Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Top Ten Tuesday = Ten Books On My TBR With Winter-y Covers

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 freebie and since it is cold and dreary I'm picking out ten books on my TBR with winter-y covers.

1.  A Wish For Winter by Viola Shipman

2.  Stalking Ground by Margaret Mizushima

3,  Miracle Road by Emily March

4,  Kingdom Come by Jane Jensen

5.  Dangerous Games by Tess Diamond

6.  Dark Night by Paige Shelton

7. Hot Winter Nights by Jill Shalvis

8.  Assault and Beret by Jenn McKinlay

9.  Someone to Trust by Mary Balogh

10. Circle of Influence by Annette Dashofy

Do you have any books on your TBR with Winter-y cover?

Monday, January 30, 2023

TBR Tarot Reads - Ham Biscuits, Hostess Gowns, and Other Southern Specialties

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 dedication to "Mum"

Blurb: Julia Reed spends a lot of time thinking about ham biscuits. And cornbread and casseroles and the surprisingly modern ease of donning a hostess gown for one’s own party. In Ham Biscuits, Hostess Gowns and Other Southern Specialties Julia Reed collects her thoughts on good cooking and the lessons of gracious entertaining that pass from one woman to another, and takes the reader on a lively and very personal tour of the culinary—and social—South.
 In essays on everything from pork chops to the perfect picnic Julia Reed revels in the simple good qualities that make the Southern table the best possible place to pull up a chair. She expounds on: the Southerner’s relentless penchant for using gelatin; why most things taste better with homemade mayonnaise; the necessity of a holiday milk punch (and, possibly, a Santa hat); how best to “cook for compliments” (at least one squash casserole and Lee Bailey’s barbequed veal are key). She provides recipes for some of the region’s best-loved dishes (cheese straws, red velvet cake, breakfast shrimp), along with her own variations on the classics, including Fried Oysters Rockefeller Salad and Creole Crab Soup. She also elaborates on worthwhile information every hostess would do well to learn: the icebreaking qualities of a Ramos gin fizz and a hot crabmeat canapĂ©, for example; the “wow factor” intrinsic in a platter of devilled eggs or a giant silver punchbowl filled with scoops of homemade ice cream. There is guidance on everything from the best possible way to “eat” your luck on New Year’s Day to composing a menu in honor of someone you love. Grace and hilarity under gastronomic pressure suffuse these essays, along with remembrances of her gastronomic heroes including Richard Olney, Mary Cantwell, and M.F.K. Fisher. Ham Biscuits, Hostess Gowns and Other Southern Specialties is another great book about the South from Julia Reed, a writer who makes her experiences in—and out of—the kitchen a joy to read.

My Thoughts:  Technically the dedication is "To My Mother" but I call it close enough.  This was the only book I had on my shelves (without digging deep into the stacks) that was dedicated to just the mother.  I had several that were dedicated to both parents or multiple generations or entire families but only one dedicated to just the author's mother.

This was a fun book of essays about eating in the Junior League world in the South with some forays into dinner parties in D.C. and Manhattan.  There's amazing descriptions of food and ingredients and dinner parties as well as yummy sounding recipes of varying degrees of difficulties.  

This is a quick read though best read in small doses.  While Reed's stories are entertaining read in large doses it can be a bit much and come off a bit pretentious.  

If you have a connection to the South or a love of Southern food this is a fun read to dip into.

Saturday, January 28, 2023

Life with NO MORE Leukemia - January 29

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

What I Got:

Vera Wong's Unsolicited Advice for Murderers by Jesse Q. Sutanto - I'm super excited about this one.  It was on my most anticipated reads for 2023 and I couldn't hit the accept button fast enough when it was offered.  (Publisher)


Wined and Died in New Orleans by Ellen Byron and Search the Shadows by Barbara Michaels

Listening:  Killers of a Certain Age by Deanna Raybourn

Will is LEUKEMIA FREE!!!  He was diagnosed in June of 2020 and has gone through 3 phases of treatment with the last one being 120 weeks long.  He received his last IV chemo Tuesday and will take his last oral chemo this coming Monday.  He had a spinal tap and bone marrow test and both came back negative for disease which means he is officially in remission!

It was a long week with lots of appointments and two different procedurals.  We got back from Memphis yesterday and are flat out exhausted.  I think I could happily sleep for a week!

Have a great week and happy reading!

