Sunday, August 20, 2017

This Week in Reading - August 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:

Sweet Tea and Sympathy by Molly Harper - I read one Molly Harper book a few years ago and really loved and have been wanting to read more ever since.  I haven't been quite sure where to start so when I saw this new book on NetGalley I figured that was a pretty good place.  I'm really looking forward to this one!  (NetGalley)

And that's it!  Just one book this week and not much pending.  I need to have a some intake slowdown so I can get caught up!


Reading: Murder Go Round by Carol J. Perry and The Luster of Lost Things by Sophie Chen Keller

Listening: A Study in Scarlet Women by Sherry Thomas

Watching: Hard Knocks on HBO which is kind of a behind the scenes at spring training for an NFL team.  This year it's about the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Off the Blog:

Comet is getting bigger but he is no less a brat.  He gets very annoyed if I'm gone a lot during the day and will follow me around yowling at me until I sit down.  He's pretty impossible to get a decent picture of because as soon as he sees the camera he's trying to figure out what it is.  I have lots of close ups of his nose.  He's definitely way more people oriented than any cat I've ever had which is pretty fun.

This weekend we're out of town.  We headed up to Tennessee to watch the eclipse and are really looking forward to the trip.  We are going with Jason's brother and the brother's wife.  I really like my brother-in-law and sister-in-law but we've never traveled with them so I'm a little curious to see how it goes.  I think the only problem we're facing is wishy washiness about what to do because neither couple wants to offend the other.

I'll be home for 1 day and then I'm hopping in the car and heading down to south Mississippi to visit my grandparents which I'm looking forward too.  We've gotten a little spoiled with the motor home and are doing a lot more traveling.  We've been in town almost 6 weeks and I'm going stir crazy but I have a feeling all the running around next week will fix that!

Speaking of traveling J and I are talking about taking a big trip sometime next year and are trying to figure out where to go.  We've talked about San Diego, Montreal, Boston and surrounding areas, and Iceland but just can't decide.  If you could go anywhere where would you want to go?  Where have you been and loved?  Give me suggestions!

On the Blog:

What Happened:

What's Coming Up:

Monday:  Ramblings from the Stacks - Pet Peeves
Tuesday:  Top Ten Tuesday - Back to School Freebie
Wednesday:  The Lover's Portrait - Fiction Review
Thursday:  Luster of Lost Things - Fiction Review
Friday: Friday Linkups with Current Books
Saturday:  TBD

Have a great week and happy reading!

Saturday, August 19, 2017

At Wit's End - Cozy Mystery Review

At Wit's End by Kirsten Weiss (Amazon)

Rating: Good
Source: Author

Description: When Susan Witsend inherits her grandmother’s UFO-themed B&B, she’s ready to put her organizational skills to the test. She knows she can make the B&B work, even if there is a faux-UFO in the roof. After all, what’s not to love about a Victorian nestled in the high Sierra foothills? None of her carefully crafted policies and procedures, however, can prepare her for a corpse in room seven – the body of her small-town sheriff’s ex-husband. But Susan has her own plans to solve the crime.
In Susan’s mind, Men in Black, conspiracy-crazed old ladies, and an angry sheriff are just part and parcel of catering to UFO enthusiasts. But is there a government conspiracy afoot? Or is the murder a simple case of small town vengeance?

Susan must keep all her wits about her. Because the killer isn’t finished, and if she isn’t careful, her fate may be written in the stars…

Genre: Mystery - Cozy

Why I Picked This Book:  I've really enjoyed Weiss' Paranormal Museum mysteries so this UFO Bed and Breakfast mystery sounded too good to pass up!

My Impression:  UFOs aren't really my thing but a cozy mystery with a good dose of zany is most definitely by thing and this book delivered in spades!

I really liked Susan and her friend Arsen.  They've been friends for a long time and it's pretty clear to everyone but Susan that something is evolving there but that was never really center stage.  I enjoyed how they work together both professionally and for some of the other mayhem and hijinks that show up along the way.

One of my big questions when I read a mystery with an amateur detective is why are the investigating.  Just plain nosiness can get annoying fast but Susan passes the test with 2 reasons to become involved.  The body is found in her hotel and her cousin with a sketchy past is a prime suspect. The mystery is solid.  The reasons made sense and I really had no idea just who the killer was until towards the end of the book.  This is one of those mysteries were suspects abound and it was hard to narrow it down just who was the killer!  My only issue was that the reveal was a bit contrived.  However, this is a shorter mystery and I'd rather know all the details in a slightly contrived fashion than be left hanging.

