Thursday, August 31, 2023

Books from the Backlog - Always Home

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:  Always Home: A Daughter's Recipes and Stories by Fanny Singer

Blurb:  In this extraordinarily intimate portrait of her mother--and herself--Fanny Singer, daughter of food icon and activist Alice Waters, chronicles a unique world of food, wine, and travel; a world filled with colorful characters, mouth-watering traditions, and sumptuous feasts. Across dozens of vignettes with accompanying recipes, she shares the story of her own culinary coming of age and reveals a side of her legendary mother that has never been seen before. A charming, smart translation of Alice Waters's ideals and attitudes about food for a new generation, Always Home is a loving, often funny, unsentimental, and exquisitely written look at a life defined in so many ways by food, as well as the bond between mother and daughter.

Why It Needs to Come Off the Shelf:  Food and family with some travel mixed in sounds wonderful but somehow I just haven't read it yet!

Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Mrs. Jeffries Aims to Win - Historical Mystery Review

Goodreads:   Mrs. Jeffries Aims to Win (A Victorian Mystery #41) by Emily Brightwell

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

Description:  Mrs. Jeffries must help Inspector Witherspoon crack a new case and catch a killer in this next installment of the beloved Victorian Mystery series.

Successful businessman Jeremy Marks wasn't highly regarded by any of the members of the West London Archery Club. Most of them considered him a buffoon and a bore. But everyone was stunned when the fellow was murdered during a lull in the club's annual archery competition. He'd been shot with arrows from a longbow during a raging thunderstorm.

But those who knew Marks well understood that the unkempt court jester persona adopted by the late, unlamented man was as fake as the smile he wore. As Inspector Witherspoon investigates the murder, he discovers the victim had real enemies amongst the assembled archery contestants. Marks was notorious for not paying his bills, cheating vendors, bad-mouthing business rivals, and worst of all, betraying his business partners. The dead man had built a whole career and amassed quite a substantial fortune by harming those who trusted him. It will take Mrs. Jeffries and the inspector's household as well as their friends to sort out fact from fiction and target a killer.

Genre: Mystery - Historical

Why I Picked This Book:  I've really enjoyed the most recent books in the series and I do love a mystery solved by a team effort.  

My Impression:  This is such a fun series!  In this latest entry a truly hateful man is killed by being shot by two arrows and the question isn't who would want him dead but more of all the people who wanted him dead who had the strongest motive and opportunity.  Inspector Witherspoon, Mrs. Jeffries, Wiggins and the rest of the below stairs staff have their hands full trying to get that figured out.

I really enjoy the classic mystery feel of this book.  The characters investigate based off their strengths and who they have access to and little by little the reader (and the characters) get all the pieces of the puzzle.  It's not the fastest paced mystery but it's an enjoyable investigation from start to finish and I very rarely can put the pieces together completely before Mrs. Jeffries and her team help Inspector Witherspoon get to the solution.  The upstairs/downstairs element also adds a fun element as the characters investigate and question people from all walks of life.  I really enjoyed that Luty and Hatchett have such a front and center role in this book.  They are both so entertaining and I never know what Luty is going to say next.

I really enjoyed this latest Mrs. Jeffries book and catching up with all the different characters.  If you enjoy a nice cozy with a classic mystery feel this is a great book to pick up.  You can jump in at any point with the series with no problem as the whos and hows are explained pretty easily.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author? Absolutely!  I've also started reading the earlier books in the series and have been enjoying them as well though don't think they're quite as strong as the later books.

Would I Recommend this Book?   Definitely!  If you enjoy cozy mysteries or classic mysteries I think you would enjoy this series as a whole and this book.

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

Tuesday, August 29, 2023

Top Ten Tuesday - Ten Books on My TBR with Water on the Cover

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 water so I'm listing books on my TBR with water on the cover.

1.  Dying in the Wool by Frances Brody - It's just a little bit but that is clearly a stream going under the bridge.

2.  The Happiness Plan by Susan Mallery

3.  Letters from Skye by Jessica Brockmole

4.  Bad Summer People by Emma Rosenblum

5.  The Bookshop by the Bay by Pamela Kelley

6.  Grief Cottage by Gail Godwin

7.  The Summer of Songbirds by Kristy Woodson Harvey

8.  Sweet Lake by Christine Nolfi

9.  A Novel Proposal by Denise Hunter

10. The Widower's Wife by Cate Holahan

Have you read any of these?  Do covers with water appeal to you?

