Thursday, July 31, 2014

Ipsy Glambag Review - July

Ipsy is my 2nd beauty subscription.  I was having so much fun getting my Birchboxes but I wanted more stuff in the mail and Ipsy at $10/month seemed like the obvious next step.  I started with the September 2013 bag.  I've been asked a few times what the difference is between Ipsy and Birchbox and while they're the same kind of thing I compare them to Ann Taylor and Forever21.  Ann Taylor is nice quality classics with the occasional fun trendy thing thrown in.  Forever21 is lower quality and much more fun trendy stuff.  I get lots more full size products from Ipsy but they tend to be lower quality brands.

With Ipsy instead of the box you get a bright pink envelope with a makeup bag full of products once a month.  Here's what July contained:

The Bag:

Bright pink (and I mean bright!) with scalloped edges.  It zips at the top which I prefer and is kind of padded plastic.

The products:

Model's Own Nail Polish in Red Sea
This was a almost gel like nail polish with somewhat translucent finish.  The color is a bright pinky red with chunks of glitter.  It's really fun for summer but not a shade I'd grab for just a regular day.
Container: Full size or close to full size bottle
Buy?: Probably not.  I like essie better.

Bare Minerals 5 in 1 Cream Shadow in Barely Nude
This is supposed to do 5 different things.  It's a sunscreen, it's a primer, it's a cream eye shadow, a brighterner and also smooths fine lines.  I was thrilled when I saw this little tube as I've loved all the Bare Minerals products I've used in the past.  SPF and wrinkle cream aren't all that important on my eye lids but it definitely lives up to it's other claims.  It's an excellent cream shadow that isn't greasy or overly powdery and it stays on forever.  A little goes a long way so I expect this little tube to last awhile.
Container: Tube about an inch long
Buy?: Probably

Pixi Beauty Mini Tinted Brilliance Balm in Unique Pink
After my love affair with the lip pencil in my Birchbox I had high hopes fro this one.  I'm not quite as in love.  It's a nice pencil but much more of a chapstick feel then a sheer balm.  The color is pretty much the exact color of my lips without any color on them so it doesn't do much for me.
Container: Mini tube - maybe 2 or 3 inches.  Plenty to really test it out.
Buy? No

pur-lisse pur-protect Essential Daily Moisturizer SPF 30
I love this brand!  It's my 3rd product from this particular brand and they've all been great.  It goes on without feeling to heavy or cakey and seems to provide good protection without causing any breakouts.  Their moisturizer and serum are really great products as well though I'm not sure on the price on either.  I'm kind of scared to look.
Container: Travel Tube
Buy?: Possibly depending on cost.

Clear Clinic Laboratories Vanished Clear Spot Treatment
I do get the occasional spot so I was excited to give this a try.  It wasn't exactly a magic fix but it did seem to help with one of those crazy deep rooted spots.  I didn't find it nearly as drying as most other spot treatments as well.
Container:  Mini tube - a litle smaller than the Bare Minerals eye shadow
Buy?: Maybe, it depends on the price.

So that's what Ipsy had this month.  One thing that I don't like with Ipsy is that since they don't sell the products from their site you don't get the price and other information you find at Birchbox.  This was a good bag.  Not the best but still fun.  Can't wait for next month!

River Road - Review

River Road by Jayne Ann Krentz

Rating: 4 Stars
Source: Library
Description:  13 years ago Lucy Sheridan was a shy insecure 16 year old who ended up at a party she shouldn't have.  Luckily 19 year old Mason Fletcher rescued her before things got out of hand.  She never went back to Summer River or stayed with her Aunt Sara again.  Now Sara is dead in a car accident that may or may not have been an accident and the events of that long ago night are unraveling.

Genre: Romantic Suspense 
Why I Picked This Book:  I saw this book on the recommended table at my library and it demanded I take it home.

My Impression:
Pro:  I liked the characters and I LOVED that when Lucy voiced her doubts about her aunt's car accident Mason doesn't treat her like she's stupid or try to keep her out of it but agrees with her and accepts that she's going to be part of the investigation even though he doesn't always like it.  I also liked that fact that Mason and Lucy had history so when they became romantically involved it wasn't insta-love.  The mystery itself was interesting and there were some fairly unexpected twists and turns.  I loved Deke and I definitely want to see more of Aaron.  Lucy also has my dream job.  I wasn't aware there was a career path for forensic genealogist but that is now my answer to any dream job questions in the future.  I thought Lucy was intelligent and her research instincts were a useful skill in this mystery.  The fact that Mason had an investigative back ground also explained why they were kept in the loop regarding any police investigations.

Cons:  While it was an enjoyable story and fast paced it was fairly shallow in some ways.  There wasn't a huge amount of character development.  It kind of felt that it was skimming the surface of the story itself.

Overall:  Despite it's minor flaws this was a fun, fast paced read.  While I think I've read some Krentz in the past it was at least 10 years ago so I'm excited to look for more of her books!

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Yes

Would I Recommend this Book?:  Yes, it was a fun romantic suspense.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Sleigh Bells in the Snow - Christmas in July Read-a-thon Review

Sleigh Bells in the Snow by Sarah Morgan

Rating: 4 Stars

Source:  Purchased

Description:  Jackson O'Neil is looking for a miracle to save his family's Vermont Resort, Snow Crystal.  He thinks PR genius Kayla Green is just the miracle he's looking for.  He just has to convince the rest of his family.

Kayla Green is good at her job but not so interested in having a personal life or in celebrating Christmas.  In fact spending Christmas at the secluded Snow Crystal resort seems just the way to avoid all the elves and Christmas trees.  Instead she stumbles into a family like no other she's ever seen before and maybe Jackson might prove to be the last thing she was looking for but what she wants most.

Genre: Romance

Why I Picked This Book:  I had this strongly recommended to me by a friend and book blogger (Lisa at Books Lists Life) but it's been sitting on my Kindle until this past weekend's Christmas in July Read-a-thon.

My Impression:
Pros:  The characters.  Normally in a romance I tend to prefer one of the main characters to the other but I thought they were both strong.  Well okay, I probably liked Kayla a little better but Jackson was pretty great.  The supporting cast was fantastic and I was surprised that even Walter redeemed himself in a way that felt authentic to his character.  The setting was fantastic.  I don't like snow AT ALL.  I've never had any desire to snow ski or ice skate or build snowmen and all the other stuff that one does in the cold.  However, this book made December in Vermont sound magical and like a place I want to be.  This is pretty impressive considering I consider July in Alabama to be a time when air condition is still optional.  I thought Kayla's demons and her reactions were realistic.  With her background it was completely logical why she wouldn't want to celebrate Christmas but it was also sweet to watch her start to relax a bit.

Cons:  I'm getting really nitpicky here because I hate to not have a con but maybe the timeline was a bit too quick?  A week felt a little unrealistic for the amount of transformation that was occurring.

Overall:  This was a fun contemporary family oriented romance with great characters and a wonderful setting.  I'm looking forward to book #2!

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Yes!  Can't Wait!

