Friday, June 30, 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.

1.  The Lost Summers of Newport by Beatriz Williams, Lauren Willig, and Karen White -  This was an interesting multi-timeline tale involving the story of a house and a family.  Each timeline has a woman in a challenging situation involving some degree of deception  Yet despite the deception and the stress I connected and sympathized with all three women and felt invested in the outcomes of their lives.  It did get a little angsty at times but I enjoyed it from beginning to end.  My Rating: Really Liked It (4 Stars)

2.  Pirate Vishnu by Gigi Pandian - Well this was a fun treasure hunt.  This is the 2nd book about Jaya Jones, historian and accidental treasure hunter and it was a lot of fun.  Jaya must dig into her own heritage when a stranger shows up with a treasure map that has links to her great-uncle and family hero.  It was interesting getting to know Jaya a bit better as well as see pre-earthquake San Francisco.  The murder mystery/treasure hunt was a lot of fun and I'm quite interested to see what direction Jaya's personal life goes.  I'm hoping we see more of Jaya's landlord, Nadia, in future books.  I have a feeling she has quite a story to tell!  My Rating: Liked It! (3.5 Stars)

3.  The Favorite Daughter by Patti Callahan Henry -
  I do love a story about coming home and Lena Donohue is definitely coming home to face her demons (and her sister) and spend time with her father as his health fails.  I really enjoyed this read though for the first third of it or so I thought Lena deserved to be nominated for sainthood for not pitching her sister in the river and going back to New York.  The Donohue family looks perfect but has some secrets and shadows lurking in the corners.  I enjoyed getting to know them and the ending was wonderful.  I have really enjoyed the historical fiction I have read by this author and this contemporary fiction was really enjoyable as well.  My Rating:  Really Liked It (4 Stars)

4.  The Ghost and Mrs. Jeffries by Emily Brightwell -
I have really enjoyed the later books in this series and have liked going back to the beginning of the series and getting to know the characters as they develop into investigators.  The murder of a not so nice woman makes for an interesting mystery and sends Mrs. Jeffries and the rest of the staff on quite the adventure digging into all the suspects.  The mystery was a good one and I enjoyed the dip into spiritualism.  My main issue with the early books in the series is that Inspector Witherspoon is so clueless.  I am glad that he becomes a better investigator as the series goes on.  If you're looking for a light cozy mystery this is a fun series.  My Rating: Liked It! (3.5 Stars)

5.  Born in Shame by Nora Roberts - This is the final book in the Born in trilogy about three sisters with the same father.  This book is about the third sister, Shannon, who has just recently learned about her Irish family.  Shannon is a bit hard to warm up to as at first she is so angry and unyielding.  I did enjoy watching her relationship with her sisters develop and loved her relationship with her brother-in-law Gray right from the start.  Shannon's relationship with Murphy starts pretty much from the beginning of the book.  Murphy has been a pretty big side character from the beginning of the trilogy and I really liked getting to see more of his personality.  There's a bit of a supernatural element to their romance which I found a bit jarring and didn't fit with the rest of the book or the trilogy.  This is a good end to an interesting trilogy even though the random supernatural elements through me off a bit.  My Rating:  Liked It!(3.5 Stars)

Thursday, June 29, 2023

Books from the Backlog - Summer at the Garden Cafe

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 Garden Cafe by Felicity Hayes-McCoy

Blurb:  The Garden Café, in the town of Lissbeg on Ireland's Finfarran Peninsula, is a place where plans are formed and secrets shared ...
But Jazz - still reeling from her father's disclosures about the truth of his marriage to her mother, Hanna - has more on her mind than the comings and goings at the café. Now isolated from friends and family and fixating on her new job at a local guesthouse, she's started to develop feelings for a man who is strictly off limits . . .

Meanwhile Hanna, Lissbeg's librarian, is unaware of the turmoil in her daughter's life - until her ex-husband Malcolm makes an appearance and she begins to wonder if the secrets she's carried for him might have harmed Jazz more than she'd realised.

As things heat up in Lissbeg, can the old book Hanna finds buried in her own clifftop garden help Jazz?

Why It Needs to Come Off the Shelf:  It sounds absolutely lovely and it has been sitting on my shelf for far too long!

Wednesday, June 28, 2023

Hiss Me Deadly - Cozy Mystery Review

Goodreads: Hiss Me Deadly (A Cat in the Stacks Mystery #15) by Miranda James

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

Description:  Charlie Harris remembers Wilfred “Wil” Threadgill as one of the outsiders during high school in Athena. Although Wil was a couple of years ahead of him and his friend Melba Gilley, Melba had a big crush on Wil, who dropped out after his junior year. An aspiring musician, Wil hit the road for California and never looked back. Wil eventually became a star, fronting a band and writing award-winning songs.

