Tuesday, February 28, 2023

Top Ten Tuesday - Ten Romances On My To Buy List

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 genre freebie and since it's February I've been focusing on love and romance books.  So here are ten romances on my To Buy list.

1.  Identity by Nora Roberts - I'm really excited about this book.  I didn't love Roberts' 2022 stand alone so I have extra high hopes for this one.

2.  Book Lovers by Emily Henry - I've heard such great things about this author and this looks adorable.

3.  The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood - This sounds like such a great read and I've read such a great reviews for it.  

4.  Something Old, Something New by Amy Clipston - Antiques, cleaning out a house, and a romance.  This sounds like perfection!

5.  The House on Mulberry Street by Jeannie Chin - This is a new to me author but the blurb sounds really good and the cover is adorable.

6.  Close Up by Amanda Quick - I love this series and this is the next book I have to read.  I'm looking forward to picking this one up.

7.  The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches by Sanga Mandanna - I have heard amazing things about this book and it sounds fantastic.  

8.  Angel's Rest by Emily March - I've read several of the later books in the series but have never read the first book.

9.  The Siren of Sussex by Mimi Matthews - I read another book by this author in 2022 and really enjoyed it and am looking forward to reading more.

10. The Lemon Sisters by Jill Shalvis - I love the cover of this one and have really enjoyed the other books by Shalvis that I've read.  I'm looking forward to picking this one up soon!

Do you have any romances on your TBR or To Buy list?

Monday, February 27, 2023

TBR Tarot Reads - That Summer

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 season in the title

Goodreads:  That Summer by Lauren Willig

Blurb:  2009: When Julia Conley hears that she has inherited a house outside London from an unknown great-aunt, she assumes it's a joke. She hasn't been back to England since the car crash that killed her mother when she was six, an event she remembers only in her nightmares. But when she arrives at Herne Hill to sort through the house--with the help of her cousin Natasha and sexy antiques dealer Nicholas--bits of memory start coming back. And then she discovers a pre-Raphaelite painting, hidden behind the false back of an old wardrobe, and a window onto the house's shrouded history begins to open...1849: Imogen Grantham has spent nearly a decade trapped in a loveless marriage to a much older man, Arthur. The one bright spot in her life is her step-daughter, Evie, a high-spirited sixteen year old who is the closest thing to a child Imogen hopes to have. But everything changes when three young painters come to see Arthur's collection of medieval artifacts, including Gavin Thorne, a quiet man with the unsettling ability to read Imogen better than anyone ever has. When Arthur hires Gavin to paint her portrait, none of them can guess what the hands of fate have set in motion.
From modern-day England to the early days of the Preraphaelite movement, Lauren Willig's That Summer takes readers on an un-put-downable journey through a mysterious old house, a hidden love affair, and one woman's search for the truth about her past--and herself.

My Thoughts:  It's been awhile since I've read anything by this author but this book made we want to search out more of her books.  At the beginning Julia is reserved and closed off.  She has very little memory of her mother or her mother's family and a fairly distant relationship with her father and his family.  As she explores the house and reconnects with her childhood memories.  As well as exploring her childhood memories and Julia is also trying to explore and clear out the house and stumbles onto a mystery. In 1849 Imogen Grantham is living her life which is quickly turning out to not be what she expected.  I liked Imogen right from the beginning.  She's so young and idealistic at the beginning of the story and becomes not necessarily cynical but resigned and determined to be content.  The end of the book is a bit open ended for both timelines but in a way that still satisfied me.  I really enjoyed all the characters and was engaged with both timelines.  My Rating: Really Liked It (4 Stars)

Saturday, February 25, 2023

My Week in Reading - February 26

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

What I Got:

Nothing!  Though I did place a Book Outlet order so I guess technically I got some books but I didn't get them this week so this is a new book free week!


: A Sinister Revenge by Deanna Raybourn and That Summer by Lauren Willig

Listening The Lost and Found Bookshop by Susan Wiggs

This was a pretty quiet week.  Will is completely recovered from Covid - no cough or anything - and I'm getting there.  My cough isn't quite gone and my energy level isn't quite back up to normal but it's been a good reminder to get to bed at a decent time.  

Have a great week and happy reading!