Black Coffee - Cozy Mystery Review

Goodreads: Black Coffee by Agatha Christie and Charles Osborne

Rating: Liked It (3 Stars)
Source:  Publisher

Description:  Inventor Sir Claude Amory feels a bitter taste in the mouth, when the new formula for explosive material stolen by someone in the household.

In order to quickly remedy the situation, Sir Claude locks the door and turns off the light, giving the thief a chance to return the formula without being detected. But darkness brings death and Hercule Poirot has to untangle family strife, love and suspicious visitors tangle in order to clarify the murderer and prevent disaster.
Genre: Mystery - Classic

My Impression:  This book is actually a play written by Agatha Christie fairly early in her career that was turned into a novel by Charles Osborne after her death.  The structure of this story is Christie at her best and uses a number of familiar Christie plot devices.  There's a murder at a country house, a missing formula with national defense implications, and a number of suspects who all have possible motives to do away with the victim.  Poirot and Hastings are back with Chief Inspector Japp.

What kept this book from being a winner is that it is clearly a play turned into a novel.  The descriptions frequently read like stage directions and the dialogue can be over the top in detail which works in a play but not so much in a novel.  I would love to see this story preformed as a play but it lacks a bit as a novel.  

Would I Read More of this Series/Author? Of course!  While this isn't the best Agatha Christie it was still a fun read.  

Would I Recommend this Book?  Unless you're already a big Christie fan this probably isn't the book to start with.

Friday, January 27, 2023

Friday Five - Five Books I'd Want to Read on a Snowy Weekend

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.  It is cold here though in a dreary blah kind of way.    So if I have to be cold I'm imagining a nice cozy cabin in the woods with a picturesque amount of snow that under no circumstances do I have to go out in.  These are the 5 books I'd want to have stacked up next to me to read as I cozy up in front of the fire with nice soft blanket.

1.  Angel's Rest by Emily March - I read an Emily March book for the first time in awhile and it was so cozy and enjoyable that it reminded me that I need to read more books from her.

2.  The Masked City by Genevieve Cogman - I read the first book in this series and enjoyed it and want to continue the series.  It seems like the perfect read for a cozy cold weekend.

3.  52 Loaves: One Man's Relentless Pursuit of Truth, Meaning and a Perfect Crust by William Alexander - Something about cold days makes me want to bake but there is a limit to how much bread I should probably eat so I'll get a little bit of virtual breadmaking from this book.

4.  Ghosts of Greenglass House by Kate Milford - The first book in this series involved a group of people getting snowed in at a mountain top hotel so it seems like perfect reading for a cold weekend.

5.  Seven Days of Us by Francesca Hornak - A family in quarantine around the holidays in an aging estate sounds like fun reading for a quiet weekend.

What books would you want if you were spending a snowy weekend in a cozy cabin?

Thursday, January 26, 2023

Books from the Backlog - Beyond the Pale

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:  Beyond the Pale by Clare O'Donohue

Blurb:  It's a simple, twenty-minute job. At least, that's the pitch from Interpol to married college professors Hollis and Finn Larsson. Going undercover to procure a priceless rare book manuscript means an all-expenses paid trip abroad. A little danger thrown into the mix may even spice things up.
Soon after landing in the Emerald Isle, they realize the job is anything but simple. Their contact is a no show and they're left with fifty thousand euros, some serious questions, and a possible death threat. Ducking and dodging their way across Ireland, Hollis and Finn must hunt down the priceless manuscript and a missing agent while trying to stay one step ahead of a dangerous and unknown enemy.

Why It Needs to Come Off the Shelf:  This has been gathering virtual dust on my NetGalley shelf for years but it sounds like it could be an interesting read and I love the cove.

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

When Time Stopped + Playing to the Gods - Nonfiction Reviews


Goodreads: When Time Stopped: A Memoir of My Father's War and What Remains by Ariana Neumann

Blurb:  In 1941, the first Neumann family member was taken by the Nazis, arrested in German-occupied Czechoslovakia for bathing in a stretch of river forbidden to Jews. He was transported to Auschwitz. Eighteen days later his prisoner number was entered into the morgue book.
Of thirty-four Neumann family members, twenty-five were murdered by the Nazis. One of the survivors was Hans Neumann, who, to escape the German death net, traveled to Berlin and hid in plain sight under the Gestapo’s eyes. What Hans experienced was so unspeakable that, when he built an industrial empire in Venezuela, he couldn’t bring himself to talk about it. All his daughter Ariana knew was that something terrible had happened.

