Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Many a Twist - Cozy Mystery Review

Rating: Very Good
Source: NetGalley

Pub owner Maura Donovan hasn’t seen her mother for over twenty years, so when she suddenly shows up in Maura’s pub, Maura’s not sure what to expect. Her mother is trying to find a life for herself back home and has taken up a position working with the new owners of the Crann Mor hotel just outside Skibbereen. Until her new boss is found dead in the gardens, dumped down the hillside behind the hotel.

Now, trying to rekindle the relationship they’ve lost, Maura must investigate in order to clear her mother’s name. It’s not so easy though, as long-time residents of County Cork, including the families of her employee Mick, and the family of the deceased hotel owner, have bottled deep dark family secrets not meant to be uncorked. And someone will kill to keep them that way.

How far would you go to protect your family? Maura tests the age-old question in Many a Twist, the charming and atmospheric sixth County Cork mystery from New York Times bestselling author Sheila Connolly.

Genre: Mystery - Cozy

Why I Picked This Book:
  I've been a big fan of Connolly for years and I've really wanted to read more in her County Cork series.

My Impression:
  I'd read the first book in this series years ago so I was a little worried about jumping in several books later.  However, there really weren't any problems getting caught up in what Maura's been up to in the time between the books.  She owns the pub she worked in and has become much more involved in life in the little Irish town.  However, she still has a bit of an edge to her and is resistant to really letting people into her life or asking for help from those around her.  She's also not looking to change the pub and is highly resistant to working with Crann Mor, a fancy hotel that doesn't seem to have much in common with her pub.

The mystery kept me hooked.  While the victim, John Byrne, wasn't the most liked person it doesn't seem like anyone hated him either.  There is lots of gossip collecting and brain storming and I really enjoyed seeing the motive and killer become clear.

I can never resist a book with an Irish setting and I really loved the descriptions of the world that Maura inhabits.  It makes me want to go visit Cork ASAP!

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?
  I definitely would!  Connolly is one of my favorite cozy mystery authors and I'm really looking forward to catching up on all her series.

Would I Recommend this Book?
  If you enjoy cozy mysteries with very well developed settings I think you'd enjoy this book.  It can be read as a stand alone but I think it'd be even better if you read the series in order.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday - Bookish Resolutions

This week's Top Ten Tuesday topic now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl is Bookish Resolutions.  I have so many vague resolutions that it took awhile to kind of filter them down to 10 actual ones but I think it's so good to have a little bit of focus for just what I want to do in 2018 reading-wise.

1.  Read 200 Books - I've lowered my goal the last 2 years to try to read more classics and not get so caught up in the page count but this year I'm going for quantity!  I haven't had a 200+ book year since the Tornado was born and I'm hoping to fix that.

2. Complete the Modern Mrs. Darcy 2018 Reading Challenge - I'd really like to complete a reading challenge and the Modern Mrs. Darcy one looks not only fun but doable as well

3.  Create some kind of system for incoming books - Right now incoming books end up in a pile that ends up getting shoved somewhere.  I'd really love to create some kind of filing system

4.  Read more nonfiction - nonfiction is one of my favorite genres but one I've really neglected in the past year or so.  I've gotten a memoir in already this year and am working on another but would like to get more general nonfiction on my reading list.

5.  Focus on getting more of the books I own read - The last few years the books in number has far exceed the books out number and while I doubt that's going to change too much I'd like to make some progress on my shelves.

6.  Keep an eye out for independent bookstores - The town I live in doesn't really have any independent bookstores but I've really enjoyed the visits to really fun shops in other towns when we're traveling.  I'd like to make more of an effort to check into the local bookstores any time we travel.

7.  Make progress on series I've enjoyed but neglected - There are so many series of various genres that I've loved but have neglected in favor of newer shinier books.  I'd love to make an effort to get caught up.

8.  Participate in at least one readathon - Even if it's me just saying I'm going to try and read 24 hours staring Wednesday I want to try it.

9.  Spend some time using one of my coloring books while listening to an audio book - I have bought about a dozen different coloring books and have very rarely used them.  This will help me get my book count in, remind me to use some of the things just sitting around gathering dust, AND help with some de-stressing in.

10. Try out some new cookbooks - So this isn't really all that bookish but it does involve books but I got in the worst cooking rut over 2017 and I think a good cookbook binge my help break me out of it.

What are your bookish resolutions for 2018?