Dead or Alive - Classic Mystery Review

Goodreads:  Dead or Alive by Patricia Wentworth

Rating: Loved It! (5 Stars) 
Source:   Purchased

Description:  On the day she plans to divorce him, Meg O'Hara's husband Robin--a handsome British intelligence agent--disappears, and Meg is left to find out whether he is alive or dead.

Genre: Mystery - Classic

Why I Picked This Book:  While I have loved Wentworth's Miss Silver books for years there are a ton of her non-Miss Silver books that I either haven't read or haven't read in years.

My Impression:  Even though this wasn't a Miss Silver books it had all the cozy feels of a Miss Silver Mystery.  Meg has had a rough time of it.  Her husband was every bit as bad as everyone tried to warn her he was and once she has finally gotten away from him and believes him to be dead  a disturbing sequence of events has her questioning that and her sanity.  When her old friend Bill comes back to England from Chile he finds Meg on the verge of a breakdown and financial ruin.  For not only is Meg starting to question her sanity over her husband's possible death she is also unable to get in touch with her only family member - an uncle who is Meg's only hope for any kind of financial help.  

Bill has the advantage of knowing a lot of the same people that Meg's potentially deceased husband knew and tries to sort out just what is happening.  I really liked that he believed Meg and desperately wanted to help her but at the same time didn't just come in and immediately take over the situation and throw money at Meg.  

The mystery was quite a twisty one with part of the figuring out just what the mystery is.  I like that while Meg is intelligent and able to reason even when pushed to her limits.  She trusts Bill but wants to stand on her own.  The reveal was definitely surprising and up until the very end I wasn't quite sure just what would happen.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author? Of course!  I'm looking forward to reading more of Wentworth's stand alones.

Would I Recommend this Book?  If you are a fan of Agatha Christie - particularly of the books she wrote in the 1920s and 30s this is one I think you'd really enjoy.

Friday, February 24, 2023

Friday Fives - My Five Favorite Romance Authors

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 trying to read more romance this year because it is a genre I've really been missing.  Here are 5 of my favorite romance authors most of whom I've been seriously neglecting.

1.  Nora Roberts - Not every book Roberts writes is a winner for me but I almost always really enjoy her books whether they're a straightforward romance, romantic suspense, or more fantasy leaning titles.

2.  Heather Graham - Her romances are my least favorite of her books usually but I love a good paranormal romantic suspense!

3.  Jill Shalvis - I always enjoy Shalvis' books.  I really enjoy how she writes friendships especially and her books have the best animal sidekicks.

4.  Sabrina Jeffries - It's been awhile since I've read anything by Jeffries but she's always been a favorite and has a number of books I'm looking forward to catching up on.

5.  RaeAnne Thayne - I love RaeAnne Thayne's books and there are so many I haven't read that I'm looking forward to reading!

Who are some of your favorite romance authors?

Thursday, February 23, 2023

Books from the Backlog - Making Your Mind Up

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:  Making Your Mind Up by Jill Mansell

Blurb: Lottie Carlyle isn't looking for love when she meets her new boss, Tyler Klein. Living in a beautiful cottage with her two adorable - sometimes - kids in an idyllic village in the heart of the Cotswolds, on good terms with her charming but hopeless ex-husband and with friends all around, she's happy enough with her lot. But Tyler's perfect for Lottie and quickly she falls for him - and he for her. Unfortunately, there's a problem. For reasons that are totally unfair, Lottie's children HATE Tyler. When a rival for Lottie's affections comes on the scene in the shape of charmer Seb, the children adore him, and he's certainly a distraction. But he's not Tyler - and he's not even at all what he seems. Lottie's got a problem - but thanks, in classic Jill Mansell style, to a tobogganing accident and a delicious series of mix-ups, all will be revealed and true love will find a way.

Why It Needs to Come Off the Shelf:  This book has been sitting on my NetGalley shelf for almost 8 years which is rather embarrassing.  It looks like it could be a fun read and I vaguely remember liking a Jill Mansell book I read awhile ago.  

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

The Year of Reading Books I'm Excited About - Blood Brothers + Unearthing the Secret Garden

In 2023 my reading goals were to focus on reading books I was excited to read or had been looking forward to reading.  Here are two recent reads that met that criteria.

