Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The Cottingley Secret - Blog Tour Fiction Review

About The Cottingley Secret

• Hardcover: 416 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow (August 1, 2017)
  “The Cottingley Secret tells the tale of two girls who somehow convince the world that magic exists. An artful weaving of old legends with new realities, this tale invites the reader to wonder: could it be true?” — Kate Alcott, New York Times bestselling author of The Dressmaker
One of BookBub's Most-Anticipated Books of Summer 2017! 

 The New York Times bestselling author of The Girl Who Came Home turns the clock back one hundred years to a time when two young girls from Cottingley, Yorkshire, convinced the world that they had done the impossible and photographed fairies in their garden. Now, in her newest novel, international bestseller Hazel Gaynor reimagines their story. 1917… It was inexplicable, impossible, but it had to be true—didn’t it? When two young cousins, Frances Griffiths and Elsie Wright from Cottingley, England, claim to have photographed fairies at the bottom of the garden, their parents are astonished. But when one of the great novelists of the time, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, becomes convinced of the photographs’ authenticity, the girls become a national sensation, their discovery offering hope to those longing for something to believe in amid a world ravaged by war. Frances and Elsie will hide their secret for many decades. But Frances longs for the truth to be told. One hundred years later… When Olivia Kavanagh finds an old manuscript in her late grandfather’s bookshop she becomes fascinated by the story it tells of two young girls who mystified the world. But it is the discovery of an old photograph that leads her to realize how the fairy girls’ lives intertwine with hers, connecting past to present, and blurring her understanding of what is real and what is imagined. As she begins to understand why a nation once believed in fairies, can Olivia find a way to believe in herself?

Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

My Thoughts:

I've wanted to read Hazel Gaynor's books for years but somehow the timing was just never right and I never got around to it.  This had a few irresistible topics for me - an old bookshop in Ireland, an old manuscript, and a main character who is trying to learn to believe in herself - and of course the gorgeous cover didn't hurt!  This was one of those special books that was exactly what I wanted when I wanted it.  I loved Olivia and I loved watching her learn to give herself permission to be happy.  I could relate to her struggle with trying to keep things together after two of the most important people in her life are gone in body or in spirit.   I really loved watching her as she learned more and more of Frances' story and I couldn't wait to figure out the connection and how it all works out.  I loved Frances' story when told through her own words as well.  This is one of the few dual timeline books where I enjoy both timelines equally and love both main characters.  This was my first introduction to Gaynor's work but it most definitely won't be my last!  Rating:  Loved it!

About Hazel Gaynor

HAZEL GAYNOR is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of A Memory of Violets and The Girl Who Came Home, for which she received the 2015 RNA Historical Novel of the Year award. Her third novel The Girl from the Savoy was an Irish Times and Globe & Mail Canada bestseller, and was shortlisted for the BGE Irish Book Awards Popular Fiction Book of the Year. The Cottingley Secret and Last Christmas in Paris will be published in 2017. Hazel was selected by US Library Journal as one of ‘Ten Big Breakout Authors’ for 2015 and her work has been translated into several languages. Originally from Yorkshire, England, Hazel now lives in Ireland. Find out more about Hazel at her website, and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday - Ten Books for New Mystery Readers

This week's Top Ten Tuesday topic from the Broke and the Bookish is 10 Book Recommendations for --.  Since I'm in a bit of a mystery phase right now I thought I'd do 10 Book Recommendations for New Mystery Readers.

Children's Mysteries

1.  The Boxcar Children Great Adventure: Journey on a Runaway Train by Gertrude Chandler Warren -  The Tornado (now age 7 but probably starting at age 5) is a huge Boxcar Children fan.  In fact the audio books were what really got him reading on his own.  I'm not usually a fan of rebooted series but this one is so much fun!  There's history and a bit of a treasure hunt and all kinds of fun antics.

2.  Summer of the Woods by Steven K. Smith - This is another series with a history element but in the best way possible.  This is the story of 2 brothers and their friend getting into all kinds of hijinks in Virginia and it's a lot of fun.  The mysteries are fun and the history is fascinating.  I've even picked up a few tidbits that I didn't know!

3.  The Mummy with No Name by Geronimo Stilton - Geronimo Stilton mysteries are so much fun and are fun for readers just starting chapter books.  There's lots of gorgeous illustrations, colorful text and hijinks and mayhem galore.

4.  Gilda Joyce: Psychic Investigator by Jennifer Allison - This is one that I stumbled on almost by accident at the library and it's one I think my girls would have really enjoyed in 4th to 6th grade or so.  Gilda's an interesting character who has a talent for getting into trouble.  This wasn't the best mystery but the characters make up for it.