Would I Recommend this Book?:  Definitely!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday - Ten Authors I Own the Most Books From

Today's Top Ten Tuesday linkup with The Broke and the Bookish is about which authors you own the most books from.  This was probably the easiest topic for me so far!  I'm sure #1 will be a surprise to anyone who has visited me before!

1. Agatha Christie - I'm sure this one is a shock to everyone.  In addition to her 85 mysteries I also own her autobiography and her memoir regarding her time with her husband, the archaeologist Max Mallowan.  I also have 1 of her Mary Westmacott books but I haven't tried it yet to see if I need to buy the rest of them.

2.  Patricia Wentworth - I'm working on collecting all of her books but it's difficult because she hasn't gotten quite the same level of attention as Agatha so not all of her books are easy to find.

3.  Ngaio Marsh - A contemporary of the first two though I don't like her nearly as much.  On the covers off all her books there's a comment that states that "She's Better than Christie".  She isn't but they're still good reads.  I recommend False Scent.

4.  Barbara Michaels - I love her gothic-y romantic suspense books.  They're a smidge guilty pleasure and all fun reading.

5.  Mary Roberts Rinehart - I have most of the books by this Classic American mystery writer.  I don't think I've read them since college but I hope to revisit them one day!

6.  Rosamunde Pilcher -  For years Pilcher's The Shell Seekers was my favorite book.  It isn't really now but I still enjoy rereading several of her books - especially her short story collections.

7.  Nora Roberts - Several of her books are keeper shelf rereads for me including Three Fates and Jewels of the Sun

8.  Kathryn Tucker Windham - This us a regional author who wrote a number of books including collections of ghost stories, cookbooks and memoirs about growing up in Depression era Alabama and her time as a reporter in Montgomery and Birmingham.  

9.  L.M. Montgomery - I own all of her books except for collected journals.  The Blue Castle is one of my most reread boos.

10. Julia Quinn -  Like Roberts I have several of her books on my keeper shelf. Especially The Viscount Who Loved Me and The Secret Diaries of Miss Miranda Cheever.  I know that last one is one of her most least liked books but it's always been a favorite of mine. 

Monday, July 28, 2014

The Bone Room by James Vitarius

I was intrigued when I received an offer from The Bone Room's author James Vitarius to read the first 2 chapters.  A good medical thriller is hard to find but Vitarius sets the scene nicely with enough medical jargon to be accurate but not so much that someone without medical training (such as myself) gets either bored or lost.  

In addition to the main character, the mysterious Dr. Zeke Oswald, we meet Detective Selinda Bruchart, a generational cop whose toughness is flawed by a vein of insecurity about whether she earned her promotions or her father did.  However, the character that interested me the most is Patience McMorris, a medical student with both a brain and what looks to be a pretty serious drinking problem.  

I was impressed that in essentially 21 pages Vitarius gives us 3 well developed and flawed characters as well as a mystery I'd like to find out the answer to.  So if you're in the mood for a dark gritty medical thriller with perhaps a paranormal twist then definitely give The Bone Room a try! (link to Amazon)

About the Author: 
Cardiologist by day. Novelist by night. Born and raised in New Jersey, MD and PhD in Biomedical Sciences, trained in internal medicine and cardiology at Montefiore and Mount Sinai Medical Centers in New York City. When a promising research career in molecular biology evaporated when his research funding dried up, the author resurrected a boyhood dream of becoming an author as a new creative outlet.

James enjoys music, cooking, sports, and, of course, literature. His favorite old-school authors are Poe, Tolstoy, and Hemingway and modern influences include Michael Crichton, Dick Francis, and Stephen King. He lives in northern New Jersey with his wife, daughter, and two rambunctious German Shorthaired Pointers.

The Nocturnist series of books depicts the life of Dr. Zeke Oswald, a hospitalist who prefers the night shift. The tales are full of thrills, chills, suspense and mystery.

Sweetshop of Dreams - Review

Sweetshop of Dreams by Jenny Colgan

Rating: 3 Stars
In present day Rosie Hopkins leaves her life in London to go help her great-aunt Lillian run her sweet shop after Lillain's hip replacement.  When Rosie discovers that the sweetshop is in fact long closed and in need of a great deal of work before it can be sold she realizes she will be staying in the tiny village of Lipton for much longer than anticipated.

Genre: Romance
Why I Picked This Book: It's a sweetshop in a little village in England.
My Impression:
Pros:  The small village in England setting was very clearly done.  I got a very nice picture of a small town full of helpful but also sometimes gossip-y people.  Rosie is very nice and hardworking and a little lost.  She's very easy to relate too with trying to help but occasionally losing her temper or having a lot of self doubt at times.  Lillian is definitely the crabby spinster with the hidden soft spot.  It was fun watching her and Rosie's relationship develop.  The parts where she's helping with the shop by offering commentary through a baby monitor is pretty funny.  I also was pleased that while Gerald, Rosie's long time boyfriend, is lazy and incredibly dependent on other people to take care of him he isn't all bad.  We can see why Rosie fell in love with him and why they're still together.

Cons:  This was fairly slow paced and took me awhile to get caught up in.  There were a number of times that I wanted Rosie to have a bit more spine.  The majority of the flashbacks to the 1940s didn't do much for me.  It was hard to see the shy dowdy Lillian becoming the glamorous young woman in the photos that Rosie references.  We don't really see that development.

Overall: This is a sweet story of some not always sweet characters.  I wish it had been a faster read and that Rosie had had a bit more spine but overall I enjoyed this one.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Yes

Would I Recommend this Book?:  Maybe, I wasn't blown away by this one but it was a nice read.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

This Week in Reading - July 27

It's Sunday so once again I'm linking up with The Caffeinated Book Reviewer for the Sunday Post where we talk about everything that's going on.

What I Got:


Nothing, zero, nada, not a single book!  I've got a few requests kicking around but didn't make any new requests and nothing got approved this week.  


I got 2 books this week from the library and am excited about both!

First up is We Were Liars by E. Lockhart.  I've been on the waiting list for this one for ages and was thrilled when it was finally my turn.  I've seen glowing and flaming reviews on this one so I'm excited to see what the fuss is all about.

Second, is River Road by Jayne Ann Krentz.  It's been years and years since I've read any Krentz but I was intrigued by this one when I saw some reviews and excerpts.  I couldn't pass it up when I saw it on the recommended shelf while I was killing time during story hour.

Outside the Blog:

I've had the cold that would not die for a week now and it's starting to drive me crazy.  Mostly my throat hurts to talk so I've resorted to charades to communicate.  This is not a good time to have a sarcastic family!  The Tornado has the same cold and is proving once again to be the worst sick person I've come across.  He refuses to admit that he's sick so he goes at his usual pace but ramped up in a desperate attempt to prove he's fine and then falls apart when he runs out of energy.  Sick days at home with a cranky 4 year old are not restful!

On Tuesday I thought we were better and my husband and I went to Atlanta with Paul and the Tornado to go to the Lego Discoveryland and eat at the Varsity.  The Lego place is lots of fun but more geared from preschool ages to mid elementary.  We did have fun as the picture shows and the Varsity onion rings and fried pies were delicious as always!

