Saturday, June 29, 2024

Come Shell or High Water - Cozy Mystery Review

Goodreads: Come Shell or High Water by Molly MacRae

Rating: Just Okay (2.5 Stars)
Source:   Publisher

Description:  When widowed folklorist Maureen Nash visits a legendary North Carolina barrier island shell shop, she discovers its resident ghost pirate and the mystery of a local’s untimely death . . .

As a professional storyteller, Maureen Nash can’t help but see the narrative cues woven through her life. Like the series of letters addressed to her late husband from a stranger—the proprietor of The Moon Shell, a shop on Ocracoke Island, off the coast of North Carolina. The store is famous with shell collectors, but it’s the cryptic letters from Allen Withrow, the shop’s owner, that convince Maureen to travel to the small coastal town in the middle of hurricane season. At the very least, she expects she’ll get a good story out of the experience, never anticipating it could end up a murder mystery . . .

In Maureen’s first hours on the storm-lashed island, she averts several life-threatening accidents, stumbles over the body of a controversial Ocracoke local, and meets the ghost of an eighteenth-century Welsh pirate, Emrys Lloyd. To the untrained eye, all these unusual occurrences would seem to be random misfortunes, but Maureen senses there may be something connecting these stories. With Emrys’s supernatural assistance, and the support of a few new friends, Maureen sets out unravel the truth, find a killer, and hopefully give this tale a satisfying ending . . . while also rewriting her own.

Genre: Mystery - Cozy

Why I Picked This Book:  This is an author I've been wanting to read for awhile and I love the idea of a professional storyteller as the main character - especially when there's a ghost involved!

My Impression: Unfortunately, this didn't really work of me.  I really liked the island setting with the hurricaine afternamth and of course I loved the Welsh pirate ghost.  I love the idea of Maureen's job and how her scope of knowledge is so wide and varied.  The dead body shows up virtually from page one meaning that the mystery hits the ground running.

All of that said, I found this a bit confusing and chaotic.  It was a bit like walking into a movie a third of the way through the action.  There were a number of characters all talking a mile a minute and running around.  As well, it felt like Maureen switched topics on a whim and with no apparent reason which made it a bit difficult to keep track of what was happening.  

I've seen some postive reviews of this book calling it quirky and whimsical so this could be just a case of wrong book at the wrong time for me.  I didn't hate it - I just felt like I never connected with the story.  The author has another series that has been on my TBR and I definitely want to pick the first book up and see if that's a bit of a better fit.  

Would I Read More of this Series/Author? I would.  I really want to read another series by this author and if I see good reveiws for the next book I'll definitely give this series another try.

Would I Recommend this Book? Probably not.  It was just a bit too chaotic for me to really recommend it.

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

Friday, June 28, 2024

Friday Fives - Five Short Revews 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.  Dream Lake by Lisa Kleypas - For the most part I absolutely love this book.  I love Zoe and while Alex isn't the typical good guy I can't help but like him and root for him as he struggles to deal with his demons.  And of course there's the ghost.  I do love a good ghost story and this one is a good one.   We don't know his identity until towards the end but I liked him from the start.  This was a couple with serious issues that I couldn't help but root for and I was invested in their story from the beginning.  Also I would not walk or ride a bike in this town - this is the second book where a character gets injured by being hit by a car.  My Rating: Really Liked It (4 Stars)

2.  Legends and Lattes by Travis Baldree -
I've been enjoying cozy fantasy and this was a fun read.  I love the found family element and all the different characters who make up Viv's ever growing family were really fun to get to know.  The way the coffee shop slowly evolved was also fun to watch happen.   While I enjoyed this and it was a nice fun cozy read I didn't really fall in love with it.  It was a nice read but not standout.  I did enjoy getting another taste of fantasy and I would read more from this author and this series.  My Rating: Liked It! (3.5 Stars)

3.  Devil in Disguise by Lisa Kleypas -
I had enjoyed meeting Lady Merrit in a previous Ravenel book so I was looking forward to getting to know her a bit better in her own book.  I was overjoyed to get a visit from Lord Westcliffe and Lillian (aka Merrit's parents).  The romance was a little insta-love/lust but given the circumstances it did make some sense.  Kleypas is one of my favorite romance author and this one didn't let me down.  I loved following Kier and Merrit and sorting through the danger that surrounded them.  I saw that there were mentions that Kleypas is working on a book after a hiatus and I am crossing my fingers that that is true and that the book will be about Merrit's younger brother, Luke.  My Rating: Really Liked It (4 Stars)

4.  The House on Biscayne Bay by Chanel Cleeton -
This is the second book I've read by this author and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  This is a dual timeline mystery centered around a grand estate called Marbrisa that is just outside Miami.  The first story centers around Anna Barnes, the wife of the man who builds Marbrisa, and the second is about Carmen Acosta, a recent orphan and the sister of Carolina who is married to the current owner of Marbrisa.  Nothing is as it seems in either story and I enjoyed the unravelling of life in the grand house.  I really loved how the atmosphere surrounding the house is almost its own character - complete with storms, alligators, and the occasional shrieking peacock.  I wanted a little bit more about the house but overall I enjoyed this one from beginning to end.  My Rating: Really Liked It (4 Stars)

