Sunday, July 23, 2017

This Week in Reading - July 23

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:

Flat Broke with Two Goats by Jennifer McGaha - I just couldn't resist the title!  This memoir about a couple in financial disaster who end up in a 100 year old mice infested snake ridden cabin sounded interesting.  (NetGalley)

The Playboy Prince and the Nanny by Donna Alward - It's been awhile since I read a romance with royalty and I love Donna Alward so this sounded like a fun light read I couldn't resist.  (Publisher)

Trace by Archer Mayor - I used to love this very un-cozy mystery series about a detective in Vermont so I'm really looking forward to continuing it. (NetGalley)

The Witches' Tree by M.C. Beaton - I can't resist an Agatha Raisin book so of course I had to request this one!  (NetGalley)

Need You Now by Emma Douglas - The daughter of a rock star, a famous tennis player looking to retire, and a music festival sounded like a fun read.  (Publisher)


Reading:  Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen and Dark Rites by Heather Graham

Listening:  Podcasts - especially The Vanished and Again With This but looking to starting an audio book in the next week or two.  I have a pretty long wish list so it'll depend what's available at the library.

Watching:  I watched several movies with my Grandfather while I was visiting them.  We watched several silent movies which were really fun.  I don't think I've ever seen a whole silent film so I'm glad I did.  Hot Water with Harold Lloyd was my favorite I think.

Off the Blog:

I had a great visit with my grandparents this week.  The Tornado had a great time too and our trip coincided with a visit from my Aunt who lives in Pennsylvania which was a nice treat.  I'm glad to be home and getting to sleep in my own bed though!

This is the Tornado's last week of summer as he will start school the week after.  We've had a good summer but wow it went by fast!  We found out the name of his teacher and I'm very excited.  If I could have picked a teacher for him it would have been this one so I'm hoping for a great year.

This week will be all about catching up on pretty much all fronts - home, blog, and reading - and getting in some last minute relaxing.  I'm not looking forward to getting back to early morning wakeups!

On the Blog:

What Happened:

What's Coming Up:

Monday:  Howards End is on the Landing - Bookish Nonfiction Review
Tuesday:  TBD
Wednesday:  TBD
Thursday:  TBD
Friday:  Friday Linkups with Current Book
Saturday:  52 Pins in 52 Weeks - July Edition

Have a great week and happy reading!

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Hospitality and Homicide + Killer Party

Description:  A visit to the serene coastal town of South Cove, California, could make anybody feel refreshed and inspired. But as Jill Gardner—owner of Coffee, Books, and More—discovers, some folks won’t live to tell about it . . .

Mystery author Nathan Pike checked into South Cove Bed & Breakfast to compose a compelling novel, not commit murder. But things get real when a rival B&B owner ends up exactly like the victim in his draft—undeniably dead. As Nathan prepares to complete his magnum opus behind bars, Jill’s the only one who can prove his innocence and deconstruct the plot of a twisted killer!

My Thoughts:  I always enjoy visiting Jill, Greg and the rest of the group in South Cove.  It was fun to see how things were progressing for Amy, Toby, Josh and all the other characters I really feel like I've come to know during the previous books.  While the mystery itself was interesting and the wrap up made since the investigation itself was pretty passive.  Jill wasn't really involved until the last third and prior to that most of her involvement was getting updates from Toby or Greg as to what was going on.  I was much more interested in what was happening with Esmeralda and the missing boy.  What really had me the most interested is the character development that made up such a large part of the book.  Big changes are coming to Jill and Greg's relationship as well as at Coffee, Books, and More and I can't wait to see what happens next.  While this was a great read for fans of the series it's probably not a great one to start with.  Rating:  Good

Blurb:  For a gang of old college buddies, the quaint resort town of South Cove, California, is the perfect spot for a no-holds-barred bachelor party. But for Jill Gardner—owner of Coffee, Books and More—this stag party is going to be murder . . 
After a few months of living with her boyfriend Greg, Jill is still getting used to sharing such close quarters, but she’s got no hesitation about joining him for a weekend at South Cove’s most luxurious resort. While Greg and his college pals celebrate their buddy’s upcoming wedding, Jill intends to pamper herself in style. But when the groom is found floating facedown in the pool, Jill must find the killer fast, or she might not have a boyfriend to come home to any more

My Thoughts:  Jill has always been the main character in this series so I really enjoyed getting to know Greg a little better through his college friends.  Jill is definitely an active participant in the investigation and with Greg sidelined it's fun to see her take a more active role in the investigation.  The mystery is fun and I enjoyed seeing a new group of people in addition to the South Cove regulars.  I enjoyed seeing more of Derek who arrived last book and am hoping he becomes a series regular.  This is a delightful cozy series with entertaining mysteries and a real community feel.  Each new book feels like visiting friends.  Now I just have to wait for the next book to find out just what is going on with Aunr Jackie.  Rating: Very Good

Friday, July 21, 2017

Friday Linkups: Garden Spells

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
Have you ever read a book or books you would consider "toxic" because of the effect it had on you?  If so which one?

My Answer:
I can't think of a specific book but I have stopped reading books where children are abused or killed especially when it is told from the POV of the parent or the killer.  There are a lot of really well reviewed books that center around this but I've finally realized it's just not something I want in my head.

This week's book is Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen.  I read Peach Keeper 2 summers ago and absolutely loved it and have been wanting to go back and read this one for quite some time so I made it my assigned reading for July.  Allen's books are just perfect summer reading.  They're interesting and light reading but you can just feel the North Carolina summers seeping through the pages.

The Beginning:
Every smiley moon, without fail, Claire dreamed of her childhood.

My Thoughts:
This beginning could really go other way.  Either she loved her childhood and misses it or it was terrible and gives her nightmares.  It could go either way.

The 56:
Sydney's heart lodged in her throat, and she stumbled to the kitchen table and sat?  She'd left her daughter alone for twenty-six hours?

My Thoughts:
This is another one that I don't really know what to make of.  How did she not know she'd left her daughter alone for that long?  She seems horrified by the thought so I have some questions.  Can't wait to get to this point.

So what do you think?  Keep reading?

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Room for Doubt - Cozy Mystery Review

Room for Doubt (A Carol Childs Mystery) by Nancy Cole Silverman

Rating:  Good
Source:  Author

Description:  When radio reporter Carol Childs is called to a crime scene in the Hollywood Hills at five thirty in the morning, she’s convinced it must be a publicity stunt to promote a new movie. That is, until she sees the body hanging from the center of the Hollywood sign. The police are quick to rule it a suicide, but something doesn’t add up for Carol. Particularly after a mysterious caller named Mustang Sally confesses to the murder on the air and threatens to kill again.

