Tuesday, October 31, 2023

Top Ten Tuesday - Ten Books I Would Read if I Was Having a Halloween Readathon

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 Halloween freebie so I'm pretending I'm doing a Halloween readathon and picking out 10 books that I would read.

1.  Zero Days by Ruth Ware - I've enjoyed the books by Ruth Ware that I've read and this one looks fun and creepy.

2.  The Unholy by Heather Graham - Heather Graham's Krewe of Hunters books are always a spooky ghostly good time and this is the next one in the series.

3.  How to Sell a Haunted House by Grady Hendrix - How can I resist that title?  

4.  The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches by Sangu Mandanna - I'm taking a little break from the suspenseful for this book that I've heard nothing but raves for.

5.  The Night Swim by Megan Goldin - I just heard about this author and this series involving a true crime podcaster is really calling me.

6.  Assistant to the Villain by Hannah Nicole Maehrer - This looks fun and quirky and definitely not like anything I've read before - with a bit of a villain-y twist.

7.  None of This Is True by Lisa Jewell - I love Lisa Jewell and this creepy story sounds perfect for a Halloween readathon.

8.  Fatal Fudge Swirl by Meri Allen - I can't neglect my cozies - especially not one that involves Halloween and ice cream.  

9.  The Only One Left by Riley Sager - This is an author I've been wanting to read for far too long and this one looks good and creepy!

10. Lord of the Wings by Donna Andrews - How can I resist that title?  And it's a cozy from one of my favorite series that takes place on Halloween.

What books would you read if you were having a Halloween Readathon?

Monday, October 30, 2023

The Twelve Books of Christmas - Cozy Mystery Review

Goodreads: The Twelve Books of Christmas (Bibliophile Mystery #17) by Kate Carlisle

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

Description:  San Francisco book-restoration expert Brooklyn Wainwright and her hunky security-expert husband, Derek Stone, face a locked-room murder mystery during the holidays in Scotland.

In the middle of a wonderful Christmas holiday in Dharma, Brooklyn and Derek receive a frantic phone call from their dear friend Claire in Loch Ness, Scotland. The laird of the castle, Cameron MacKinnon, has just proposed to her! They plan to be married on New Year’s Day, and they want Derek and Brooklyn to be their witnesses. And while they’re visiting, Claire hopes that Brooklyn will be able to solve a little mystery that’s occurred in the castle library—twelve very rare, very important books have gone missing.

Once in Scotland, Brooklyn starts working on the mystery of the missing books but is soon distracted by all of the thumping and bumping noises she’s been hearing in the middle of the night. You’d think the Ghost of Christmas Past had taken up residence. But when one of the guests is poisoned and another is killed by an arrow through the heart, Brooklyn and Derek know this is not the work of any ghost. Now they must race to find a killer and a book thief before another murder occurs and their friends’ bright and happy future turns dark and deadly.

Genre: Mystery - Cozy

Why I Picked This Book:  I've read a number of books by this author and in this series and always enjoy them - plus how could I resist New Year's in Scotland?

My Impression:  This was one of the first cozy mystery series that I ever read and I read the first few as soon as I got my hands on them but then it kind of fell off the radar a bit.  In general it hasn't been my favorite series but this one was really fun.  For starters the setting is fantastic.  It's New Year's in Scotland and not just Scotland but a CASTLE in Scotland that has a library where books are randomly going missing.  Oh and a castle that happens to border Loch Ness.  And did I mention that the castle seems to have a ghost?

Claire and Cameron are old friends of Brooklyn and Derek and featured prominently in an earlier book which I'm not entirely sure I've read.  There was enough information provided that I didn't feel like I was missing anything and the author did a good job of not just giving readers and info dump.  I loved seeing Brooklyn's parents out of Dharma and enjoying their vacation and getting involved in the investigation.  I also always enjoy seeing Brooklyn working on book restoration and enjoy seeing all the steps involved.

The mystery had a bit of a slow reveal.  There's a lot going on between the wedding and getting settled and the New Year's celebration.  While the missing books are introduced fairly early on the murder doesn't occur until much later into the book.  However, I didn't mind this as I enjoyed the ride as Brooklyn and Derek get settled in and start figuring out what is going on.  

This is a fun series with an interesting twist on bookishness and while it has been a long running series you could easily jump in with this book.  

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  I would and I am looking forward to catching up on the books I missed in the middle of the series.

Would I Recommend this Book? If you like bookish cozies with a fantastic setting this is a fun read.  