5.  The Whispered Word by Ellery Adams
- This is the second book in the Secret, Book, and Scone Society series.  It's been awhile since I read the first book but even though I don't remember much about the plot it didn't keep me from quickly being pulled into this book.  I love the bits of magic woven into the cozy mystery with 4 main characters who have survived and overcome and are perhaps beginning to heal.   Nora is slowly becoming more at home in Miracle Springs and is starting to make friends and become part of the community.  The mystery was intriguing - just who is Abilene and what secrets is she keeping.    There is also a death that looks like suicide and a new business that Nora and the rest of the women have a bit of a funny feeling about.  I really enjoyed this book and it won't be as long before I pick up the third book in the series.  This is a bit cozy mystery, a bit magical realism, all with complex and flawed characters.  My Rating: Really Liked It (4 Stars)

Thursday, June 27, 2024

Books from the Backlog - The Gown

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 Gown by Jennifer Robson

Blurb:  London, 1947: Besieged by the harshest winter in living memory, burdened by onerous shortages and rationing, the people of postwar Britain are enduring lives of quiet desperation despite their nation’s recent victory. Among them are Ann Hughes and Miriam Dassin, embroiderers at the famed Mayfair fashion house of Norman Hartnell. Together they forge an unlikely friendship, but their nascent hopes for a brighter future are tested when they are chosen for a once-in-a-lifetime honor: taking part in the creation of Princess Elizabeth’s wedding gown.

Toronto, 2016: More than half a century later, Heather Mackenzie seeks to unravel the mystery of a set of embroidered flowers, a legacy from her late grandmother. How did her beloved Nan, a woman who never spoke of her old life in Britain, come to possess the priceless embroideries that so closely resemble the motifs on the stunning gown worn by Queen Elizabeth II at her wedding almost seventy years before? And what was her Nan’s connection to the celebrated textile artist and holocaust survivor Miriam Dassin?

Why It Needs to Come Off the Shelf - Historical fiction and dual timelines are some of my very favorite things and I love the sound of this one - which is why I bought it years ago!

Wednesday, June 26, 2024

Overdue Reviews - No One Needs to Know + Empty Nest

Goodreads:  No One Needs to Know by Kevin O'Brien

Blurb: A SECRET WORTH KILLING FOR…In July 1970, actress Elaina Styles was slain in her rented Seattle mansion along with her husband and their son’s nanny. When the baby’s remains were found buried in a shallow grave close to a hippie commune, police moved in—only to find all its members already dead in a grisly mass suicide.

Now, decades later, a film about the murders is shooting at the mansion. On-set caterer Laurie Trotter ignores gossip that the production is cursed. But then people start dying…

As Laurie digs deep into what happened all those years ago, the truth emerges more twisted than any whispered rumor, as a legacy of brutal vengeance reaches its terrifying climax…

My Thoughts:  Oh I wanted to love this one - or at least enjoy it.  Unfortunately, this one did just not end up working for me.  Laurie was a reasonably likable character but there were so many conspiracies and cults and pretty much all the main characters had someone who was trying to kill them.   I read another book recently that had kind of the same thing going on but while that was a fun roller coaster of a read this one just kind of dragged on with things just getting worse and worse for the main characters.  The villain from Laurie's past was in particularly unbelievable since he didn't seem particularly bright or particularly charismatic but seemingly he was a master criminal with followers willing to literally set themselves on fire at his order.  I finally hit the point where I just couldn't read anymore.  DNF'd at 54%

Goodreads:  Empty Nest (Birds of a Feather Mystery #2) by Marty Wingate

Blurb: Manager of a tourist center in a quaint British village, Julia Lanchester finds herself with more ideas than time. Her boss is the Earl Fotheringill himself, but apart from him, she doesn’t mix well with the aristocracy. Unfortunately, toxic mold forces her from her cottage and into one of the earl’s countless spare rooms at the Hall. She tries to get a handle on her overload of work, while she finds herself arguing with dinner guests, chaffing at the sudden interest the earl’s son has in running the estate, and missing her new beau, Michael Sedgwick. 

Her life goes from bad to sinister when Julia discovers poisoned sparrowhawks on the expansive estate grounds. And soon after, she finds one of the Hall’s visitors murdered—felled by the same poison. While simultaneously both spooked and angry, she still can’t keep herself from snooping, and dragging Michael along into her investigation. But will she find the culprit before her own wings are clipped?