In gardening news my mint has died.  I don't get it.  Mint is pretty hardy and I've used the same pot year after year with great results but for some reason this year it's looked sad and finally died.  All the rain we've had has resulted in split tomatoes which make me sad but they're still edible.  I have a bunch of cucumbers that are ready to be picked (or aren't depending on if they're Armenian.)

School is starting in a couple of weeks here!  Eleanor will be going back for her 2nd year at college, Emma is starting 12th and Paul will be in 11th.  I'm just thrilled that my driving them to school days are over!  We've decided to enroll the Tornado in 5 days a week preK because it's curriculum based and I'm afraid he'd be bored in the few day a week 4 year old class which is essentially the same as the 3 year old class.  I have mixed feelings about him being gone 5 days a week but it's only half days so I'm sure once we're in the middle of it it will be nice.

I got an Amazon gift card as a thank you gift and I'm excited but there's so many books I want that I don't even know where to start!  Do you experience gift card lock up or is it just me?

This Week on the Blog:

An interesting contemporary romance from Julia London
My Top Ten characters I'd like to be stuck on a deserted island with.  Actually 7 I wouldn't mind be stuck with and 3 I'd rather not.
A light and fun paranormal romance
paranormal cozy of my TBR shelf
What I got this month from Birchbox
My 3 Friday linkups
What I hope to accomplish during this weekend's COYER Christmas in July Read-a-thon
A somewhat disappointing historical romance

Coming Up:

Monday: A feature on The Bone Room and it's author James Vitarius
Tuesday: A Top Ten Tuesday on which authors I own the most books by (#1 is going to be shocking!)
Friday: the usual Friday linkups for whatever book I'm reading
Saturday: The first Cook It Up Cookbook Challenge post hosted by the awesome Trish from Love, Laughter and a Touch of Insanity
3 Book reviews
COYER Read-a-thon Wrap-up Post 
Ipsy Glambag July Review

Have a great week and happy reading!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Secrets of Seduction - Review

Secrets of Seduction by Nicole Jordan

Rating: 2 Stars
Source: NetGalley
This is loosely a retelling of Beauty and the Beast.  The beautiful Lady Skye Wilde has decided that she must convince the physically and emotionally scarred Earl of Hawksworth to fall in love and marry her.
Genre: Romance
Why I Picked This Book:  Back when I first started reading romance I remember enjoying a Nicole Jordan book but for was never able to find any of her other books.  I thought I'd give this one a try when I saw it on NetGalley
My Impression:
Pro:  I liked that Hawk's first marriage was happy.  His grief seems genuine but not overdone.  The romance of Skye's uncle and the quest to find his lost love was interesting and kind of sweet.  I liked that Skye wanted to shake Hawk out of his rut of grief and that he not only realized what she was doing but appreciated it.  Even when I wasn't enjoying reading it I did want to find out how everything got resolved and managed to read this one in about a day so it's a quick read.

Con:  Other than feeling mildly grateful to Skye for helping him get past his demons a bit and really having some serious lust in her general direction Hawk doesn't seem to like Skye very much.  I didn't like how contrived their meeting was.  This would have worked for me if they had known each other for years but as it was they had seen each other once when he was newly married and she was a child.  15 years pass and Skye decides that he fits her whole Beauty and the Beast story tale ideal and decides that he's going to fall in love with her.  Her appearing on his doorstep under somewhat false pretenses seemed too much contrived for me as did her quest to get him to fall in love with her.   I also had a hard time believing that she would have willingly stayed alone in a house with him and then later traveled with him.  I'm aware that she and her family are supposed to be somewhat wild but she is a young unmarried aristocratic woman.  It seems a bit unlikely.

Overall:  This book just didn't work for me.  I found it readable but never really connected with any of the characters which I think is important in a romance.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: No

Would I Recommend this Book?:  No

Friday, July 25, 2014

Christmas in July Read-a-Thon

I've been participating in COYER this summer and have been enjoying it despite being way behind on submitting my reviews.  This weekend I'm going to attempt the Christmas in July read-a-thon!  I have several books that take place during Christmas that I've just been itching to read and this just may be the perfect excuse!

Here's my goals:

Nora Bonesteel's Christmas Past by Sharyn McCrumb - I won't actually publish the review until October but I can still read it now!

Sleigh Bells in the Snow by Sarah Morgan - I have the 2nd but haven't read this one yet.

A Kiss for Midwinter by Courtney Milan - because it's getting ridiculous that I haven't read any of her books yet.

Extra Credit:

A Christmas Wedding Quilt by Emilie Richards et al - I love Emilie Richards and I've had this book sitting around for far too long.

The Long Way Home by Mariah Stewart - I'm not sure this is actually set around Christmas but there's snow on the cover and I really want to read it!

Friday Linkups: River Road

Today I'm linking up with Coffee Addicted Writer for book blogger hop, Rose City Reader for Book Beginnings on Fridays and Freda's Voice for Friday 56.

The Question from the Blogger Hop is:
Do you like to read books with a theme such as Halloween, Christmas, etc.?

My Answer:
I'm neutral on the theme thing.  I wouldn't necessarily grab a book because it has a theme but I wouldn't not get it because it's Christmas themed.  My only concern is that sometimes themed books can travel into cutesy territory.  While I do read a lot of cozies I'm not a huge fan of cutesy.

And now for this week's book!
River Road for Jayne Ann Krentz.  I've been wanting to read this book for ages especially since two of my favorite reviewers (Kimba at Caffeinated Book Reviewer and Lark from Bookwyrm's Hoard) gave it high marks.  When I saw this at the library Monday I couldn't resist picking it up despite the fact that my TBR pile is ignoring the laws of physics to stay up right and I have more review books than I know what to do with.  The trials of being a book lover!!

The Beginning:
" "Who appointed you my guardian angel?" Lucy Sheridan asked.  She was pissed - really, really pissed.  But she was also thrilled."

Friday 56: (from page 56 of my hardback library copy)
"Mason folded a paper napkin with origami-style precision. "I don't think things are turning out the way Jillian hoped they would"
Lucy set the strainer filled with the washed baby bok choy on the counter next to the stove.  "Meaning?"

So what do you think?  Not the most intriguing of 56s I know.  Have you read this one?  Would you read this one?

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Birchbox Review - July 2014

This is my 13th Birchbox!  I've had the subscription since July of last year and have been loving it!  Birchbox is $10/month and you get a box of deluxe size samples that are somewhat tailored to your profile.  I've had some boxes that where okay and some that I loved and for $10 it all works out!  They also have a great rewards program.