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

Sunday, October 29, 2023

This Week in Reading - October 29

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

What I Got:

The Night Island by Jayne Ann Krentz - I always enjoy this author's books and I really enjoyed the first book in this series so I'm excited to pick this one up.  (Publisher)

The Lantern's Dance by Laurie R. King - The Mary Russell series is one of my favorites and I'm looking forward to reading about the next adventures of Mary and Holmes.  (Publisher)

A Smoking Bun by Ellie Alexander - This is one of my favorite cozy series and I'm looking forward to reading this one.  (Publisher)

The Other Side of Disappearing by Kate Claybourn - I don't think I know anything about the author but the premise of this one really appealed to me.  (Publisher)

One Night by Georgina Cross - I've read one book by this author before and really enjoyed it so I couldn't resist this one.  (Purchased)

Murder in the Family by Cara Hunter - This was one of those "Blind Dates with a Book" purchases and I'm really excited about it.  It looks really interesting. (Purchased)

A Haunting on the Hill by Elizabeth Hand - I love The Haunting of Hill House so I'm interested to read this take on it.  (Purchased)


Reading:  The Proof of the Pudding by Rhys Bowen and Death by Dumpling by Vivian Chien

Listening:  Read and Buried by Eva Gates

It has been gorgeous this week.  Clear skies, low humidity and even some fall-ish temperatures in the mid-70s.  Rover and I have been very much enjoying outside time!  I've been subjecting him to some photo shoots but I don't think he minds.

We went to a book fair at a local brewery this week and had a great time.  It was a little crowded but I bought some good looking books and we had amazing food and I was kind of proud of myself for seeing an event I wanted to go to and then actually going to it!

Other than that Will and I have been hard by allergies (something involving cotton fields that gets us every year around this time) and have been a bit sluggish.  We've been getting school done and dog classes have been going well.  In between I'm trying to get some rest.

Have a great week and happy reading!

Saturday, October 28, 2023

Reading Books I'm Excited to Read - The Other Alcott

Goodreads: The Other Alcott by Elise Hooper

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

Description:  We all know the story of the March sisters, heroines of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women. But while everyone cheers on Jo March, based on Louisa herself, Amy March is often the least favorite sister. Now, it’s time to learn the truth about the real “Amy”, Louisa’s sister, May.

Stylish, outgoing, creative, May Alcott grows up longing to experience the wide world beyond Concord, Massachusetts. While her sister Louisa crafts stories, May herself is a talented and dedicated artist, taking lessons in Boston, turning down a marriage proposal from a well-off suitor, and facing scorn for entering what is very much a man’s profession.

Life for the Alcott family has never been easy, so when Louisa’s Little Women is published, its success eases the financial burdens they’d faced for so many years. Everyone agrees the novel is charming, but May is struck to the core by the portrayal of selfish, spoiled “Amy March.” Is this what her beloved sister really thinks of her?

So May embarks on a quest to discover her own true identity, as an artist and a woman. From Boston to Rome, London, and Paris, this brave, talented, and determined woman forges an amazing life of her own, making her so much more than merely The Other Alcott.

Genre: Fiction - Historical

Why I Picked This Book:  Even though I'm not a fan of Little Women I'm always interested in the behind the scenes stories.  

My Impression:  I have a confession to make - I don't like Little Women.  I tried to read it as a kid and could never make it through and finally read it as an adult and my favorite page was the last page as it meant I was done with the story.   I loved Jo's Boys and Eight Cousins was one of my absolute favorite books but I've just never warmed to Little Women.  And honestly if Louisa May Alcott had been my sister and she had based a character on me that was as awful as Amy I would have disowned her immediately.

I went into this book with some trepidation - fully prepared for it to be a DNF - but from the first chapter I found myself thoroughly enjoying it.  Louisa and May are complex characters.  They're not perfect but nor are they evil.  They are complicated women both driven by different muses and desires and they both struggle to understand the other even though they love each other fiercely.

I was fascinated by May's struggle and journey through the world of art both in the US and Europe.  The history of London, Boston, and Paris during this time was interesting as was the real life characters the author integrated into the story.  I really enjoyed the author's not at the end where she detailed her inspirations and the true connections between May and renowned authors.  

I enjoyed this read but I have noticed in the reviews that people who loved Little Women were not the biggest fans of this book so reader beware!

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  I would!  I enjoyed the way the author told this story and her writing style.  I will be looking for more from this author.  

Would I Recommend this Book?  If you enjoy historical fiction I think this is a good read but beware if you are a big fan of Little Women as it did not seem to go over nearly as well with those who loved that book!

Friday, October 27, 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.  Murder on Black Swan Lane by Andrea Penrose - I have been wanting to read this series for ages and I'm so glad I finally picked up the first book.  I love historical mysteries and I loved the setup with this one with the Earl, the mysterious artist, and two young brothers.  It's an interesting mix of manners and social standing but each character has something to contribute to the investigation.  I do think I will read the next book as the narration didn't pull me in as much as I'd like and I had a more difficult time keeping up with all the characters.  That said I still enjoyed this book and am looking forward to reading the next book.  My Rating: Liked It! (3.5 Stars)

2.  How the Penguins Saved Veronica by Hazel Prior - Well this was a delight.  Veronica is feeling her age and is more than a little bit prickly.  After a disappointing meeting with a newly discovered grandson she decides to investigate her latest obsession - in person.  This obsession involves a group of penguins in Antarctica and a scientific outpost in Antarctica is not really the place for an 86 year old woman with no scientific training.   The story that evolves is sweet, funny and heartbreaking and I enjoyed every minute of it.  My Rating: Loved It (5 Stars)

