Saturday, September 30, 2023

A Shilling for Candles - Classic Mystery Review

Goodreads:  A Shilling for Candles by Josephine Tey

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

Description:  When a woman's body washes up on an isolated stretch of beach on the southern coast of England, Scotland Yard's Inspector Alan Grant is on the case. But the inquiry into her death turns into a nightmare of false leads and baffling clues. Was there anyone who didn't want lovely screen actress Christine Clay dead?

Genre: Mystery - Classic

Why I Picked This Book:  I really want to read more classic mysteries and Josephine Tey is an author that has been on my list.

My Impression:  This was kind of the make or break book with Josephine Tey.  I've read and enjoyed Daughter of Time several times and I liked Brat Farrar okay but disliked the first Alan Grant book, The Man in the Queue.   I disliked The Man in the Queue enough to never read her books again but I decided to give her one more chance.  And I'm so glad I did!  

This was a fun mystery involving a movie star with a mysterious past, a psychic who made the right prediction at the right time, and a ne'er hanger on who managed to waste his entire fortune on his own.  Finding out the whos and whats was a fun dive into gossip and I also enjoyed that Grant had to do some self-reflection based off his early actions in the investigation.  There are some fun characters and I especially enjoyed Erica and Marta.  

This is a mystery written in the 1930s and there are some outdated stereotypes but thankfully this doesn't propel the entire investigation like it does in the first Grant book.  Otherwise the book has a fresh fun feel and was an enjoyable light read.  If you are wanting to read the Alan Grant series I highly recommend skipping the first book entirely and starting with this one.  

Would I Read More of this Series/Author? This book definitely has me wanting to read more from her.  Tey is not an autobuy for me but I am looking forward to reading more and hopeful that her other books are more like this one.

Would I Recommend this Book? If you like classic mysteries I do recommend this book specifically though I would be cautious about other books from her.  

Friday, September 29, 2023

Friday Fives - Five Short Reviews for Books I've Read Recently

I'm taking a bit of a break from my usual Friday Linkups to try something a little different.  I'm in a list making kind of mood so I thought I'd start making random five lists.  Sometimes they'll be bookish other weeks not so much. This week I'm sharing 5 quick reviews for books I've read recently.

1.  The Villa by Rachel Hawkins - Emily's life has spiraled out of control with a complicated divorce and a massive case of writer's block.  When her best friend Chess invites her to a villa in Italy it seems like the answer to everything with rest, relaxation and a bit of a separation from her problems.  I really enjoyed the first 80% or so.  I found the dual timeline with Mari in the 1970s and Emily in current time an interesting contrast to the other and I was hooked to see how everything unfolded and what Emily did with her investigation into just what happened that summer.  I forgot that these weren't real people and was tempted a few times to look them up and find out more about them.  I didn't love the ending.  It did tie everything up with some ambiguity for the 1970s plot but the route Emily and Chess took just didn't quite work for me.  My Rating: Liked It! (3.5 Stars)

2.  Hello Stranger by Lisa Kleypas -
I have really been enjoying Kleypas's Ravenel books and I was so excited to see Dr. Garrett Gibson getting her own book.  She's intelligent and confident and incredibly good at her job.  We've met Ethan in previous books but this is the first book I really felt like I got to know him and I did enjoy learning more about him.  Neither Ethan nor Garrett are constrained by the usual societal norms but at the same time are aware of them.  Their conversations are interesting and I liked how they encouraged each other to be vulnerable.  I also loved seeing Garrett taking charge and showing just how good of a doctor she really is.  This was a sweet love story with characters to whom life has not been kind and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  I'm looking forward to reading the next Ravenel book.  My Rating:  Really Liked It! (4.5 Stars)

3.  The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty -
This is the book that really put Liane Moriarty on my radar years ago but while I have read several other of her books it took me years to get around to this one.  Like the other Moriarty books I've read this book had multiple storylines and different timelines that all come together as the reveal gets closer.  I found all of the characters relatable in various ways and they all have their flaws and positives.  I was engaged with the story and really invested in the various reveals.  This wasn't my favorite Moriarty book that I've read but I did enjoy it from beginning to end.  I listened to the audio and thought Caroline Lee did a fantastic job as narrator and I will look for more books narrated by her.  My Rating:  Really Liked It (4 Stars)

4.  The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren
- This was my first book by Christina Lauren but it won't be my last.  I really enjoyed the relationship between Olive and Ethan.  They argued and bantered and constantly called each other by the wrong names which added a bit of humor to the book.  I also really liked how Olive and Ami got along.  They could have easily had a contentious relationship but they were supportive of each other and communicated well.  The romance was fun but had enough realistic issues to add some authenticity to the romance.  I liked the characters enough that I was excited to see there was a sequel and am looking forward to reading it.  My Rating: Really Liked It (4 Stars)

5.  Lightning in a Mirror (Fogg Lake #3) by Jayne Ann Krentz -
I have really enjoyed the Fogg Lake series but somehow I missed this book when it originally came out last January.  It was quite a fun surprise to discover it and I enjoyed it just as much as I expected.  Olivia has had some rough luck in this trilogy and at the beginning of her own book it is not improving with a speed dating serial killer, having to deal with past family tragedies, and a group of bad guys whose motives aren't quite clear but are definitely not good.  This trilogy is best read in order as the storyline does build on the previous books  If you enjoy fast paced paranormal romantic suspense and are looking for a fun bit of escapist reading this whole trilogy is a great place to start.  My Rating:  Really Liked It (4 Stars)