With the help of an incorrigible PI, her best friend, and a kooky psychic, Carol is drawn into the world of contract killers and women scorned. As she races to find the real killer, she finds herself faced with a decision that will challenge everything she thought she knew.

Genre: Mystery - Cozy

Why I Picked This Book:  I read the previous book in the series and really enjoyed it so I couldn't resist this one!  Especially since it involves a body hanging on the Hollywood sign.

My Impression:  This is the 2nd book in the Carol Childs series I've read and reading this one really made me wonder why I haven't gone back and read the first two.  This is a solid mystery series with an interesting main character and exciting mysteries.  Book 3 was all about a jewel theft ring and in the first few pages in Room for Doubt we find a body hanging from the Hollywood sign. Discovering how it got there is quite the journey with lots of twists and turns to keep Carol on her toes and it all wraps up with a satisfying conclusion.

What really makes this series special is Carol herself.  She's just such a grown up and is so easy to identify with it's impossible not to like her.  She's a single mother to a teenage boy and the challenges of that come through in a very real way without taking center stage.  She's also trying to adapt to her job in the constantly changing world of journalism where she has to juggle her professionalism with the demands of her boss - the very young Tyler who doesn't quite buy into work-life balance.  Carol feels like such a real person and a person I could be friends with.

Silverman really makes use of the Los Angeles setting.  This is not a book that feels like it could be taking place in anywhere USA.  The landmark mentions are frequent without seeming unnecessary and just The Who,e pacing feels very LA.  If you are looking for a fun mystery series with a likable real main character, a slew of entertaining side characters, and a well thought out and fast paced plot this is a series not to miss!

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Absolutely!  I've really enjoyed the 2 books I've read and look forward to reading more.

Would I Recommend this Book?  Definitely!  If you enjoy mysteries that are cozy but not cutesy this is a great series.  I think fans of Julie Mulhern and Susan M. Boyer would enjoy this series.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Dark Saturday - Blog Tour Mystery Review

About Dark Saturday

• Paperback: 400 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (July 11, 2017)
  LOUISE PENNY says Nicci French's books are "fabulous." JOSEPH FINDER says they're "in the rich vein of Kate Atkinson." And TAMI HOAG calls them "truly unique."

  Enter the world of NICCI FRENCH with Dark Saturday, an electrifying, sophisticated psychological thriller about past crimes and present dangers, featuring an unforgettable protagonist...

 A decade ago, 18-year-old Hannah Docherty was arrested for the shocking murder of her family. It was an open-and-shut case, and Hannah has been incarcerated in a secure psychiatric hospital ever since. When psychotherapist Frieda Klein is asked to meet Hannah and give her assessment, she reluctantly agrees. But what she finds horrifies her. Hannah has become a tragic figure, old before her time. And Frieda is haunted by the idea that Hannah might be as much of a victim as her family — that she might, in fact, be innocent. As Hannah's case takes hold of her, Frieda begins to realize that she's up against someone who will go to any lengths to keep the truth from surfacing — even kill again. Utterly compelling and enthralling, Dark Saturday speeds readers down a twisting trail of secrets, suspense, and murder.

Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

My Thoughts:  Nicci French has been an author I've been wanting to read for years but just never managed to make happen.  I was a little worried starting this one that I wouldn't understand what was going on since this is such an established series.  It ended up not being an issue at all.  While it's clear that quite a lot has happened in previous books I was immediately pulled into this one both with the investigation and Frieda's personal life.  The chapters are short and the pace is intense as the investigation into what really happened to Hannah Docherty's family really begins to take shape.  This is a dark story with some pretty dysfunctional characters (including Frieda herself) but at the same time I never felt that it became unbearably grim or unnecessarily violent.  I liked the glimpses into Frieda's psychotherapist work and her own therapy.  It humanized her in a way that I think the book really needed.  I really enjoyed this though I did have to read a chapter of something light and happy before going to bed!  I will be searching for the earlier books in this series and looking forward to the next Dr. Frieda Klein book!  Rating:  Very Good

About Nicci French

Nicci French is the pseudonym of English wife-and-husband team Nicci Gerrard and Sean French. Their acclaimed novels of psychological suspense have sold more than 8 million copies around the world. Connect with the authors on their Facebook page.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

My Favorite TV Shows

I love television!  I'm not sure if it's a reaction to my childhood where I was very rarely allowed to watch TV or if it's just my thing but whatever the reason I'm a big TV fan.  My taste is fairly broad.  I love documentaries and sitcoms and crime shows.  My main rule is that the show not have too big of a story arc or too much character development or you get what I like to call ER syndrome which is basically when fairly normal characters end up being completely insane by the end of the 10th season.  I never quite forgave that show for what it did to perfectly nice Dr. Green.  But that's another story.  So in no particular order here are some of my favorite shows:

1.  The Great British Bake-Off - For some reason PBS in the states calls it The Great British Baking Show but they're the same.  I love the scenery and how nice everyone is.  I love when they come out with some baked creation that I've never even heard of.  I also want to become Mary Berry and be BFFs with Mel and Sue.  I got to know Sue in a show called Supersizers Go (that's on Hulu if you want to watch it - you should it's great) which mixes history and food and is in equal parts fascinating and hilarious.  And I don't want to talk about the fact that the show is getting all changed up to have a more "modern" tone. I'm staying in complete denial.

2.  Antiques Roadshow - I love antiques and history and seeing how much random people are willing to pay for stuff.  Plus, it's always fun to see the reactions when something they didn't think was very important ends up with a big appraisal.

3.  Doctor Who - Back in the 80s PBS showed some of the episodes of the Tom Baker Doctor Who and my Dad loved them so I of course watched it with him.  I wasn't very old and mostly thought it was just weird.  This wasn't helped by the fact that most of the props and special effects seemed to have been put together with things the production crew found lying around.  But my overwhelming opinion was positive and so when I heard the series had been rebooted and discovered that it was on Netflix I thought I'd give it a try and am hooked!  I'm really loving the season that just ended and hate that Capaldi is leaving.  He really seems to have found his version of the Doctor and I love his relationship with Bill.

4.  Catfish - I love this show a ridiculous amount even though the commercials on MTV make me feel very old (I'm very grateful I can fast forward through them).  I love seeing if they are who they say they are and following the investigation as Nev and Max track down who the person has really been talking too.

5.  Dancing with the Stars - This is kind of a guilty pleasure but I love it.  The pretty costumes, the themes, getting to know the celebrities.  There's nothing I don't like.

