Saturday, November 18, 2017

Treasure on Lilac Lane + Once Upon a Maiden Lane - Romance Reviews

Treasure on Lilac Lane by Donna Alward

This is a bit of a second chance romance.  Years ago there was an "almost" moment between childhood friends Jess and Rick.  Then Rick left for the Marines and Jess went on with her life.  Now they're both back in Jewell Cove with a lot more baggage than the young hopefuls they were before.

I wasn't sure if I was going to like this one.  I mean I was excited to visit Jewell Cove again and I liked seeing the couple from the previous book (The House on Blackberry Hill) and Rick just seemed so sad but such a good guy underneath.  The problem was Jess.  She was SO judgmental.  I mean alcoholism and depression are not things to be treated lightly but she seemed just so angry at Rick that it was hard to like her in the beginning.  That is until I heard her back story and until she let herself get to know Rick just a little bit more and started to relax.  Then I fell in love with the couple and the town all over again.  Rick has had so many hard knocks and yet is still stumbling to his feet and watching Jess be there for him and then he be there for her was just really lovely.  This is a sweet and poignant romance with a couple I really found myself liking and rooting for. Rating: Very Good

Once Upon a Maiden Lane by Elizabeth Hoyt

Mary Whitsun grew up in an orphanage and knew nothing about her past.  She's a hard worker, full of common sense, and is very happy as a nursemaid for a patron of the orphanage she was raised.  That is until a chance encounter with Henry Collins, Viscount Blackwell throws everything she knows about herself and everything she's ever wanted into question.

This is my second book by Elizabeth Hoyt and I am in love!  This was light and sweet with a good dose of heart.  I love a mistaken identity and I love even more a mystery about an identity.  I also loved the characters - especially Mary.  She's so self-aware and so practical but it was sweet how happy she was to have potentially found her family.  Henry is intelligent and a good match for Mary.  I loved watching them banter and get to know each other.

This is a novella so the character development is on the light side and the romance develops very quickly.  This was a thoroughly enjoyable read that I devoured in one sitting.  I'm glad I have so many more Maiden Lane books to read!  Rating: Very Good

If you're looking for a feel good romance that isn't just a fun romp than I think either of these would be great choices!

Friday, November 17, 2017

Friday Linkups - Better Late Than Never

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:
If you had an authors-only Thanksgiving party, who would you invite?

My Answer:
This is a tough one!  Agatha Christie of course.  I'd love to hear all about her life and just about her books in general though I'd have to be very careful not to ask where she got her ideas because she hated that.  Dorothy L. Sayers would be fun as well.  Her style is very different than Christie's but I love her twisty mysteries and I have no doubt that there's a biting sense of humor there.  And speaking of humor I think I'd have to invite Douglas Adams.  I adore his humor and his ability to turn the most mundane scenes into madness.  While not really a party this sounds like it'd make for a highly entertaining evening so I'll just leave it at that.

This week's book is Better Late Than Never by Jenn McKinlay.  It's the seventh book in her Library Lover's series which is probably my favorite.  I'm a little behind on the series but this one involves a 20 year old overdue library book with connections to an unsolved murder so I just couldn't resist!

The Beginning:
"Let the wild rumpus start!" Beth Stanley cried as the cart of books she had stacked to bursting abruptly regurgitated its contents all over the Briar Creek Public Library's main floor with a loud rushing noise followed by slaps and thumps as the books landed on the ground.

My Thoughts:
I'm sure I'd change my mind pretty quickly if I had to do it as part of my job but sorting through all these books sounds really fun!

The 56:
"Ms. Cole, call 9-1-1," Lindsay said.
"No," Ms. Cole said.

My Thoughts:
I've gotten to know Ms. Cole a little as the series has gone but this seems pretty cold even for her!

So what do you think?  Keep reading?  Who would you invite to dinner?

