Tuesday, April 30, 2024

Top Ten Tuesday - Ten Petty Things that Bug Me in Books

Today I'm linking up with Top Ten Tuesday hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl which is all about lists.  Since lists are one of my favorite things this is one of my favorite linkups!  Today's topic is Ten Petty Reasons to DNF (or Reduce Ratings or in my case just bug me) a book.

1.  Too Stupid To Live Behavior To Often - I once read a cozy mystery where the main character confronted the murderer on a catwalk over a vat of furniture stripper with her young nonverbal son after of course not telling anyone where she was going or who she suspected.  This was years ago and I'm still not over it.

2.  Too Quirky - This iactually happened in the book referenced above but it does happen sometimes in quite a lot of fiction.  It drives me crazy when a character is just overflowing with quirky mannerisms.  Like everyone has a few but if you only eat pancakes, refuse to do things in three, always have to turn around twice before going through a door, only wear green Converse regardless of whatever else you're wearing or where you're going, and have a pet gecko that you take everywhere with you it gets a bit much.  One or two of these is fine but it gets exhausting if a character has ALL these traits and more.

3.  When the Author Gets Something Really Wrong and It's Mentioned Multiple Times - I don't care if some historical figure was born in 1827 not 1828 or in reality somethings need to be altered a bit to fit a narrative (as long as the author notes this) but I read a book once set during World War II where the main character had a security clearance and her primary way of getting information that she had no reason to know was announcing to a character that it was fine because she had a clearance.  I spent most of the book screaming "That's not how that works!".

4.  Too Many Tangents - I'm all about the "slice of life" style of fiction where we are just following the character around but tangets that do nothing for getting to know the character or furthering the plot are not my favorite.  I do not need to know the history of the dry cleaner's in another town that you drove by once!

5.  Too Much Angst - I'm all for a little drama but when it's drama on top of drama on top of drama it gets a little bit much and I can't help but roll my eyes.

6.  Too Immature - I probably expect an unrealistic amount of a maturity for characters as we rarely behave with perfect maturity in real life.  However, when a 40 year old District Attorney is basically throwing a temper tantrum because someone didn't return their call it gets a bit hard to take the character seriously.

7.  When the Character Never Goes to Work - I get that going to work isn't very exciting but in cozies especially it annoys me if a character owns a business and is continuously running out or never going in the first place.  I don't mean I need to see every minute of work time but at least a few mentions would be nice.

8.  There's one series that I really enjoy where the main character rides around on an "adult tricycle".  I have no issue with the character doing so but it's mentioned EVERY single time she goes anywhere and every single mention distracts me from the book as I try and visualize that as well as wonder how you wouldbut when  park one as I would think they'd be enormous - espcecially the back tire part.  It's incredibly distracting.

9.  Annoying children that for whatever reason the other characters think are adorable - I quit reading a Jenny Colgan series that I had really enjoyed because I just couldn't handle the main character's niece.  That child needed to be taught boundries and given a strong talking to but all character laughed off her awful behavior as just "being strong willed".

10. The awful friend/mother/sister - I love great friendships and they can really make a book even better but every so often there's a book where the main character's best friend or biggest confidante is just awful.  It always make me wonder why they're putting up with that person and I end up cringing everytime they get pagetime.  

What things in books bug you?

Monday, April 29, 2024

Overdue Reviews - Night of a Thousand Stars + Day of Vengeance

Goodreads:  Night of a Thousand Stars by Deanna Raybourn

Blurb:  On the verge of a stilted life as an aristocrat's wife, Poppy Hammond does the only sensible thing—she flees the chapel in her wedding gown. Assisted by the handsome curate who calls himself Sebastian Cantrip, she spirits away to her estranged father's quiet country village, pursued by the family she left in uproar. But when the dust of her broken engagement settles and Sebastian disappears under mysterious circumstances, Poppy discovers there is more to her hero than it seems.

With only her feisty lady's maid for company, Poppy secures employment and travels incognita—east across the seas, chasing a hunch and the whisper of clues. Danger abounds beneath the canopies of the silken city, and Poppy finds herself in the perilous sights of those who will stop at nothing to recover a fabled ancient treasure. Torn between allegiance to her kindly employer and a dashing, shadowy figure, Poppy will risk it all as she attempts to unravel a much larger plan—one that stretches to the very heart of the British government, and one that could endanger everything, and everyone, that she holds dear.