6.  Elementary -  I really like Sherlock too but the fact they do 3 episodes every 2 years makes me kind of sulky about them so I'm sticking with Elementary.  I love Joan and Sherlock's relationship and I love Detective Bell..  The mysteries are always so twisty and intriguing so it makes me a happy watcher.

7.  NCIS - NCIS is an example of GOOD character development.  McGee has changed so much since he first started on the show but it's more that he's grown up and then gone crazy which gets this show big points.  Plus, there's Gibbs.  How can anyone not love Gibbs?

8.  The Middle - This show is almost a little too true to real life sometimes which makes it all the funnier!

9.  Who Do You Think You Are? - This is my genealogy geek out show.  They've had some really big names and I love finding out the history of regular people all over the world.

10. The Big Bang Theory - I'm always a little nervous when they add characters to a show but Bernadette and Amy have been fantastic additions - especially in the last 2 seasons.  Plus, Bernadette is just amazing.

11. Top Chef - This is probably my favorite cooking show.  I love Padma and Tom and most seasons I really love most of the contestants though every once in awhile the villain does win.  It's fun to see them go through all the different challenges.

12.  Disappeared - This show is on Investigation Discovery and it's one of my favorites.  It focuses on missing people sometimes with a resolution and sometimes without.

I'm linking up with Binge Watchers hosted by Stormi at Books, Movies, Reviews Oh My and Michelle at Because Reading

Monday, July 17, 2017

Ramblings from the Stacks - Book Clubs

Back when the Tornado was little I joined a local mom's group to help him hang out with other toddlers and give me someone to talk to during the day who could actually talk back in full sentences.  It was fun and I made friends with a good number of the other moms.  So when the subject of a Mom's Night Out book club came up I was immediately on board!  People I could talk about books with!  Yes please - sign me up!

The book club started out pretty well.  It was mostly the same 6 or so women with the occasional straggler.  We talked about books some and other stuff and ate and all in all had a good time.  Then the split came.  50 Shades of Grey was picked and there was much outrage amongst the members of the club.  Some of the core members refused to read the book and formed their own club while other members of the group who hadn't joined the book club came to the meeting.  The discussion on 50 Shades was actually pretty entertaining though it wasn't a book I particularly cared for but the split was disastrous to the book club.  It turned out that 2 book clubs could not exist and they both just kind of fizzled away.

Then a year or two later another one started up.  Once again I was all in.  At first it was great.  We read Gone Girl, The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton, The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey and several other books I really enjoyed.  But this because this was a book club that was associated with a mom's group the people who showed up were different each time and as the months went on less and less people read the book which meant we talked about the book less and less.  Then finally we had an influx of women who only read important books and when someone suggested a romantic suspense as the next month's title and they were horrified and made it very clear that that book was below them.  After that I was pretty much done.  I basically just wanted to go build a fort out of my Nora Roberts' books and binge read.  I decided I was done with book clubs or at least the kind that were made of people who weren't connected by books.

But I realized that I MISSED talking about books.  After I read something I wanted to tell someone what I thought about it and to talk about it.  That's one of the things that led me to book blogging.  I love talking about books.  I love seeing what other people think of books I've loved, or hated, or haven't read yet.

Awhile ago I noticed a flier at the library for 2 book clubs.  One a general fiction club and one a romance club.  I've been keeping an eye on the fliers and each month the books listed are books that interest me.  I'm considering giving book clubs another try.

What do you think?  Have you ever gone to a book club through the library or a bookstore?  Have you ever been in a book club?  What kind and how did it go?

Sunday, July 16, 2017

This Week in Reading - July 16

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:

Sleep Like a Baby by Charlaine Harris - I was so thrilled last year when I saw the Aurora Teagarden series was coming back and I'm super excited to start this one.  The Aurora Teagarden series is much more of a straight forward mystery than a lot of her other books.  There's not anything paranormal and it's almost (but not quite) a cozy series.  (NetGalley)

Grave Errors by Carol J. Perry - I read the previous book in this cozy mystery series last year and while I don't remember all the details I remember really loving it.  This one takes place right around Halloween and there's creepy cemeteries and all kinds of spooky sounding stuff so I'm really excited.  (NetGalley)


Reading:  Dark Saturday by Nicci French(which I need to finish today!) followed by getting back to No River Too Wide by Emilie Richards and Killer Party by Lynn Cahoon

Listening:  Still podcasts.  I'm listening to the back list of Again With This about Beverly Hill 90210 and I'm dying laughing.  I love the clips and they're really just hilarious.

Watching:  J and I just finished the 2nd season of Fortitude on Amazon Prime.  We really liked it though it was a bit more gory than the first season and the ending wasn't quite as tied up.  Now we just have to wait for season 3!  Also watching The Great British Bake Off and loving it though I hear that there's a cast change up in the most recent season.  We're a few seasons behind in the US so I'm glad I get a little bit longer with Mary, Sue and Mel.

Off the Blog:

The Tornado had his 2nd Space camp this week so he's been super busy.  This one focused on robotics and really loved the topic but I think he'll enjoy next year more when he's in the older group because it's a bit more hands on.

We had a fantastic trip to Chattanooga last week.  It's one of those places that really isn't that far away from us but I always forget about.  It's always crazy what's close to home that we never end up visiting.  The aquarium there has added penguins since my last visit which made me a happy person.  I could watch penguins for hours.  I just love the way they move and interact.

This next week the Tornado and I are heading to south Mississippi to spend the week with my grandparents before school starts.  I saw a list the other day that ranked the states by misery level in the summer and Mississippi ranked as the most miserable - a fact that does not surprise me in the slightest.  I am looking forward to seeing them.  My grandfather is doing really well after his injury and illness but he's still more housebound than he's ever been and can get restless.  

On the Blog:

What Happened:

What's Coming Up:

Monday:  Ramblings from the Stacks - Book Clubs
Tuesday:  My Favorite TV Shows
Wednesday:  Dark Saturday:  Mystery Review + Blog Tour
Thursday:  Room for Doubt - Cozy Mystery Review
Friday:  Friday Linkups with Current Book
Saturday:  TBD

Have a great day and happy reading! 

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Cocoa Beach - Historical Fiction Review

Cocoa Beach: A Novel by Beatriz Williams

Rating: Very Good
Source: Publisher

Description:  Burdened by a dark family secret, Virginia Fortescue flees her oppressive home in New York City for the battlefields of World War I France. While an ambulance driver for the Red Cross, she meets a charismatic British army surgeon whose persistent charm opens her heart to the possibility of love. As the war rages, Virginia falls into a passionate affair with the dashing Captain Simon Fitzwilliam, only to discover that his past has its own dark secrets—secrets that will damage their eventual marriage and propel her back across the Atlantic to the sister and father she left behind.
Five years later, in the early days of Prohibition, the newly widowed Virginia Fitzwilliam arrives in the tropical boomtown of Cocoa Beach, Florida, to settle her husband’s estate. Despite the evidence, Virginia does not believe Simon perished in the fire that destroyed the seaside home he built for her and their young daughter. Separated from her husband since the early days of their marriage, the headstrong Virginia plans to uncover the truth, for the sake of the daughter Simon never met.

