Thursday, November 30, 2023

Books from the Backlog - Never Turn Your Back on an Angus Cow

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:  Never Turn Your Back on an Angus Cow: My Life as a Country Vet by Dr. Jan Pol

Blurb:  The star of The Incredible Dr. Pol shares his amusing, and often poignant, tales from his four decades as a vet in rural Michigan. Dr. Jan Pol is not your typical veterinarian. Born and raised the Netherlands on a dairy farm, he is the star of Nat Geo Wild’s hit show The Incredible Dr. Pol and has been treating animals in rural Michigan since the 1970s. Dr. Pol’s more than 20,000 patients have ranged from white mice to 2600-pound horses and everything in between. 

From the time he was twelve years old and helped deliver a litter of piglets on his family’s farm to the incredible moments captured on his hit TV show, Dr. Pol has amassed a wealth of stories of what it’s like caring for this menagerie of animals. He shares his own story of growing up surrounded by animals, training to be a vet in the Netherlands, and moving to Michigan to open his first practice in a pre fab house. He has established himself as an empathetic yet no-nonsense vet who isn’t afraid to make the difficult decisions in order to do what’s best for his patients—and their hard-working owners. A sick pet can bring heartache, but a sick cow or horse could threaten the very livelihood of a farmer whose modest profits are dependent on healthy livestock. Reminiscent of the classic books of James Herriot, Never Turn Your Back on an Angus Cow is a charming, fascinating, and funny memoir that will delight animal lovers everywhere.

Why It Needs to Come Off the Shelf:  A friend recommended this because she is obsessed with the show so I couldn't resist picking the book up.  It looks really fun!

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Christmas Cozy Reviews - 'Twas the Knife Before Christmas + Slashing Through the Snow

 It's holidays season so here are two reviews for one of my favorite Christmas-y cozy mystery series!

Goodreads:  'Twas the Knife Before Christmas by Jacqueline Frost

Blurb:  When a body turns up in the dumpster behind Caroline’s Cupcakes, the store’s owner is the main suspect. Everyone in town saw Caroline fighting with the victim on the night of his death. Worse, the murder weapon is Caroline’s custom-designed butcher knife. But Holly White knows that her best friend isn’t capable of murder.
Now, just ten days before Christmas, Holly’s up to her jingle bells in holiday shenanigans. Juggling extra shifts at her family’s Christmas tree farm and making enough gingerbread jewelry to satisfy the crowd is already more than she can handle. Add in her budding relationship with the sheriff, and Holly’s ready to fly south until springtime. But her mittens come off when Caroline is taken into custody. Can Holly wrap up the case in time for Christmas?

My Thoughts:   I loved getting to know Holly's friend Caroline a bit better - even if it involved her getting involved in a murder investigation!  The Christmas-y vibes are strong and lots of fun with a suspiciously jolly general contractor and the annual reindeer games at Holly's family tree farm.  This was a fun mystery with some development in Holly's life as well as her solving a murder in time to save her friend from spending Christmas in jail.  This was a fun read and really made me look forward to my next visit to Mistletoe, Maine - and luckily, I didn't have to wait too long! My Rating: Really Liked It (4 Stars)

Goodreads:  Slashing Through the Snow by Jacqueline Frost

Blurb: Reindeer Games Christmas Tree Farm is going into the B&B business, and Holly White is looking forward to her new role as innkeeper. Even better, Mistletoe, Maine's sheriff, Evan Gray, has deputized his little sister Libby to help Holly wrap presents for Mistletoe's toy drive. But a cold wind ruffles the cheery holiday decorations when a new guest checks in: Karen, a vicious B&B critic, who could make or break the new inn. And the short December days turn even darker when Evan and Libby find Karen's dead body in the gift-wrapped toy donation box.
The suspect list is longer than Santa's naughty list, and local resident Cookie is on it, since her fingerprints are all over the murder weapon, a metal nutcracker that she gave to Holly. So is Libby, who recently moved to town from Boston in less-than-savory circumstances. But cranky Karen was an oh-holy-nightmare to lots of the townsfolk, such as Evan's reporter friend Ray; Christopher, the inn's former contractor; and confectioner Bonnie, whose Gum Drop Shop was a direct target of Karen's scathing prose.

To figure out the killer's identity and clear Cookie's name, Holly and her friends brainstorm at The Hearth, the farm's café, while her mother keeps them fueled with Christmas goodies fresh from the oven. But if they can't put the culprit on ice, Holly may never see another Christmas.

My Thoughts:  Back to Mistletoe, Maine and another annual Reindeer Games at the Christmas tree farm - this one featuring Holly's new bed and breakfast.  It's Holly's unofficial second mother who is in the murder spotlight as a very grumpy critic is found dead within steps of the inn.  I liked that Holly and Evan were able to balance their relationship with their investigations - especially when neither was happy about the other.  We get to see more of Evan's sister Libby and her new relationship with reporter Ray.  The mystery was a good one and the ending was just perfectly sweet! My Rating: Really Liked It (4 Stars)  

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Top Ten Tuesday - Books Set in My Home State

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 Set in x and to fill in that x I'm picking books that take place in my home state (Alabama) that are on my TBR.  I don't read many books that are set here but it's so fun to read books that are set in a familiar place that I should really do it more.

