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?

Monday, January 29, 2024

Overdue Reviews - The Widow's Secret + Trace

Goodreads:  The Widow's Secret by Kate Hewitt

Blurb:  She looked down at the sweet little girl – and knew she wouldn’t listen to what anyone else said. She had to do what was right. Even if it meant going against everything she was taught to believe and keeping a secret from the person closest to her…
England, 1766: Abigail is happily married to James, a tobacco trader turned sea captain, and is looking forward to starting a family and settling down in Whitehaven, deep in the Lake District. But after a series of devastating losses, she finds herself in turmoil, with her future suddenly seeming unknown…

When James announces that he will captain a ship to Africa and then the Americas for a year, it sparks a series of surprising and heartbreaking events – involving some of the darkest evils in humanity’s history, and a tiny, terrified slave girl who’s brought back to England. This helpless child forces Abigail to reconsider everything she thought she knew – and will change her life forever…

Now: When a shipwreck is discovered off the coast of Cumbria, local expert Rachel is brought in to investigate. Her first thought is that this will be a perfect distraction from her troubled marriage and the memories of her past that she is desperate not to think about. But then it becomes clear the wreck is a slaving ship from the 1700s – one that was recorded as sinking in the Caribbean – and Rachel begins to wonder if there’s more to this terrible mystery than meets the eye.

Faced with uncertainty about both the past and present, can Rachel learn from Abigail’s extraordinary story and take the first step towards a brighter future of her own?

My Thoughts:  I have really enjoyed the three previous books in the Goswell series though each one was heartbreaking in its own right.  With her usual ability to get me to connect with the story Hewitt drew me in from the very first.  I was prepared to be absolutely enthralled in the present day storyline as it involves a shipwreck but I never could warm up to Rachel and by the end of my reading time I just couldn't stand her.  The research part was fascinating but I was almost rooting for her to fail.  I did love Abigail.  She's the only child of parents who have pinned all their hopes and dreams on her during a time period where women have very few choices and society has very little forgiveness for perceived mistakes.  She's a nice girl who wants to make everyone happy - until she is confronted with the incredibly cruel and thoughtless reality of slavery.  I admired Abigail's ability to stick with what she knew was right in the face of everyone thinking that she's wrong and stand up to people's casual cruelty to protect a little girl that is in her care.   This details are heartbreaking with very little relief from the present day timeline.  When I realized I was dreading picking this one up because it was so emotionally difficult for me to read I did DNF this one - this was truly a case of it's not the book, it's me.  The story is well written and the characters are vivid but I couldn't force myself to read a book that I dreaded reading as all the characters seemed so unhappy.  My Rating:  DNF'd at 56%


Goodreads:  Trace by Archer Mayor

Blurb:  The Vermont Bureau of Investigation (VBI) has been pulled onto three cases at the same time; meanwhile, VBI head Joe Gunther has to take time off to care for his ailing mother.
Those cases are now in the hands of the individual investigators. Sammie Martens is assigned a murder case. The victim is a young woman, the roommate of the daughter of Medical Examiner Beverly Hillstrom. A recent transplant from Albany, New York, Sammie must find out what put a hit man on the trail of this seemingly innocent young woman.

Lester Spinney takes over a famous cold case, a double murder where a state trooper and a motorist were killed in an exchange of gunfire. Or so it has seemed for years. When Lester is told that the motorist’s fingerprints were planted on the gun he’s supposed to have fired, it opens the question—who really killed the state trooper?

Willy Kunkle’s case starts with a child's discovery of three teeth on a railroad track, leading eventually to a case of possible sabotage against critical military equipment.

In cases that lead the team all over Vermont and nearby, Archer Mayor once again shows why his novels featuring Joe Gunther and the VBI team are among the finest crime fiction today.

My Thoughts:  I was a little nervous going into this.  It's part of a long running series and there are three distinct mysteries going on which could potentially make for a very confusing read.  Fortunately, after a few minutes I felt completely up to speed with who was who and what was going on.  There's a simplicity in the writing style that is really refreshing.  It doesn't get into the weeds with atmospheric descriptions or off topic subjects but instead sticks to the mysteries in a clean manner that kept me engaged.  All of the different detectives are flawed but not so much it seems impossible that they function on a day to day basis.  There's enough character development where real issues are dealt with from PTSD to relationship struggles but not so much that the story feels in the weeds or angsty.  This was a solid police procedural with good mysteries and interesting characters.  This is definitely a series to try if you enjoy police procedural style mysteries and a series I will be reading more from.  My Rating:  Really Liked It (4 Stars)

