Saturday, December 30, 2017

This Week in Reading - December 31

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:

The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks - I haven't read many unreliable narrators lately so I was super excited when I won this in a giveaway.  It sounds intriguing and I'm looking forward to it.  (Giveaway Win)

Making the Monster? The Science Behind Mary Shelley's Frankenstein by Kathryn Harkup - I loved her previous book A is for Arsenic about the poisons that Agatha Christie used in her books so much that I bought a copy in hardcover.  I'm super excited to see her take on the science behind Mary Shelley's Frankenstein.  (Publisher)

I have a few requests pending on NetGalley and a few more books that I know are on the way but they don't count until they're actually here.


Reading:  Nothing!  I actually finished my last book for the year on Saturday and won't be starting another one until Monday morning.  I don't like to have books carry over.

Listening:  Podcasts for now.  I'm finishing my last one for the year - an overview of Bachelor contestants on The Popcast and then I'll be taking a break.  I'll start my first audio book of the year tomorrow.

Watching:  I've been catching up on The Librarians these past few days and J and I watched Mrs. Miniver with Greer Garson the other day.  It's absolutely wonderful.  I've also been doing a "best of" Doctor Who Christmas specials.  This year's was a little underwhelming though not my least favorite.  I'm also trying to find a kid friendly movie for tonight that we can all enjoy while we wait for the ball to drop.  Oh and a new season of Top Chef started so I've got to get caught up there as well.

Off the Blog:

This has been a big week with Christmas and the Tornado's birthday and now New Year's.  I've been staying up late trying to get the last few books finished so now I'm just ready for a nap!  Luckily my plans for today are essentially just laziness.  We are going to take the Tornado to an arcade kind of place tonight for New Year's Eve and then are heading home to watch a movie and watch the ball drop.  It's hard to believe that it'll be 2018 tomorrow!  It still doesn't seem like a real year.  I remember how hard it was to get used to saying 2000 instead of 19 whatever.

Despite the fact that it sounds like science fiction I do love a new year!  It always makes me want to start some kind of project or hatch a plan of some sort.  This year after some reading and thinking I'm going to do a No Spend 2018 from January 1st until my birthday in May.  I read an interview where Ann Patchett talked about one and her basic rule was she could only buy stuff from the grocery store and I'm pretty much sticking with that.  Wish me luck!

I wish everyone a safe and happy New Year!

On the Blog:

What Happened:

What's Coming Up:

Monday: First Book of 2018
Tuesday:  New to Me Authors of 2017
Wednesday: Reviews from the Children's Section - How to Train Your Dragon
Thursday: Flat Broke with Two Goats - Nonfiction Review
Friday: Friday Linkups with Current Book
Saturday: Every Dog Has His Day - Contemporary Romance Review

Have a great week and happy reading!

The Red Book of Primrose House - Cozy Mystery Review

The Red Book of Primorse House (A Potting Shed Mystery #2) by Marty Wingate (Amazon Link)

Rating: Very Good
Source: NetGalley

Description:  Pru Parke has her dream job: head gardener at an eighteenth-century manor house in Sussex. The landscape for Primrose House was laid out in 1806 by renowned designer Humphry Repton in one of his meticulously illustrated Red Books, and the new owners want Pru to restore the estate to its former glory—quickly, as they’re planning to showcase it in less than a year at a summer party.
But life gets in the way of the best laid plans: When not being happily distracted by the romantic attentions of the handsome Inspector Christopher Pearse, Pru is digging into the mystery of her own British roots. Still, she manages to make considerable progress on the vast grounds—until vandals wreak havoc on each of her projects. Then, to her horror, one of her workers is found murdered among the yews. The police have a suspect, but Pru is certain they’re wrong. Once again, Pru finds herself entangled in a thicket of evil intentions—and her, without a hatchet.

Genre: Mystery - Cozy

Why I Picked This Book:  I really enjoyed the first book in the series and the blurb of this one really caught my attention.

My Impression:  If I made a list of series that I had neglected but for the life of me couldn't figure out why than The Potting Shed Mysteries about American born Gardener working in England, Pru Parke, would have been at the top of my list.

This book starts just a little while after the first book ends.  Pru has started work at her dream job, head gardener at 18th century Primrose House.  The gardens are huge and neglected and the home owners apparently believe in miracles given some of the deadlines they've tasked Pru with but she has a red book from famed landscape designer Humphry Repton to use as a guide.  I was unfamiliar with Repton when I started this book but I've done quite a bit of reading since!  He's really a fascinating man and an incredible designer.

I really liked Pru in the first mystery but felt even more connected with her in this one.  She has some surprising character development where I really felt like I got to know her so much more.  As well, I enjoyed seeing her relationship with Christopher grow and really see her on the job in charge of the gardens of Primrose House.

The mystery starts almost from page one even though the murder itself comes much later.  There are so many questions raised like just what did her original interaction with Ned mean?  Why does Davinia, the owner of Primrose House, seem so on edge - especially where Ned is concerned and just who is behind the acts of vandalism.  While I can't say I was shocked by the reveal I was completely entertained from start to finish.  I'm already looking forward to catching up with Pru and Christopher and seeing just what trouble Pru ends up in the middle of next!

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Absolutely!  I already have several books in this series and in another series by the same author on my Kindle and I'm looking forward to reading them.

Would I Recommend this Book?  If you enjoy cozies this is a fun series.  I really enjoy the twist of an American gardener in an English garden.