This month's box was done as a collaboration with Women's Health magazine so the box this month is really cute

Whish Shave Crave Shaving Cream (Full Size $20) in Acai Grapefruit
This smelled really nice and they have other yummy scents like blueberry and pomegranate that I wouldn't mind trying but to be honest other than the smell this wasn't that special.  I didn't find it any more moisturizing than my generic Target brand shave cream and I didn't like the fact that it was clear so you couldn't tell where'd you shaved already.
Packaging - nice travel sized tube
Buy? - No

LAQA & Co Sheer Lip Lube Pencil (full size $18) in Menatour
This lip color is purple - like coloring of the packaging purple.  However it was sheer enough that even though it packed a purple punch it almost worked with my coloring.  It stayed on a pretty long time and while I wouldn't necessarily call it moisturizing it wasn't drying which is a minor miracle.  I normally don't like these kinds of pencil lipsticks because I always feel like I have a clown mouth when I wear them but this has just the right amount of sheerness, color and shine that it really works.  They have a nude and a coral which I'd love to give a try.

Packaging - Pretty close to full size
Buy? - Yes but in a different color

Real Chemistry Luminous 3-Minute Peel(Full size $48)
I liked that this was fast to use.  You put it on let it set for a 30 seconds and then rub it off.  I don't have a huge amount of time to sit with stuff on my face so that was appealing.  I've had a cold this past week and this helped to liven up my cold-dulled complexion.  I had no tingling, burning or tightening feelings so I think it would work great for more sensitive skin that would usually have trouble with this kind of thing.
Packaging - travel tube
Buy? - Maybe.  It's a little pricey but a little goes a long way.  I'll have to see how much I miss it when I finish the sample

Balance Me Wonder Eye Cream (Full Size $38)
This is the only product I haven't used yet because I'm finishing up my current eye cream.  I'm excited to try it though because ever since I accidentally turned the camera around on my phone and got a close up of my not 22 any more year old skin anti-aging products have had a higher priority.  The reviews are good though
Packaging - Travel size tube
Buy? - since I haven't tried it yet I don't know.  It's pricey but not so outrageous that I wouldn't buy it it really worked.

100% Pure Gingerade Shower Gel (Honey Cream Wash) (Full Size $15)
I loved the scent on this one.  It smelled like taking a shower with really intense smelling ginger ale.  Unfortunately it didn't suds up very well and it the texture was pretty watery.
Packaging - 2 foil packets - about 2 uses per packet.
Buy? - No I can get nice smelling shower gel that is more effective for much less.

So that's what Birchbox sent me this month!  Some good, some bad but all fun to try out!

Absolutely, Positively - Review

Absolutely, Positively by Heather Webber
Rating: 3 Stars
Source: Purchased
Lucy Valentine has a lot on her plate - finding a missing man who is a friend of her grandmother's, finding the lost love of a young woman with a painful past, discovering the identity of the mysterious Lone Ranger who keeps showing up and throwing money around.   Luckily she has her boyfriend and business partner Sean Donovan to help her out.  Unfortunately the mystery of where their relationship is going is just about as big as all the others.

Genre: Mystery
Why I Picked This Book: I loved the idea of solving mysteries by finding lost things.  This has been a pretty reliable series for me.
My Impression:
Pros:  It's always great to catch up with Lucy and Sean and their slowly evolving relationship.  We also get to catch up with all the other characters like Preston and Dovie.  I do love that Lucy talks to Sean about concerns even though there are some visions she keeps from him.  There's a lot of humor in the books and the characters do spend a lot of time dashing around.  The pacing is very good so this is a fun fast read.

Cons:  There is a bit of a disjointed feel with the Lone Ranger, the missing man, and the career criminal.  The story wasn't quite as clean as her previous books.

Overall:  While I would like a little more substance this is a a fun unique cozy.  While it could be read as a stand alone it's best read as part of the series as there are a lot of characters with their only story lines.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Yes.  Looking forward to reading the next one.

Would I Recommend this Book?:  If you like cozies this is a fun series but I would start with the first one.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Better Homes and Hauntings - Review

Better Homes and Hauntings by Molly Harper

Rating: 4 Stars
Source: NetGalley
Description:  Nina Linden is trying to get away from her past mistakes so is thrilled when she gets the job to redo the gardens on the island of billionaire Deacon Whitney.  There's a little catch though - the house is haunted and not always by the nicest of ghosts.  Soon Nina, Deacon and the others are trying to solve a century old murder mystery, find lost jewels and fight off a truly awful interior designer.

Genre: Paranormal Romance

Why I Picked This Book:  I can never resist people restoring a tumbledown mansion and if you throw a ghost into the mix I'm even more curious.
My Impression:

Pros:  Ever read a book that is exactly right for your mood?  That's what this was when I picked it up.  I'd been battling a cold and wanted something that I didn't have to work to get caught up in.  I wanted a fast and fun read and this delivered on both counts.  I loved how we got the back story of Deacon and the island.  Having Jack relay it to Nina on the boat over was brilliant.  Both the reader and Nina learned it at the same time so we didn't have the stiff retelling of the story.  Plus we got to know Jack and he's pretty great.  He also gives us a good picture of Deacon from a long time friend's perspective. I loved the interaction between Nina, Cindy, Dottie, Deacon and Jack.  The banter was funny but in a lot of ways felt natural or the way I would want to talk.  I do love a good group of strangers turned friends turned basically family story and this is a good one.   Deacon is adorable!  He's a geek turned cool guy due to money but is hanging on to his geekness.  By geekness I mean more of a David Tennant playing the 10th Doctor geekness not bad glasses and snorty laughes.  The science fiction mentions sprinkled throughout were fun.  Deacon is definitely in my top 5 favorite guy characters right now.  The Jack and Cindy story was kind of fun and I like how things were explained.  The ghost story part was interesting and there was a twist that I liked.

Cons: I liked Nina okay but her character kind of faded against the vividness of the others.  I also found the subplot with Nina's boss a bit too much.  There was so much going on that this didn't seem necessary and didn't really fit.  It is my understanding that Harper has written a lot of paranormal type books and this is a straight up ghost story.  There's no other worlds or creatures lurking about.  So if you're looking for more paranormal

Overall:  This isn't a deep get you thinking kind of read but more of a light, fun and frothy kind of book.  It was the perfect sick in bed book.  I loved the characters and the story.  Despite a couple of minor flaws this book was just fun.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Definitely!

Would I Recommend this Book?:  Yes, this is a great book when you want a light read particularly if you enjoy a good ghost story.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday - Top Ten Characters to be Stuck with on a Desert Isand

It's Tuesday so time for Top Ten Tuesday link up with The Broke and the Bookish.  Today's topic is HARD!  I've been spending a lot of time wishing I read more dystopian type books while trying to come up with characters for this one.

1. Katniss from the Hunger Games - Well this one is kind of obvious.  She's great with a bow and arrow and takes care of those around her.

2. Piper from Mark of the Dragonfly by Jaleigh Johnson - Between mechanical knowledge and magic she can make anything work.  It seems like that would be a useful skill.

3.  Sir Henry Valentine from What Happens in London by Julia Quinn -  he's smart and quick on his feet.  Plus he randomly wore a hat once he figured out Olivia was spying on her.  That's someone I could have around on a desert island!

4.  Miss Maude Silver from Patricia Wentworth - this former governess turned detective would keep everything running smoothly and wouldn't put up with any nonsense.