Saturday, January 27, 2024

Mrs. Pollifax and the Lion Killer - Classic Mystery Review

Goodreads:  Mrs. Pollifax and the Lion Killer by Dorothy Gilman

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

Description:  In response to a desperate SOS, Kadi Hopkirk flies to the African country of Ubangiba, where her childhood friend, Sammat, is soon to be crowned king. Mrs. Pollifax, reluctant to allow the girl to venture alone into what she fears may be grave danger, crashes the party.
On arrival, Kadi and Mrs. P. soon discover that Sammat has dangerous enemies. Rumors are springing up that he is a sorcerer who is responsible for a rash of shocking murders in which the victims appear to have been clawed to death by a lion. These crimes are especially terrifying because there are no lions in Ubangiba. So Mrs. Pollifax wades into the fray, hunting for the source of the bloody terrorism that threatens Sammat and Ubangiba—not to mention Kadi and Mrs. Pollifax...

Genre: Mystery - Classic

Why I Picked This Book:  I've been reading through the Mrs. Pollifax series and this was the next one in order.

My Impression: I have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know Mrs. Pollifax and following along her adventures.  In the previous book Mrs. Pollifax visits Ubangiba for the first time so I was curious to see how the follow up visit would go.  

This was Mrs. Pollifax's first unofficial adventure and was probably my least favorite of the series so far.  It turns out the official part of Mrs. Pollifax's adventures really helps with the pacing of these books.  Carstairs and Bishop give Mrs. Pollifax the parameters and drops her in some country and things go from there.  In this case Mrs. Pollifax meets up with people from her last visit, talks to a lot of people, gets uneasy about things that are happening and goes from there.  This wandering slows down the pace a bit and while I enjoyed the story it wasn't as fun as I usually find these books.

I'm sad that I'm almost at the end of the Mrs. Pollifax series but am looking forward to to reading the last few books.  This wasn't a bad book it was just the weakest in the series so far.

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

Would I Recommend this Book?  I would definitely recommend this author and this series but I wouldn't recommend starting this book.  At the very least you should read the book right before this one to get all the setup.

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

Friday, January 26, 2024

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


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


1.  Angel's Rest by Emily March - I have read several books in the Eternity Springs series and for the most part am really glad I did.  I loved seeing the origins of the Eternity Springs that has come to life in the books and Celeste's beginnings with the community.  I really liked Nic and her friends and her strong connection to the community that she lives in.  I was not so much a fan of Gabe and the romance part of it.  Gabe has a LOT of baggage and has survived a lot of trauma and while my heart broke for him he is so awful to Nic that I could never quite forgive him or believe his redemption.  I love Emily March's writing style and do want to continue reading the series in order but I don't think Gabe will ever be one of my favorite Eternity Springs residents.  My Rating: Liked It (3 Stars)


2.  Iron Flame by Rebecca Yarros -
Fantasy is a genre I typically avoid and this book is exactly why.  It's long, there's lots of emotion, I have to remember what happened in the previous book, and I have to deal with a cliffhanger when the book ends.  That said, just like Fourth Wing I was completely caught up in this one and was sad when it ended.  There were moments when my jaw dropped, moments I cried, and lots of moments when I just didn't want to put this one down.   I will be counting days until the next book and the characters will be living in the edges of my mind until then.  My Rating: Really Liked It! (4.5 Stars)


3.  Murder in an English Village by Jessica Ellicott -
This was my first audio book of 2024 and it was a fun book to start the year with!  Edwina is at the end of her financial rope when her dear friend from school, American adventuress Beryl Helliwell shows up.  Soon the two are in the middle of an investigation that starts in the middle of World War I with long reaching consequences.  Set shortly after World War I, this is a fun cozy mystery with great characters and an interesting setting in a small English village that is recovering from war.  This is definitely a series I'm looking forward to continuing with.  My Rating:  Really Liked It (4 Stars)


4.  Thale's Folly by Dorothy Gilman -
This was another first book of 2024 and it was an absolute delight.  There's an old house, a quirky group of characters, some found family goodness, and more than a couple of characters looking for their purpose.  It's a quick read that's sweet without being saccharine and a bit funny and just a lot of fun.  I'm looking forward to reading more of Dorothy Gilman's fiction and finishing up her Mrs. Pollifax books.  My Rating: Really Liked It! (4.5 Stars)


5.  None of This is True by Lisa Jewell -
I have really enjoyed everything I've read by this author and this may be my favorite one yet.  Alix and Josie meet at a restaurant on their 45th birthday and things quickly go out of control.  Just what is happening is not always clear but I was hooked from beginning to end.  This was fantastic on audio with wonderful main narrators and a full cast for the podcast and series parts.  Seeing the different sides of the same story definitely kept me guessing and hooked from the beginning.  I will definitely be reading more Lisa Jewell and if you're looking for a fast paced read with an "ordinary" bad guy this one would be hard to beat.  I can't recommend the audio book enough.  My Rating: Really Liked It! (4.5 Stars)  

