Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Double Grudge Donuts - Cozy Mystery Review

Goodreads: Double Grudge Donuts (Deputy Donuts Mystery #8) by Ginger Bolton

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

Description:  The countdown is on as Deputy Donut CafĂ© owner Emily Westhill gets ready for married life. But before she takes the plunge, she’ll need to poke a hole in a deadly criminal’s plans . . .

When the Fallingbrook Arts Festival rolls into town weeks before she’s set to tie the knot, Emily expects talent and friendly competition at the week-long summer series to go together like coffee and double fudge. But the fun crumbles fast after a lively bagpiper takes first place on day one and turns heads for the wrong reasons—all before Emily and her tabby cat find him dead in a clear case of murder. Along with a distinctive weapon at the crime scene, several strategically placed items leave disturbing clues about the killer’s identity, including a broken piece of a Deputy Donut mug . . .

While detectives aren’t sure who silenced the bagpiper’s music, they don’t trust Emily or her family to tell the truth. With her nuptials and career on the line, Emily launches an unsettling investigation to save herself from trouble and bring a dangerous figure to justice. The search not only brings too many suspects into the picture, but also leads to a strange discovery on Deputy Donut’s rooftop. A discovery that tells Emily she better get cooking, because someone may be watching her every move . . . and carefully plotting to turn a wedding into a funeral!

Genre: Mystery - Cozy

Why I Picked This Book:  I really enjoyed the previous book in the series so obviously I had to pick up the next book.

My Impression: I was so glad to get back to Emily's world with Dep the cat, her employees at Deputy Donut, her friends and family and of course lots of donut mentions!   The victim is basically ambushing musical performers with bagpipes so no one is sad to see him go but it makes for a fun read to figure out just who was pushed over the edge.  Other than the rogue bagpipe player most of the people who make up Emily's world are nice and people  I would actually want to spend time with.

I also like that Emily has common sense.  She's strongly connected with the police and communicates theories and listens to cautions.  It's refreshing after reading a number of mysteries with To Stupid To Live characters.  She also doesn't jump to conclusions like its her job which is another refreshing trait.  

The mystery itself is well done with an unlikable victim and a surplus of suspects.  I enjoyed the journey and this is a series I'm really looking forward to going back and reading from the beginning.  If you like a foodie cozies with a likable cast of characters this series is a must try - though you will want donuts before you're more than 20 pages in!

Would I Read More of this Series/Author? Absolutely!  I've enjoyed both books that I've read in the series and I'm looking forward to going back and reading the series from the beginning.  I'll also be looking for the next book!

Would I Recommend this Book?  If you enjoy foodie cozies this series is definitely one I would recommend.  While I'm sure it's better read in order you can jump in anywhere without too much trouble.

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

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Ill-Fated Fortune - Cozy Mystery Review

Goodreads: Ill-Fated Fortune (A Magical Fortune Cookie Mystery #1) by Jennifer J. Chow

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

Description:  Felicity Jin grew up literally hanging onto Mom’s apron strings in their magical bakery in the quaint town of Pixie, California. Her mother’s enchanted baked goods, including puffy pineapple buns and creamy egg tarts, bring instant joy to all who consume them. Felicity has always been hesitant in the kitchen herself after many failed attempts, but a takeout meal gone wrong inspires her to craft some
handmade fortune cookies.

They become so popular that Felicity runs out of generic fortunes and starts making her own personalized predictions. When one customer’s ill-fated fortune results in his murder, Felicity’s suspiciously specific fortune has the police focusing on her as the main culprit. Now Felicity must find a way to turn her luck around and get cleared from suspicion...

Genre: Mystery - Cozy

Why I Picked This Book:  I can never resist the first book in a new cozy series and this one sounded really fun.

My Impression: This was a fun start to a new cozy series set in a little corner of a little town in California that has more than its share of magic.  Felicity is struggling to come to terms with her talent and where she fits in her family's legacy as well as figure out just what she wants and how she wants to live her life.  This could easily her into an angsty or immature main character but while she is definitely young and a bit impulsive she keeps on the right sign of that character line.  I couldn't help but sympathize and root for her.  The magic element is strong in the bakery and in the other areas in Felicity's life which I really enjoyed.

I enjoyed the mystery.  The victim was a dreadful man and figuring out who disliked him enough to want him dead was an entertaining read.  I loved the bits about baking though it did want me to go find a homemade fortune cookie and get a pineapple bun and an egg tart!  

I've been wanting to read this author's mysteries for awhile and I'm glad I picked up the first book in this series.  It was a fun mystery with a likable cast and a unique twist.  I'm looking forward to reading the next book in the series.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author? Absolutely!  I enjoyed this book and am looking forward to seeing how the series develops. 

Would I Recommend this Book? Yes!  This is the first book in the series so the pacing gets slowed down a bit by the setup but if you enjoy cozies with a magical element this is a must read.