Goodreads:  Blood Brothers by Nora Roberts

Blurb: In the town of Hawkins Hollow, it's called The Seven. Every seven years, on the seventh day of the seventh month, strange things happen. It began when three young boys--Caleb, Fox, and Gage--went on a camping trip to The Pagan Stone...
It is only February, but Caleb Hawkins--descendant of the town founders--has already seen and felt the stirrings of evil. Though he can never forget the beginning of the terror in the woods twenty-one years ago, the signs have never been this strong before. Cal will need the help of his best friends Fox and Gage, but surprisingly he must rely on a stranger as well.

Reporter Quinn Black came to Hawkins Hollow hoping to make its eerie happenings the subject of her new book. She too can see the evil the locals cannot, somehow connecting her to the town--and to Cal. As winter turns to spring, they will shed their inhibitions, surrendering to a desire that will grow and form the cornerstone of a group of men and women bound by the fight against what is to come from out of the darkness...

My Thoughts:  I skipped this trilogy when it originally came out because it was more paranormal than I enjoyed at the time.  Since that was years ago and my tastes have changed a bit I decided to give this another try and I'm so glad I did!  This is a trilogy with a typical Roberts' quest setup with 6 people who will get paired off in each book as they fight evil of some kind.  I liked Quinn and how research oriented she was as well as how nice she was.  Cal is a typical hometown boy with a solid family and a good standing in the community.  Everyone pretty much likes him but underneath his easygoing nature is a heavy responsibility and sense of guilt for what happened all those years ago and what he knows is going to happen.  There's a lot going on in this first book as the setup is explained and all the characters are introduced and that pushes the emotional connection between Quinn and Cal to the background at times.  That said I really enjoyed the setup and am excited to see how this trilogy develops.  My Rating: Really Liked It (4 Stars)

Goodreads:  Unearthing the Secret Garden: The Plants and Places that Inspired Frances Hodgson Burnett by Marta McDowell

Blurb:  New York Times bestselling author Marta McDowell has revealed the way that plants have stirred some of our most cherished authors, including Beatrix Potter, Emily Dickinson, and Laura Ingalls Wilder. In her latest, she shares a moving account of how gardening deeply inspired Frances Hodgson Burnett, the author of the beloved children's classic The Secret Garden

In Unearthing The Secret Garden, best-selling author Marta McDowell delves into the professional and gardening life of Frances Hodgson Burnett. Complementing her fascinating account with charming period photographs and illustrations, McDowell paints an unforgettable portrait of a great artist and reminds us why The Secret Garden continues to touch readers after more than a century. This deeply moving and gift-worthy book is a must-read for fans of The Secret Garden and anyone who loves the story behind the story.

My Thoughts:  This was absolutely lovely.  The Secret Garden is one of my favorite books and never fails to make me fall in love with the beautifully descriptive word that Mary Lennox lives in - most of which comprises of a garden in Yorkshire.  This was a lovely biography of the author through her love of gardens and looks at both her life and her homes and how gardens impacted her.  It's beautifully illustrated with photographs from Frances Hodgson Burnett's life as well as illustrations from different versions of the book itself.  I loved seeing where The Secret Garden was written as well as seeing where the author got much of her inspiration from and plan on rereading my childhood favorite soon.  If you loved The Secret Garden this is a fascinating and beautiful book.   My Rating: Loved It (5 Stars)

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Top Ten Tuesday - Ten of My Favorite Heroines

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 my favorite heroines.  

1.  Sloan Krauss - Sloan is such an interesting main character.  She's an expert brewer, a good business owner, a dedicated mother, and a loyal friend.  She's also learning to stand up for herself and what is best for her and those she loves.  

2.  Miss Maude Silver - Wentworth's Miss Silver is on of my absolute favorite detectives.  She's incredibly intelligent and practical but also calm and compassionate.  

3.  Ariadne Oliver - I know it's going to be a good Agatha Christie book with Ariadne Oliver shows up.  She's hilarious and I often wonder how much of Christie's own thoughts 

4.  Mrs. Emily Pollifax - I adore Emily Pollifax and absolutely love the adventures she gets involved in.  As the series has gone on I've come to love her even more as she becomes a more capable agent.

5.  Meg Langslow - Meg is not only a blacksmith but also manages to keep her family running as well as dealing with various birds and solving murders.

6.  Jessica Fletcher - How can Jessica Fletcher not be a favorite heroine?  She's smart and can always manage to not only stumble on a murder but solve it too.