Coming back to Athena to work for two weeks with students in the college music department, Wil is now the big man on campus. Not everyone is happy to have him back, however. His entourage have been the target of several acts of petty harassment. At first they are easy for Wil to shrug off, but the incidents escalate and become more troubling. When one of the band members is killed Charlie worries that Melba, now deeply involved with the man at the center of the attacks, could be in deadly danger. It is up to Charlie and Diesel to find out who hates Wil Threadgill enough to silence his song . . . forever!

Genre:  Mystery - Cozy

Why I Picked This Book:  This series is one of my favorites so of course I had to pick this one up!

My Impression:  I have missed this  series and was so excited to revisit Athena, Mississippi and all my favorite characters.  I especially loved seeing Diesel and Ramses who is as usual up to his usual tricks.  The plot was an interesting connecting back to an old acquaintance from high school who is uneasy about coming back to his hometown.  Did trouble follow him or was it waiting for him?

I really liked that Melba is so personally involved in this book.  She's usually a side character but seeing her front and center and vulnerable was an interesting change.  There were so many possiblities for motive and murderer that I was kept guessing until just before the end.  The pacing was a bit slower than I usually prefer on a cozy but it didn't keep me from enjoying it.  As well, it didn't feel like Charlie was driving the investigation as he usually does but was instead going about his daily life and people were bring information to him which may have been why the pacing felt a bit slower.

While this probably wasn't my favorite in the series I did enjoy it.  The mystery was enjoyable and I always love seeing my friends in Athena (especially Diesel!).  

Would I Read More of this Series/Author? Of course!  I always enjoy the books I read by this author and am looking forward to reading more.  

Would I Recommend this Book?  I would!  I do feel like this would be better if you read earlier books in the series but it is still an enjoyable read.

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

Tuesday, June 27, 2023

Top Ten Tuesday - Most Anticipated Releases for the 2nd Half of 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 my most anticipated releases for the 2nd half of 2023.  It feels like there have been so many amazing books this year and I want to read them all!

1.  The Summer Skies by Jenny Colgan - I love this cover and this author and this one sounds amazing.

2.  A Traitor in Whitehall by Julia Kelly - I haven't read nearly enough of this author but I've really enjoyed the books I have read and this sounds fantastic.

3.  Birder, She Wrote by Donna Andrews - How could I resist this title?  And this is one of my favorite cozy mystery series.

4.  Overdue or Die by Allison Brook - I love this cozy mystery series and am curious to see what Carrie stumbles onto next.

5.  Catch Me If You Candy by Ellie Alexander - Another favorite cozy mystery series!  

6.  The Keeper of Hidden Books by Madeline Martin - I have really enjoyed every book by this author and this one sounds amazing.

7.  At the Coffee Shop of Curiosities by Heather Webber - I've only read one book by this author but it was one of my top reads of the year I read it in.  This one sounds amazing.

8.  Now You See It by Carol J. Perry - In the last book in this paranormal cozy series the main character had some pretty major life changes so I'm curious to see how this develops.

9.  Terror in Topaz by A.M. Stuart - I have really enjoyed this historical mystery series that takes place in Singapore and I'm looking forward to reading the final book.

10. Snow Place for Murder by Diane Kelly - This series has been so good and I've really enjoyed everything I've read by this author so I'm looking forward to reading this one!

What new releases are you looking forward to reading?

Monday, June 26, 2023

Whispers at Dusk - Romantic Suspense Review

Goodreads:  Whispers at Dusk (The Blackbird Trilogy #1) by Heather Graham

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

Description:  When darkness falls, there’s nowhere to hide.

Four bodies have been discovered along Europe’s riverbanks, placed with care—and completely drained of blood. Pinpricks on their throats indicate a slender murder weapon, but DNA found in the wounds suggests something far more sinister. Tasked with investigating, the FBI recruits Agents Della Hamilton and Mason Carter to Blackbird, an international offshoot of the Krewe of Hunters. If you want to catch a vampire killer, you need agents who can speak with the dead.

The pair travel to Norway, where the shadowy forests of Lillehammer reveal a gruesome scene. The killer is thirsty for more victims, and the bloodless trail soon leads Della and Mason to a group that believes drinking blood is the key to immortality. To catch the culprit of such an intimate crime, the agents will have to get close. Mason’s already lost one partner; he’s not ready to risk Della as bait. But sometimes justice requires a sacrifice…

Genre: Mystery - Romantic Suspense Review

Why I Picked This Book:  I have enjoyed the Krewe of Hunters so this trilogy that focuses on an international investigation involving Krewe agents was impossible to pass up!