Thursday, September 28, 2023

Books from the Backlog - On Borrowed Crime

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:  On Borrowed Crime by Kate Young

Blurb:  Lyla Moody loves her sleepy little town of Sweet Mountain, Georgia. She likes her job as receptionist for her uncle's private investigative firm, her fellow true crime obsessed Jane Doe members are the friends she's always wanted, and her parents just celebrated their fiftieth wedding anniversary. But recently, with her best friend Melanie on vacation, and her ex-boyfriend and horrible cousin becoming an item and moving in next door to her, her idyllic life is on the fritz. The cherry on top of it all is finding Carol, a member of the club, dead and shoved into a suitcase, left at Lyla's front door.

Unusual circumstances notwithstanding, with Carol's heart condition, the coroner rules Carol's death undetermined. But when they discover the suitcase belongs to Melanie, who had returned from her vacation the following morning, Sweet Mountain police begin to suspect Lyla's best friend. Determined that police are following the wrong trail, to clear her friend's name, and to not allow Carol become one of the club's studied cold cases, Lyla begins to seek out the real killer. That is, until she becomes the one sought after. Now, finding the truth could turn her into the killer's next plot twist, unless she wins the game of cat and mouse.

Why It Needs to Come Off the Shelf:  I love bookish cozies and I love that the main character is connected with a PI firm and this one has just been sitting on the shelf way too long.

Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Now You See It - Cozy Mystery Review

Goodreads:  Now You See It (Witch City Mystery #13) by Carol J. Perry

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

Description:  Marriage isn’t the only thing new in Lee Barrett’s life when she’s tasked with a hauntingly dangerous assignment in her job as program director for Salem, Massachusetts’s local station, WICH-TV . . .

Just married, Lee and her husband, Detective Sergeant Pete Mondello, are settling into their new home when Lee is dubbed WICH-TV’s new “Historical Documentary Chief Executive.” Her first subject is the brand-newSalem International Museum, slated to be a location for traveling blockbuster exhibits, starting with “Seafaring New England.” From research to collecting artifacts of Salem’s long-ago days as a shipping capital, the project is a challenge—but when the driver of a truckload of antiquities turns up dead under a pile of fall leaves, it’s not quite the kind of challenge Lee expected . . .

Soon, Lee and Pete are dredging up clues along with a hardy crew of helpers, including Lee’s librarian aunt, Ibby, Lee’s best friend and practicing witch, River North—and of course the clairvoyant cat, O’Ryan. But when a ship model in the exhibit’s collection appears to be haunted, Lee will have to dive into her own treasure trove of psychic gifts before a killer comes to the surface to strike again . . .

Genre: Mystery - Cozy

Why I Picked This Book:  This is one of my absolute favorite series and I was so excited to see this newest book.

My Impression: I so enjoy this series and I'm really liking seeing Lee and Pete adjust to married life.  With O'Ryan's help of course.  Like most long running series there is a lot of information about Lee's regular life.  In the previous books we've gotten to know her and the people who surround her and gotten to follow her career journey so for readers who have been around since the beginning this feels like visiting old friends.  For new readers it may be confusing or not as interesting so I do recommend starting from an earlier book.

Christmas is coming to Salem and the author is giving a fascinating glimpse into the city's rich history.  While Salem is best know for their very witch-y history it also was a town made wealthy by the seafaring trade which is absolutely fascinating.

While there is a lot going on in the book the mystery is still prominent and I really liked seeing Lee and Pete get used to their new dynamic of investigating as a married couple and now that Lee is now program director instead of being a reporter.  

There's a bit of a paranormal note between O'Ryan's rather forceful guidance and Lee's visions but this still reads as a traditional cozy.  There's likable characters and a fun setting all focused around a puzzling mystery that really did keep me guessing.  I very much enjoyed this read and am looking forward for more from this author!

Would I Read More of this Series/Author? Absolutely!  I'm kind of sad that I'm all caught up on both of her series.

Would I Recommend this Book?  If you enjoy cozy mysteries this is a really fun series though I do recommend going back to the beginning.  

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

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Books I'm Wanting to Buy Right Now


I'm trying not to do too much book shopping lately because I do want to read more off my own shelves.  That said there are a bunch of books that are currently calling to me that are getting hard to resist.  Fingers crossed my library has them because otherwise I'm not sure I can resist a book haul!

1.  Fresh Water for Flowers by Valerie Perrin - My friend Tina reviewed this one recently and it sounds absolutely wonderful - like a book to savor.

2.  These Fleeting Shadows by Kate Alice Marshall - This one looks a bit creepy and I do love an inherited old house.

3. The Last Heir to Blackwood Library by Hester Fox - This one has an absolutely beautiful cover and the premise definitely caught my eye.

4.  Between Two Strangers by Kate White - I've been wanting to read one of Kate White's books for awhile and this one really caught my eye.