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

Monday, February 19, 2024

A Smoking Bun - Cozy Mystery Review

Goodreads: A Smoking Bun (A Bakeshop Mystery #18) by Ellie Alexander

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

Description:  The mountains are calling in Ashland, Oregon, where pastry chef turned amateur sleuth, Jules Capshaw, is baking up a bevy of spiced curry buns and chai cookies for a moonlit snowshoe tour. Ramiro’s family is visiting from Spain and Jules can’t wait to take them up to her beloved Mount A with its charming and rustic lodge, backcountry trails, and star-filled skies that stretch for miles. Their winter wonderland adventure is nothing short of magical and the merry party opts to return to the slope the next day for the Downhill Dummy.

The annual competition is a favorite amongst snow lovers. Contestants strap makeshift dummies to skis and send them hurling down a death-defying ski jump in hopes of catching big air. The team at Torte is in the mix this year with their own replica of a tiered cake and a baker who closely resembles their fearless leader. It’s a fun and festive atmosphere as dummies sail past the crowd to huge cheers and applause. Until one of the dummies takes a deadly detour and lands atop Fitz Baskin.

Fitz is a guide on the mountain and his icy dealings have made for frosty relationships with everyone he encounters. Suddenly there are more suspects than snowdrifts as Jules dives into the investigation. She unearths a web of secrets and motives that threaten to shake the rustic mountain lodge to its core. Can she catch the killer before they strike again, or will the truth be buried forever under fluffy layers of fresh snow?

Genre:  Mystery - Cozy

Why I Picked This Book:  This is one of my favorite cozy series so I pick up the newest book without even glancing at the blurb.

My Impression:  I have enjoyed pretty much every book in this series and this was no exception.  The mountains have long been a background of this series and skiing is frequently mentioned as Jules' long time barista is a big fan of snowboarding.  However, this is the first book where the ski resort has really been front and center in the mystery.  In fact, Jules and family come into contact with the victim when on a nighttime snowshoeing tour.  

The victim is not a likable guy.  Instead, its kind of amazing that he managed to survive long enough to get offed fairly early in the book.  I enjoyed following along for the investigation with Jules and spending time with the usual Torte crew as well as Lance and the other Ashland residents.  As well, I enjoyed spending more time with Ramiro and his family.

While you can easily jump into this series at any point it is best read in order as the relationships of the characters is very important.  As well, this series has the cozy mystery tendency to have a lot of side stuff going on.  We see Jules bake, spend time with Ramiro's family, spend time at Torte and go on adventures through Ashland.  While this is an absolute delight to long-time readers I imagine it could be a bit tedious if you are coming into the series part way through.  

This was a fun read in a thoroughly enjoyable series.  I was pulled into the book from the first page to the end and this is proving to be a series that never disappoints.  

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

Would I Recommend this Book? If you are a cozy mystery fan this is an absolute must read series - though I do recommend starting from the beginning.

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

Saturday, February 17, 2024

Library Loves - The Cinderella Murder Review

Goodreads:  The Cinderella Murder (Under Suspicion #2) by Mary Higgins Clark and Alafair Burke

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

Description:  Television producer Laurie Moran is delighted when the pilot for her reality drama, Under Suspicion, is a success. Even more, the program—a cold case series that revisits unsolved crimes by recreating them with those affected—is off to a fantastic start when it helps solve an infamous murder in the very first episode.

Now Laurie has the ideal case to feature in the next episode ofUnder Suspicion: the Cinderella Murder. When Susan Dempsey, a beautiful and multi-talented UCLA student, was found dead, her murder raised numerous questions. Why was her car parked miles from her body? Had she ever shown up for the acting audition she was due to attend at the home of an up-and-coming director? Why does Susan’s boyfriend want to avoid questions about their relationship? Was her disappearance connected to a controversial church that was active on campus? Was she close to her computer science professor because of her technological brilliance, or something more? And why was Susan missing one of her shoes when her body was discovered?

With the help of lawyer and Under Suspicion host Alex Buckley, Laurie knows the case will attract great ratings, especially when the former suspects include Hollywood’s elite and tech billionaires. The suspense and drama are perfect for the silver screen—but is Cinderella’s murderer ready for a close-up?

Genre: Mystery 

Why I Picked This Book:  I'm trying to read through the books on my Library list and last year I did a random number pick and this was one of them.  This was the only book left over from 2023 so of course I had to get it read!

My Impression:  It's been a long time since I've read anything by Mary Higgins Clark but I used to love her books.  This was an entertaining read with a better plot than I remember Clark's books having.   The premise of this series is one that really calls to me as the main character is the producer of a true crime that focuses on cold cases.  The characters on the production team are primarily nice people (with the exception of Brett who is a bit overly slick) and intelligent and I liked them all.

The people involved in the long ago murder are not quite so likable and they all have their secrets - but are any of them a killer?  I enjoyed following along and seeing the story unravel from multiple angles.  The writing style kept the intensity low so while it does deal with violence it felt like a light read with a good pace.  I will be reading more books from this writing duo and while I had no issue jumping in with the second book in this series I'm looking forward to going back and reading the first book.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author? I would.  This was a fun read and I think I would enjoy more from this writing duo.

Would I Recommend this Book? If you're looking for a fast read with an entertaining mystery this is a good one.