Friday, December 29, 2017

My Favorite New to Me Cozy Mysteries of 2017

I've always been a fan of cozy mysteries but 2017 has definitely been the Year of the Cozy for me.  I've found so many that I absolutely loved and series that I'm really excited to continue.  Here are 10 of my favorites from 2017.

1.  Assault and Buttery by Kristi Abbott - This was on my TBR for ages but when I was offered the 3rd book in the series I couldn't help plunging in right away.  It didn't hurt that this one involved a diary found hidden in a wall and a decades old missing persons case.  I loved the town, the main character and the writing style and this is definitely a series I'll continue with.  I'm glad I've got the first two to read while I wait for #4.

2.  Death Overdue by Allison Brook - This is the first in a series and one with a ridiculous potential.  I mean there's a haunted library!  Do I need to say more?  This is another main character I really liked and a series I'm looking forward to continuing with.

3.  A Fatal Collection by Mary Ellen Hughes - This is murder in a music box shop set in a town that specialized in shops that focus on collectibles.  The only bad thing I can say about this one is that it makes me want to start collecting music boxes and I'm kind of out of space for any more collections!

4.  A Murder for the Books by Victoria Gilbert - This another new series and another one with a librarian main character.  I can never resist a mystery featuring a librarian!  I loved that Amy actually does and enjoys research.  I adored this one and am so excited to see what happens.

5.  Death at the Emerald by R.J. Koreto - I love a historical mystery but I find them hit or miss.  This one was all hit.  I loved Lady Frances Ffolkes and the whole world that Koreto has created for her.  I'm looking forward to catching up on the earlier books in the series while I wait for the next book!

6.  Booked 4 Murder by J.C. Eaton - This cozy series set in an Arizona retirement community started off strong with a cursed book and the 2nd was just as good.  The characters are quirky but not silly and it love a cozy featuring a PI.

7.  Occult and Battery by Lena Gregory - I couldn't resist this cozy featuring a fake psychic in Key West and I'm so glad I didn't!   The 2nd book was fantastic and I'm looking forward to reading the 1st while I'm waiting for the 3rd.

8.  Honey-Baked Homicide by Gayle Leeson - Do not read this cozy mystery series set in a cafe in small town Virginia on an empty stomach!  The food descriptions had my mouth watering and the entertaining mystery kept me turning pages.

9.  Seeds of Revenge by Wendy Tyson - I had read a book in another series by Tyson and really liked it but was surprised with just how much I had enjoyed this book set around a farm/cafe. 

10. A Crime of Poison by Nancy Haddock - I love a good community in a cozy mystery and with the Silver Six this one had it in spades.  I loved the main character's pets and her relationship with boyfriend/detective.  This is another one I'm looking forward to catching up on while I wait for the next one.

Any cozies you fell in love with this year?

Thursday, December 28, 2017

A Week in Winter - Fiction Review

A Week in Winter by Maeve Binchy (Amazon Link)

Rating: Loved It
Source: Library (Audio)

Description:   Stoneybridge is a small town on the west coast of Ireland where all the families know one another. When Chicky Starr decides to take an old, decaying mansion set high on the cliffs overlooking the windswept Atlantic Ocean and turn it into a restful place for a holiday by the sea, everyone thinks she is crazy. Helped by Rigger (a bad boy turned good who is handy around the house) and Orla, her niece (a whiz at business), Chicky is finally ready to welcome the first guests to Stone House’s big warm kitchen, log fires, and understated elegant bedrooms. John, the American movie star, thinks he has arrived incognito; Winnie and Lillian are forced into taking a holiday together; Nicola and Henry, husband and wife, have been shaken by seeing too much death practicing medicine; Anders hates his father’s business, but has a real talent for music; Miss Nell Howe, a retired schoolteacher, criticizes everything and leaves a day early, much to everyone’s relief; the Walls are disappointed to have won this second-prize holiday in a contest where first prize was Paris; and Freda, the librarian, is afraid of her own psychic visions.
Sharing a week with this unlikely cast of characters is pure joy, full of Maeve’s trademark warmth and humor. Once again, she embraces us with her grand storytelling.

Genre: Fiction - Contemporary

Why I Picked This Book:  I've wanted to try a book by Maeve Binchy forever and the blurb of this one just pulled at me.

My Impression:  Maeve Binchy is one of those authors that I've known about forever but for some reason just never made time to read.  This was my first book and I am completely in love.  I'm not sure how it compares to her other books but for a first time reader this gave me all the warm fuzzy feels.  Really my only negative about this book was that it ended and I don't get to spend any more time with these characters (well except for Miss Howe. I think I spent enough time with her).

The structure of the book was a little unusual.  It's kind of a series of very closely connected short stories and it works beautifully.  We start out with the POV of Chicky Starr and follow her journey to America and than back home to Ireland and the beginning of Stone House.  From there the POV switches to each of her two employees and than each guest for that first week of winter.  For each character the journey starts before their arrival to Stone House and ends at some point during the week.  I really felt like I goy to know each of the guests with their own particular path.  I didn't love them all but I enjoyed each chapter completely.  If Stone House was a real place I would be booking my stay as soon as I could.  This was one of those rare books I really didn't want to end and the only thing that makes it better is that I have so many Binchy novels to explore.

The audio was very good.   Rosalyn Landor's accent was pronounced but never felt like it overshadowed the characters.  Her inflections for each character was well done and not overly dramatic.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Absolutely!  I've heard this one isn't her best but I loved it so much I'm almost scared to try another.

Would I Recommend this Book?  I would - especially if you like Rosamunde Pilcher.  It reminded me quite a bit of her book Winter Solstice though I think I enjoyed this one more. 

