Sunday, March 18, 2018

This Week in Reading - March 18

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:

My mailbox was full this week but with all great books!  I can't wait to get started on these.

Queen Anne's Lace by Susan Wittig Albert 

Murder in the Bowery by Victoria Thompson

Wedding Cake Crumble by Jenn McKinlay

A Magical Match by Juliet Blackwell

Cinco de Murder by Rebecca Adler

Date with Malice by Julia Chapman

The Cottages on Silver Beach by RaeAnne Thayne


Reading:  The Secret of Flirting by Sabrina Jeffries and The Seven Sisters by Lucinda Riley

Listening:  I finished Secrets of the Tulip Sisters by Susan Mallery this week and am about to start Poser: My Life in Twenty-three Yoga Poses by Claire Dederer.  I know nothing about it so it should be interesting.

Watching:  We discovered there was a season of The Great British Bake-Off on Netflix that we hadn't seen so we've been watching that.  I've also been watching the reboot of MacGyver which while the quality isn't great I find incredibly entertaining.

Off the Blog:

This week was a bit complicated.  Our internet went down again so I'm way behind on commenting though thankfully I was enough ahead that it didn't effect my post schedule.  It's fixed now I think but I'm on my last bit of patience with the company we use.  The only problem is that if I change companies I'll have to get a new DVR and I'm so behind on the shows I watch!  Small problems I know but annoying.  

It was also book fair week at school and I ended up volunteering to run a cash register for 3 days.  We have 2 days where parents come to lunch and then shop with the kid and 1 day where grandparents come.  Grandparent day especially is crazy busy and it essentially doubles the take from the rest of the week.  By the time I got home I had a crick in my neck, my feet hurt and I had a massive headache but it was a lot of fun and so good to see kids excited to get books and family so supportive.

Oh and I forgot all about Daylight Savings time until I woke up last Sunday morning and saw the time.  I'm not a morning person on the best of days and losing that hour of sleep made me want to cry though I do enjoy it being light out past 5 in the afternoon.

This coming week is kind of slow and next week is Spring Break.  We don't have any real plans other than to adjust to the time change though I am hoping to make a day trip or two.

On the Blog:

What Happened:

What's Coming Up:

Monday:  Ramblings from the Stacks : Books vs Author
Tuesday:  Top Ten Tuesday - Spring TBR
Wednesday:  A Brush with Shadows - Historical Mystery Review
Thursday:  I Was Anastasia - Fiction Review
Friday: Friday Linkups with Current Book
Saturday: TBD

What are your plans this week?  Have a great week and happy reading!

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Three Fates - Romantic Suspense Review

Rating: Loved it!
Source: Purchased

When the Lusitania sank, one survivor became a changed man, giving up his life as a petty thief—but keeping the small silver statue he lifted, a family heirloom to future generations. Now, nearly a century later, that priceless heirloom, one of a long-separated set of three, has been stolen. And Malachi, Gideon, and Rebecca Sullivan are determined to recover their great-great-grandfather’s treasure, reunite the Three Fates, and make their fortune. The quest will take them from their home in Ireland to Helsinki, Prague, and New York where they will meet a brilliant scholar who will aid them in their hunt—and an ambitious woman who will stop at nothing to acquire the Fates...

Genre: Romantic Suspense

Why I Picked This Book:
  I read this book years ago and really enjoyed it.  It'd been awhile since I read it so I figured it was time to give it another try.

My Impression: 
I have a small stack of books that makes up my reread shelf and every time I reread one it has to earn its place back on the shelf.  I hadn't read this one in years and so I wasn't quite sure where it would fall.  Pretty quickly in I knew it's place on the reread shelf was safe!  Nora Roberts typically has one stand alone and one trilogy a year.  Three Fates is kind of like a trilogy turned into a stand alone.  There's an ensemble cast of 6 and while the who ends up with who is not a surprise it's so much fun to watch it happen.  My favorite character overall was Tia Marsh.  She's from a wealthy family that owns an exclusive antique store and has for generations.  She herself has made a name for herself studying mythology and writing books but she's incredibly insecure and nervous and terrified of the world around her.  However, while many people easily dismiss her as unimportant it's really more that she's never given herself a chance.  Watching her find her strength and herself was thoroughly enjoyable.  The Sullivan siblings all play a big part of that.  Malachi, Gideon, and Rebecca Sullivan have turned their family fishing business in Cobh, Ireland into a tourist boat tours to where the Lusitania sank so long ago.  The Sullivan connection to the Lusitania sinking along with their connection to Tia's family is intriguing.  The siblings are all interesting people with different skills and different personalities.  Their mother, Eileen, plays a small but memorable role and adds moments of humor along with a calming presence.  Cleo Tolliver and Jack Burdett and the final members of the group.  Cleo is street smart with all kinds of walls and Jack is very savvy and very good and focused on running one of the best security firms in the world. Both have interesting connections to the Fates and add nicely to the team.  The six are on a mission to recover all three fates - a set of little silver statues - and more importantly, keep them out of Anita Gaye's hands all while keeping themselves safe.