Monday, August 28, 2023

Cursed at Dawn - Paranormal Mystery Review

Goodreads:  Cursed at Dawn (The Blackbird Trilogy #3) by Heather Graham

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

Description:  Dracula lives—and he’s hunting for his bride.

Vampires may not walk among us, but FBI agents Della Hamilton and Mason Carter know real monsters exist. They’ve witnessed firsthand the worst humankind has to offer. They’re still catching their breaths after the apprehension of two such monstrous killers when they’re met with horrific news. Stephan Dante, the self-proclaimed king of the vampires, has escaped from prison, followed only by a trail of blood.

All too familiar with Dante’s cruelty, Della and Mason know the clock is ticking. But as Dante claims more victims, a chilling message arrives. The vampire killer seeks his eternal bride—Della herself. Playing into Dante’s desires might be the only way to stop the carnage once and for all, assuming they can outwit him. Della is confident the agents have the upper hand, but Mason knows every gamble runs the risk of not paying off, and this time, the consequences could be deadly.

Genre:  Mystery - Paranormal

Why I Picked This Book:   I have enjoyed the previous two books in this trilogy and I always enjoy the Krewe books.

My Impression: The self-proclaimed Vampire Killer is back and causing havoc in Scotland.  Della, Mason and the rest of the Blackbird team are on their game and determined to save his potential victims and put the Vampire Killer back where he belongs - all while trying to keep Della herself from becoming victim number 1.  

This has the usual fun Heather Graham atmosphere and spooky setting.  The Scottish setting complete with ghost tours and hidden closes added a bit of a claustrophobic air.  In this book we know who we are chasing but are never quite sure just what he looks like or who else he got involved.  I liked that the original group of Blackbird agents are involved and really liked the new additions of Lachlan and Brianna.  

This was a fun slightly spooky read with a great setting.  As I've found with the entire trilogy the dialogue comes off as a bit stiff but the pace and mystery itself make up for it.  While you could jump in with this book I think it would be much better enjoyed with the other two books in the trilogy.  

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Of course!  While they are never 5 star reads for me I always enjoy a visit to the world Heather Graham creates.

Would I Recommend this Book?  If you like mystery with a few ghostly presences and a cat and mouse feel this is a fun trilogy.

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

Sunday, August 27, 2023

This Week in Reading - August 27

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:

Twilight Falls by Juneau Black - This was described as a mix between fantasy and cozy mystery and I could not resist! (Publisher)

The Book Club Hotel by Sarah Morgan - I have enjoyed Sarah Morgan's last few books and this one sounds lovely.  (Publisher)

What You Are Looking For is in the Library by Michiko Aoyama - This book is supposed to capture the magic that is the library so of course I had to pick it up.  (Publisher)

Death in the Romance Aisle by Lynn Cahoon - I absolutely loved the first book in this series and liked the second book so I'm curious about the third.  (Publisher)


Reading:  Mrs. Jeffries Aims to Win by Emily Brightwell

Listening:  Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros

Not much is going on.  Will and I are getting into a routine when it comes to school and it's nice to be "normal".  He's enjoying his group classes (he's studying botany this semester) and we are doing a lot of catch up from the last few years on our own.

It's been so hot here the last week or so that I haven't really felt like reading all that much and I haven't been walking or doing much outside so that's made my audiobook listening take a bit of a hit but I'm still enjoying my reading.  It's been a good year for books.  

We are trying to get ready for our big vacation next month when we go on a Disney cruise followed by a week at Disney World.  I'm so excited.  It's been way too long since we've had an actual vacation and I'm so glad Will is feeling ready for it.

Other than getting ready for the trip and getting into a routine with homeschool I've still been doing dog stuff.   Between teaching and training I'm doing something dog related every day - luckily I love it.

Have a great week and happy reading!