Thursday, January 25, 2024

Books from the Backlog - One Night


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:  One Night by Georgina Cross

Blurb:  The anonymous letters arrive in the mail, one by one: To find out what really happened to Meghan, meet at this location. Don't tell anyone you're coming. In one night, you'll find out everything you need to know.
Ten years after her murder, the letters tell Meghan's family exactly when and where to meet: a cliffside home on the Oregon coast. But on the night they're promised answers, the convicted killer--her high school boyfriend, Cal, who spent only ten years in prison for murder--is found unconscious in his car, slammed into a light pole near the house where the family is sitting and waiting. Is he the one who invited them to gather?

As a storm rampages along the Pacific Northwest, the power cuts off and leaves the family with no chance of returning to the main road and finding help. So they drag Cal back to the house for the remainder of the night. How easy it would be to let him die and claim it was an accident. Or do they help him instead? As the hours tick by, it becomes an excruciating choice. Half of the family wants to kill him. The other half wants him to regain consciousness so he can tell them what he knows.

But if Cal wakes up, he might reveal that someone in the family knows more than they're letting on. And if that's the case, who is the real killer? And are they already in the house?

Why It Needs to Come Off the Shelf:  I picked this up at a Book fair for Grownups several months ago.  This is a local author and it sounds like a really intriguing thriller.  I've been on a big thriller kick lately so this seems perfect.


Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Murder, She Wrote: Fit For Murder - Cozy Mystery Review

Goodreads: Murder, She Wrote: Fit For Murder by Jessica Fletcher and Terrie Farley Moran

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

Description:  Former editor of the Cabot Cove Gazette, Evelyn Phillips is back in Cabot Cove. Evelyn tells Jessica and Seth that she got a couple of really weird notes from Bertha Mae Cormier so she’s come back to town to check on her old friend. She demands that Jessica come with her to see Bertha Mae, who is a bit dithery but no more so than Jessica remembers her being in recent years. Jessica does become somewhat concerned when Bertha Mae starts to talk about her new neighbor, Martin Terranova. He is quite charming and very health conscious and he teaches yoga and meditation in his pool house. Maureen Metzger says that she and Bertha Mae became friends in Terranova’s class and mentions how solicitous he is to his older clients. Jessica attends one of his classes and does notice that Terranova is flirtatious with several elderly clients, especially Bertha Mae. Evelyn is becoming convinced that Bertha Mae is being mesmerized by Terranova and that he is after Bertha Mae’s money. A short while late, Martin turns up dead in his weight room. What at first blush seems to be an accident, soon proves to be murder and Jessica must put her investigative skills to the test when Evelyn becomes the prime suspect.

Genre: Mystery - Cozy

Why I Picked This Book:  Murder, She Wrote is one of my favorite comfort watching shows and I've enjoyed all the books in this series.

My Impression:  As I have come to expect from this series this was a fun coziest of cozy mysteries with a likable cast, an interesting mystery, and a comfortably familiar setting.  I was extra thrilled to see that this book took place in Cabot Cove and interested to see that Evelyn makes an appearance.  

This was an interesting mystery which starts with Jessica and Evelyn trying to figure out if an elderly friend is being scammed by her neighbor, a handsome workout guru.  The mystery takes an unexpected turn when said guru winds up dead.   Jessica and the rest of the group in Cabot Cove are scrambling to figure out what happened and clear an innocent town resident's name.  

This was a fun cozy light read.  I've enjoyed Moran's books in this series and this was no exception.  She's wonderful at keeping the cozy setting and general feel of the series.  This is incredibly long running series but an easy one to jump into - especially if you've watched a couple of episodes of the show.  

Would I Read More of this Series/Author? Definitely!  I'm looking forward to future books and I'd like to go back and read earlier books as well.

Would I Recommend this Book?  If you enjoy cozy mysteries - and especially if you're a fan of the show - this is a book and series not to miss.

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

Tuesday, January 23, 2024

Top Ten Tuesday - Ten Books I Meant to 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 Books I Meant to Read in 2023.  This year wasn't as bad as previous years.  While there are definitely books I didn't get to I got through most of the books that I had prioritized reading this year.


1.  The Cinderella Murder by Mary Higgins Clark and Alafair Burke - This was the last book on my stack of physical books to read and I just didn't get to it in time.

2.  Murder with Peacocks by Donna Andrews - I put this on my series list because I've been wanting to go back and read the beginning of the series for ages but never got around to reading it.

3.  All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriott - I read a book early in 2023 that reminded me of this one and I really meant to read it in 2023. 