Friday, February 16, 2024

Friday Five - Short Reviews for Series I'm Currently 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.  Ornaments of Death by Jane K. Cleland - I love this series about Antique store business owner Josie Prescott and this was a fun Christmas-y read - with a side of murder and intrigue of course.  Josie loves her life but has always missed having family so she's thrilled when a man from the UK contacts her showing that they are distant cousins and even more thrilled when he comes for a visit.  This leads into an investigation into valuable 17th century miniatures and just what is going on with her new found family.  I enjoyed this one and the ending was sweet and heartwarming.  I was glad to see Josie spending more time back at work and seeing more of Gretchen, Sasha and the rest of the Prescott team.  As usual I'm looking forward to the next book!  My Rating: Liked It! (3.5 Stars)

2.  Winter's End by Paige Shelton - This is the 4th book in the cozy-ish mystery series about Beth Rivers who after surviving a violent attack has moved to Alaska to hide and to recover.  This series tackles issues that are a bit more violent than we normally see in a cozy but not in a graphic way so I've never had an issue with it.  This book starts as winter is coming to an end in Benedict, Alaska and the community is starting to come out of hibernation.  A generations long feud between two family is also coming out of hibernation leading to a complex and interesting series of events including a murder.  I've enjoyed this series and I'm intrigued by a few long running story arcs which I was glad to see.  While I like Beth she did cross the line into too stupid to live behavior several times in this series for no real reason other than general nosiness.  This is a series best read in order and while Beth did drive me crazy a few times I did enjoy this one.  My Rating:  Liked It! (3.5 Stars)

3.  Button Holed by Kylie Logan -
I'm a big fan of cozies and I love a unique career but a button collector is definitely a new one for me.  But who knew buttons could be so interesting - or help solve a murder.  Josie is an interesting main character - she's smart and a bit nerdy but also a little insecure.  I really love that she leans hard into her love for buttons and doesn't try to hide it.  The mystery involves the murder of a celebrity complete with assistants to assistants and paparazzi.  I figured out a few little things but was really surprised by the overall reveal.  I'm looking forward to reading more of this series and following more of Josie's adventures.  My Rating: Really Liked It (4 Stars)

4.  A Death Long Overdue by Eva Gates -
It's been awhile since I've read this series and I'm so glad I've gotten back to it.  This was such a fun read.  I was so glad to catch up with Lucy, Bertie, Charles, Connor, and even Louise Jane who is up to her usual tricks trying to summon the spirits of those long past.  It was kind of fun to see what this graduating class of librarians had gotten up to since their graduation and how the may or may not have interacted with the victim.  I was hooked on the mystery and thoroughly enjoyed my time with Lucy and all the people in her world.  My Rating: Really Liked It (4 Stars)

5. Murder with Peacocks by Donna Andrews -
This book was absolutely bananas in the most fun of ways.  I've absolutely fallen in love with the later books in the series and while I did read this book in 2011 I remember very little about it and decided I needed to go back and start from the beginning of the series.  Meg is having a summer of challenges with three very different brides with three very different ideas of what they want and she is Maid of Honor and general fixer for each wedding.  Throw in a dead body and the chaos is at max levels.  Oh and there's peacocks who have a tendency to shriek and molt, a dog with serious anger issues, and a kitten.  I thoroughly enjoyed this light quick read.  There are a lot of characters which can sometimes get a bit confusing but as long as you remember Meg and Michael and the names of the different brides you're pretty much good.  The series has definitely come a long way since this first book and I'm looking forward to reading the next book in the series.  My Rating: Really Liked It (4 Stars)

Thursday, February 15, 2024

Books from the Backlog - The Forever Girl

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 Forever Girl by Jill Shalvis

Blurb:  When Maze returns to Wildstone for the wedding of her estranged bff and the sister of her heart, it’s also a reunion of a once ragtag team of teenagers who had only each other until a tragedy tore them apart and scattered them wide.
Now as adults together again in the lake house, there are secrets and resentments mixed up in all the amazing childhood memories. Unexpectedly, they instantly fall back into their roles: Maze their reckless leader, Cat the den mother, Heather the beloved baby sister, and Walker, a man of mystery.

Life has changed all four of them in immeasurable ways. Maze and Cat must decide if they can rebuild their friendship, and Maze discovers her long-held attraction to Walker hasn’t faded with the years but has only grown stronger.

Why It Needs to Come Off the Shelf:  I'm trying to get caught up on this author's books as I had kind of forgotten how much I enjoyed them.  Also, I'm cold and the cover looks gloriously spring-y (and there are dogs in the bike basket).

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

The Last Word - Cozy Mystery Review

Goodreads: The Last Word by Gerri Lewis

Rating: Liked It (3 Stars)
Source:   Publisher

Description:  Obituary writer Winter Snow is no stranger to grief, and writing obituaries for the citizens of Ridgefield, Connecticut, is her way of providing comfort to those who have been in her shoes. But funerals and eulogies are meant for the dead, so when the very much alive Leocadia Arlington requests her own obituary by the end of the week, Winter’s curiosity is piqued. Even more so when she finds Mrs. Arlington dead soon after. Officer Kip Michaels and his relentless partner Tom Bellini make it clear that Winter is under suspicion for the death.