My Impression: When I pick up a Krewe book I know I'm going to have a fun fast paced read usually with a ghost or two!  This book lived up to my expectations but with the added fun of multiple settings.  

We meet Della early on as she has her first supernatural experience.  The book moves forward a bit in time to Della and Mason's first encounter as agents as they deal with a serial killer (with some ghostly help!).  Soon they are off on a race against a prolific chameleon of a serial killer who is obsessed with blood and immortality.  With the help of an international group of agents Della and Mason visit multiple countries until it all comes down to a tense conclusion.

I really enjoyed the race against the killer and seeing Della and Mason work together.  Mason has some issues with wanting to protect those around him and I liked that Della called him on it while still validating his feelings.  I also really loved the international element.   The ghostly help in each location was a nice touch though Gideon is by far my favorite.  I was a little iffy on the romantic connection between Della and Mason as the characters felt a bit flat but I did like that it wasn't insta-love and there weren't any over the top promises early on.    The dialogue does feel a little bit stilted.  It made sense with some characters as English is not their first language but not as much with Della and Mason.

This was a fun read and I'm looking forward to reading the next two books in this trilogy.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Absolutely!  Heather Graham's books are some of my favorite books to read for some summer escapist reading.  

Would I Recommend this Book?  If you like a romantic suspense with ghosts this is a great one to try - especially if you've already enjoyed some of Heather Graham's Krewe of Hunter books.

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

Saturday, June 24, 2023

Beggar's Choice - Classic Mystery Review

Goodreads:  Beggar's Choice by Patricia Wentworth

Rating: Liked It (3 Stars)
Source:   Purchased

Description:  Car Fairfax had hit rock bottom. First, he was rejected for a job because his shoes were worn out. Next, he ran into Isobel, whom he had not seen for three lovelorn years. Finally, a stranger handed him a printed flyer that read: "Do you want to make 500 pounds? If you do and are willing to earn it, write to..."

But Car's new job was odd. His sole duty, it seemed, was to dine in chic restaurants. While his mysterious boss remained undercover, his glamorous cousin Anna suddenly offered Car 500 pounds to get her out of a jam. And then his friend Fay said she was in a jam and desperately needed five hundred. Even as he pondered the curious affair, Car slowly slid into a net of dangerous deceit and criminal skulduggery that threatened both himself and his future with Isobel....

Genre: Mystery - Classic

Why I Picked This Book:  After spending the last two years reading all the Miss Silver books I'm now reading all of Wentworth's standalone mysteries that I can find.

My Impression:  Honestly, this wasn't Wentworth's best.  I loved Car and Isobel and Corinna.  I love Wentworth's writing style and there were moments were everything was clicking and I was pulled in and really enjoying the story.

However, this wasn't a consistent read.  The plot itself is fairly straightforward but getting from beginning to reveal was a convoluted journey that lost the plot several times and didn't always hold my attention.  As well while I liked Car, Isobel, and Corinna I didn't feel like I knew them very well and I knew the other important characters even less.  This made it a challenge sometimes to keep track of who was who or even what exactly was happening at times.

Overall, I enjoyed the read but it was a bit frustrating because I feel like Wentworth could have done so much better with this plot.  

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Of course!  While this wasn't my favorite book Wentworth is still one of my favorite authors.

Would I Recommend this Book?  As much as it pains me to say this no probably not.  While there are some good points it's overall a bit of a disjointed read.

Friday, June 23, 2023

Friday Fives - Five Books I DNF'd 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.  My main focus for my reading this year is reading books that I'm excited about or really getting something out of.  Unfortunately, not every book is a winner for every reader which means I don't want to keep reading books that I'm not enjoying.  Here are 5 books that I quit reading and the reason why.

1.  Death in Bloodhound Red by Virginia Lanier - I loved the bits about the dog training and seeing the main character work with the dogs.  However, I found the back and forth on the timeline a bit startling and I just wasn't enjoying the author's voice.  This book was published in the 1990s and it very much felt like it.  DNF'd at 50 Pages

2.  Pecan Pies and Homicides by Ellery Adams -
I've really enjoyed other books by this author but this series has never been my favorite.  I liked the first book okay, was meh on the second book and realized I simply didn't not care early with this book.  I was all for a magical pie shop and was even okay with the complicated world of magic that exists within the regular world.  My real problem is the characters.  I like Ella Mae's dog Chewy but the rest of the characters I could never connect with at best and actively disliked at worst.  Part of the problem is I'm not a big fan of the nemesis trope in a cozy mystery and this has that in spades.  If the nemesis character doesn't drive you crazy you might enjoy this series more but as for me I think I'm going to call it quits.  DNF'd at page 34