1.  The Wife Upstairs by Rachel Hawkins - This one has been on my TBR since it came out and next time I'm in the mood for a creepy book this will be one I'll pick up.

2.  A Killer Read by Erika Chase - I love a cozy and this is a bookish cozy!

3.  Coming Up for Air by Patti Callahan Henry - This is one of my favorite authors and of course I need to read her book set in Alabama.

4.  The Hideaway by Lauren K. Denton - An inherited house and a motley group of senior citizens sounds like a good read so of course I have to try it!

5.  Death on Eat Street by J.J. Cook - Another cozy and this one involves a food truck!

6.  The Lights of Sugarberry Cove by Heather Webber - I have read two books by this author and loved them both.  This one looks fantastic.

7.  Almost Sisters by Joshilyn Jackson - This is an author I've been meaning to read for ages and this one looks like a great story!

8.  Trust No One by Debra Webb - I've heard some great things about this author and I was thrilled to see this one takes place in Alabama.

9.  Silent Killer by Beverly Barton - I have had this book sitting on my shelf for literally years and I need to actually read it!

10. Murder on a Girls' Night Out by Anne George - This is a quirky cozy series that I've been wanting to try for awhile.  

What are some books set in your home state?

Monday, November 27, 2023

Sleigh Bells Ring - Holiday Romance Review

Goodreads:  Sleigh Bells Ring by RaeAnne Thayne

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

Description:  Ranch manager Annie McCade thought her twin niece and nephew could join her at the Angel View Ranch for Christmas with her absent employer being none the wiser. But when the ranch's owner, Tate Sheridan, shows up out of the blue, Annie's plans are upended. Soon she finds herself helping Tate make a Christmas to remember for his grieving and fractured extended family.

Genre: Romance - Contemporary

Why I Picked This Book:  I love Thayne's stories and her holiday reads are my favorite.

My Impression:  Thanksgiving is done so it is officially holiday season here and I am enjoying diving in to all my holiday reads.  RaeAnne Thayne's holiday stories are such cozy Christmas-y goodness that I can never resist and this one was just a delight.  Annie McCade is back at the ranch she grew up on to help support her brother who isn't dealing well with a tragedy.  She has temporary custody of her niece and nephew and wasn't expecting to have to deal with her employers for what has the potential to be a complicated Christmas.

Tate and Annie knew each other as children but have existed in two very different worlds for a long time.  They're both nice people dealing with some relatable challenges and trying to figure out their next move.  I loved all the family scenes with the Sheridan family and Thayne put in just the right amount of sweet without being saccharine and drama without being angsty.  I thoroughly enjoyed this cozy read from beginning to end.  If you are looking to get in the holiday spirit then grab this book, a mug of hot chocolate and a cozy blanket and you'll be good to go!

Would I Read More of this Series/Author? Absolutely!  This is one of my favorite romance authors and I always look forward to reading her books.

Would I Recommend this Book? If you're a fan of holiday romances and stories of family dynamics I don't think you could go wrong with picking this one up!

Saturday, November 25, 2023

The Great Mistake - Classic Mystery Review

Goodreads: The Great Mistake by Mary Roberts Rinehart

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

Description:  In an elaborate house known as the Cloisters, Maud Wainwright rules supreme. The queen of society in the small town of Beverly, she has a table long enough to seat one hundred, and she keeps an iron grip on the guest list. Her right-hand woman is Pat Abbott, a local girl who is beautiful, innocent, and kind. Pat has no idea how cutthroat high society can be, but she’s about to get a deadly first lesson. Pat has fallen head over heels in love with Maud’s son, Tony, a clever young rake with a single his vicious, gold-digging wife. At the same time that she is dangerously infatuated with a married man, Pat’s world is turned upside down by a series of attacks on the estate—and a truly shocking murder. To save Tony and Maud, Pat must find the killer. But the list of suspects is as long as one of Maud’s guest When a woman has room at her table for one hundred friends, she’ll have more than her share of enemies.

Genre: Mystery - Classic    

Why I Picked This Book:  I'm reading more classic mysteries and Mary Roberts Rinehart is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors in this genre. 

My Impression: I am really enjoying Mary Roberts Rinehart's books.  Her writing style has a bit of Gothic, a touch of noir but still has a touch of coziness and the main characters are almost always sympathetic.  
Pat Abbott is a likable young woman.  She's had quite a bit of tragedy and as well as a loss of fortune but is sympathetic and a hard worker.  Her arrival at The Cloisters comes at the beginning of a catastrophic series of events all of which lead to a dramatic conclusion.  
Rinehart is incredibly readable and fantastic at creating just the right atmosphere for her stories.  She has a unique voice and a good balance of a bit of noir without being too heavy handed.  My main issue with this book is that at time the events and characters get a bit jumbled and sometimes a bit confusing.  The end was not what I expected in the best possible way and I'm already looking forward to reading more from this author.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author? Definitely!  I can't wait to decide what to read next!

Would I Recommend this Book? If you enjoy classic mysteries this author is a great choice and this was an entertaining read.