Drafting an obituary for someone who hadn’t died yet certainly looks bad, but Winter knows that it wasn’t her, and she becomes obsessed with trying to figure out the real killer. She dives headfirst into the investigation to give Mrs. Arlington and herself some peace. When Winter realizes Mrs. Arlington was working on a revealing memoir that has now gone missing, Winter begins to wonder if the death wasn’t exactly random–accident or otherwise.

With the help of her foodie Uncle Richard, her wise octogenarian neighbor Horace, her best friend Scoop, and Diva, the Great Pyrenees puppy she inherited from Mrs. Arlington, Winter must uncover the killer before the next obituary written is her own.

Genre: Mystery - Cozy

Why I Picked This Book:  The first in a new cozy series, a dog on the cover, and unusual job for the main character - how could I resist?

My Impression: There was a lot I liked about this series.  I like Winter's close relationship with her uncle and her friend Scoop's ability to find out all kinds of information.  I have a serious weakness for Great Pyrenees and I love books involving digging into someone's past.   Winter's profession of writing obituaries is an interesting one and works well for amateur sleuthing.  The mystery itself was an interesting one that did make me guess a bit and I enjoyed Winter's investigation.

That said I found the pacing on this one a bit slow.  I understand that there's a decent amount of world building that needs to be done in the first book in the series but this skirted the line into tedious at times.   I felt a bit like I was being told what Winter was doing instead of following along with her.  

I like the premise and the characters enough to pick up the next book in the series and I'm just hoping the pacing there will be a bit faster.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author? I will definitely give the series another try.

Would I Recommend this Book?  Yes with some caveats about the pacing.

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

Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Top Ten Tuesday - Seven Things That Will Make Me Fall in Love with a Book and 3 That Won't

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 romance freebie so I'm looking at 7 things that will make me fall in love with a book (and 3 things that won't).

1.  Old Things - The old things can be houses, or antiques, or clothes, or books or just about anything but if the history of an item or location is involved I'm usually going to love a book.

2.  Characters that bring out the best in each other - I love relationships between characters where they really prop each other up and bring out the best in each other.   The type of relationship doesn't matter but if I see this aspect of a relationship between characters I get warm fuzzy feelings.

3.  A Bookish Career - I love when a character has a bookish career - be it selling books, checking books out, cataloging books, writing books, or any thing else.  If the character talks about books I'm a happy reader.

4.  A Book with a Storyline I can't Wait to Get Back To - If I'm listening to an audio book and I start coming up with cleaning projects so I can keep listening or if I'm tempted to go hide in a corner with a book for "just one more minute" when I really should be doing other things then I know I'm loving the book.

5.  A Book I Want to Talk About - This happens especially with nonfiction.  If a book really hooks me and I find myself thinking about it when I'm not reading I can't help but talk about it which is a sign I've definitely fallen in love.

6.  A Book That Breaks My Heart but Gives Me Hope - I tend to avoid books that are sad or cover really heavy topics but every once in awhile I pick up a book that makes me cry but I'm smiling by the end and I just know that book will end up on my Keeper Shelf.

7.  Ghosts - This kind of plays in with the first item of old things but I do love a book that involves a good ghost story.  I can't resist a book with a bit of history and a bit of spookiness.

Things That Will Cause Me To Fall Out of Love With a Book:

1.  Adultery - Especially if it's a romance and one of the main characters is involved in a relationship with someone else.  I just can't root for an HEA.

2.  Lack of Communication - Be it mystery or romance or fiction when characters make giant leaps or assumptions and refuse just to talk to each other even though it would make everything so much easier it drives me crazy!

3.  To Stupid to Live Behavior  - I read a mystery recently when the main character broke into the house of a trigger happy family to snoop for no real reason and it took my enjoyment of the book down by at least a star.  All I could do was cringe.  

What will make you fall in love with a book?  Or out of love with a book?

Monday, February 12, 2024

The Lantern's Dance - Historical Mystery Review

Goodreads: The Lantern's Dance (Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes #18) by Laurie R. King

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

Description:  After their recent adventures in Transylvania, Russell and Holmes look forward to spending time with Holmes' son, the famous artist Damian Adler, and his family. But when they arrive at Damian’s house, they discover that the Adlers have fled from a mysterious threat.

Holmes rushes after Damian while Russell, slowed down by a recent injury, stays behind to search the empty house. In Damian’s studio, she discovers four crates packed with memorabilia related to Holmes’ grand-uncle, the artist Horace Vernet. It’s an odd mix of treasures and clutter, including a tarnished silver lamp with a rotating an antique yet sophisticated form of zoetrope, fitted with strips of paper whose images dance with the lantern’s spin.

In the same crate is an old journal written in a nearly impenetrable code. Intrigued, Russell sets about deciphering the intricate cryptograph, slowly realizing that each entry is built around an image—the first of which is a child, bundled into a carriage by an abductor, watching her mother recede from view.

Russell is troubled, then entranced, but each entry she decodes brings more questions. Who is the young woman who created this elaborate puzzle? What does she have to do with Damian, or the Vernets—or the threat hovering over the house?

The secrets of the past appear to be reaching into the present. And it seems increasingly urgent that Russell figure out how the journal and lantern are related to Damian—and possibly to Sherlock Holmes himself.

Could there be things about his own history that even the master detective does not perceive?