My Thoughrs:  This was a fun cozy with lots of bits of keeping an English estate running (and finanically viable) in modern day, a sprinkling of birding, and of course a murder.  After mold is found in her cottage Julia has taken up residence in the Hall with the Earl of Fotheringill.  Her new circumstances blur the line between work and her personal life and put her front and center when a dead body is discovered.   The mystery was an interesting one with lots of unlikable potential suspects and more than a few red herrings. As well, there some progress in Julia's personal life both romantically and with her family.  It was lovely to see a bit of character growth but it didn't overshadow the mystery itself.  This was an entertaining read if you're in the mood for a light British cozy.  While it is the second in the series I don't think you'd have to many issues starting here.  My Rating: Liked It! (3.5 Stars)

Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Top Ten Tuesday - Ten New Releases I'm Anticipating in the Second Half of 2024

Today I'm linking up with Top Ten Tuesday hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl which is all about lists.  Since lists are one of my favorite things this is one of my favorite linkups!  Today's topic is New Releases I'm Anticipating in the Second Half of 2024.  It's hard to narrow this list down to 10!

1.  Apprentice to the Villian by Hannah Nicole Maehrer - I listened to the audio book of the first book and loved it.  I immediately went and pre-ordered this book.  I've heard the book was really slow for those reading it in print so I'm crossing my fingers I don't have an issue with this one.  

2.  Between a Flock and a Hard Place by Donna Andrews - I love this cozy series and can't wait for this latest book - and the titles always make me laugh.

3.  The Rose Arbor by Rhys Bowen - I do love a historical fiction and this one really caught my eye - plus I always enjoy the books by this author.

4.  Booked on Murder by Allison Brook - This is another favorite series and I can't wait to check in with the characters.

5.  The Mirror by Nora Roberts - I loved the first book in this trilogy and I can't wait for the story to continue.  

6.  A Witch's Guide to Magical Innkeeping by Sangu Mandanna - I really enjoyed the previous book by this author and this looks like more cozy goodness.

7.  A Merry Little Murder Plot by Jenn McKinlay - I really enjoy this bookish cozy series and have especially enjoyed the previous books so I'm looking forward to this newest one.

8.  Death Scene by Carol J Perry - Basically ditto above except this is a bit paranormal and not bookish.

9.  Close Knit by Jenny Colgan - I have been kind of hit and miss with Colgan's books lately but this one sounds great.  

10. Sticks and Scones by Ellie Alexander - This is another favorite cozy series and one that always makes me hungry.  Can't wait to see what the Torte crew is up to now.  

What new releases are you looking forward to in the second half of 2024?

Monday, June 24, 2024

Haunting License - Cozy Mystery Review

Goodreads: Haunting License (A Haunted Haven #3) by Carol J. Perry

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

Description:  When a fisherman is murdered, Florida innkeeper Maureen Doherty must cast a wide net to catch a killer—with a little help from her ghostly tenants . . .

It’s June in Haven, Florida, a “between seasons” time in the tourism business, and Maureen’s Haven House Inn is feeling the pinch. There are plenty of ghosts in residence, but Maureen needs living guests to pay the bills.

Inspired by an old brochure she finds in a trunk she inherited along with the inn from her mysterious benefactor Penelope Josephine Gray, she gets the brilliant idea to revive a June fishing tournament from twenty years ago, hoping to reel in anglers who’d love to catch the Gulf Coast’s popular kingfish and take home a trophy.

But one fisherman won’t make it to the tournament. While walking on the beach with her golden retriever Finn, Maureen discovers a body. When Officer Frank Hubbard arrives, he recognizes local charter boat fisherman Eddie Manuel.

Now it’s up to Maureen and her spirited sleuths to sort through the red herrings and bait a hook for a killer before someone else ends up sleeping with the fishes . . .

Genre: Mystery - Cozy

Why I Picked This Book:  I absolutely loved the first book in this series and enjoyed the second book so I was thrilled to see this next book!

My Impression: While I loved the first book in the series the second book was a bit slower going so I wasn't quite sure what to expect when I picked this one up.  While it doesn't have that right book at the right time magic like the first one I definitely enjoyed it more than book 2.  The mystery is more cohesive and while Maureen still has a long way to go to make Haven House secure again she's definitely got a plan - and support.

This is more of a how are they going to catch him than a whodunnit mystery but it was fun to be along for the investigative ride.   Not only are we following along with Maureen as she figures out just who killed the local fisherman, what is in the trunk (and storage locker) left by the previous owner of the inn, how to put together a fishing tournament in a very limited amount of time, and deals with ghosts and a very cheerful Golden Retriever named Finn.  

This is a fun light cozy mystery with a handful of ghosts and a fun slice of life of an Innkeeper in a rather quirky small town.  I always enjoy Carol J. Perry's books and this was no exception!  

Would I Read More of this Series/Author? Of course!  I have the next book for antoher series coming up on my reading list and I can't wait! 

Would I Recommend this Book? If you enjoy a quirky cozy this is a fun series - especially if you like a ghost or two popping up from time to time!

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

Saturday, June 22, 2024

A Collection of Lies - Mystery Review

Goodreads:  A Collection of Lies (A Kate Hamilton Mystery #5) by Connie Berry

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

Description:  As Kate Hamilton and her new husband DI Tom Mallory honeymoon in Devon, a local history museum asks them to trace the provenance of a blood-stained dress said to belong to a Victorian lacemaker accused of murder. If genuine, the dress and its puzzling connections to a nineteenth-century Romani family who camped on Dartmoor will be the centerpiece of a new historic crimes exhibit—exactly Kate’s kind of mystery. But matters turn deadly when a shot is fired during a fundraising gala, injuring the man who donated the dress.