Anita made for a pretty fantastic villain and it was easy to see how she fooled the people around her.  The mystery itself is page turning and I loved watching as everything unfolded.  My favorite component of the book was the relationships between the people themselves - not just the romance (which was nice) but the friendships as well.  I especially enjoyed watching Cleo and Tia develop a friendship.  If I had to name one flaw I'd say that the characters can be a little inconsistent.  Cleo, Tia, and Gideon are all well rounded and wonderfully fleshed out whereas Malachi, Jack, and Rebecca are a little more one dimensional.  It definitely didn't keep me from thoroughly enjoying my revisit of this book and it's definitely earned it's shelf space on the keeper shelf!

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?
  Absolutely!  I read pretty much anything that Roberts writes.

Would I Recommend this Book?
  I would if you're in the mood for romantic suspense.  Since this essentially three books in one some of the character development gets lost and the connections happen fairly fast.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Friday Linkups - A Brush with Shadows

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:
Who is your favorite children's book author and why?

My Answer:
This is a tough question as I have a number of favorite children's book authors so it's hard to narrow the list down to one.  I love Carolyn Keene, L.M. Montgomery, and so many more but I guess my favorite is probably Elizabeth Enright.  I love her Melendy series and the Gone-Away Lake books.  They're such fun adventure stories that really don't feel dated and read well even for adults.  

This week's book is one in a series that I've been wanting to read for awhile - A Brush with Shadows by Anna Lee Huber.  I've been on a big historical mysteries kick lately and I've ha heard really great things about this one.  I'm not very far in but so far I'm really enjoying it.

The Beginning:
The first time I laid eyes on Langstone Manor, I could not blame my husband for having stayed away for over fifteen years.

My Thoughts:
Well that sounds a bit foreboding!

The 56:
I would have liked to fall back asleep, but my mind was too alert.

My Thoughts:
I can relate to this!  This happens to me all the time but I'm very rarely in the middle of a murder investigation.

So what do you think?  Keep reading?

Thursday, March 15, 2018

The Silent Companions - Mystery Review

Rating: Good
Source: Publisher

When Elsie married handsome young heir Rupert Bainbridge, she believed she was destined for a life of luxury. But with her husband dead just weeks after their marriage, her new servants resentful, and the local villagers actively hostile, Elsie has only her husband's awkward cousin for company. Or so she thinks. Inside her new home lies a locked door, beyond which is a painted wooden figure--a silent companion--that bears a striking resemblance to Elsie herself. The residents of The Bridge are terrified of the figure, but Elsie tries to shrug this off as simple superstition--that is, until she notices the figure's eyes following her.

A Victorian ghost story that evokes a most unsettling kind of fear, this is a tale that creeps its way through the consciousness in ways you least expect--much like the silent companions themselves.

Genre: Mystery - Horror

Why I Picked This Book:  I haven’t read a really creepy book in awhile and this looked seriously creepy!

My Impression:  I don’t read much horror so I don’t have much to compare it to but the creep factor is high on this one!  At the very beginning there an editor’s note saying not to read this at night and it’s not far off!  While I could handle a dark sky this isn’t a book to read late at night by myself.

The writing style reminded me a little of Shirley Jackson.  While it’s very clear that SOMETHING terrible has happened many of the early scenes seem fairly innocent but there is always something deeply unsettling lurking between the lines.  I loved the super Gothic-y feel of this book from the asylum to the creepy dusty manor house to the not always thinly veiled hostility of everyone around Elsie.

I felt sorry for Elsie even though I could never be sure if I liked or trusted her.  She seemed so alone with absolutely no support or respect that I couldn’t help but pity her.  My only problem with this book is that while the atmosphere kicked in early it took awhile for the story to really get going.  There were lots of little clues even from the beginning but not really enough for the plot to really gain traction for probably the first third of the book though I was definitely intrigued and unsettled.  