5.  The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin - I just reread it and remembered just why I loved it so much as a kid.  It's a great mystery and a fun read as well.  While a murder is discussed the bulk of the mystery is more of a treasure hunt and a wonderfully done one.  It was one of my favorites from about 5th grade and up and one of my daughter's has read it so many times her copy has fallen to pieces!

Mysteries for Adults

1.  A Share in Death by Deborah Crombie - This is a super solid police procedural with really great characters and fascinating mysteries.  They get more serious as the series goes on but if anything this series just keeps getting better!

2.  Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie - Of course I had to have an Agatha Christie book!  This is a great one to start with because it's Poirot at his most likable and it's a great cast of characters.

3.  The Beekeeper's Apprentice by Laurie R. King - If you're looking for a historical setting and love a twist on the Sherlock Holmes story than you can't go wrong with King's Mary Russell series which features an older Holmes and his young wife Mary Russell.

4.  The Readaholics and the Gothic Gala by Laura DiSilverio - I couldn't make this list without including a cozy!  There are so many great cozies to choose from but this very bookish mystery which involved book club chat, a dead body, and a really fun mystery is one of my favorites!

5.  The Hexed by Heather Graham - If you like a little paranormal in your reading the Krewe of Hunters by Graham is one of the best and The Hexed is one of my favorites.  This is a fun series involving ghosts, witches, history and a very modern day murder.  Don't let the size of the Krewe series scare you.  You can jump in where you want and almost all feature different main characters who are connected by paranormal investigations only.

What mysteries would you recommend to new mystery readers of all ages?

Monday, August 14, 2017

Reviews From the Children's Section - The Westing Game

One of my favorite genres and one that is the easiest for me to push aside is middle grade fiction. This year to make sure I get a little more children's and young adult fiction I thought I would designate the first Monday of every month Middle Grade Monday.  While a lot of my picks this year are classics I am trying to branch out a little bit and read new or at least recent releases.  This week's book is an old favorite but one I haven't read in decades.  It was nice to revisit it.

The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin

Description:  A bizarre chain of events begins when sixteen unlikely people gather for the reading of Samuel W. Westing's will. And though no one knows why the eccentric, game-loving millionaire has chosen a virtual stranger - and a possible murderer - to inherit his vast fortune, one thing's for sure: Sam Westing may be dead... but that won't stop him from playing one last game!

My Thoughts:  Reading an old favorite is always a little bit of a risk.  Will a book I loved as a child still be a decent read for an adult?  How much will nostalgia affect my reading experience?  Will reading it now ruin it for me?

The Westing Game exceeded my expectations and was really just a joy to read.  There's quite a large cast here and while the book does seem to center around adolescent Turtle Wexler we get a peeks of all the other characters too.  It's fun seeing the different ways each team investigates the clues they are given as well as the development of the different relationships.  The characters while not super developed are surprisingly complex with hidden secrets and weaknesses.  As part of the game each character is partnered with another making some unlikely allies and it was entertaining to watch.  The mystery isn't scary but is definitely puzzling and really a solid mystery.  Raskin isn't dumbing anything down because this is a Middle Grade book!  Even knowing the ending I really enjoyed watching the investigation and seeing the conclusion be revealed.   There are two epilogues which show what has happened to the characters 5 years from the end of the mystery and then again even more into the future which I really enjoyed but might make some readers who don't like super tied up endings a little eye rolly.

While this book was published in 1979 very little feels dated except for the occasional decor description.  There are some mentions of race and gender role issues but Raskins handles it all beautifully and with an unexpected flair.  There was one mention of a character's daughter that was born with some sort of disability (possibly Down Syndrome) that made me cringe a bit but this was literally one mention.

The plot is fairly complex and there are a lot of subtleties that I think might bore younger readers but I think any reader - especially one who loves mysteries - who is 10 or older would love this.  If you're an adult who has never read this or if this was a favorite childhood read it's definitely worth a visit.  I don't think you'll be disappointed.  Rating:  Loved it!

Sunday, August 13, 2017

This Week in Reading - August 13

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:

Just one this week!  Though I may have 2 pending requests out there lurking.

Say No Moor by Maddy Hunter - A tour of travel bloggers through Cornwall goes horribly wrong and the tour organizer finds herself running an inn and trying to save the day to keep her travel company going.  This is the beginning of a new series and this is a new to me author but it's a cozy I'm really looking forward to trying!  (NetGalley)


Reading:  I'm finishing up The Cottingley Secret by Hazel Gaynor for a blog tour stop later this week and am about to start Dinner with Edward by Isabel Vincent.  For Kindle reading I'm reading Tiny House on the Hill by Celia Bonaduce.