The injured donor, Gideon Littlejohn, is a cyber-security expert who lives and dresses as a Victorian gentleman, but everyone believes the real target of the attack to be another attendee—a controversial politician intent on rooting out local corruption. This belief is overturned when Gideon is found dead in a pool of blood. But then the politician receives a death threat.

Who was the real target? Who would want to kill both a man with an obsession for history and a tough-on-crime politician? When asked to assist in the investigation, Kate races to discover the truth as it becomes clear the killer isn’t going to come quietly.

Genre: Mystery 

Why I Picked This Book:  I've really enjoyed the previous books in the series so of course I had to pick this one up.

My Impression: In this book Tom and Kate are away from their familiar places and in Devon on their honeymoon.  The days leading up to their wedding were eventful to say the least and so they plan on having a relaxing time - while investigating the origin of a dress that could be tied to a historic murder. But as they begin to investigate things quickly spiral a bit out of control with a shooting, a death, and all kinds of hidden agendas.

One of the reasons I really enjoy this series is the history that is usually entwined in the plot.  I feltthat this book really leaned into the history aspect as Kate's primary investigation is into the history of several items with a focus on the dress.  If you aren't interested in the history I feel like the first half especially will feel like the plot has gone into the weeds a bit.  While there are several major events that happen in the first half it doesn't feel like things really get moving into the second half of the book.  I enjoyed it but it might not be for everyone.  

This is a interesting British mystery series with likable main characters who have a lots of interesting life experience and both bring different perspectives to the investigation.  Despite a bit of a slower start I enjoyed this one from beginning to end and look forward to reading more by this author.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author? Absolutely!  This has antiques and mystery together what's not to love?

Would I Recommend this Book? If you enjoy mysteries I very much recommend this series - especially if you enjoy a British mystery with a bit of history.  

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

Friday, June 21, 2024

Friday Fives - Five Beach Reads

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 are heading to the beach in a few weeks for our first beach trip in several years and I'm so excited.  I normally don't have time to read very much and this probably won't be any different as there will be lots of family about but I am able to spend some time on the beach reading here are 5 books that I plan on reading.

1.  Bad Summer People by Emma Rosenblum - I've heard such great things about this book and it sounds like gossipy fun and perfect for the beach!

2.  The Bookshop by the Bay by Pamela Kelley - Not only does this have a gloriously beachy cover but it also has the word bookshop in the title.  Two great things that go great together!

3.  The Beach at Summerly by Beatriz Williams - I love Beatriz Williams' books and rich behaving scandalously in a historical context on the beach sounds fun.

4.  Ten Beach Road by Wendy Wax - It has beach in the title so that alone makes it a good beach reading candidate!  Plus I own a bunch of books in this series and should read them.

5.  The Lemon Sisters by Jill Shalvis - I'm trying to read more from this author and this book looks gloriously summery!

Now I just need to mix in some thrillers and I'm ready to go!

Thursday, June 20, 2024

Books from the Backlog - Mrs. Pollifax, Innocent Tourist

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:  Mrs. Pollifax, Innocent Tourist by Dorothy Gilman

Blurb:   Working with her retired CIA friend John Farrell, Mrs. Pollifax must smuggle a manuscript out of Jordan, a document that encodes the shocking truth of Saddam Hussein's reign.Hardly are the two airborne when the coils of Middle Eastern intrigue begin to unwind. Mrs. Pollifax's seatmate is not the affable Arab businessman he pretends to be. 

It is not imagination that persuades Mrs. P. that wherever they go, she and Farrell are followed. To elude their pursuers in such a politically volatile country isn't easy. In fact, it can be downright deadly...

Why It Needs to Come Off the Shelf:  I am almost done with this series but have been stalling on reading the last few books because I don't want to be done!  I need to just get it done!  

Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Requiem for a Mouse - Cozy Mystery Review

Goodreads:  Requiem For a Mouse (Cat in the Stacks Mystery #16) by Miranda James

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

Description:  At last, Charlie and Helen Louise’s wedding is only a month away. They’re busy preparing for the big day, and the last thing Charlie needs is a new mystery to solve. Enter Tara Martin, a shy, peculiar woman who has recently started working part-time at Helen Louise’s bistro and helping Charlie in the archive. Tara isn’t exactly friendly and she has an angry outburst at the library that leaves Charlie baffled. And then she abruptly leaves a catered housewarming party Charlie’s son Sean is throwing to celebrate his new home in the middle of her work shift. Before ducking out of the party, Tara looked terrified and Charlie wonders if she’s deliberately trying to escape notice. Is she hiding from someone?

When Tara is viciously attacked and lands in the hospital, Charlie knows his instincts were correct: Tara was in trouble and someone was after her. With the help of his much beloved cat, Diesel, Charlie digs deeper, and discovers shocking glimpses into Tara’s past that they could never have predicted. Will they catch the villain before Charlie’s own happily ever after with Helen Louise is ruined?