3.  Small Bones by Kerry Buchanan -
This is very much a not you it's me issue.  The mystery is interesting and I really liked what I saw of the primary detectives.  I was intrigued right away and the narrator for the audiobook was fantastic.  So why is this on my DNF list?  The first reason is that the mystery involves finding a skeleton for an 11 or 12 year old child and in the flashbacks (ie before the skeleton was a skeleton) we meet an 11 or 12 year old boy who is very much a candidate for becoming the skeleton.  This boy is not only the same age as my son but has the same my son.  So while I was interested in finding out what happened my stress levels just couldn't take it!  If you're looking for a good police procedural style mystery I think you'll enjoy this one.  DNF'd at 18%

4.  Making Time: Lillian Moller Gilbreth A Life Beyond "Cheaper By the Dozen" by Jane Lancaster -
This book started out with 2 strikes against it.  The first strike was the font was tiny and pages were very long making it hard to physically read.  The second strike was the writing style being a bit like reading a dissertation or other scholarly work - informative but not so entertaining.  But the third strike is what got the book DNF'd.   I didn't mind the author's obvious dislike of Lillian's husband, Frank, but it felt like she also seemed to undermine and minimize Lillian's love of her children.  Lillian Gilbreth was a brilliant and fascinating woman whose discoveries and methods are still reflected in our lives today.  She was also a loving and very involved mother who seemed to delight in her children's individuality and accomplishments and spoke publicly of her children being her greatest pride.  I felt that to diminish and minimize Lillian's role as a wife and mother also prevented the author from being able to show all aspects of Gilbreth's remarkable life.  After a comment about Lillian only having the children because her Victorian reserve kept her from discussing birth control I decided this wasn't the book for me.  DNF'd page 63

5.  Something Old, Something New by Amy Clipston -
This was okay.  I loved the premise of this story with the Christine's antique store and Brent helping his aunt and opening a stall to sell the things she doesn't want.  Christine and Brent are both nice people and the town seems like a fun community.  What I didn't like was how repetitive certain points got with the story.  Christine's feels like she's less worthy than her sister, Brent is embarrassed about losing his scholarship and how his life turned out.  Christine's sister Brittany says Brent is a bad person.  All of these are repeated over and over without an increase of depth.  As well, most of the events that the characters are hung up on were in high school and given that the characters are in their late 20s (and planning their 10 year reunion) it just a little eye rolly for me  To be fair though books involving adults still dealing with things that happened in high school is kind of a pet peeve for me.  I didn't hate this book or even really dislike it but when it came down to it I didn't care enough about the characters to continue with it.  My Rating: DNF'd 43%

What books have you DNF'd recently?

Thursday, June 22, 2023

Books from the Backlog - The Unbreakable Code

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

Goodreads:  The Unbreakable Code by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman

Blurb:  Mr. Quisling is definitely up to something mysterious, and Emily and James are on high alert. First, there’s the coded note he drops at a book event. Then, they uncover a trail of encrypted messages in Mark Twain-penned books hidden through Book Scavenger. What’s most suspicious is that each hidden book triggers an arson fire.
As the sleuthing friends dig deeper, they discover Mr. Quisling has been hunting a legendary historical puzzle: the Unbreakable Code. This new mystery is irresistible, but Emily and James can’t ignore the signs that Mr. Quisling might be the arsonist.

The clock is ticking as the arson fires multiply, and Emily and James race to crack the code of a lifetime.

Why It Needs to Come Off the Shelf:  I read the first book in this middle grade series years ago and really enjoyed it and meant to read this one as soon as it came out...

Wednesday, June 21, 2023

Summer's Gift - Contemporary Romance Review

Goodreads: Summer's Gift by Jennifer Ryan

Rating: Liked It (3 Stars)
Source:   Publisher

Description:  A young woman takes a DNA test on a whim and discovers the birth father—and half sisters—she never knew. New York Times bestselling author Jennifer Ryan returns with this dramatic and page-turning novel perfect for fans of Colleen Hoover and Lori Foster. A DNA test tells you who you come from, not who you are. All her life, Summer Sutherland felt like the missing piece in a puzzle, left out and looking for the place she truly belongs. And when an at-home DNA test reveals her selfish mother and well-meaning grandfather lied about her father, Summer sets out to discover the truth. Her new instant family comes with two half one who accepts her with open arms, the other resistant to the stranger staying in their house. But somehow Summer senses this is where she is meant to be—so she settles into her father’s Carmel home, ready to get to know them and find her place in the family she always wanted. But while her newfound parent is thrilled to get to know Summer—and her romantic connection to his business partner, Cody, heats up—tensions rise within the family. Will she ever fit in? Or should she return to her other life before tearing all their lives apart?