When Hans died, he left Ariana a small box filled with letters, diary entries, and other memorabilia. Ten years later Ariana finally summoned the courage to have the letters translated, and she began reading. What she discovered launched her on a worldwide search that would deliver indelible portraits of a family loving, finding meaning, and trying to survive amid the worst that can be imagined.

When Time Stopped is a detective story and an epic family memoir, spanning nearly ninety years and crossing oceans. Neumann brings each relative to vivid life. In uncovering her father’s story after all these years, she discovers nuance and depth to her own history and liberates poignant and thought-provoking truths about the threads of humanity that connect us all.

My Thoughts:  This was one of those books I wanted to tell people about as I was reading it.  I found the story of the Neumann family heartbreaking and compelling and Ariana was a sympathetic detective digging into the past of a family she never really knew.  This is the story of an ordinary Czechoslovakian Jewish family desperately trying to survive the war and it's also the story of a daughter trying to understand her father and decode the clues he left for her.  There are plenty of heartbreaking elements in this book but because we are learning the story as Ariana investigates there's just enough distance to soften the blows just a little.  The story was fast paced and read like a novel but the story and this family are still with me long after I've put the book down.  My Rating: Loved It (5 Stars)

Goodreads:  Playing to the Gods: Sarah Bernhardt, Eleonora Duse, and the Rivalry That Changed Acting Forever by Peter Rader

Blurb:   The riveting story of the rivalry between the two most renowned actresses of the nineteenth century: legendary Sarah Bernhardt, whose eccentricity on and off the stage made her the original diva, and mystical Eleonora Duse, who broke all the rules to popularize the natural style of acting we celebrate today.
Audiences across Europe and the Americas clamored to see the divine Sarah Bernhardt swoon—and she gave them their money’s worth. The world’s first superstar, she traveled with a chimpanzee named Darwin and a pet alligator that drank champagne, shamelessly supplementing her income by endorsing everything from aperitifs to beef bouillon, and spreading rumors that she slept in a coffin to better understand the macabre heroines she played.

Eleonora Duse shied away from the spotlight. Born to a penniless family of itinerant troubadours, she disappeared into the characters she portrayed—channeling their spirits, she claimed. Her new, empathetic style of acting revolutionized the theater—and earned her the ire of Sarah Bernhardt in what would become the most tumultuous theatrical showdown of the nineteenth century. Bernhardt and Duse seduced each other’s lovers, stole one another’s favorite playwrights, and took to the world’s stages to outperform their rival in her most iconic roles.

A scandalous, enormously entertaining history full of high drama and low blows, Playing to the Gods is the page-turning account of the feud that changed theater forever.

My Thoughts:  This was an absolutely fascinating look at the evolution of acting, theater, and the beginnings of the silent movie industry.  I recognize the name Sarah Bernhardt but know very little about her and Eleonora Duse was completely unknown to me.  Both of their stories are fascinating and at times heartbreaking.  I know very little about the history of theater but found the change of styles as illustrated by the two women as well as the relationship between the actresses, playwrights, directors, patrons, and the general public fascinating.   This was a well paced nonfiction about two interesting women in a turbulent profession.  My Rating: Really Liked It! (4.5 Stars)

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Top Ten Tuesday - Ten Authors I Read for the First Time in 2022

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 New to Me Author in 2022.  Most of the authors and books have been around for quite some time but 2022 was the year I finally read something by them!

1.  Simone St. James - I've been wanting to read this author forever but this year I finally picked up The Book of Cold Cases and really enjoyed it.

2.  Joy Ellis - I read the first book in her DI Nikki Galena series and can't wait to continue with the series.

3.  Mercedes Lackey - I read The Fairy Godmother this year and really enjoyed it.  I'm not much of a fantasy reader so I probably won't be reading her books regularly but I do want to read more from her.

4.  Richard Osman - I couldn't resist picking up The Thursday Murder Club and really enjoyed it.

5.  Fiona Davis - I read and absolutely loved The Magnolia Palace this year and can't wait to read more by her.  

6.  Alice Feeney - I read Daisy Darker earlier this year and it kept me completely captivated.  

7.  Maddie Day - I have been wanting to read this prolific cozy author for ages and I finally did this year.  Now I just need to get caught on on her multiple series!