Saturday, August 26, 2023

Outrageous Fortune - Classic Mystery Review

Goodreads:  Outrageous Fortune by Patricia Wentworth

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

Description:  A man is in a hospital in Sussex. He was shipwrecked when the Alice Aiden, the coastal boat heading to Glasgow encountered a thick fog. This man lost his memory, he can’t say who he is but keeps talking in his sleep about a Jim Randall or Jim Riddel. The nurses advertise on the radio that a man named Jim Randall or Jim Riddel has been found; if anyone knows him, they can pick him up. Nesta Riddel hears the message and decides to go and fetch him, especially when she realizes that he relentlessly mentions the eight emeralds that she and her accomplice Jim Riddel have stolen from the rich New-Yorker Elmer van Berg. The robbery has been making the headlines for a few weeks as Elmer was shot by the thief and is in a coma. A few days after the injured man has left the hospital with Nesta, Caroline shows up there, explaining she thinks the man could be her cousin Jim Randal.

Genre: Mystery - Classic

Why I Picked This Book:  I'm reading all the Patricia Wentworth stand alone mysteries that I have been collecting for years.    

My Impression:  This was a bit of madness.  I love Patricia Wentworth's writing style and I love her characters and that held true here.  Unfortunately, the plotting was a bit all over the place which made it a bit hard to follow or to believe.  

I like Caroline and I really like that she doesn't settle for the first answer.  When she feels like something isn't right she definitely doesn't give up until she gets all it figured out.  Her roommate makes a good side kick as she is completely uninterested in Caroline's drama and completely caught up in her own romance.  She made me laugh with all her over analyzing.  

Jim is a bit harder to get to know - partly because he's not exactly sure who he is or what he's done and what he does remember doesn't make him look particularly good.  There's a lot of missing pieces and incoherent pieces that need to be put together to figure out just who exactly Jim is and what he did in the days missing from his memory. 

I did enjoy figuring out the base mystery but do feel like it could have been plotted out a bit better.  There were quite a few times where my mind went "Now what now?" which is not what you want while reading a mystery.  Patricia Wentworth is still one of my favorite authors but I'm beginning not to trust her stand alones quite as much as I do her Miss Silver books.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Of course!  While this wasn't my favorite I do love Wentworth's writing style and characters.

Would I Recommend this Book?  Probably not unless you're already a Wentworth fan.

Friday, August 25, 2023

Friday Fives - Five Quick 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 Pagan Stone by Nora Roberts - This book is the final book in the Sign of Seven trilogy and was such a fantastic ending.  Like in most of Roberts' trilogies there are 2 sets of friends conveniently made up of 3 guys and 3 women who all have somewhat different personalities.  Gage and Cybil were the characters that I knew the least about and Gage was definitely the least likable of the 6.  I'm not entirely sure that I liked him at the end but I did understand him a bit more and his feelings for Cybil seemed real and genuine.   Cybil is brilliant and interesting and beautiful as well as determined and a genius and figuring out problems.  The way this series concluded was very well done and satisfying.  My Rating: Really Liked It (4 Stars)

2.  Single Malt Murder by Melinda Mullet - This is the first book in a cozy mystery series involving a photojournalist who inherits a whiskey distillery in Scotland from her uncle and it happens to come with a bit of sabotage and a murder in the mix.  I enjoyed the setting and seeing how whiskey is made.  At times Abi seemed a bit dense with how she deals with people and how she picks up on context clues.  When it comes to the investigation she does a good job of not going over the top with nosiness but she switches her main suspect with dizzying speed.  As well there is a fairly large cast of characters who are new to the reader and to Abi and I struggled a bit to keep up with who was who.  This could have been because I listened to the audio but it did detract from my enjoyment.  I am curious to see how this series develops but not in the biggest rush to pick up the next book.  My Rating: Liked It (3 Stars)

3.  Murder in Old Bombay by Nev March - I picked this mystery set Bombay, India during the late 1800s.  I found the premise fascinating.  While recovering from war injuries Captain Jim Agnihotri becomes invested in the mystery of two women jumping to their death from a clock tower after reading a letter from the widower of the women.  He meets the widower, Adi Framji and the man's family and begins investigating just what happened to the women and becoming close with Framji family - particularly Adi's sister Diana.  I enjoyed the read and came to really care for the characters but I did feel like the book could use a bit of editing.  There is SO much crammed into it.  There is war, bands of orphans, human trafficking, blackmail, past secrets, politics, religion, boxing, and a whole host of other issues.  The mystery didn't just go from point A to point B but hit every other letter on the way and I could have dealt with a few less side trips and far less self doubt on Captain Jim's part.  I did love the ending once we got there and I can't wait to see what happens next with these characters. My Rating: Liked It (3 Stars)