5.  Gilbert Blythe - he's a doctor and worked on a farm.  Plus he's just Gilbert Blythe my very favorite male character of all time.

6.  Sara Stanley from L.M. Montgomery's Story Girl - She tells wonderful stories but doesn't complain.

7.  Richard Jury from Martha Grimes - He's nice, smart and incrediably fair.  Plus he's very logical.

People who I would rather not be stuck with on a desert island 

8. Hercule Poirot from Agatha Christie -  While he is a great detective I'm not sure I could handle Poirot limping around in his too tight shoes trying to make everything square.

9.  Anne Shirley -  while the story of the red headed orphan are some of my favorite books all the dreaminess would get a little old.

10. Sherlock Holmes  -  do I need to explain this one?  Can you picture it?

Return to Homecoming Ranch - Review

Return to Homecoming Ranch by Julia London

Rating:4 Stars
Source: NetGalley
Description:  Libby Taylor has a glass half full philosophy until her boyfriend,Ryan, dumps her, she loses contact with the kids she raised for 4 years, and then she loses her job and her reputation after she attacks Ryan's truck with a gulf club.

Sheriff Sam Winters knows what it's like to have your whole world fall apart and he's never quite forgotten how kind Libby was too him after his trip to rehab 2 years ago.  Can a helping hand turn to more?

Genre: Romance
Why I Picked This Book: I've enjoyed other London books and I wanted to try one of her contemporary.

My Impression:
Pros: Libby is an extremely sympathetic character.  She was doing everything she was supposed to and has her whole world yanked out from under her.  Sam's a Nice Guy - in caps.  He goes out of his way to help people whether it's appreciated or not.  He's got his own demons and his own mistakes but he's fought them and fort the most part won.  It makes sense as to why he doesn't want to get involved with Libby since his previous relationship was so disastrous.  I like that Libby's adaptable.  She want something to work with the ranch and she's willing to adjust her plans.  I also liked the addition of Tony who Sam is helping.  They all kind of need each other in a way and it was nice to see those bonds forming as the characters, especially Libby and Tony, find their footing.

Cons:  The time period is too short to believe fully in an HEA. The breakup is less than a year old.  The golf club incident was weeks ago.  I didn't like how far into the book Libby is still dealing with her feelings for Ryan.  I also didn't like how just mean the town was towards Libby.  She's been treated like crap and had one incident after years of being there for everyone and everyone immediately treats her like she's a time bomb.  Everyone knows what happened and it seems like someone should be a little more sympathetic to her.

Overall: These were really nice very complex characters.  Life hasn't been all sunshine and rainbows and they haven't always acted the way in the ways that they should but they're all survivors and as a reader it's easy to connect with them and root for them.  It's a quick well-paced read.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Yes definitely.  I'd like to go back and read the first in the series and would read the next book as well.

Would I Recommend this Book?:  Yes definitely.  This isn't a light fluffy read but it isn't dark either.  I hadn't read the first one but had no problem understanding what was going on and connecting with the characters.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

This Week in Reading - July 20

It's Sunday so I'm linking up with the awesome Kimba at Caffeinated Book Reviewer to talk about what's happened and what's going to happen.

What I Got:


This week I didn't request any books!  I did happen to get approval for a request I put in ages ago and an invite for a middle grade that looks promising.

Burnt Toast Makes You Sing Good by Kathleen Flinn
I'm so excited about this one.  I have her first 2 though I haven't read either of them despite all the raves.  I'm really looking forward to this one though.  Review should be up in August.

The Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer L. Holm
This looks like a fun middle grade fiction involving a little boy who may or may not be the main character's grandfather.  It sounds like it will be an entertaining read.


The Cookbook Conspiracy by Kate Carlisle
Just one but I'm excited about this one as well.  I've really enjoyed this series and this one has cookbook in the title!  

Off the Blog:

I have learned a valuable lesson this gardening season.  If you don't know what one particular vegetable really looks like don't plant it near a vegetable that will look similar.  I planted regular cucumbers and then I planted Armenian cucumbers.  I've never actually seen an Armenian cucumber but they're supposed to be at their best when there at least a foot long whereas regular cucumbers would be spoilt.  There's been a lot of time looking at cucumbers figuring out if they're Armenian or not and I'm still not really sure.  On a positive side Golden Jubilee tomatoes are delicious!  My lunch these days has consisted of chopped up tomatoes with a little balsamic glaze and a couple of cubes of horseradish cheddar.  So tasty!

We had a food truck event in town last night and J, the Tornado and I went.  We had a fun time even though the line for the bacon truck was about a mile long so we ended up eating elsewhere.  

Soccer sign ups are this weekend and this will be Tornado's first year to play on a team.  He's so excited he can barely stand it.  Can't believe it's already soccer time because right after that is school time.

I've been enjoying listening to L.M. Montgomery's Anne of the Island.  It's one of my favorites and it's been fun to listen to it in audio format.  Not much going on TV-wise these days.  Seems like everything is on break though I am enjoying Major Crimes, Perception and Unforgettable.


I've been really enjoying all the questions in the Facebook group even though I haven't been the best at consistently participating.  I'm so far behind on getting reviews plugged into the linkup that it's not even funny.  I've been making more room in my day to read and also have worked out a system for reviewing so I feel more on top of things which is half the battle.  The next readathon is Christmas in July which should be a lot of fun!  Even though I haven't made as much progress I feel more organized mentally so I'm calling it a win.

On the Blog:

This Week:

I didn't get everything I wanted to get done this week because it was the week of technical difficulties.  Here's what I did get posted:

A Bletchley Park Memoir review
My Top Ten TV shows which proved if I do nothing for a year but read and watch TV I might be slightly caught up on the things I want to read/watch
A fiction book that I thought was going to be a thriller about a woman who owned a bookstore but it ended up being about the woman figuring out who she is.  Still haven't figured out what I think of it.
The 1950s Non Series Agatha Christie book reviews.  The 1950s seem to have been her most consistent decade.
Excerpts from a fun paranormal cozy series that I hope to review next week
mystery that reminded me why I shouldn't request books just because they take place in bookstores
A fun middle grade fiction that I think would be a good read aloud book.

Coming Up:

The Top Ten Characters I'd want on a desert island which is going to be a tough one!
The usual excerpts from whatever I'm reading on Friday
My review for the new Julia London contemporary will be posted tomorrow
At least 2 more reviews
Hopefully a review of this month's Birchbox and a post regarding ratings guidelines.

Oliver and the Seawigs - Review

Oliver and the Seawigs by Philip Reeve, Illustrated by Sarah McIntyre

Source: NetGalley
Description:  Oliver is the son of explorers and he is very relieved when they decide it's time to settle down at a house on the bay.  Upon arrival they discover undocumented islands in the bay and decide to go exploring.  Oliver is very surprised to discover later that day that both the islands and his parents have disappeared.  Being a very logical boy he decides to go find them with the help of a rather grumpy albatross and others he meets along the way.