Thursday, November 16, 2017

The Missing - Blog Tour Review

About The Missing

• Paperback: 496 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (November 7, 2017)
  The Missing has a delicious sense of foreboding from the first page, luring us into the heart of a family with terrible secrets and making us wait, with pounding hearts for the final, agonizing twist. Loved it.”—Fiona Barton, author of The Widow
 A harrowing psychological thriller about a missing teenage boy whose mother must expose the secrets within their own family if she wants to find her son—perfect for fans of Reconstructing Amelia. You love your family. They make you feel safe. You trust them. Or do you…? When fifteen-year-old Billy Wilkinson goes missing in the middle of the night, his mother, Claire Wilkinson, blames herself. She’s not the only one. There isn’t a single member of Billy’s family that doesn’t feel guilty. But the Wilkinsons are so used to keeping secrets from one another that it isn’t until six months later, after an appeal for information goes horribly wrong, that the truth begins to surface. Claire is sure of two things—that Billy is still alive and that her friends and family had nothing to do with his disappearance. A mother’s instinct is never wrong. Or is it…? Combining an unreliable narrator and fast-paced storytelling, The Missing is a chilling novel of psychological suspense that will thoroughly captivate and obsess readers.

My Thoughts:  I'm a bit torn on this one.  I didn't dislike it - in fact I found page turning and flew through the almost 500 pages incredibly quickly.    When I picked it up I was pulled into the flow of the story very quickly and was supposed to be one chapter could easily be ten if I wasn't careful.  The atmosphere oozed tension and I found the way the family was disintegrating complelling.

So why was I torn?  While it was a fast read it wasn't one I couldn't wait to pick back up.  It wasn't a book I found myself thinking about when I wasn't reading it.    While I could sympathize with Claire I didn't especially like her and was never really able to connect to any of the other characters.  I didn't find this to be a particularly bad read but I didn't feel that it was a particularly bad one either.  If you enjoy unreliable narrators and dysfunctional families than I think you'd enjoy this but for me I think it's more of a Library read than a run out and buy read.  Rating: 3 good not great stars

Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

About C. L. Taylor

C. L. Taylor is a Sunday Times bestselling author. Her books have sold more than a million copies and have been translated into twenty-one languages. She lives in Bristol, England, with her partner and son. Find out more about C. L. at her website, and connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Death at the Emerald - Historical Mystery Review

Death at the Emerald (Lady Frances Ffolkes Mystery #3) by R.J. Koreto (Amazon Link)

Rating: Very Good
Source: NetGalley

Description: An elderly family friend commissions Frances to find Helen, a stunningly beautiful actress who vanished 30 years ago. Taking on the role of the Lady Sherlock, with her loyal maid Mallow drafted as her Watson, Frances immerses herself in the glamorous world of Edwardian theater and London's latest craze—motion pictures.
Frances' first stop is the venerable Emerald Theatre, where aging actors are still in love with the memory of the beguiling Helen. It seems like a dead end—but one of Helen's old suitors is suddenly murdered. Frances and Mallow beat both the police and killer to a box of subtle clues. However, a stalker, another old suitor of Helen's long presumed dead, threatens them. Will Frances' latest hobby, a study of Japanese martial arts, be enough to save them?

Undaunted, Frances and Mallow follow their leads, and along the way get some advice from George Bernard Shaw, star in a motion picture, and joke with King Edward VII. Clues eventually lead them to a forgotten grave outside of London, which contains a mysterious biblical inscription--and a shocking secret. Frances finally assembles the pieces, and with Mallow as stage manager, produces her own play to uncover a decades-old conspiracy, reveal a killer—and find the remarkable Helen.

Genre: Mystery Historical

Why I Picked This Book:  I really enjoy historical mysteries and can never resist a missing persons case - especially not one 30 years old.

My Impression:  I have had quite the winning streak lately with mysteries and I am pleased to report that this latest read kept that streak firmly alive.  While I love a historical mystery they can at times be a little dry and a little slow.  This was neither.  I was immediately pulled into Lady Frances' world and couldn't wait to find out just what had happened to Helen all those years ago.

Lady Frances is an interesting detective.   She is very much of the aristocracy and has no qualms about using her status and connections to help her case.  She is very much aware that her behavior is at best unusual and at worst incredibly scandalous but simply chooses to ignore this.  Her relationship with her maid/assistant Mallow is also on the unusual side.  While Mallow is much more traditional than Lady Frances she is a good investigator in her own right and I enjoyed the brainstorming sessions and other interactions between maid and mistress.