My Thoughts:  Oh I wanted to love this one.  1920s adventure and hijinks are usually right up my alley but I just couldn't get enjoy it the way that I wanted to.  The plot is completely unrealistic but I can usually overlook that if the story is fun enough but Poppy drove me crazy. The fact that she was the one who inserted herself in the situation and then fully believes she knows exactly what's going on when she clearly doesn't was maddening.  The woman never saw an assumption she wouldn't jump to.  If I was Sebastian I would have left her about 50 times along the way.   By the end of the book I was inventing ways to take her out and I couldn't help but roll my eyes at the solution.  This is still Deanna Raybourn so the writing is great and the scene setting is fantastic but that couldn't quite make up for Poppy.  My Rating:  Just Okay (2 Stars)

Blurb:  Dorothy Martin s husband, Alan Nesbitt, is heavily involved in the complex and lengthy process of choosing a new bishop for Sherebury Cathedral. The very day that the short list is announced publicly, one of the candidates is found murdered in his own church. With a long list of possible suspects, including Alan himself, Dorothy and Alan start to delve into the history of the victim, hoping to find some clue to a motive for murder.Then a second candidate is found dead, and the case becomes very complicated indeed. Who is murdering England s clergymen and why . . .?

My Thoughts:  I read this series years ago and I remember it being pretty cozy.  This book, however, I did not find cozy at all.  Yes, there's an amateur detective (an a not so amateur detective acting unofficially) and quite a lot of it takes place in a cozy village in England but the subject matter is far from cozy and honestly, I found the ending to be mostly just depressing.  I also didn't enjoy that the focus was mostly on the religious politics of the various candidates for bishop and not so much on secrets of their past.  It got a bit preachy feeling which is one of my least favorite things in a book and it didn't help that I never really warmed to Dorothy.  I remember enjoying this series years ago but I must admit that I don't think it's for me any longer.  My Thoughts:  Just Okay (2 Stars)

Sunday, April 28, 2024

This Week in Reading - April 28

 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:

What Cannot Be Said by C.S. Harris - I've really enjoyed this historical mystery series and I'm looking forward to reading this latest one.  (Publisher)


Reading:  People in Glass Houses by Jayne Castle and Murder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie

Listening:  Death by Beach Read by Eva Gates

This was a quiet but busy week.  We are getting ready to go out of town and J had some business travel which always makes things a bit chaotic.  

After feeling like I've been teetering on the edge of a reading slump I've really been enjoying my reading which is such a fun feeling!

Have a great week and happy reading!

Friday, April 26, 2024

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

I'm in a list making kind of mood so I thought I'd start making random five lists.  Sometimes they'll be bookish other weeks not so much. This week I'm sharing 5 quick reviews for books I've read recently.

1.  The Art Thief by Michael Finkel - I'm fascinated by this historical implications of art and art theft.  This was the story of a French art thief, Stephane Breitwieser, who believed himself not a thief but a collector.  The author does a fantastic job of telling the story and allowing the reader to understand Breitwieser without glamorizing him or making him sympathetic.  The importance of the art and the potential loss is staggering.  This reads quickly and I was engaged from beginning to end.  My Rating: Really Liked It (4 Stars)  

2.  Assistant to the Villain by Hannah Nicole Maehrer - I wasn't quite sure what to expect with this one but I ended up thoroughly enjoyed it.  Evie is a delightful character.  She's impulsive but not an idiot about it and her motives are always good hearted.  She's also hilariously okay with finding severed heads hanging from the ceiling and various other villainous activities.  I loved the Villain and was curious about his backstory from the beginning.  I loved Becky and Gage and Kingsley and Tatiana as well.  There's humor, suspense, characters getting to know themselves, and a touch of romance.  I did find the audio a bit slow and listened to it .5 faster than I usually do.  By the end I was so hooked on the story I immediately went and pre-ordered the next book because I HAVE to know what happens next.  My Rating: Really Liked It! (4.5 Stars)

3.  Charms and Chocolate Chips by Bailey Cates - This is a really cute magical cozy series centered around a bakery in Savannah, Georgia.  There's a fun group of characters both magical and non-magical and I love seeing all the familiars.  This one not only had an interesting mystery but had some relationship growth in several areas of Katie's life that I enjoyed.  This is a series I think I'm going to roll into my series project soon to concentrate on finishing it. It's a bit light and fluffy but a nice read. My Rating: Liked It! (3.5 Stars)