Friday, November 24, 2023

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

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

1.  Color Me Murder by Krista Davis - This was the first in a cozy mystery series involving book store manager and coloring book artist Florrie Fox.  I thoroughly enjoyed the mystery.  The premise is fantastic and I really loved how Florrie's side business as a coloring book artist comes into play as she uses her sketches to help order her thoughts.  Florrie is a likable main character who is intelligent and kind and thankfully not afraid to call for help when needed.  The mystery kept me guessing and the wrap up had me holding my breath a bit.  This was a fun first book in a series and definitely one I'm looking forward to reading more from. My Rating: Really Liked It (4 Stars)

2.  The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley -
This is the 2nd book I've read by Lucy Foley and I enjoyed this one more then The Paris Apartment.  The characters in this book were no more likable than the other book but I do love an isolated setting and I'm not sure it could get more isolated than an estate in the Scottish highlands during a visit.  This book takes a look at old friends and emphasizes how sometimes when you really look at those long term connections you realize that you don't have anything in common anymore.  I did guess the twist before it came to be but I enjoyed getting there.  This book worked really well on audio but I'm not sure if I would have enjoyed it as much if I had read it as the pacing and the information reveal was a bit on the slow side.  Overall, though I did enjoy this and next time I'm looking for an atmospheric thriller I will probably pick up a Lucy Foley book.  My Rating: Liked It! (3.5 Stars)

3.  Quicksand by Gigi Pandian -
This is the third book in the Dr. Jaya Jones series and I think I might have enjoyed this one the most.  The mystery was fun with a mix of magic, history, and thievery.  I enjoyed the addition of Sebastian and seeing a bit more of Lane's life before he decided to make a change.  I also liked that we see some developments in Jaya and Lane's life.   The history of the French West India Company was unknown to me and I really enjoyed learning a little bit about it along with history of Mont-Saint-Michel all with a treasure hunt.  This is a fun series that focuses on history and heists.  I'm looking forward to reading the next one! My Rating: Really Liked It (4 Stars)

4.  South of the Buttonwood Tree by Heather Webber -
I absolutely loved the Midnight at the Blackbird Café by this author when I listened to it a year or two ago so I was hesitant to read another book by her in case it let me down.  That said I'm kicking myself for taking so long to pick this book up.  I loved Blue and Sarah Grace and loved their stories and rooted for them.  I listened to the audio of this book and enjoyed the narration and the fact that the Southern accent was not overdone.   I loved this story of family, acceptance, and forgiveness all mixed in with just a touch of magic.  I'm looking forward to reading more from this author.  My Rating: Loved It (5 Stars)

5.  Death Comes to Marlow by Robert Thorogood -
This is the 2nd book in a series involving Judith, Susie, and Becks who are three very different women all living in Marlow who happen to work together to solve murders occasionally.  I enjoyed this one as I did the first book though neither of them have been exactly standouts.  This book focused on Judith and Susie and Becks seems to have a secret that she doesn't want to share with her friends.  I like that Susie is finding something that she is good and gaining a bit of confidence.  The mystery was entertaining and the sleuths are a bit unique and all bring different skills to the table.  I enjoyed this and will get the next book but it isn't a series that really stands out in my mind.  My Rating: Liked It! (3.5 Stars)

Thursday, November 23, 2023

Happy Thanksgiving!


Rover would like to wish a Happy Thanksgiving to all who celebrate - and a wonderful day to everyone!

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Overdue Review - One Potato, Two Potato, Dead


Goodreads:  One Potato, Two Potato, Dead (Farm to Fork #3)by Lynn Cahoon

Blurb:  Angie first meets Daniel Monet at a local mission, where she and her chef-in-training, Hope, are serving barbeque chicken poutine to the homeless. Monet is one of Hope’s teachers—but Angie’s boyfriend knows him from his youthful days in England, and he went by a different name back then. After Sheriff Brown shows up the next morning to report that the pseudo-French gourmet has been dead on top of a pool table, the victim of poisoned wine, it seems his real name might not have been the only secret he was hiding. The bon vivant is no longer vivant, and with Hope’s prints on the glass, it’ll be Angie who has to sauce out the real killer . .

My Thoughts:  I've been a long time reader of Lynn Cahoon but I haven't given much attention to this series until recently.  After reading the first book I had been kind of meh on the first book because I didn't really care for Angie but the more of this series that I read the more I fall in love with it.  I'm still not sure how I feel about Angie but I love the world she lives in with the people at the restaurant, the community around her, and her animal menagerie at home.  The mystery was enjoyable and I really wasn't quite sure who the killer was until Angie figured it out.  This isn't the most memorable of mysteries but it's fun and is quickly turning into a bit of a comfort read.  If you love a foodie cozy with an interesting mix of characters and a not so perfect main character this is a good series to try.  My Rating: Really Liked It (4 Stars)

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Top Ten Tuesday - Ten Books I'm Thankful For

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 Reasons I'm Thankful For Books but I'm changing it up a little bit and focusing on specific books I'm thankful for.  These are all books that aren't necessarily fine literature but each have a sentimental meaning or were just the beginning of a genre or an author that has brought me lots of enjoyment.

1.  At the Back of the North Wind by George MacDonald - This was my Grandmother's favorite book as a child and while I read it too late to discuss it with her I did enjoy being able to share this with her.

2.  Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams - This is one of my dad's favorite books and we had a computer game from the pre-graphic days that we could play together.  Even when I was a bratty preteen it was nice that we could at least share this.