Simon’s brother and sister welcome her with open arms and introduce her to a dazzling new world of citrus groves, white beaches, bootleggers, and Prohibition agents. But Virginia senses a predatory presence lurking beneath the irresistible, hedonistic surface of this coastal oasis. The more she learns about Simon and his mysterious business interests, the more she fears that the dangers that surrounded Simon now threaten her and their daughter’s life as well.

Genre: Fiction - Historical

Why I Picked This Book:  I've really enjoyed previous books by Williams and this involves family secrets, estates that need to be settled, mysterious deaths and all kinds of things that are essentially my reading catnip.

My Impression:  How did I make it until 2017 without reading a book by Beatriz Williams?  To be fair this is my 3rd book this year so I'm making up for lost time but still!  I think this is my favorite book yet.  The other books I've read are typically set in New York and surrounding areas but the majority of this one is set in south Florida.  But Williams brought hot and humid Florida alive just as vividly as chilly grey Manhattan had appeared in A Certain Age.  

This book feels so much more ominous than the previous books that I've read by her.  Maybe it's the sweltering heat that seems to ooze from the pages that changed the atmosphere but whatever it was I'm not complaining.  I wanted to know what was going on.  What was truth and what wasn't and what exactly happened in France and before the fire.  The bulk of the book is set in 1922 with flashbacks to 1917 where Virginia and Simon meet.   Not everything we learn in 1917 matches up with what's going on in 1922 so I couldn't wait to find out how everything connects and unravels.

I really loved Virginia and I adored her daughter Evelyn.  Virginia is smart and tough.  Her life has been a tough one and she's a survivor, fiercely protective of those she loves.  Evelyn is adorable and gives Virginia a little bit of vulnerability and softness without being too precocious or taking over the book.

One thing I love about Williams' books is that they're all connected in someway.  Virginia plays a tiny part in A Certain Age and the story of her family is a major subject of that book.  While these are completely stand alone books there's an added enjoyment of getting to dig deeper into a character's back story or learn more about side characters with each new book.

While I'm fairly new to Williams' world she has quickly become an auto-buy author for me.  With the mystery, the secrets, and the characters this one might just be my favorite.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Absolutely!  I'm looking forward to reading more of Beatriz Williams' books while waiting for the next one to be released!

Would I Recommend this Book?  Absolutely!  Anyone who enjoys a good fiction read with memorable characters would really enjoy this book.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Friday Linkups: Dark Saturday

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 is your go-to drink and/or snack while reading?

My Answer:
I'm not a big snacker while reading mostly because I tend to get absorbed in my book and not realize that I'm eating until I've finished off the bag of chips or the cookies or whatever without even realizing it!  I do love a nice cup of tea while reading though!  I'm a big fan of green tea with just a hint of lemon.

This week's book is for a blog tour next week and I'm really enjoying it though it's way darker than my usual reads.  Nicci French is an author I hadn't really come across before I started blogging but I loved the sound of her books and her main character, psychotherapist Frieda Klein.  So of course when I saw Dark Saturday on a list of tours there was no way I could resist!  It's super dark and creepy but so far it's also really good.

The Beginning:
She isn't afraid.  Being stabbed doesn't cause a stabbing pain.  It had felt more like a punch, with an ache flowing through her body in waves, and then her legs had given way and she was on the floor, her knife rattling on the hard surface.

My Thoughts:
See what I mean by dark?  This kind of a flashback so the tone is different from the rest of the book thankfully.  I don't really like the present tense of the opening.

The 56: 
"You were having a panic attack."
"And they've continued."
"Yes.  Attack is the right word for it.  I wake at night and I know it's coming.  It's crouching and it's going to get me."

My Thoughts:
This is a conversation between Frieda and one of her patients.  The description of the panic attack is so vivid I can almost picture something crouching in the corner.

So what do you think?  Keep reading?  What are your favorite reading snacks?

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Bay of Sighs - Paranormal Romance Review

Bay of Sighs (Guardian Trilogy #2) by Nora Roberts

Rating: Good
Source: Library

Description:  Mermaid Annika is from the sea, and it is there she must return after her quest to find the stars. New to this world, her purity and beauty are nothing less than breathtaking, along with her graceful athleticism, as her five new friends discovered when they retrieved the fire star.
Now, through space and time, traveler Sawyer King has brought the guardians to the island of Capri, where the water star is hidden. And as he watches Annika in her element, he finds himself drawn to her joyful spirit. But Sawyer knows that if he allows her into his heart, no compass could ever guide him back to solid ground...

And in the darkness, their enemy broods. She lost one star to the guardians, but there is still time for blood to be spilled—the mermaid’s in the water and the traveler’s on the land. For she has forged a dangerous new weapon. Something deadly and unpredictable. Something human.

Genre:  Romantic Suspense - Paranormal

Why I Picked This Book:

My Impression:  While I really liked Annika in the first book I wasn't sure that I would like having her as the main character.  She's so upbeat and innocent and her joy at the unfamiliar world seemed like they could be a bit much.  Plus, with all that innocence would a romance with her and a human feel sketchy?

While Annika did retain her unicorns and rainbows personality we did get a little more depth to her personality and I really enjoyed learning more about the rules and customs of the mer-people.  She's tougher than she seems but doesn't let that toughness cause her to become cynical.  The romance was what I was most worried about but Roberts did a good job of making it feel like Annika had full agency and was emotionally aware and ready for a physical relationship.   Annika really takes the lead and there are a number of conversations that show that she isn't a child, she's just more open and less complicated about relationships than humans tend to be.

The quest plotline is developing but no real conclusions are reached in this book though progress is made.  This book is a little darker and a little more violent than the previous book though Roberts doesn't get overly graphic.  I really enjoy seeing the 6 work together as a team using all the gifts.  They're not always in agreement but they really do listen to each other.  As well I like the relationships between the men and women who aren't in a romantic relationship.  They feel like real friends and like partners.  I'm glad I waited to read this one until the 3rd book because this book ends just as they're beginning the third part of the quest and I can't wait to dive in!

