for Series I'm Reading

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'm working on catching up on series and decided to put a few reviews of them all together here.

1.  Here Today, Gone Tamale (A Taste of Texas Mystery #1) by Rebecca Adler - The cozy mystery is definitely one of my favorite genres but not all cozies work for me.  Unfortunately, this was one of those cozies.  I'm a big fan of the premise - a woman whose life basically blows up comes home to her family and stumbles into a murder mystery.  Throw in a Mexican restaurant and a doggy sidekick and I was in.   But for me the execution didn't quite live up to the premise.  I didn't really like any of the characters - including the main character - and because I had no connection to any of them I had a hard time keeping the large number of characters straight.  Add in the fact that the story telling seemed to gloss over really important events.  There were several times I completely missed that something important had happened because it was mentioned so casually.  I have the third book in the series and will probably read that but will not go out of my way to pick up the second book.  My Rating: Just Okay (2 Stars)

2.  Without a Brew (Sloan Kraus #4) by Ellie Alexander -
I so enjoy this series and this one did not disappoint!  Garrett and Sloan's plan to ease into innkeeping ends up turning into a full scale plunge when they have a group of guests dumped on them.  Unfortunately, one of the guests is an obnoxious jerk and another is clearly hiding something - before she goes missing that is.  I was instantly caught up in the mystery and loved spending time with Sloan, Garrett, and Kat as well as the rest of the crew in Leavenworth, Washington.  As well as enjoyable and entertaining mystery there is a bit of progress on the mystery of Sloan's past which is a story that has been running through the series since the beginning.  I enjoyed this book from beginning to end and even though I'm not much of a beer drinker I wouldn't mind spending time in Nitro.  I'm already looking forward to my next visit! My Rating: Really Liked It (4 Stars)

3.  Crimes and Covers (Magical Bookshop #5) by Amanda Flower -
This is the final book in the Magical Bookshop series and what an entertaining end it was!  Violet Waverly is marrying the Police Chief David Rainwater in a ceremony carefully planned by Grandma Daisy and Violet's friend, Sadie.  But in between the ceremony and the reception a body is found in the river - the body of a woman who was acting very oddly and trying to sell Violet a priceless book by Henry David Thoreau.  This leads Violet and David down a rabbit hole trying to find the book and maybe catch a killer in time to go their honeymoon.  This book focused mostly on Violet and David which I liked but did miss the side characters who usually have more page time.  This is a fun series from start to finish.  My Rating: Really Liked It (4 Stars)

4.  Pall in the Family (Family Fortune Mystery #1) by Dawn Eastman -
This is the first book in a four part cozy mystery series involving a former police officer who lives with her family in a Michigan town known for its psychics. In the first book Clyde is home on leave after a tragic incident occurred while on duty.  To fill time (and avoid her rather quirky mother and aunt) Clyde is dog walking with the help of her nephew, Seth.  When she stumbles onto a murder scene, Clyde is pulled into an investigation and has to come to terms with certain aspects of her past  The investigation is entertaining with a few side trips into comical and while I did guess certain parts of it all I really enjoyed seeing it all unravel.  I'm looking forward to reading the next book in the series.  If you enjoy cozies that are bit quirky this is a fun one to try.  My Rating: Liked It! (3.5 Stars)

5.  Silent Auction (Josie Prescott Antiques Mystery #5) by Jane K. Cleland -
This is a series that just works for me.  I love history and am fascinated by antiques so I love reading about Josie's day to day life and exploring antiques with her.  This book focused on scrimshaws (art traditionally made my sailors carved onto whale teeth or bone) and I loved the comparing modern examples versus the antiques and the discussions on how to appraise and value a piece.  Rocky Point has a new police chief who I think will be a welcome addition to the series and hopefully a love interest for a side character.  Since the mystery involved the purchase of antiques as well as determining whether something was "real" or a forgery Josie is pulled into the investigation and takes an active and official role.  I really enjoyed the read from start to finish and Cleland's writing style and pacing made this an easy and fun bit of escape.  My Rating: Really Liked It (4 Stars)

Thursday, June 8, 2023

Books from the Backlog - Meet Me in Monaco

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:  Meet Me in Monaco by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb

Blurb:  Movie stars and paparazzi flock to Cannes for the glamorous film festival, but Grace Kelly, the biggest star of all, wants only to escape from the flash-bulbs. When struggling perfumer Sophie Duval shelters Miss Kelly in her boutique, fending off a persistent British press photographer, James Henderson, a bond is forged between the two women and sets in motion a chain of events that stretches across thirty years of friendship, love, and tragedy.
James Henderson cannot forget his brief encounter with Sophie Duval. Despite his guilt at being away from his daughter, he takes an assignment to cover the wedding of the century, sailing with Grace Kelly’s wedding party on the SS Constitution from New York. In Monaco, as wedding fever soars and passions and tempers escalate, James and Sophie—like Princess Grace—must ultimately decide what they are prepared to give up for love.