7.  Verity Kent - Verity is an intelligent woman with a very impressive past.  She plunged into her work as a secret service agent after the supposed death of her husband during World War I and holds herself together through some pretty unimaginable circumstances.

8.  Mary Russell - Mary Russell may be the only woman on the planet who is smart enough and strong willed enough to live with Sherlock Holmes and still maintain her individuality.  

9.  Sarah Malloy - Victoria Thompson's Sarah Malloy is such a fascinating character.  She becomes a midwife despite expectations that she move in high society and not deal with the darker side of New York.  She also always acts with kindness and isn't afraid to dive in when her help is needed.

10. Harriet Gordon - A.M. Stuart's Harriet Gordon not only is doing her best to help her brother as he runs a school in Singapore but was also an active suffragette in England.

Who are your favorite heroines?

Monday, February 20, 2023

Primer and Punishment - Cozy Mystery Review

Goodreads:  Primer and Punishment (A House Flipper Mystery #5) by Diane Kelly

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

Description:  Carpenter Whitney Whitaker and her cousin Buck are looking once again to rehab and resell a house, only this particular house is made of fiberglass, floats, and has been dubbed the Skinny Dipper. The old houseboat sure could use some work, but the unusual project has Whitney bubbling with excitement.

The charming and handsome Grant Hardisty lives on the cabin cruiser in the adjacent slip, but the cousins soon learn he’s left a half dozen angry ex-wives in his wake and made enemies of all sorts of unsavory folks. The man is clearly caught in an increasingly dangerous current with no life preserver in sight.

Whitney and Buck are spraying primer on their houseboat when—KABOOM!—Grant’s boat blows sky high with the man himself inside. Detective Collin Flynn has no shortage of suspects, but the waters become muddied when several of them confess to the crime. Is one of those who confessed truly guilty, or are they taking a dive for someone else? When anonymous threats are made against the cousins, Whitney must quickly determine who killed their neighbor at the lake, or she and Buck might also be sunk.

Genre: Mystery - Cozy

Why I Picked This Book:  I enjoyed a previous book I read in this series and I loved that this involves a houseboat.

My Impression: I've read one previous book in the series but have missed the other three.  While I'm usually a fan of reading a series in order I really didn't feel that going into this kind of blind detracted from my enjoyment at all.  The relationship between the characters is fairly simple so there's not a lot of complicated backstory to keep track of or figure out.  

Whitney and her cousin Buck flip houses but when the housing market takes off leaving few properties available they decide to try something a little out of their comfort zone - flipping a houseboat.  I really enjoyed their time working on the boat.  Buck and Whitney are nice people if not the biggest personalities and are both capable at their profession.  Their neighbor, Grant, is a much bigger personality and at first seems like a nice guy but as Whitney and Buck get to know him better they quickly learn that the nice affable front is merely that - a front.  When Grant meets his untimely end the real question isn't who would want to kill him but which one of the potential dozens of suspects actually did it.  

The ending was satisfying though felt a little rushed and it was fun to see it all come together.  This is an entertaining light read with a nice summer-y setting and I thought the little add-ins by Whitney's cat Sawdust were adorable.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author? Definitely!  I need to read the books I've missed in the series.  

Would I Recommend this Book?  If you're in the mood for a light cozy read with likable characters and a fast pace this is a fun book to pick up.

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

Saturday, February 18, 2023

Life and Reading Updates - February 19

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:

Death by a Thousand Sips by Gretchen Rue

Murder in Postscript by Mary Winters (Publisher)

Hard Dough Homicide by Olivia Matthews (Publisher)

Murder Off The Books by Tamara Berry (Publisher)


Reading:  A Sinister Revenge by Deanna Raybourn and That Summer by Lauren Willig

Listening:  Devil in Spring by Lisa Kleypas

We have been hit by Covid.  Will and I were both down with it for a week though somehow Jason managed to avoid it.  This is the first time any of us have had it and thankfully we are all fully vaccinated and boosted so our cases were relatively mild.  Will is feeling back to normal other than a bit of a cough and thankfully has been off treatment for a month so his immune system is pretty much back to normal.  I'm testing negative but have some chest congestion and a bit of wheezing so I'm a bit worried it's turned into some kind of upper respiratory infection.  If it's not better in a few days I'll probably go to the doctor.   I haven't been around much the last couple of weeks because of this but am hoping to be back on line regularly again soon.