8.  Anne Bogel - I read and really enjoyed I'd Rather Be Reading and now I need to read the rest of her books.

9.  Genevieve Cogman - I finally read The Invisible Library and now I really need to continue the series.

10. Lucy Foley - I read The Paris Apartment earlier this year and loved the atmosphere that Foley created and can't wait to read more from her.

What authors did you read for the first time in 2022?

Monday, January 23, 2023

Overdue Reviews - Murder at the Book Group + The Art of Arranging Flowers

Goodreads:  Murder at the Book Group by Maggie King

Blurb:  Hazel Rose never dreamed that the murder mystery book group she and her friend Carlene started would stage a "real "murder.Nevertheless, on the night when the normally composed Carlene seems unusually angry and rattled, during group discussion she dies after drinking cyanide-spiked tea. Despite a suicide note, Hazel is skeptical; Carlene never seemed suicidal--why else would she make all those plans for her future? Incidentally, Carlene was married to Hazel's ex-husband, and Hazel has always suspected there might be something more to her past than she let on.
How much does anyone really know about Carlene Arness? And did she die by her own hand or someone else's? Hazel begins a search for the truth that produces no shortage of motives, as she unearths a past that Carlene took great pains to hide. And most of those motives belong to the members of her very own book group...

My Thoughts:  I wanted to love this.  I love mysteries involving readers and the structure of the book club sounded pretty amazing.  As well the murder was done in a fairly clever way.  And that's about when it went out of the rails for me.  I didn't like any of the characters and the obsession with sex got old.  It seemed like all the characters talked about was who was having sex, who wasn't and what everyone thought about who was and who wasn't and everyone had an opinion about everything.  I just didn't care.  As well, it seemed a little odd that there was essentially no police involvement with the actual investigation.  It wrapped up okay but it was not a book I was sorry to see the end of.  My Rating: Not For Me

Goodreads:  The Art of Arranging Flowers by Lynne Branard

Blurb:  Ruby Jewell knows flowers. In her twenty years as a florist she has stood behind the counter at the Flower Shoppe with her faithful dog, Clementine, resting at her feet. A customer can walk in, and with just a glance or a few words, Ruby can throw together the perfect arrangement for any occasion.
Whether intended to rekindle a romance, mark a celebration, offer sympathy, or heal a broken heart, her expressive floral designs mark the moments and milestones in the lives of her neighbors. It’s as though she knows just what they want to say, just what they need.

Yet Ruby’s own heart’s desires have gone ignored since the death of her beloved sister. It will take an invitation from a man who’s flown to the moon, the arrival of a unique little boy, and concern from a charming veterinarian to reawaken her wounded spirit. Any life can be derailed, but the healing power of community can put it right again.

My Thoughts:  Unfortunately, this is another book that just didn't quite work for me.  I love flowers and the whole language and healing powers of them.  I also love books involving dogs and small towns.  However, this book kind of read like I was getting just a stream of consciousness of Ruby Jewell and her thoughts were not nearly as profound as she thought they were.  I did like the last 1/3 of book but until that point the book really didn't seem to have any plot or motivation.  I probably would have rated this at 2 stars if it wasn't for a side character who had cancer.  The character ends up going to a natural healer and beating the cancer by "standing up to it" and essentially making it go away.  As someone who has a child who is currently fighting cancer this sent me into rant-mode every time it was mentioned and dropped the book to a 1 star for me.  My Rating: Not For Me (1 Star)

Saturday, January 21, 2023

Life with Leukemia, a Puppy and Some Reading - January 22

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

What I Got:

The Bride Wore White by Amanda Quick - I love the Burning Cove series and this looks like a great read! (Publisher)

The Summer Skies by Jenny Colgan - Colgan is another favorite author and I'm looking forward to reading this one! (Publisher)


Reading: Six Sweets Under by Sarah Fox and Your Guide to Not Getting Murdered in a Quaint English Village by Maureen Johnson and Jay Cooper

Listening: Circle of Influence by Annette Dashofy

Will and I went to read with cats which was really fun.  I'm trying to find outings that he will enjoy as well as trying to figure out a schedule to help transition into a the non-cancer treatment world.  It's a bit scary and a bit exciting for all of us.  We head to Memphis this week for week 120 of the 3rd and final phase of treatment.  He'll get his last IV chemo as well as a spinal tap, bone marrow test and CT scan.  And if all the test results come out the way we expect he'll also get his port removed.  Getting the port removed is a huge step in return to normalcy as that means a fever is no longer a medical emergency and he can take advil or tylenol for minor aches and pain since we don't have worry about possibly missing an infection because those are masking a fever.