5.  Other Birds by Sarah Addison Allen - This is one of my favorite authors and somehow I completely missed it when it came out.

6.  The Tiffany Girls by Shelley Noble - I absolutely adore the cover and I've really enjoyed other books by this author.

7.  Just Another Missing Person by Gillian McAllister - Apparently I'm in a bit of a thriller mood and this one really appeals to me.

8.  Nora Goes Off Script by Annabel Monaghan - I've heard such good things about this book and it will be a nice lighter read to mix in with the thriller.

9.  The Big Steal by Emyl Jenkins - I was looking for mysteries involving antiques and this one was suggested.  I've never heard of it before but am curious.

10. Strange Journey by Maud Cairnes - A YouTuber I follow who focuses on classic mysteries and fiction recommend this one and I really want to try it.  

What books have you been wanting to buy?  Have you read any of these?

Monday, September 25, 2023

Overdue Reviews - Meet Me in + Murder in the Manuscript Room


Goodreads:  Meet Me in Barcelona by Mary Carter

Blurb:  A surprise trip to Barcelona with her boyfriend, Jake, seems like the perfect antidote to Grace Sawyer's current woes. The city is dazzling and unpredictable, but the biggest surprise for Grace is discovering who arranged and paid for the vacation.

Carrie Ann wasn't just Grace's foster sister. Clever, pretty, and mercurial, she was her best friend--until everything went terribly wrong. Now, as she flees an abusive marriage, Carrie Ann has turned to the one person she hopes will come through for her. Despite her initial misgivings, Grace wants to help. But then Carrie Ann and Jake both go missing. Stunned and confused, Grace begins to realize how much of herself she's kept from Jake--and how much of Carrie Ann she never understood. Soon Grace is baited into following a trail of scant clues across Spain, determined to find the truth, even if she must revisit her troubled past to do it. . .

My Thoughts:  I loved the setting for this book and the basic premise was interesting.  However, that's the end of what really worked with me.  Carrie Ann is awful and Grace isn't much better.  Even though there are some really serious issues in the backstory both women come off as immature and frequently a bit petty.  Jake is okay and Grace's dad seems like a nice man but I was frustrated with the rest of the characters and was never quite able to connect with the story or the characters.  In general, I don't think this author's writing style worked for me.  It felt a bit over the top with tone and angst but never fully delivered on its promise.  I did finish it and didn't feel like I suffered through the read but I'm not sure I would have finished it if it hadn't been a book for review simply because I just didn't care.  My Rating: Just Okay (2 Stars)

Goodreads:  Murder in the Manuscript Room by Con Lehane

Blurb:  When a murder desecrates the somber, book-lined halls of New York City's iconic 42nd Street Library, Raymond Ambler, the library's curator of crime fiction, has a personal interest in solving the crime. His quest to solve the murder is complicated by personal entanglements involving his friend--or perhaps more-than-friend--Adele Morgan. Not only does Adele's relationship with the young woman staffer who was murdered get in the way of Ambler's investigation, more disturbing for him is Adele's growing interest in a darkly handsome Islamic scholar.
Soon the Intelligence Division of the New York Police Department takes over the case from NYPD homicide detective Mike Cosgrove, Ambler's friend and sometimes partner-in-crime solving. Ambler suspects that the murder of the young woman, who'd been working at the library under an assumed name and the curious intervention of NYPD's intelligence division are connected. The trail of intrigue leads to a seemingly unrelated murder in an upstate prison and a long ago murder of a trade union reformer.

No one else sees the connections Ambler is sure are there--not an unusual state of affairs for Ambler. But with the city's law enforcement establishment determined to stop his investigation, the inquisitive and intrepid librarian faces challenges that may put his very life at risk.

My Thoughts:  I love books that involve libraries and a librarian that focuses on crime fiction is just about the perfect main character.  Unfortunately, this didn't quite work for me.  I liked the New York setting and the grittier characters but the writing style is heavy on the Noir fiction style - lots of atmosphere and surly characters - which just doesn't work for me.  The focus on the Islamic scholar seemed like an extreme jump and the intelligence division kind of comes off as a comic book villain.  If you are a fan of Noir style mysteries you'll probably like this much more than me.  If you're not than you may want to pass.  This is the first and only book in this series that I'll be picking up.  My Rating: Just Okay (2 Stars)

Saturday, September 23, 2023

The Book Club Hotel - Fiction Review

Goodreads: The Book Club Hotel by Sarah Morgan

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

Description:  With its historic charm and picture-perfect library, the Maple Sugar Inn is considered the winter destination. As the holidays approach, the inn is fully booked with guests looking for their dream vacation. But widowed far too young, and exhausted from juggling the hotel with being a dedicated single mom, Hattie Coleman dreams only of making it through the festive season.

But when Erica, Claudia and Anna—lifelong friends who seem to have it all—check in for a girlfriends’ book club holiday, it changes everything. Their close friendship and shared love of books have carried them through life's ups and downs. But Hattie can see they're also packing some major emotional baggage, and nothing prepares her for how deeply her own story is about to become entwined in theirs. In the span of a week over the most enchanting time of the year, can these four women come together to improve each other’s lives and make this the start of a whole new chapter?