4.  Quiet: The Importance of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain - This was an interesting look at how being an extrovert became the accepted standard of behavior and the differences between extroverts and introverts.  I wouldn't say it reads like a novel but I didn't find it too dry and enjoyed the case studies and the different aspects of behavior.  I did struggle a bit trying to find where I fit into the book as I am not shy and have no problem speaking in public and dealing in small talk but find it draining to the point of exhaustion and require a bit of time by myself to recharge.  Because of this I don't really resemble most of the examples of introverts the author focuses on showing quieter deeper thinkers.  Other than that this was an interesting look at being human that is talked a lot about but rarely deeply examined.  My Rating:  Liked It! (3.5 Stars)

5.  Local Woman Missing by Mary Kubica -
I almost didn't pick this up as it violates my no children in peril rule but I've heard such good things about this book and this author that I finally gave in and I'm so glad I did!  I picked up the audio of this one and right from the start I was pulled in to the story and completely hooked.   It wasn't quite cleaning baseboards as an excuse to get more audio book time but it was close!  I was completely caught up in the story trying to figure out just what exactly had happened and was fully invested coming up with multiple theories as I listened.  My heart broke for Delilah and Leo as they were really just pawns in the story that was developing around them - though the staff at Leo's school needs a serious talking too for allowing that level of bullying to go on.  The ending stretched belief a bit but I was okay with it because I enjoyed it so much.  I will definitely be reading/listening to more of this author's books.  My Rating: Really Liked It: 4 Stars

Thursday, August 24, 2023

Books from the Backlog - The Trouble With Mirrors

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 Trouble with Mirrors by Charlotte an Aaron Elkins

Blurb:  Alix London, the art restorer and FBI consultant renowned as the Art Whisperer, can spot a counterfeit masterpiece before the paint even dries. What she can’t see is why an elite European art dealer would offer her big money for a little mirror that’s no more than a homemade gift from her beloved uncle Tiny. Not that Alix would part with it at any price. But when the mirror is abruptly stolen from her home, she realizes that someone sees more in the looking glass than mere sentimental value. When her uncle Tiny disappears mysteriously just after the mirror is stolen, the simple art theft becomes a personal and professional challenge Alix can’t ignore. With backup from her friends in the FBI, her game-for-anything pal Chris, and an aging-but-dogged Italian police detective, she delves into the puzzling case, only to find that there is much more to this theft than meets the eye. Once the Mafia shows up on the scene, Alix’s mission becomes a do-or-die race to find the one possible man with all the answers.

Why It Needs to Come Off the Shelf:  I've really enjoyed other books by this writing duo and I almost bought a copy the other day until I realized that I already owned a copy.  Definitely past time to read it!

Wednesday, August 23, 2023

Nine Lives and Alibis - Cozy Mystery Review

Goodreads:  Nine Lives and Alibis (A Cat Cafe Mystery #7) by Cate Conte

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

Description:  It’s October in Daybreak Harbor, which means everything Halloween. The town is going all out for the holiday, hoping to one-up the festivities in neighboring Salem, Massachusetts, and Maddie James is delighted to be part of the planning for the annual happenings.

But trouble brews when Maddie’s youngest sister, Sam, books a famous medium, Balfour Dempsey, to come to town for the celebrations and stay in the local haunted inn―along with his equally famous black cat. The town busybody books a secret reading with Balfour and doesn’t want anyone to know why. Maddie’s best friend Becky is hell-bent on getting Balfour to help her solve two 40-year-old mysteries―a murder and a missing maid. And the psychic has a stalker who’s followed him here to the island, demanding he connect with her dead husband.

When Balfour is pushed off the cliffs behind the inn to his death and his beloved cat goes missing, it throws the whole town into a frenzy. And Maddie and her family find themselves in the middle of a murder mystery straight out of a Halloween movie.

Genre:  Mystery - Cozy

Why I Picked This Book:  I have been wanting to read this series for awhile and I couldn't resist the blurb for this book.

