Thursday, February 29, 2024

Books from the Backlog - Hummingbird Lake

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:  Hummingbird Lake by Emily March

Blurb:  Haunted by painful memories, pediatric surgeon Sage Anderson gives up medicine and moves to Eternity Springs. There she finds a place to call home, but even her newfound success as a gifted artist isn’t enough to keep her nightmares at bay. Colt Rafferty is about to change all that.

Eternity Springs is a refuge for Colt, a place to ground himself when the stress of investigating tragedies takes its toll. He has come here for a little R & R, but instead of relaxing, he finds himself fascinated by the mysterious redhead whose secrets beg to be discovered—a beauty running from her past, a heartsick woman in desperate need of the sweet sanctuary of a devoted man’s embrace. And he is just the man to show her the true path to peace—by offering her the healing power of love.

Why It Needs to Come Off the Shelf:  I'd like to continue reading this series in order and this is the next book.  I've really enjoyed getting to know Sage in the other books I've read so I'm looking forward to reading her story.

Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Revved Up 4 Murder - Cozy Mystery Review

Goodreads: Revved Up 4 Murder (A Sophie Kimball Mystery #12) by J.C. Eaton

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

Description:  The seniors of Sun City West are celebrating again, this time over the news that Wayne from the pinochle club finally has a chance to restore his classic car. Phee goes along for the ride, but her thoughts are on her agency’s latest case—a priceless artifact that’s missing from the local museum. It’s an antique doll supposedly filled with treasure—but also carrying a curse for whoever possesses it. Then a dead body is found under Wayne’s car, along with signs of foul play, and Phee is coaxed into helping get him off the hook. It’s clear to Phee that the victim was killed by sabotaged machinery, but the garage attracts so much foot traffic that narrowing down a list of suspects will be nearly impossible. Harder still will be keeping her mother’s gaggle of friends from meddling in the case, especially after they throw a wrench into the works by trying to locate the missing doll. Soon Phee and the whole group are careening toward a head-on collision with a thief, a killer, and a cursed doll, and she can only hope they don’t drive her insane—or worse—make her the next victim . . .

Genre: Mystery - Cozy    

Why I Picked This Book:  I have really enjoyed this series and have kept up with it from the first book.  

My Impression: This series is my favorite bit of chaos and this latest book was no exception.  Phee is hoping for a peaceful bit of time but first a possibly possessed doll has gone missing and then a member of the Automotive Club is found trapped under the hood of a member's car.  A member who just happens to be Wayne - part of the world of Sun City West and friends with Phee's mother Harriet and the rest of the book club crew.  

This was a fun read from beginning to end.  I especially loved the appearance of Rollo (the computer genius who requests to be paid in kitchen appliances) and Phee's Aunt Ina's "help".  While there is a lot of zaniness there's also a solid mystery that kept me guessing as well as a likable cast of characters.  I love seeing Phee and Marshall together - especially in their calm moments.

This is a series I have read from the very first book and I enjoyed this book just as much as the other books in the series.  If you enjoy a fun cozy this series is a must read.  

Would I Read More of this Series/Author? Absolutely!  I've really enjoyed every book in the series and will read anything I come across by this author.  

Would I Recommend this Book? If you enjoy cozies with a bit of a zany spin this series is a must read!

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

Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Top Ten Tuesday - Ten Books on My TBR with Titles that Have Things From Nature

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 Titles with Items From Nature and I'm focusing on books in my TBR that have things from nature in the title.

1.  Fresh Water for Flowers by Verlie Perrin

2.  Enchanted Hill by Emily Bain Murphy

3.  The Mountains Wild by Sarah Stewart Taylor

4.  The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

5.  In the Shadow of the Glacier by Vicki Delany

6.  The High Tide Club by Mary Kay Andrews

7.  The House Across the Lake by Riley Sager

8.  Midnight Dunes by Laura Griffin

9.  Watcher in the Woods by Kelley Armstrong 

10.  The Bookshop by the Bay by Pamela M. Kelley

What books on your TBR have nature-y titles

Monday, February 26, 2024

The Murder Club - Romantic Suspense Review

Goodreads:  The Murder Club (Pike, Wisconsin #5) by Alexandra Ivy

Rating: Liked It (3 Stars)
Source:   Publisher

Description:  Over the years, small-town Pike, Wisconsin, has seen its share of shady characters, murderers, and serial killers—and not all of them have landed behind bars. For some folks, solving cold cases from the safety of the virtual world is a harmless diversion—but the stakes can be deadly . . .