Genre: Fiction

Why I Picked This Book:  A Christmas-y Book Club book just sounds perfect.

My Impression:   This was a cozy Christmas-y read with nice characters who have all in one way or another found solace through reading.  All four of these women - Erica, Claudia, Anna and Hattie - are all at watershed moments of their lives.  They're four different women who have all chosen very different paths yet I couldn't help but feel connected with each one of them.  

The setting could not be more gorgeous.  My only complaint is that I wish Maple Sugar Inn really existed.  Between the Christmas trees and the library and all the other details  it sounds like the absolute perfect place to spend a holiday.  

This is a cozy story about found family and facing change while finding out what you really want and it made for a delightful read.  This book just demands a cozy chair, a fluffy blanket, a nice hot mug of tea (or maybe hot chocolate), and a crackling fire.  

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Absolutely!  Sarah Morgan is becoming one of my favorite authors for heartwarming fiction.

Would I Recommend this Book?  If you are looking for a cozy holiday read with characters you really enjoy spending time with I don't think you could go wrong with this one.  

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

Friday, September 22, 2023

Friday Fives - Five Bookish Nonfiction on my TBR

I'm taking a bit of a break from my usual Friday Linkups to try something a little different.  I'm in a list making kind of mood so I thought I'd start making random five lists.  Sometimes they'll be bookish other weeks not so much.   This month I've been focusing on bookish books so here are five bookish nonfiction books that are on my TBR.

1.  Bibliophile: An Illustrated Miscellany by Jane Mount - This looks like a such a fun flip through book all about books.

2.  Once Upon a Tome:  The Misadventures of a Rare Bookseller by Oliver Darkshire - How can I not want to read a memoir but a used bookseller (and in a bookstore that seems to have a resident ghost no less).

3.  A Bookshop in Berlin: The Rediscovered Memoir of One Woman's Harrowing Escape from the Nazis by Francoise Frenkel -  This sounds fascinating and heartbreaking.

4.  A Jane Austen Education: How Six Novels Taught Me About Love, Friendship, and Things That Really Matter by William Deresiewicz - A memoir told through the lens of Jane Austen's novels.

5.  Praying with Jane Eyre; Reflections of Reading as a Sacred Practice by Vanessa Zoltan - This one looks intriguing and I like the concept of the book.  

What bookish nonfiction is on your TBR?

Thursday, September 21, 2023

Books from the Backlog - The Bookish Life of Nina Hill


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 Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman

Blurb:  The only child of a single mother, Nina has her life just as she wants it: a job in a bookstore, a kick-butt trivia team, a world-class planner and a cat named Phil. If she sometimes suspects there might be more to life than reading, she just shrugs and picks up a new book.
When the father Nina never knew existed suddenly dies, leaving behind innumerable sisters, brothers, nieces, and nephews, Nina is horrified. They all live close by! They're all—or mostly all—excited to meet her! She'll have to Speak. To. Strangers. It's a disaster! And as if that wasn't enough, Tom, her trivia nemesis, has turned out to be cute, funny, and deeply interested in getting to know her. Doesn't he realize what a terrible idea that is?

Nina considers her options.

1. Completely change her name and appearance. (Too drastic, plus she likes her hair.)
2. Flee to a deserted island. (Hard pass, see: coffee).
3. Hide in a corner of her apartment and rock back and forth. (Already doing it.)

It's time for Nina to come out of her comfortable shell, but she isn't convinced real life could ever live up to fiction. It's going to take a brand-new family, a persistent suitor, and the combined effects of ice cream and trivia to make her turn her own fresh page.

Why It Needs to Come Off the Shelf:  I bought this at an Audible sale ages ago and still haven't read it.  It looks like exactly the kind of book I've been enjoying lately so now is definitely the time to read it.

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Murder at Midnight - Historical Mystery Review

Goodreads:  Murder at Midnight (A Lily Adler Mystery #4) by Katharine Schellman

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

Description:  Perfect for fans of Deanna Raybourn and Ashley Weaver, when a body is found shot to death after an unexpected snowstorm, Lily Adler quickly realizes that some people will stop at nothing to bury their secrets this holiday season.

Regency widow Lily Adler is looking forward to returning to Hertfordshire to spend time with the family of her late husband. She is also excited that Captain Jack Hartley, her friend and confidante, will be visiting his own family after a long voyage at sea. With winter quickly approaching, Lily is most excited at the prospect of a relaxing and enjoyable Christmastide season away from the schemes and secrets she witnessed daily in London.

At a neighborhood ball, she soon becomes reacquainted with a friend of her late husband, Peter Coleridge, a wealthy man who not only manages Irish investments, but also a fund that most of the locals of Hertfordshire take part in. There, she also learns Jack’s sister, Amelia, is the subject of much of the neighborhood gossip—although Amelia refuses to explain if there is any truth to it. For a brief moment, Lily wonders if she ever really left London.

When a snowstorm forces several guests, including both the Adlers and the Hartleys, to stay the night, Lily quickly deduces that all is not well this holiday season. In the morning, a maid discovers the body of a guest in the poultry yard, shot to death—and he is the same man that is scandalously linked to Amelia.

Lily accepts the offer to assist in the investigation, but will she find more than what she bargained for the more she digs? Or will she herself be buried deep within the snow?