4.  The Girl Who Came Home by Hazel Gaynor - This book has been on my TBR for years and I had it on one of my 2023 seasonal TBRs but just didn't quite get to it.

5.  Terror in Topaz by A.M. Stuart - This is the final book in this historical mystery series set in Singapore and I'm really looking forward to reading it.  I somehow missed it's release.


6.  Homecoming by Kate Morton - I was absolutely sure I would get this book read in 2023 but didn't.  It's now one of my priority reads for 2024 so it will get read!

7.  Forget What You Know by Christina Dodd - I read the first book in 2022 and really wanted to read this one but it got buried in the pile of books to read.

8.  Forgotten Trail by Claire Kells - I really enjoyed the first two books in the series and meant to read this as soon as it came out.

9.  Mastering the Art of French Murder by Colleen Cambridge - A mystery series with Julia Child as a side character sounds pretty fun and this was one I was looking forward to.

10. Meet Me in Monaco by Hazel Gaynor - This looks gorgeous and has been sitting on my bookshelf for far too long.  I really meant to read it in 2023 but I guess 2024 will do!

Monday, January 22, 2024

The Dog Across the Lake - Cozy Mystery Review

Goodreads: The Dog Across the Lake (Paws and Claws Mystery #9) by Krista Davis

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

Description:  Holly and Trixie meet a strange new dog in Wagtail that leads them right into murder. . . .

Holly Miller is looking forward to finally taking a few days to relax. Enjoying an early morning on her terrace, she spots an unfamiliar reddish-gold pooch across the lake. She’s intrigued, but never expects to find the very same dog smiling at her in bed when she wakes up the next morning! Trixie and Twinkletoes appear to accept this cute stranger, but Holly doesn’t know to whom he belongs.


Oma thinks the dog looks familiar, and it turns out the wayward pooch belongs to Holly’s cousin Josh. Holly knew her cousin well as a child, but she hasn’t seen him in over a decade. He’s camping with his girlfriend across the lake. Holly returns the cute dog to Josh’s campsite twice, but the second time, Josh and his girlfriend are nowhere to be found. Instead, a guest of the Sugar Maple Inn is dead in their tent. Now it's up to Holly and Trixie to suss out a sneaky killer.

Genre: Mystery - Cozy

Why I Picked This Book:  I read an earlier book in this series and really enjoyed it.  The premise of this one looked really intriguing.

My Impression:  This is such a fun series.  I love the pet friendly town, the cozy inn, and the fun group of characters be they human, canine, or feline.  I really enjoyed that this one involved more of Holly's family including her dad and half-siblings.  The book starts off with a bit of a surprise when Holly wakes up to a strange dog in her bed.  This sets off a whole series of events surrounding her grandmother's birthday party, some guests who don't quite seem like they're on the up and up, the very sketchy girlfriend of a family member, and a sprinkling of murders.

The mystery really kept me guessing.  With victims who didn't seem to have any connection and more than a few people behaving like they had things to hide I wasn't sure of the whys and the who until the very end.  This was a fast paced cozy mystery that was super easy to read and I got sucked into the world of Wagtail every time I picked up the book.

There were some things that got a hazy.  While it was easy to keep the main characters straight there were several times I had to take a minute to figure out which guest was which.  As well, I found the distance between the Miller family a bit odd.  Holly and her cousin had been really close as kids and while I understand growing apart not knowing anything about her cousin's adult life or even following his Instagram account seemed strange - especially since his Instagram was kind of his livelihood and animal related.

Overall, this was an entertaining cozy with a fun cast of characters.  If you're looking for a light quick read this is a great choice.  

Would I Read More of this Series/Author? Yes!  I'm looking forward to reading more from this series.  I've missed all the earlier books.

Would I Recommend this Book?  If you like fun cozy mysteries I'd definitely recommend this series - especially if you're an animal fan.

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

Saturday, January 20, 2024

This Week in Reading - January 21


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:


Mind Games by Nora Roberts - Only one this week but one I'm so excited about. I love Roberts' suspense titles and this one looks great.  (Publisher)

Currently:


Reading:  Murder, She Wrote: Fit for Murder by Jessica Fletcher and Terrie Farley Moran and Devil in Winter by Lisa Kleypas

Listening:  Happy Place by Emily Henry

This has been a bizarre week.  The weather started getting bad Sunday night and ended with highs below freezing and the roads pretty much iced over almost all week.  Living in the south we don't really have the infrastructure to deal with this so when the roads ice they kind of stay iced and we stay home!   I was also sick for the first half of the week so I slept the first few days.   The temperature is supposed to get to almost 70 by the end of the week so everything will be melted by then.  I am not a fan of this cold!