There are a few background mysteries such as the "Disappeared" and just what is going on with the FBI agent that I hope are explored in later books.  This is a fun, seriously quirky cozy mystery that was a fast and entertaining read.  I'm looking forward to visiting with Susan and Arsen at Wit's End again soon!

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Absolutely!  I'm looking forward to the next Paranormal Museum mystery and the next in this series as well!

Would I Recommend this Book?  If you enjoy Weiss' Paranormal Museum mysteries I think you would really enjoy this as well.  If you enjoy a mystery with a lot of quirkiness that doesn't devolve into slapstick this is a good read!

Friday, August 18, 2017

Friday Linkups - The Luster of Lost Things

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:
When you enter an unfamiliar house or apartment for the first time, do you feel disappointed if you don't see any bookshelves or books on the coffee table?

My Answer:
I'm not sure I'd be disappointed though what do you look at when your host steps out of the room for a minute if you don't have a bookcase or stack of books to scan?    I'm always mystified by people who don't read.  I mean I love TV and watch a decent amount (okay more than decent) but sometimes only a book will do!

This week's book is a review book that I'm really excited about!  The Luster of Lost Things by Sophie Chen Keller is about a little boy who is unable to speak, a bakery full of magic and a journey complete with an overweight golden retriever.  So far it's just a gorgeous read.

The Beginning: 
Somewhere in the Fourteenth Street subway station there is a statue of a little bronze man who waits for a train that never comes.

My Thoughts:
I just love that image of the little man waiting for the train that never comes.  It's poignant and patient.

The 56:
They head away from the front window and I let out a trapped breath.  The big man does not have a crowbar tucked into his belt ad there is no sledgehammer crew waiting to barge inside; he did not come here to seive the shop after all, but to consider it, and I think we passed his test because he is at ease, making small talk with Lucy with his elbow propped on the Book's display case.

My Thoughts:
This sounds like the thought process of a twelve year old but not in a bad way.  There's a little bit of ramble and some nervousness but I do feel like I'm getting the boy's inner thoughts.

So what do you think?  Keep reading?

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Tiny House on the Hill - Contemporary Romance Review

Tiny House on the Hill by Celia Bonaduce (Amazon)

Rating: Good
Source: NetGalley

Description: Home is where the heart fits . . .

Summer Murray is ready to shake things up. She doesn’t want to work in risk management. She doesn’t want to live in Hartford, Connecticut. So she plans a grand adventure: she’s going to throw out all the stuff she doesn’t want and travel the country in her very own tiny house house shaped like a train caboose. Just Summer, her chihuahua-dachshund Shortie, and 220 square feet of freedom.

Then her take-no-prisoners grandmother calls to demand Summer head home to the Pacific Northwest to save the family bakery. Summer has her reasons for not wanting to return home, but she’ll just park her caboose, fix things, and then be on her way. But when she gets to Cat’s Paw, Washington, she’s shocked by her grandmother’s strange behavior and reunited with a few people she’d hoped to avoid. If Summer is going to make a fresh start, she’ll have to face the past she’s been running from all along . . .

Genre: Romance - Contemporary

Why I Picked This Book:  I've watched more than my share of Tiny House Hunters on HGTV so I thought it'd be fun to read a book set in a tiny house.

My Impression: I'm so torn on this one!  This book reads super fast and is fun but at the same time several elements left me rolling my eyes. So that this doesn't become too convoluted I'm going with a list format for this one!

The Good:
The pacing is super fast and it's a really light read - this would be a good sick in bed read or a stress relief book.

The parts of Summer's journey where she's learning how to travel in her tiny house were pretty fun and I enjoyed seeing her confidence grow as she went along.

Summer's relationship with her grandmother, Queenie was interesting.  We get hints that Queenie is not quite so serious and rigid as she seems and that's really fun.

Summer's dog, Shortie, was really cute and I loved his friendship with the much bigger Andre.  That's a visual image that really gave me a lot of giggles.

The Not As Good:
I had a hard time believing that Summer was really 28.  She seemed so very immature and unsure of herself.  It got better in the middle of the book but towards the end flared up again.  She makes assumptions based on things that happened 10 years ago and it never occurs to her that things could have changed since they were teenagers.  As well I struggled to really get behind her new plan when she had yet to really successfully make a purse.