Genre: Mystery - Cozy

Why I Picked This Book:  I've really enjoyed the books in this series that I've read so of course I couldn't resist picking up this newest book!

My Impression:  I feel like it's been awhile since I checked in with Charlie and Diesel so I was so excited to catch up with all the fun characters that inhabit the world of Athena, Mississippi (which I'm pretty sure is loosely based on Oxford, MS - home of Ol' Miss).  Ramses, the younger much more mischievous cat, is in fine form terrorzing toddlers and providing some comic relief when he appears on the page.

The mystery is one of my favorite kinds of mysteries.  Yes, Charlie and crew are investigating who would have wanted Tara dead but they're also investigating Tara.  Who is she and what is she hiding?  In the time that they've known Tara she's been a closed book and to figure out who wants to hurt her they have to figure out who she is.  I love digging into the past and once the mystery got going I was hooked.  There is a bit of a slower start and the mystery is definitely a "slice of life" so there's lots of talk about food, what the cats are up to and Charlie's day.  This could feel a little frustrating for new readers but if you're a fan of the series it feels like catching up with friends.  

If you're looking for a cozy relaxing bookish series with cats this is a fun series to try!  

Would I Read More of this Series/Author? Absolutely!  I missed the beginning books of the series so I"m looking forward to reading those and will be picking up anything else by this author.

Would I Recommend this Book?  If you like a bookish cozy and enjoy a slower "slice of life" pace this is a series I think you'd enjoy.

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

Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Top Ten Tuesday - Summer TBR

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 Summer TBR.  I love making these seasonal TBRs.  I'm not great at sticking to them - though I am getting better - but I love making them!

1.  The Ghost Cat by Alex Howard - This was compared to a few books that I really liked so I have high hopes for it and it looks different from my usual reads. 

2.  Sticks and Stones by Ellie Alexander - I love this cozy series and am looking forward to checking in with the crew at Torte.

3.  The Confidence Game by Tess Amy - This sounds like a fun heist book and I think will be perfect summer reading!

4.  Between a Flock and a Hard Place by Donna Andrews - I love this cozy series and am curious to see just what trouble Meg can get into this time. 

5.  Booked on Murder by Allison Brook - Another favorite cozy series and another one where I'm looking forward to checking in with the characters.

6.  The Last Close Call by Laura Griffin - I've enjoyed previous books I've read by this author and this one involves a forensic genealogist so I'm super excited for it.

7.  The Castle on Sunset: Life, Death, Love, Art and Scandal at Hollywood's Chateau Marmot by Shawn Levy - Honestly, I saw this book at the library and the cover really hooked me.  It looks like a nonfiction I'd really enjoy.

8.  Death at Greenway by Lori Rayder Day - This is on my June TBR.  It's a historical mystery that takes place during World War II at Agatha Christie's home.  I have high hopes for it!

9.  A Late Phoenix by Catherine Aird - This is off my Classic Mystery list and I'm looking forward to reading more from this author. So far I've really enjoyed her books.  

10. The Lights of Sugarberry Cove by Heather Webber - Heather Webber's books are such perfect summer reading for me.  

What are you planning to read this summer?

Monday, June 17, 2024

A Deceptive Composition - Historical Mystery Review

Goodreads: A Deceptive Composition (Lady Darby Mysteries #12) by Anna Lee Huber

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

Description:  October 1832. Kiera is enjoying the slower pace of the English countryside. She, Sebastian, and their infant daughter have accompanied her father-in-law, Lord Gage, home so that he can recuperate from the injuries he sustained in a foiled attempt on his life. But as the chill of autumn sweeps across the land, they receive a summons from an unexpected quarter. Lord Gage’s estranged uncle—a member of the notorious Roscarrock family—has been murdered, and his family is desperate for answers. Despite Lord Gage’s protests, Kiera and Sebastian press on to Cornwall to assist.

It isn’t long before they discover that almost nothing is as it seems among the Roscarrocks, and they’ve been lured to their isolated cove under false pretenses. There are whispers of a lost treasure and frightening allusions to a series of murders stretching back decades that touch the lives of the family personally. Kiera and Sebastian are left with no choice but to uncover the truth before the secrets of the past threaten to destroy them all.

Genre: Mystery - Historcial

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

My Impression: I really enjoy this series and have especially loved seeing Kiera and Sebastian become parents and the softening of Lord Gage as he becomes a grandfather.  We got to see a more vulnerable side of Lord Gage in the previous book with his injury.  In this book he is (mostly) healed physically but is now having to come face to face with his past.

Lord Gage's past has always been a bit hazy though in the last few books more and more has been revealed.  The curtains are fully up now as the Gage family, complete with infant daughter Emma, head to down to Cornwall to find answers about the Roscarrock family and murder.

While I only came to this series about halfway through it has become one of my favorite historical mystery series and one I always enjoy.  I love the group effort - not only the partnership between Kiera and Gage but their staff and now even Lord Gage.  

This is a solid historical mystery with complex, interesting characters and a fantastic setting!

Would I Read More of this Series/Author? Absolutely!  I've enjoyed every book by this author that I've read and am looking forward to reading more from her and catching up on her past books.