My Impression: This is my first book in an ongoing series so I'm expecting to have some issues with figuring out the who is who and how they're connected.  What I'm really focusing on as I read this was am I enjoying the characters, writing style, and setting enough to merit going back and reading the rest of the series.  In this case the answer is whole-heartedly yes.

There are a number of moving parts in this book with several incidents taking place years in the past.  I really liked that the author used newspaper articles to inform the reader about the past events.  That relayed the information clearly without ever having to sink into over explaining and dialogue heavy passages.  

I had no problem immediately pulled into the story.  I liked Maddie and her sisters and loved the cat café setting.  There's a good community feel that I'm sure gets better the more you read in the series.  My only minor gripe is that nothing really starts happening mystery-wise until about a third of the way into the story and I was starting to get a bit impatient with that.  

Overall, I enjoyed this new to me cozy series and am excited to go back and pick up the first book of the series.  If you like a small town cozy with a feline sidekick this a fun read to pick up.  

Would I Read More of this Series/Author? Absolutely!  I'm really looking forward to picking up the first book in the series.

Would I Recommend this Book?  I would - especially if you enjoy cozy mysteries with cat sidekicks.

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

Tuesday, August 22, 2023

Top Ten Tuesday - Ten Cozy Mystery Series I Haven't Read Yet But Want To

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.  Since I read a lot of cozy mysteries I'm looking at series that I haven't read yet but wan to try.

1.  An Eleanor Wilde Mysteries by Tamara Berry - I love the most recent series by this author and this one about a fake medium sounds pretty fun.

2.  Magical Cats Mysteries by Sofie Kelly - I love this author's books under the name Sofie Ryan and I know so many people who love this series.  Plus, I own a few.

3.  Embroidery Mystery Series by Amanda Lee - I love books about hobbies that I am not able to do and this one involves a woman that owns an Irish Wolfhound which is also a big plus.

4.  The Family Skeleton Mysteries by Leigh Perry - This book involving a skeleton that talks seemed a bit odd but lots of fun.

5.  Ice Cream Shop Mysteries by Meri Allen - Who doesn't love ice cream and what's better than a series about ice cream AND murder?

6.  Furever Pets Mysteries by Alex Erickson - This series involves a veterinarian married to an animal rescuer and who could resist that title?

7.  Haunted Yarn Shop Mysteries by Molly MacRae - How have I not read a book involving a haunted yarn shop?  

8.  Deep Dish Mysteries by Mindy Quigley - Pizzas and a cat named Butterball seem like a pretty fun combination.

9.  Kate Shackleton Mystery Series by Frances Brody - Kate Shackleton is a WWI widow whose husband is listed as MIA.  It sounds really interesting and I love a good historical mystery.

10.  Salem B&B Mysteries by Traci Wilton - A haunted B&B in Salem sounds like a lot of fun - plus the titles are hilariously pun-ish.

Have you read any of these?  Do you have any mysteries series that you haven't read but plan to soon?

Monday, August 21, 2023

Catch Me If You Candy - Cozy Mystery Review

 Goodreads:   Catch Me If You Candy (A Bakeshop Mystery #17) by Ellie Alexander

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

Description:  Halloween has arrived in picturesque Ashland, Oregon, and all of the ghouls and goblins have descended on Main Street for the annual parade. It’s a giant street party and Torte is right in the mix.

Jules Capshaw and her team have been baking up autumn delights and trick-or-Torte bags filled with sugar cookie cutouts, spiced cider, and mummy munch. It’s the end of the season at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, which means that the costumes for the parade are going to be out of this world. The elaborate guises even extend to pets. The grand marshal of this year’s parade is no other than a regal pug aptly named King George. Jules is delighted to get to share the experience with Carlos and Ramiro, but things take a dark turn when she discovers a dragon slumped in front of the bakeshop.

Jules is distraught when she realizes the dragon is dead. She’s also shaken because a few days before the parade, her mother's Mahjong partner Helen discovered a warning note about a dragon in an antique game set. Jules hopes it’s just a random coincidence, but as the clues begin to unfold it becomes evident that there’s been a murder on All Hallow’s Eve. Can Juliet sift out the truth before the killer comes after her?

Genre: Mystery - Cozy

Why I Picked This Book:  This is one of my favorite series so of course I have to pick up the newest book!