The mystery is highly entertaining and incredibly engaging.  While I had theories on some aspects I was completely in the dark about others.  When it all came out I was just as surprised as any character in the book.

This was my first book in the Lady Frances Ffolkes series but it will not be my last.  I'm glad I have the previous two books to catch up on while I wait for the fourth.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Absolutely!  I'm already looking forward to visiting Lady Frances' world again.

Would I Recommend this Book?  If you enjoy Victoria Thompson or Laurie R. King's Mary Russell series I think you would enjoy this one.  I had no issue jumping into the series with this book.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday - Ten Books I Want My Children to Read

This week's Top Ten Tuesday topic from the Broke and the Bookish is Books I Want My Children to Read.   I've always been a reader and I think that's been a valuable gift because it's something you always have with you.  When the outside world doesn't seem to be very nice, when your life isn't going quite the way you want it or when you just want a little entertainment there's always a book.  The biggest gift I think that I can pass on to my children is a love of reading and these are 10 books that I think can help do just that.

Tuesdays at the Castle by Jessica Day George - I didn't discover this one until I was adult (and it wasn't published until I was an adult so it would have been hard to find when I was a child) but I absolutely loved it and can't even begin to imagine how much it would have pulled me in as a child.

Rilla of Ingleside by L.M. Montgomery - I discovered this one when I got the box set of Anne books when I was 11 or 12.  I was highly dubious about this one before I started it because who was this Rilla person anyway?  I ended up loving it.  There's not many books that show what life was like on the home front during World War 1 through the eyes of a teenage girl and none with such a realistic feel.  This is my favorite Anne book to reread as an adult as well though I have been known to ugly cry through quite a bit of it.

The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin - This complicated and fun mystery has a little something for everyone.  Besides the mystery there's all kinds of interesting characters and it a book that's easy to become involved in.

Summer of the Woods by Stephen K. Smith - This is for the younger set - think 2nd to 4th grade - but I think they'd really enjoy it.  There is a bit of history involved but it's mostly about a group of kids solving problems and having adventures.

Matilda by Roald Dahl -  I don't think I need to explain this one!  Somehow I didn't read this one until I was an adult and the bookworm child in me is very sad I didn't read it as a child.

Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder - I remember being fascinated with Laura's life in this book.  It's so foreign from everything I know that I couldn't help but be captivated.

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgens Burnett - The secret garden, the rambling empty house, making new friends and creating a world where you fit in.  What's not to love for a young (or adult) reader?

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang by Ian Fleming - This is just a straight up adventure story with gangsters and a flying car. 

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis - While I didn't love all of this series as a child I adored this book and think it's probably the most child friendly. 

Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy by Karen Fowler - There's a rambling museum which the children have complete access too, a mysterious boy who is hiding from danger, and a very very evil woman hiding behind a beautiful mask.  It's a modern day fairy tale with an almost Gothic feel.

What children's books captured your imagination as a young reader?  What books would you want your children to read?

Monday, November 13, 2017

Seeds of Revenge - Cozy Mystery Review

Seeds of Revenge (A Greenhouse Mystery #3) by Wendy Tyson (Amazon Link)

Rating: Very Good
Source: Publicist

Description: It’s the holiday season, and the mood in Winsome is anything but jolly…
Megan Sawyer is determined to farm year-round. She’s braving a December snowstorm after pitching her greenhouse greens to Philadelphia chefs when she sees a stranger stranded on the side of the road. It’s Merry Chance’s niece Becca, who’s headed to Winsome to sell her “love potions” at holiday events—or so she thinks.

Merry has an ulterior motive in inviting her niece to Winsome, but Merry’s plan to reunite Becca with her estranged father goes awry when Becca’s father turns up dead. Megan soon realizes that Becca was not the only person in Winsome who despised her father. When Megan’s aunt, the famous mystery author, is implicated through her novels, things become personal. Megan must follow the literary clues while sifting through the victim’s sordid past, but can she uncover the truth before someone else in Winsome is murdered?