Would I Recommend this Book?  Definitely!  You could jump in here without too many issues or you could start closer to the beginning.

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

Saturday, June 15, 2024

The A.B.C. Murders - Classic Mystery Review

Goodreads: The A.B.C. Murders by Agatha Christie

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

Description:  When Alice Asher is murdered in Andover, Hercule Poirot is already looking into the clues. Alphabetically speaking, it's one letter down, twenty-five to go.

There's a serial killer on the loose. His macabre calling card is to leave the ABC Railway Guide beside each victim's body. But if A is for Alice Asher, bludgeoned to death in Andover, and B is for Betty Bernard, strangled with her belt on the beach at Bexhill, who will then be Victim C? More importantly, why is this happening?

Often considered to be one of Agatha Christie's best.

Genre:  Mystery - Classic 

Why I Picked This Book:  This was the May read for the Read Christie challenge.

My Impression:   This is probably one of Christie's most famous mysteries and it's one I always enjoy revisiting.  I love that in addition to Poirot, Hastings, and collection of Law Enforcement there is also a team of family members who get involved to help figure out just what is going on.  I really enjoy the variety of personalities and experiences all with Poirot's supervision.

The premise is an intriguing one.  Right from the start something feels off to Poirot and he is determined to solve the series of murders all and he is the only one to realize that all might not be as it seems.  This is definitely one of Christie's most famous books with one of the more unique premises but I can't say it's one of my favorites.  There's something about the ending that just falls a bit flat for me and keeps this one from being a 5 star read.    It's still a fantastic mystery that I always enjoy.  

The June Read Christie read is: And Then There Were None

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Of course!  Christie is one of my favorites and I'm already looking forward to the June book.

Would I Recommend this Book? If you enjoy mysteries I definitely recommend this book and really just about anything by Christie for that matter.

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

Friday, June 14, 2024

Friday Fives - Five Podcasts I've Enjoyed 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.  Lately I've been mixing podcasts in between my audio books and have really been enjoying them.  Here are 5 I've really enjoyed lately.

1.  Scamanda - This is a complicated story of a woman who has cancer - or does she?  I loved the host and the format of the show and it is a seriously complex story.  

2.  The Missing Madonna - This is the story of an art heist in a castle in Scotland and the men responsible for getting the stolen DaVinci back.  The story is told by the daughter of one of the primary men involved.  

3.  Carrie Jade Does Not Exist - Who is Carrie Jade and why did she appear out of nowhere?  This series is hosted by Sue Perkins who I love and was absolutely fascinating.  It's still updating occasionally and I'm always thrilled to see a new episode pop up in my feed.  

4.  From the Front Porch - This is an ongoing podcast hosted by Annie Jones who owns an independent bookstore in Thomasville, Georgia.  I really enjoy that there's a number of employees and friends who rotate through the podcasts so that there are lots of different perspectives on books.  My favorite is the annual March Madness that Annie and her husband do.  This is my favorite "go to sleep" podcast and I listen to an episode every night as I'm going to bed.  

5.  Nellie's Baby - I've got a couple of episodes left of this one and I've really been enjoying it.  Kirsty Johnston is an investigative journalist in New Zealand and is approached by a woman named Sarah who was adopted as an infant.  She has learned that her mother was in a Psychiatric hospital in New Zealand and isn't sure how to find the answers she wants.  The series touches on adoption and mental health treatment as well as a whole host of very serious topics but there is also hope and the joy of finding family.  

What podcasts do you enjoy?

Thursday, June 13, 2024

The Stranger in the Library - Cozy Mystery Review

Goodreads: The Stranger in the Library (A Lighthouse Library Mystery #11) by Eva Gates

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

Description:  When a traveling show of impressionist art comes to Nags Head, North Carolina, librarian Lucy and the staff at the Bodie Island Lighthouse Library are inspired to create an educational display about art history. Their launch of the display is a huge success, but the morning after, they discover that a reproduction of a famous painting has gone missing.

No one knows why anyone would bother stealing the picture is of no value–the real, priceless painting is under lock and key at the art show itself. Lucy gets an invite to the glitzy opening night for the real show, where she notices unusual tension among the show’s organizers. Then, the man scheduled to give the welcoming speech fails to arrive, and a party-goer is discovered drowned in a fish pond.

Meanwhile, Louise Jane is totally captivated by Tom Reilly, a handsome, charming art dealer lurking at the edges of the receptions on both nights. Tom slipped away from the party early, and he cannot be located by the police. Who, Lucy asks, is Tom Reilly, the shadowy figure threatening to break Louise Jane’s heart?

Something is afoot in Nags Head, and it’s up to Lucy and her friends to get to the bottom of it before it’s not just paintings being framed.

Genre:  Mystery - Cozy

Why I Picked This Book:  I really enjoy this series so of course I had to pick up this newest book.

My Impression: I've enjoyed this series from the beginning and I was so excited to check in with Lucy, Connor and the rest of the Lighthouse Library crew.  I do love a cozy mystery with a fun bookish setting and this book had that in spades - plus an art heist.  