Obedience classes are going well and I'm loving working with a new group of dogs.  We've got such a fun group this class cycle and such an interesting variety of breeds.  Rover is doing well in his scent work classes and we are having a good time in rally classes though he and I both need a nap after class because that's hard!

I've been prepping for heading up to Memphis and working on school planning for Will post-treatment.  Between that and dog classes and all the allergy medicine that I had to take for the cat reading afternoon it's been a fun but low-key busy week!

Have a great week and happy reading!

The Alington Inheritance - Classic Mystery Review

Goodreads:   The Alington Inheritance by Patricia Wentworth

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

Description:  When 17-year-old orphan Jenny Hill discovers that she is the rightful owner of the Alington estate, she searches for the paperwork to prove it. When Jenny overhears her relatives plotting against her, she flees. It will take all of Miss Silver's wiles to cut this familial knot without getting hopelessly ensnared.

Genre:  Mystery - Classic

My Impression:  This was just a delight!  When Jenny Hill's guardian dies after a terrible accident she learns that she might not be Jenny Hill at all but instead Jenny Forbes.  And if she is Jenny Forbes that means she is the legitimate heir to the manor house and all that entails.  

While the book centers around Jenny's story she feels like more of a main character.  Miss Silver comes in to help a young man who has been arrested and who's conviction seems certain.  From that point on Jenny becomes more of a side character while the young man's guilt or innocence is sorted out.  The structure of this book is a bit different.  Not only does the main character basically shift as the book progresses but the reader knows the who and the why from the time of the murder but we just have to wait to see how Miss Silver can prove it.

What kept this book from being a 5 star book for me are two things.  The first is the fact that Jenny is 17.  She's supposed to be young but 17 seems a bit too young.  My other issue is the huge coincidence that throws Jenny into the path of Richard Forbes and his aunt.  These were really two fairly minor points that didn't keep me from enjoying the book but just kept it from being a perfect read.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author? Of course!  I only have one more Miss Silver book and I'll be sorry to come to the end though luckily I still have some Patricia Wentworth books left to read.

Would I Recommend this Book? I would definitely recommend this author - especially if you are a fan of Miss Marple.

Friday, January 20, 2023

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.

The Christmas Bookshop by Jenny Colgan
- I wasn't so sure about this one at first.  I usually love Jenny Colgan but in this book the main character, Carmen, is a whiny brat, her sister, Sofia, is a distracted control freak, and the nanny, Skylar, is the absolute worst.  By the end of the book I loved Sofia and Carmen (though they'd both probably drive me crazy from time to time in real life) and Skylar is still the absolute worst and that was okay.  And after a bit of a bumpy start for the first 5 to 10% I absolutely loved the journey getting from the beginning to the end.  My Rating: Really Liked It! (4 Stars)

Thin Ice by Paige Shelton -
This is a bit different from the usual cozy mystery Shelton writes.  Beth Rivers went through a horrific ordeal in Missouri and now she is hiding and trying to rediscover herself in Benedict, Alaska.  She finds herself in an unusual living situation and in an unusual town and involved in the mysterious death of another woman in town.  The focus of the book felt more like it was on Beth herself trying to regain her memories of the event, getting used to living in Benedict, and dealing with the people she left behind.  The mystery itself was interesting but even more interesting was Beth herself and her history.  I'm looking forward to continuing the series.  My Rating: Really Liked It! (4 Stars)

The Recipe Box by Viola Shipman
- This was the first Viola Shipman book I've read and it won't be last.  I loved the family history and the stories about the orchard.  The food descriptions were amazing and I would love to try pretty much any food that was mentioned.  I did take some time to warm to Sam as she seemed to be struggling with what she wanted but didn't actual take any time to reflect about what she wanted.  Overall, this was a sweet book with strong family connections and  a wonderful setting.  I will definitely be trying more books from this author.  My Rating:  Really Liked It! (4 Stars)

Hello, Sunshine by Laura Dave
- I really wanted to love this book and to be fair I didn't dislike it.  I did dislike Sunshine for the bulk of the book and lost count of how many times she made me want to roll my eyes.  I did like seeing her relationship with her sister develop and her niece was a delight.  The ending was an interesting twist and I was glad to see that Sunny did get a bit of a redemption arc but I do wish it had started earlier in the book and that the ending had a bit more closure to it.  My Rating: Liked It (3 Stars)