4.  At the Chinese Table: A Memoir with Recipes by Carolyn Phillips -
I love a foodie memoir but Chinese food has never been high up on my interest list though through homeschool study with my son I've become more interested in Chinese culture.  This was an interesting read.  The author's love and deep appreciation of the food shines through as well as her awareness and respect for the culture and languages.  I enjoyed her experiences trying food as a college student and then again later as an adult.  Each chapter is ended with detailed recipes that she has clearly tried and worked on and is full of insightful notes.  If you're looking for an in-depth look of either Chinese culture or cuisine this isn't it but this does provide an interesting and insightful overview.  My Rating: Liked It! (3.5 Stars)

5.  A Grave Robbery by Deanna Raybourn -
I have really enjoyed all the books in this series and this one really worked for me.  After some time estranged Veronica and Stoker are back together with a deeper understanding and appreciation for each other.  The mystery is a novel one.  Who is the "beauty" - a young woman preserved in an extraordinary fashion and made to look like a waxwork.  This leads to an interesting mystery about the identity not just of the young woman but of just who preserved her and why.  I loved that not only do Veronica and Stoker ask from help from a reporter and a detective but these friends hold them accountable when Veronica and Stoker go off on their own a bit too much instead of relying on the team.  My only concern is that the end of this book reads like the potential end of the series and I'd be sad to be done with the world Raybourn has created.  My Rating:  Really Liked It (4.5 Stars)

Thursday, April 25, 2024

Books from the Backlog - Historically Dead

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:  Historically Dead by Greta McKennan

Blurb:  Seamstress Daria Dembrowski must find a historically-minded killer before the fabric of her peaceful town rips wide open . . .
When the reality show My House in History comes to Laurel Springs, Pennsylvania, savvy seamstress Daria Dembrowski sees a business opportunity. The show follows two elderly sisters’ quest to restore their colonial mansion, and that means a heap of work for a seamstress who specializes in historical textiles. Although one of the old women is a bit of a grump, Daria loves the job—until she discovers one of the researchers dead, and the whole project threatens to unwind.

As a series of historical crimes pile up, from a stolen Paul Revere platter to a chilling incident of arson, Daria must find the killer quickly, for her life is hanging by a thread.

Why It Needs to Come Off the Shelf:  This has been on my NetGalley shelf for far too long and it does sound like a cozy I'd enjoy.

Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Murder in Rose Hill - Historical Mystery Review

Goodreads:  Murder in Rose Hill (A Gaslight Mystery #27) by Victoria Thompson

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

Description:  Sarah Malloy has just helped with the delivery of a bouncing baby girl at her women’s clinic, when she receives a visit from an engaging and determined young woman writing an article for New Century Magazine. Louisa Rodgers explains that she is researching the dangers of patent remedies. Sarah is only too happy to tell Louisa exactly what she thinks of the so-called medicines whose ingredients include heavy doses of alcohol and other addictive drugs, and hurt much more than they help.

A few days later, Sarah receives a visit from a bereft Bernard Rodgers, who explains that his daughter, Louisa, has been found strangled in the lobby of the building where New Century has its offices. The police have decided it was a random attack and have made no attempt to investigate, hinting that Louisa got what she deserved for sticking her nose where it didn’t belong. Sarah wants justice for the bright young woman but as she and Frank delve deeper into Louisa’s life, they find that nothing is quite as it seemed and Louisa is not who she claimed to be. The Malloys must first solve the mystery of Louisa’s life before they can figure out who wanted to see her dead…

Genre: Mystery - Historical

Why I Picked This Book:  I absolutely love this series so of course I had to pick up the newest book in the series.

My Impression: I thoroughly enjoyed this newest entry into the gaslight mystery series.  Sarah, Malloy, Gino, and Maeve are my favorite investigative team with each person bring a different perspective and understanding to the investigation.  Gino had a fairly small role but we saw a lot of Frank, Sarah, Maeve and much to my delight even Sarah's parents.  I have yet to read the early books in the series but at least in the later books Sarah's parents have been my favorite side characters as is Frank's mother.

The mystery was a good one.  I was fascinated and somewhat horrified by the information on patent medicine and how people tended to take them.  But did Louisa's article on these patent medicines cause her murder?  And just who was Louisa really?  She's painted as a saint and terrible person so someone has to be lying.