This coming week I have jury duty for the first time.  I'm not looking forward to missing dog classes or having to to be at the courthouse by 8AM but hopefully I'll have some reading time.  Have you ever had jury duty?  What was your experience?  

Have a great week and happy reading!

The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club - Classic Mystery Review

Goodreads: The Unpleasantess at the Bellona Club by Dorothy L. Sayers

Rating: Liked It (3.5 Stars)
Source:   Publisher

Description:  Ninety-year-old General Fentiman was definitely dead, but no one knew exactly when he had died—and the time of death was the determining factor in a half-million-pound inheritance. Lord Peter Wimsey would need every bit of his amazing skills to unravel the mysteries of why the General's lapel was without a red poppy on Armistice Day, how the club's telephone was fixed without a repairman, and, most puzzling of all, why the great man's knee swung freely when the rest of him was stiff with rigor mortis.

Genre: Mystery - Classic

Why I Picked This Book:  This was the next Lord Peter Wimsey so of course I had to read it!

My Impression: This was a clever mystery with a few unexpected twists!  Lord Peter Wimsey is called in not to figure out a murder but to figure out just when a man in his 90s died.  As he determines that family dynamics are called into question as to just why the old General didn't have a poppy in his lapel and why is his lower leg free from rigor mortis.  

This is definitely not an action oriented mystery but I don't really expect that from this particular genre.  Instead there is lots of debate and theorizing and it felt like the reader was pulled into the theorizing.  There were several bits that surprised me and I really enjoyed the ending.  I think this was probably the Lord Peter Wimsey mystery I have enjoyed the most and I liked it enough to keep reading Dorothy L. Sayer's mysteries.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  I would!  I don't think I'll ever like Sayers better than Christie but I'm really starting to enjoy the way she spins a mystery.

Would I Recommend this Book? If you enjoy a very bloodless take on a mystery this was an interesting read.  

Friday, January 19, 2024

Friday Five - 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.  Eaves of Destruction by Kate Carlisle - I really enjoy this series!  Shannon is pulled into a house tour competition and is renovating a gorgeous Victorian on a very prestigious street.  She's hired a new carpenter who is talented and eager to get to work - and maybe hiding a few things.  Unfortunately, Shannon's new client is a nightmare and she's being shadowed by a sketchy building inspector.  The murder involved a victim I wasn't sorry to see dead and an investigation where everyone has a motive.  I loved the description of the houses and thoroughly enjoyed the read.  This is a fun series if you're looking for a light cozy mystery with a likable cast of characters.  My Rating: Really Liked It (4 Stars)


2.  Blood Rubies by Jane K. Cleland - I have really enjoyed the previous few books in this series so I was so excited to read this one with the Faberge egg plot.  Unfortunately, this didn't quite live up to my expectations.  The beginning felt a little disjointed and I never really felt like I had a firm grasp on who a few characters were and just what was going on.  I did like the investigation into appraisals and fraud and the mystery did keep me guessing.  I did miss the regular side characters as it felt like Josie didn't spent much time at her business or with her regular friends in this book.  This is an entertaining series - especially if you enjoy antiques and history but this was definitely a weaker entry into the series.  My Rating: Liked It (3 Stars)


3.  A Deadly Chapter by Essie Lang -
This is the final mystery set in a bookstore in a castle on an island in Thousand Islands, New York area.  Shelby once again stumbles into a mystery when she wakes up to a body lodged between her house boat and the dock.  When it turns out that Shelby not only spoke to the victim shortly before he died but also happens to be friends with the victim's daughter, she can't help but get involved in the investigation.  I probably enjoyed this mystery the most out of the three.  The pacing was good and the mystery kept me guessing until the end.  As well, there were several developments in Shelby's personal life that I really liked and ended the series on a positive note.  As usual, I do wish the castle setting was used more but there was time spent in the bookshop so that does help a bit.  This was a nice cozy read but not a series that I would overwhelmingly recommend.  My Rating: Liked It! (3.5 Stars)


4.  Murder Makes Sense by Christin Brecher -
This is the 2nd book in the Nantucket Candle Making mystery series but my final book since I started with book 3.  To be honest, I have not been the biggest fan of the series.  The book starts out with Stella and her mother Millie at a perfume conference in Paris.  The magical vacation ends on an sour note when a murder occurs in the middle of a crowd and then danger follows the two back to Nantucket.  The plot of this book was sheer insanity.  Somehow things are linked to international espionage and Stella and Millie are right in the middle of it.  I suppose in the right mood it could be read as camp but honestly to me it just came off as silly.  My Rating: Just Okay (2.5 Stars)