The Evil Inside by Heather Graham -
I love the Krewe of Hunters series and this book was no exception. Graham's books are fun and spooky with great settings.  While it's a long running series the books are only loosely connected with the main connection being an ever growing special FBI unit that can has varying supernatural elements.  This book involved a bloody murder in a house with a very bloody history in Salem, Massachusetts.  Jenna can see ghosts which helps give her context for the investigation.  Samuel Hall is a high powered defense attorney who happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and gets involved in defending the accused killer.  It was an interesting dynamic to see the Krewe of Hunters invested in defending a suspect though they are still trying to find the killer.  I didn't love the dynamic between Sam and Jenna.  She was a little flat and he was a bit disdainful of her abilities which made it hard to really root for them as a couple.  Overall, it was an entertaining read with a great setting and this is a series I'm looking forward to continuing.  My Rating: Liked It (3 Stars)

What have you read and enjoyed lately?

Thursday, January 19, 2023

Books from the Backlog - My Life with Bob

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:  My Life with Bob: Flawed Heroine and Keeps Book of Books, Plot Ensues by Pamela Paul

Blurb:  Imagine keeping a record of every book you've ever read. What would this reading trajectory say about you? With passion, humor, and insight, the editor of The New York Times Book Review shares the stories that have shaped her life.
Pamela Paul has kept a single book by her side for twenty-eight years—carried throughout high school and college, hauled from Paris to London to Thailand, from job to job, safely packed away and then carefully removed from apartment to house to its current perch on a shelf over her desk—reliable if frayed, anonymous-looking yet deeply personal. This book has a name: Bob.

Bob is Paul's Book of Books, a journal that records every book she's ever read, from Sweet Valley High to Anna Karenina, from Catch-22 to Swimming to Cambodia, a journey in reading that reflects her inner life—her fantasies and hopes, her mistakes and missteps, her dreams and her ideas, both half-baked and wholehearted. Her life, in turn, influences the books she chooses, whether for solace or escape, information or sheer entertainment.

But My Life with Bob isn't really about those books. It's about the deep and powerful relationship between book and reader. It's about the way books provide each of us the perspective, courage, companionship, and imperfect self-knowledge to forge our own path. It's about why we read what we read and how those choices make us who we are. It's about how we make our own stories.

Why It Needs to Come Off the Shelf:  I picked this up at a used bookstore and it looks like it could be really fun.  And even if it's not (I tend to either love or hate books about books) it's short so shouldn't take me very long.

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

The Backup Plan - Contemporary Romance Review

Goodreads:  The Backup Plan (Sunrise Cove #3) by Jill Shalvis

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

Description:  When Alice receives a call about an unexpected windfall, she's stunned to learn the gift is a falling-apart-at-the-seams old Wild West B&B she once considered home--and she's inherited it along with two strangers. Except they weren't always strangers. Once upon a time, they were friends. One is her ex-BFF Lauren. The other is Knox, the only guy to ever break her heart, all while never even knowing she existed.

It turns out their lives are unknowingly entangled because they once separately helped the same woman without expecting anything in return. Years later, Alice, Lauren, and Knox are broken in their own way, with their own history--and secrets-- causing them to start out on the wrong foot with each other. But according to the will, they must renovate and be partners in the inn for one year or else lose their inheritance.

Stuck together, they make a list of rules to keep the peace--rules that end up doing the opposite, but by some miracle they find what they didn't even know they were looking for--acceptance, true friendship, and in a case (or two!), true love.

Genre: Romance - Contemporary

Why I Picked This Book:  I have really enjoyed other books by this author and this premise sounds too fantastic to pass up.

My Impression:   This was a fun read and definitely lived up to my expectations.  Each character is so different and has their own baggage but also has a shared past and some similar baggage.  Even though she has died before the book takes place I loved that we got the emails from Eleanor.  Not only did I get a chuckle over how she referred to her sister and herself but was nice to hear her reasonings and motivations for the inheritance.  The continually growing list of rules was also a lot of fun.

Alice, Lauren, and Knox all have some pretty real issues to overcome and work through.  They've all had tough pasts and are linked in complicated ways.  They also have very different ways of processing feelings and emotions which has led to misunderstandings in the past and at times in the present.  I enjoyed the romance but even more so I enjoyed the growing friendships as they renovate the old inn.  