Would I Read More of this Series/Author:  Absolutely!  Roberts is a go to read for me and while I didn't enjoy this one quite as much as the first one I'm looking forward to seeing how the trilogy ends.

Would I Recommend this Book?  If you like romantic suspense with a paranormal edge then this is a great trilogy but read the first book before this one or you'll be totally lost!

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Reviews from the Children's Section - Tuesdays at the Castle

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 month's book is a newer release that has been on my radar for quite some time and I'm so glad I finally made time to read it!

Tuesdays at the Castle by Jessica Day George - Tuesdays at Castle Glower are Princess Celie's favorite days. That's because on Tuesdays the castle adds a new room, a turret, or sometimes even an entire wing. No one ever knows what the castle will do next, and no one-other than Celie, that is-takes the time to map out the new additions. But when King and Queen Glower are ambushed and their fate is unknown, it's up to Celie, with her secret knowledge of the castle's never-ending twists and turns, to protect their home and save their kingdom. This delightful book from a fan- and bookseller-favorite kicks off a brand-new series sure to become a modern classic.

My Thoughts:  There are only 2 things I didn't like about this book.  The first is that there is no way that I have found that would enable me to send this book back in time to 9 year old me and the second is that I can't send it back in time to when my girls were 9.  I think all 3 of us at about 9 would have absolutely adored it.  Thankfully it's still a pretty fantastic read for an adult.  This book is absolute magic.  Right from the start I was pulled in and swept away.  Who can resist a magic castle?  Especially one that changes things up when it gets bored and makes its opinions very clearly known about who it likes, who it doesn't, and who it wants to rule? I loved Celie and her siblings, Roth and Lilah.  They didn't always get along perfectly but when they had to they worked together and had each others backs.  This was really a book I didn't want to put down because I really wanted to see what happened next and how it wraps up which is usually not the case for a middle grade fiction.  As a parent I really liked that the kids were problem solvers and aware of the fact that there actions might have consequences for other people (like playing pranks on someone could be taken out on the servants) and tried to minimize that as much as possible.  As well while there are plenty of pretty bad adults here there are adults that can be trusted and are safe to turn to when they really need them.  There are a few moments that could be described as tense and an event that is sad but they are so short lived I don't think this would bother even the most sensitive of readers.

I think this would be a fantastic read for children in 3rd grade or above.  There are some politics and strategy planning that I a younger reader might find slow.  This reads fantastically as an adult read as well.  The characters are fresh, the story is intriguing and a little bit of a nail biter, and did I mention the magic castle?  I'm really excited to discover that there are several more books in the series for me to explore.

Rating:  Loved it!

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

My Favorite Podcasts

I love podcasts!  If there's a subject or genre that interests you it's a pretty safe bet there's a podcast for it and if you listen to it and decide you don't like it or if you just decide you don't want to listen to it anymore you unsubscribe and *poof* gone.  No commitment no money lost no nothing.  Here are some of my favorites:


What Should I Read Next - hosted by Anne Bogel, the creator of Modern Mrs. Darcy this is hands down my favorite book podcast.  She talks about an enormous range of books because each episode has a different guest and they all have different books they love, hate and want to read.

The Babysitters Club Club - 2 30 something guys are reading their way through The Baby-Sitters Club books and discuss them in DETAIL.  They have all kinds of crazy theories regarding what's really going on that gets pretty entertaining.  As a fan of the books when I was a kid I've really enjoyed revisiting my old favorites without having to reread them!

Smart Podcast, Trashy Books -  I'm picky on this one because not every show is a winner for me.  I don't really care for the ones where it's just the bloggers sitting around talking so I tend to skip those.  I absolutely love Sarah Wendell's interviews with authors though.  She asks great questions and really does a great job of keeping the interview interesting and entertaining.   My favorites are probably her interviews with Jill Shalvis and Sherry Thomas.


True Crime Garage - These guys cover a wide range of crimes from recent to as far back as the 1930s.  While Nick and the Captain do seem like friends there isn't a huge amount of banter.  They go into detail on the crime and really explore the whodunnit aspect while staying respectful to the victim.

The Vanished - This podcast focuses on people who have gone missing.  There are tons of interviews with friends and family members as well as with law enforcement. If you like the show Disappeared on ID than you really must listen to this one.

Thinking Sideways - This one is all over the places on subjects covered.  From murders to historical mysteries to missing people to unexplained events this one has it all.  Most of these don't have a set resolution but they do a great job at presenting all the available theories and their own opinions based off their research.


Stuff You Missed in History Class - This is one probably most people have heard of but it's one of my favorites.  They cover such a huge range of topics that I'm always learning something new and I really like the hosts.

The History Chicks - A new episode only comes out every month or so but they have an extensive backlog and the episodes are fascinating!  They're in depth hour + length shows and they're great about really putting the historical figures in context.  I just finished the Lucille Ball episode and have a whole new appreciation for her.

Most Notorious - This one really could be in the crime section but since the focus is pretty much exclusively historical crime I'm putting it here.  Basically the host interviews the author of a true crime book each episode and it's absolutely fascinating.  He's covered well known cases like H.H. Holmes and the Bloody Benders and lesser known cases like the conman Soapy Smith and The Bath School Massacre of 1927.


Sidedoor - This is done by the Smithsonian and it's so fascinating!  Each episode is around 20 minutes long and features 3 stories that are loosely under 1 topic.  My favorite one so far was called Gaming the System and it talked about people sending their children through the postal service, trying to find loopholes in the citizenship laws in the early 1900s and the song "Rock Island Line".

The Lazy Genius - This is a lifestyle podcast from Kendra over at  The Lazy Genius Collective.  Her focus is really on only worrying about the things that matter too you and she talks about all kinds of things from reading to cooking and all kinds of random stuff.

The Simple Show - This is similar to The Lazy Genius podcast in that it covers a range of stuff from family friendly traveling, to reading, to just about anything else that appeals to the host, blogger Tsh Oxenrider.

Again With This - This is my new favorite but I love it dearly!  This show is all about Beverly Hills 90210 and it's fantastic.  The hosts are hilarious, I love the clips they play from the show and their screen shots are amazing.  I really want to go back and listen to them discuss the first couple of seasons which I actually watched but until then I'm really enjoying them make fun of season 6!

Happier with Gretchen Rubin - This is probably the first podcast I subscribed too but I still really enjoy it.  I really liked Rubin's book The Happiness Project but I didn't really feel like I liked her.  After listening to this I've changed my mind and I love the differences between her and her sister.  Plus, it's always nice to have a weekly reminder about making myself and my household happier.

So those are some of my favorite podcasts!  Are any of these your favorites?  Any that aren't on my list that I need to listen too?