An online crime-solving group is just the kind of adventure Bailey Evans needs. She loves her nursing career and small-town life, but her days are predictable. Her confidence bolstered by having her sheriff cousin Zac nearby, Bailey’s up for some innocent fun and intrigue. . . . Until she starts receiving unnerving Once the game begins, there’s no backing out of The Murder Club. Then the game gets real . . .

First, Bailey is shut out at work after an elderly patient dies and leaves her a shocking inheritance. Then a priceless necklace from an anonymous source arrives in her mail—along with a bone-chilling threat. Determined not to involve expectant father Zac, Bailey contacts an expert the charming Las Vegas businessman who’s never left her mind . . .

Dom Lucier knows real gems—and Bailey is the most precious thing he’s seen since they met at her best friend’s wedding. Returning to Pike to trace the jewelry’s bloody history, Dom helps Bailey kick open a murderous cold case. But as death and disaster escalate, they’ll need a new strategy to escape a killer who won’t be satisfied until the streets of Pike are soaked in blood . . .

Genre: Mystery - Romantic Suspense

Why I Picked This Book:  The blurb for this one really caught my attention and I thought it sounded like a fun read.

My Impression:  This was the first time I've read anything by this author and while it is the 5th in the series I had no problem starting here.  The series is pretty much location based with each book being a separate story so I had no problems jumping in here.  

Bailey's life is a bit bleak.  She works as a nurse at a nursing home where they aren't treated well or paid very much.  Pike, Wisconsin is run down and crime ridden and people leave as soon as they can.  The most exciting thing that has happened is the marriage of Bailey's friend to a wealthy TV star (this was the previous book) and the fact that the now wealthy TV star's business partner, Dom Lucier, is now house sitting for them.  Part of the reason he agreed to housesit so readily is because he remembered Bailey from the wedding and wanted to get to know her better.  I liked that there was a connection and interest already started before things went off the rails.  It made their connection feel a bit more authentic.

The book had a bit of a slow start and at times the writing felt a bit blocky and awkward.  As well, Bailey is a bit hard to connect to.  She's a nice woman and motivated by helping people but I never felt like she was well fleshed out.  I also found her apologetic attitude towards her interest in true crime a bit odd - as honestly I would imagine the target market for this book is mostly people interested in true crime.  That said I did end up enjoying this book and I enjoyed figuring out what happened with the deaths and the private murder club.  I would read more from this author if I found another blurb that interested me.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  I would if the blurb interested me.

Would I Recommend this Book?   If you're in the mood for a light romantic suspense this is an entertaining read overall.

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

Saturday, February 24, 2024

Pursuit of a Parcel - Classic Mystery Review

Goodreads: Pursuit of a Parcel by Patricia Wentworth

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

Description:  Double agent Cornelius Roos is about to become dispensable to the Germans—until he reveals the existence of a recording that will guarantee the death of a high-ranking Nazi official if it finds its way into the hands of Hermann Goering. So Roos strikes a bargain: If he walks out of Gestapo headquarters alive, he will ensure that the compromising recording never reaches Goering.

Meanwhile, in the Foreign Intelligence office in England, agent Antony Rossiter is interrogated about Roos, his older, adopted brother. A few days later, Rossiter parachutes into Holland to make contact with Roos. But when a brown paper parcel with Rossiter’s name on it is delivered to a British law firm, Rossiter’s fiancée, Delia Merridew, becomes an innocent pawn in a deadly game of international espionage and cold-blooded murder. Now it’s up to Scotland Yard Inspector Ernest Lamb and Detective Frank Abbott to ferret out the truth before a desperate enemy claims another victim.

Genre: Mystery - Classic

Why I Picked This Book:  I love Patricia Wentworth's mysteries and am always looking to read more of her non-Miss Silver mysteries.

My Impression: I've been a fan of Patricia Wentworth's books almost as long as I've been a fan of Agatha Christie's books.  I love Miss Silver and visiting the cozy world Wentworth creates for her characters.  

This one is a bit different from other books I've read by this author.  Colonel Garrett is there with his behind the scenes masterminding, Frank Abbott and Ernest Lamb make a (very brief) appearance.  As well there are two beautiful and well to do main characters.  They are not, however, inhabiting a cozy world.  Delia and Antony are living in the middle of World War II England filled with bombings and air raid sirens and being constantly aware that someone with sinister motives could be hiding in your midst.  There's a bit of chaos and uncertainty mixed in with Wentworth's usual elements that I really enjoyed.  