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Now That You Mention It - Contemporary Fiction Review + Giveaway

Now That You Mention It: A Novel by Kristan Higgins (Amazon Link)

Rating: Very Good
Source: Author/Publicist

Description:  One step forward. Two steps back. The Tufts scholarship that put Nora Stuart on the path to becoming a Boston medical specialist was a step forward. Being hit by a car and then overhearing her boyfriend hit on another doctor when she thought she was dying? Two major steps back.
Injured in more ways than one, Nora feels her carefully built life cracking at the edges. There's only one place to land: home. But the tiny Maine community she left fifteen years ago doesn't necessarily want her. At every turn, someone holds the prodigal daughter of Scupper Island responsible for small-town drama and big-time disappointments.

With a tough islander mother who's always been distant and a wild-child sister in jail, unable to raise her daughter--a withdrawn teen as eager to ditch the island as Nora once was--Nora has her work cut out for her if she's going to take what might be her last chance to mend the family.

But as some relationships crumble around her, others unexpectedly strengthen. Balancing loss and opportunity, a dark event from her past with hope for the future, Nora will discover that tackling old pain makes room for promise...and the chance to begin again.

Genre: Fiction - Contemporary

Why I Picked This Book:  I've really enjoyed Higgins' fiction before and I love a character who goes home and figures themselves out.

My Impression:  I was shocked when I looked at the Goodreads summary and saw this was listed as 416 pages.  I finished this in 2 sittings though I would have happily finished it in 1.  Higgins pulled me in right away as we see Nora go through her worries as she thinks she's dying.  Obviously she isn't otherwise this would be an incredibly short book but it does set her off on some soul searching and prioritizing as well as giving the chance to get to know Nora's voice immediately.

Nora's return to Scupper Island isn't the smoothest.  She's hardly welcomed with opened arms even by her mother who comes off as basically disinterested.  Nora's niece Poe is downright hostile and the townspeople are stuck on a grievance that happened fifteen years ago.  There was a little bit there when it felt like misery and frustration was going to become too much and I was going to get bogged down but bright spots started appearing as Nora starts becoming settled in town.  My favorite of the bright spots was Nora's growing friendship with Xiowen who she had vaguely known in high school.  She was pretty funny and took nothing from anyone and I loved her and Nora's Harry Potter mentions.

The story progressed in a way that felt really natural.  Things didn't become rainbows and unicorns and there were more than a few steps back.  But I loved Nora from the start.  I loved seeing how competent she was at her profession and I found it interesting to see how she coped with a incredibly terrifying event that happened prior to the book starting.  The world of Scupper Island is so vivid and real that it's hard to believe that I can't hop the ferry and go there myself.   If you love contemporary fiction with a likable main character, a bit of romance, and a lot of heart this is a read you must not miss.

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Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Absolutely!  While I haven't read much of her contemporary romance series her stand alone fiction has become an auto-buy.

Would I Recommend this Book?  Definitely!  If you love contemporary romance or fiction with a bit of romance this is a fantastic read.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday - Books I Want to Read in 2018

This week's Top Ten Tuesday topic from The Broke and the Bookish is 10 Books I'm Looking Forward to in 2018. 

1.  Sugarhouse Blues by Mariah Stewart - Stewart's Last Chance Matinee was one of my favorite reads of 2017 and I'm super excited to see how the story of the three sisters working to restore an old movie house progresses.

2.  The English Wife by Lauren Willig - I loved Willig's The Other Daughter in 2016 and this looks absolutely gorgeous.  There are rumors and secrets and missing people.

3.  Hello Stranger by Lisa Kleypas - While Kleypas is one of my favorite romance authors I've sadly neglected her latest historical romance series.  I'm hoping to fix that this year!

4.  The Secret of Flirting by Sabrina Jeffries - I love Sabrina Jeffries and any book by her is an automatic buy for me.

5.  Murder in the Locked Library by Ellery Adams - To be fair the title alone landed this one on my list but I have read several cozy mysteries by Adams and really enjoyed them.

6.  Who Moved My Goat Cheese by Lynn Cahoon - I love Cahoon's cozy mysteries and this start to a new series is definitely on my must read list.

7.  Death and the Viking's Daughter by Loretta Ross - This is another favorite cozy mystery and I'm excited to see where it goes in this next entry.

8.  The Other Miss Bridgerton by Julia Quinn - I love Julia Quinn and I've been really excited to see her get back to the Bridgerton family.

9.  I Was Anastasia by Ariel Lawhon - I'm fascinated by Russian history and the Anastasia myth and I loved a previous book by her that I've read.

10.  The Family Gathering by Robyn Carr - I've really enjoyed the books in the Sullivan's Crossing series so far and I'm really excited about this one!

What books are you looking forward to reading in 2018?

Monday, December 25, 2017

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas All!  I hope everyone has the happiest of holidays and the best of days.  I plan on relaxing with my family and am hoping to get lots and lots of reading done! 

Here are a few of my Christmas favorites:

Christmas Books

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
Christmas with Anne by L.M. Montgomery
Snow Angel Cove by RaeAnne Thayne
Greenglass House by Kate Milford

And on the murder-y side of things:

Seeds of Revenge by Wendy Tyson
I Am Half Sick of Shadows by Alan Bradley
A Fatal Grace by Louise Penny

Some Christmas Movies I've Watched This Year

Holiday Inn with Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire
It Happened on Fifth Avenue with Don DeFore and Gale Storm

And on the Hallmark-y Side of Things

Murder She Baked: A Plum Pudding Mystery
Debbie Macomber's Trading Christmas
Finding Father Christmas

Have a wonderful day everyone!