Genre: Mystery - Historical

Why I Picked This Book:  I've really enjoyed the previous books in the series and couldn't wait to see what Lily was up to this time.

My Impression: I do love a house party mystery and a house party mixed with a blizzard that strands everyone there longer than they planned to be is even more fun.  I also really enjoyed getting to spend ore time with the Adler and Hartley families.  We've seen Lily Adler and Jack Hartley from the beginning and seeing her in-laws and his family was really fun.

The victim was rather awful and if Jack's sister wasn't caught up in a scandal involving him than a number of people would have been easy suspects.  Lily's reputation as a detective proceeds her and she is quickly pulled into the investigation.  I really enjoy how Lily investigates.  She's very smart and logical, good at analyzing situations quickly but not afraid to think outside the box.  I also really like her relationship with her family and her love interest Matthew.  

The mystery kept me guessing and I loved the snowed in setting.  It gave a closed in feel mixed in with all the gossip and politics of a London ballroom.  I really enjoyed the mystery from beginning to end and especially enjoyed visiting Lily's world.  

Would I Read More of this Series/Author? I would!  I've enjoyed all the books in this series and a book in another series I've read by this author and am looking forward to reading more by her.

Would I Recommend this Book?  If you enjoy historical mysteries with a strong female lead this is a series I'd recommend.

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

Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Top Ten Tuesday - Fall 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 Fall TBR.  I love making these lists every season.  I'm not fantastic about sticking to them but I do enjoy making the list!

1.  Now You See It by Carol J Perry - I love this series and between ghosts and its Salem setting it's always a perfect fall read.  

2.  Inheritance by Nora Roberts - I'm so excited about this one!  I usually really enjoy Roberts' trilogies and this first book in her new one looks fantastic.  

3.  Snow Place for Murder by Diane Kelly - I love this series about a mountain lodge owner and her very opinionated cat.

4.  Twilight Falls by Juneau Black - This series is supposed to be a fantasy meets cozy mystery read and that sounds like a lot of fun.

5.  Let It Crow! Let It Crow! Let It Crow! by Donna Andrews - Weirdly, fall means the beginning of the holiday books and Donna Andrews' holiday themed cozy mysteries are always so much fun.

6.  The Great Mistake by Mary Roberts Rinehart - This is the next book on my classic mystery list and I'm really looking forward to it.   I've really enjoyed her atmospheric mysteries so far.

7.  The Lions of Fifth Avenue by Fiona Davis - This book has been on my TBR since it came out and physically sitting on my shelf for about that long.  

8.  Murder with Peacocks by Donna Andrews - I've been wanting to go back and read the earliest book in one of my favorite cozy mystery series and I'm hoping this is the season it happens.  

9.  The Turn of the Screw by Henry James - This is another book I've been wanting to read for years and have owned a physical copy for just as long.  I'm hoping to get it read in October.

10. The Girl Who Came Home by Hazel Gaynor - This was the first Gaynor book that really caught my eye but somehow I've yet to read it.  I really want to fix that!

What are you hoping to read this fall?

Monday, September 18, 2023

Have Yourself a Deadly Little Christmas - Cozy Mystery Review

Goodreads:  Have Yourself a Deadly Little Christmas (Year Round Christmas Mystery #6) by Vicki Delany

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

Description:  It’s the beginning of December in Rudolph, New York, America's Christmas Town, and business is brisk at Mrs. Claus’s Treasures, a gift and décor shop owned by Merry Wilkinson. The local amateur dramatic society is intensely preparing a special musical production of A Christmas Carol. But it’s not a happy set, as rivalries between cast and crew threaten the production.

Tensions come to a head when a member of the group is found dead shortly after a shopping excursion to Mrs. Claus's Treasures. Was someone looking to cut out the competition? Everyone in the cast and crew is a potential suspect, including Aline, Merry’s mother, and Merry's shop assistant Jackie O'Reilly, who was desperate for a starring role.

It could be curtains for Christmas—and for Merry—unless the killer can be ferreted out of the wings.

Genre: Mystery - Cozy

Why I Picked This Book:  I've really enjoyed the other books in this series.

My Impression:  I was so excited to see this latest entry in the Year Round Christmas series and this did not disappoint.  I loved catching up with Merry and her community in Rudolph, New York right as rehearsals for A Christmas Carol are in full swing.  Merry's mother, Aline has bowed to peer pressure and has taken a position as music director and actor in the local production so Merry has a front row seat to the arguments and hostility caused by the new patron and artistic director, Catherine Renshaw.  When a body of one of the actors is discovered total chaos breaks lose with finger pointing and lots of bickering.
I really enjoyed seeing Aline taking a more active role in this story.  She has normally been a side character a little bit above the rest of the town as befitting her role as Metropolitan Opera Diva.  Seeing her pulled into a more central role was lots of fun.  As always I enjoyed seeing Merry get pulled into the investigation as she tried to find out just who would want the unfortunate actress dead and to also try and protect her long time assistant Jackie.  
This is a fun mystery with a beautiful and festive setting and a delightful collection of characters.  Delany keeps the story moving at a fast pace with just enough day to day life to make Rudolph feel like a real town - and a town that would be really fun to visit.  My only problem is that the dog on the cover, while cute, in no way resembles the enormous St. Bernard Mattie who steals the scene whenever he is on the page.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Of course!  I have enjoyed every book I've read by this author under both the Vicki Delany and Eva Gates names.