3.  Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce - I read this book in high school and I LOATHED it.  There is not enough money in the world to get me to reread it.  However, when my husband and I were dating and we were talking about books we had had to read this book came up and we were able to discuss how much we both disliked the book.

4.  Tears of the Moon by Nora Roberts - This was the first contemporary romance book I ever read and Nora Roberts has provided me so much enjoyment and escape over the years so I'm thankful I picked this one up.

5.  House of Many Shadows by Barbara Michaels - I love Barbara Michaels and this is probably my very favorite.  I've reread it countless times.  

6.  Whiskey Island by Emilie Richards - This was the first Emilie Richards book I ever read and I picked it up on a total whim.  Since reading this book I have read so much more of this author and never fail to enjoy them.  I'm thankful I picked up this book on a whim.

7.  Plaster and Poison by Jennie Bentley - This was the one of the first cozy mystery series that I really fell in love with and made cozies a go-to genre for me.

8.  Simply Irresistible by Jill Shalvis - I wasn't reading much romance when a good friend recommended this to me.  I really enjoyed it but I also really enjoyed getting a book recommendation from a good friend!  Now I get lots of recommendations from my blogger friends but this was kind of the first in awhile.

9.  The Cursed by Heather Graham - This was the first Heather Graham book I ever read and I thoroughly enjoyed the mix of paranormal and romantic suspense.  Since then I've enjoyed so many of her books.  They aren't necessarily the most memorable but they are always entertaining and frequently that is exactly what I'm looking for.

10.  The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax by Dorothy Gilman - Mrs. Pollifax reminds me a bit of my grandmother and this was the very first one I read.  I'm almost finished with the series and I'll be so sad when I have no more books left to discover in the Mrs. Pollifax world.

What books are you thankful for?

Monday, November 20, 2023

Inheritance - Romantic Suspense Review

Goodreads:  Inheritance (The Lost Brides Trilogy #1) by Nora Roberts

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

Description:  1806: Astrid Poole sits in her bridal clothes, overwhelmed with happiness. But before her marriage can be consummated, she is murdered, and the circle of gold torn from her finger. Her last words are a promise to Collin never to leave him…

Graphic designer Sonya MacTavish is stunned to learn that her late father had a twin he never knew about―and that her newly discovered uncle, Collin Poole, has left her almost everything he owned, including a majestic Victorian house on the Maine coast, which the will stipulates she must live in it for at least three years. Her engagement recently broken, she sets off to find out why the boys were separated at birth―and why it was all kept secret until a genealogy website brought it to light.

Trey, the young lawyer who greets her at the sprawling clifftop manor, notes Sonya’s unease―and acknowledges that yes, the place is haunted…but just a little. Sure enough, Sonya finds objects moved and music playing out of nowhere. She sees a painting by her father inexplicably hanging in her deceased uncle’s office, and a portrait of a woman named Astrid, whom the lawyer refers to as “the first lost bride.” It’s becoming clear that Sonya has inherited far more than a house. She has inherited a centuries-old curse, and a puzzle to be solved if there is any hope of breaking it…

Genre: Romance - Suspense    

Why I Picked This Book:  I can never resist a Nora Roberts trilogy and the blurb was just too fantastic sounding to pass up.

My Impression:  I've been reading Nora Roberts' books for just over 20 years and it's so considerate of her to write a book just for me!  I mean I assume that's what happened because this has all of my favorite things in one book - a likable main character figuring out what she wants in life, good friendships, an amazing house that just happens to be haunted AND full of gorgeous family heirlooms and antiques, family secrets, and dogs.  Really the only thing I didn't love about this book is that I have to wait a bit for the next book in the trilogy when I want to go back to Lost Brides Manor right now.  

I loved getting to know Sonya, Cleo, Trey and the rest of the Doyle family.  I loved getting to know the lost brides and the rest of the Poole family.  Sonya trying to figure out just what is going on in her new house all while trying to hold on to her skepticism was entertaining.  I loved the variety of haunted-ness the Lost Brides Manor has and some would be quite welcome but overall I'm glad I don't live in a haunted house.

This was a fun story with a bit of a slower romance but lots of friendship and spookiness to make up for it.  I want more of these characters and I can't wait to discover more about the mysteries, the brides, and the family.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Yes!  I am counting days until the 2nd book comes out.

Would I Recommend this Book?  Yes!  If you enjoy romance, suspense, ghosts or any combination of all 3 I think you would enjoy this book.

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

Saturday, November 18, 2023

Books I'm Excited to Read - Why Not Tonight


Goodreads:  Why Not Tonight by Susan Mallery

Blurb:  Natalie Kaleta will do anything for the artists at her gallery, including risk life, limb and the effect of humidity on her naturally curly hair. Braving a downpour to check on reclusive Ronan Mitchell, Natalie gets stranded by a mudslide at his mountain home, where the brooding glass artist reveals his playful side, sending her inconvenient crush from under-the-radar to over-the-top.
After a secret tore apart his family and made him question his sense of self, Ronan fled his hometown for Happily Inc, but the sunny small town can’t fix his damaged heart. He won’t give in to his attraction for beautiful, perpetually cheerful Natalie. She’s untouched by darkness—or so he thinks.