Genre: Romance - Contemporary

Why I Picked This Book:   I've been wanting to read this author for awhile and liked the sound of this one.

My Impression: This is my first book by this author (who is not to be confused with the author of the same name who writes historical fiction set around wartime) and I enjoyed the read.  Summer is a nice woman who has been grown up believing that her father didn't want her thanks to the lies told to her by her mother and backed up by her grandfather by his silence.  When the truth is revealed to her it is not surprising that she is absolutely furious and feeling like the bottom has dropped out of her world.  With the support of her father's business partner, Cody, Summer heads to California to meet her biological father and his family.  

I liked that this wasn't all sunshine and roses.  While one of her sisters is thrilled to learn of her existence the other one is not quite as enthused.  Summer has to come to terms with what she knows now and how she feels about her family - both newly discovered and the one she grew up with.  The communication between Cody and Summer was really nice and I liked that Summer is able to call her mother on her behavior.

What kept this from being a complete winner of a story for me was the writing style.  While I enjoyed the book I did find it a bit stilted and dialogue heavy. I did like the characters and the story and am looking forward to to reading more of this author.  

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  I would.  While this one wasn't a five star read for me I did enjoy it and want to read more from this author. 

Would I Recommend this Book?  I would.  While I did find it a bit dialogue heavy I did enjoy getting to know these characters and following their stories.  

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

Tuesday, June 20, 2023

Top Ten Tuesday - Summer TBR

Today I'm linking up with Top Ten Tuesday hosted by 
That Artsy Reader Girl which is all about lists.  Since lists are one of my favorite things this is one of my favorite linkups!  Today's topic is my Summer TBR.  I love making these lists though I'm not always the best about following them!

1.  The Summer Skies by Jenny Colgan - I love Jenny Colgan's books and this one just sounds wonderful and like the perfect summer read.

2.  Whispers at Dusk by Heather Graham - When it gets hot and humid it just seems like the time for romantic suspense and I love Heather Graham's romantic suspense books are my favorite.

3.  Catch Me If You Candy by Ellie Alexander - This is one of my favorite cozy mysteries and I'm looking forward to catching up with my friends in Ashland.

4.  Birder, She Wrote by Donna Andrews - This is another favorite cozy series and it never fails to entertain.  

5.  A Bakery in Paris by Aimie K. Runyan - How can I resist that title?  I'm really looking forward to this one!

6.  The Last Castle by Denise Kiernan - This book about the Biltmore has been on my shelf for far too long and I'm really looking forward to reading it.

7.  Assault and Pepper by Leslie Budewitz - This series has been on my TBR for ages and I can't wait to start this one.

8.  Enter a Murder by Ngaio Marsh - This is next on my classic mystery list and I really want to read more from Ngaio Marsh.

9.  The Life and Times of Hercule Poirot by Anne Hart - I read Hart's book on Miss Marple last year and really enjoyed it so I want to read this one.

10. Thale's Folly by Dorothy Gilman - I have been reading Gilman's Mrs. Pollifax books and loving them and I'm really looking forward to trying some of her stand alone title.

What are you hoping to read this summer?

Monday, June 19, 2023

A Fatal Illusion - Historical Mystery Review

Goodreads:  A Fatal Illusion (Lady Darby Mystery #11) by Anna Lee Huber

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

Description:  Yorkshire, England. August 1832. Relations between Sebastian Gage and his father have never been easy, especially since the discovery that Lord Gage has been concealing the existence of an illegitimate son. But when Lord Gage is nearly fatally attacked on a journey to Scotland, Sebastian and Kiera race to his side. Given the tumult over the recent passage of the Reform Bill and the Anatomy Act, in which Lord Gage played a part, Sebastian wonders if the attack could be politically motivated.

But something suspicious is afoot in the sleepy village where Lord Gage is being cared for. The townspeople treat Sebastian and Kiera with hostility when it becomes clear they intend to investigate, and rumors of mysterious disappearances and highway robberies plague the area. Lord Gage’s survival is far from assured, and Sebastian and Kiera must scramble to make the pieces fit before a second attempt at murder is more successful than the first.

Genre:  Mystery - Historical 

Why I Picked This Book:  I have read the most recent books in this series and really enjoyed them so of course I had to pick this one up.  

My Impression:  From the time I started reading this series Sebastian has had a complicated relationship with his father Lord Gage which has only gotten more challenging with the discovery of his half brother, Henry.  When Lord Gage is attacked Sebastian, Kiera, and Henry all head to Yorkshire where he is recovering bringing along their infant daughter, Emma.  As they dig into the details of the attack they must also deal with their feelings towards Lord Gage and his very different reactions to Henry and to Emma.