5.  Shot Through the Hearth by Kate Carlisle - Shannon Hammer is taking a break from her usual Victorian home renovation to redo an old farmhouse and create an eco-friendly conference area and barn.  While the renovation itself goes fairly flawlessly the chaos that happens at the conference more than makes up with it with hostility from multiple directions, stolen patents, a stray shot or two, loose smart mice, and of course murder.  I missed the side characters and general work flow the series usually has but this was a nice shakeup and definitely kept me reading.  I wasn't sure how it would all play out and I thoroughly enjoyed getting to the reveal.  I'm now caught up on the series and will be looking forward to the next time I hang out with Shannon and her crew.  This is a fun cozy mystery series with a great community feel.  My Rating: Really Liked It (4 Stars)

Thursday, January 18, 2024

My Favorite Cozy Mysteries of 2023

 

When I made my list of favorite reads of 2023 I realized that cozy mysteries were sadly under represented - especially since they are probably the genre I read the most of.  While I love my cozies they tend to not stand out so much when it comes to favorite rankings - especially when it comes to heavier hitting emotional books.  But they still deserve their moment in the sun so here are my favorite cozy mysteries from 2023.  I'm basing this list on what I read in 2023 and not necessarily the date the book was published.



1.  On Spine of Death by Tamara Berry - This is a fun series with a main character that would normally drive me crazy but is so well done that it just comes off as her quirks and her daughter is such fun.

2.  Death by Demo by Callie Carpenter - This was a really refreshing cozy mystery with a likable main character and an interesting premise.  This is definitely a series I'm looking forward to reading more of.

3.  An American in Scotland by Lucy Connelly - This was a fun book with a Scottish setting and an interesting premise.  

4.  Death by Dumpling by Vivien Chien - I really liked this book set in a Little Asia area in Ohio and centered around the main character's parents' Noodle House.

5.  Hard Dough Homicide by Olivia Matthews - This is the second book in the Spice Isle Bakery series but the first book I read and it was a total delight!  


6.  Crowned and Moldering by Kate Carlisle - I'm really enjoying this series about a home renovater and this mystery that dug into the past was one of my favorites.

7.  Dark Night by Paige Shelton - I've enjoyed this series set in a small town in Alaska.  It's a bit grittier than the usual cozy and has a number of interesting subplots.

8.  Catch Me If You Candy by Ellie Alexander - I can't write a Favorite Cozy list without an Ellie Alexander book making an appearance.  Halloween in Ashland was quite the experience.

9.  Color Me Murder by Krista Davis - I really enjoyed this cozy mystery involving a bookstore manager who is also an artist and uses her sketches to help her process information.  

10. Fatal Folio by Elizabeth Penny - This mystery involves a library in a castle so it had to be on a favorites list.

This was by far the hardest favorites list I've ever made!  I love almost all my cozies and I could have easily written a top 20 or 30 list.  Narrowing it down to 10 was tough!  

Wednesday, January 17, 2024

Deadly to the Core - Cozy Mystery Review

Goodreads:  Deadly to the Core (A Cider House Mystery #1) by Joyce Tremel

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

Description:  After losing her husband in a terrible car crash, thirty-five-year-old Kate is left to pick up the pieces of her life alone. Although she has physically recovered, she worries her spirit never will. But when she learns that she has inherited a fruit orchard in a small town just outside Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, from her great uncle Stan, she takes this as an opportunity ripe for the picking. Kate knew immediately what to do with open a cider house. Her hopeful plans fall far from the tree when she finds the body of the orchard manager, Carl Randolph, leaving her to figure out who is at the core of this murder.

She had been in correspondence with Carl, who had agreed with her brilliant idea of opening a cider house. But not everyone is so quick to buy what she was selling—Uncle Stan’s lawyer, Robert Larabee, paints a less rosy financial outlook of the orchard’s past, present, and future.

Kate discovers that Carl had large, unexplained deposits to his bank account and it becomes clear that either he was blackmailing someone, or someone was paying him to keep quiet. Meanwhile, Kate and her neighbors receive offers to buy their property from a mysterious buyer. And there’s more than meets the eye with the neighboring orchard owner, Daniel Martinez, although Kate can’t quite put her finger on if it’s sweet or sour.

Will she be able to pick out the bad apple among the bunch before it’s too late?

Genre: Mystery - Cozy

Why I Picked This Book:  This is an author I've really been wanting to read and I can never resist the first book in a new cozy series.

My Impression: I enjoyed this beginning to what promises to be a fun new series.  I liked that Kate has some history behind her with the town itself and is dealing with a personal tragedy.  I also liked that she had experience in running a cider house and this isn't just an unresearched whim.  As well, she also has some money of her own to make things happen.