Natalie knows that when a heart goes through the flame, it comes out stronger. Life may not be a fairy tale, but sometimes dreams do come true. Why not this one? Why not tonight?

My Thoughts:  This wasn't one I was excited to read but more one that was on my library list that I'm trying to make progress on.  I was in the mood for a cute romance and this definitely delivered. Natalie is a likable main character though her impulsiveness is a bit exaggerated - especially at first.  I like that she's honest about herself and has no issues calling Ronan on his particular issues but at the same time does need to take a sulk break.  For the most part she felt authentic and relatable.  I like Ronan but how he was handling a big revelation was a bit frustrating - which made it all the more satisfying on it when Natalie put things in perspective.  I like the family dynamic between the brothers and the small town feel of Happily Inc.  This is the 3rd book in this series but is really a stand alone.  This wasn't the most memorable romance I've read but I did enjoy the characters and the story and I do plan on picking up the other books in the series.  My Rating: Liked It! (3.5 Stars)

Friday, November 17, 2023

Friday Fives - Five Dessert Recipes

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 is a not so much as I'm trying to decide what dessert to bring to Thanksgiving.  We do Thanksgiving on Friday with my husband's family which we host here but on Thursday we go to my mother's (my dad is smart and goes to the beach for Thanksgiving) and I am supposed to bring dessert and mashed potatoes.  For the Thanksgiving we host the menu is set in stone and there would be mass chaos if we changed anything but at my mother's it's a bit more experimental.  Here are 5 desserts I'm considering.  

1.  Brown Sugar Apple Bundt Cake from Lemons for Lulu - A Bundt cake with apples and brown sugar sounds pretty tasty!

2.  Snickerdoodle Pie from Something Swanky - I'm not a huge pie fan but I love cinnamon and this sounds different but still familiar.

3.  Old Fashioned Chess Pie with Brown Butter from Bake or Break - I know I said I didn't like pie but this involves brown butter and that's hard to pass up.

4.  Irish Apple Cake from The Baker Upstairs - I'm not sure what exactly makes this Irish but it looks delicious.  

5.  Apple Cider Cake with Caramel Cream Cheese From Delightfule Made - Cream cheese frosting is one of my absolute favorite things and caramel cream cheese frosting sounds even better.  

What would you make for dessert?  

Thursday, November 16, 2023

Books from the Backlog - The Crepes of Wrath

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 Crepes of Wrath by Sarah Fox

Blurb:  When Marley McKinney's aging cousin, Jimmy, is hospitalized with pneumonia, she agrees to help run his pancake house while he recovers. With its rustic interior and syrupy scent, the Flip Side Pancake House is just as she pictured it--and the surly chef is a wizard with crêpes. Marley expects to spend a leisurely week or two in Wildwood Cove, the quaint, coastal community where she used to spend her summers, but then Cousin Jimmy is found murdered, sprawled on the rocks beneath a nearby cliff. After she stumbles across evidence of stolen goods in Jimmy's workshop, Marley is determined to find out what's really going on in the not-so-quiet town of Wildwood Cove. With help from her childhood crush and her adopted cat, Flapjack, Marley sinks her teeth into the investigation. But if she's not careful, she's going to get burned by a killer who's only interested in serving up trouble.

Why It Needs to Come Off the Shelf:  I love the title and I've enjoyed other books by this author.  Plus I'm a big fan of pancakes and crepes so what could go wrong!

Wednesday, November 15, 2023

Books I'm Excited to Read - The Reef + Death by Dumpling


Goodreads:  The Reef by Nora Roberts

Blurb:  Tate Beaumont has a passion for treasure-hunting. Over the years, she and her father have uncovered many fabulous riches, but one treasure has always eluded them: Angelique’s Curse—a jeweled amulet heavy with history, dark with legend, and tainted with blood. In order to find this precious artifact, the Beaumonts reluctantly form a partnership with salvagers Buck and Matthew Lassiter.
As the Beaumonts and Lassiters pool their resources to locate Angelique’s Curse, the Caribbean waters darken with shadowy deceptions and hidden threats. Their partnership is placed in jeopardy when Matthew refuses to share information—including the truth behind his father’s mysterious death. For now, Tate and Matthew continue their uneasy alliance—until danger and desire begin to rise to the surface…

My Thoughts:  This was an enjoyable light romantic suspense read that was perfect for summer reading - or wishing it was summer reading.  There is a typical Roberts' villain who has a whole bunch of money and an equal helping of madness as well as a fairly common treasure hunting plot.  However, the marine archeology was a bit unique and thoroughly enjoyable as was the history of the wrecks and the treasure.  I liked Tate and Matthew as well as Buck Lassister and the Beaumonts.  There was a character that threw me for a loop and I wasn't quite sure what to think for a little bit which was fun.  I loved that the setting is mostly at sea and despite the book being an older Roberts book it really didn't feel too dated.  This is a fun read if you're looking for a suspense title with a bit of romance and a dash of adventure.  My Rating: Really Liked It (4 Stars)  

Goodreads:  Death by Dumpling (Noodle Shop Mystery #1) by Vivien Chien

Blurb:  The last place Lana Lee thought she would ever end up is back at her family’s restaurant. But after a brutal break-up and a dramatic workplace walk-out, she figures that a return to the Cleveland area to help wait tables is her best option for putting her life back together. Even if that means having to put up with her mother, who is dead-set on finding her a husband.
Lana’s love life soon becomes yesterday’s news once the restaurant’s property manager, Mr. Feng, turns up dead―after a delivery of shrimp dumplings from Ho-Lee. But how could this have happened when everyone on staff knew about Mr. Feng’s severe, life-threatening shellfish allergy? Now, with the whole restaurant under suspicion for murder and the local media in a feeding frenzy―to say nothing of the gorgeous police detective who keeps turning up for take-out―it’s up to Lana to find out who is behind Feng’s killer order. . . before her own number is up.