This was a fun romance and story of rebuilding both an inn and friendships.  And there was Pickle who regularly stole the show.  Apparently this is the 3rd book set in this area and I'm looking forward to reading the others.  

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Absolutely! Jill Shalvis has long been a favorite author and I'm looking forward to reading more from her.

Would I Recommend this Book?   If you're looking for a fun contemporary romance with a good dose of friendship building this is a great choice.

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

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Top Ten Tuesday - Ten Bookish Goals for 2023

Today I'm linking up with Top Ten Tuesday hosted by 
That Artsy Reader Girl which is all about lists.  Since lists are one of my favorite things this is one of my favorite linkups!  Today's topic is about bookish goals so I've spent some time thinking about my 10 bookish goals for 2023.

1.  Read 200 books - I've read over 200 books in the past 2 years and I'd like to keep that going!

2.  Finish 2022 ARCs - I only have a few review books leftover from 2022 but I want to be sure I finish them before the year is over.  

3.  Finish 2023 ARCs - I'm hoping to get all my 2023 review books finished this year so I don't have any carry overs into next year.

4.  Finish my Classic Mystery List - For the last few years I've made a list of classic mysteries I want to read during the year and this year I've made a new list of books I'm really looking forward to reading.

5.  Finish on Catch Up on 10 Series - I read a lot of series and want to read even more series but I'm not so great at actually staying caught up on them or finishing them so I really want to focus on getting some read this year.

6.  Finish my Priority List - I made a list of 10 books that I'm really excited to read this year and I want to make those a priority.

7.  Read 10 Overdue Review Books - While I've done pretty good on  ARCs from the last few years I have years of overdue review books gathering dust.  I'd like to read 10 of them this year.

8.  Finish the 3 Agatha Christie play novel adaptations - These are the only three Christie books I haven't read yet and this is the year that I'm going to fix that.

9.  Read 5 Nonfiction Books - I really enjoy most nonfiction but I'm not great with getting it into my reading so I want to read at least 5 this year.

10.  Read 2 Random Book Choices - I haven't decided exactly how I'm going to do this but I want to choose 2 books at random - either through a random number generator or a random prompt generator or one of the TBR games that are out there.  Regardless of what I decide I want to pick 2 books like that.

What are your reading goals for 2023?

Monday, January 16, 2023

Fatal Fascinator - Cozy Mystery Review

Goodreads:   Fatal Fascinator (Hat Shop Mystery #7) by Jenn McKinlay

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

Description:  It’s wedding season and Viv’s longtime frenemy Piper May is getting married. She convinces Viv and Scarlett to take on the job of designing the headpieces for her “wedding of the year.” The well-to-do bride and her entourage are delighted to have Viv and Scarlett as their famous hat designer guests, but the hat-making pair are really just looking forward to a getaway at a castle in Sussex. It is to be a weekend full of events, culminating in the big ceremony.

Unfortunately, on the first night of the festivities, the groom is found murdered, and the joyous holiday becomes the stuff of nightmares as no one is allowed to leave the castle until the investigation is complete. Although Scarlett assures Harrison Wentworth, her fiancĂ©, that she and Viv will stay out of harm’s way, circumstances force them to step in when a secret affair between the deceased groom and a bridesmaid comes to light, and the murderer takes another life. Scarlett and Viv vow to unveil the killer’s identity before the wedding adds another to its death toll.

Genre: Mystery - Cozy

Why I Picked This Book:  McKinlay is one of my favorite cozy author and I've really enjoyed the other books from this author and the other books in this series. 

My Impression: It's been awhile since the last book in this series came out so I was super excited to see this new book and it didn't let me down.  Despite the challenging personalities involved in the "wedding of the year" Scarlett just can't resist a castle wedding.  I loved her enthusiasm for the grandeur of the historic building though it does sour as time goes on.

Just who had wanted to the rather dreadful groom dead and why?  Scarlett, Viv, and Andre do a bit of sleuthing which mostly consists of paying close attention to all the drama around them as well as an occasional useful bit of eavesdropping.  I really didn't know the whos and the whys until the very end when Scarlett figured it out and it was a thoroughly entertaining time getting there.

This is a light fun cozy mystery with a great setting.  If you're looking for a quick read with likable characters this is a fun series.  

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Absolutely!  I've enjoyed all the books I've read by Jenn McKinlay and am looking forward to reading the early books in this series.

Would I Recommend this Book?  If you like light cozy mysteries this is a fun one. 

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