This series just keeps getting better.  The characters are solid, the relationships are evolving in an authentic feeling way, and the mysteries typically pull aspects of the timeperiod that I know very little about.  The more I read the more I like this series and I can't wait for the next book!  

Would I Read More of this Series/Author? Absolutely!  I really enjoy this series and am looking forward to going back and reading the earlier books as well as looking out for the newest book.

Would I Recommend this Book? If you enjoy mysteries - especially if you like historical mysteries - 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, April 23, 2024

Top Ten Tuesday - Ten Unread Books On My Shelf I Want to Read Soon

Today I'm linking up with Top Ten Tuesday hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl which is all about lists.  Since lists are one of my favorite things this is one of my favorite linkups!  Today's topic is Ten Unread Books on My Shelf I Want to Read Soon.  I have a habit of buying books and then putting them on my shelf where they sit there for ages and I keep buying more books and it's kind of an endless cycle.  This year I am trying to make more of an effort to read books off my shelf (I'm still buying books but at least I'm clearing some out!) and here are 10 that come to mind as books I really want to read.

1.  Love Without Borders by Angela Braniff - Angela Braniff is a family vlogger on YouTube who I don't watch as much as I used to.  While family vloggers are notoriously controversial I really appreciated that right from the start she never filmed her kids if they were upset and was careful about what she shared.  Now she very rarely shows them on camera at all and as they've gotten older she has gotten even more careful about their privacy.  I'm really curious to see what she has to share.  I preordered this book but right after I got it Covid hit and then my son was diagnosed with leukemia so it kind of fell through the cracks.

2.  Meet Me in Monoco by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb - I picked this up years ago.  I love the authors, the cover and the premise but I've yet to read it.

3.  Old World Murder by Kathleen Ernst - I have a couple of books in this series that all look good but I need to read this one before I can go on to the others.  

4.  A Skeleton in the Family by Leigh Perry - This series is one of my favorite YouTubers favorite cozy series so of course I had to try it.  Unfortunately that was at least 2 years ago and it's still sitting on my shelf.

5.  The Clockmaker's Daughter by Kate Morton - This is the last Kate Morton book I have to read and is one I bought years ago - right after it came out but for some reason I've just never read it.

6.  Seeing Darkness by Heather Graham - I really want to make progress on the Krewe of Hunter series from Heather Graham.  I picked this one up soon after it came out thinking that I would be caught up pretty quickly but I'm not caught up yet!

7.  Wild Ride: A Memoir of I.V. Drips and Rocket Ships by Hayley Arceneaux - Hayley was Will's PA when he was in active treatment at St. Jude and it was great to have a childhood cancer survivor on his medical team - plus she's just a super nice person.  I preordered this book but wasn't in a place to read it when it came out but would really like to read it soon.

8.  The Bookshop at Water's End by Patti Callahan Henry - I picked up this book after reading and really enjoying other books by this author fully intending to read this on vacation.  That vacation has come and gone and I've yet to read it.

9.  Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder by Caroline Fraser - I got this as a birthday gift several years ago and fully intended to read it.  

10. When the Marquess Met His Match by Laura Lee Guhrke - I have a whole pile of historical romances that I got years ago and then kind of stopped reading historical romances.  I've been getting back to enjoying them and this is at the top of my list.

Monday, April 22, 2024

Four-Alarm Homicide - Cozy Mystery Review

Goodreads:  Four-Alarm Homicide (A House Flipper Mystery #6) by Diane Kelly

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

Description:  Carpenter Whitney Whitaker and her cousin Buck are hot for a historical property that has just come on the market—a fire station in Nashville’s Germantown neighborhood that was built nearly a century ago.

The cousins have just begun the interior demolition work at the fire station when Joanna Hartzell, who lives in a townhouse around the corner, comes by with a plea for help. Joanna owns the right half of her building, which she proudly maintains in perfect condition, while the left side falls into disrepair: the seven adult children who inherited it years ago refuse to lift a finger on repairs. Never one to turn down a challenge, Whitney and Buck manage to acquire the rundown townhouse—though it turns out Joanna is only one of the many neighbors interested in buying the property once they’ve worked their magic.

Then Joanna shows up at the fire station confused and rambling, then collapses, never to recover. Alarm bells go off for Whitney: she suspects something—and someone—evil could be the real cause. Can she and Collin put the clues together and smoke out a killer?