Why It Needs to Come Off the Shelf:  This sounds amazing and I love the cover.  It's been sitting on my shelf for far too long and sounds like a perfect summer read.

Wednesday, June 7, 2023

The Last Drop of Hemlock - Historical Mystery Review

Goodreads:  The Last Drop of Hemlock by Katharine Schellman

Rating: Liked It! (3.5 Stars)
Source:  Publisher

Description:  New York, 1924. Vivian Kelly has gotten a job at the Nightingale, a speakeasy known to the young and fun as a place where the rules of society can be tossed aside for a dance and a drink, and things are finally looking up for her and her sister Florence. They might not be living like queens—still living in a dingy, two-room tenement, still scrimping and saving—but they're confident in keeping a roof over their heads and, every once in a while, there is fried ham for breakfast.

Of course, things were even better before Bea's Uncle Pearlie, the doorman for the Nightingale, was poisoned. Bea has been Vivian's best friend since before she can remember, and though Pearlie's death is ruled a suicide, Bea's sure her uncle wouldn't have killed himself. After all, he had the family to care for . . . and there have been rumors of a mysterious letter writer, blackmailing Vivian's poorest neighbors for their most valuable possessions, threatening poison if they don't comply.

With the Nightingale's dangerously lovely owner, Honor, worried for her employees' safety and Bea determined to prove her Uncle was murdered, Vivian once again finds herself digging through a dead man's past in hopes of stopping a killer.

Genre: Mystery - Historical

Why I Picked This Book:  I've enjoyed other books by this author and I couldn't resist the setting for this one.

My Impression: I really enjoyed this visit to Prohibition era New York and getting to know Vivian and all the people in her world.  Most of the historical fiction books I've read are either about the very very wealthy or the very very poor and so it was interesting to see this book set a bit more in the middle.  Vivian and her sister and many of their friends are definitely poor and have been desperate but they're getting by.  It made for an interesting perspective and provided different motivations than I've come across in the past.  As well, the difference between how Vivian and Bea have to approach how they investigate based off the difference in their skin color was interesting and frustrating.

There are really two mysteries going on in this book.  Was Pearlie murdered and if he was who did it and then who is the blackmailer stealing from people who have very little left to lose.  The investigation was a group effort through legal and illegal channels.  I really enjoyed seeing the speakeasy and bootlegging world and how tightly things must be controlled.  While the mysteries are both resolved nicely there are some threads involving the characters and their pasts and secrets that definitely have me curious and looking forward to the next book.

This was the second book in the Nightingale series but the first that I have read.  While there are a few things alluded to from the first book several times in this book I had no problem jumping in here and figuring out the whos and the whys.  

If you're looking for a historical mystery with an intriguing setting and relatable characters this is a great choice!

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Yes definitely! I've really enjoyed another series by this author and I'm very curious to see how this series develops.

Would I Recommend this Book?  If you like historical mysteries this is definitely one to try.  

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

Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Top Ten Tuesday - Ten Books On My TBR With Covers That Look Like Summer

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 Ten Books With Covers That Look Like Summer so I picked out a few summery covers from my TBR.

1.  The Secret to Southern Charm by Kristy Woodson Harvey

2.  The Bookshop at Water's End by Patti Callahan Henry

3.  Death at the Seaside by Frances Brody

4.  Boardwalk Summer by Meredith Jaeger

5.  A Million Little Things by Susan Mallery 

6.  The Seafront Tearoom by Vanessa Greene

7.   Tea and Treachery by Vicki Delany

8.  Ten Beach Road by Wendy Wax

9.  A Hundred Summers by Beatriz Williams

10. Sailing Lessons by Hannah McKinnon

Do you have any books with beachy covers on your TBR?