3.  Dark Night by Paige Shelton - This is the third book in the Alaska Wild series about best selling author, Beth Rivers, who has run to Alaska after a terrifying attack.  Beth's life has been haunted by mystery after her father abandoned the family when she was 7 years old.  In this book we see progress on the series long mysteries of what happened to her father and the identity of her attacker and the possible links between the two events.  As well, a local man is murdered the night after he attacked his wife.  I really like the isolated Alaskan setting and the interesting and secretive townspeople and I found the progress made on the series long mystery really interesting.  My main negative is that it did feel like the primary mystery was frequently on the backburner.  This is definitely a series that is best read in order as there are a lot of secrets and relationships that can make it complicated to keep up with who is who and their motives.  My Rating: Really Liked It (4 Stars)

4.  Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris - This was the first book by this author that I've read and I'm still not quite sure what I think about it.  The story grabbed my attention from the very beginning and I couldn't read it fast enough.  I was fully pulled into the story of the perfect couple that was decidedly not perfect behind closed doors.  This story was borderline too dark for me.  While it's not overly graphic the terror and cruelty made it feel like my heart was in my throat the entire time.  The ending was the ending everyone deserved and it was definitely a book that kept hooked from the first page to the last page.  I'm not sure this is an author I will read again because it was a lot grimmer than I usually prefer but it definitely kept me reading.  My Rating: Really Liked It (4 Stars)

5.  The Secrets She Kept by Brenda Novak -
This is the 2nd book that takes place on Fairham Island, South Carolina.  Up until recently this small island was ruled by the beautiful and intimidating Josephine Lazarow.  But now Josephine is dead - supposedly by her own hand - and her son Keith has come home to face his demons and find out what really happened to his mother.  We met Keith in the previous book (The Secret Sister) in the depths of a substance addiction and determined to sabotage his future.  Five years has passed since that book and Keith has gotten away, is in recovery, and doing well.  His relationship with his sisters is flourishing but he still thinks about Nancy - the woman on Fairham he left behind.  This was an entertaining novel with a touch of suspense and a lot of digging into the past.  I really liked Nancy.  She's a nice person who is too frequently taken advantage of but is trying to figure out what she wants in life.  This isn't a book that will stick with me for months after I've read it but it was a fun read and a lighter read to help me recover from the book above! My Rating: Liked It! (3.5 Stars)

Thursday, October 26, 2023

Books from the Backlog - Them Bones

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:  Them Bones by Carolyn Haines

Blurb:  No self-respecting lady would allow herself to end up in Sarah Booth's situation. Unwed, unemployed, and over thirty, she's flat broke and about to lose the family plantation. Not to mention being haunted by the ghost of her great-great-grandmother's nanny, who never misses an opportunity to remind her of her sorry state--or to suggest a plan of action, like ransoming her friend's prize pooch to raise some cash.
But soon Sarah Booth's walk on the criminal side leads her deeper into unladylike territory, and she's hired to solve a murder. Did gorgeous, landed Hamilton Garrett V really kill his mother twenty years ago? And if so, what is Sarah Booth doing falling for this possible murderer? When she asks one too many questions and a new corpse turns up, she is suddenly a suspect herself...and Sarah Booth finds that digging up the bones of the past could leave her rolling over in her grave.

Why It Needs to Come Off the Shelf:  I've been lowkey collecting this series for awhile and I really should start reading it.  It looks like it could be a really fun read - and if it's not then I can clear the series off my shelf!

Wednesday, October 25, 2023

The Fatal Folio - Cozy Mystery Review

Goodreads:  The Fatal Folio (The Cambridge Bookshop #3) by Elizabeth Penney

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

Description:  After moving to Cambridge, England, Molly Kimball has found a lot to love, including—of course—her family’s ancestral bookshop, Thomas Marlowe-Manuscripts and Folios. And though she’s not quite ready to use the “L” word when it comes to her boyfriend Kieran, she’s definitely fallen for his intimidating family’s library.

His family is paying her handsomely for an updated catalog when Molly discovers the original manuscript of a Gothic novel, A Fatal Folio by the pseudonymous Selwyn Scott. Kieran’s cousin Oliver, a professor specializing in Gothic literature, is eager to publish a paper on the mystery—especially because a troublesome student, Thad, is threatening to file a complaint against him and prevent his long-awaited promotion.

On Guy Fawkes Night, Molly, Kieran, and her friends set out to enjoy the costumes, fireworks, and fun—at least until a stray firework starts a panic, and the group stumbles upon a prone body, their face covered by a mask. It’s Thad, and he’s been stabbed to death.