Genre: Mystery - Cozy

Why I Picked This Book:  I've enjoyed other books by this series so of course I had to pick this one up!

My Impression: This was a fun mystery with lots of home renovation detail and some observations from Sawdust.  Whitney and her cousin Buck are trying to manage two flips - an old firehouse and a townhouse - as well as fighting sabatoging adult children and meddling neighbors.  

This was a fun read.  I like Whitney and Buck as well as their friends and the renovation parts were interesting.  The murder happened later in the book but I never felt like it was dragging and was entertained from the first page.  The mystery was an interesting one and definitely kept me guessing until the end.   There were more than a few possible suspects and I really had no idea how it was all going to play out.

This is a slice of life style cozy with lots of side information.  The characters are likable with interesting jobs and the mystery was solid.  I enjoyed it from beginning to end.

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 enjoy cozy mysteries I'd recommend this author, book and series.  This was a fun read.

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

Sunday, April 21, 2024

This Week in Reading - 4/21

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:

Death Scene by Carol J. Perry - I love this series so of course I had to pick up this latest one!


Reading:  The Summer Swap by Sarah Morgan and A Grave Robbery by Deanna Raybourn

Listening:  Day of Vengeance by Jeanne M. Dams

It's been a quiet week with mostly recovering from the eclipse trip.  Now the laundry is all done and I caught up on everything else so it's almost time to go out of town again!  We are going to Colonial Williamsburg in a few weeks and it has been a long time since I've been.  Has anyone been?  Any recommedations for places to go or places to eat?

Have a great week and happy reading!

Saturday, April 20, 2024

Authors I've Been Meaning to Read - Tom Lake by Ann Patchett

At the beginning of the year I made a list of authors that I've been saying I need to read and commit to reading at least one book by each of the authors in 2024.  Here's my thoughts on one of those books/authors.

Goodreads:  Tom Lake by Ann Patchett

Blurb:  In the spring of 2020, Lara’s three daughters return to the family's orchard in Northern Michigan. While picking cherries, they beg their mother to tell them the story of Peter Duke, a famous actor with whom she shared both a stage and a romance years before at a theater company called Tom Lake. As Lara recalls the past, her daughters examine their own lives and relationship with their mother, and are forced to reconsider the world and everything they thought they knew.

Tom Lake is a meditation on youthful love, married love, and the lives parents have led before their children were born. Both hopeful and elegiac, it explores what it means to be happy even when the world is falling apart. As in all of her novels, Ann Patchett combines compelling narrative artistry with piercing insights into family dynamics. The result is a rich and luminous story, told with profound intelligence and emotional subtlety, that demonstrates once again why she is one of the most revered and acclaimed literary talents working today.

My Thoughts:  This is a deceptively simple book.  In theory I could summarize it in one sentence - "A mother tells her three adult daughters the story of her young adulthood focusing on one summer she spent doing summer stock with an actor who would go on to be famous".  And that is what happened.  But there is so much more.  It's a coming of age and children realizing that their parents had an existence that didn't involve them.  It's figuring out what it is that's really important to you and what you really want out of life.  It's also appreciating what you have despite the challenges. It's a slow moving book but one I really enjoyed.  My main complaint is an interaction that occured towards the end in an encounter of two characters.  It just felt needlessy crass and out of character for Lara as well as just having a randomness to it.   It hit a sour note for me where I had enjoyed the rest of the book.  That said I did enjoy this book and highly recommend the audio that is read by the wonderful Meryl Streep.  I'm looking forward to trying more from this author.  My Rating: Really Liked It (4 Stars)

Friday, April 19, 2024

Friday Fives - Five Reviews for Books in 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.  Guilty as Cinnamon by Leslie Budewitz - This is the second book in the Spice Shop series and I think I enjoyed this even more than the first book.  I enjoyed the mystery and the characters as well as getting to know Pepper a bit more.   The environment of Pike Place Market is a fun setting for a cozy series as there are lots of different shops and people coming and going which makes for plenty of room for different suspects and motives.  So far I've really enjoyed the books I've read in this series and am looking forward to reading more.  My Rating: Really Liked It (4 Stars)