Genre: Mystery - Historical

Why I Picked This Book:  I've read and really enjoyed other books in this series so of course I couldn't pass up this newest book.  

My Impression: I have been reading this series since the first book came out and have always enjoyed it.  This book might just be my favorite.  I normally don't enjoy when Holmes and Russell are separated but in this case it really worked and I found each POV equally compelling.  As well was the POV of the journal entries that reveal the life of a vivid and extraordinary character.  This completely hooked me as I was fascinated by the story and was looking for clues to see just how the stories would come together.  

The mystery was one that kept me guessing and I enjoyed Holmes' more active role played against Russell's more research role.  I really enjoyed digging more into Holmes' past as well as learning more about Damian's.  Holmes and Russell are both characters that I have come to feel like I know and I always enjoy checking in with them.  Pair this with an interesting and compelling mystery and this made for a story that I didn't want to put down and was sad to see the end arrive.  

If you enjoy mysteries and like some history mixed in this is a book I think most readers would enjoy.  While all series are better read in order I do think this is a book that you could jump into here (though this is not always the case for this series) and get caught up in the story.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author? Absolutely!  This is a series I always enjoy and one I'd really like to go back and reread from the beginning.

Would I Recommend this Book? I would recommend this book and this series.  Even if you're not a fan of the original Holmes books this is a fantastic mystery series.

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

Saturday, February 10, 2024

This Week in Reading - February 11

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:

Speculations in Sin by Jennifer Ashley - I really enjoyed the first few books in the series but then kind of neglected it for a bit.  I'm really enjoying getting caught up and I can't wait to read this latest book.  (Publisher)

Revved Up 4 Murder by J.C. Eaton - I love this fun and quirky cozy mystery series so of course I couldn't resist picking this newest one up! (Publisher)

Four-Alarm Homicide by Diane Kelly - I've enjoyed the previous books in this series and this one sounds like a fun cozy mystery.  (Publisher)

Booked on Murder by Allison Brook - This is one of my favorite cozy mystery series and I can't wait to read this one!  (Publisher)


Reading The Last Word by Gerri Lewis and House of Shadows by Nicola Cornick

Listening:  The Pleasures of Passion by Sabrina Jeffries

I am not sad to see the end of January.  It was a bit of a crazy month.  So far February is proving a lot calmer.

We got Will's yearly scans out of the way and all of his bloodwork came back perfect so he is officially 1 year cancer free.  He was at a birthday party the weekend before we had to go to Memphis for the bloodwork and he was running around in the woods with all the other kids and I couldn't help but get a bit teary.

I had my first turn at jury duty a few weeks ago and ended up on a civil trial involving a residential swimming pool.  I now know way more about contract law and building swimming pools than I ever wanted to know but the experience was interesting.

I hope everyone has a fantastic week and happy reading!

The Mysterious Affair at Styles - Classic Mystery Review

Goodreads: The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie

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

Description:  Agatha Christie's debut novel was also the first to feature Hercule Poirot, her famously eccentric Belgian detective.

A refugee of the Great War, Poirot has settled in England near Styles Court, the country estate of his wealthy benefactor, the elderly Emily Inglethorp. When Emily is poisoned and the authorities are baffled, Poirot puts his prodigious sleuthing skills to work. Suspects are plentiful, including the victim’s much younger husband, her resentful stepsons, her longtime hired companion, a young family friend working as a nurse, and a London specialist on poisons who just happens to be visiting the nearby village.

All of them have secrets they are desperate to keep, but none can outwit Poirot as he navigates the ingenious red herrings and plot twists that contribute to Agatha Christie's well-deserved reputation as the queen of mystery.

Genre: Mystery - Classic

Why I Picked This Book:  I'm doing the Read Christie 2024 Challenge from Agatha Christie Ltd and this was the first pick.

My Impression: I think every time I reread this book I enjoy it and appreciate it more.  There's something a bit thriller about reading Hercule Poirot's debut on the printed page and it gives me a little shiver every time.  This is the first of what will become a classic Christie mystery.  There is a variety of characters with varying amount of means and motive and so many threads to unravel.

This isn't the fastest paced mystery but it is entertaining from start to finish and keeps me guessing even though I know the end.  I love seeing how Poirot's mind works and the exchanges between him and Hastings are always wonderful.  This is such a good mystery with fantastic detective work and is the world's introduction to Hercule Poirot, Captain Hastings, and Inspector Japp.  

Would I Read More of this Series/Author? Of course!  I always enjoy reading a Christie mystery!

Would I Recommend this Book? Definitely!  If you enjoy mysteries than you absolutely need to read this one.  

Friday, February 9, 2024

Friday Fives - Books on My TBR I Just Know I'm Going to Love

 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 February is the month of Valentine's Day I'm focusing on love, romance and warm and fuzzy feelings.  Today I'm looking at 5 books on my TBR that I just know I'm going to love (now fingers crossed I do!).

1.  Tara Road by Maeve Binchy - I have read a few books by Maeve Binchy though not nearly enough and every book has been wonderfully warm and cozy.

2.  When the Lights Go Out by Mary Kubica - I listened to another book by this author and absolutely loved it.  This sounds even better and I can't wait to read it.