It soon becomes clear Oliver isn’t the only one with a motive, and Molly must once again put on a few masks of her own to sleuth out Thad’s killer, prove Oliver’s innocence, and discover what Selwyn’s novel might have to do with this most atmospheric mystery…

Genre:  Mystery - Cozy

Why I Picked This Book:  I've really enjoyed the previous two books in this series so of course I had to read this one!

My Impression:  Oh this was fun!  I've enjoyed the previous books in the series.  Molly is a nice main character, her family is interesting and the setting is a bookshop that has been open since the 1600s in Cambridge.  It's a fun bookish cozy mystery series.  But this book in particular was essentially a fairy tale for booklovers.  There's a huge library in a castle where the residents have been book lovers for generations and Molly gets to inventory all those books.  There's also an early Gothic manuscript with a mystery author and Molly gets to rummage in family records to solve a literary mystery.  I'm not really a jealous person but I was a bit jealous of Molly!  

Not only is there the bookish mystery but while Molly and her friends are celebrating Guy Fawkes night when they stumble on a body and become involved in an investigation connected to a respected university.  I really enjoyed seeing Molly figure out her first Guy Fawkes night.  It's not a holiday I know much about so I liked seeing it from her perspective.

The mystery was a delight with red herrings and all kinds of bookish sidelines.  The timing of the murder added a fun bit of complication.  I did guess a few things before the end but as I enjoyed this book from beginning to end that didn't bother me in the slightest.  If you enjoy bookish cozies than I highly recommend this series.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Absolutely!  I have really enjoyed all three books in this series and would read anything I saw by this author.  

Would I Recommend this Book?  Definitely!  If you enjoy bookish cozies this is a fun series.  

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

Tuesday, October 24, 2023

Top Ten Tuesday - Ten Atmospheric Novels 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 about Atmospheric books so I'm picking out 10 atmospheric reads I've enjoyed recently.

1.  South of Buttonwood Tree by Heather Webber - I live near where this book is set and not only does the audio narrator do a good job on the accent but the scene is set so vividly that you can almost feel the humidity.

2.  The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley - This takes place in a remote resort in Scotland during a massive snowstorm and it feels like it.  It almost feels claustrophobic to read.

3.  Hotel of Secrets by Diane Biller -  I loved this book and one of the things I loved most was that the hotel felt so real.  You can just feel the buzz of a busy hotel all around you as you read.

4.  An American in Scotland by Lucy Connelly - There's something about a book set in a challenging climate that really makes the setting come alive.

5.  Sleep No More by Jayne Ann Krentz - From sinister hospitals to even more sinister hotels I felt like I was on the run with the main characters.

6.  The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James - St. James is a master of atmospheric reads and this one was one of the best.

7.  Daisy Darker by Alice Feeney - This takes place on an island in a storm and it felt like it!  I could almost hear the wind whipping through the trees.

8.  Shattered Silk by Barbara Michaels - This is one of my favorite Michaels books and I love the ghostly feel of this book.

9.  Madam Will You Talk? by Mary Stewart - There's running through tight alleys and hiding in shadows and I felt like I was right with the characters!

10. Castle Shade by Laurie R. King - How can a book set in Transylvania not be atmospheric?  THis one did not disappoint!

What atmospheric books have you read lately?

Monday, October 23, 2023

Snow Place For Murder - Cozy Mystery Review

Goodreads: Snow Place for Murder (Mountain Lodge Mystery #3) by Diane Kelly

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

Description:  International resort developer Nigel Goodwin has traveled all the way from London, England to Misty Murphy’s little corner of North Carolina and bought out the Mountaintop Lodge for the week prior to Christmas. Their intention? To pitch an exclusive new resort concept to wealthy American investors.

But locals are at odds over the idea, and when a group comes to the lodge to express their worries to Mr. Goodwin and the potential investors, a blizzard hits Beech Mountain. Like the weather outside, things quickly get frosty, and Misty has to call local police to intervene. Handyman Rocky Crowder plows the lodge’s drive and, in an attempt to regain a jovial holiday atmosphere, smooths the snow pile into a makeshift sledding hill for the guests to enjoy.

Misty’s boys have finished their exams and are “home” from college for the winter break, planning to spend most of their time snowboarding at the ski resort. While taking a few runs down Rocky’s sledding hill, they discover a funny-looking, nose-shaped rock. Only it’s not a rock. It’s the frozen nose of Nigel Goodwin, who’s found dead and buried under the mound of snow.

Who put the developer on ice and why?

Genre: Mystery - Cozy

Why I Picked This Book:   I've enjoyed the previous books in this series!

My Impression:   In this book the lodge is in the middle of a massive snow storm and Misty finds herself snowed in with a potential murderer.  I really like the world that the author has created around Misty, Rocky, Patti, the lodge and of course Misty's cat, Yeti.  I really enjoyed the short little chapters from Yeti's point of view.  I also really liked that Misty's sons, JJ and Mitch, were in most of the book as well as Rocky's daughter Pebble.  All three have been mentioned quite a bit and it was nice to be able to get to know them a bit.