Saturday, December 23, 2017

This Week in Reading - December 24

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:

A Whisper of Bones by Ellen Hart - This mystery looks fantastic!  It involves family secrets and old tragedies so you know I can't resist it!  (NetGalley)

I also checked out 2 rereads from the library as my Christmas present to me -

Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor  and Rainshadow Road both by Lisa Kleypas - I really enjoyed them both the first time I read them and lately I've been wanting to reread them.  I'm halfway done with Friday Harbor and really enjoying it. 


Reading:  Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor by Lisa Kleypas and Now that You Mention It by Kristin Higgins

Listening:  I finished my last audio book for the year and am now catching up on podcasts.  I'm really enjoying The Popcast with Knox and Jamie

Watching:  We're watching large quantities of Hallmark Christmas movies and I'm mixing in some older movies I haven't seen like Holiday Inn with Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire.

Off the Blog:

We are getting ready for Christmas here!  It's been a bit crazy here with J recovering from surgery and then in the middle of that the dryer died so I've been learning the wonders of line drying while we wait for the part to arrive!  I'm really looking forward to just being able to dry clothes again.

Tonight is our primary celebration with J's family and then we have Santa coming late tonight.  The Tornado has switched to staying up later and sleeping late so this could be entertaining.  We sent his letter to Santa using which we used last year and he absolutely loved.  I've got some last minute cookie baking to do and then on Christmas morning (tomorrow morning!) it'll be just opening presents and relaxing in pajamas most of the day.  I'm really looking forward to that!

I hope all who celebrate have the merriest of Christmases and those that don't have a wonderful day.

On the Blog:

What Happened:

What's Coming Up:

Monday: A Few of My Favorite Christmas Things
Tuesday:  Ten Books I Want to Read in 2018
Wednesday: Now That You Mention It - Contemporary Fiction Review + Giveaway
Thursday: A Week in Winter - Contemporary Fiction Review
Friday: Ten of My Favorite Cozy Series I Found This Year
Saturday: Pines of Winder Ranch - Contemporary Romance Review

Have a great week and happy reading!

Honey-Baked Homicide - Cozy Mystery Review

Honey-Baked Homicide (A Down South Cafe Mystery #3) by Gayle Leeson

Rating: Very Good
Source: Publisher

Description: It's fall in Winter Garden, Virginia, and business at Amy Flowers' Down South Cafe has never been better. So when struggling beekeeper Stuart Landon asks Amy to sell some of his honey, she's happy to help. The jars of honey are a sweet success, but their partnership is cut short when Amy discovers Landon's body outside the cafe early one morning. As Amy tries to figure out who could possibly have wanted to harm the unassuming beekeeper, she discovers an ever-expanding list of suspects--and they're all buzzing mad. She'll have to use all of her skills--and her Southern charm--to find her way out of this sticky situation...

Genre:  Mystery - Cozy

Why I Picked This Book: I hadn't read this series but had heard good things about it.

My Impression:  I have to start this one with a warning - Do not read this book on an empty stomach or you'll find yourself craving all the delicious foods Amy describes as the story goes along.  She doesn't stick to the standard Southern cuisine either (though I must admit I did find myself craving a biscuit with honey pretty early on) and I enjoyed her additions of some more adventurous food like sushi and chicken curry.  In addition I loved that so much of the book took place in the cafe itself.  It always bugs me when a character has a really interesting job but it's just window dressing and you never actually see it.  Here so much of the action takes place in the kitchen or dining room of the cafe with either the staff or the regulars that I got a real sense of the place and if I ever found myself in Winter Garden, Virginia Down South Cafe would be first up on my list of stops.

We meet Stu Landon at the very beginning of the book and there is lots of gossip about just who he actually is and what secrets he's hiding.  When he's found murdered the rumor mill goes absolutely wild with speculation.  Amy liked the man and starts digging around asking a question here and there.  Excessive nosiness can get irritating but Amy never crossed the line for me and I enjoyed watching her investigate and bounce theories off her friends.  I also really enjoyed her relationship with Ryan, a Winter Garden police officer.  While he doesn't encourage her to investigate he also doesn't treat her like a child that needs to be sheltered and is willing to discuss what's going on in the official investigation with limits.

The mystery was well done and there were some tense moments mixed in that definitely kept me reading but what will have me coming back again and again is the community that Leeson has built in this series.  These are characters that come to life on the page and I'm already looking forward to finding out what happens next.

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

Would I Recommend this Book?  Absolutely!  If you like cozies this is a fantastic series and you can jump in here with no problems.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Friday Linkup - Honey-Baked Homicide

It's Friday linkup time!  I'm linking up with the Book Blogger Hop hosted by Coffee Addicted Writer, Book Beginnings of Fridays hosted by Rose City Reader, and the Friday 56 hosted by Freda's Voice

This Week's Book Blogger Hop Question:
Have you ever asked a co-workers to give you a book or B&N gift card if they got your name for a Secret Santa gift exchange?  If so did you get what you asked for?

My Answer:
I don't think I ever did.  I only did one Secret Santa gift exchange when I worked and I don't think books were on my wishlist.  I'm sure I would've gotten it if I had asked for it.

This has been the year of new cozy mystery series for me and this week is one of my most recent ones - Honey-Baked Homicide by Gayle Leeson.  I'm really enjoying this one so far and I do love a good cozy pun title!

The Beginning:
I was working on breakfast prep when my cousin Jackie popped her head into the kitchen and said, "Amy, Stu Landon is here."