Have a great week and happy reading!

Search the Shadows - Keeper Shelf Review

Goodreads: Search the Shadows by Barbara Michaels

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

Description:  Who was her father? When twenty-two-year-old Haskell Malone accidentally discovers damning proof that the dead war hero whose name she bears is not her father, she is shattered. The revelation only confirms the dark fear that has haunted her since childhood. In fact, what little she knows about her birth and her mother's subsequent death, is a fragile web of evasions and lies.

Determined to expose the truth at any cost, Haskell takes a job at Chicago's famed Oriental Institute in the city where her mother once lived and loved. But as she searched the shadows of the past, she finds that the truth can sometimes be deadly.

Genre: Mystery

Why I Picked This Book:  I like to reread books off my Keeper Shelf to make sure they still deserve their place on the shelf.

My Impression:   I thoroughly enjoyed going on this journey with Haskell Malone who suddenly finds her world turned on its ear and the parents she idolized may not be who she thought they were.  The questions she has and the rabbit holes she goes down are understandable if not always the most logical and the reactions of those around her also feels authentic.

The mystery of the identity of Haskell's father was interesting as was Haskell getting to know her mother as a person through the people and places around her.  The atmosphere at the estate is suffocating and full of a faded gilded glamour.   

Barbara Mertz who writes as both Barbara Michaels and Elizabeth Peters has a PhD in Egyptology from the University of Chicago and published several books on Ancient Egypt so I enjoyed getting a peak into her thoughts on the subject through the fictional characters in the book.  It is also interesting to see how genetic mysteries like this were dealt with before we had DNA tests at our fingers.

What kept this book from being a total winner for me was the pacing was a bit slower than the lightening fast pace I expect from Barbara Michaels books and the romantic scene at the very end of the book had a bit of ick factor.  However, while it wasn't absolutely flawless this book has still re-earned its place on my Keeper shelf.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author? Of course!  Barbara Michaels is a favorite and I'm looking forward to reading more of her Elizabeth Peters books.

Would I Recommend this Book? Absolutely!  Her books are so much fun.

Friday, February 17, 2023

Friday Fives - Five Books On My Romance 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.  My romance reading has increased a bit and I've really been enjoying them and want to read more.  Here are 5 romances that are on my TBR.

1.  When the Marquess Met His Match by Laura Lee Guhrke - Laura Lee Guhrke used to be one of my favorite romance authors but it has been a long time since I read any of her books despite having a number of her books (including this one) sitting on my shelf for years.  

2.  Sweet Little Lies by Jill Shalvis - I just read a Jill Shalvis book earlier this year and remembered how much I enjoyed her books.  I've read a few books in this series but not all and never the first one.

3.  The Lost and Found Bookshop by Susan Wiggs - This is probably more women's fiction than romance but but I'm still really looking forward to it and am very curious to see how it links up to the two earlier books.  

4.  Christmas at Holiday House by RaeAnne Thayne - I read a RaeAnne Thayne Christmas book last year and it reminded me just how much I enjoyed her books - especially her Christmas books.  The cover of this one really caught my eye.

5.  Someone to Love by Mary Balogh - Mary Balogh used to be one of my favorite historical romance authors but it's been years since I've read her and I really want to fix that.  

Do you have any romances on your TBR?

Thursday, February 16, 2023

Books from the Backlog - Summer at the Shore

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:  Summer at the Shore by V.K. Sykes

Blurb: Morgan Merrifield sacrificed her teaching career to try to save her family's bed-and-breakfast and care for her younger sister. She can't let herself get distracted by Ryan Butler. After all, the rugged ex-Special Forces soldier is only in Seashell Bay for the summer. But her longtime crush soon flares into real desire—and with one irresistible kiss, she's swept away.
Ryan values his freedom. As much as he wants Morgan, he's not ready to settle down with anyone, much less in sleepy Seashell Bay. But his code of honor doesn't allow him to leave a woman in distress—and she's in desperate need of help to fix the inn. It only takes one day working under the same roof and Ryan is already hoping for a lifetime of hot summer nights...

Why It Needs to Come Off the Shelf:  I can never resist a "saving the family home or business" trope and this looks delightfully beachy.  Plus it's been on my NetGalley shelf for years.

Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Overdue Reviews - Scent of Murder + Project Duchess


Goodreads:  Scent of Murder by Kylie Logan

Blurb:  The way Jazz Ramsey figures it, life is pretty good. She’s thirty-five years old and owns her own home in one of Cleveland’s most diverse, artsy, and interesting neighborhoods. She has a job she likes as an administrative assistant at an all-girls school, and a volunteer interest she’s passionate about—Jazz is a cadaver dog handler.
Jazz is working with Luther, a cadaver dog in training. Luther is still learning cadaver work, so Jazz is putting him through his paces at an abandoned building that will soon be turned into pricey condos. When Luther signals a find, Jazz is stunned to see the body of a young woman who is dressed in black and wearing the kind of make-up and jewelry that Jazz used to see on the Goth kids back in high school.

She’s even more shocked when she realizes that beneath the tattoos and the piercings and all that pale make up is a familiar face.

The lead detective on the case is an old lover, and the murdered woman is an old student. Jazz finds herself sucked into the case, obsessed with learning the truth.

My Thoughts:  Pretty much any book with a dog (if the dog is not in peril in the book) is going to be an enjoyable read for me and this was no exception.  I'm fascinated by dog training and actively working at training my dog in Scent Work with hopes to move over to Search and Rescue so I found all the mentions of dog training incredibly interesting.  The mystery was interesting.  Jazz's reasons for getting involved in the investigation made some sense and her methods were pretty good.  I liked the setup of the community with her family and friends.  My Rating:  Liked It! (3.5 Stars)

Goodreads:  Project Duchess by Sabrina Jeffries

Blurb:  A series of stepfathers and a difficult childhood have left Fletcher “Grey” Pryde, 5th Duke of Greycourt, with a guarded heart, enviable wealth, and the undeserved reputation of a rogue. Grey’s focus on expanding his dukedom allows him little time to find a wife. But when his mother is widowed yet again and he meets the charmingly unconventional woman managing his stepfather’s funeral, he’s shocked to discover how much they have in common. Still, Grey isn’t interested in love, no matter how pretty, or delightfully outspoken, the lady . .  

Beatrice Wolfe gave up on romance long ago, and the arrogant Duke of Greycourt with his rakish reputation isn’t exactly changing her mind. Then Grey agrees to assist his grief-stricken mother with her latest “project”: schooling spirited, unfashionable Beatrice for her debut. Now that Beatrice is seeing through Grey’s charms to his wounded heart, she’s having trouble keeping him at arm’s length. But once Grey starts digging into her family’s secrets, she must decide whether her loyalties lie with her family . . . or with the man whose lessons capture her heart . . .

My Thoughts:  The premise of this romance is an interesting one.   When Greycourt's mother is widowed unexpectedly Grey is summoned home to his estranged family and discovers that all may not be what it seems with his stepfather's death.  And unfortunately part of the secrets may involve Beatrice.  Beatrice is smart woman who is aware of her potentially shaky future and is fiercely loyal to her brother despite not being quite sure what secrets he was hiding.  Grey's family was also an interesting ensemble of characters with a collection of Dukes for brothers, an entertaining and strong willed sister, and a mother who potentially has a few secrets of her own.  Unfortunately, I just never could warm up to Grey.  He had a tough childhood which I was sympathetic too but after awhile I was kind of done.  He doesn't have the monopoly on tough times.  I'll read more of this series but this was probably the book of this author's that I felt was the weakest.  My Rating: Liked It (3 Stars)

Monday, February 13, 2023

The Year of Reading Stuff I'm Excited About - An Irish Country Doctor +Your Guide to Not Getting Murdered


In 2023 my reading goals were to focus on reading books I was excited to read or had been looking forward to reading.  Here are two recent reads that met that criteria.

Goodreads:  An Irish Country Doctor by Patrick Taylor

Blurb:  Barry Laverty, M.B., can barely find the Northern Ireland village of Ballybucklebo on a map when he first sets out to seek gainful employment there. But Barry jumps at the chance to secure a position as an assistant in a small rural practice.
At least until he meets Dr. Fingal Flahertie O'Reilly.