This was an interesting read - especially since it is a book set during World War II that was written and published during that time period.  The mystery was on the slower side and there were a few points where the characters seemed to either make giant leaps or take forever to figure out that cut down on my enjoyment a little bit.  Overall, however, this was an interesting and entertaining read and I always love finding a Wentworth mystery that I haven't read before.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author? Of course!  Wentworth is one of my favorite authors and while I don't love all of her books I always enjoy reading them.  

Would I Recommend this Book? If you like classic mysteries or books set during World War II I think you would enjoy this one.

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

Friday, February 23, 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.  The Couple in the Photo by Helen Cooper - Well that was a roller coaster!  I picked this book up on a random library wander only really knowing I liked the title.  This is the first book I've read by this author but it won't be the last. I really liked the author's writing style and balance of giving the reader enough details to keep the plot moving but not so much that I figured things out before the end.  This was an entertaining thriller that kept me guessing and was a quick read.  My Rating: Really Liked It (4 Stars)

2.  Death at the Crystal Palace by Jennifer Ashley -
I've been a big fan of the Below Stairs historical mystery series since the first book but somehow I've missed the last couple.  I'm trying to get caught up and I had forgotten how much I missed Kat, Tess, Daniel, Lady Cynthia, and the rest of the characters.  The mystery kept me hooked and and guessing - and I never quite guessed it right.   And now I really want a piece of lemon cake.  If you enjoy a lighter historical mystery with some upstairs/downstairs interaction this series cannot be beat.  My Rating: Really Liked It (4 Stars)

3.  The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches by Sangu Mandanna -
This was an absolutely delightful cozy read.  Mika Moon is a witch and one that has never really felt like she belonged.   That is until she lands at Nowhere House with 3 young witches and assortment of quirky adults.  This was everything my found family loving heart desires and I loved reading along as Mika got to know this new world and come to terms with her new life and past baggage.  I loved Mika, Ian, Ken, Jamie, and Lucy and of course the three children.  My only minor issue was an open door spicy scene towards the end that didn't really fit the tone of the book and I found a bit jarring.  Other than that if you love a book about found family this is a must read.  My Rating: Really Liked It! (4.5 Stars)

4. The Secret of Bow Lane by Jennifer Ashley -
I've caught up with this series and am ready for the next book that comes out in March.  I really enjoyed this one as we really get a look at Kat's past from her childhood to her kind of marriage.  She's also doing some soul searching for what she wants in life and how she wants her relationships to go moving forward.  In a mystery series there is frequently a book where the character development overshadows the mystery and I feel like that is definitely the case with this one.  I thoroughly enjoyed this one and the mystery was interesting and well done as I expect from this author but when I think about this book what stands out is what I learned about Kat and her past.  I'm so looking forward to the next book!  Really Liked It (4 Stars)

5.  One Little Sin by Liz Carlyle -
This was a reread for me though it's been more than 10 years since I've read it.  I'm honestly surprised with how much I enjoy it.  There's definitely a bit of an ick factor with Alasdair being accused of being the father of Esmee's toddler aged half sister.  Alasdair is definitely more than a bit jaded and full of bad habits focusing most of his life on drinking, gambling, and womanizing.  But while he has made bad decisions and been careless with people's feelings at heart he's a good person and never purposely causes pain to anyone which I think is what saves his character.  Esmee is delightful.  She's tough and smart and funny and I couldn't help but love her from the start.  Sorcha is a lot of fun and a pretty accurate portrayal of a strong willed tyrant.  I really enjoyed this book and couldn't help but root for the Alasdair and Esmee and this one stays on my reread shelf.  This one has decidedly mixed reviews and I can see why but for me it absolutely worked.  My Rating:  Really Liked It!  (4.5 Stars)

Thursday, February 22, 2024

Books from the Backlog - The Unholy

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 Unholy by Heather Graham

Blurb:  The 1940s: hard-boiled detectives and femmes fatale are box-office gold. In one iconic scene, set in a deserted museum, the private eye arrives too late, and the buxom beauty is throttled by an ominous Egyptian priest.

Now: the Black Box Cinema immortalizes Hollywood's Golden Age in its gallery of film noir tributes. But the mannequin of that Egyptian priest is hardly lifeless. He walks and a young starlet dies a terrifying death. Movie mogul Eddie Archer's son is charged with the grisly murder.

Eddie calls agent Sean Cameron, who specializes in irregular investigations. As part of an FBI paranormal forensics team, Cameron knows that nightmares aren't limited to the silver screen. Working with special-effects artist Madison Darvil who has her own otherworldly gifts Cameron delves into the malevolent force animating more than one movie monster.

Why It Needs to Come Off the Shelf:  This is the next book that I need to read in the Krewe of Hunters series and the blurb looks pretty fantastic.

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 Café 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.