Monday, January 15, 2018

Ramblings from the Stacks - Looking Back at 2017

2017 was a pretty good reading year.  I read 150 books - my best since the Tornado was born - and my unintentional theme was Read the Books I Want to Read.  I didn't focus on going outside my comfort zone or reading books based on buzz but more on the hundreds of books I've thought "I want to read that" over the year. 

So my 12 books for 2017 were:

The Rogue Not Taken by Sarah MacLean - Loved and really want to read more from her

Still Life by Louise Penny - Really enjoyed and am excited about the series potential.  I listened to the 2nd book and that worked a lot better for me I think.

The Lake House by Kate Morton - Loved and am so glad I took the time to read it.  Despite the intimidating page count it was a really fast read.

Tempest in a Teapot by Amanda Cooper - Such a fun cozy and it made me want to start collecting tea pots.

Do You Want to Start a Scandal by Tessa Dare - So much fun and a super fast read.  Another author I want to read more from.

Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams - Sadly I didn't get to this one.  This was the first month of summer and I was scrambling to get to review books but it's on the list for this year.

Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen - A perfect summer read and I loved it just as much as I want to love it which doesn't happen very often.

Dinner with Edward by Isabel Vincent - A quiet book yet one that has really stuck with me.

In the Woods by Tana French - I had mixed feeling about this one.  I love French's writing and the way the mystery was put together but it irritated me so much that the older mystery wasn't solved.

Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco - I didn't get to this one either.  A big vacation at the beginning of the month through my reading out of balance.  I'm looking forward to getting to it this year.

A Week in Winter by Maeve Binchy - I LOVED this book.  I went the audio route which helped me squeeze this into my schedule and I was so sad when it ended! 

A Christmas Carol - I've seen the play about a hundred times and more versions of the book than I can count but somehow I never read the actual book.  I'm so glad I took the time to actually read it!

What I Learned:  Does reading 10 books out of the 100s I want to read really make a dent?  No probably not BUT these are 10 books that have been on my TBR for awhile that I wouldn't have read if I hadn't made the effort to read them so I feel like a little progress was made.  I have a tendency to do big overblown over complicated projects that end up fading out into nothing pretty quickly.  By keeping it simple and small I managed to get 10 out of 12 so I feel like that's a win and it's one I'm repeating this year.

How was your reading in 2017? 

Saturday, January 13, 2018

This Week in Reading - January 14

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 mean granted I'm writing this on Tuesday since I'll be out of town this week but I'm still counting this as a win!


Reading:  Many a Twist by Sheila Connolly, Dream Lake by Lisa Kleypas, and Dial M For Mousse by Laura Bradford.

Listening:  I'm almost done with The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith.  I'm enjoying it but it does feel a bit too long.

Watching:  Not a huge amount. I need to find another binge worthy Netflix show.  We're kind of loose ends at the moment other than Top Chef.

Off the Blog:

On the Right - 1943 with his brother

I'm in Mississippi this weekend celebrating my Grandfather's 94th birthday.  Last year at this time he was in a bad place health wise which makes this year very special.  His health has tremendously and he's back to his old self.  We'll be spending the week watching movies and relaxing.  Last time I was there was the biggest snowfall in recorded history and I'm hoping there will not be a repeat!

On the Blog:

What Happened:

What's Coming Up:

Monday:  Ramblings from the Stacks - Looking Back at 2017
Tuesday: Top Ten Tuesday - Bookish Resolutions
Wednesday:  Many a Twist - Cozy Mystery Review
Thursday:  Another One Bites the Crust - Cozy Mystery Review
Friday:  Friday Linkups with Current Book
Saturday:  Dial M for Mousse - Cozy Mystery Review

Have a great week and happy reading!

Sisters Like Us - Excerpt

I usually don't share excerpts but I'm so excited about this one that I couldn't help but share.  I've been a fan of Susan Mallery's for years though I haven't read really any of her stand-alones despite the fact that they're all on my TBR.  So when I was offered this one for a review & excerpt I couldn't say yes fast enough.  For starters check out the cover!  Isn't it adorable and so sunny looking.  I don't know about you but I am COLD and reading about anything even remotely set near a beach is the perfect escapist read.  Plus, I love books about sisters as only an only child can!  So here's an excerpt of Susan Mallery's Sisters Like Us (Amazon Link) and check back later in the month for the review!