This is one of those mysteries where any one of the possible suspects could have had motive to kill the victim.  The victim wasn't very likable and so many people had reasons to want to take him out both personal and professional and since almost all the suspects are relatively unknown to Misty she has her investigative work cut out for her and I enjoyed going along for the ride.  I really wasn't sure of the who and the why until Misty figured it out.  

I really enjoy the lodge setting for this series.  We have a change up of suspects and characters and a range of issues.  I really like seeing the day to day behind the scenes of the lodge and life up in the mountains of North Carolina.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Absolutely!  I've really enjoyed all of this author's books that I've read.  

Would I Recommend this Book?  If you enjoy cozy mysteries this is a fun series and while all series are best read in order you could easily jump in here even if you haven't read the first two books in the series.  

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

Saturday, October 21, 2023

Reading Books I'm Excited to Read - The Last Castle

Goodreads: The Last Castle: The Epic Story of Love, Loss, and American Royalty in the Nation's Largest Home by Denise Kiernan

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

Description:  The fascinating true story behind the magnificent Gilded Age mansion Biltmore—the largest, grandest residence ever built in the United States.

The story of Biltmore spans World Wars, the Jazz Age, the Depression, and generations of the famous Vanderbilt family, and features a captivating cast of real-life characters including F. Scott Fitzgerald, Thomas Wolfe, Teddy Roosevelt, John Singer Sargent, James Whistler, Henry James, and Edith Wharton.

Orphaned at a young age, Edith Stuyvesant Dresser claimed lineage from one of New York’s best-known families. She grew up in Newport and Paris, and her engagement and marriage to George Vanderbilt was one of the most watched events of Gilded Age society. But none of this prepared her to be mistress of Biltmore House.

Before their marriage, the wealthy and bookish Vanderbilt had dedicated his life to creating a spectacular European-style estate on 125,000 acres of North Carolina wilderness. He summoned the famous landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted to tame the grounds, collaborated with celebrated architect Richard Morris Hunt to build a 175,000-square-foot chateau, filled it with priceless art and antiques, and erected a charming village beyond the gates. Newlywed Edith was now mistress of an estate nearly three times the size of Washington, DC and benefactress of the village and surrounding rural area. When fortunes shifted and changing times threatened her family, her home, and her community, it was up to Edith to save Biltmore—and secure the future of the region and her husband’s legacy.

The Last Castle is the uniquely American story of how the largest house in America flourished, faltered, and ultimately endured to this day.

Genre: Nonfiction

Why I Picked This Book:  I've been fascinated by the history of the Biltmore since we visited it back in 2002.  

My Impression:  This is the story of American Royalty, the Gilded Age's rise and fall, the evolution of forestry in the US, and countless other things all told under the focus of the building of Biltmore House.   The author takes the reader on quite a journey from the very blue blooded but less well heeled Dresser family and their life before Edith Dresser met George Vanderbilt as well as what George's life looked like before he met Edith.  We also see what the small town of Ashville, North Carolina before George Vanderbilt came to visit and became enchanted with the landscape.  

I really liked that the author kept the development of the house and grounds in context with what was going on in the rest of the world and the lives of the Vanderbilt family.  The book also shows that while the Biltmore estate was George's dream it was Edith who really made it happen and flourish.  I was fascinated by her role in the creation of industry and the community itself.  

If you're interested in Gilded Age history this is a fascinating look at some of the most famous families and most notable real estate of the time.  I do wish there was more stories about life in Biltmore itself but given the limited time the family actually spent there and that they were fairly private it makes sense that there aren't more.  I guess I will just have to visit Biltmore again!

Would I Read More of this Series/Author? Absolutely!  I really enjoyed how the author laid out the story of the building of Biltmore in historical context.

Would I Recommend this Book?   If you're interested in Gilded Age history I think this is a must read - though be aware you may find yourself planning a trip!

Friday, October 20, 2023

Friday Fives - Spooky Nonfiction Books 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. Since we are right in the middle of spooky season I'm looking at 5 spooky books on my TBR but to be a bit different I'm looking at nonfiction books.  

1.  I'll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara - The Golden State Serial Killer was one of the most nightmarish cold cases and going down the rabbit hole with the author sounds like it would have me double checking the locks.  

2.  The Secret Rooms: A True Story of a Haunted Castle, a Plotting Duchess, and a Family Secret by Catherine Bailey - How can I resist that title?

3.  The Case of the Murderous Dr. Cream: The Hunt for a Victorian Era Serial Killer by Dean Jobb - I'm not a big true crime reader but historical crime fascinates me and this isn't a case I'm familiar with.

4.  The League of Lady Poisoners by Lisa Perrin - There's something so creepy about poisonings and this covers a lot of poisoners!

5.  The Art of the English Murder by Lucy Worsley -  This may not be the creepiest book but I love the atmospheric cover and this is an author I've been meaning to read.

What nonfiction books have you read that are creepy?