Monday, June 5, 2023

TBR Tarot Reads - Hotel of Secrets

At the end of 2022 Wendy over at Literary Feline posted about these fantastic TBR Tarot Cards she had picked up on Etsy and that sounded too good to resist so I immediately ordered my own set.  So when I'm not feeling strongly about what to read next I pull out my cards and pick a book based on the prompt.  Here is a book the fates chose for me recently.

Prompt:  Choose a book which has a person on the cover

Goodreads:  Hotel of Secrets by Diana Biller

Blurb:  It’s ball season in Vienna, and Maria Wallner only wants one thing: to restore her family’s hotel, the Hotel Wallner, to its former glory. She’s not going to let anything get in her way - not her parents’ three-decade-long affair; not seemingly-random attacks by masked assassins; and especially not the broad-shouldered American foreign agent who’s saved her life two times already. No matter how luscious his mouth is.
Eli Whittaker also only wants one thing: to find out who is selling American secret codes across Europe, arrest them, and go home to his sensible life in Washington, DC. He has one lead - a letter the culprit sent from a Viennese hotel. But when he arrives in Vienna, he is immediately swept up into a chaotic whirlwind of balls, spies, waltzes, and beautiful hotelkeepers who seem to constantly find themselves in danger. He disapproves of all of it! But his disapproval is tested as he slowly falls deeper into the chaos - and as his attraction to said hotelkeeper grows.

My Thoughts:  Oh this was such fun!  I don't want to say too much about the story because I knew very little about it going into it and I think that increased my enjoyment.  I loved everything about the characters and the hotel.  The author had a good balance of witty zaniness and intrigue and kept me entertained and caught up in the story. This was a bit spicier than I usually prefer but it worked with the story.  I listened to the audiobook and Carlotta Brentan did a fantastic job.  I loved her Austrian accent and it really enhanced my enjoyment of the book.  Now to read more from this author.   My Rating: Loved It! (5 Stars)

Friday, June 2, 2023

Friday Fives - June 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.  Since this is the first Friday in June I'm picking 5 books I hope to read this month.

1.  The Sweetheart List by Jill Shalvis - I love Jill Shalvis's romances and this looks like the perfect book for some summer reading.

2.  Murder at the Mansion by Janet Finsilver - A mansion, jewel theft, a murder, and a group of brainy retirees - sounds like fun summer reading!

3.  Death in the Family by Tessa Wegert - Another suspense title but this has been on my physical shelf for way too long and I've been looking forward to reading it since I got it.  

4.  Trouble on the Books by Essie Lang - I read the second book in this cozy mystery trilogy and really enjoyed it but never got around to reading the first book.  I'm really looking forward to reading this one.

5. A Beach Wish by Shelley Noble - This looks like a wonderful beachy with family secrets and relationships.  

What are you hoping to read in June?

Thursday, June 1, 2023

Books from the Backlog - Starlight on Willow Lake

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:  Starlight on Willow Lake by Susan Wiggs

Blurb:  When caregiver Faith McCallum arrives at the enchanted, lakeside estate of Avalon's renowned Bellamy family, she's intent on rebuilding her shattered life and giving her two daughters a chance at a better future. But she faces a formidable challenge in the form of her stubborn and difficult new employer, Alice Bellamy. While Faith proves a worthy match for her sharp-tongued client, she often finds herself at a loss for words in the presence of Mason Bellamy—Alice's charismatic son, who clearly longs to escape the family mansion and return to his fast-paced, exciting life in Manhattan…and his beautiful, jet-setting fiancĂ©e.
The last place Mason wants to be is a remote town in the Catskills, far from his life in the city, and Faith McCallum is supposed to be the key to his escape. Hiring the gentle-hearted yet strong-willed caregiver as a live-in nurse gives his mother companionship and Mason the freedom to return to his no-attachments routine. For Faith, it means stability for her daughters and a much-needed new home. When Faith makes a chilling discovery about Alice's accident, Mason is forced to reconsider his desire to keep everyone, including his mother, at a distance. Now he finds himself wondering if the supercharged life he's created for himself is what he truly wants…and whether exploring his past might lead to a new life—and lasting love—on the tranquil shores of Willow Lake.

Why It Needs to Come Off the Shelf:  I read a Susan Wiggs book not that long ago and enjoyed it and the cover of this one just screams summer day on the water!

Wednesday, May 31, 2023

The Murderous Type - Cozy Mystery Review

Goodreads: The Murderous Type (The Bookstore Mystery #2) by Sue Minix

Rating:  Not For Me
Source:   Publisher

Description:  Crime writer turned amateur sleuth Jen has taken over the running of the local bookstore in her hometown of Riddleton.