I really enjoyed the focus on the complicated family relationships as this brings to a head a number of subplots that have been in a number of past books.  However, this does slow down the pacing a bit for the actual mystery.  I am invested enough in these characters that this didn't bother me in the slightest but if I was new to this series I can see that being an issue.

That said, the mystery is intriguing.  What was the goal of Lord Gage's attack and how does it fit in with the Robin Hood legends that are everywhere in the area.  A number of local townspeople are clearly up to no good but I really wasn't sure what that was until the Gages' are closing in on the solution.  This was another enjoyable entry into a series that I always look forward to reading.  

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Absolutely!  I have so enjoyed everything I've read by this author in both this series and her Verity Kent series.  

Would I Recommend this Book?  I would definitely recommend this series but since there is so much character development in this book you might want to start with an earlier book.  

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

Sunday, June 18, 2023

This Week in Reading - June 18

 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:

Let It Crow! Let It Crow! Let It Crow! by Donna Andrews - I love seeing what bird pun this series comes up with next for the title and I'm so looking forward to reading it!  (Publisher)

Now You See It by Carol J Perry - This is a favorite series that I was kind of thinking might have ended so I was so excited to see this book coming out this summer.  (Publisher)

Deadly to the Core by Joyce Tremel - I've been wanting to try something by this author and this mystery involving a woman who has inherited her uncle's orchard sounds fun. (Publisher)

Death at a Scottish Wedding by Lucy Connelly - I enjoyed the first book in this series earlier this year and am so excited to pick up the next book.  (Publisher)

Brought to Book by Anthea Fraser - I picked this book up on a whim.  I feel like I've read a book or two by this author before and this one looks intriguing.  (Publisher)

Death by Demo by Callie Carpenter - I can never resist a cozy mystery involving home remodeling - especially when it involves a body being found behind a wall.  (Publisher)


Reading:  Trouble on the Books by Essie Lang and Summer's Gift by Jennifer Ryan

Listening:  Local Woman Missing by Mary Kubica

It has been a busy few weeks and Sunday Posts kind of got dropped!  Things have been pretty good with dog stuff and swimming and just usual business.

3 years ago today Will was diagnosed with Leukemia.  Watching him spend 4 hours in the pool yesterday swimming nonstop was just amazing.  He has come so far - especially in the last few months since chemo ended.  He's building his strength and endurance and we are learning how to have fun and do active stuff again and it's amazing!  He got good marks at his last check up and has grown 2 inches in the last 3 months.  

Have a great week and happy reading!

Saturday, June 17, 2023

The Stately Home Murder - Classic Mystery Review

Goodreads: The Stately Home Murder by Catherine Aird

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

Description:  First, let's look at the facts: a dead body in a suit of armor, a once-wealthy earl with lots to hide, and a sprawling estate stacked with witnesses.
It’s another head-scratcher for Detective Inspector C. D. Sloan in this intriguing mystery by CWA Diamond Dagger winner Catherine Aird.

In the late 1960s and early 70s, times were tough in the upper reaches of British society. To survive the changing times, the Earl of Ornum has done the previously unthinkable and opened his estate to wandering tourists. One day, a hyperactive boy and his family are delightedly roaming Ornum House. The curious one sees a full suit of armor on display and lifts the visor . . . only to see a human face staring back at him.

As Detective Inspector C. D. Sloan soon finds, the man in the armor is dead—and there’s a slew of suspects waiting to be interviewed. Was it the ditzy duchess? The disappointing nephew? One of the servants? The earl himself? It’s up to Sloan and his wisecracking sidekick, Detective Constable Crosby, to find out before the murderer strikes again.

Librarian's note: this novel was published in the UK as "The Complete Steel' in 1969 and as "The Stately Home Murder" in the US in 1970.

Genre: Mystery - Classic

Why I Picked This Book:   Catherine Aird is an author I've really been wanting to read more of and this is the third book in the C.D. Sloan series.

My Impression:  This was a fun read!  There's a touch of everything with the titled family and the grand residence full of antiques.  There's quirky characters of varying levels of quirky, a butler, a dungeon, a ghost, and beleaguered detective who is trying to just finish untangling all the loose ends and get the murder(s) solved before he gets any more pressure from his superior.  

I love CD Sloan.  He's so nicely human though we don't know too much about his personal life.  He's not perfect but he's practical and in this book especially he has the challenging job of keeping his Detective Constable behaving.  I loved seeing the inside of Ornum House and what the residents thought of opening the house to the public as well as the guides' opinions.  The mystery did keep me guessing and I didn't figure it out until Sloan revealed the murderer and the motive and I was completely delighted.