Thursday, October 19, 2023

Books from the Backlog - The Haunting of Maddy Clare

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 Haunting of Maddy Clare by Simone St. James

Blurb:  1920s England. Sarah Piper's lonely, threadbare existence changes when her temporary agency sends her to assist an obsessed ghost hunter. Alistair Gellis--rich, handsome, and scarred by World War I--has been summoned to investigate the spirit of the nineteen-year-old maid Maddy Clare, who is said to haunt the barn where she committed suicide.
Maddy hated men in life, and she will not speak to them in death. But Sarah is unprepared to confront an angry ghost--real or imagined--on her own. She's even less prepared for the arrival of Alistair's associate, rough, unsettling Matthew Ryder, also a veteran of the trenches, whose scars go deeper than Sarah can reach.

Soon, Sarah is caught up in a desperate struggle. For Maddy's ghost is no hoax--she's real, she's angry, and she has powers that defy all reason. Now, Sarah and Matthew must discover who Maddy was, where she came from, and what is driving her desire for vengeance--before she destroys them all....

Why It Needs to Come Off the Shelf:  I've read two books by this author and really enjoyed them both.  This sounds like a great spooky season read.

Wednesday, October 18, 2023

Mistletoe and Murder - Cozy Mystery Review

Goodreads:  Mistletoe and Murder (A Kate Hamilton Mystery #4.5) by Connie Berry

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

Description:  In Connie Berry’s festive holiday novella Mistletoe and Murder , American antiques dealer Kate Hamilton has a long way to go before she gets down the aisle, but will someone stand in the way of her happily ever after?

Five days before her wedding to Detective Inspector Tom Mallory, Kate Hamilton finds her friend Sheila in need of her help. Sheila, a soon-to-be bride herself, needs Kate’s help to get Carl Curtis, her fiancĂ©, out of Venezuela. His passport was taken from him by the authorities, and they say he owes them money. Carl says it’s a bribe, but he’s unable to leave unless it’s paid.

Sheila decides to sell her grandfather’s coin collection, including a valuable gold coin presented by Queen Victoria to her great-grandmother. Among her grandfather’s stored possessions is a letter from the Queen. When someone breaks into Sheila’s house, all signs point to even more foul play. As Kate deals with a disturbing number of wedding-plan hitches, a fire in town reveals a body. Unfortunately, the burned-out flat is next to the bridal salon where Kate’s dress is being altered. Can the cleaners really eliminate the odor of smoke?

As the clock ticks down to Kate and Tom’s “I do”s, Kate goes to Sheila’s house to help her search for the royal letter, but she’s nowhere to be found. The house has been torn apart, and Sheila is missing. Could Sheila’s disappearance be connected to the death in town? Kate will have to piece together the clues.

Genre:  Mystery - Cozy

Why I Picked This Book:  I've really enjoyed the previous books in the series and this cover was just gorgeous!

My Impression:   Every book in this series that I read is better than the last one and this novella is no exception.  I loved the mix of wedding activity with the different investigations.  I really like Kate and the community she has built.  Her relationship with Tom is loving and supportive and feels genuine.

The mystery in this hooked me right from the beginning.  I had some suspicions as to what Sheila had gotten herself into but I had no idea how things were going to unfold or just what Kate and Tom were going to discover next.  

This book covers several of my favorite subjects to come across in books - antiques, missing people, and scams - and was like a Christmas gift of a read.  It was fast paced with likable characters and just the right amount of twists and turns.   I flew through this in 2 sittings and really could have read it in one if non-bookish responsibilities hadn't forced me to go to bed!  While this definitely falls into the category of cozy mystery this whole series has a classic mystery feel to it with a crisp investigation and a logical sleuth.   

This is a series that is best read in order as the stories and character connections grow from book to book and might be confusing if you are jumping in with this book.  

Would I Read More of this Series/Author? Definitely!  There is a bit of setup for the next mystery and I'm already looking forward to reading it!

Would I Recommend this Book? If you enjoy cozy mysteries or classic English mysteries this is an enjoyable and satisfying series.  

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

Tuesday, October 17, 2023

Top Ten Tuesday - Books on my TBR with Weather Events in the Title

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 books with weather events in the titles.  I'm focusing on books on my TBR.  

1.  Season of Storms by Susanna Kearsley - Italian villas and mysteries seems pretty amazing.

2.  Wild Fire by Anne Cleeves - This is a book in the Shetland series and I really want to try it.

3.  Whirpool by Elizabeth Lowell - I've enjoyed previous books by this author but it has been a long time since I've read anything by her.

4.  The House Between Tides by Sarah Maine - I don't remember much about this book but I do remember hearing great things about this book.

5.  Sunrise by the Sea by Jenny Colgan - I really enjoy this author's books and this one looks really good.  

6.  The Sandcastle Hurricane by Carolyn Brown - This is an author I've been wanting to read and it sounds really good.

7.  Let It Snow by Nancy Thayer - This looks like such a good cozy winter-y read!

8.  The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon - I have heard so many great things about this book and I'm really looking forward to reading it.  