2.  Deadly Ever After by Eva Gates - Lucy's past has come back to annoy her when her ex-boyfriend and his determined mother show up for the weekend of her engagement party.   While Ricky is drinking heavily and his mother is pushing the boundaries of subtlety while trying to entice Lucy to marry Ricky instead of husband to be, town mayor and dentist Connor.  Things get a little more tricky when after a rather uncomfortable dinner they stumble over the dead body of Ricky's father who is also Lucy's father's law partner.  I really enjoyed seeing Lucy's parents - especially her dad since he hasn't really made an appearance in the series.  This kept me entertained from beginning to end and I didn't figure out the whodunnit until right before Lucy which made for a fun read.  My Rating: Really Liked It (4 Stars)

3.  Lost Hours by Paige Shelton -
Beth is coming to terms with everyone knowing who she is as well as having her long missing father back in her life.  When a woman covered in blood is found on an unoccupied island with a wild story of having been kidnapped she's pulled into the investigation.  The woman's story raises some eyebrows from the start but things become more serious when it turns out that nothing she says can be taken at face value.  There's a lot going on in this story with lots of moving parts.  I really did enjoy the mystery and it was nice to see Beth really finding her footing and starting to decide what she wants moving forward with her life.  I'm looking forward to the next book in the series as this one ended with a touch of a cliffhanger regarding one of the long running plot points.  My Rating: Really Liked It (4 Stars)

4.  Peril in Paperback by Kate Carlisle -
It's been awhile since I read this series and I forgot how fun it can be.  This was chaos in a murderous house party complete with an ever changing mansion, a full house of guests - some likable, some not - and a blizzard.  And because Brooklyn Wainwright is on the scene there are books scattered about in the most unlikely of places.  After the first murder occurs and the weather leaves them stranded more than a few guests are acting suspiciously and Brooklyn starts investigating.  This was a fun read though a bit disjointed with more than a few coincidences.  I love the book talk and the house seems like a lot of fun with trapdoors and all kinds of tricks.  The ending was a bit jumbled but overall I enjoyed it and am looking forward to the next book.  My Rating: Liked It! (3.5 Stars)

5.  Golden Malicious by Sheila Connolly -
This series is probably one of the first cozy mystery series I really got into it and while I did enjoy this one I wouldn't say it's withstood the test of time as a favorite.  This was an interesting read and I like Meg and Seth and the rest of the side characters though Bree takes some warming up to.  The mystery here feels secondary to the more slice of life feel of the book.  I learned a lot about how to manage an orchard and how invasive pests are dealt with as well as historic home renovation.  I enjoyed it but if I had come to this book just looking for a murder mystery I'm not sure I would have been all that happy.  Some of the threads running through the story do connect to the dead body but is that body a murder victim and how is connected with an invasive bug threat.  I do like that Meg's life running an orchard isn't portrayed as all sunshine and roses.  Farming is definitely hard work!  I'm looking forward to reading the next book in the series and I did like reconnecting with the characters but this is more a book about the life of an apple farmer who happens to stumble on dead bodies vs a mystery focused book.  My Rating: Liked It! (3.5 Stars)

Thursday, April 18, 2024

Books from the Backlog - Brought to Book

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:  Brought to Book by Anthea Fraser

Blurb:  Mystery and intrigue with a decidedly literary bent, from the bestselling crime writer - When successful biographer Rona Parish is asked to write the life-story of a bestselling author, recently deceased, she is intrigued - to say the least. After all, Theo Harvey led a very colourful life, and died in mysterious circumstances. But Rona's husband Max is wary and, it soon becomes apparent, with good reason...As Rona begins to delve into Theo Harvey's life and death, and to interview his friends and family - some more willing than others - she realises that she has taken on a poisoned chalice.

Why It Needs to Come Off the Shelf:  I got this off of NetGalley a year or two ago and it kind of fell through the cracks and I never ended up reading it.  This sounds really interesting and I'm hoping to get to it in the next month or two.

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

What I'm Reading Wednesday - April 17

 I always have a few books going and this is what I'm reading this week and what I think of my reads.

My Slow Read:
I started doing a slow read after being inspired by Kathryn over at The Book Date and I've been really enjoying it.

The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biograpy of Cancer by Siddhartha Mukharjee
- This is a chunk of a book but incredibly fascinating.  I'm reading about 20 minutes a day and it is just the right amount.  There's a big focus on childhood cancers - especially leukemia which does hit very close to home for me but it's been so informative.