But balancing the books at Ravenous Readers is nothing compared to meeting the deadline for her new novel.

Dodging phone calls from her editor takes a back seat, however, when the local police chief is poisoned. Jen must dust off her detective hat once more to solve the murder.

With everyone in town seemingly a suspect, and evidence planted to incriminate local police officer and close friend Eric, Jen is working against the clock. Can she find the killer and beat her own writer’s block before it’s too late?

Genre:  Mystery - Cozy

Why I Picked This Book:  I can never resist a bookish cozy and there was a dog on the cover.

My Impression:  I read a lot of cozy mysteries and unfortunately not every one is going to work for me.  Unfortunately, this is one of them.  I did not read the first book in the series so that may have negatively impacted my opinion of this book but I don't think it would have substantially changed it.

I do love the setup of having an author who also runs a bookstore and I loved that she has a doggy companion.  Unfortunately this was never a book I was able to get into and it never really made that much of impression on me.  There are a lot of characters and even more detail about each character and everything else around them which ended up with me accidentally skimming and then having to go back and reread whole paragraphs.

This writing style didn't work well with me and I never really connected with any of the characters at all.  This wasn't a bad book but it just wasn't one that worked for me.  

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Probably not.  I don't think this writing style works for me. 

Would I Recommend this Book?  If the premise interests you I recommend starting with the beginning of the series.

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

Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Top Ten Tuesday - Ten Things That Instantly Make Me NOT Want to Read a Book

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 Ten Things that Instantly Make Me NOT Want to Read a Book.  I had a good time thinking of things I avoid in books especially after last weeks' topic which got me thinking of things that make me WANT to read a book.

1.  Love triangles -  I don't mind a bit of a love triangle if it is resolved within the book but if it continues for multiple books into the series and both relationships are developing.

2.  Secret babies - I can't stand a secret baby plot - especially in a romance.  Every once in awhile I've seen this work but for the most part I don't even give it a chance.

3.  Children in peril - If there's even a mention of children in peril or worse in the blurb I'm probably going to skip the book.

4.  Animal cruelty - Ditto above.

5.  Heavy angst/drama - I'm pretty nonconfrontational in non-bookish life and lots of drama tends to give me a headache and that seems to carryover to fictional angsty drama.

6.  An Illogical Nemesis - I don't mind if the main character isn't besties with everyone (I usually prefer it) but when the main character is an adult and has a nemesis who acts like a supervillain I'm not a fan.

7.  Covers Controversial topics - This may be a bit of an unpopular opinion but I'm an escapist reader and if a book is covering a topic (either nonfiction or in fictional way) that tends to ruin holiday dinners I'm usually out.

8.  Lots of Violence and Gore - There's a reason I gravitate to cozy mysteries or Agatha Christie style stories.  While I do enjoy a murder mystery I'm not a big fan of in-depth gruesome scenes. 

9.  A Series Where I've Already Disliked a Book - Or an author where the last book I read didn't work for me.  While I'm a big believer in second chances there are too many books out there begging to be read to force myself to read books that aren't working for me.

10.  Super High Page Count - A high page count isn't a deal breaker but I do tend to hesitate before picking up a super long book.  

What things keep you from wanting to read a book?

Monday, May 29, 2023

Murder Off the Books - Cozy Mystery Review

Goodreads:  Murder Off the Books (By the Books Mystery #3) by Tamara Berry

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

Description:  Author Tess Harrow and her daughter, Gertrude, are starting to get a bad reputation due to their involvement in recent murder cases, so Tess has come up with the perfect plan to drum up some positive press. She'll combine her new book release and her bookstore opening into one big event, giving her a chance to wine and dine the locals and some big press contacts. But the night before the party, Tess is greeted by a surprise: her mother has come for a visit, with her much-younger new boyfriend in tow...a boyfriend Gertrude recognizes as the notorious Levi Parker, a man recently connected to the deaths of three elderly widows.

Tess immediately alerts Sheriff Boyd about the visitor, but it's already too late. Levi Parker is found dead and Tess's mother is starting to look like the prime suspect. Bernadette swears she didn't murder Levi, and Tess is doing her best to maintain her mother's innocence, but too many coincidences keep stacking up. With the whole town seemingly against her family, it's up to Tess to get to the bottom of the story before it's too late.