9.  Who Left the That Body in the Rain? by Patricia Houck Sprinkle - This is a mystery in a family history cozy mystery series that I'm really looking forward to reading.

10. The Summer of Sunshine and Margot by Susan Mallery - I've enjoyed Mallery's stand alone books and this looks like a fun read.  

What books with weather events in the title do you have on your TBR?

Monday, October 16, 2023

Baking Spirits Bright - Cozy Mystery Review

Goodreads: Baking Spirits Bright (A True Confections Mystery #2) by Sarah Fox

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

Description:  Winter has arrived in Larch Haven, Vermont, bringing with it holiday cheer, lots of snow, and freezing temperatures. Becca Ransom is squeezing in time to skate on the frozen canals and drink hot chocolate by a roaring fire while also whipping up new creations for her family’s chocolate shop and experimenting with holiday flavors like eggnog, gingerbread, and peppermint. At the same time, Becca is preparing for the Baking Spirits Bright holiday baking competition, a popular annual event. She’s planning to enter an edible model of Larch Haven, with a mountain backdrop made of cake, gingerbread cottages, and chocolate gondolas on sugar-glass canals.

Professional bakers and a local food blogger are also participating in the event and they aren’t about to go down without a fight. The competition quickly heats to a boiling point, with flaring tempers and mysterious happenings. When one of the entrants is found dead, stabbed with Becca’s chocolate chipper, Becca tries to salvage the season by finding the killer. But the heat is on, and Becca is in danger of getting burned.

Genre: Mystery - Cozy

Why I Picked This Book:  I enjoyed the first book in this series so of course I had to pick up the next book!

My Impression:   I wish Larch Haven was real.  Is there a real Larch Haven, Vermont?  I need to go research that.  Okay - that aside this was a fun mystery.  Becca is an interesting main character, back in her hometown and with a second career as a chocolatier.  I do question how she became a chocolatier so quickly but that's really neither here nor there.

We meet quite a bit of the community of Larch Haven that we didn't meet in the first book as the baking competition starts.  Of course, I was rooting for Becca to win but there were plenty of likable contestants and a few that weren't so likable.  There is a decent amount of setup but there was enough progress in the story that I never felt like the story was dragging.  

The wrap up did seem to come a bit out of nowhere but I enjoyed the mix of Christmas-y spirit with investigation enough that that didn't bother me too much.  I really love the community and the setup for this series and will definitely be reading the next book - even though it does make me want chocolate!

Would I Read More of this Series/Author? Of course!  I really enjoy this author's writing style and am looking forward to reading more of this series or anything else this author has written.  

Would I Recommend this Book?  If you enjoy cozy mysteries this is a fun series and one you can easily jump into.  

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

Saturday, October 14, 2023

This Week in Reading - October 15

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

What I Got:

The Clock Struck Murder by Betty Webb - I don't know much about this series but it takes place in 1920s Paris and involves art so I couldn't resist. (Publisher)


Reading:  Mistletoe and Murder by Connie Berry and The Reef by Nora Roberts

Listening:  Death Comes to Marlow by Robert Thorogood

This was a busy week.  We got back into school and I'm starting Will on a research project.  He really should have written some kind of research paper or at least an essay by now but it was something that just got dropped.  This school year I think we are going to alternate between a research type project where we slowly build up to a research paper and book report type essays.  I'm slowly trying to figure out how to get him caught up for the time where we just survived when he was in active treatment.

As well, I got back into my obedience classes both as a teacher and as a student.  Rover and I are taking a break from agility classes while I work on him having a bit better focus and recall and are going back to obedience to work on that.  We will continue to work on agility on our own but it'll be at least a year before he's ready for agility trials.  We are ready to start showing in scent and rally but I'm not in a rush.  He will be 2 this week and Golden Retrievers are pretty notorious for being a bit slow to mature and he's extra puppy-ish!

Have a great week and happy reading!

Midnight at the Christmas Bookshop - Fiction Review

Goodreads:  Midnight at the Christmas Bookshop by Jenny Colgan

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

Description:  Christmas comes early—far too early—to McCredie’s little Old Town bookshop in Edinburgh. It’s summer, but an American production company has decided that McCredie’s is the perfect location to film a very cheesy Christmas movie. After all, who can resist the charmingly narrow historic street with its Victorian grey stone buildings and warmly lit shop windows?

Carmen Hogan, the bookshop’s manager, is amused and a bit horrified by the goings-on, but the money the studio is paying is too good to pass up. She uses the little windfall from filming to create new displays and fend off a buyout offer from an obnoxious millionaire who wants to turn McCredie’s into a souvenir shop selling kilts made in China and plastic Nessies. Still reeling slightly from a breakup, Carmen’s not particularly looking forward to the holidays. But just as snow begins to fall and the lights of Christmas blink on, all sorts of lovely new possibilities present themselves…for McCredie’s bookstore, and for Carmen herself.