The romance isn't developed.  For a good 3/4 of the book I would have considered this just really light contemporary fiction.  Nothing is really resolved at all until the last few pages.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Since this book was so readable despite my irriations I'd give this author another try but only if the premise really grabbed me.

Would I Recommend this Book?  If you're in the mood for a really light read and the premise appeals to you this is a fun read.  If you're in the mood for a good romance I'd skip this one.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The Cottingley Secret - Blog Tour Fiction Review

About The Cottingley Secret

• Hardcover: 416 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow (August 1, 2017)
  “The Cottingley Secret tells the tale of two girls who somehow convince the world that magic exists. An artful weaving of old legends with new realities, this tale invites the reader to wonder: could it be true?” — Kate Alcott, New York Times bestselling author of The Dressmaker
One of BookBub's Most-Anticipated Books of Summer 2017! 

 The New York Times bestselling author of The Girl Who Came Home turns the clock back one hundred years to a time when two young girls from Cottingley, Yorkshire, convinced the world that they had done the impossible and photographed fairies in their garden. Now, in her newest novel, international bestseller Hazel Gaynor reimagines their story. 1917… It was inexplicable, impossible, but it had to be true—didn’t it? When two young cousins, Frances Griffiths and Elsie Wright from Cottingley, England, claim to have photographed fairies at the bottom of the garden, their parents are astonished. But when one of the great novelists of the time, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, becomes convinced of the photographs’ authenticity, the girls become a national sensation, their discovery offering hope to those longing for something to believe in amid a world ravaged by war. Frances and Elsie will hide their secret for many decades. But Frances longs for the truth to be told. One hundred years later… When Olivia Kavanagh finds an old manuscript in her late grandfather’s bookshop she becomes fascinated by the story it tells of two young girls who mystified the world. But it is the discovery of an old photograph that leads her to realize how the fairy girls’ lives intertwine with hers, connecting past to present, and blurring her understanding of what is real and what is imagined. As she begins to understand why a nation once believed in fairies, can Olivia find a way to believe in herself?

Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

My Thoughts:

I've wanted to read Hazel Gaynor's books for years but somehow the timing was just never right and I never got around to it.  This had a few irresistible topics for me - an old bookshop in Ireland, an old manuscript, and a main character who is trying to learn to believe in herself - and of course the gorgeous cover didn't hurt!  This was one of those special books that was exactly what I wanted when I wanted it.  I loved Olivia and I loved watching her learn to give herself permission to be happy.  I could relate to her struggle with trying to keep things together after two of the most important people in her life are gone in body or in spirit.   I really loved watching her as she learned more and more of Frances' story and I couldn't wait to figure out the connection and how it all works out.  I loved Frances' story when told through her own words as well.  This is one of the few dual timeline books where I enjoy both timelines equally and love both main characters.  This was my first introduction to Gaynor's work but it most definitely won't be my last!  Rating:  Loved it!

About Hazel Gaynor

HAZEL GAYNOR is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of A Memory of Violets and The Girl Who Came Home, for which she received the 2015 RNA Historical Novel of the Year award. Her third novel The Girl from the Savoy was an Irish Times and Globe & Mail Canada bestseller, and was shortlisted for the BGE Irish Book Awards Popular Fiction Book of the Year. The Cottingley Secret and Last Christmas in Paris will be published in 2017. Hazel was selected by US Library Journal as one of ‘Ten Big Breakout Authors’ for 2015 and her work has been translated into several languages. Originally from Yorkshire, England, Hazel now lives in Ireland. Find out more about Hazel at her website, and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday - Ten Books for New Mystery Readers

This week's Top Ten Tuesday topic from the Broke and the Bookish is 10 Book Recommendations for --.  Since I'm in a bit of a mystery phase right now I thought I'd do 10 Book Recommendations for New Mystery Readers.

Children's Mysteries

1.  The Boxcar Children Great Adventure: Journey on a Runaway Train by Gertrude Chandler Warren -  The Tornado (now age 7 but probably starting at age 5) is a huge Boxcar Children fan.  In fact the audio books were what really got him reading on his own.  I'm not usually a fan of rebooted series but this one is so much fun!  There's history and a bit of a treasure hunt and all kinds of fun antics.

2.  Summer of the Woods by Steven K. Smith - This is another series with a history element but in the best way possible.  This is the story of 2 brothers and their friend getting into all kinds of hijinks in Virginia and it's a lot of fun.  The mysteries are fun and the history is fascinating.  I've even picked up a few tidbits that I didn't know!