My Thoughts:
Now this isn't that exciting of a meeting except that I know from the blurb that Stu Landon is going to end up dead pretty soon.

The 56:
During the lull between breakfast and lunch, I began preparing Parmesan-crusted pork chops.

My Thoughts:
She then goes into a few sentences describing how the pork chops are made and my mouth is watering!  This is not a book to be read on an empty stomach!

So what do you think?  Keep reading?

Thursday, December 21, 2017

A Murder for the Books - Cozy Mystery Review + Giveaway

A Murder for the Books: A Blue Ridge Library Mystery by Victoria Gilbert

A Murder for the Books: A Blue Ridge Library Mystery Cozy Mystery 1st in Series Crooked Lane Books (December 12, 2017) Hardcover: 336 pages ISBN-13: 978-1683314394 E-Book 
ASIN: B072396C2L

Fleeing a disastrous love affair, university librarian Amy Webber moves in with her aunt in a quiet, historic mountain town in Virginia. She quickly busies herself with managing a charming public library that requires all her attention with its severe lack of funds and overabundance of eccentric patrons. The last thing she needs is a new, available neighbor whose charm lures her into trouble.
Dancer-turned-teacher and choreographer Richard Muir inherited the farmhouse next door from his great-uncle, Paul Dassin. But town folklore claims the house’s original owner was poisoned by his wife, who was an outsider. It quickly became water under the bridge, until she vanished after her sensational 1925 murder trial. Determined to clear the name of the woman his great-uncle loved, Richard implores Amy to help him investigate the case. Amy is skeptical until their research raises questions about the culpability of the town’s leading families... including her own.
When inexplicable murders plunge the quiet town into chaos, Amy and Richard must crack open the books to reveal a cruel conspiracy and lay a turbulent past to rest in A Murder for the Books, the first installment of Victoria Gilbert’s Blue Ridge Library mysteries.

My Thoughts:

It was very nice of Victoria Gilbert to write a mystery especially for me.  I mean a book containing all of my favorite things can't be by accident and a book that contains all of my favorite things AND lives up to its potential is quite a Christmas gift.  I love a librarian main character and I adore and old murder so having these two things combined was wonderful.  Throw in a solid well paced mystery and a heaping helping of old secrets and this reader was in bookish heaven.  I thought Amy made a great main character with her librarian's curiosity and love of research as well as her level headedness and sense of humor.  Richard, Aunt Lydia, Sunny, and the rest of the characters add a fun team feel, a bit of humor, and a real sense of community.  This was a really fun start to a new series with a great cast of characters and a fantastic premise.   Even with just one book this will be going on my auto buy list and I'm excited to see what happens next!  Rating:  Very Good

About the Author

Victoria Gilbert, raised in the shadow of the Blue Ridge Mountains, turned her early obsession with reading into a dual career as an author and librarian. She has worked as a reference librarian, research librarian, and library director.
When not writing or reading, Victoria likes to spend her time watching films, gardening, or traveling. She is a member of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and International Thriller Writers, and is represented by Frances Black at Literary Council, NY, NY.
Victoria lives in North Carolina with her husband and some very spoiled cats. This is her first Blue Ridge Library mystery.

 Author Links: Website/blog:
Facebook author page:
  Purchase Links: Amazon B&N Books-A-Million Indie Bound 

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December 11 – A Chick Who Reads – REVIEW
December 11 – Books,Dreams,Life – SPOTLIGHT
December 12 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW
December 12 – Teresa Trent Author Blog – REVIEW
December 13 – Babs Book Bistro – SPOTLIGHT
December 13 – Readeropolis – INTERVIEW
December 14 – The Book's the Thing – REVIEW
December 14 – My Reading Journeys – REVIEW
December 14 – Bea's Book Nook – REVIEW
December 15 – Jane Reads - CHARACTER GUEST POST
December 15 – That's What She's Reading – REVIEW
December 15 – Cozy Up With Kathy - REVIEW, INTERVIEW
December 16 – The Power of Words – REVIEW
December 16 – A Holland Reads - SPOTLIGHT
December 16 – Sapphyria's Book Reviews - REVIEW
December 17 – The Montana Bookaholic – SPOTLIGHT
December 18 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – GUEST POST
December 18 – Melina's Book Blog - REVIEW, CHARACTER GUEST POST
December 19 – Valerie's Musings – REVIEW
December 19 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW
December 19 – A Blue Million Books - CHARACTER INTERVIEW
December 20 – Moonlight Rendezvous – REVIEW
December 20 – Curling up by the Fire – REVIEW
December 20 – Brooke Blogs - GUEST POST
December 21 - I Wish I Lived in a Library – REVIEW
December 21 - Sleuth Cafe – SPOTLIGHT
December 21 - Girl with Book Lungs - CHARACTER INTERVIEW

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Wednesday, December 20, 2017

A Christmas Carol and Other Christmas Reads

This year I've been trying to read more seasonally by cramming in as many holiday themed reads as I can.  Here are a few I read this December.

