Thursday, May 24, 2018

Books from the Backlog - The House on Tradd Street

I'm linking up with Carole's Random Life in Books for Books from the Backlog.  This is a fun meme that spotlights books that have been hiding in our massive stacks of books for far too long!

This week's book The House on Tradd Street by Karen White.  It has ghost, history, home repair, a Charleston setting, a bit of romance and a mystery.  It might as well be written for me!

What book is hiding in your backlog?

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

A Howl of Wolves - Mystery Review

Rating: Very Good
Source: Publisher

Sam Clair figures she’ll be a good sport and spend a night out at the theater in support of her upstairs neighbors, who have small parts in a play in the West End. Boyfriend (a Scotland Yard detective) and all-round good sport Jake Field agrees to tag along to what is apparently an extra-bloody play filled with dramatic, gory deaths galore. So Sam expects an evening filled with faux fatalities. Until, that is, the curtain opens to the second act, revealing a dummy hanging from the rafters, who’s been made up to look suspiciously like Campbell Davison, the director of the production.

When Sam sees the horrified faces of the actors onstage, she realizes that this is indeed not a dummy, but Davison himself—and this death is not part of the show. Now everyone wants to know: who killed Campbell Davison? As Sam learns more about the murdered man, she discovers that he wasn’t all that well-liked amongst the cast and crew, so the suspect list grows. The show must go on—but Sam knows a murderer must be apprehended, so she sets out to find out what happened, and why.

Genre: Mystery

Why I Picked This Book:
  I had enjoyed a previous book in this series and couldn't resist this one!

My Impression:
  This was a fun one!  This is one of those mysteries where the day to day life of the main characters takes up almost as much page time as the mystery itself.  Sometimes this can get tedious but luckily in this book Sam, Jake, Kay and the rest of their world is entertaining and engaging.  I also loved the behind the scenes look at life on stage and at life behind the desk at a publishing office.

This is not one of those books where the main character has a cool job and mentions it occasionally but never ever goes to it.  We go to work with Sam a pretty good bit and between all the book talk and the selling books talk and the meeting authors talk I could have had an entire book of nothing but that.  I love that Sam is good at her job and driven but also has a fairly balanced personal life.  Her relationship with her mother, Helena, was entertaining and felt authentic as well as her relationship with Jake.  Jake is CID and is usually involved in the official investigation of whatever Sam is sticking her nose into.  I liked that he clearly didn't want to talk about the case with her but she was so interested and asked such good questions that he would forget he felt that way from time to time.

The mystery itself is fascinating with lots of behind the scenes peeks at rehearsals.  I loved seeing how it all ran and just what everyone did.  While I did have a guess at the killer I wasn't convinced I was correct until the very end.  Between trying to figure out just who had killed the director in such a brutal way and wanting to spend more time with Sam this made for a can't put down read!  

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?
  Absolutely!  I'm already looking forward to the next book.

Would I Recommend this Book?
  I would.  This is a fun mystery with an interesting look into the publishing world.  

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday - My Favorite Character Names in Agatha Christie Mysteries

This week's Top Ten Tuesday topic from That Artsy Reader Girl is all about character names.  I don't think I really have favorites when it comes to names and just thinking about all the names I like out of all the books I've read seems a bit mind boggling.  So I decided to narrow it down to my favorite names in books by my favorite author - Agatha Christie.  There's no real reason I like the names other than I think the first and last work nicely together or that they fit exactly the kind of personality the character has.

1.  Beryl Gilliat (The Harlequin Tea Set)

2.  Gwenda Reed (The Sleeping Murder)

3.  Elsa Greer (Five Little Pigs)

4.  Verity Hunt (Nemesis)

5.  Captain Philip Lombard (And Then There Were None)

6.  Linnet Doyle (Death on the Nile)

7.  Emily Arundell (Dumb Witness)

8  Ariadne Oliver (Hallowe'en Party and several others)

9.  Jane Finn (The Secret Adversaries)

10. Anne Meredith (Cards on the Table)

What are some of your favorite character names?

Monday, May 21, 2018

Ramblings from the Stacks - Library Wanderings

This is a bit of an embarrassing confession for a book worm but I tend to freeze up in a bookstore.  It's not that I don't want to buy books it's just that I have soooooo many and there are soooo many that I want to buy that I end up caught between feeling like I shouldn't buy anything and feeling like I should buy everything.

Luckily I don't have the problem at the library!  I love my local library branch.  It's a small facility but they have a great collection and it's easy to have books transferred from other branches.  The staff is super nice and always helpful.  When the Tornado was little we went to story time pretty regularly and the children's librarian is fabulous.