3.  The Shadow of the Wind by Carols Ruiz Zafon - I'm not sure I've read a bad review of this book and I love the cover and the premise so what can go wrong?

4.  Tiny Little Thing by Beatriz Williams - I read the first book in the Schuyler Sisters series and really liked it and this looks like another bit of mid-century gorgeousness.

5.  A Skeleton in the Family by Leigh Perry - This is an older cozy series with a bit of a bonkers premise that I've heard fantastic things about.  Plus there's a dog on the cover so that right there is a good sign!

Have you read any of these?  What books are on your TBR that you just know you'll love?

Thursday, February 8, 2024

Books from the Backlog - Someone to Love

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:  Someone to Love by Mary Balogh

Blurb:  Anna Snow grew up in an orphanage in Bath knowing nothing of the family she came from. Now she discovers that the late Earl of Riverdale was her father and that she has inherited his fortune. She is also overjoyed to learn she has siblings. However, they want nothing to do with her or her attempts to share her new wealth. But the new earl’s guardian is interested in Anna…

Avery Archer, Duke of Netherby, keeps others at a distance. Yet something prompts him to aid Anna in her transition from orphan to lady. As London society and her newfound relatives threaten to overwhelm Anna, Avery steps in to rescue her and finds himself vulnerable to feelings and desires he has hidden so well and for so long.

Why It Needs to Come Off the Shelf:  Mary Balogh used to be a favorite author who I've been seriously neglecting for the last few years and this is the first in a series.

Wednesday, February 7, 2024

Fatal First Edition - Cozy Mystery Review

Goodreads: Fatal First Edition (A Library Lover's Mystery #14) by Jenn McKinlay

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

Description:  Briar Creek Library director Lindsey Norris and her husband, Sully, are at a popular library conference in Chicago to hear book restoration specialist Brooklyn Wainwright give a keynote address. After the lecture, Lindsey looks under her seat and finds a tote bag containing a first edition of Patricia Highsmith’s Strangers on a Train , inscribed to Alfred Hitchcock. Brooklyn determines the novel is one of a kind and quite valuable, so Lindsey and Sully return the book to the conference director, not wanting to stir up any trouble.

But just hours after the pair boards the train back to Connecticut, rumors that the Highsmith novel has gone missing buzz amongst the passengers, and they soon find the conference director murdered in his private compartment. And worse—the murderer planted the book in Lindsey and Sully’s room next door, making them prime suspects. Now, they must uncover the murderer and bring them to the end of their line, before they find themselves booked for a crime they didn’t commit.

Genre: Mystery - Cozy

Why I Picked This Book:  I really enjoy this series and so of course I had to pick this one up!

My Impression:  This was such a fun read!  I've really enjoyed this series so I'm always glad to visit Lindsey and Sully and the rest of the Briar Creek world.  This one was a bit different - the book starts with Lindsey and Sully at an archivist convention complete with appearance from Brooklyn Wainwright from Kate Carlisle's Bibliophile series.  Then there's a murder on a train, a stolen book, and other shenanigans.  Characters may or may not be who they say they are and a good time is had by the reader.

I flew through this book and couldn't wait to see how everything came together.  I guessed a few points but the bulk of the story kept me guessing.  My only complaint is that we didn't get quite enough Ms. (excuse me - Mayor) Cole or the rest of the library crew.  This was an entertaining read that I thoroughly enjoyed.  

Would I Read More of this Series/Author? Absolutely!  I really enjoy this author's books and this is my favorite series by her.

Would I Recommend this Book? Definitely!  If you're a cozy mystery lover you really should try this series and this book.  

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

Tuesday, February 6, 2024

Books On My Current To Buy List


I'm in a book buying mood and every once in awhile I like to go through my TBR wishlist and see what books are on the top of my To Buy list.  I'm not necessarily going to buy them all but I like seeing what is really catching my eye right now.

1.  One Night Gone by Tara Laskowski - This thriller has been on my TBR since it came out and I've been in a thriller-y kind of mood lately so it feels like the time.

2.  Unfollow Me by Charlotte Duckworth - Ditto above!

3.  The Mountains Wild by Sarah Stewart Taylor - This series has been really calling to me and I want t get started on it.  

4.  Other Birds by Sarah Addison Allen - I love this author's books but I haven't read as many as I'd like and this one sounds lovely.  

5.  The Last Heir to Blackwood Library by Hester Fox - The cover is gorgeous, the story sounds a bit Gothic-y and spooky and the title has the word library in it so I of course need to read it!

6.  The Golden Spoon by Jessica Maxwell - Apparently this book is like Great British Bake Off meets a murder mystery and that is two of my favorite things put together.

7.  The Spectacular by Fiona Davis - I've really enjoyed this author's books and this one sounds really interesting.  

8.  Mine Till Midnight by Lisa Kleypas - I've been getting back into historical romance and I really want to reread the Hathaway series and this is the first book in the series.  

9.  The Broken Girls by Simone St James - Another author I really love and this one is really calling to me.  

10. In the Hall with a Knife by Diana Peterfreund - Apparently this is a YA mystery series based on the game Clue.  I don't normally read YA but I can't resist something based off of Clue and this looks fun.