The first quarter of the book is setup as Kate adjusts to being back on the family farm and gets reacquainted with old friends.  I do love a small town setting and this was really fun.  When she stumbles upon a dead body Kate is pulled into the investigation but her reasoning for wanting to know what is going on with her property I found fairly valid.  I liked that she was having to figure out the who and the why but also was the victim who she thought he was in the first place.  There is a decent amount of telling over showing which did keep this from being a home run for me but I'm hoping that this is due to the series needing setup.

I enjoyed this mystery and my first introduction to Tremel's writing style.  This is a series I'm interested to see develop and Kate is a character I'm looking forward to getting to know more about.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author? I would.  I have several books by this author on my TBR and I'm looking forward to reading more from her.

Would I Recommend this Book? If you enjoy cozy mysteries this is a good solid start to a new series.

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

Tuesday, January 16, 2024

Top Ten Tuesday - Bookish Goals for 2024


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 Bookish Goals for 2024.  


1.  Read 200 Books - I made this goal pretty easily last year but I'm not sure I can up the goal and make it.

2.  Finish 2024 ARCs - I don't want to have any leftover review books at the end of the year.  I'm hoping to read more than I request.

3.  Read the Books on My Priority List

4.  Read the Books on My Classics List

5.  Read 10 Overdue Review Books - In addition to not having any leftover review books for this year I want to make some progress on the backlog of the overdue review books I have.


6.  Read 7 Nonfiction Books - I usually really enjoy nonfiction books but I'm not great about actually adding them to my reading list unless I make a point of it.  My goal for the last few years has been 5 nonfction so this year I'm hoping to read a few more.

7.  Read 10 TBR Tarot Choices - Last year I bought a set of TBR Tarot cards off of Etsy and really enjoy using them to choose a book to read.  This year I'm hoping to read 10 books chosen by the cards!

8.  Read the Read Christie 2024 challenge choices hosted by Agatha Christie Ltd.  - This year the Read Christie Challenge is focusing on time periods and has selected 1 Christie per month and I'm looking forward to reaching all of them.

9.  Read a book by each author on my Author List - There are so many authors that I've been meaning to read for ages and this year I put together a list of some of them and am going to read a book by each author.

10. Make Progress on 10 Series - In the past few years I've planned on finishing/catching up on 10 series but I've kind of gotten rid of all the low hanging fruit and that's gotten much harder.  My goal now is to make progress on 10 including finishing 3 and making progress on 3 long running series.

What are your goals for your 2024 reading?

Monday, January 15, 2024

The Bright Spot - Contemporary Romance Review

Goodreads: The Bright Spot by Jill Shalvis

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

Description:  Luna Wright is a lot of things, but sweet and trusting aren't on the list. However, she’s a sucker for the underdog and a hard-luck story. Adopted at birth, with scant knowledge of her biological family, she’s created her own inner circle, a motley crew which includes her bestie Willow, to help her run the struggling but charming Apple Ridge Farm.

With a farm-to-table cafĂ© as well as a menagerie of rescued animals (complete with a baby goat who keeps escaping to the pantry to eat the secret stash of decidedly not organic potato chips), it’s the best home she’s ever known. But when Silas, the owner who they secretly call The Grinch, passes away, Luna discovers the farm is now under the control of both his investment manager, the enigmatic Jameson Hayes….and her. And that Silas had many, many secrets.

Now Luna’s carefully controlled corner of the world is threatened and she—along with some of her friends—has to dig deep to find true strength and the real meaning of love and family.

Genre: Romance - Contemporary

Why I Picked This Book:  I've really enjoyed everything I've read by this author so of course I couldn't resist this one - especially when a baby goat is mentioned in the blurb.

My Impression: I'm going to be honest -for the first 30% of the book or so I was not sold on this book. There was a lot I loved - the farm setting was fantastic with a maximum amount of shenanigans.  Luna's grandmother, Stella and most of the other people at the farm were quirky and entertaining.  Jameson was dreamy - damaged but not self-destructive, a numbers guy but willing to listen to the people element, a relationship flunky but willing to try.  He was also okay with a baby goat becoming his bestie and sitting in his lap most of the time.  It wasn't hard not to love him.  

What kept the beginning of this book from being a winner was Luna and Willow.  Willow is Luna's best friend and quite determined to destroy everything she's built in her life because it doesn't meet some arbitrary benchmark she set for herself.  I don't think I ever really liked her though I did understand her a bit more by the end.  Luna also drove me crazy at the beginning.  She's facing losing the farm but is unwilling to make any changes and for awhile refused to understand what was happening.  However, while I never fully warmed to Willow, I did end up really connecting to Luna.  Yes, she's stubborn but she's also innately talented with people, gifted with multitasking, and seriously complicated.