I normally stay on a fairly strict reading schedule but when I'm stressed or heading towards a reading rut I enjoy a good wander through the shelves and pick up anything that catches my eye.  Not only is it very relaxing but it tends to show me what genre I'm in the mood for at the moment.

Here are a few books I picked up in my last wandering:

Castle in the Mist by Amy Ephron - This is for my Middle Grade review in June.  I actually had another book scheduled but when I saw this on an end cap in the kids' section when I was looking for books for the Tornado and couldn't resist.

Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen - When the weather gets warmer Sarah Addison Allen's books always call to me and this year Lost Lake pretty much jumped in my library bag.

The Craving Cure by Julia Ross - I've had some low blood sugar issues lately and know I need to cut down on how sugar I eat but my giant sweet tooth doesn't always agree.  When I saw this one on an endcap I had to pick it up.

Lost and Found Sisters by Jill Shalvis - I had gotten the novella and the 2nd book in this series and knew that it was time to read the first so I couldn't resist it when I saw it.  It ended up being the perfect book for my mood.

Rock City by Tim Hollis - I love Rock City in Chattanooga, TN.  It's cheesy and touristy but so pretty and I always enjoy a visit.  I found this small little book in the nonfiction shelves and enjoyed reading about how the place started.

What books have you picked up on a whim?  Are you a library user?

Sunday, May 20, 2018

This Week in Readng - May 20

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:

Beautiful Exiles by Meg Waite Clayton - This an author I've seen around for ages and always meant to try.  When I was offered this historical fiction about the relationship between Ernest Hemingway and journalist Martha Gellhorn.  I'm really looking forward to it!  (Publicist)

Selling Dead People's Things by Duane Scott Cerney - The cover of this one is a bit disturbing but the book itself is a nonfiction about estate sales and appraisers and antique stores.  I spend a decent amount of time going to antique stores and have spent some time at estate sales so I'm curious about the behind the scenes look. (NetGalley)


Reading:  A Howl of Wolves by Judith Flanders and Ghost Night by Heather Graham

Listening:  Nothing right now.  I'm next in line for an audio book at the library and until then I'm listening to podcasts.  Luckily my backlist is HUGE so there's no shortage of things to listen to!

Watching:  Not much really.  I'm not loving this season of Dancing with the Stars which is my favorite indulgence.  The shortened season which means constant double eliminations which I don't enjoy and I feel like I don't get to know the celebrities which is kind of the whole point along with lots of sparkles.  I think we're going to go back to watching the original Star Trek movies soon because despite Shatner's dubious acting they are a lot of fun.

Off the Blog:

We are in end of the school year madness which means the Tornado and I are both exhausted and sunburned.  It was Field Day Friday and I volunteered to help run a station which meant I had to project instructions over the voices of lots of kids of various ages for about 4 hours.  I may get my voice back in the next few days we'll see.  The Tornado had a blast and while I did try and swipe sunscreen on him every time I saw him I didn't get his face very well.  I'm slightly scorched which surprised me.  The whole school was outside all day playing games and running around and playing water games and eating snowcones.  It was fun but that followed by a very loud chaotic birthday party Saturday makes me want a nap!

I'm signing the Tornado up for tennis lessons so we're going to meet the instructor today and the Little Passports subscription box shipped so it should be here this week.  I'm super excited to start getting the boxes from different countries and think it'll be a fun addition to summer.  Other than that we've got a few weekend trips and I think we're going to get a few lazy days in early on.

This coming week is Eleanor's birthday but we celebrated with her Friday.  It's been quite a big year for her with the wedding right after last birthday and the birth of the little one just a few weeks ago.  We brought dinner and cupcakes and presents to her house and I got lots of baby snuggles so it was a fun night.  He's 6 weeks old and is so expressive and adorable!  I've gotten to babysit some which is always fun.

On the Blog:

What Happened:

What's Coming Up:

Monday: Ramblings from the Stacks - Library Wanderings
Tuesday:  Top Ten Tuesday - Ten Favorite Character Names
Wednesday: A Howl of Wolves - Mystery Review
Thursday:  Books from the Backlog
Friday:  Friday Linkups with Current Book
Saturday:  Spring Favorites

Have a great week and happy reading!

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Garden Spells - Fiction Review

Rating: Loved It!
Source: Library

The women of the Waverley family -- whether they like it or not -- are heirs to an unusual legacy, one that grows in a fenced plot behind their Queen Anne home on Pendland Street in Bascom, North Carolina. There, an apple tree bearing fruit of magical properties looms over a garden filled with herbs and edible flowers that possess the power to affect in curious ways anyone who eats them.