Would I Recommend this Book? If you like cozy mysteries and are looking for a fun holiday read this is a great choice!  A bonus is that I think this series would be easy to dive in with whatever book looks the best - and the cozy pun titles are amazing.

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

Sunday, September 17, 2023

This Week in Reading - September 17

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

What I Got:

Nothing!  This week went by really quick and somehow I didn't manage to pick up any new books!


Reading:  The Book Club Hotel by Sarah Morgan and The Other Alcott by Elise Hooper

Listening:  The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley

5 Good Things That Happened This Week:

1.  Rover had a good week of classes.  We were told we were ready to show in Rally and he had a few good runs in Agility and he found all the hides in scentwork.

2.  We got into the obedience class I wanted so we can start training towards formal obedience as well.

3.  It wasn't a billion degrees with 200% humidity.  Outside was even pleasant for awhile though since it's been cooler at night and only in the high 80s during the day it's been too cold for swimming.

4.  We are on countdown for vacation!  I can't wait!

5.  I made a cake this week and love the buttercream recipe I used.  The perfect mixture of sweet and buttery and vanilla-y.

What good things happened in your week?  
Have a great week and happy reading!

Saturday, September 16, 2023

Seams Deadly - Cozy Mystery Review

Goodreads: Seams Deadly (A Measure Twice Sewing Mystery #1) by Maggie Bailey

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

Description:  When seamstress Lydia Barnes finds a dead body soon after moving to a new town, she will need more than shear luck to find the killer, in this novel perfect for fans of Molly MacRae and Anna Gerard.

Lydia Barnes is excited for a fresh start when she moves to the quaint mountain town of Peridot, Georgia. Her friend, Fran, offers her a job at the Measure Twice fabric store and even sets her up on a date with the handsome Brandon Ivey, who also happens to be Lydia’s new next-door neighbor. Finally, things are looking up. But after a disaster first date that ends with a fist bump instead of a kiss, Lydia doesn’t think her night can get any worse. She’s soon proven wrong when she later stumbles upon Brandon’s dead body.

Considered the prime suspect by the police, Lydia calls on her friends to help her hunt for the truth and prove her innocence. But when another body is soon found inside the Measure Twice store, Lydia knows that the killer must be close by, and that this town has more than its fair share of secrets. Who would want to frame the newest addition to Peridot for these terrible murders—and why?

Lydia may discover that while sewing might have a pattern, killing rarely does. Will she be able to stitch together the clues and clear her own name before the killer strikes again?

Genre: Mystery - Cozy

Why I Picked This Book:  While I don't sew I really enjoy sewing related cozies and I can never resist the first in a new series.  

My Impression: I love finding a new cozy series to enjoy and this was a fun discovery.  Lydia is recently divorced and figuring out life again.  She loves sewing - especially clothing - and is finding a new home at the Measure Twice fabric store.  Things are going well until an awkward date ends up with Lydia stumbling over a body and becoming a murder suspect.  

Lydia isn't on my list for main characters I'd like to be friends with.  She's a bit immature and unsure of herself and not always great at listening when people are talking to her. But she also had her life completely upended at the age of 40 and is figuring out who she is.  The fact that she adopts a cat named Baby Lobster gives me lots of hope that she is on her way to being a bit stronger in the next book though.

The writing style was nicely paced and made the book easy to slip into from page one.  The mystery was well done and did keep me invested.  The community of Peridot was full of interesting characters  - I especially loved Fran.  And did I mention there's a cat with serious attitude names Baby Lobster?  All of these factors make for the beginning of an enjoyable cozy mystery series and definitely have me wanting to read the next book.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author? I would!  While this wasn't flawless I did enjoy the read and think it's a promising start to a new series.

Would I Recommend this Book? If you enjoy cozy mysteries I found this a solid and enjoyable read.

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

Friday, September 15, 2023

Friday Fives - Five Bookish Books I've Enjoyed Recently

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 focusing on bookish books this month and here are five bookish books I've read and enjoyed recently.

1.  The Keeper of Hidden Books by Madeline Martin - Books are the focus in this heartbreaking book set in Poland during World War II.  Books are the lifeline for the characters as well as something to protect and a tool for rebellion.

2.  Murder Off the Books by Tamera Berry - Not only are the characters big readers on their own but the main character is a mystery writer and frequently acts out scenarios to help with her writing which leads to some hilarious scenes.

3.  With Love from London by Sarah Jio - The only thing better than inheriting a bookstore in London is discovering the mother you never really knew through books.  

4.  The Littlest Library by Poppy Alexander - I do love when a character finds where they belong and it's even better when they get to know that place through books!  This was such a fun bookish read!

5.  Crimes and Covers by Amanda Flower - I love that the theme of this series changes based off what book the shop decides to hurl at the main character.  And I love that there is an opinionated raven and disappearing artist tuxedo cat.

What bookish books have you enjoyed recently?