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  I would - especially if the blurb grabbed me as much as this one

Would I Recommend this Book?  I would if you’re in the mood for serious creepiness but not heavy gore.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Death of an Unsung Hero - Historical Mystery Review

Rating:  Very Good
Source: Publisher 

Lady Montfort and her pragmatic housekeeper Mrs. Jackson investigate a murder of a WWI officer with amnesia in the 20th-century English countryside.

Building on the success of her last three mysteries in the same series, Tessa Arlen returns us to the same universe in Death of an Unsung Hero with more secrets, intrigue, and charming descriptions of the English countryside.

In 1916, the world is at war and the energetic Lady Montfort has persuaded her husband to offer the dower house to the War Office as an auxiliary hospital for officers recovering from shell-shock with their redoubtable housekeeper Mrs. Jackson contributing to the war effort as the hospital’s quartermaster.

Despite the hospital’s success, the farming community of Haversham, led by the Monfort’s neighbor Sir Winchell Meacham, does not approve of a country-house hospital for men they consider to be cowards. When Sir Evelyn Bray, one of the patients, is found lying face down in the garden with his head bashed in, both Lady Montfort and Mrs. Jackson have every reason to fear that the War Office will close their hospital. Once again the two women unite their diverse talents to discover who would have reason to murder a war hero suffering from amnesia.

Genre: Mystery - Historical

Why I Picked This Book:
  I've been wanting to read this series since the first book and I've been on a huge historical mystery kick lately.

My Impression:  I do love a historical mystery and this series has landed in my To Read list.  I loved the mix of upstairs and down, the strong and intelligent main characters, and the at times heartbreaking World War 1element.

Mrs. Jackson and Lady Montfort May just be one of my favorite investing teams.  While they’re both intelligent and observant their perspectives and knowledge is very different so they are really able to work together.  As well their friendship and respect for each other feels incredibly genuine.

The mystery was very entertaining though it did have touches of tragedy as I spent more time around the officers that inhabit the hospital.   There were a number of very clever clues and red herrings.  This one kept me guessing but even better made me feel emotionally involved.

While this is the 4th book in the series I really had no trouble jumping in even from the beginning.  This was really a delightful read and has me looking forward to reading more from the series.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Absolutely!  I’m looking forward to reading more of the series.

Would I Recommend this Book?  Definitely!  If you enjoy historical mysteries or historical fiction you’ll enjoy this book.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday - Books that Surprised Me

This week's Top Ten Tuesday topic from That Artsy Reader Girl is Books That Surprised Me.  Now sometimes that surprise is a good one and sometimes not so good.  These are either books I expected to not like or be kind of meh about that I couldn't put down or books that I expected to love that just fell flat for me.  Luckily there are way more happy surprises than bad.

The Good: 

1.  Cinder by Marissa Meyer  - This was on my TBR the first time I saw the cover but honestly I didn't expect to like it.  I'm not a big fan of YA or dystopian type books and this is a bit of both by I loved how the author built the world and did the fairy tale retelling.  I liked Scarlet even more but it wasn't a surprise!

2.  A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens - Dickens and I have a very complicated history thanks to some required reading in high school so while I loved the story in play form I didn't really expect to love it in printed form.  But I really did!

3.  Casino Royale by Ian Fleming - I had read Chitty Chitty Bang Bang before I decided to go on an Ian Fleming project.  I love his straight to the point writing style but was a little nervous about how it would work in a grown up spy novel especially given what I know about the movies.  I was pleased to discover how much I enjoyed the novels and how different they are from the movies (especially the Roger Moore ones).  As well I was very pleased to discover that why Fleming and Bond aren't winning any feminism awards the women that people the books are strong, self possessed, intelligent and frequently are the ones getting Bond out of a crisis instead of the other way around.

4.  Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick - My only real knowledge of Anna Kendrick comes from the movie Pitch Perfect which was fine but didn't make me want to go read/watch everything connected to her.  I got the audio from the library for the book strictly on a whim and absolutely fell in love with the book and her personality and ended up laughing until I cried.

5.  The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows - I'd been seeing raves about this book for awhile but I wasn't so sure if I could really follow a story that was told almost exclusively in a letter format.  I didn't see how I'd get invested in the character but I was so wrong!  This is one of my Top 5 Favorite All Time Audio books.