My Print Book:

Blood Red by Wendy Corsi Staub - I was expecting a fairly fast paced romantic suspense candy bar of a book but while it is definitely suspenseful it's much more of a slow build exploring some more complicated issues.  So far I'm enjoying it and it has proven to be a pleasent surprise.

My Ebook:

Murder in Rose Hill by Victoria Thompson
- I'm almost done with this latest book in the historic mysery series set in early 1900s New York.  I'm really enjoying it and the stuff on patent medicines are both interesting and terrifying.  I don't know who the bad guy is yet but I'm looking forward to finding out.

My Audio Book:

Tom Lake by Ann Patchett - This is my first book by Ann Patchett and so far I'm really enjoying it.  It's a slower story but I've been pulled in from the start and the fact that Meryl Streep narrates the audio does not hurt!

What are you reading right now?

Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Top Ten Tuesday - Ten Characters I'd Like to Go on Vacation With

Today I'm linking up with Top Ten Tuesday hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl which is all about lists.  Since lists are one of my favorite things this is one of my favorite linkups!  Today's topic is about 10 characters I'd Like to Go on Vacation With.  This was a bit of a challenge since I read a lot of mysteries which means most of the characters I read about are constantly tripping over dead bodies which doesn't seem like would be much fun in reality!

1.  Mrs. Pollifax - I have very mixed feelings about this!  I'd love to spend time with Mrs. Pollifax but things do tend to go horribly wrong and you frequently end up in a country different from the one you started with.  

2.  Jessica Fletcher - Some glitzy author event.  Jessica is down to earth and doesn't take herself too seriously so she'd be fun to be with but she's well known enough to get us to meet all kinds of people.  My main goal would be avoiding getting suspected of murder.  

3 - 5.  Jane Marple, Hercule Poirot, and Patricia Wentworth's Maud Silver - A cruise.  We'd sit on the deck and people watch.  It'd be so much fun.  We'd probably discover all kinds of secrets and scandals.

6.  Kat Holloway from Speculations in Sin by Jennifer Ashley - Anywhere as long as it has a full kitchen.  Kat seems like a fun person to be around and she's a miracle worker in the kitchen so maybe a mountain cabin?  She'd probably enjoy the peace and quiet and clean air and Grace would have a fun time exploring.

7.  Sonya McTavish from Inheritance by Nora Roberts - A staycation at her house.  Sonya has a massive old house in Maine with antiques and ghosts and other mysteries.  I'd spend a happy week just exploring.

8.  Phileas Fogg from Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne - Pretty much anywhere because we'd always get where we're going with minimal delay.  He's resourceful and not much of a complainer - plus doesn't mind spending money to get what he wants.

9.  Dicken from The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett - A walking tour through the English countryside.  Dickens knows so much about how things grow, animals and nature that he'd be fascinating to go on a hike with.  

10. Della Hamilton from The Blackbird Trilogy by Heather Graham - Anywhere historic.  Della can see and communicate with ghosts which would add a fun element to touring historic places.

Monday, April 15, 2024

Authors I've Been Meaning to Read - The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

At the beginning of the year I made a list of authors that I've been saying I need to read and commit to reading at least one book by each of the authors in 2024.  Here's my thoughts on one of those books/authors.

Goodreads:  The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Blurb:  Aging and reclusive Hollywood movie icon Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life. But when she chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant for the job, no one is more astounded than Monique herself. Why her? Why now?

Monique is not exactly on top of the world. Her husband has left her, and her professional life is going nowhere. Regardless of why Evelyn has selected her to write her biography, Monique is determined to use this opportunity to jumpstart her career.

Summoned to Evelyn’s luxurious apartment, Monique listens in fascination as the actress tells her story. From making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the ‘80s, and, of course, the seven husbands along the way, Evelyn unspools a tale of ruthless ambition, unexpected friendship, and a great forbidden love. Monique begins to feel a very real connection to the legendary star, but as Evelyn’s story nears its conclusion, it becomes clear that her life intersects with Monique’s own in tragic and irreversible ways.