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens - I've always been a fan of the basic story of A Christmas Carol.  I can't even count the number of times I've seen it in play form or watched a version of the movie.  I also really enjoyed the Doctor Who version.  But somehow I'd never read the book.  I've always thought that Dickens' books were looooonnnnnggggg and a bit ponderous so I never felt the urge.   This year I decided it was time and I'm so glad I read it.  It's absolutely wonderful.  It's a short read and a fast one but that doesn't take away from the wonder of the read.  I was swept up into Dickens' world and even though I know the story by heart it was a read I didn't want to put down.  My only complaint is that I didn't think the ending was as drawn out as it is in the plays I've seen but I like my endings on the over the top happy side so that's probably a personal issue.  If you've ever thought about reading this story than stop thinking about it and pick up a copy.  I don't think you'll be disappointed.  I think I'll be making this an annual read.  Rating: Loved It

Christmas at Whisper Beach by Shelley Noble - Noble was a recent discovery for me this year.  I loved The Beach at Painter's Cove and really wanted to spend some more time in Noble's worlds.  However, I think I made a misstep with this one.  Since I hadn't read the first book in the series it was a bit like walking into a party where you don't know anyone.  Everyone seemed very nice but since I didn't have a connection with any of the characters it took me awhile to have any investment in what they were talking about or what was happening.  However, while this book wasn't my favorite it did make me want to really get to know these characters in the first Whisper Beach book.  I'm anxious to get started on that one.  I suspect after I read that one I'll be anxious for a reread of this novella.  Rating: Not a good standalone.

Ginger Snapped (A Spice Shop Mystery #5) by Gail OustSo the ginger in the title and the gingerbread man on the cover fooled me a bit.  This isn't a Christmas themed mystery at all.  However, it was a fun read with a good mystery.  I love a "team" of investigators - especially when there's a law enforcement officer turned suspect involved and Osut does the setup incredible well.  This book works fine as a stand alone and while there are a lot of characters I had no trouble keeping up with who was who and their relationships.  The mystery was well done and while I wasn't surprised by the reveal I did enjoy watching Piper figure everything out.  This was a light and entertaining cozy and it's a series I'm very much looking forward to continuing.  Rating:  Good

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday - Ten Books I Hope Santa Brings

This week's Top Ten Tuesday topic from The Broke and the Bookish is 10 Books I Hope Santa Brings.  Now this is a hard subject because my actual answer is "All of them" but I spent some time with my TBR on Goodreads and picked out a a few I've really been wanting to read. 

1.  Cress by Marissa Meyer - I read the first 2 books in this series and really enjoyed them.  I've been meaning to read the 3rd book for almost a year but just haven't gotten to it.  I'm hoping if I actually had a physical copy that I would be more inclined to pick it up.

2.  Seven Days of Us by Francesca Hornak - This one sounds like such a fun read that's perfect for the holidays.

3.  Dear Farenheit 451: Love and Heartbreak in the Stacks: A Librarian's Love Letters and Breakup Notes to the Books in Her Life by Annie Spence - It's a book about books.  I can't resist books about books.

4.  Touch of Red by Laura Griffin - I love romantic suspense and I love this series.  I'm excited about the couple featured in this one.

5.  A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab - I've heard nothing but raves about this author and I really want to give this series a try.

6.  Cardinal Cabin by Joanne DeMaio - Mostly the cover because it's gorgeous but it also sounds wonderful and DeMaio is high up on my Authors To Read list.

7.  The Last Castle: The Epic Story of Love, Loss, and American Royalty in the Nation's Largest Home by Denise Kiernan - I love the Biltmore and I'd love to know more about the people who lived there.  I can't imagine calling it home.

8.  Reading People: How Seeing the World through the Lens of Personality Changes Everything by Anne Bogel - I love Bogel's podcast and this book sounds like a lot of fun.  I'm curious about what she has to say about personality types.

9.  Crime on the Fens by Joy Ellis - This police procedural looks amazing and I'm SOOO want to read it.

10. The Day of the Duchess by Sarah MacLean - I loved the first book in this series and I'm really interested to see the villain turned into a hero.

What books are you hoping Santa brings?

Monday, December 18, 2017

Ramblings from the Stacks - Looking Forward to 2018

First of all how can 2018 be only weeks away?  That still seems like a science fiction year.  Like in a movie where they show flying cars and crazy dystopian type architecture and the words - "New York 2018" pop up on the screen. 

But since 2018 is actually a thing I figured I'd take some time to think about my reading goals for 2018.  Looking back over my reading for the past 2 years I realized that each one had an unintentional theme.  This year I think I'm going to try an intentional theme and see how I do with that. 

My theme for 2018 is - Read the Books I Own.

This past year I had to get rid of all the books I had crammed under the bed, stacked in corners, and crammed triple stacked into the bookcases.  So I boxed them up into numbered boxes and cataloged them based on genre and box number so I could keep track of them.  I was surprised to learn that I only have 379 books sitting around unread.  I expected it to be way more.  However, as the year has gone on the number has been going up and not down.  It's a case of 3 steps forward no steps backs.  Hence the read the books I own theme.  Now I know there have been lots of challenges about this the past year but I'm terrible at challenges so I've just picked 12 books out of my boxes and reading 1 a month.

Here are my 12:

1.  Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck
2.  Astor Place Vintage by Stephanie Lehmann
3.  Unhallowed Grave by Kate Ellis
4.  Can Any Mother Help Me? by Jenna Bailey
5.  Ghost Night by Heather Graham
6.  Queen of the Road: The True Story of 47 States, 22,000 Miles, 200 Shoes, 2 Cats, 1 Poodle, a Husband and a Buss with a Will of Its Own by Doreen Orion
7.  Beach Town by Mary Kay Andrews
8.  Meet Me in Atlantis by Mark Adams
9.  The Likeness by Tana French
10.  Too Bad to Die by Francine Matthews
11.  Eeny Meeny by M.J. Arlidge
12.  Winter Solstice by Rosamunde Pilcher

And 5 to shake up my reading life:

1.  The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
2.  Burn for Me by Ilona Andrews
3.  One in a Million Boy by Monica Boyd
4.  A School for Unusual Girls by Kathleen Baldwin
5.  The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

I'm working on a list of 12 Middle Grade books to read and am considering another list of Books I Want to Read but am afraid of overdoing it.  I'm trying to keep my reading plans on the simple side because if I get too far behind on my plans I tend to give up and some progress is better than no progress.