Lucy and Connor are adjusting to married life and are getting back to the regular life after their European honeymoon.  This starts off with a major art exhbit both at the library and at a local landmark.  Strange things start happening, people start disappearing, a dead body shows up, and Louise Jane and Charles the library cat are right in the middle of things adding their own special dash of chaos.  

This is a good cozy series with likable characters, a fun bookish element, a unique setting, and clever mysteries.  I really enjoyed this mystery and my visit to the Lighthouse Library!

Would I Read More of this Series/Author? Definitely!  Eva Gates/Vicki Delany is one of my favorite cozy authors and I always enjoy her books.

Would I Recommend this Book? If you are a fan of cozy mysteries this is a series not to be missed.  While the mystery is standalone the relationships between the characters will be more enjoyable if you start earlier in the series.  

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

Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Fondant Fumble - Cozy Mystery Review

Goodreads: Fondant Fumble (A Cupcake Bakery Mystery #16) by Jenn McKinlay

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

Description:  Professional football players Keogh Graham and Tyler Matthews want to open a Fairy Tale Cupcakes franchise. They’re spending the off-season in Scottsdale working in Mel’s bakery, learning about the business and how to bake show-stopping cupcakes. The popular athletes bring a boom of customers to the store as football fans flock to see the friends mixing batter and piping icing.

Everyone’s excited the athletes are pursuing their dream of owning a bakery—except for those who fear the players will ditch football for fondant and retire early from professional sports. The angry naysayers include their team owner and Keogh's sports agent, along with some very vocal fans.

When the owner of their team, the Arizona Scorpions, is found dead on the floor of their new bakery following an argument with Keogh, the pros become prime suspects. As the investigation heats up, Mel and the rest of the cupcake bakery crew must step up and prove their franchise owners are innocent before it’s game-over for the new bakers.

Genre:  Mystery - Cozy

Why I Picked This Book:  I enjoy this series and McKinlay is one of my favorite authors.

My Impression: Football meets cozy mystery and chaos ensues.  I really enjoyed this cozy mystery involving the cupcake baker characters that I enjoy catching up with - Mel, Angie, Tate, Joe and the rest of the DeLara family - with the addition of an NFL team and their shenanigans.  

Keogh and Tyler were interesting characters.  They're close friends and Keogh has a life long love of baking.  I thought it was interesting that the fact that professional athletes have a time limit of how long they are able to perform was discussed frequently as was the downsides of fame and fortune.

The mystery was a godo one and while this was a super easy fast read things didn't always go the way I expected them to go.  I really enjoyed the wrapup of the mystery and seeing changes in the main characters personal life.  I do prefer this author's Library Lovers series but this was a fun, fast read that I enjoyed from beginning to end - and now I need to go get cupcakes.  

Would I Read More of this Series/Author? Absolutely!  I have really enjoyed everything I've read by this author and am looking forward to new books and catching up on books I've missed.  

Would I Recommend this Book? If you enjoy cozy mysteries this is a fun series and 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. *

Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Top Ten Tuesday - Bookish Wishes

Today I'm linking up with Top Ten Tuesday hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl which is all about lists.  Since lists are one of my favorite things this is one of my favorite linkups!  Today's topic is Bookish Wishes.  This time I am taking inspiration from how  Lydia Schoch tackled this topic.    In her blog post last time this topic came around she wished for book recommendations and gave a number of genres or tropes she was looking for.  Here are 10 subjects/genres/tropes/or other bookish things I would love recommendations for.

1.  Old Houses - I'm looking for a book where a main character has come into possession of an old house by some means or other.  Bonus points if it's still full of stuff and there's a mystery to be solved - or a ghost.  Or both.

2.  Magical Realism - I love Sarah Addison Allen and Heather Fawcett and would love some more books with that general feel.

3.  Fantasy that isn't 9 million pages long - I've really enjoyed the fantasy I've read but the massive page count I see so often in the genre regularly scares me off.  

4.  Romances with more story than spice - I love romances that really focus on the characters but I'm not a huge fan of lots of spice.  I have my tried and true authors that I enjoy - Jill Shalvis, Lisa Kleypas, Nora Roberts, and a few others - but at some point I'm going to read all of their books.

5.  Found Family - Found Family may be one of my very favorite tropes.  No matter what genre it is if a book involves a found family I am in!

6.  Bookish characters - I love books where the character is bookish and it isn't just window dressing.  I love when they talk about books or mention books or books and reading are somehow pivotal to the plot or character development.

7.  Books involving antiques or vintage clothes - especially when the plot involves the history or the story of that particular item.

8.  Books set in hard to find states - Every year I try to "travel" to as many states as possible through my books.  I have a tough time finding books set in Delaware, Nebraska, Montana, Wyoming, and North Dakota especially.

9. Books with a Gothic-y Feel - I love books with a good eerie setting like Kate Morton or Barbara Michaels and am always looking for more books like that.

10.  Your favorite book - I tend to stay in my lane when it comes to reading but so often some of my favorite books of the year are when I take a chance or read something on a recommedation that I wouldn't normally pick up.