Monday, July 10, 2017

Sun at Midnight - Fiction Review

Sun at Midnight by Rosie Thomas

Rating: Loved it!
Source:  Publisher

Description:   An epic love story and adventure set against the stunning backdrop of Antarctica.

Alice Peel is a geologist. She believes in observation and proof. But now she stands alone on the deck of a rickety Chilean ship as a stark landscape reveals itself. Instead of the familiar measurable world, everything that lies ahead of her is unknown and unpredictable. Six weeks earlier her life was comfortably unfolding in an Oxford summer. Then, with her relationship suddenly in pieces, she accepted an invitation to join a group working at the end of the earth: Antarctica.

James Rooker is a man on the run. He's been running since his childhood in New Zealand. Now, there is nowhere further to go. He has taken a job working on the same small Antarctic research station.

Alice discovers an ice-blue and silver world, lit by sunlight. Nothing has prepared her for the beauty of it, or the claustrophobia of a tiny base shared with eight men and one other woman. The isolation wipes out everyone's past, and tension crackles in the air. But there is a jolt of recognition between Alice and Rooker that is like nothing she has ever known. And it is in Antarctica that she discovers something else that will change her life forever!

Genre:  Fiction

Why I Picked This Book:  Thomas's book Iris and Ruby was on of my favorite books of 2015 so I couldn't turn this one down - especially since it's set in Antarctica!

My Impression:  If I was making a list of 10 places I never ever wanted to visit Antarctica would definitely be on that list!  It's a terrifyingly inhospitable climate and it pretty much feels like Mother Nature is telling us to stay out.  I fully plan on listening.  However, after reading Sun at Midnight I understand why people want to go or dream of visiting.  Life on base really came alive with its restrictions, close quarters, and varied personalities.  As well the harsh unforgiving landscape outside the base became real as well and I couldn't help but google pictures of Antarctica to compare with what Thomas was bring to life as I was reading.  I've always seen the danger and forbidding feel but I can see a bit more of the beauty now!

Alice is an interesting character.  She's very literal which I could identify with and likes her life nice and predictable.  She admires her famous explorer mother but has always been closer and identifies more with her more homebody father.  I loved their interactions - especially when he doesn't say quite what she expects him to say.  I also really enjoyed her relationships with her friends.  Too often friendships between women in fiction feel too contentious or just ring false but this was not the case here.  Alice's time in Antarctica was really wonderful as she is completely out of her element and has to figure out who she is and how to interact with those around her from scratch.  We see quite a bit of life through the eyes of James Rooker as well.  He's an interesting man with quite the past and I enjoyed his character even though I didn't identify with him as much as I did with Alice.

My only problem was that when we get to the base 9 characters are kind of dumped on us all at once and I struggled to get everyone sorted out at first.  Since I'm talking maybe 20 pages of "wait a minute who is ? again?"  it's a very minor quibble.

Thomas has a wonderful ability to make characters and places come alive in the pages.  It's a slower read but so rich with detail that it makes for an interesting and delightful read.  Plus, how many books take place in Antarctica?

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Absolutely!  This is the 3rd book from Thomas that I've read and I've really enjoyed them all.

Would I Recommend this Book?  Definitely!  If you enjoy fiction I think you'd enjoy this one.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

This Week in Reading - July 9

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:

Nothing!  I got nothing! After a few pretty big weeks I could definitely use an empty shelf!  


Reading:  Tuesdays at the Castle by Jessica Day George and Hospitality and Homicide by Lynn Cahoon

Listening:  Still trying to catch up on podcasts (I've gotten to March!)  right now I'm enjoying Thinking Sideways which is about unexplained mysteries from disappearances to random superstitions.  I'm just finished the Death of Mary Anderson about a woman who was found dead in a hotel in Seattle in 1996 but when the authorities tried to notify her family it turned out she didn't exist.

Watching:  I haven't been watching much TV lately but J and I are watching the 2nd season of Fortitude on Amazon Prime and enjoying it.  It's a little more sci fi than the 1st season but it's super creepy.

Off the Blog:

Not much to report.  This week was kind of weird with July 4th being on a Tuesday.  We had a low key 4th and hung out at home for most of the day.  We did go out in the evening and watch the firework show over the Saturn V rocket which was pretty great.

Right now we are on our 2nd RV trip.  We headed up to Chattanooga and have really been looking forward to it.  Cross your fingers it's going well!  The weather looked kind of iffy and this is a longer trip than our first one!

On the Blog:

What Happened:

What's Coming Up:

Monday:  Sun at Midnight - Fiction Review
Tuesday:  My Favorite Podcasts
Wednesday:  Reviews from the Children's Stacks - Tuesdays at the Castle
Thursday:  TBD
Friday:  Friday Linkups with Current Book
Saturday:  Cocoa Beach - Historical Fiction Review

Have a great week and happy reading!

Saturday, July 8, 2017

A Paris All Your Own - Nonfiction Review

A Paris All Your Own: Bestselling Women Writers on the City of Light edited by Eleanor Brown

Rating: Loved It!
Source: Publisher

Description:   "My time in Paris," says New York Times-bestselling author Paula McLain (The Paris Wife), "was like no one else's ever."
For each of the eighteen bestselling authors in this warm, inspiring, and charming collection of personal essays on the City of Light, nothing could be more true. While all of the women writers featured here have written books connected to Paris, their personal stories of the city are wildly different. Meg Waite Clayton (The Race for Paris) and M. J. Rose (The Book of Lost Fragrances) share the romantic secrets that have made Paris the destination for lovers for hundreds of years. Susan Vreeland (The Girl in Hyacinth Blue) and J. Courtney Sullivan (The Engagements) peek behind the stereotype of snobbish Parisians to show us the genuine kindness of real people.
From book club favorites Paula McLain, Therese Anne Fowler (Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald), and anthology editor Eleanor Brown (The Light of Paris) to mystery writer Cara Black (Murder in the Marais), historical author Lauren Willig (The Secret History of the Pink Carnation), and memoirist Julie Powell (Julie and Julia), these Parisian memoirs range from laugh-out-loud funny to wistfully romantic to thoughtfully somber and reflective.

Perfect for armchair travelers and veterans of Parisian pilgrimages alike, readers will delight in these brand-new tales from their most beloved authors.

Genre: Nonfiction - Anthology

Why I Picked This Book:  Eleanor Brown's The Light of Paris was one of my favorite reads and the rest of the authors had either written books I'd really enjoyed or were on my TBR.

My Impression:  Every summer I fight a reading slump as well as the inability to focus on something for more than a few seconds.  Between the heat and kids being out of school things are just a bit crazy.  This book was the ultimate antidote and a wonderful delight.