They got out of the car and started for the front door. Stacey paused to study the bunny footprints on the walkway. Inadequacy gripped her with cold, bony fingers.
She would never be able to do anything like that, she thought, trying not to panic. She wouldn’t even think to do it, let alone be clear on how to execute the plan. Yes, Kit would be the one staying home with their daughter, but still—she was completely and totally clueless.
Harper opened the front door and smiled. “Hey, you two.” She ran down the steps and hugged her sister before embracing Kit. “I hope you’re hungry. I made lasagna.”
Because it was Becca’s favorite, Stacey thought automatically. Harper always did that sort of thing. She took care of the details of life. Details Stacey rarely noticed.
They went into the house. From the foyer Stacey could see the decorated table, the place settings and the crystal glasses. She thought of the plain dishes she and Kit had at home and wanted to whimper.
“Come on,” Harper said, leading them into the kitchen. “I’m trying a new herbal tea I read about online. It’s supposed to be perfect for pregnant women. It supports both the baby and the mother.” She grinned at Kit. “For you, I have a beer.”
“You’re my favorite sister-in-law,” he told her.
Harper laughed. “Of course I am.”
Stacey watched Harper pour hot tea into a mug. “I’m going to tell Mom today.”
Harper rolled her eyes. “Uh-huh. Sure you are. I usually resent you being both the pretty and the smart sister, but right now you do have your issues. I say wait until Joule is born, then hand her over. Mom will get the message.”
Kit got a bottle of beer from the refrigerator. “That’s what I said.”
The back door opened and Bunny walked into the kitchen. “You’re here,” she said, smiling at Stacey and Kit. “Why didn’t anyone tell me?”
She hugged them both, then looked around at the kitchen. “Do you need help with dinner?” she asked Harper.
“Thanks, Mom, I’m good.”
Stacey sipped her tea. Harper always made everything domestic look so easy. Her house was perfectly decorated for whatever season and always tidy and clean.
Bunny took a mug of tea and sat at one of the counter stools. She looked at Stacey. “So what’s new?”
The room went totally silent. Stacey could feel her husband and her sister both watching her, waiting to see what she would do.
She had to come clean—she understood that. If only her mother would understand. But Bunny wouldn’t. She hadn’t approved of Stacey keeping her own last name when she married Kit, that she still worked full-time, that her job had always been the most important part of her life, at least until she’d met Kit.
Stacey sucked in a breath and opened her mouth. “Mom, I—”
“Knock, knock!”
The call came from the front of the house. Harper walked by and murmured, “Saved by the bell, so to speak. I can’t figure out if you have the best or worst luck.”
“Me, either.”
Harper’s client Lucas walked into the kitchen with a tall, thin redhead at his side. The young woman looked to be maybe twenty or twenty-one. She held a large, fabric-covered box, which she handed to Harper.
“Lucas said this is for you.”
“It’s beautiful,” Harper said as she set it on the counter. “Where did you find it?”
“Etsy,” Lucas said, handing Bunny a bouquet of flowers. “Hello, Bunny.”
Her mother batted her lashes and smiled at Lucas. “Hello, Lucas.” She turned to his date. “And you are?”
“Persimmon,” Harper said with a grin.
“Oh, dear.” Bunny’s mouth grew pinched. “That’s an unusual name.”
“I know, right? I have a sister named Kumquat.”
“I can’t imagine what your parents were thinking.” Bunny gave her an insincere smile. “Let me get these in water.”
With Lucas and Persimmon around, Stacey was able to relax. There was no way she could tell her mother the truth now. Maybe after dinner, when Lucas and his date had left.
Stacey settled on one of the bar stools at the kitchen counter and prepared to watch the dynamics of the interactions between Lucas, Harper and Bunny.
Harper got her guests drinks. Lucas took a beer and Persimmon wanted to try the herbal tea. Stacey wondered if she was old enough to legally drink alcohol. Bunny fussed with the flowers, all the while eyeing Lucas’s date.
In a way, Bunny’s dilemma was interesting to observe. She didn’t approve of his young girlfriends, yet he was a man and therefore right by default. Stacey wondered about his preference for dating women so much younger than himself. He was attractive, intelligent and had a very responsible job. By all accounts he should be more comfortable with women closer to his own demographic. Yet he clearly favored young, beautiful but vapid women.
Kit’s theory was that Lucas had had some trauma in his life. Stacey had asked Harper, but she didn’t have any insights.
Lucas settled next to Stacey, then leaned close. “Still not coming clean?” he asked quietly.
“How did you know?”
“There’s no screaming and Bunny isn’t hyperventilating. Want me to tell her? She doesn’t scare me.”
“She doesn’t scare me, either.”
Lucas raised his eyebrows.
“Okay, she doesn’t scare me much.”
He winked at her and she laughed.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Friday Linkups - Dial M for Mousse

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 upcoming titles are you looking forward to reading in 2018?