The older physician has his own way of doing things. At first, Barry can't decide if the pugnacious O'Reilly is the biggest charlatan he has ever met or the best teacher he could ever hope for. Through O'Reilly, Barry soon gets to know all of the village's colourful and endearing residents and a host of other eccentric characters who make every day an education for the inexperienced young doctor.

Ballybucklebo is a long way from Belfast, and Barry is quick to discover that he still has a lot to learn about country life. But with pluck and compassion, and only the slightest touch of blarney, he will find out more about life--and love--than he ever imagined back in medical school.

My Thoughts:  This was a lovely cozy read full of quirky characters (and animals) and interesting stories.  It reminded me very strongly of All Creatures Great and Small  except that this involved humans instead of animals.  Fingal was quite the mentor and Barry learning that life cannot always lived by the book is fun.  Barry's friend Jack is a side character and provides a nice contrast showing the difference between being a doctor in a busy city hospital vs a village GP.  There's a bit of romance, a cat named Lady Macbeth and a long suffering housekeeper with a sense of humor.  This was a quick read and one I thoroughly enjoyed.  I'm glad to see that it is the first in a series so I can revisit Ballybucklebo and its inhabitants.  My Rating: Really Liked It! (4 Stars)

Goodreads:  Your Guide to Not Getting Murdered in a Quaint English Village by Maureen Johnson and Jay Cooper

Blurb: A weekend roaming narrow old lanes, touring the faded glories of a country manor, and quaffing pints in the pub. How charming. That is, unless you have the misfortune of finding yourself in an English Murder Village, where danger lurks around each picturesque cobblestone corner and every sip of tea may be your last. If you insist on your travels, do yourself a favor and bring a copy of this little book. It may just keep you alive.
Brought to life with dozens of Gorey-esque drawings by illustrator Jay Cooper and peppered with allusions to classic crime series and unmistakably British murder lore, Your Guide to Not Getting Murdered in a Quaint English Village gives you the tools you need to avoid the same fate, should you find yourself in a suspiciously cozy English village (or simply dream of going). Good luck, and whatever you do, avoid the vicar.

My Thoughts:  This was so much fun!  It's a quick book to flip through that details the places and characters that live in the village and the nearby manor and how the characters or the places will kill you.  And if anything fails the Vicar is there to kill you on sight.  There are also a few quizzes to see what will eventually get you and when.  I laughed all through this and absolutely loved the author's tongue in cheek tone.  If you have a British mystery lover in your life this would be such a fun gift - and if you ARE the British mystery lover it would be a great gift to yourself.  My Rating:  Really Liked It! (4.5 Stars)

Saturday, February 11, 2023

The Girl in the Cellar - Classic Mystery Review

Goodreads: The Girl in the Cellar by Patricia Wentworth

Rating: Really Liked It! (4.5 Stars)
Source:  Purchased

Description:  Miss Silver helps a woman with no memory reconstruct a terrible crime
She awakes in a dark place. A young woman with a shattered memory, she knows neither who she is nor how she came to be in this abandoned house. All she possesses is a faint sense that someone is lying dead at the foot of the stairs. Horrifyingly, she is correct. In the cellar lies a young woman, her body broken, her head split, her life undone by a revolver's shell. The amnesiac flees and finally has a stroke of luck: She meets Maud Silver. A dowdy governess turned daring detective, Miss Silver sees immediately that something is wrong. She comforts the confused young woman, and coaxes out of her what little story she can tell. The memory of the body sets Miss Silver on a fantastic adventure--the last written by Patricia Wentworth, and one of the most thrilling of them all.

Genre: Mystery - Classic

My Impression:  This is the last Miss Silver book and I'm very sad to see the end of this one because it now means that I have read all the Miss Silver books that were written.  This mystery was written later in Wentworth's life and it isn't her strongest.  I can't say too much with giving spoilers but there are a couple of incidents where people know something there really isn't any way for them to know.   These are only a couple of small hiccups in the book and didn't mess up the reading experience but did have saying "wait..." after reading it.

I do love a mystery involving amnesia and this had a fun spin on it as Anne's potential identity is known almost at once but she isn't sure that she is who everyone thinks she is.  And if she isn't how did get the handbag and the letter - and just who is the dead girl in the cellar?  There are a couple of pretty big coincidences in the story but it still made a fun read.  

I really enjoyed reading all the Miss Silver books over the past two years.  Not all of them are perfect but I enjoyed every one of them!  