Genre: Mystery - Cozy

Why I Picked This Book:  I've really enjoyed previous books from Wendy Tyson and this series really appealed to me.

My Impression:  I had heard rave reviews for this series about lawyer turned organic farmer Megan Shaw and it definitely lived up to the hype.  Megan's a likable amateur detective.  She's not intrusive but is curious and doesn't resist too much when the main suspect's aunt asks for her help in the investigation.  As well, the police chief, Bobby King, uses her frequently as almost a consultant so it felt very natural that she'd get involved.

I was caught up not only in the mystery but in Megan's world right from the start,  This is a town I'd want to visit (minus the surplus of violent crime of course) and I would love to eat at the cafe with Clover and the rest of the residents of Winsome.  The mystery was well paced and very intriguing and I was really clueless about The Who and the Why until the end when it all made sense.  The mystery itself was complex but not convoluted and I don't think I've ever read anything quite like it before.

This is the 3rd book in the Greenhouse Mystery series but I had no problem jumping in here.  I thought the characters were distinct and vivid enough that I had no trouble keeping them straight.  There are a few mentions in passing conversation regarding Megan's relationship with her mother which is probably explained in an earlier book but I didn't feel that that distracted from the plot or the characters in anyway.  This was a fun and unique cozy mystery with a main character I'd love to be friends with.  I can't wait to read more from the series!

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Absolutely!  I'm looking forward to reading more from this author and especially more in this series.

Would I Recommend this Book?  If you enjoy a good cozy that isn't too cutesy this series would be a great choice.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

This Week in Reading - November 12

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:

Last week I had an empty shelf and I had planned to have another one this week but things went terribly wrong but in the most fun of ways!

A Crime of Poison by Nancy Haddock (Publisher)

Comic Sans Murder by Paige Shelton (Publisher)

Honey Baked Homicide by Gayle Leeson (Publisher)

Live and Let Fly by Clover Tate (Publisher)

Egg Drop Dead by Laura Childs (Publisher)

Hark the Herald Angels Slay by Vicki Delany (Publisher)

Gin and Panic by Maia Chance (Publisher)

Once Upon a Christmas Eve by Elizabeth Hoyt (NetGalley)

Of Murder and Men by Lynn Cahoon (Blog Tour)

The Tuscan Child by Rhys Bowen (Little Bird Publicity)

Bad Neighbors by Maia Chance (NetGalley)

Garden of Lamentations by Deborah Crombie (Blog Tour)

I thought about going on a book buying binge just to see how many books I could get in a week but I restrained myself!


Reading: The Missing by C.L. Taylor and Once Upon a Maiden Lane by Elizabeth Hoyt

Listening:  A Week in Winter by Maeve Binchy.  I'm loving this so much!

Watching:  I'm in Mississippi this week so most likely I'm watching some classic movies.  I know Key Largo with Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall is on the list but not sure what else.  Next week J and I are planning on starting Stranger Things and I'm super excited.

Off the Blog:

I'm in Mississippi this weekend visiting my grandparents and spending Veteran's Day with my favorite veteran.  This is my Grandfather in 1943 just home from training with bright shiny wings pinned to his uniform.  He said at the time he had absolutely no fear and just wanted to fly.  And that he and the other pilots thought they were pretty great!  He stayed in the Army for the rest of his career with a tour in Korea and some time off to have a very good time at Ole Miss on the GI bill.  He's had a rough year with his fall and all but he's doing so great now and we've had such nice visits.  It's hard to believe he's fast approaching his 94th birthday.

Everything else is much as usual.  Not much going on other than I'm chronically behind but I'm catching up little by little!  I've been LOVING every book I've read in the past week or so which is so much fun.  I love when I get on a good reading streak!

On the Blog:

What Happened:

What's Coming Up:

Monday:  Seeds of Revenge - Cozy Mystery Review
Tuesday:  Ten Books I Want My Children to Read
Wednesday: Death at the Emerald - Historical Mystery Review
Thursday: The Missing - Blog Tour Mystery Review
Friday:  Friday Linkups with Current Book
Saturday: Treasure on Lilac Lane and Once Upon a Maiden Lane - Romance Reviews

Have a great week and happy reading!