The authors included in this book are truly staggering with essays from Susan Vreeland, Paula McLain, Eleanor Brown, Cara Black, Lauren Willig, and so many more.  And each essay is marvelously different.  The essays are personal.  The story of a trip that exceeded or didn't live up to expectations, the story of a string of moments, or the story of finally accomplishing something that had been the goal for years.  Not every story is full of wonder between Paula McLain's camera fiascos, Megan Crane's late night panic attack, or Michelle Gable's googling "horrible family vacations" but every story is fascinating and with each story I felt like I knew the author just a little bit better.  And by seeing Paris through their eyes I felt like I knew Paris a little bit better too.

This is a delightful book to just dip into - pick up, read a story or two and set aside - like a box of delicious truffles or maybe macrons.   This is perfect beach reading or cozy chair next to a fire reading or really any kind of reading when you're feeling the need for a little armchair traveling.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author:  Yes!  While I had read books by several of the authors included here the ones I hadn't have just jumped up my TBR!

Would I Recommend this Book?  Definitely!  If you enjoy armchair traveling this is a must read.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Friday Linkups - The God of the Hive

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:
In one sentence describe your passion for reading.

My Answer:
Reading is my constant.

This week's book is The God of the Hive by Laurie R. King which is about an elderly Sherlock Holmes and his wife Mary.  While Sherlock is much older and lives a quieter life he and Mary can't seem to escape mysteries!  This is a later book in the series which I've been reading since the beginning and always enjoy.  As well this continues a major mystery from the previous book, The Language of Bees.  Sometimes this series can be a touch dry but I always enjoy it and can't believe it's taken me months to get around to reading this one after loving the last book!

The Beginning:
A child is a burden, after a mile.
After two miles in the cold sea air, stumbling through the night up the side of a hill and down again, becoming all too aware of previously unnoticed burns and bruises and having already put on eight miles that night - half of it carrying a man on a stretcher - even a small, drowsy three-and-a-half-year-old becomes a strain.

My Thoughts:
This starts right after the previous book ends so I have a pretty good idea of what's going on here.  Seriously though,  even without the previous 8 miles carrying a guy on a stretcher carrying a 3 1/2 year old 2 miles would be pretty exhausting!

The 56:
The the world exploded in a racket of tearing metal and crackling trees, the scream of three human voices, and an unbelievable confusion of sound and pain and turmoil as we tumbled end over end and fell crying into the dark.

My Thoughts:
Well that sounds ominous!  I'm not quite here yet but it doesn't sound like things are going very well!

So what do you think?  Keep reading?

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Lowcountry Bonfire - Cozy Mystery Review

Lowcountry Bonfire (Liz Talbot #6) by Susan M. Boyer

Rating:  Very Good
Source:  NetGalley

Description:  Private Investigators Liz Talbot and Nate Andrews have worked their share of domestic cases. So when Tammy Sue Lyerly hires them to find out what her husband is hiding, they expect to find something looney but harmless. After all, this is the guy who claims to have been a DEA agent, a champion bull rider, and a NASCAR driver. But when he turns up dead the morning after Liz and Nate deliver the incriminating photos, Tammy is the prime suspect.
Questioning the truth of Zeke Lyerly’s tall-tales, Liz and Nate race to uncover small town scandals, long buried secrets, and the victim’s tumultuous past to keep Tammy Sue out of jail and the case from going up in flames.

Genre: Mystery - Cozy

Why I Picked This Book:  This is one of my absolute favorite cozy mystery series and I love that description!

My Impression:  This is without a doubt one of my favorite cozy mystery series.  I love the characters, I love the setting, and above all the mysteries are always fantastic.  This one is no exception.  There's no waiting around for the action to start here as in the first pages Tammy Sue is setting her husband's beloved car (with his belongings packed in it of course) on fire.  When a body is discovered the normal cheating spouse case turns into a murder investigation and an investigation into just what of Zeke's tall tales might have had some truth to it.

Liz and Nate are newly married and getting adjusted to living and working together.  I love their relationship.  They're really partners in their working relationship as well as their personal one and it's just nice to see.  Since the bulk of the book takes place on Stella Maris we really see a lot of the Talbot family which I enjoyed.  They're characters without being over the top and just seem like nice people.

This may have been my favorite mystery of the series so far.  It starts out as Zeke just being a bit of a liar who is trying to make himself sound important but as Liz and Nate look into his life more and more bits and pieces just don't quite fit.  Could there be some truth to Zeke's lies?  This was a fun read because I really had no idea how things were going to go so I felt like I was going right along with Liz testing theories and investigating.  

This is really a fantastic cozy mystery series with likable characters and interesting mysteries that never lets me down.  This may be my favorite yet though I think I say that about each new mystery that Boyer writes!

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Absolutely!  I'm anxiously awaiting the next book already.

Would I Recommend this Book?  Definitely!  If you enjoy mysteries this is a series not to be missed.  While this is the 6th in the series you can certainly jump in here though if you start at the beginning you won't be sorry as all the mysteries are fantastic!

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Cafe by the Sea - Contemporary Fiction Blog Tour Review

About The Café by the Sea

• Paperback: 416 pages • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (June 27, 2017)

 The beloved author of The Bookshop on the Corner returns with a sparkling, sunny, soulful new novel perfect for fans of Elin Hilderbrand. Years ago, Flora fled the quiet Scottish island where she grew up -- and she hasn't looked back. What would she have done on Mure? It's a place where everyone has known her all her life, where no one will let her forget the past. In bright, bustling London, she can be anonymous, ambitious... and hopelessly in love with her boss. But when fate brings Flora back to the island, she's suddenly swept once more into life with her brothers -- all strapping, loud, and seemingly incapable of basic housework -- and her father. Yet even amid the chaos of their reunion, Flora discovers a passion for cooking -- and find herself restoring dusty little pink-fronted shop on the harbour: a café by the sea. But with the seasons changing, Flora must come to terms with past mistakes -- and work out exactly where her future lies...

Funny and heartfelt, The Café by the Sea is a delightful summertime novel that puts a modern twist on the classic Seven Brides for Seven Brothers story.