Genre: Children's
Why I Picked This Book: I was invited to view this title by the publisher and it seemed like a fun adventure story.  Since I'm always looking for good children's books - especially those I think a boy would enjoy I was really excited to give it a try.

My Impression:
This series reminded me a little of The Series of Unfortunate Events books.  Not in tone or unfortunate-ness but more the straight forward and the setting that is almost this world but just a bit more magical.  I liked the mix of humor and adventure.  It wasn't so funny that it was slapstick but not so adventure that it could be scary to younger readers.  While the parents do disappear I think it's handled in such a practical matter of fact fashion that it wouldn't bother smaller children.  I love that the parents aren't portrayed as stupid and that Oliver genuinely loves them.  The illustrations are adorable but not cutesy.  The personality of each character is captured but there isn't the caricature feel I've seen in a number of illustrated books recently.  This would definitely read better in book form than Kindle so you can enjoy the illustrations to their fullest.  The chapters are short which would make this a great read aloud book.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Yes

Would I Recommend this Book?:  Yes I think it'd be great as a read aloud book for Kindergarten and up and a good book for 2nd to 4th grades

The Dirty Book Murder - Review

The Dirty Book Murder by Thomas Shawver

Rating: 1 Star
Source: NetGalley
Description:  Disgraced lawyer and bookstore owner Michael Bevan is shocked when a little publicized auction of erotica sells for an exorbitant amount, he's more shocked when he notices a fellow dealer stealing a book from the collection and even more shocked when that dealer ends up dead.

Genre: Mystery
Why I Picked This Book: The bookstore angle got me again.  Please stop letting me pick books out solely because they involve a bookstore or library.  It's not working for me right now.
My Impression:
Pros:  I enjoyed the book talk with the mention of different editions of books both in the erotica genre and not.  I found some of the information about Hemingway's book habits interesting.  The pacing was good so this was a fairly fast read.  The main character actually behaves logically at some points by hiring a lawyer when he realizes there is substantial evidence against him for the murder of Gareth.

Cons:  I really didn't like Michael or find him in anyway sympathetic.  While I don't have to like the characters in the books I read there has to be something that appeals to me and this book really just never did that.  The people were unlikable, I didn't find the plot particularly intriguing and I really was fine with Michael going to jail for Gareth's murder innocent or not.  Every character had either an unpleasant back story with Michael (his employees, his daughter, his lawyer's wife) or a kind of twisted back story of their own (the elderly dominatrix, the desperate has-been movie star) and it just got to be a bit too much.

Overall:  While this was well written neither the plot or the characters intrigued or appealed to me.  

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Despite not really liking this one it did move quickly and with a more appealing story line I think the author would be worth trying again.

Would I Recommend this Book?:  No

Friday, July 18, 2014

Friday Linkups: Absolutely, Positively

Happy Friday!  Today I'm linking up with the Book Blogger Hop hosted by a Coffee Addicted Writer, Friday 56 hosted by Freda's Voice, and Book Beginnings on Fridays hosted by Rose City Reader.

Today's Blog Hop question is:

Do covers pull you in?

Answer: Most definitely!  I'm much more likely to pull a book off the shelf that has a cover that appeals to me.  A good cover isn't 100% guarantee that I'll end up with the book but it's pretty close.

Today's book is Absolutely, Positively by Heather Webber.  This is the 3rd in the Lucy Valentine series about a woman who can find lost objects and specializes in finding lost loves using this ability which so far has led to finding 2 mysteries and occasionally a body.  I've really enjoyed the first 2 and after a string of books I felt like I was trudging through I really wanted something light and fun.

The Beginning:
"Suzannah Ruggieri blew into Valentine, Inc., like a category five hurricane.  The antique mahogany door slammed into its stopper, rattling the beveled glass panes.  Her eyes were wild, her hair disheveled , her round high cheekbones flaming.  Winded, she huffed, "Hurry!  The Lone Ranger's back!"

From page 56 of my copy:
"Open-faced cabinets held hundreds of tubes of color, dozens of paintbrushes, and canvases of every size imaginable.  "Your graddad was still working?"
"He'd just finished a project when he went missing."

I haven't read much of this one yet but this has been a series I've really enjoyed.  It's got a paranormal cozy vibe with the added bonus of looking for things that are missing versus just murderers.

So would you keep reading?  Are you a sucker for a good cover like me?

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Agatha Christie Challenge - 1950s Non Series Books

I've made it to the 1950s non series books.  This is the 3rd decade of Agatha's writing career and she's still going strong.  With the first 2 books in this decade we revisit her earlier more adventure type novels but both have a twist.

They Came to Baghdad - 1951
Victoria Jones is quick on her feet and always tells a lie when given a choice.  When she meets the handsome Edward Goring the day before he leaves for Baghdad and the day she gets fired from her typing job she decides it's time for an adventure. Victoria is a classic Agatha heroine.  She's full of common sense and charm.  She's young and adventurous and just a bit reckless.  She does change up the romance element though and there's some twists that wouldn't have been in a similar mystery from Agatha in the 1920s.  This one is a lot of fun.  A classic Agatha romp with the added experience that writing for 30 years can give you. 4 Stars

Destination Unknown - 1954
Once again we have a mystery with hints of espionage and political intrigue.  However, instead of the usual young adventurous girl we have Hilary Craven. Hilary Craven is a woman who has lost her child and gone through a divorce and feels that she has nothing left to live for.  A man stops her from committing suicide and offers her a mission that will most likely end in her death but will do some good.  Hilary resembles the wife of a brilliant scientist who has gone missing.  His wife was severely injured in an airplane crash and Hilary agrees to take her place.  This is a bit interesting because we don't really know what the mystery really is until it is solved. 4 Stars

Ordeal by Innocence - 1958
This is one of the books that Agatha names as one that she was most satisfied with it and with reading it I can see why.  When Dr. Arthur Calgary returns to England after 2 years away he is horrified to learn that he could have saved a man from being convicted of murder.  To make things worse the man, Jacko Argyle has already died of pneumonia in prison.  He is surprised by the reaction that he gets when he confesses to the family and then resolves to really make things right by helping figure out who killed Rachel Argyle.  There are a number or interesting concepts raised mainly if Jacko was innocent that meant one of the family was guilty.  I enjoyed that as a reader we were able to see the point of view of each of the surviving family members.  There is very little active investigation as it mostly time passing and events unfolding on their own. You can definitely see Agatha's evolution from adventure stories and classic murders to more in depth thought provoking stories. 4 Stars

The Rise and Fall of Great Powers - Review

The Rise & Fall of Great Powers by Tom Rachman

Rating: 3 Stars
Source: NetGalley
Description:  Tooly is perfectly happy running her bookshop in an isolated town in Wales.  That is until a message from a former friend drags her back into the past that she worked so hard to forget. She finds herself on a reluctant journey to discover her past and solve the mysteries of those around her.

Genre: Fiction

Why I Picked This Book: A thriller sounding book involving the owner of a book store in Wales.  How could I pass it up?  Plus, I liked the cover.