My Impression:  I really enjoyed this book which wasn't a big surprise as this series has been a winner for me from the very first book.  I really enjoyed spending Halloween in Ashland and it being Ramiro's first American Halloween was an extra bit of fun.  Mixed in with all the Halloween fun is more than a little drama between two canine actors and their very devoted owners.  

The food descriptions are absolutely amazing and make me wish that Torte was a real place.  I love the characters in this book.  They've had a nice amount of growth as the series has gone on but not so much that they are unrecognizable.  I also like seeing a bit more of Jules' mom as she finds her footing in her new retired life.  

There were a few issues with pacing as the mystery developed and I can't say that this was my favorite book in the series partly because of this.  That said, this was a fun read with lots of Halloween fun, great characters, and an interesting mystery.  

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Absolutely!  I've enjoyed every book I've read by this author.

Would I Recommend this Book?  If you enjoy foodie cozy mysteries this series is a must read.  You could jump in with this book with no issue but I think it'd be even better if you started earlier in the series so you could get to know the characters.  

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

Saturday, August 19, 2023

Enter a Murderer - Classic Mystery Review

Goodreads: Enter a Murderer (Roderick Alleyn #2) by Ngaio Marsh

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

Description:  The crime scene was the stage of the Unicorn Theatre, when prop gun fired a very real bullet; the victim was an actor clawing his way to stardom using bribery instead of talent; and the suspects included two unwilling girlfriends and several relieved blackmail victims. The stage is set for one of Roderick Alleyn's most baffling cases…

Genre: Mystery - Classic

Why I Picked This Book:  I'm trying to read more classic mysteries and Marsh is an author I've read a few books by but never in any kind of order and not enough.

My Impression:  Marsh always has a bit of a theatrical feel to her mysteries and this one really did as it took place not just on a theater but onstage during a play.  

As usual Alleyn is at his slightly ironic best complete with ulterior motives, self-deprecating banter and a sharp eye.  Nigel Bathgate makes a good sidekick with his enthusiasm and journalism perspective,  I did miss Angela but was glad to see him mention her a few times.  Inspector Fox is very much a side character in this mystery.  We see him only occasionally and in a cameo type role.

The mystery is interesting and did keep me guessing and ended with a surprise.  I would have liked the solution and motive a bit more fleshed out but this is a short book and a quick read and excess reasons just didn't fit in the script.  

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Yes of course!  This is the Roderick Alleyn book I've read in chronological order and I'm really enjoying getting to know him and the rest of the characters in the series.

Would I Recommend this Book? If you enjoy classic mysteries I think Roderick Alleyn is a good detective to get to know.  He isn't as engaging as Christie's Poirot but he is still entertaining and Marsh produces a good mystery.

Friday, August 18, 2023

Friday Fives - Five Random Library Picks

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 love my library but normally I'm a big fan of the hold feature.  I'll go online, find the book I want and have it sent to my library branch and then dash in and pick it up.  But every so often I like to wander the shelves and pick out books at random.  Here are 5 I picked up randomly recently.

1.  The Secret Love Letters of Olivia Moretti

2.  The Little Wartime Library by Kate Thompson

3.  State of Wonder by Anne Patchett

4.  Surviving Savannah by Patti Callahan

5.  The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan

Have you read any of these?  Did you love them? Hate them?

Thursday, August 17, 2023

Books from the Backlog - Ghosts a la Mode

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:  Ghost a la Mode by Sue Ann Jaffarian

Blurb:  Granny was famous for her award-winning apple pies-and notorious for murdering her husband Jacob at their homestead in Julian, California. The only trouble is, Granny was framed, then murdered. For more than one hundred years, Granny's spirit has been searching for someone to help her see that justice is served--and she hits pay dirt when she pops in to a seance attended by her great-great-great-granddaughter, modern-day divorced mom Emma Whitecastle. Together, Emma and Granny Apples solve mysteries of the past--starting with Granny's own unjust murder rap in the final days of the California Gold Rush.

Why It Needs to Come Off the Shelf:  Ghosts and antique murder - what's not to like?  Plus I do love a good apple pie.  

Wednesday, August 16, 2023

The Keeper of Hidden Books - Historical Fiction Review

Goodreads: The Keeper of Hidden Books by Madeline Martin

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

Description:  All her life, Zofia has found comfort in two things during times of hardship: books and her best friend, Janina. But no one could have imagined the horrors of the Nazi occupation in Warsaw. As the bombs rain down and Hitler’s forces loot and destroy the city, Zofia finds that now books are also in need of saving.