What are your reading goals for 2018?  Any books you're looking forward to reading?

Saturday, December 16, 2017

This Week in Reading - December 17

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:

The Pajama Frame by Diane Vallere - I've read a few books in this series about an interior decorator obsessed with Mod design.  She makes all her clothes and the author includes the pattern numbers for the vintage pattern which always makes it fun.  Plus, this involves an old murder in a pajama factory which sounds pretty fun!  (NetGalley)

Twelve Angry Librarians by Miranda James - I'm super excited about this one.  I read the first in the series years ago and enjoyed it and I love the title on this one.  (Publisher)

Dial M for Mousse by Laura Bradford - I haven't read anything in this series yet but I love a good foodie murder and this one looks like a lot of fun.  Plus I love the movie/foodie pun.  (Publisher)


Reading:  Honey Baked Homicide by Gayle Leeson and Now that You Mention It by Kristin Higgins

Listening:  I just finished One Snowy Night by Jill Shalvis and am listening to podcasts while I decide what to listen to next.

Watching:  We've been having a good time with Hallmark Christmas movies and I'm looking forward to the end of The Voice.  I'm also excited to see that Top Chef has started back up.

Off the Blog:

This week's been kind of crazy.  J had to have surgery Monday and while it went great and he's fine he's been down all week.  I've finished almost all of the Christmas shopping though not everything has come in yet.  I've got 2 more stores to hit but I know what I want so hopefully I won't have to fight the crowds too much.

We had the Tornado's class party and Cub Scout Christmas party this week and then today we're getting together with my mother and her husband for a Christmas celebration.  Next weekend we're getting together with my dad and his wife and then of course there's Christmas!  It'll be a lot of fun but I have a feeling I'm going to be tired after it's all said and done.  And then of course the Tornado's birthday is right after Christmas so the festivities run a little bit longer.

I bought books for several people on my list and now I want ALL the books!  I may have to do some binge shopping soon though I really need to get a binge read session in first.  One of these days I'm going to build a fort of books and stay in there until I've read everything in the walls!

On the Blog:

What Happened:

What's Coming Up:

Monday:  Ramblings from the Stacks - Looking Forward
Tuesday:  Top Ten Tuesday - Ten Books I Hope Santa Brings
Wednesday: A Christmas Carol + Other Christmas Reads
Thursday:  Murder For the Books - Cozy Mystery Review
Friday:  Friday Linkups with Current Book
Saturday:  Honey-Baked Homicide - Cozy Mystery Review

Have a great week and happy reading!

Christmas Novellas - Short Reviews

I do love a good Christmas read but I very rarely plan well enough to get a lot books in before Christmas Eve.  That's why novellas are perfect!  Here's 3 I've read lately and my thoughts on them.

The Inn at Blue Hollow Falls by Donna Kauffman - This has a lot of things that I can't resist.  THere's a big greenhouse being restored, an old inn, and a woman a bit out of her comfort zone reconnecting with old friends and herself.  I've read several books by Kauffman in the past and enjoyed them though she's never made my "Must Read" list.  The main characters - Stevie and Noah were both very nice and I loved that they were staying under the same roof in Noah's historic inn.  I loved the descriptions of the greenhouse that Stevie and her friend are working on restoring.  But somehow I could never make myself care.  There was never anything that really made me connect with the story and so on day 3 of reading only a few pages I decided to call it done.  There's nothing bad here but there's nothing that really hooked me either.  Rating: DNF at 44%.

Once Upon a Christmas Eve by Elizabeth Hoyt - I love a house party in a historical romance and throw in a hero who loves his grandmother and I was pretty much already smitten.  When Adam, Viscount d'Arque's carriage gets stuck in the snow right before Christmas leaving himself and his elderly grandmother stranded in the snow he has no choice but to head to the nearest house and ask for help which means that he, hater of Christmas, ends up stuck at a very Christmas-y house party along with the host's sister, the very attractive, Sarah St. John.  Sarah had a run in with a rake years ago and has no interest in repeating the experience but she still can't help but be attracted to Adam.  I really loved both characters.  Adam is rather notorious but when it comes down to it is lonely and actually a very good man underneath the cynical charm.  Sarah is smart but very guarded.  I loved these two together and I really loved the St. John family.  However, this was a very very short novella and I came out of it feeling kind of cheated.  These were great characters in a great setting and I would have loved for them to have a book of their own.  Despite this it is still a fun and festive read!  Rating: Good

One Snowy Night by Jill Shalvis - This was so fun!  I'm a huge fan of Jill Shalvis but I've sadly neglected the Heartbraker Bay series.  In fact, this novella is only the 2nd book I've read.   And now I'm kicking myself for not reading more!  Shalvis used one of my favorite things in a novella - a couple that already has a history.  Now Max and Rory don't have a romantic history.  It's way more complicated than that but it does mean there is already a connection when the book starts out.  I loved the road trip as a way to get to know the characters and for them to really get to know each other and I adored Max's dog Carl.  He adds a great touch of humor to the story.  The ending was sweet and left me wanting to go binge read the rest of the series so I can spend more time with Max and Rory (and hopefully Carl!)  Rating: Very Good

I listened to the audio and enjoyed Karen White's narration.  I wouldn't say this is a book better listened too than read but it does well as an audio.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Friday Linkups - A Christmas Carol

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:
Which book(s) would you like Santa to bring you this year?