This isn't the fast paced mystery but it didn't feel like the plot ever dragged or got overly detailed.  Aird unravels the mystery slowly as she lets the reader get to know the characters and the dynamics of the house.  It was an entertaining and likable mystery and I'm looking forward to my next mystery featuring CD Sloan.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Absolutely!  I'm already looking forward to my next Aird book.

Would I Recommend this Book?  If you like classic mysteries like Agatha Christie and Dorothy L. Sayers you should definitely give Catherine Aird's books a try!

Friday, June 16, 2023

Friday Fives - Five Books I'd Read on the Beach

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 month I am virtually at the beach.  We aren't going to the beach this year and honestly I prefer going in the fall when it's not quite so hot but with a virtual vacation the weather and the crowd level is just like I like it!  And I can sit in my imaginary beach chair and read the day away like I always imagine I will.  And in this little dream world I can read 5 books in a day.

1.  The Unseen by Heather Graham - A ghostly bit of creepy romantic suspense seems like the perfect start to a day of reading on the beach.

2.  Sweet Little Lies by Jill Shalvis - After the suspenseful ghosty book I'm going to go for a romance and this one involves a boat tour captain which sounds fun.

3.  Peaches and Scream by Susan Furlong - Of course I have to read a cozy mystery!  And this I can read why drinking a nice icey glass of peach tea or the Country Peach juice from Trader Joe's that's my current favorite.  

4.  Ten Beach Road by Wendy Wax - This looks gloriously beachy for some end of the day beach reading!

5.  The Cracked Spine by Paige Shelton - At this point I'm probably back in the room from the beach and all nice and clean (is there any better feeling after a day in the sun?)! Since I'll probably be ready for a break from beach-y reads I think a nice cozy set in a bookstore in Scotland sounds like the perfect antidote.

What books would you read on your imaginary beach trip?

Thursday, June 15, 2023

Books from the Backlog - A Stranger on the Beach

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:  A Stranger on the Beach by Michele Campbell

Blurb:  There is a stranger outside Caroline's house.

Her spectacular new beach house, built for hosting expensive parties and vacationing with the family she thought she'd have. But her husband is lying to her and everything in her life is upside down, so when the stranger, Aiden, shows up as a bartender at the same party where Caroline and her husband have a very public fight, it doesn't seem like anything out of the ordinary.

As her marriage collapses around her and the lavish lifestyle she's built for herself starts to crumble, Caroline turns to Aiden for comfort...and revenge. After a brief and desperate fling that means nothing to Caroline and everything to him, Aiden's obsession with Caroline, her family, and her house grows more and more disturbing. And when Caroline's husband goes missing, her life descends into a nightmare that leaves her accused of her own husband's murder.

Why It Needs to Come Off the Shelf:  I've read a few books by this author and really enjoyed them and this one has been on my shelf for way too long.

Wednesday, June 14, 2023

The Sweetheart List - Contemporary Romance Review

Goodreads: The Sweetheart List (Sunrise Cove #4) by Jill Shalvis

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

Description:  When Harper Shaw’s life falls apart, she knows it’s time for a change. She removes everything that doesn’t spark joy—from her soul-sucking job to eating kale to making lists—and sets off for the last place she was happy, Lake Tahoe (who wouldn’t feel good there, right?) to fulfill her dream of opening her own bakery.

With her Sugar Pine Bakery in between a tavern, owned by sexy, grumpy Bodie Campbell, and a bookstore, run by her new BFF, she feels a peace she’s never experienced since…well, forever.. Then she meets Ivy, a teenage runaway, who barrels into her heart. She sees a lot of herself in Ivy and takes her under her wing, but the teenager has secrets…

When those secrets explode, it changes Harper’s new world, and she’ll learn, it’s never too late to start over, it’s never too late to figure out your life, and best of all, it’s never too late to let yourself believe in love.

Genre: Romance - Contemporary

Why I Picked This Book:  I have really enjoyed all the books that I've read by this author and I just could not resist the cover or the premise.  

My Impression:  This was such a fun summer read!  I loved Harper and Ivy and Bodie and all the rest of the Campbell family.    My favorite character was Hambone, the Bernese Mountain Dog who regularly stole the scene.  

One of my favorite tropes is the found family and I also love books that feature family dynamics.  This has a wonderful mix of both with almost all the characters at loose ends for one reason or another and all looking for somewhere to belong as well as sort out varying degrees of family dynamics.  I really liked that Harper's and Ivy's family situations are tricky at best and terribly strained at worst and that's contrasted with the close family of the Campbells and Shay and her Abuela.  But at the same time even the close families are finding their way with each other and love and family bonds don't make for a magic wand that makes all the troubles go away.  The relationship between Harper and Ivy was a trifle unrealistic but so wonderful that I couldn't resist falling for it and I loved the give and take dynamic of Harper and Bodie's conversations as they got to know each other.  I really loved the romance and rooted for them but what really sold the book for me was the nonromantic connections between all the different characters.  