My Impression:
Cons:  This book got off to a slow start.  For the first 20% or so I could have easily put it down and never thought of it again.  There's a lot of dialogue much of which seems pointless.  The characters rant about politics or literature or other systems.  There are 3 time periods being told at the same time.  1988 when Tooly is 9 years old, 1999 when she is 20 and 2011 when she is an adult living in over a bookshop. The chapters are short and for a long time it doesn't seem like anything is happening.  You spend so little time with Tooly at each time period that it's hard to connect with her and be interested.

Pros: Until all of a sudden I found that I was interested.  I had a better understanding of her and wanted to solve the mystery that was being hinted at if never full explained.  We do get to see the characters' motivations except perhaps the mysterious Venn.  I really sympathized with Tooly who gets dragged back into her past when she really just wants to be left alone to run her bookshop for as long as her money lasts.  The ending unfolded very unexpectedly and in some ways was very sweet.

Overall: This was a really hard book to review because the story itself was so subtle.  For the first half I planned on giving it 2 stars but as I got more involved I enjoyed it more and more.  I enjoyed the last half of the book very much and found myself thinking about it when I was done reading it. I wish there had been less side dialogue and more that had actually had something to do with moving the plot along.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: I don't know.  While I did end up really enjoying the book it took so long to get into it that I'm a little hesitant.

Would I Recommend this Book?:  If you're in the mood for a quiet contemplative book this is probably a good choice.  You definitely need to be in the right mood for it.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday - Top Ten Favorite TV Shows

Today's Top Ten Tuesday topic hosted by The Broke and the Bookish is top ten favorite other stuff.  Since I'm not much of a movie watcher I went with TV.  I do a lot of TV watching on my Kindle Fire while I'm cooking, getting ready or doing other things that involve my hands but not my brain.  These are the shows I'm currently loving.
Image from BBC America

1. Whitechapel- (AmazonPrime) I love most things BBC.  They just seem to do murder oh so wonderfully and Whitechapel is no exception.  The mysteries are dark and gritty with an undercurrent of history.  The first story arc involves a Ripper copy-cat and history features in every case.  A lot of huge issues get tackled here like the class issue between the DI and the other police as well as the OCD of the DI but all the issues are dealt without getting preachy or making a lesson out of it.

Image from 
2.  Doctor Who - when I was a kid I used to watch Doctor Who with my dad.  Even though it was the 80s the only Doctor we saw here in the States (or at least the ones we saw) was #4 Tom Baker who was actually from the 70s. The old ones are great with most of the props being cobbled together with supplies found around the office and extras being whichever crew member isn't actively working a camera.  The reboot is probably better plotted and definitely better financed.  I adore David Tennant though I liked the other 2 and can't wait to see where #12 takes the show.
Image from

3. The Bletchley Circle - A fantastic show about a group of women who worked at Bletchley Park in World War 2 and are finding it a little difficult to settle down into civilian life.  When they start using their abilities with codes and patterns to solve crime it gets intense.  The 2nd season just ended so hopefully it will join season 1 on Netflix.  This is another short one with each season consisting of 3 shows.
image from

4.  Numb3rs - I've been watching this one on Netflix and I'm almost done with it.  I'll be sad not to spend more time with Don's team and family. I loved Rob Morrow as a neurotic New York doctor in Northern Exposure so it's fun to see him do something so completely different.  The math connection is a bit of a stretch as the series goes on but it's still a fun crime show.

5.  CSI - I was not sold when I heard Ted Danson would be the new lead on CSI but I've really loved the way the show has gone.  I love Morgan, Greg and Finn and the whole way the show has gone.  Always a fun show to watch.

6.  NCIS - This is probably my favorite of the crime shows.  Mark Harmon does such a good job and they've done a pretty good job staying away from the epic conspiracies that cause me to lose interest in a crime show (The Mentalist with the whole Red John thing is anyone watched that).  I like that their office is basically cubicles which is much more realistic than the metal and glass of CSI.  I like the new character they've added with Ellie Bishop.

7.  Who Do You Think You Are? - This show was originally on NBC before ending up on TLC and I LOVE it!  It's a genealogy show where they try to answer a question a celebrity has about their family history.  They travel all over the world and go to places that connect to their families and find out all kinds of stuff.  They've had tons of people on including Sarah Jessica Parker, Chelsea Handler, Emmitt Smith, Jim Parsons and Lisa Kudrow.  If I ever win the lottery or come into bunches of money I'm figuring out how to do this.

 8. Cupcake Wars - I love cupcakes and always enjoy this show.  I even watch reruns periodically.  I love seeing what flavor combinations.

  9. Next Food Network Star - I like seeing what challenges they come up with and all the different POVs.  Plus, I like Jeff Mauro and Damaris who won last year.  Not sure who I want to win this season.

 10. The Big Bang Theory - I love this show!  Bernadette is my favorite character by far.  I loved the one where Sheldon and Howard went to war over a parking space and Amy and Bernadette got involved though the one where Penny ends up getting involved in online gaming is pretty good too.  I feel the urge for a rewatch session!

So what are you watching these days?

Monday, July 14, 2014

My Secret Life in Hut Six - Review

My Secret Life in Hut 6: One Woman's Experiences at Bletchley Park by Mair and Gethen Russell Jones
Source: NetGalley
Description:  This is the memoir of a woman who worked at Bletchley Park during World War 2 just after leaving college.

Genre: Non-fiction
Why I Picked This Book:  I'm fascinated with Bletchley Park.  I've watched every movie and show I could find about it but haven't seen that many books on the subject.

My Impression:
Pros:  So much that I had never thought of was covered in this book.  I knew the basics of Bletchley but how the employees were found, who they were and where they'd stayed were things that it had never occurred to me to even wonder about.  In this book we get to know an intelligent, high minded, serious young Welsh woman who happened to be good at puzzles, showed leadership ability and was minoring in German at the university in Cardiff.  You really are able to feel the weight of keeping such a tremendous secret has on such a young woman.  Through her eyes the readers sees what it's really like to get up every morning and work a shift at Bletchley.  It had never occurred to me that the employees were not only not boarded on the property but actually had boarded with townspeople who weren't allowed to know what they did and some as is the case with Mair's first landlady, resented the intrusion.  I also found parts of Mair's story pre-Bletchley interesting.  Seeing through the eyes of an ordinary girl as World War 2 is ramping up was very interesting and unique.  After war breaks out she casually talks about enduring a 10 hour bombing of Cardiff and then getting up and going to lectures the next day.  The contrast of ordinary events contrasted with horrific wartime actions is startling.

Cons:  While I feel like I got to know Mair and liked and sympathized with her there was a lot of excess information in this book.  While her involvement with the Christian groups both at school and at Bletchley was very important to her it took away a bit from the story.  There is a mention early on the book that Mair's narrative is in italics and her son's overview is in regular text this doesn't happen in the Kindle edition.  Since I had a review copy this may be fixed in the finished product.  The jumping back and forth from Mair to her son can feel a little disjointed and this is exaggerated a little by the lack of italics.