With the death count rising and persecution intensifying, Zofia jumps to action to save her friend and salvage whatever books she can from the wreckage, hiding them away, and even starting a clandestine book club. She and her dearest friend never surrender their love of reading, even when Janina is forced into the newly formed ghetto.

But the closer Warsaw creeps toward liberation, the more dangerous life becomes for the women and their families – and escape may not be possible for everyone. As the destruction rages around them, Zofia must fight to save her friend and preserve her culture and community using the only weapon they have left - literature.

Genre: Fiction - Historical

Why I Picked This Book:  I have really enjoyed this author's previous two books and the blurb of this one really caught my attention.

My Impression:   Oh this book broke my heart but gave me hope all at the same time.  Set in Poland around Zofia and her closest friend Janina the book starts with the two girls still in school and enjoying being teenagers  Hitler is lurking on the horizons but isn't a threat and the girls and their friends have made a book club that focuses on reading books that Hitler is ordering destroyed.

As the book goes on the world changes for these girls in ways they could never imagine.  They are forced to grow up and face who they really are as well as endure heartbreaking loss and constant fear.  But what keeps this from being too much is the thread of hope that runs through the book.  I loved the focus on books and that they are used for comfort, for hope, and for rebellion.  As well I really appreciated the Polish setting.  I feel like that's not a common World War II setting and it is a story worth exploring.  

The only thing that kept this from being a 5 star book for me was that I found the beginning a bit slow and it took me a few chapters to really connect to the main characters but that was really a minor issue.

This was an emotional read that left me with tears in my eyes but a feeling of hope and a strong impression of strength.  

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?   Absolutely!  I have loved all three of this author's historical fiction books that I have read and am looking forward to more books from her.

Would I Recommend this Book?  Definitely!  This is a strong historical fiction with a somewhat unusual setting for a time period we often see.  

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

Tuesday, August 15, 2023

Top Ten Tuesday - My Favorite Characters from Books I've Read Recently

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 characters from different books who should team up which is a fun topic but one I drew a complete blank on.  Instead, I'm just going to list my favorite characters from books I've read recently.

1.  Emily Pollifax from Mrs. Pollifax Pursued by Dorothy Gilman - Mrs. Pollifax is one of my favorite fictional characters of all time.  I'm not entirely sure if I want to avoid her at all costs or be her best friends.

2.  Harper Shaw from The Sweetheart List by Jill Shalvis - I adored Harper from page one of the book and it did not change.  She's just so nice.

3.  Vivian Schuyler from The Secret Life of Violet Grant by Beatriz Williams - Vivian was a fun character.  She has a strong sense of right and wrong and a good sense of adventure.

4.  Gertrude Harrow from Murder Off the Books by Tamara Berry - Gertrude is the main character's teenage daughter and she is funny, smart, and an amazing cook.  Plus, she is fantastic with a witty comeback.

5.  Lyndsay Murray from Hard Dough Homicide by Olivia Matthews - I loved all the characters in this book about a Brooklyn bakery but Lyndsay is my favorite as she is trying to reign in her crazy outspoken family.

6.  Maria Wallner from Hotel of Secrets by Diana Biller - Maria is a determined hard worker and so comfortable in her own skin.  Plus, the book on it's own was fantastic.  

7.  Jess Metcalf from The Littlest Library by Poppy Alexander - Jess was such a nice person and really trying to figure out what makes her happy.  

8.  Erin Hartstock from Smoke and Mirrors by Barbara Michaels - Erin starts out as a bit of a wimp but definitely grows a backbone and a sense of humor as the book goes along.

9.  Phee Kimball from Strike Out 4 Murder by J.C. Eaton - I love Phee and love the trouble she gets into with the help of her mother's bookclub group.

10. Aurora Vicram from A Hard Day for Homicide by Darynda Jones - Another teenage daughter of the main character and another one who is smart and funny.  Aurora is also loyal and not one to shirk responsibility.  She really proved herself in this book.

Who are some of your favorite characters?