This is the 4th Sunrise Cove book but only the 2nd that I have read and it is completely not an issue.  The books are only linked by the loosest of connections.  I'm so glad I picked this one up and am so looking forward to reading more from Jill Shalvis and seeing more of Sunrise Cove.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author? Absolutely!  I enjoyed this one from start to finish.

Would I Recommend this Book?  If you enjoy books involving found family and family dynamics with more than a dash of romance then this book is one not to miss.  

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

Tuesday, June 13, 2023

Top Ten Tuesday - My Bookish Wishes

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 Bookish Wishes.  You can find my Amazon Wish List here.  

1.  Strawberry Lane by Jodi Thomas  - I love the sound of this one and it has such a summery cover!

2. The Rescuers by Margery Sharp - This is one of my absolute favorite movies and it was only a year or two ago that I realized it was based on a book.

3.  Murder Can Mess Up Your Masterpiece by Rose Pressey - I just listened to the first book in another series by this author and really enjoyed it and this one appeals to me even more.

4.  Miss Plum and Miss Penny by Dorothy Evelyn Smith - One of my favorite YouTuber's (Lil's Vintage World) recommended this one and it looks wonderful.

5.  From Beer to Eternity by Sherry Harris - This may be my favorite pun-ny cozy title and it sounds like a fun read.

6. The Wedding Dress Sewing Circle by Jennifer Ryan - I read another book by this author several years ago and loved it and this one really calls to me.

7.  Con/Artist: The Life and Crimes of the World's Greatest Art Forger by Tony Tetro - I love art theft books and this one sounds fantastic.

8.  Other Birds by Sarah Addison Allen - This is one of my favorite authors and this one looks wonderful.

9.  Rosemary:  The Hidden Kennedy Daughter by Kate Clifford Larson - I watched a documentary on mental health treatment that lightly touched on Rosemary Kennedy and since then I've really been wanting to learn more.

10. The Lion in the Living Room by Abigail Tucker - This has been on my TBR for ages and I'm really looking forward to reading it.

What are your bookish wishes?

Monday, June 12, 2023

Songs of Wine and Murder - Cozy Mystery Review

Goodreads:  Songs of Wine and Murder (A Tourist Trap Mystery #15) by Lynn Cahoon

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

Description:  In the latest Tourist Trap Mystery by New York Times bestselling author Lynn Cahoon, series sleuth Jill Gardner is trying to drum up business for Coffee, Books, and More—but a killer has other ideas . . .

With the Moonstone Beach Festival coming up, Jill is touching base with her fellow small business owners to make it as successful as possible. It’s frustrating when Darla, the owner of South Cove Winery, is late to a big meeting, but they manage to get the discussion rolling about the kite flying event and the big Battle of the Bands—which Darla’s musician boyfriend is hoping will be his big break. And Jill, of course, will be there with her food truck, hoping for a financial boost after a slow spring.

But amid the fun in the California sun, someone will soon be planning a funeral instead of a festival—and Jill and her detective fiancé will have to find out who ruined the Moonstone Beach mood with murder . . .

Genre:  Mystery - Cozy

Why I Picked This Book:  I have been reading this series from the beginning and it has long been one of my favorites.    

My Impression:  I do love a visit to South Cove and seeing Jill, Greg, Toby and all the rest of the crew of Coffee, Books and More in South Cove.  It was fun to see what they were all up to and check in with them.  In this book South Cove is hosting a music festival and tensions are high as bands compete and several townspeople are involved.  When a troublesome lead singer is found dead it's a case of out of all the people who wanted to kill the singer whose motive was the strongest.

As usual in this series, there's much more going on then just the mystery.  Aunt Jackie has some health concerns, there's stuff happening at the bookstore as they balance running the store with keeping the food truck going for the music festival, and Jill still has her day to day life to live.  The mystery felt a bit more on the backburner in this book than in previous books and there were a few times that Jill got on my nerves with her occasional judge-y attitude over others' actions.

I did enjoy the read and was along for the ride as Jill and Greg tried to figure out just who had killed Axel and I was surprised at the reveal.  While this wasn't my favorite in the series it is still such a comfort read and just like visiting old friends.  

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  I would!  I really enjoy this author's books and am looking forward to the next one.

Would I Recommend this Book?  I would recommend this series but I would recommend starting with an earlier book so you can get to know the characters as they develop.

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

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)