Thursday, September 14, 2023

Books from the Backlog - Peril in Paperback

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

Blurb:  Rare books and antiquities expert Brooklyn Wainwright is thrilled to be invited to the fiftieth birthday party of her neighbor Suzie’s aunt Grace. A retired founder of a major video game corporation, Grace is a larger-than-life character who’s turned her Lake Tahoe mansion into a fun house, full of everything from pinball machines and giant props to secret passageways and trap doors. Brooklyn is most excited to catalog Grace’s extensive collection of rare paperback pulp fiction.

Part of the fun involves a séance, but after the lights flicker, one guest is dead, poisoned by a cocktail intended for Grace. It seems someone is determined to turn Grace’s playful palatial estate into a house of horrors. Brooklyn suspects the key to the killer’s identity may lie in the roman á clef Grace has written about her life. With Grace in great peril, “must-read” takes on a whole new meaning, as Brooklyn tries to stop a murderer who’s through playing around…

Why It Needs to Come Off the Shelf:  I've read the beginning and most recent books in this series but have been neglecting the middle.  I need to fix that!

Wednesday, September 13, 2023

Fourth Wing - Fiction Review

Goodreads: Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros

Rating: Really Liked It! (4.5 Stars)
Source:   Library (Audio)

Description:  Twenty-year-old Violet Sorrengail was supposed to enter the Scribe Quadrant, living a quiet life among books and history. Now, the commanding general—also known as her tough-as-talons mother—has ordered Violet to join the hundreds of candidates striving to become the elite of Navarre: dragon riders.

But when you’re smaller than everyone else and your body is brittle, death is only a heartbeat away...because dragons don’t bond to “fragile” humans. They incinerate them.

With fewer dragons willing to bond than cadets, most would kill Violet to better their own chances of success. The rest would kill her just for being her mother’s daughter—like Xaden Riorson, the most powerful and ruthless wingleader in the Riders Quadrant.

She’ll need every edge her wits can give her just to see the next sunrise.

Yet, with every day that passes, the war outside grows more deadly, the kingdom's protective wards are failing, and the death toll continues to rise. Even worse, Violet begins to suspect leadership is hiding a terrible secret.

Friends, enemies, lovers. Everyone at Basgiath War College has an agenda—because once you enter, there are only two ways out: graduate or die

Genre:  Fiction - Fantasy

Why I Picked This Book:  I've seen so many glowing reviews for this book even from people who don't usually read this genre that I couldn't resist.

My Impression:  Fantasy isn't my usual genre but there were so many great reviews from some of my favorite bloggers that I couldn't resist picking this one up and I'm so glad I did!  Violet isn't the typical hero. She's petite and is easily injured and up until 6 months before the opening of the book she had trained to be a scribe and not a dragon rider.  Violet has to figure out how to survive in a world where students are dying every day and some students are gunning for her just based off who her mother is.

I really enjoyed this read.  I liked Violet and that she was able to stay true to herself while surviving a ruthless world.  I really liked that she kind of created her own family with her group of friends and was loyal to them regardless of where they came from.  The world building really made the book come alive without ever being overly descriptive and the action kept me hooked.  There were a few times that I kind of expected to lose interest because a major plot point was ending but the pace stayed even throughout the book.  There are a few spicy scenes between Violet and another character as well as a romantic element that I could have done without but it did make the conclusion of the book hit even harder.  

I had heard mixed reviews about the audio but I thought that Rebecca Soler did a good job and didn't overdo her voice acting.  I did listen to this at 1.75 speed so that may have helped with that.  

Despite this being completely out of my comfort zone I really enjoyed this read.  I loved Violet and her friends and I adored the dragons.  This broke my heart a few times and kept me completely engaged from beginning to end.  I'm looking forward to reading the next book to see what happens next.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author? Absolutely!  After the ending of this book how could I not!

Would I Recommend this Book?  Definitely!  Even if you're not a fantasy reader I think this is just a great story. 

Tuesday, September 12, 2023

Top Ten Tuesday - Favorite Character Relationships from Recent Reads

Today I'm linking up with Top Ten Tuesday hosted by 
That Artsy Reader Girl which is all about lists.  Since lists are one of my favorite things this is one of my favorite linkups! Today's topic is about favorite character relationships.  I'm looking at books I read recently and picking my favorite relationships be they romantic, friendship, or family.

1.  Veronica and Patrick (both of them) from How the Penguins Saved Veronica by Hazel Prior - I loved this grandmother/grandson (and human/penguin) relationship.  It really made me love this book.

2.  Zofia and Janina from The Keeper of Hidden Books by Madeline Martin - I loved the friendship between the two girls in the most challenging of times.  

3.  Miss Silver and Frank Abbott from Patricia Wentworth's Miss Silver mysteries - I love the combination of the prim and proper elderly Miss Silver and the cynical aristocratic Frank Abbott and their mutual admiration of each other.

4.  Mrs. Pollifax, Carstairs, and Bishop in the Mrs. Pollifax series by Dorothy Gilman - I love any scene that involves Carstairs and while he and Mrs. Pollifax are rarely in the same room when they are it is just gold.

5.  Harper and Ivy from The Sweetheart List by Jill Shalvis - I loved all the relationships in this book but the relationship between Harper struggling to find her way and lost teenage Ivy was especially sweet.