My Thoughts:  I have heard raves about this series for ages and have been so wanting to pick up this series so I was so excited to finally read the first book.  And it didn't let me down.  Lana is not super thrilled to be back working at her family's restaurant but the need to pay rent and her dog's food makes that her only option.  She's getting back in the swing of things when an order delivery ends in a suspicious death.  Most of the shop owners around the restaurant have a history together and the possibility for motives abound - and more than a few people are acting suspicious.  Lana was a fun main character.  She's smart but more than a bit impulsive and when paired with her roommate Meghan they are very likely to get in over their heads.  I did kind of guess the who but not the why and I enjoyed following along with Lana's investigation from the first page to the last.  My Rating: Really Liked It (4 Stars)

Tuesday, November 14, 2023

Top Ten Tuesday - Ten Popular Authors I Still Haven't Read

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 Ten Popular Authors I Still Haven't Read.  I probably could have made this a Top One Hundred list (though that doesn't have quite the same ring) as there are so many authors I mean to read that I don't seem to quite get to though I'm hoping to make some progress on this list in 2024.

1.  Ann Patchett 

2.  Kirstin Hannah

3.  Taylor Jenkins Reid

4.  J.R.R. Tolkien

5.  Riley Sager

6.  Kelley Armstrong

7.  Alice Feeney

8.  Emily Henry

9.  Gillian McAllister

10. Jane Harper

What popular authors have you not read?

Monday, November 13, 2023

Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Lord - Historical Mystery Review

Goodreads: Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Lord (Lady Petra Inquires #1) by Celeste Connally

Rating: Just Okay (2.5 Stars)
Source:   Publisher

Description:  When Lady Petra Forsyth’s fiancé and soulmate dies just weeks ahead of their wedding, she makes the shocking proclamation—in front of London’s loosest lips—that she will never remarry. A woman of independent means, Petra sees no reason to cede her wealth and freedom to any man now that the love of her life has passed, nor does she intend to become confined to her country home. Instead, she uses her title to gain access to elite spaces and enjoy the best of society without expectations.

But when ballroom gossip suggests that a longtime friend has died of “melancholia” while in the care of a questionable physician, Petra vows to use her status to dig deeper—uncovering a private asylum where men pay to have their wives and daughters locked away, or worse. Just as Lady Petra has reason to believe her friend is not dead, but a prisoner, her own headstrong actions and thirst for independence are used to put her own freedom in jeopardy.

Genre: Mystery - Historical    

Why I Picked This Book:  The blurb called this Agatha Christie meets Bridgerton so how could I resist?

My Impression:  I went into this with high hopes but unfortunately, it didn't quite work for me.  At first I liked Lady Petra as she rather neatly avoided spending time with her dreadful uncle by using his snobbery against him.  However, as soon as she got to London the pace seemed to slow to a crawl.  I got to know everything Lady Petra and those around her felt and thought and believed because they spoke about it in long detailed grand speeches.  

Once the first murder happened the pacing did speed up a bit and I enjoyed the book a bit more though the pace did lag from time to time as the book went on.  If I really love the characters I don't mind a slower paced book but unfortunately in this book I just couldn't connect with any of the characters and felt like their personalities were fairly surface level.  The ending was okay though some aspects could have been settled a bit more thoroughly.  

I enjoy historical mysteries but this one just didn't work for me.  So much of the book felt dialogue heavy and it all ran to rather long speeches.  Reading through other reviews I am very much in the minority with not enjoying this book so there's always the possibility I was just not in the right mood for this one.  

Would I Read More of this Series/Author? Maybe?  I might pick up the next book in this series but it won't be on the top of my TBR.

Would I Recommend this Book?  If you love historical mysteries you might want to give this a try.  It didn't work for me but the concept is fun so it may be worth a try.

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

Saturday, November 11, 2023

The Turn of the Screw - Classic Mystery Review

Goodreads:  The Turn of the Screw by Henry James

Rating: Just Okay (2 Stars)
Source:   Purchased

Description:  A very young woman's first job: governess for two weirdly beautiful, strangely distant, oddly silent children, Miles and Flora, at a forlorn estate... An estate haunted by a beckoning evil. Half-seen figures who glare from dark towers and dusty windows- silent, foul phantoms who, day by day, night by night, come closer, ever closer. With growing horror, the helpless governess realizes the fiendish creatures want the children, seeking to corrupt their bodies, possess their minds, own their souls. But worse-much worse- the governess discovers that Miles and Flora have no terror of the lurking evil. For they want the walking dead as badly as the dead want them.

Genre: Classic - Horror

Why I Picked This Book:  This is a classic which I have seen referenced many times as being a scary story - and to be honest the page count wasn't terrifying.