6.  The Last Chance Matinee by Mariah Stewart - I've been reading Mariah Stewart for years and her Chesapeake Bay series is one I always read but am not really sure why I do.  It's been hit or miss and even when it's a hit it's always more like than love.  My expectations weren't super high when I started this book but I loved it and it reminded me why I still read Stewart's book.

7.  Before the Fall by Noah Hawley - I had no interest in reading this one.  I don't like crisis stories and I'm not a big fan of anything where children are involved.  There were even times when I was reading it that I just wasn't sure how I felt about it but as the story went on the more pulled in I was.  It ended up being a book I really enjoyed!

The Bad:

1.  The Lying Game by Ruth Ware - I love Ruth Ware.  Her two previous books were two of my favorite audio books ever so I was super excited about this one.  And then I wasn't.  There was just so much secret keeping and it felt like the narrator was keeping secrets from the reader for far too long.  I kind of felt like she had an excellent novella but had to turn it into a full length novel on a very tight deadline.

2.  Ghostland by Colin Dickey - I just knew I would love this book.  It's all about ghosts and the actual history surrounding the story.  I love ghosts and I love history so I thought this was a no fail purchase.  In fact I was so confident that I preordered it new - in hardcover.  I made it a 100 pages before I had to put it down.  I found the style rambling to the point of incoherent and was bored to the point of reading slump.

3.  Everything, Everything by Nicole Yoon - This is strictly a - it's not you, it's me - reading experience.  I recognize that there was a lot that was really good with this book and while I could appreciate that I really didn't enjoy it.  I think this was the book that made me realize that the genre itself just isn't for me.  

Monday, March 12, 2018

Dead Cold Brew - Cozy Mystery Review

Rating: Very Good
Source: Publisher 

Coffeehouse manager Clare Cosi sheds tears of joy when her NYPD detective boyfriend surprises her with an engagement ring. But her bridal bliss is put on hold when a chilling mystery brings a wave of deadly danger to those she holds dear...

After everything Clare and Mike have been through, they deserve a little bit of happily ever after. So when Mike decides to put a ring on Clare's finger, Clare's eccentric octogenarian employer is there to help. She donates the perfect coffee-colored diamonds to include in the setting and the name of a world-famous jeweler who happens to be an old family friend. But while the engagement is steeped in perfection, the celebration is not long lived.

First, a grim-faced attorney interrupts their party with a mysterious letter bequeathing a strange, hidden treasure to Clare's daughter. Next, the renowned jeweler who designed Clare's ring is found poisoned in his shop. Both events appear to be connected to a cold case murder involving a sunken ship, an Italian curse, a suspiciously charming jewel thief, and a shocking family secret. With deadly trouble brewing, Clare must track down clues in some of New York's most secret places before an old vendetta starts producing fresh corpses.

Genre: Mystery - Cozy

Why I Picked This Book:
  I've enjoyed previous books in this series and I can never resist a jewel thief!

My Impression:
  The blurb is a little misleading.  While the old family mystery and secrets involving a jewel thief do factor into the book they don't really show up until at least 100 pages in and that plot is frequently overshadowed by what feels like the main mystery - just who is shooting NYPD police officers.  Clare ends up involved because her boyfriend, Mike Quinn just happens to be an NYPD officer and a shooting occurs right outside her coffee shop.This wasn't really a problem as I found both mysteries very compelling and felt invested in finding out how both ended. 

The cast of characters made this an enjoyable read.  I loved Clare's relationship with Mike and I felt like it was progressing in authentic manner.  While normally I'm a scorched earth person when it comes to ended relationships I do enjoy her relationship with her ex-husband, Matt and his mother who is also her boss.  I love that Clare calls her Madame and how supportive they are of each other.  As well, Clare and Matt's relationship is hardly unicorns and rainbows though for the most part they do get along.  I liked learning a little bit more about his family and especially enjoyed the flashbacks of his parents in the early days of their marriage.

This is fairly long for a cozy mystery coming in at just shy of 400 pages but Coyle's writing style has such an easy conversational feel I never felt like it was dragging.  Plus, the recipes at the end are mouthwatering!

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?
  Absolutely!  I have a number of books in this series to catch up on and am already looking forward to the next book.

Would I Recommend this Book?
  I would - especially if you enjoy a cozy mystery though it may have you wishing that you really could run up to the Village Blend for some of Clare's delicious and unique coffee blends.