For nearly a decade, 34-year-old Claire Waverley, at peace with her family inheritance, has lived in the house alone, embracing the spirit of the grandmother who raised her, ruing her mother's unfortunate destiny and seemingly unconcerned about the fate of her rebellious sister, Sydney, who freed herself long ago from their small town's constraints. Using her grandmother's mystical culinary traditions, Claire has built a successful catering business -- and a carefully controlled, utterly predictable life -- upon the family's peculiar gift for making life-altering delicacies: lilac jelly to engender humility, for instance, or rose geranium wine to call up fond memories.

Garden Spells reveals what happens when Sydney returns to Bascom with her young daughter, turning Claire's routine existence upside down. With Sydney's homecoming, the magic that the quiet caterer has measured into recipes to shape the thoughts and moods of others begins to influence Claire's own emotions in terrifying and delightful ways.

As the sisters reconnect and learn to support one another, each finds romance where she least expects it, while Sydney's child, Bay, discovers both the safe home she has longed for and her own surprising gifts. With the help of their elderly cousin Evanelle, endowed with her own uncanny skills, the Waverley women redeem the past, embrace the present, and take a joyful leap into the future.

Genre: Fiction - Contemporary

Why I Picked This Book:
  I had read another book by this author that I really loved and had heard raves about this one.

My Impression: 
So it appears I like magical realism.  Or at least magical realism as written by Sarah Addison Allen.  This is the 2nd book by this author and I've thoroughly enjoyed both.  This one just might be my favorite.
This is a book that's kind of  hard to write a review for because not much happens but at the same time there's a lot going on.  For starters we meet Claire Waverly.  She's a solitary character that easily could have come off as prickly but stops just shy of that.  She doesn't want to let anyone in to her life and strives to keep things just the way her beloved Grandmother left them.  Into town blows her sister Sydney and her 6 year old daughter Bay.  The history between the two is tense and full of misunderstandings and childhood grudges.  Bay immediately fits into the town and into Claire's life but the relationship between Claire and Sydney takes longer to develop and to heal.

While the relationship between the Waverly sisters is probably the biggest focus of the book there are lots of other townspeople about and we get little peeks into their lives.  Like Hunter John and Emma whose past with Sydney complicates their lives.  Fred who is desperately trying to repair his relationship with his long time partner James but doesn't quite know what the problem is to begin with.  Evanelle is a Waverly cousin frequently hit with the urge to give someone something they'll need for reasons she can't explain.

There's so much in this book.  There's family bonds and healing, there's small town community with all the good and all the bad, there's little bits of romance and hope, and there's just a touch of magic.  I really love how the magic is done here.  Many of the characters have their own gift which they're not always aware of or understand.  Claire is able to use certain flowers and herbs to influence events, reactions, or feelings and it's really a lot of fun to watch her work.  It makes me want to dash into the kitchen and start preparing herb-y floral creations.  Lavender bread anyone?

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?
  Yes!  Her books always have a summery feel to them so I do tend to pick them up at the start of summertime.  I read this one last year and just got another one by her from the library.

Would I Recommend this Book?
  Absolutely!  In fact I've even given it as a gift several times!

Friday, May 18, 2018

Friday Linkups - Ghost Night

It's Friday linkup time!  I'm linking up with the Book Blogger Hop hosted by Coffee Addicted Writer, Book Beginnings of Fridays hosted by Rose City Reader, and the Friday 56 hosted by Freda's Voice

This Week's Book Blogger Hop Question:
What were your worst movies based off of books?

My Answer:
I wasn't a fan of the movie Coraline.  I enjoyed the book quite a bit but thought the movie was trying to be weird so hard that it lost the story itself.  The movie Moonraker (James Bond) was fun in a it's so bad it's good campy way but it really doesn't do justice to the book which is fantastic.

This week's book is the 2nd in a romantic suspense trilogy that takes place in Key West, Florida.  I read the first one last year and really enjoyed but was never able to get around to reading the 2nd book.  Summer always makes romantic suspense more appealing for some reason so I decided to make time to read Ghost Night by Heather Graham.  So far it's nice and spooky!

The Beginning:
The sound of the bloodcurdling scream was as startling as the roar of thunder on a cloudless day.

My Thoughts:
I do love when a suspense novel starts out with a scream!  

The 56: 
"Other things have happened.  Bad things.  Not involved with filming, but with other boaters who disappeared near Haunt Island."

My Thoughts:
I think Haunt Island sounds like a place to avoid!

So what do you think?  What genre do you start craving when the temperature starts rising?