My Answer:
Oh this is a hard one!  Can I answer all of them?  I've been working on my Top Ten Tuesday list on this same topic and it's taken forever to narrow it down to just 10!

This week's book is one I'm only reading for the first time though I've seen it in play and movie forms many many times - A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.  Dickens and I had a falling out back when Great Expectations was required reading in high school.  I hated the book and Pip and just about everything about it (except Miss Havisham's house) and swore off reading Dickens forever.  Not too long ago I decided that my reading tastes had probably changed in 20 years and it was time to give Dickens another try.  Turns out I still hated Pip but I did like Dickens' writing so I decided it was time to try A Christmas Carol!

The Beginning:
Marley was dead: to begin with.  There is no doubt whatever about that.

My Thoughts:
Well that's rather grim!  I do like that the first page is taken up entirely with explaining that Marley is most certainly dead and that Scrooge is well aware of this fact.

The 56:
For he wished to challenge the Spirit on the moment of its appearance, and did not wish to be taken by surprise and made nervous.

My Thoughts:
Considering he'd just woken up from a sound sleep I think Scrooge is pretty collected!

So what do you think?  Have you read this one?  What would you like Santa to leave under your tree?

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Comic Sans Murder - Cozy Mystery Review

Comic Sans Murder (A Dangerous Type Mystery) by Paige Shelton

Rating:  Very Good
Source:  Publisher

Description: The visit of quirky world-famous horror author Nathan Grimes to Star City is especially thrilling for Clare Henry and her grandfather Chester. As the owners of The Rescued Word, a charming boutique shop in town, Clare and Chester specialize in restoring old typewriters and repairing beloved books. They've invited Nathan to their shop to use their equipment for his next book.
But all plans to work on the book take a step in the wrong direction when a tourist discovers an abandoned ski boot on the slopes--and the only sign of the owner is the dismembered foot he left inside! Nathan's writer's curiosity for all things horror is further piqued after the body of Clare's high school friend Lloyd Gavin is discovered sans one foot. When all toes point to a class reunion gone wrong, Nathan can't help but join Clare and her best friend, police officer Jodie Wentworth, as they hurry to track down the killer before more former classmates become Most Likely to Be Killed.

Genre: Mystery - Cozy

Why I Picked This Book:  I've been a fan of Paige Shelton since her Farmer's Market cozy mystery series so I was excited to get a chance to try this one.

My Impression:  My only real dealings with typewriters came from a typing class in high school and I can still remember the resistance of the keys and the fiddling with the eraser tape anytime you made a mistake.  They seemed clunky and harder to use than necessary and really I haven't given much thought to them sense.  I had no idea that they could be so fascinating and so fun!  I found myself looking up every model mentioned! 

This isn't a book with a lot of build up as the lone boot complete with foot is found on page one but it does take a few pages for the who to be identified.  I was really intrigued by all the whys in this mystery and couldn't wait to for the whole story to come to light.  The mystery was well done and kept the pages turning.

I loved the setup of the series.  Not only is the typewriter repair shop unique and entertaining but I loved the family dynamics between Clare, Chester, and Marion.  As well I really enjoyed the friendship between Clare and Jodie.  It gives Clare very loose permission to investigate which really helps the flow. 

When I started this book it had been awhile since I had read a book by Paige Shelton but I won't make the mistake of waiting so long again!  This was a fun, well paced mystery with a detective who is smart with just the right amount of spunk! 

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Yes!  I'm looking forward to catching up on this series as well as reading the several books by her I already have on my shelf.

Would I Recommend this Book?  If you like cozy mysteries Paige Shelton is an author you shouldn't miss!  I've enjoyed every book I've read by her but this one may be my favorite.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Cowboy's Legacy - Romantic Suspense Review

Cowboy's Legacy (The Montana Cahills) by B.J. Daniels (Amazon Link)

Rating: Very Good
Source: Blog Tour

Description:  When Sheriff Flint Cahill's lover, Maggie, disappears, he knows his ex-wife is behind it. But with a winter storm coming, can he find her before it's too late? Find out in the next Cahill Ranch novel from New York Times bestselling author B.J. Daniels!

Genre: Romantic Supsense

Why I Picked This Book:  I haven't read a cowboy romance in awhile and I really enjoyed a previous book

My Impression:  I was really impressed with Daniels' romantic suspense in the last book of hers I read but this took it to a whole new level!  This is some very real suspense with some very real danger and it was quite a gripping read!

The story is mostly told through Flint's eyes though I did feel like I got to know Maggie as well as he knew her.  It was an interesting twist especially because the couple was not together through quite a bit of the book but I still felt like I was invested in their relationship.  It was so clear just how much Flint loved her and how good they were together. 

Flint's ex-wife, Celeste, makes a pretty great villain.  She's so awful and manipulative but while she is a bit extreme I think we all know someone like her in some way or another.  I liked too that she wasn't a paper cut out villain.  There's a touch of depth to her here and there though she's still pretty terrible.  As well I LOVED the Cahill family.  I'm hoping the two bachelor brothers get their own books soon.

I did guess most of what of the whos and whys ahead of time but this isn't completely a mystery so I didn't have a problem with that.  The character development was wonderful and I really loved how Daniels developed the relationship with the couple apart.  This is a series and an author I'm really looking forward to reading more from.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Absolutely!  I'm looking forward to getting to know more of the Cahill family.

Would I Recommend this Book?  If you enjoy contemporary romance - especially some with suspense - I think you'll enjoy this one.