Do you have any book recommendations for me?  My TBR needs to do some growing!

Monday, June 10, 2024

The Paris Widow - Thriller Review

Goodreads: The Paris Widow by Kimberly Belle

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

Description:  When Stella met Adam, she thought she had finally found a nice, normal guy—a welcome change from her previous boyfriend and her precarious jetsetter lifestyle with him. But her secure world comes crashing down when Adam goes missing after an explosion in the city square. Unable to reach him, she panics.

As the French police investigate, it’s revealed that Adam was on their radar as a dealer of rare and stolen antiquities with a long roster of criminal clients. Reeling from this news, Stella is determined not to leave Paris until she has the full story. Was Adam a random victim or the target of the explosion? And why is someone following her through the streets of Paris?

An irresistible, fast-paced read set in some of Europe’s most inviting locales, The Paris Widow explores how sinister secrets of the past stay with us—no matter how far we travel.

Genre: Mystery - Thriller

Why I Picked This Book:  The blurb really caught my attention and I've been wanting to try a book by this author.  

My Impression:  This was a fun fast paced read with a writing style that kept me pulled into the story from the beginning.  Nothing was quite what it seemed and I enjoyed following Stella as she tries to put together the pieces of just who Adam really is - which slowly had me wondering was anyone or anything how it seemed?

The book is a combination of present day in Stella's point of view and flashbacks earlier into their vacation from Adam's perspective.  I really enjoyed Adam's perspective and it helped the feeling of a net closing around Stella and the book goes on.  

I really enjoyed the story, the writing style, and the pacing in this book.  It was a fast paced read with suspense but not so scary it had me wanting to double check the locks or jumping at shadows.  This was my first book by this author but it won't be my last.  

Would I Read More of this Series/Author? Definitely!  I'm really looking forward to reading more from this author.  

Would I Recommend this Book?  If you're looking for a fast paced read with suspense but don't want too much on page violence this is a fantastic choice.

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

Saturday, June 8, 2024

Reading Recap - May 2024


Monthly Recap:

Monthly Reading Count -  19 - this seems to be my regular reading pace as each month I always seem to be right around this number.

Print - 8
Ebook - 5 
Audiobook - 6 

Mystery -  9
Fiction - 3
Romance - 5 
Nonfiction - 2

Favorite Books of the Month:

The Grace of Wild Things by Heather Fawcett - I loved this book inspired by Anne of Green Gables with found family and magic.  

Mind Games by Nora Roberts - I always enjoy Roberts' stand alone romantic suspense book but I especially enjoyed this one.

My Armchair Travel:

Domestic Travel:  I visited Washington State three times, North Carolina  twice, New Hampshire, California, and New Hampshire.

I visited Kentucky and Texas for the first time

International Travel:  I visited England twice, Scotland, Germany, and Canada.

Where did your books take you this month?  What was your favorite book of the month?

Friday, June 7, 2024

Friday Fives - June TBR

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

1.  Haunting License by Carol J Perry - I've enjoyed the first two books in the series (the first WAY more than the second) and was so excited to see that book three was coming out.

2.  Empty Nest by Marty Wingate - I read the first book in this cozy mystery series about bird watching awhile ago and enjoyed it.

3.  Nothing Venture by Patricia Wentworth - This book is on my classic mystery list and this is one of my favorite authors.

4.  Death at Greenway by Lori Rader-Day - This is a historical mystery set at Agatha Christie's home during World War II.

5.  Murder at Half Moon Gate by Andrea Penrose- The TBR Tarot prompt was Choose a Book with a 5 Word Title.  I listened to the first book in this series last year and really enjoyed it so I'm really looking foward to the second.  

What are you planning on reading this month?

Thursday, June 6, 2024

Books from the Backlog - Code Name: Lise

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:  Code Name: Lise: The True Story of the Woman Who Became World War II's Most Decorated Spy by Larry Loftis

Blurb:  The year is 1942, and World War II is in full swing. Odette Sansom decides to follow in her war hero father’s footsteps by becoming an SOE agent to aid Britain and her beloved homeland, France. Five failed attempts and one plane crash later, she finally lands in occupied France to begin her mission. It is here that she meets her commanding officer Captain Peter Churchill.
As they successfully complete mission after mission, Peter and Odette fall in love. All the while, they are being hunted by the cunning German secret police sergeant, Hugo Bleicher, who finally succeeds in capturing them. They are sent to Paris’s Fresnes prison, and from there to concentration camps in Germany where they are starved, beaten, and tortured. But in the face of despair, they never give up hope, their love for each other, or the whereabouts of their colleagues.

In Code Name: Lise, Larry Loftis paints a portrait of true courage, patriotism, and love—of two incredibly heroic people who endured unimaginable horrors and degradations. He seamlessly weaves together the touching romance between Odette and Peter and the thrilling cat and mouse game between them and Sergeant Bleicher.

Why It Needs to Come Off the Shelf: I read and loved another book by this author and this one has been sitting gathering dust on my shelf ever since then.  It looks abosolutely fascinating.