Would I Read More of this Series/Author? Of course!  While I have finished the Miss Silver books there are still a number of stand alone books by Wentworth.

Would I Recommend this Book?  I would definitely recommend this author and this series - especially if you're a fan of Christie's Miss Marple.  However, I'm not sure I'd recommend starting with this book.

Friday, February 10, 2023

Friday Fives - Five Cozy Mysteries That Take Place on Valentine's Day

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 Valentine's Day is right around the corner I'm picking out 5 cozy mysteries that take place around the holiday.

1.  In Cold Chamomile by Joy Avon 

2.  Lethal Treasure by Jane K. Cleland

3.  Murder in the Paperback Parlor by Ellery Adams 

4. This Old Homicide by Kate Carlisle

5.  The Chocolate Cupid Killings by JoAnna Carl

Have you read any of these?  Do you have any books set around Valentine's Day on your TBR?

Thursday, February 9, 2023

Books from the Backlog - Heartsong Cottage

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:  Heartsong Cottage by Emily March

Blurb:  Haunted by the loss of his wife and son, Daniel Garrett left the police force to devote his life to finding missing children. But he still hasn't found a way to mend the wounds of his past-until he attends a wedding in the small mountain town of Eternity Springs...and meets a beautiful, intriguing woman who offers a glimpse of something Daniel thought he'd never have again.
Shannon O'Toole isn't looking for romance. Ever since her fianc�'s death, she created a quiet life for herself restoring Victorian cottages. Still, she can't deny her attraction to the handsome, broad-shouldered stranger. Daniel makes her feel things she's hasn't felt in years-including the desire to share her secrets. But can Shannon trust a detective when doing so could bring danger to her cottage door? In Eternity Springs, anything-and everything-is possible...

Why It Needs to Come Off the Shelf: I read another Eternity Springs book at the end of 2022 and it reminded me how much I enjoy this series and this author.  Plus, this is another book that has been sitting on my NetGalley shelf for years.

Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Playing Dead - Cozy Mystery Review

Goodreads: Playing Dead (Molly Madison #2) by Peggy Rothschild

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

Description:  Molly Madison is back to solve another doggone difficult murder in her California community in this mystery from the author of A Deadly Bone to Pick.

Molly Madison has barely had a moment to catch her breath after moving to the sleepy beach town she now calls home. But as a former PI, she can’t help but notice the odd chemistry between members of Playtime Academy on the first day she and her loyal Saint Bernadoodle, Noodle, and golden retriever, Harlow, visit. When a trainer’s body is found on-site, Molly knows it’s her duty to put her ex-police skills to use. She can’t say no to temporarily taking in the deceased woman’s dog, either—not with those puppy dog eyes.

Relationships at the training facility are not as clean as the prize-winning agility runs, making it difficult for Molly to get a leash on potential suspects. And her personal life is just as messy—her boyfriend is hiding something, her agoraphobic neighbor needs help, and her number of four-legged friends keep growing as she agrees to dogsit a wriggly local French bulldog.

When Molly’s friend is arrested for the murder, she’s not sure who to believe anymore. Is the case as simple as the local cops make it seem, or is something more devious afoot?

Genre: Mystery - Cozy

Why I Picked This Book:   I love cozy mysteries and I love dog sports so this seemed like a pairing I couldn't resist.

My Impression:  This is a must read for dog loving mystery reads.  There's all kinds of doggie goodness from Molly's ever growing menagerie to her time spent on agility runs.   I loved seeing all the different breeds and activities.  I'm an active member in a local dog club and run rally and scent work with my Golden and we've just started agility so it's always fun to read about a world I'm familiar with.

Molly has a law enforcement background so I really enjoyed the mix of those tools with the dog training.  The mystery kept me guessing as Celeste had no shortage of enemies both in the dog world and out and is truly a dreadful person.  I was a bit surprised by how it all worked out but really enjoyed getting there.

This had a bit of a slow start and I'm not sure how interesting you would find some of the side plots if you're not interested in dog training.   But otherwise, this was a fun read with an entertaining mix of four legged sidekicks and interesting main character.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Definitely!  I'm curious to see how this series develops.

Would I Recommend this Book?  If you enjoy dogs and cozy mysteries I think you'll really enjoy this one!

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