Genre: Mystery - Cozy

Why I Picked This Book:  I have thoroughly enjoyed the previous two books in this series so I couldn't wait to see what kind of trouble Tess got into next.  

My Impression:  If I had only one word to review this book I'd use the word chaotic.  For the most part that is in the best possible way.  Tess Harrow is smart, creative, funny, and could not do a load of laundry without turning everything into complete and total chaos which makes for a very entertaining story.  Gertrude is her usual delightful precocious self and the addition of Tess's mother definitely added to the chaos and drama - especially considering her latest fling is suspected of murdering his last few love interests (all older women with money).  Throw in Tess trying to open her bookstore and a fame driven podcaster and this was a fun mystery from beginning to end.

I love that Tess is a bit of chaos and definitely quirky but it doesn't feel forced or over the top.  Tess is quirky and impulsive and fabulous at jumping to the wildest of conclusions but it is so 100% her that it doesn't bother me the way it might in a character less well drawn.  The mystery had lots of ins and outs and things going on with fish money, autographed books, and bunches of other things that did come together in the end to make a satisfying conclusion.  That said some of the chaos did bleed off onto the end of the book making things feel a tiny bit confusing at first and there were a few points that I would have liked addressed more (especially an old picture Tess finds in an ill advised searching activity).  

All of  that said, this is a fun read from beginning to end with an entertaining and unpredictable main character and I can't wait to see what she's going to do next!

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Absolutely!  I have really enjoyed every book I've read by this author and can't wait to read more.  

Would I Recommend this Book?  If you enjoy cozies with interesting characters and fun plotlines this is the series for you!

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

Sunday, May 28, 2023

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:

Summer's Gift by Jennifer Ryan - Any book that involves DNA discovered family is a book I can't resist.  (Publisher)

Scaredy Cat by Sofia Ryan - I love this series and was so excited to see this book. (Publisher)

Nine Lives and Alibis by Cate Conte - This is a series I've been wanting to read for ages and while I usually prefer to start at the beginning of the series this one looks like lots of fun.  (Publisher)

Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Lord by Celeste Connelly - I love the sound of this one and am so looking forward to reading it! (Publisher)


Reading:  The Murderous Type by Sue Minx and The Pagan Stone by Nora Roberts

Listening:  Single Malt Murder by Melinda Mullet

It is allergy season with a vengeance here and I think I'm about 95% Benadryl at this point.  This happens every year around this time and it gets better pretty quickly but right now I'm going to bed!  I hope every has a great week and happy reading!

Saturday, May 27, 2023

Into the Darkness - Keeper Shelf Review

Goodreads:  Into the Darkness by Barbara Michaels

Rating: Loved It (5 Stars)
Source:   Purchased

Description:  Meg Venturi never expected the windfall she inherits when her grandfather dies. For some unknown reason the eccentric old millionaire has left her his profitable antique jewelry business. But there is a catch. Meg must share the business with an aloof, mysterious, and somewhat sinister young man called A. L. Riley. The town is whispering about her enigmatic new partner. Rumors spread about unspoken secrets, a dark and disturbing legacy . . . and murder. Soon a series of troubling events has Meg looking uncomfortably over her shoulder. The longer she stays in this tiny New England village the clearer two very troubling truths that all that glitters is definitely not gold . . . and that someone will stop at nothing to drive her away.

Genre: Mystery - Suspense

Why I Picked This Book:  I'm slowly rereading all the books on my Keeper Shelf to make sure they deserve their place on the shelf!

My Impression: If you had asked me what my favorite Barbara Michaels book was before I reread this one this book would have definitely been in the running.  Going in with high expectations always makes me a bit nervous but this book did not disappoint!  Not only did this definitely re-earn it's Keeper Shelf placement but it also confirmed that it is definitely in the running for favorite Barbara Michaels book - really it's between this book and Shattered Silk.  

Meg has resisted being pushed into the family business - that is until her beloved if complicated grandfather dies and Meg finds herself back at the family estate and pulled into not just the business but a possible mystery.  I was pulled into this book from the very beginning.  Not only did I find Meg an interesting lead character I was also intrigued by her family and their complicated relationships.  But if I'm being honest the real star of this book is the jewels.  My main complaint is that there aren't pictures!  The variety of jewelry covered is fascinating - from famous historic jewels, to mourning jewelry, to small regard rings with their hidden messages, and even new pieces.  I also like that the small town setting is not all unicorns and rainbows like small towns so frequently are in fiction.