My Thoughts:  I knew a bit about this book going into it so the love of Evelyn Hugo's life wasn't a surprise.  However, the focus of the book did end up being a surprise.  Yes, this is a story of a glamorous movie star but the real focus is on what happens if you don't let yourself truly be yourself and don't accept who you are.  At times this message felt a bit heavy handed.  I enjoyed the old Hollywood bits and watching Evelyn as she navigates the changing world of fame as times change and she gets older.  I wasn't sure how her life and Monique's life connected until it was revealed and that was quite a surprise.  Honestly, I'm not sure how I feel about this book which seems reasonable as Evelyn was a complicated woman and nothing was ever easy.  I will say that the author made her so vivid and made her seem so real that I caught myself almost Googling her to see what she really looked like.  My Rating: Liked It! (3.5 Stars)

Sunday, April 14, 2024

This Week in Reading - April 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:

A Deceptive Composition by Anna Lee Huber - This is the next book in the Lady Darby mysteries and it is a series I really enjoy so I"m really looking forward to it.  (Publisher)

Reading Between the Lines by Lynn Cahoon - I've read all the books in the series - the first I loved, the second I was meh on, and the third I really enjoyed - so I'm curious to see where I fall with this one! (Publisher)

The Jig is Up by Lisa Q. Mathews - This is a new book in a new to me cozy mystery series that looks really fun! (Publisher)

Olive You to Death by Lynn Cahoon - This is the most recent in a long running cozy series so of course I couldn't resist it!


  Murder in Rose Hill by Victoria Thompson and Blood Red by Wendy Corsi Staub

Listening:  Tom Lake by Ann Patchett

Last week we were in Arkansas for the eclipse.  We saw the one in 2017 and since the next one isn't until 2045 we decided we had to make the drive!  We stayed in Branson, Missouri and drove over to Mammoth Spring, Arksansas to watch the eclipse and had such a good time!  I was so impressed with the rangers who were running the parking situtation and the park was beautiful.  As much fun as the trip was it is definitely great to be home again.  

Where you able to see the eclipse from your location?  Have a great week and happy reading!

Saturday, April 13, 2024

The Mystery of the Blue Train - Classic Mystery Review

Goodreads: The Mystery of the Blue Train by Agatha Christie

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

Description:  A mysterious woman, a legendary cursed jewel, and a night train from London to the French Riviera -- ingredients for the perfect romance or the perfect crime? When the train stops, the jewel is missing, and the woman is found dead in her compartment. It's the perfect mystery, filled with passion, greed, deceit, and confusion. Is Hercule Poirot the perfect detective to solve it?

Genre:  Mystery - Classic

Why I Picked This Book:  This was the March pick for the Read Christie 2024 challenge.

My Impression: I've read that Christie was made to change the ending of this mystery and because of that was never fully satisfied it.  After reading it I can completely believe that.  This has all the hallmarks of a great Christie mystery - a murder on a train, multiple suspects and motives, and criminal elements lurking inthe shadows - but somehow just never has made it to my favorite list.  It's also one I never quite remember.  

This is a solid mystery with a good main character in Katherine Gray and a really good use of Poirot.  The mystery has lots of elements and anything invovling historic jewels can't be bad!  This is one I always look forward to reading when it comes up on a list but isn't one I think of or one I typically recommend for new Christie readers.  The final reveal just never quite makes the best of all the elements that come up in the book.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author? Of course!  I always in the middle of some kind of Christie reread!

Would I Recommend this Book? While this isn't the top Christie mystery I recommend to new readers it's an enjoyable read with a solid mystery.  Definitely one to add to your TBR!

Friday, April 12, 2024

Friday Fives - Five Books Set in Missouri

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.  We've been in Missouri this week so we could be in the path of the solar eclipse.  It occurred to me Missouri isn't really a state I visit fictionally very often so of course I had to find 5 books that are set in Missouri!  It was more of a challenge than I expected.

1.  If Bread Could Rise to the Occasion by Paige Shelton - It's been awhile since I've read anything in this series though I have enjoyed it.  This is the next book for me to read and it sounds pretty fun - plus it takes place in small town Missouri.

2.  Little Shop of Homicide by Denise Swanson - This looks like a fun cozy mystery series set in an old-fashioned five and dime general store.

3.  The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain - I was convinced I had read both Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn but when I read Huck Finn a few years ago I discovered I absolutely had not read it so now I'm wondering if I've read Tom Sawyer.

4.  Dark Places by Gillian Flynn - I've only read Gone Girl by this author which I did enjoy and I've been meaning to read more by her for more than a decade.  

5.  The Deep End by Julie Mulhern - I've read several books in this cozy mystery series set in the 1970s in Kansas City, Missouri and it's always a good time.  Now I need to go back and read the first book!

Do you know of any books set in Missouri?