3.  The Mummy with No Name by Geronimo Stilton - Geronimo Stilton mysteries are so much fun and are fun for readers just starting chapter books.  There's lots of gorgeous illustrations, colorful text and hijinks and mayhem galore.

4.  Gilda Joyce: Psychic Investigator by Jennifer Allison - This is one that I stumbled on almost by accident at the library and it's one I think my girls would have really enjoyed in 4th to 6th grade or so.  Gilda's an interesting character who has a talent for getting into trouble.  This wasn't the best mystery but the characters make up for it.

5.  The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin - I just reread it and remembered just why I loved it so much as a kid.  It's a great mystery and a fun read as well.  While a murder is discussed the bulk of the mystery is more of a treasure hunt and a wonderfully done one.  It was one of my favorites from about 5th grade and up and one of my daughter's has read it so many times her copy has fallen to pieces!

Mysteries for Adults

1.  A Share in Death by Deborah Crombie - This is a super solid police procedural with really great characters and fascinating mysteries.  They get more serious as the series goes on but if anything this series just keeps getting better!

2.  Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie - Of course I had to have an Agatha Christie book!  This is a great one to start with because it's Poirot at his most likable and it's a great cast of characters.

3.  The Beekeeper's Apprentice by Laurie R. King - If you're looking for a historical setting and love a twist on the Sherlock Holmes story than you can't go wrong with King's Mary Russell series which features an older Holmes and his young wife Mary Russell.

4.  The Readaholics and the Gothic Gala by Laura DiSilverio - I couldn't make this list without including a cozy!  There are so many great cozies to choose from but this very bookish mystery which involved book club chat, a dead body, and a really fun mystery is one of my favorites!

5.  The Hexed by Heather Graham - If you like a little paranormal in your reading the Krewe of Hunters by Graham is one of the best and The Hexed is one of my favorites.  This is a fun series involving ghosts, witches, history and a very modern day murder.  Don't let the size of the Krewe series scare you.  You can jump in where you want and almost all feature different main characters who are connected by paranormal investigations only.

What mysteries would you recommend to new mystery readers of all ages?

Monday, August 14, 2017

Reviews From the Children's Section - The Westing Game

One of my favorite genres and one that is the easiest for me to push aside is middle grade fiction. This year to make sure I get a little more children's and young adult fiction I thought I would designate the first Monday of every month Middle Grade Monday.  While a lot of my picks this year are classics I am trying to branch out a little bit and read new or at least recent releases.  This week's book is an old favorite but one I haven't read in decades.  It was nice to revisit it.

The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin

Description:  A bizarre chain of events begins when sixteen unlikely people gather for the reading of Samuel W. Westing's will. And though no one knows why the eccentric, game-loving millionaire has chosen a virtual stranger - and a possible murderer - to inherit his vast fortune, one thing's for sure: Sam Westing may be dead... but that won't stop him from playing one last game!

My Thoughts:  Reading an old favorite is always a little bit of a risk.  Will a book I loved as a child still be a decent read for an adult?  How much will nostalgia affect my reading experience?  Will reading it now ruin it for me?

The Westing Game exceeded my expectations and was really just a joy to read.  There's quite a large cast here and while the book does seem to center around adolescent Turtle Wexler we get a peeks of all the other characters too.  It's fun seeing the different ways each team investigates the clues they are given as well as the development of the different relationships.  The characters while not super developed are surprisingly complex with hidden secrets and weaknesses.  As part of the game each character is partnered with another making some unlikely allies and it was entertaining to watch.  The mystery isn't scary but is definitely puzzling and really a solid mystery.  Raskin isn't dumbing anything down because this is a Middle Grade book!  Even knowing the ending I really enjoyed watching the investigation and seeing the conclusion be revealed.   There are two epilogues which show what has happened to the characters 5 years from the end of the mystery and then again even more into the future which I really enjoyed but might make some readers who don't like super tied up endings a little eye rolly.

While this book was published in 1979 very little feels dated except for the occasional decor description.  There are some mentions of race and gender role issues but Raskins handles it all beautifully and with an unexpected flair.  There was one mention of a character's daughter that was born with some sort of disability (possibly Down Syndrome) that made me cringe a bit but this was literally one mention.

The plot is fairly complex and there are a lot of subtleties that I think might bore younger readers but I think any reader - especially one who loves mysteries - who is 10 or older would love this.  If you're an adult who has never read this or if this was a favorite childhood read it's definitely worth a visit.  I don't think you'll be disappointed.  Rating:  Loved it!