Genre: Fiction 

Why I Picked This Book:   I really enjoy this author and I loved my first visit to McCredie's.  And could the cover be more cozy and Christmas-y?

My Impression:  It's so lovely to be back at McCredie's with Mr. McCredie, Carmen, Sofie, and everyone else.  Carmen is still absolutely maddening - incredibly relatable but yet so infuriating -and Mr. McCredie is still having money problems and still pretty clueless about them.  

Colgan's books are basically coziness in a book and this one is no exception.  However, while this gives all the cozy feels not everything is unicorns and rainbows.  Things frequently don't go right for Carmen (or really any of the characters) and they definitely don't always behave perfectly.  Carmen's special skill is putting her foot in her mouth but it isn't played for laughs.  I think at some point we have all had Carmen moments in our life so even when she annoys me I can't help but root for her.

I did want to scream at Carmen and Oke to communicate for then a few times.  I loved them both but their lives would have been so much easier if they had just actually talked to each other.  All in all this was a delightful Christmas-y bookish read and I just loved snuggling up with a cup of tea and this book.   

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Absolutely!  I always enjoy this author's books and this was so enjoyable.

Would I Recommend this Book?  Absolutely!  Though I do recommend reading the first Christmas Bookshop book.

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

Friday, October 13, 2023

Friday Fives - Five Short Reviews for Series I've Been Reading 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 working on catching up on series and decided to put a few reviews of them all together here.

1.  Murder's No Votive Confidence (Nantucket Candle Maker Mystery by Cristin Brecher - While I have read a later book in this series about a Nantucket Candlemaker I somehow missed the first few books.  For the most part I enjoyed this mystery involving  murder by unity candle at a candle themed wedding.  There's an interesting mix of side characters, the main character, Stella, is likable and there's a rather entertaining and persistent cat who appears on the scene.  I had two issues that kept this from being a full win for me.  Because Stella is old friends with the detective and one of the first on the scene of the murder she somehow becomes involved in the official investigation.  I'm willing to do some serious suspension of belief but when she's interfering with interrogations and yelling at suspects I had a bit of trouble with that.  As well her kind of insta love connection with one of the characters was a bit much.  Despite these issues I did enjoy this book enough to finish the series and I'm curious to see how the series develops.  My Rating: Liked It (3 Stars)

2.  Trouble on the Books by Essie Lang -
Who can resist a castle on an island and especially one with a nefarious history and a modern murder investigation?   I really loved the setting of a small town in the Thousand Islands region of New York.  The murder investigation has some twists and turns and main character Shelby Cox puts herself right in the middle of everything.  There are a lot of characters that I had a bit of trouble keeping everyone straight.  As well while I enjoyed this read it wasn't one that will really stick in my memory long after I've closed the book.  My Rating: Liked It (3 Stars)

3.  The Cure For What Ales You by Ellie Alexander -
I have really enjoyed this series.  I love Sloan and her family, the crew at Nitro, the town of Leavenworth and the behind the scenes at a brewery.  One of the things I have really loved has been the mystery of Sloan's past.  This was the book that answered most of the questions I had.  A murder at the local inn and a late night knock on the door really get things going and pulled me into the story.  I really enjoyed this book and I always love visiting Sloan's Leavenworth but it did leave me wanting a bit more.  I wanted more answers and more explanations and didn't quite feel like I got everything I wanted.  That said, this was a fun read from a series and an author I always enjoy and I look forward to reading the next book.  My Rating: Really Liked It (4 Stars)

4.  Cinco de Murder by Rebecca Adler - 
This is the third book in a three book series involving Josie Callahan and her quirky family and everything surrounds the family owned Mexican restaurant in Broken Boot, Texas.  I really enjoy Josie's family and the mystery was an intriguing one.  An unlikable chili cook is killed right before the start of a chili cook-off.  However,  while I liked this better than the first book in the series it still wasn't a winner for me.  I never warmed to Josie or felt like she ever really had a good handle on the actual investigation.  As well, it also seems that the details of the investigation tend to get lost in the details leaving me questioning how certain important aspects develop but giving me too much information about things that aren't super important.  If you love the idea of this setting this is definitely a series worth reading but otherwise I think there are better foodie cozies out there.  My Rating: Liked It (3 Stars)

5.  Be Careful What You Witch For by Dawn Eastman -
This is the second book in a four book series involving a small town in Michigan famous for its psychics.  Clyde is still rebelling from her family and the abilities that she doesn't want to acknowledge.  Her nephew, Seth, is back under somewhat shadowy circumstances but before Clyde can deal with that she is swept into the murder investigation of local coven leader Rafe as she tries to help her friend, Diana.  This is a fun series.  Clyde's family is definitely a collection of characters though I absolutely adore her dad.  The mystery kept me guessing and it was a fun conclusion.  This is an entertaining light cozy mystery series with a bit of psychic fun.  While this is only the 2nd book in the series I have read the last 2 books so this is my last visit to Crystal Haven.  My Rating: Liked It! (3.5 Stars)