This is a funny quirky romance with deeper issues woven within.  After a slightly slow start I was completely pulled into this story and couldn't put it down.  

Would I Read More of this Series/Author? Of course!  I'm looking forward to reading more of this author this year.

Would I Recommend this Book? If you enjoy contemporary romance and love a good quirky group of characters - and a goat or two - this is one not to miss.

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

Saturday, January 13, 2024

This Week in Reading - January 14


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:


Murder on Devil's Pond by Ayla Rose - This is the first in a new cozy series involving a Victorian house turned into a B&B and I can't resist either of those things.  (Publisher)

House of Glass by Sarah Pekkanen - I've been in a thriller kind of mood and this one looks interesting.  (Publisher)

Currently:


ReadingDeadly to the Core by Joyce Tremel and The Couple in the Photo by Helen Cooper

Listening: Trace by Archer Mayor

This year started out a bit rough.  On January 2nd my grandmother passed away.  She had been gone for a number of years but the finality of it has been tough.  She and my grandfather were really such strong forces in my life and were always my safe place to land.  I miss them both dearly.

Even though we had a very small funeral somehow multiple people ended up getting covid including my husband.  We quarantined him and it was a mild case that he thankfully kept to himself.  That said I seem to have come down with some other bug.  I've tested multiple times and am coming up negative for the 'vid but it's definitely something that I am not enjoying.  

I have used the downtime to do some self-reflecting.  I've realized that the last few years have taken their toll on my system.  While getting involved in dog training has been fantastic for my mental health I think it's time to put some effort into physical healing.  I'm going to spend this year getting back into some healthy habits with rest, exercise, and some healthier eating.   I'm also working on some ideas to get some fun back in our lives.  I went back and forth on my "Word of the Year" but I think my world for 2024 will be "Heal".  

I hope everyone has a wonderful week and happy reading!

Classic Mystery List for 2024

 

For the last few years I've made a list of classic mysteries to read and this year is no different!  Here are 10 books in the classic mystery genre I'm looking forward to reading.


1.  Death on the Agenda by Patricia Moyes - I have really enjoyed books by this author and am liking reading the Henry Tibbett books in order.  

2.  A Deadly Affair by Agatha Christie - This is a collection of Christie short stories.  I've most likely read all the stories before but never in this collection.

3.  A Late Phoenix by Catherine Aird - Catherine Aird is another author I'm reading through chronologically.

4.  Pursuit of a Parcel by Patricia Wentworth - I've had this older Patricia Wentworth sitting around for ages and now is the time to read it!

5.  Strong Poison by Dorothy L. Sayers - This is the next Lord Peter Wimsey mystery on my list to read.  I've been kind of iffy on this author so this may be one of my last books unless I really enjoy it.  


6.  The Man in Lower Ten by Mary Roberts Rinehart - I have really loved everything I've read by this author even though she isn't the best at endings so I'm really looking forward to this one.

7.  The Franchise Affair by Josephine Tey - I really enjoyed the Tey book I read this year so I figured I'd give her another try and this one looks interesting.

8.  Wildfire at Midnight by Mary Stewart - This is the next book by Mary Stewart I have to read and this one is under her gothic suspense list so I'm looking forward to it.

9.  Nothing Venture by Patricia Wentworth - And another book by Wentworth!  I always enjoy her books so I couldn't resist adding in a second book.

10. Overture to Death by Ngaio Marsh - This isn't the next Inspector Alleyn book chronologically but it's the next one I have and that will have to do!

Do you enjoy classic mysteries?  Have you read any of these?

Friday, January 12, 2024

Friday Fives - Long Running Series I'm Hoping to Make Progress On


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.   One of my goals this year is to make progress on at least 3 long running series.  My definition of a long running series is basically a series that has at least 10 books that I haven't read.  Here are 5 that are on my short list.


1.  The Meg Langslow series by Donna Andrews - I absolutely love this series but somehow I've really only read the most recent books so I'm looking forward to going back to the beginning of this one.


2.  The Mrs. Jeffries series by Emily Brightwell - I love the most recent books and have liked the first couple of books so I'm hoping to make progress on the in between books so I can get to know the characters' full backstories.


3.  Krewe of Hunters series by Heather Graham - For a change of pace I'm going over to the paranormal romantic suspense side of things and am going to try and catch up on this creepy series!




4. Gaslight Mysteries by Victoria Thompson - I have loved the most recent books in this series and I know a lot changes for the characters as the series progresses so I'm looking forward to reading the early books in the series.


5.  Sebastian St. Cyr by C.S. Harris - I have really enjoyed the later books in the series but I always kind of feel like I would like it more if I had started from the beginning so I'm going to give that a try!

What long running series are on your TBR?