My Thoughts:

The Bookshop on the Corner was the bookish equivalent of my happy place so I couldn't wait to read this newest one.   While there are big differences (food not books, paralegal not bookstore owner, etc).  Flora seems so young, so desperate to impress but so unsure of how to do it.  At the beginning especially she's very much a child - all about image and appearance without really understanding how to have substance behind it or the knowledge of what makes her happy.  It took me a few pages to really get in the flow of the book because I felt so sorry for her but once she returns to Mure I was completely hooked.  I loved seeing the island and the dysfunctional relationships of her family.  All her brothers seem so one note on first meeting but as the book progresses it quickly becomes apparent that all is not what it seems.  This is a lovely story.  While there is a bit of a romance what really seemed to stand out was Flora, her family, and the people of Mure getting to know each other again and figuring out what they really want.  The romance was the cherry on top of a deliciously tasty ice cream sundae.  Rating:  Very Good

Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

About Jenny Colgan

Jenny Colgan is the New York Times-bestselling author of numerous novels, including The Bookshop on the Corner, Little Beach Street Bakery, and Summer at Little Beach Street Bakery, all international bestsellers. Jenny is married with three children and lives in London and Scotland. Find out more about Jenny at her website, and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Ten Series I Want To Continue Reading

Top Ten Tuesday from The Broke and the Bookish is on vacation until August so until then I'm left to my own devices!  Earlier this summer I talked about Series I Want to Start which led me to thinking about a connected topic - Series I Want to Continue.  So often I read the first book in a series and really enjoy it but it takes me ages to get around to the next book.  As well there are so many series that I've read for years but over the last little while have gotten away from me and I'm not several books behind.  Here are the top ten series I want to catch up on!

1.  The Duncan Kincaid and Gemma James series by Deborah Crombie - This was one of the first police procedural series I ever read and I fell in love pretty much immediately.  I'd really love to go back and start at the beginning since it's been 20+ years since I've read the first one but unfortunately who has time for that?  For now I'd be happy to get caught up on the series by reading #14 through 17.

2.  Chief Inspector Armand Gamache by Louise Penny - I read the first Armand Gamache earlier this year and really enjoyed it.  I've heard the series gets even better as it goes along and I'm excited to see how the characters develop.

3.  Ruth Galloway by Elly Griffiths - I love a little history mixed in with my mystery and Griffiths does just that in her Ruth Galloway series.  I read the first one last year and really liked it.

4.  The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer - I read Cinder and Scarlet last year and loved them but haven't picked up Cress yet.  I'm really excited to spend more time with the characters and see how everything works out.

5.  Lockwood & Co by Jonathan Stroud - I read The Screaming Staircase last year and really enjoyed this dark middle grade book where only children can see and fight the ghosts that threaten everyone.  The 2nd one looks even better.

6.  Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan - I listened to the first book and really loved it. It was fun to see how Riordan wove mythology into the modern world and I loved the team of characters.

7.  Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams - I've read the first book in the series several times but never advanced beyond that.  I love Adams' sense of humor and way of looking at the world.

8.  Mrs. Pollifax by Dorothy Gilman - This isn't a series I'm really behind on but more one I want to revisit.  Years ago when there weren't so many cozy mystery options I read a number of the Mrs. Pollifax books but I was limited to what was in my library.  I'd really love to go back and read them all in order.

9.  Mary Russell by Laurie R. King - I've really enjoyed this series about Mary Russell and her husband, an elderly Sherlock Holmes.  I'm working on catching up but I'm still several books behind.

10.  Lord Peter Wimsey by Dorothy L. Sayers -  I've read and reread all of Agatha Christie's books more than I can count and quite a number of Ngaio Marsh and Patricia Wentworth but I've sadly neglected Sayers.  I read the first Wimsey book a year or two ago but I'd really like to continue the series.

Any series that you've started, loved and then neglected?

Monday, July 3, 2017

A Stardance Summer - Contemporary Romance Review

A Stardance Summer by Emily March

Rating:  Good
Source: Publisher

Description:   Lili Howe took a leap of faith when she decided to join the Tornado Alleycats, her elderly landlady’s all-female glamour-camping club. Lili’s always given everything to her career, putting herself on track to become her CPA firm’s youngest partner. But now that Lili’s carefully planned future is shattered, she’s willing to let summer work its magic on her―at all costs.
There’s never a dull moment at Stardance Ranch, the Colorado resort Brick Callahan built from the ground up. Still, a late night skinny-dipping session involving a bunch of “glamping” grannies. . .with his best friend’s kid sister Lili among them? He couldn’t have made up such story if he tried. The undeniable mutual attraction between Brick and gorgeous, spirited Lili is a reminder that life is full of surprises. But when Brick’s ex-girlfriend suddenly shows up, he’s faced with a desperate choice: Do right by a woman he once loved or take a chance on Lili. . .and do everything he can to win her heart?

Genre: Romance - Contemporary

Why I Picked This Book:  I've enjoyed every book I've read in this series so far and loved the sound of this one!

My Impression:  I came into this book with crazy high expectations. I had loved the last 2 books (Christmas in Eternity Springs and Reunion Pass) and expected to fall in love with this book in just the same way.  Plus, I love the best friend's little sister/big brother's best friend trope.  With all of that put together I just knew this was going to be on of those books that just pulled me in and didn't let go.  But it wasn't.

I mean I liked it.  I'm not sure it's possible for Emily March to write a book that I don't enjoy.  I loved catching up with the town of Eternity Springs and all the people I've met over the previous books.  I haven't been with the series from the beginning so there are a number of couples whose stories I haven't read.  It is never confusing but always makes me want to go catch up immediately!  I liked Lili a lot.  She's in a tough spot after an entire life of being the good girl and doing what she was supposed to do.  Now she's in trouble and it seems like no one is in her corner except for her landlady, Patsy, who may have been one of my favorite characters in this book along with the rest of the all female camping group, the Tornado Alleycats.  I also really liked Brick.  He's a good guy.  He's part of his community, he's working hard to make his RV park work.  He's had some bumps but isn't angry or bitter though he's not particularly interested in relationships since a bad breakup years ago.  Lili and Brick are good together.  She's still recovering from a childhood crush she had on him but she actually sees him for who he is and not this ideal she's developed in her head which is my usual problem with childhood crushes.  They have a shared history and they both need a friend. It seems natural when it turns to more.

So what was it that kept me from falling in love with this one?  Tiffany Lambeau.  She's Lili's childhood nemesis and Brick's high school sweetheart and she's just so awful that I groaned every time she was mentioned.  A lot of this is really personal as I'm not a fan of flashbacks back to school days or high school sweethearts.  If this doesn't bother you at all you're going to love this book.  If you're like me and would rather high school stay far far in the past than this is still worth reading though it might not be quite as much of a home run.  The story and the characters are wonderful and I always enjoy a visit to Eternity Springs.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author:  Absolutely!  March is one of my favorite authors.

Would I Recommend this Book?  I would!  This wasn't my favorite of the series but my issues were strictly personal.  This is a series you can jump in anywhere with and March always delivers a good read.