What books are on your To Buy List currently?

Monday, February 5, 2024

Fur Love or Money - Cozy Mystery Review

Goodreads: Fur Love or Money (Second Chance Cat Mystery #2) by Sofie Ryan

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

Description:  Sarah Grayson is taking a break from her bustling secondhand shop in small-town Maine to spend time with a friend and her dog. But their purr-fect visit comes to an end when the dog leads them to a storm cellar on a nearby property, where they discover a dead body.The deceased turns out to be a sticky-fingered financial adviser who swindled millions from investors and who has been presumed dead for almost three years. Unfortunately, suspicion falls on the owner of the property where the body was found—and that owner is a good friend of Charlotte’s Angels’, the senior citizen sleuths who work out of Sarah’s shop. It’s all paws on deck, as the Angels are determined to clear his good name. But with a tight-lipped widow, a possibly shifty sister, and a slew of unhappy investors in the mix, the list of murder suspects seems endless. Sarah, Elvis, and the Angels have a lot of webs to untangle before they can catch the culprit.

Genre: Mystery - Cozy

Why I Picked This Book:  This is one of my favorite cozy mystery series so I couldn't resist picking up the latest book.

My Impression:  I really enjoy this series and this was a fun one!  When Sarah and Rose stumble onto a body who ends up having a very sketchy history they're quickly pulled into the investigation - once they have a client of course.  

Sarah, Mac, Avery and the Angels are busy with the investigation and Sarah's shop and I think I enjoy both aspects of the story equally.  Avery especially is becoming one of my favorite characters.  While she's still a teenager with plenty of attitude she is growing in confidence and finding her footing.  I always enjoy seeing Sarah interact with Rose, Charlotte and Mr. P and I'm quite sure when I grow up I want to be just like Liz.  My only real issue with the characters is that while I love Mac his and Sarah's relationship just doesn't quite click for me.  I feel like the author is still leaving the door a bit open for Nick and I'm hoping that's not the case.  

I really enjoyed the mystery.  The victim definitely had a number of people who wanted him dead but there were some real questions as to just who had the opportunity.  I did guess most of what happened before Sarah did but I thoroughly enjoyed getting to the reveal.
This series has a lot of characters and while each mystery is standalone it is probably best read in order to make it easier to keep track of who is who.  

Would I Read More of this Series/Author? Of course!  I've really enjoyed everything I've read by this author and am looking forward to reading more.

Would I Recommend this Book? While I do recommend starting from the beginning (or close to) of the series I absolutely recommend this series if you're a fan of cozy mysteries!

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

Saturday, February 3, 2024

Reading Recap - January 2024

Monthly Breakdown

Monthly Total: 20 - 2024 started out a bit rough but my reading got off to a fantastic start.  I really enjoyed pretty much everything I read.  

Print: 7
Ebook: 6
Audio: 7

Mystery:  18  
Romance: 2

Favorite Reads of the Month:

Favorite Audio:  None Of This is True by Lisa Jewell - I have enjoyed everything by Jewell that' I've read so it's no real surprise this was one of my favorite reads of the month.  The audio was especially fantastic and really added to the experience.  

Nine Lives by Peter Swanson - While I've wanted to try this author's books for ages this was the first one I read and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  I've heard that this wasn't his best so I think I've got some fantastic reading coming up.

Least Favorite Book of the Month:

Winter's Edge by Paige Shelton -  I enjoyed this book and highly recommend this series but I did feel like this book was the weakest.  Beth's Too Stupid to Live behavior gave me some second hand cringes while reading this.  That said I still rated this one 3.5 stars which I think is a pretty good indicator of how good of a reading month this was!

Bookish Armchair Travels

Domestic:  I did a lot of traveling in the US this month - including a state or two that I didn't get to in 2023.  
I visited - Massachusetts, Washington, California, Vermont, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Alaska, Maine, Florida, and Illinois

International:  I'm off to a slower start internationally and only visited England (6 times) and Scotland this month.

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

Friday, February 2, 2024

Friday Fives - February TBR

I'm taking a bit of a break from my usual Friday Linkups to try something a little different.  I'm in a list making kind of mood so I thought I'd start making random five lists.  Sometimes they'll be bookish other weeks not so much. This is the first Friday in February so I'm picking out five books I hope to read this month.

1.  A Smoking Bun by Ellie Alexander - This is one of my very favorite cozy mystery series and I'm so looking forward to this newest release.  

2.  The Pleasures of Passion by Sabrina Jeffries - This cover makes me cringe but Sabrina Jeffries used to be one of my absolute favorite historical romances but as I stopped reading that genre I ended up with several of hers gathering dust on my review shelf.  This is one of them and since its February I figured I'd throw some romance in.  

3.  The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman - I got this on sale soon after it came out and fully meant to read it right away but somehow never got around to it.  It's one of the books I'm really excited to read this year.

4.  Pursuit of a Parcel by Patricia Wentworth - I'm reading a book off my Classic Mystery List this month and a book by one of my favorite authors that I haven't read so I'm really looking forward to it! 