Listening:  Still waiting for A Study in Scarlet Women by Sherry Thomas but until that gets here I'm listening to podcasts.

Watching:  We just finished Shetland on Netflix and we really liked it though I didn't love the last season.  I felt like the characters did a few things that they never would have done and few things that happened just din't feel like the rest of the series.  Now we're looking for something else to watch.  Right now it's between River on Netflix or Grantchester

Off the Blog:

Well the big news around here is that Eleanor got married this week!  She and her long time boyfriend had been talking about getting married for awhile and had been working on wedding planning but a few days ago they decided they didn't want to mess with all the wedding stuff and just wanted to be married.  So earlier this week we all met at the courthouse and watched them get married.  They're very excited and we're very happy for them and excited to see them start their life together.

Other than that it's been a busy but ordinary week.  The Tornado is getting back on schedule at school and so far really liking his teacher and the kids in his class.  The kitten is still adapting well though has not liked that I've been away from home quite a bit this past week.  He's made his displeasure clearly known by following me around and yowling at me until I sit down so he can sit on me.

On the Blog:

What Happened:

What's Coming Up:

Monday:  Reviews from the Children's Section - The Westing Game
Tuesday:  10 Book Recommendations for Young Mystery Lovers
Wednesday: The Cottingley Secret - Blog Tour Review
Thursday: TBD 
Friday:  Friday Linkups with Current Book
Saturday:  At Wits End - Cozy Mystery Review

Have a great week and happy reading!

Saturday, August 12, 2017

The Bellingham Bloodbath - Historical Mystery Review

The Bellingham Bloodbath (Colin Pendragon #2) by Gregory Harris

Rating: DNF'd 65%
Source: NetGalley

Description:  After a captain in Her Majesty's Guard and his young wife are brutally murdered in their flat, master sleuth Colin Pendragon and his partner Ethan Pruitt are summoned to Buckingham Palace. Major Hampstead demands discretion at all costs to preserve the reputation of the Guard and insists Pendragon participate in the cover-up by misleading the press. In response, Pendragon makes the bold claim that he will solve the case in no more than three days' time or he will oblige the major and compromise himself.
Racing against the clock - and thwarted at every turn by their Scotland Yard nemesis Inspector Emmett Varcoe - Pendragon and Pruitt begin to assemble the clues around the grisly homicide, probing into private lives and uncovering closely guarded secrets. As the minutes tick away, the pressure - and the danger - mounts as Pendragon's integrity is on the line and a cold-blooded killer remains on the streets...

Genre: Mystery - Historical

Why I Picked This Book:  I love a good historical mystery and this series was new to me.

My Impression:  Historical mysteries are really hit or miss for me.  When I love them they're my absolute favorite but when they don't work I tend to find them dry and tedious.  That unfortunately was the case with this mystery.  This takes place towards the end of Queen Victoria's reign which is a time period I haven't found very often in the mystery genre.  As well I was curious to see how Colin and Ethan's sexuality would affect their day to day life as it wasn't particularly socially acceptable at the time.  And I never can resist a nice bloody murder!

Unfortunately, it all fell about flat for me.  I didn't hate it - I just didn't care, which might be worse.  Ethan and Colin both seemed to speak in almost a presentation style.  I expect there was lots of throat clearing before they would make their paragraph length pronouncements.  I really couldn't tell the difference between the two men which made it hard to keep track of who was who.  Basically Colin seemed a little more arrogant and Ethan spent more time worrying about Colin and occasionally making foreshadowing statements.

For me this was one of those books that was completely out of mind as soon as I put the book down and it always took a minute to remember just what was happening and who everyone was when I picked up again.  So finally at about 65% when I realized I just didn't care who did what and why I called it quits.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Probably not.  While I like the time period the rest of the book just didn't work for me.

Would I Recommend this Book?  Probably not.  I mean it wasn't awful but if you want a historical mystery give Laurie R. King's Mary Russell series a try.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Friday LInkups - The Westing Game

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:
Do you participate in readathons and/or reading challenges?

My Answer:  
I love the idea of readathons and reading challenges but I'm terrible at them.  I pretty much mean to participate in every readathon that I see but it always seems to not happen at the last second.  As for the challenges I signed up for several for the first few years of blogging but I'm awful at remembering to linkup or really track the books so I finally quit doing them.  I do the Goodreads challenge but that's about all I seem to be able to manage.