Monday, August 14, 2023

Overdue Reviews - Murder at the Mansion + Sleepless in Manhattan

Goodreads:  Murder at the Mansion (Kelly Jackson Mystery #2) by Janet Finsilver

Blurb:  It’s whale-watching season in Redwood Cove, and B&B manager Kelly Jackson’s battening down the hatches for the tourist rush at Redwood Heights—a Victorian-style estate owned by her boss. And due to recent jewelry thefts, her duties include keeping track of the many dust-covered artifacts spread throughout the property. But when Kelly finds Sylvia Porter’s lifeless body, menial tasks don’t seem so terrible. Enlisting the help of a ragtag group of brainy retirees, aka the “Silver Sentinels,” Kelly’s on the hunt for clues hidden behind the mansion’s glamorous façade. . .and for a killer who may want to make history of her next!

My Thoughts:  This was a fun cozy mystery featuring B&B manager Kelly Jackson as she tries to figure out just what is being stolen from a Victorian estate and ends up investigating a murder.  I really liked Kelly and absolutely loved the Silver Sentinels.  I'm a big fan of any collaborative effort when it comes to investigations and a collaborative effort involving a group of retirees is the best.  This is definitely a series that is best started from the beginning as there is a large group of characters and I felt a bit lost from time to time trying to keep everyone straight but that is absolutely my fault for not picking up the first book.   My main problem with this book is that there's pretty large discovery made about a halfway through the book and while it does end up being crucial to the story there's very little attempts made to really examine it.  I wanted more focus on the discovery!  I enjoyed this from beginning to end and am looking forward reading the rest of the series.  My Rating: Liked It! (3.5 Stars)

Goodreads:  Sleepless in Manhattan (From Manhattan with Love #1) by Sarah Morgan

Blurb:   Cool, calm and competent, events planner Paige Walker loves a challenge. After a childhood spent in and out of hospitals, she's now determined to prove herself—and where better to take the world by storm than in the exhilarating bustle of Manhattan? But when Paige is let go from the job she loves, she must face her biggest challenge of all—going it alone. 

Except launching her own events company is nothing compared to hiding her outrageous crush on Jake Romano—her brother's best friend, New York's most in-demand date, and the only man to break her heart. When Jake offers Paige's fledgling company a big chance, their still-sizzling chemistry starts giving her sleepless nights. But can she convince the man who trusts no one to take a chance on forever?

My Thoughts:  It's been awhile since I've read a Sarah Morgan but I remember enjoying the third book in this series so I thought it was time I tried this one.  I love books involving friendship and I liked seeing Paige, Frankie (book 2), and Eva (book 3)'s relationship.  Paige and Jake have been friends a long time.  A bit of a complication was put on it when Paige propositioned Jake when she was 18 but for the most part they worked through it.  Now Paige needs Jake's help and that help puts them in close contact and the attraction they've both been fighting stops being an issue.  The relationship is a bit heavier on spice than emotional connection than I would prefer.  We hear a lot about Paige's issues but I'd like to have had Jake's past dealt with a bit more.  I do enjoy Sarah Morgan's writing and am looking forward to reading the next books in the series.  My Rating: Really Liked It (4 Stars)

Saturday, August 12, 2023

Reading Recap - July 2023

Monthly Breakdown

Monthly Total: 17

Print: 5
Ebook: 4
Audio: 8

Mystery:  11 
Fiction:  2
Romance: 4

Favorite Book of the Month:

Sleigh Bells Ring by RaeAnne Thayne - I read a few Christmas in July books and this was my favorite.  I forgot how much I enjoyed Thayne's romances.  This was just so warm and cozy.

Favorite Audio:

Mrs. Pollifax Pursued by Dorothy Gilman - I have found this series reliably entertaining and I thoroughly enjoyed the audio of this.

Least Favorite Book of the Month:

Macarons Can Be Murdered by Rose Betancourt - I wanted to love this foodie cozy but unfortunately it just fell a bit flat for me.

Bookish Armchair Travel in July:

Domestic Travel:

For the first time this year I visited Wyoming, Colorado, Mississippi, and Kentucky

I also revisited Rhode Island, Washington, Maine, Virginia, and New York

International Travel:

This wasn't my most world traveling month though I must say August is shaping up a bit better!

I visited England several times and took a short visit to Scotland.

How was your reading in July?  Where did your books take you?