5.  House of Shadows by Nicola Cornick - This was my TBR Tarot pick of the month.  The prompt was "A book that still has the shop sticker on the front".  I bought this used so it doesn't have the shop sticker from the store I bought it on from the front but the original owner apparently bought it at Wal-Mart and never removed the label so here we are!

What are you hoping to read this month?

Thursday, February 1, 2024

Books from the Backlog - Murder at Mullings

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:  Murder at Mullings by Dorothy Cannell

Blurb:  An intriguing 1930s country house murder first in the brand-new Florence Norris series

In its 300-year history, there has never once been a scandal at Mullings, ancestral home of the decent but dull Stodmarsh family. Until, that is, Edward Stodmarsh makes an ill-advised second marriage to the scheming Regina Stapleton, who insists on bringing her family's 'ornamental hermit' to live on the estate. Suddenly everyone wants to visit Mullings to glimpse this mysterious figure. Strange but harmless, thinks Florence Norris, the family's longstanding housekeeper. But events take a sinister turn with the arrival of sudden, violent death - and suddenly the hermit doesn't seem so harmless after all.

Why It Needs to Come Off the Shelf:  This is one of those authors where I've bought a number of books before I read any of them.  I read a book in another series that I was not a fan of so I need to read this one to see if I like this series more. 

Wednesday, January 31, 2024

TBR Tarot Reads - Nine Lives Review

At the end of 2022 Wendy over at Literary Feline posted about these fantastic TBR Tarot Cards she had picked up on Etsy and that sounded too good to resist so I immediately ordered my own set.  So when I'm not feeling strongly about what to read next I pull out my cards and pick a book based on the prompt.  Here is a book the fates chose for me recently.

Prompt:  Book by a Male Author

Choice:  This month I decided to get the book from my library.  I didn't want to pick a book that was already on my list or a nonfiction so I wandered around the shelves and let the books tell me what to read.  I ended up with Nine Lives by Peter Swanson which has been on my TBR for awhile.  

Blurb:  Nine strangers receive a list with their names on it in the mail. Nothing else, just a list of names on a single sheet of paper. None of the nine people know or have ever met the others on the list. They dismiss it as junk mail, a fluke - until very, very bad things begin happening to people on the list. First, a well-liked old man is drowned on a beach in the small town of Kennewick, Maine. Then, a father is shot in the back while running through his quiet neighborhood in suburban Massachusetts. A frightening pattern is emerging, but what do these nine people have in common? Their professions range from oncology nurse to aspiring actor.
FBI agent Jessica Winslow, who is on the list herself, is determined to find out. Could there be some dark secret that binds them all together? Or is this the work of a murderous madman? As the mysterious sender stalks these nine strangers, they find themselves constantly looking over their shoulders, wondering who will be crossed off next....

My Thoughts:  I tend to not read many men authors - not on purpose it's just kind of how it works out - but I loved the sound of this one and I know several bloggers who are a fan of this author.  I wasn't sure exactly what to expect but I ended up thoroughly enjoying this.  The writing style was cleanly done and I loved the setup with the chapters counting down the people on the list.  This could of been a confusing mess and the book skipped between the nine people on the list plus an investigator or two but the writing was so clear that I had no issue keeping track of who was who and what they were doing.  I also liked that this was more a fly on the wall type mystery than a come along with the investigation style.  While there is an investigation going on the reader is simply watching as the story develops - and what a story it was!  I enjoyed it from the first page to the last and the Agatha Christie references made me gloriously happy.  This was my first Peter Swanson book but it absolutely won't be my last.  Once again the Tarot cards chose another fabulous book!  My Rating: Really Liked It! (4.5 Stars)

Tuesday, January 30, 2024

Top Ten Tuesday - New to Me Authors I Read in 2023

Today I'm linking up with Top Ten Tuesday hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl which is all about lists.  Since lists are one of my favorite things this is one of my favorite linkups!  Today's topic is New to Me Authors I Read in 2023.  This was harder than I expected as I read mostly favorites last year.

1.  Viola Shipman - This author has been on my TBR for ages and I kicked off 2023 with The Recipe Box which I enjoyed.

2.  Laura Dave - This is another author that has been on my TBR for ages.  I wasn't the biggest fan of the book I read but I'm planning on giving her books another try this year.

3.  Patrick Taylor - I read the first book in the Irish Country Doctor series and really loved it.  I'm looking forward to reading more by this author in 2024.

4.  Annette Dashofy - This cozy mystery author has been around for ages and I never got around to reading her books.  This was good and another author I need to read more from in 2024.  

5.  Sarah Fox - Basically ditto above.  

6.  Mindy Quigley - I've heard good things about this author for the last year or so and finally at the end of 2023 I decided to give her Deep Dish mystery series a try and it was a lot of fun.

7.  Callie Carpenter - I think Death by Demo was this author's debut book and it was such a fun cozy!

8.  Laurie Cass - I read the a book in this long running cozy series and discovered another series I need to get caught up in!

9.  Henry James - The Turning of the Screw was on my TBR for ages and to be honest I wasn't a fan.  However, I will try more from him at another time.

10. Molly Caldwell Crosby - I read a nonfiction book by this author and really enjoyed how she pulled in context.  I definitely want to read more from her.

What New to You Authors did you read in 2023?