6.  Frank and Sarah from the Gaslight Mystery series by Victoria Thompson - Frank and Sarah's relationship is what really sells this series.  I love how they listen to each other and respect each other and they have such a wonderful marriage.  

7.  Tess and Gertrude Harrow from Murder Off the Books by Tamara Berry - This mother/daughter relationship is one of my favorite things about the mystery series.

8.  Poirot and Hastings from A Mysterious Affair at Styles (and other books) by Agatha Christie - The interactions of Hastings and Poirot always make me laugh.  I love how Poirot brings Hastings back to earth when he gets to carried away with his crazy ideas and how Hastings  will very kindly poke fun at Poirot's mannerisms. 

9.  Charlie and Diesel in the Cat in the Stacks Mysteries by Miranda James - I've always considered myself more of a dog person than a cat person but Diesel is absolutely the best animal sidekick.

10.  Maria and Eli in Hotel of Secrets by Diana Biller - Not only was this a bit different from the usual romantic relationship with the Maria being the more experienced one but I loved how the two interacted and appreciated each other for who they were.  

What character relationships have you really loved in your recent reads?

Monday, September 11, 2023

Death in the Romance Aisle - Cozy Mystery Review

Goodreads:  Death in the Romance Aisle (A Survivors' Book Club Mystery #3) by Lynn Cahoon

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

Description:  Rarity Cole is taking full advantage of her second chance at life after recovering from breast cancer—running a bookstore in Sedona and a support group for fellow survivors. She’s also discovered a knack for defeating other kinds of deadly threats . . .

Rarity is excited about expanding the romance section of her store—but not nearly as excited as her best friend Sam is about reuniting with her brother after many years. Marcus makes the trek from California to Arizona, is welcomed with a party, and hints that he may stick around now that remote work is an option.

But is it just a coincidence that not long after his arrival, a body is found near a local swimming hole? Especially considering that the dead woman had recently gone on a date with him—and even worse, that Marcus has a startling secret in his past? The police suspect him, but Rarity hopes to find another explanation before Sam is once again separated from her sibling—by prison walls . . .

Genre: Mystery - Cozy

Why I Picked This Book:  I really loved the first book in this series and enjoyed the second book - plus, I have enjoyed almost every book I've read by this author.

My Impression:  I really enjoyed this third book in the series.  The Survivors' Book Club is back with a new murder to solve.  Unfortunately, this victim is a young woman known and liked by them all.  Janey is a graduate student that Rarity hired to run children's book clubs at the bookstore.  She is overflowing with enthusiasm and ideas of how to make the book clubs special and help Rarity improve the romance section.  When her body is found by a quarry Rarity is shocked and determined to find out who would want to murder the serious and likable young woman.  
Unfortunately, Sam's brother Marcus is in town after a long absence and has secrets in his past that push him to the front of the suspect list.  It doesn't help that he was one of the last people seen with Janey.  Rarity now has to figure out how to protect her friend and help with the investigation at the same time.  There are definitely some bumps on the road - especially since Sam's boyfriend, Drew, is the lead detective on the case.
I was really glad to see the book club take a more active role in this book than they had in the last book.  It's no secret that I love a mystery solved by a collaborative effort and a mystery solved by a book club turned sleuthing club is kind of a guarantee of a winning book for me.   I enjoyed being back in Rarity's world seeing her run her bookstore and her life in Sedona.  The writing pulled me in from the first page and made me feel like I was visiting friends.  I've enjoyed Lynn Cahoon's books for years and while I was lukewarm on the second book in this series I really enjoyed this book and look forward to seeing more of Rarity in the future.  

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Absolutely!  This is a cozy mystery author whose books I always enjoy.

Would I Recommend this Book?  If you enjoy bookish cozy mysteries this series is a great choice!

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

Sunday, September 10, 2023

This Week in Reading - September 10

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:

Sugar Plum Poisoned by Jenn McKinlay - I really enjoy this series and this is such a pretty Christmas-y cover!  (Publisher)

The Bright Spot by Jill Shalvis - I have really loved the last few books I've read by this author and I can't wait to read this one.  (Publisher)

Baking Spirits Bright by Sarah Fox - I enjoyed the first book in this series and am looking forward to seeing where the series goes.  (Publisher)

The Twelve Books of Christmas by Kate Carlisle - Another holiday cozy that looks really fun.  I've enjoyed previous books in the series.  (Publisher)


Reading:  Have Yourself a Deadly Little Christmas by Vicki Delany and The Last Castle by Denise Kiernan

Listening:  Murder in the Manuscript Room by Con Lehane

Some good things that happened this week:

1.  We went and saw the first Jurassic Park in the theater and it was so fun.  It's been ages since I've watched that movie and I forgot how much I enjoyed it.

2.  Will has gained 6 pounds and grown 2 inches in the last 3 months and his pediatrician is thrilled with both.

3.  We are getting ready for vacation and I'm making lists galore.  I can't wait!

4.  Other than a few evening storms the weather has been really nice.  The highs have only been in the low 90s and most importantly the humidity has been fairly low.  It feels amazing!

What good things happened in your week?  What are you reading?