My Answer:
So many!  I'm excited for Death and the Viking's Daughter by Loretta Ross which is a cozy mystery series about an auctioneer and a former Marine turned PI/bounty hunter.  I'm also looking forward to the newest Nora Roberts. Her stand alone last year didn't really appeal to me but I'm hoping this year's does.

This week's book is another cozy mystery - Dial M for Mousse by Laura Bradford which is the 3rd in the Emergency Dessert Squad Mystery.  I honestly don't know all that much about the series other than it involves a dessert delivery service using a retired hearse but I love the titles and Laura Bradford is a cozy mystery author I've been wanting to read forever!

The Beginning:
Winnie Johnson knew it wasn't polite to stare.

My Thoughts:
This makes me want to know just what she's having to tell herself not to stare at!  It sounds like something interesting!

The 56:
Lovey was following directions - Winnie's directions.

My Thoughts:
It sounds like following Winnie's directions was not such a good idea!

So what do you think?  Keep reading?  Any books you're looking forward to in 2018?

Thursday, January 11, 2018

In the Shadow of Agatha Christie - Mystery Short Story Review

Rating:  Very Good
Source: NetGalley

Agatha Christie is undoubtedly the world’s best-selling mystery author, hailed as the “Queen of Crime,” with worldwide sales in the billions. Christie burst onto the literary scene in 1920, with The Mysterious Affair at Styles; her last novel was published in 1976, a career longer than even Conan Doyle’s forty-year span.

The truth is that it was due to the success of writers like Anna Katherine Green in America; L. T. Meade, C. L. Pirkis, the Baroness Orczy, and Elizabeth Corbett in England; and Mary Fortune in Australia that the doors were finally opened for women crime-writers. Authors who followed them, such as Patricia Wentworth, Dorothy Sayers, and, of course, Agatha Christie would not have thrived without the bold, fearless work of their predecessors—and the genre would be much poorer for their absence. So while Agatha Christie may still reign supreme, it is important to remember that she did not ascend that throne except on the shoulders of the women who came before her—and inspired her—and who are now removed from her shadow once and for all by this superb new anthology by Leslie S. Klinger.

Featuring: Mary Fortune, Harriet Prescott Spofford, Ellen Wood, Elizabeth Corbett, C. L. Pirkis, Geraldine Bonner, Ellen Glasgow, L. T. Meade, Baroness Orczy, Augusta Gro├čer, M. E. Graddon, Anna Katherine Green, Carolyn Wells, Susan Glashell

Genre: Mystery - Short Stories

Why I Picked This Book:  I’m a big fan of the women authors from The Golden Age of Mysteries so I couldn’t resist some of the stories that came before them which likely influenced some of my favorite mysteries.

My Impression:  I was really surprised to see the 1850 start date.  I kind of had in my head that detective fiction was a 20th century addition yet here are a number of stories all as clean and detail oriented as Christie at her best and all written long before Hercule Poirot started putting his famous little grey cells to work.

The forward by Leslie S. Linger is a fascinating lesson on the origins of the detective story and women authors in general.  He provides context for the more unknown authors both in history and in influence and inspiration to the writers who came after them.

Each of the mysteries is very good full of deception, secrets, and murder.  They are clean and exquisitely plotted even though at times the language can feel a little heavy and dated.  The good thing about these being short stories is the few times I did start to grow restless the mystery came to a conclusion and I was starting a new mystery by a new author.  Proceeding each story is a few short paragraphs regarding the author with a little biographical information as well as mentions of their best know writings.  Each story was a delight and completely unique and I’m so glad I read some of the stories that influenced my favorite authors - Agatha Christie, Patricia Wentworth, Dorothy L. Sayers, and Ngaio Marsh.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Absolutely! I’d love to read more from Klinger and many of the authors I discovered in this book - especially Elizabeth Gaskell.

Would I Recommend this Book?  Definitely!  If you’re a fan of the British Mystery collections from The Poison Pen Press you’d really enjoy this book.