My Impression: This is my first book by Henry James and the main thing I learned is that Henry James never met an adjective he couldn't throw into a description.  I couldn't help but compare this to Wilkie Collins' Woman in White which is the other creepy classic I have read in the last few years.  But while Collins' descriptions were rich and vivid, James' left me a bit confused and distracted me from the plot.  

The story itself is creepy with sinister apparitions, an isolated estate, and children who are a bit too angelic.  However, I found that the plot frequently got lost as James spend more of his time illustrating the housekeeper's handwringing or the governess's mental diatribes.  

This would perhaps be fantastic in play form as I did enjoy the story but I don't think Henry James is the author for me.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author? Probably not.  While I did enjoy the basic plot the writing style wasn't for me.  

Would I Recommend this Book?  Unless you really want to read this I would suggest a play or audio adaptation.  The story is good but the writing style hasn't aged well for casual reading.

Friday, November 10, 2023

Friday Fives - Five Short Reviews for Series I'm Reading

I'm taking a bit of a break from my usual Friday Linkups to try something a little different.  I'm in a list making kind of mood so I thought I'd start making random five lists.  Sometimes they'll be bookish other weeks not so much.  I'm working on catching up on series and decided to put a few reviews of them all together here.

1.  Crowned and Moldering by Kate Carlisle - I really enjoy this series and this was no exception.  Shannon has finally started working on renovating Mac's home when she and her crew find an unpleasant surprise in the dumb waiter - skeletal remains.  This hits close to home for one of Shannon's employees.  Sean's older sister, Lily, went missing when they were all in high school never to be heard from again.  As the police and Shannon dig into Lily's disappearance and life old secrets come to life.  While I usually am not a fan of adults living in high school drama other than Shannon and Whitney's arch nemesis relationship (not my favorite part of the series) this is more digging back into old memories which worked well.  I did find a teacher/student relationship to be a bit of an ick but it was pretty minor.  My Rating: Really Liked It (4 Stars)

2.  Dolled Up for Murder by Jane K. Cleland - I've really enjoyed the last couple of books in this series.  The first few books weren't the strongest but the last few have been really delightful cozies.  Josie is appraising a doll collection which is complicated by the fact that one of the people who wants to buy the collection is under investigation for running a Ponzi scheme.  When the woman is shot in the parking lot right in front of Josie and one of Josie's employees is kidnapped the investigation is on.  I really enjoyed the investigation and was fascinated by history of the dolls and how the author tied them into the investigation.  I'm looking forward to reading the next book in the series! My Rating: Really Liked It (4 Stars)

3.  Beer and Loathing by Ellie Alexander - I enjoyed this latest Sloan Kraus book.  This was kind of a surprise book as the series technically ended on the previous book but the author got so many requests from fans that she brought it back and self-published this new entry into the series.  Why the previous books have focused on Sloan's family and her past this book focuses more on Garrett's.  We meet his family and get to know a bit more about his life back in Seattle.  The mystery involves the local hospital which isn't an element of Leavenworth that we've seen much of in previous books.  While this wasn't my favorite in the series I did really enjoy it.  Alexander's writing is well paced and never fails to pull me in to the story.  My Rating: Really Liked It (4 Stars)

4.  Lethal Treasure by Jane K. Cleland - I enjoyed the previous book in the series so much that I couldn't wait very long to pick up the next book.  This book was just as enjoyable with Josie bidding on storage units and discovering a mystery and a murder along the way.  I found the investigation of the silent movie posters and other contents of the storage locker almost as fascinating as the murder investigation though both kept me hooked.  I was a bit meh on this series at the beginning but I've really enjoyed these most recent books and am already looking forward to the next one.  If you enjoy cozy mysteries and like a bit of history this is a great series to try. My Rating: Really Liked It (4 Stars)

5.  Assault and Pepper by Leslie Budewitz - I've read all of this author's Food Village mystery series and really enjoyed them so I was super excited to start this series involving a Seattle Spice Shop.  I did love the Seattle setting which was really worked into the feel of the book and not just window dressing and I loved all the spice talk.  The mystery was intriguing with lots of possible suspects and motives and did keep me guessing especially for the why until the very end.  My only real issue is that there were a lot of side characters from those in Pepper's life to the fixtures at Pike Place Market to those in the victim's life and a few others.  At times and especially at the end I had a hard time remembering who everyone was though this didn't impact my understanding of how the mystery itself played out.  My Rating: Liked It! (3.5 Stars)

Thursday, November 9, 2023

Books from the Backlog - How to Find Love in a Bookshop

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:  How to Find Love in a Bookshop by Veronica Henry

Blurb:  Nightingale Books, nestled on the main street in an idyllic little village, is a dream come true for book lovers--a cozy haven and welcoming getaway for the literary-minded locals. But owner Emilia Nightingale is struggling to keep the shop open after her beloved father's death, and the temptation to sell is getting stronger. The property developers are circling, yet Emilia's loyal customers have become like family, and she can't imagine breaking the promise she made to her father to keep the store alive.
There's Sarah, owner of the stately Peasebrook Manor, who has used the bookshop as an escape in the past few years, but it now seems there's a very specific reason for all those frequent visits. Next is roguish Jackson, who, after making a complete mess of his marriage, now looks to Emilia for advice on books for the son he misses so much. And the forever shy Thomasina, who runs a pop-up restaurant for two in her tiny cottage--she has a crush on a man she met in the cookbook section, but can hardly dream of working up the courage to admit her true feelings.