Even knowing how this ended I still felt myself pulled into this story and couldn't read it fast enough.  Barbara Michaels' writing style never misses and I can't help but be pulled in and completely caught up in the story from beginning to end.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Of course!  I only have a couple of more books in this reread and I'll be sad to come to the end of the list!

Would I Recommend this Book?  If you like suspense with a touch of romance this is a fun read!

Friday, May 26, 2023

Friday Fives - 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.  The Library Book by Susan Orlean - This is a nonfiction book loosely about the Los Angeles Library fire in the late 1980s.  Along with looking into the devastating fire the author discusses the institution of the library itself, its origins and how libraries are changing with the times, and a huge collection of other subjects.  At first I wanted more of a true crime novel regarding the fire and it definitely isn't that but I ended up really enjoying this look at libraries and the people who run them.  My Rating: Really Liked It (4 Stars)

2.  The Ex Hex by Erin Sterling - This was a cute witchy fiction about what happens when you mix a broken heart, vodka and a curse.  What seems like an immature ill thought out blip when Vivi is 19 ends up going horribly wrong when Rhys (the object of the drunken curse) shows back up after 10 years.  Mayhem and hijinks ensue with some laugh out loud moments and some frantic problem solving.  There are a number of spicy scenes which I could have done without as I really enjoyed other aspects of Vivi and Rhys's relationship much more.  Overall though this was a fun light and fluffy read.  My Rating: Liked It! (3.5 Stars)

3.  The Littlest Library by Poppy Alexander - Well this was just lovely.  Jess has had a bit of a hard time.  She lost her beloved grandmother, Mimi, who was mother, father and best friend all in one and she's just lost her job as a librarian.  Taking a chance both in memory of Mimi and with the encouragement over Zoom from her friend Hannah, Jess ends up in a little English village buying a cottage that just happens to involve turning the red phone box in front of her house into something.  I loved watching Jess become part of the village as she slowly finds her place and her new family.  The book mentions are delightful and Jess's enthusiasm for reading radiates from the page.  This was a wonderful read from beginning to end.  My Rating: Loved It (5 Stars)

4.  On Spine of Death by Tamara Berry - I loved the first book in this series about thriller writer Tess and her teenage daughter Gertie and couldn't wait to see what they were up to in the second book.  And wow were they busy!  Bodies are found under the floor of Tess's grandfather's old hardware store that she is turning into a bookstore which opens up multiple cold cases including one that hits close to home for the Police Chief.  The book starts off with quite a bang and the pace keeps going with mystery progress and other hijinks which kept me pulled in and entertained.  I can't wait to read the next book in the series!  My Rating: Really Liked It! (4.5 Stars)

5.  The Lady Has a Past by Amanda Quick - I love this series!  We met Lyra in the previous book as the younger sister of the main character and in this book the focus is on her.  Lyra is a fun character.   She has recently come to a turning point where she realized that what she thought she wanted her whole life may not be what she wants.  As well, she is working as an apprentice Private Investigator to Raina Kirk.  Raina has long been a side character in this series and I really enjoyed seeing a more vulnerable side to her in this story.   The plot was fast paced and entertaining and kept me holding my breath and wondering just what was going on.  It was definitely fun to see how everything played out.  While this book is technically part of a series it is really only loosely connected to previous books and can easily be read as a stand alone.  I'm really looking forward to reading the next book in the series.  My Rating: Really Liked It! (4.5 Stars)

Thursday, May 25, 2023

Books from the Backlog - The Paris Key

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:  An American in Paris navigates her family's secret past and unlocks her own future, in this emotionally evocative novel by New York Times bestselling author Juliet Blackwell.

As a girl, Genevieve Martin spent the happiest summer of her life in Paris, learning the delicate art of locksmithing at her uncle's side. But since then, living back in the States, she has become more private, more subdued. She has been an observer of life rather than an active participant, holding herself back from those around her, including her soon-to-be-ex-husband. Paris never really left Genevieve, and, as her marriage crumbles, she finds herself faced with an incredible opportunity: return to the magical city of her youth to take over her late uncle's shop. But as she absorbs all that Parisian culture has to offer, she realizes the city also holds secrets about her family that could change her forever, and that locked doors can protect you or imprison you, depending on which side of them you stand.

Why It Needs to Come Off the Shelf:  It sounds amazing and I've really enjoyed other books by this author.  This would be a great read to end my birthday month on!