Overall: If you are interested in Bletchley Park history or what it was like on the home front during World War 2 this would be of some interest.  While the writing is somewhat cumbersome you do get a good sense of the place and the person.  I just wish there wasn't so much extra information.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?:  Probably not but I don't see this author as publishing more books of this type.  If there is more information on Bletchley or Mair's time there I would read it.

Would I Recommend this Book?:  Only to people with a strong interest in Bletchley Park, World War 2 history or religious organizations.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

This Week in Reading - July 13

The Sunday Post is a linkup with The Caffeinated Book Reviewer

What I Got:


I actually did better this week.  I only requested 1 book and an older pending request got approved.

How to Be Parisian Wherever You Are by Anne Berest et. al
I thought this little guide book about French fashion and habits sounded fun.

The Suffragette Scandal by Courtney Milan
I have several friends who absolutely adore her.  Instead of actually reading the book by her that I've already bought I decided to get this one when I saw it on NetGalley


The Ghoul Next Door by Victoria Laurie
This one came through Paperbackswap.  This is a series that I can't seem to quit reading despite the fact that I haven't exactly loved the last few.  The main characters suffers from an extreme case of know-it-allness.

Clammed Up by Barbara Ross - enjoyed the 2nd one of this series so much that I went and immediately bought the first.

I also ended up with Key of Light by Nora Roberts and Fatal Fixer-Upper by Jennie Bentley.  These are both rereads but the Tornado wanted to go to the playground by the library after story hour and I had forgotten my Kindle so I thought a nice fun reread would do the trick.


The garden has hit the wild stage.  While it had been all nice and neat everything's gotten so big it's been a tumbled mess.  I'm getting tons of tomatoes and making BLTs and bruschetta toppings like crazy.  My favorite dinner right now is to lightly pan fry some chicken, top with it with a little fresh mozzarella and then top that with a mix of chopped tomatoes, basil and balsamic.  Seriously yummy! 

Allergies are better so I'm trying to get caught up on some stuff!  We've hit the part of summer where the kids are restless.  Well mostly the Tornado and Eleanor as Emma and Paul are busy enough with work and friends that they are rarely still.  I think Eleanor is looking forward to going back to school and living on her own again and the Tornado is just restless.  The weather has been to hot and humid to really do much outside.  We're thinking about making a few day trips though - Nashville and Atlanta most likely - so that will keep him busy.  We're in the last month of summer which is odd to think about.

We've had a great weekend.  Friday night J and Eleanor went to a play for a class that she's taking this summer and Emma and Paul both had other plans.  The Tornado and I had a pajama party which mostly consisted of putting pajamas on early, eating ice cream for dinner and watching Frozen.  We hadn't seen it before but I really enjoyed it.  He liked it but was ready to get back to the Batman cartoon he's been watching on Netflix these days.

I seem to have hit a reading slump which is annoying.  I just can't get into any book I've tried lately.  I'm about to have to bust out a reread to see if that helps.

On the Blog:

This Week:

The Awakening of Miss Prim - a book I really wanted to like
On Sunset Beach - Finally a book in Stewart's Chesapeake Diary series that was exactly what I've been hoping for this whole time!
The Cape Cod Mystery- a classic American mystery.  Fun read but not nearly as timeless as most of the British mysteries of this time period.  Still not sure why this is.
Boiled Over - a fun cozy set in a Maine fishing village.
A few excerpts from the Agatha Christie book I'm currently reading.

Coming Up:

The week I'm hoping to get 3 or 4 reviews out
My top ten favorite other entertainment list which will probably be mostly TV
The review for my July Birchbox
Brought to you by the letter B post

Also, I'm working on another page where I try and layout a more official rating system.

Have a great week and happy reading!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Boiled Over - Review

Boiled Over by Barbara Ross

Rating: 3.5 Stars
Source: NetGalley

Description:  Julia Snowden is trying to keep her family's clambake business afloat when she gets roped into being on the board for Founder's weekend.  Things going from chaotic to nightmarish when a body turns up in the fire that's keeping the clambake cooking and one of the Snowden employees is suspected.

Genre: Mystery

Why I Picked This Book:  The cover caught my eye and it sounded like an unusual premise for a cozy.

My Impression:

Pros:  This was a really fun mystery.  I enjoyed how the mystery unfolded page by page.  We got more and more information about the boy Julia's trying to help and the victim as the story went on.  The flashbacks were short enough to give you a picture of the events and characters without so long that it got confusing. Seeing Julia's struggle with identity and figuring out where she fit in added some depth to the character and humanized her a bit.  The history of the place and the connection of the characters was interesting and it made Busman's Harbor seem like a real place.  The pacing was very good and while not an action packed thriller I kept turning the pages because I wanted to find out what happened next.  There was always a new theory to be explored or a new piece of evidence to deal with.  I could have easily read this book in one sitting if life hadn't kept intervening!  While this is the 2nd in the series it can be read as a stand alone.  I had not read the first one and had no problem figuring out what was going on or identifying the characters.  While there are mentions of the first book - just enough to get you curious if you haven't read it - there are also no spoilers.

Cons: Julia is a serious busybody.  She's trying to help and her intentions seem sincere which makes it not so bad but she does a lot of showing up at people's houses and asking questions.  I could have had less focus on her personal life and more focus on the available suspects.

Overall: This is a fun mystery in an interesting setting with likable characters.  I'm definitely looking forward to another visit to Busman's Harbor.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?:  Yes, actually about halfway through this book I discovered the first one in the series was on sale and bought that it.

Would I Recommend this Book?:  Yes.  This is a fun cozy!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Friday Linkups: Destination Unknown

It's Friday so I'm linking up with Book Blogger Hop hosted by Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer, Book Beginnings on Friday hosted by Rose City Reader and The Friday 56 hosted by Freda's Voice.

Today's book blogger question is:  Do you read books in translation?  What are the last 3 you read?

My Answer:  Not really.  Recently, I read The Awakening of Miss Prim by Natalia Sanmartin Fenollera which I believe was originally published in Spanish and I think a lot of the charm and emotion was lost in the translation.  I think much of the original sentiment can get lost when the language changes so even if the story stays basically the same as readers some of the possibilities for an emotional connection gets lost.  I wouldn't necessarily avoid a translated book but I would probably be more hesitant.

For Book Beginnings on Friday and the Friday 56 I'm revisiting Agatha Christie.  Today's book was published in 1954 under the original title of So Many Steps to Death.  After a decade or 2 of country house murders Agatha takes us once again on a few international adventures.

The Beginning:  "The Man behind the desk moved a heavy glass paper weight four inches to the right.  His face was not so much thoughtful or abstracted as expressionless.  He had the pale complexion that comes from living most of the day in artificial light.  This man, you felt, was an indoor man."

The 56: (from page 56 of my 1987 paperback)
Jessop thought: "There's passion there - and guts - and somewhere, damped but not quenched, there's a gay spirit that's tough - and that enjoys life and searches out for adventure."
"You'll do", he said to her.  "You're an apt pupil."

This is a rather fun book, full of secrets and hidden identities.  Very different from some of the more proper Poirots and Marples.