Enter the world of Nightingale Books for a serving of romance, long-held secrets, and unexpected hopes for the future--and not just within the pages on the shelves. How to Find Love in a Bookshop is the delightful story of Emilia, the unforgettable cast of customers whose lives she has touched, and the books they all cherish.

Why It Needs to Come Off the Shelf: It looks like a lovely fall read and it has been sitting on my shelf for far too long.

Wednesday, November 8, 2023

Twilight Falls - Cozy Mystery Review

Goodreads:  Twilight Falls (A Shady Hollow Mystery #4) by Juneau Black

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

Description:   It's spring in Shady Hollow, and romance is in the air. Even reporter Vera Vixen is caught up in the season as her relationship with new police chief Orville Braun blossoms. But true love is not always smooth sailing, as two of the hollow's young residents come to find. Jonah Atwater and Stasia von Beaverpelt find themselves battling their families in order to be together. And when Alan's father, Shelby, goes over the top of Twilight Falls, all signs point to Stasia being the murderer.

The evidence against Stasia appears overwhelming, and Orville arrests her. It looks like the case is closed, but Vera isn't so sure. There are almost too many clues indicating Stasia is the killer, leading her to suspect someone is setting Stasia up. Besides, what about the mysterious ghostly creature skulking around town at night? Maybe he or she was involved? As Vera investigates further, her sleuthing puts her in direct opposition to Orville, and soon she's stirred up a hornet's nest of trouble.

Genre: Mystery - Cozy    

Why I Picked This Book:  How could I resist that blurb and cover?

My Impression:  This may be the coziest cozy mystery I've ever read.  It's as if the world of Little Bear all grew up and added in some murder.  Our main character is Vera Vixen a curious fox who lives in a cozy little cottage and is an investigative reporter - who also happens to be dating the chief of police, Orville Braun, who is a bear.  I loved the variety of animals that inhabit the world of Shady Hollows and just the mental imagery while reading this book made me incredibly happy and cozy.

The mystery was a good one.  A murder is committed in almost plain sight and the killer's identity seems obvious - except maybe things aren't exactly how they seem.  Vera isn't about to go with the easy answer if it doesn't feel right and I did enjoy the investigation.

I usually prefer to start a series on the first one and I think not doing that with this one did take down my enjoyment of it a bit.  There is a pretty big community of characters to keep straight and this isn't the fastest paced of stories.  I think both issues would have been resolved if I had started the series with book one - an issue I fully intend to remedy.

This is a cozy read with a unique twist on the usual small town cozy mystery.  I definitely recommend starting with the first book as I think I would have been more invested in the characters so the pace wouldn't have been an issue and I would have an easier time keeping track of who is who.  This is only the 4th book in the series and despite the pace it is a fairly quick read so it would be easy to catch up with the series - if you are looking for a cozy fun read with a good mystery.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author? I would!  This book didn't exactly knock my socks off but I did enjoy it and I think the setup has a lot of potential.

Would I Recommend this Book?  This is definitely a cozy series worth trying if you're looking for a light read with a cozy feel though I do think it would be best to start with the first book.

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

Tuesday, November 7, 2023

Top Ten Tuesday - Book Titles That Would Make Great Headlines

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 Book Titles That Would Make Good Headlines.  It's been awhile since I've actually read a newspaper but if these book titles were headlines I would definitely want to read the article!  Really this should probably just be titles that make me want to read the book but it loosely fits this topic.  

1.  The Mysterious Bakery on Rue De Paris by Evie Gaughan - Why is it mysterious?  Can just the average customer tell that it's mysterious or do you have to spend a lot of time there to feel the mysteries?  And most importantly - how is the pastry?

2.  Stirring the Pot with Benjamin Franklin: A Founding Father's Culinary Adventures by Rea Katherine Eighmey - This sounds like a very entertaining foodie column where Benjamin Franklin is going around causing trouble with recipes.  The book also sounds pretty interesting.

3.  Miss Dimple Disappears by Mignon F. Ballard - What happened to Miss Dimple??  I would be looking for follow up articles.

4.  The Case of the Murderous Dr. Cream by Dean Jobb - I actually have this book on the shelf now but I would be going down Google rabbit holes if this was a headline.

5.  Murder Off the Beaten Path by M.L. Rowland - I do love a good crime story and anything involving a murder definitely makes me want to read the article.

6.  The Last Pirate of New York by Rich Cohen - Pirates are another thing that interest me and this is a story I definitely want to know.

7.  The Llama of Death by Betty Webb - How could you not read an article with this headline?  I now really want to read this book.  

8.  The Great Peal Heist by Molly Caldwell Crosby - I do love a good heist and I want all the details of this one!

9.  Murder in the Family by Cara Hunter - Another crime title and another one that would pull me in and have me reading the article.

10. Esme Cahill Fails Spectacularly by Marie Bostwick - You can't help but want to know what Esme did and how was the failure so spectacular?    

What books do you want to read that have titles that would make good headlines?