This week's book is a childhood favorite that I've been really looking forward to reading.  I don't remember the last time I read The Westing Game but it's been at least 20 years and if I'm being completely honest probably more like 25!  No matter how long it's been I can't even begin to count how many times I read The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin.  I'm almost done with it now and I've been really impressed with how well it's holding up!  It's just as much now as I remember it being.

The Beginning:
The sun sets in the west (just about everyone knows that), but Sunset Towers faced east.  Strange!

My Thoughts:
Not the most exciting beginning but it does set the tone for some of the weirder things that happen during the book!

The 56:
No matter how much fear and suspicion he instilled in the players, Sam Westing knew that greed would keep them playing the game.

My Thoughts:  
Greed is a pretty strong motivator so I think Sam Westing knows what he's doing here!

So what do you think?  Keep reading?  Do you have a childhood favorite you'd love to reread?

Thursday, August 10, 2017

All Signs Point to Murder - Cozy Mystery Review

All Signs Point to Murder (Zodiac Mystery #2) by Connie di Marco

Rating: Very Good
Source: NetGalley

Description: Julia Bonatti is alarmed by the astrological signs looming over Geneva Leary’s wedding day, but nobody asked Julia’s opinion and being a bridesmaid means supporting the bride no matter what. Even with the foreboding Moon-Mars-Pluto lineup in the heavens, no one’s prepared for the catastrophes that strike: a no-show sister, a passed-out wedding planner, and a lethal shooting in the dead of night.
With anger and grief threatening to tear the Leary family part, Julia is determined to understand how such a terrible tragedy could occur. As she digs deeper into the family’s secrets, her astrological insights will lead her to the truth about a criminal enterprise that stretches far beyond the California coast.

Genre: Mystery - Cozy

Why I Picked This Book: I enjoyed the first book in this series and I really like the Soup Mystery books she writes under the Connie Archer name.

My Impression: I really enjoyed the first book in this series about astrologer Julia Bonatti but I was not prepared for just how much I was going to enjoy the second book!  di Marco is back strong with this new book about some crazy dysfunctional family dynamics and the astrologer who ends up smack in the middle of the drama.

The mystery was solid and while I had some guesses at how it would end up there were still a few points that were definitely a surprise which is always a lot of fun for this regular mystery reader.  As well I felt like Julia's character was fleshed out a lot more without taking the focus off the mystery.  I really enjoyed getting to know her and spend a few hours in her world.  She has some interesting friends!   Watching her do the astrology readings was really entertaining and made me wish she was real so I could send my birth information to her!  I really enjoy watching an amateur sleuth do a little bit of work in their day job and di Marco did a fantastic job of using Julia's occupation to further the mystery and let the readers get to know the characters a little better.

If you haven't read the first book in this series I don't think you'd have any trouble jumping in right here.  I've been in a little bit of a reading rut this summer and this book was really the bit of fun I needed to get me back on track.  If you're looking for a fast paced cozy mystery with a likable amateur sleuth and a well done mystery don't pass this one up!

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Absolutely!  I'm really looking for the next book and this series and reading more from this author in general.

Would I Recommend this Book?  If you're a cozy mystery fan you really need to read this!  Connie di Marco/Archer is one of the best!

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

The Dream Keeper's Daughter - Paranormal Romance Review

The Dream Keeper's Daughter by Emily Colin (Amazon link)

Rating: Okay
Source: Publisher

Description:  Eight years after the unsolved disappearance of her boyfriend Max Adair, archaeologist Isabel Griffin has managed to move on and rebuild her life with her young daughter, Finn, her last tie to Max. But after a series of strange incidents, Isabel begins to wonder if Max might still be alive somewhere, trying to communicate with her. She has no idea that the where isn’t the problem—it’s the when. Max has slipped through time and place, landing on his ancestral family plantation in 1816 Barbados, on the eve of a historic slave uprising. As Isabel searches for answers, Max must figure out not only how to survive the violence to come, but how to get back to his own century, the woman he loves, and the daughter he has only ever met in his dreams.

Genre: Romance - Paranormal

Why I Picked This Book:  I love a missing persons case and this sounded really intriguing with the main character being and archaeologist and the history element.

My Impression: This very well may be a case of a book just not being for me.  If you enjoy time travel elements and love a romance don't let the fact that I didn't love this stop you from picking it up!
The Good:
The atmosphere of the book felt seriously spooky and forbidding through most of the book.

I loved Isabel's daughter Finn.  She was really smart and sweet and a little unnerving at times.  She seemed to know things there was no way to know including what people were thinking sometimes.

Isabel and Finn's relationship.  It felt really real and Isabel's frustration with Finn being ostracized by her peers for her strangeness really rang true.  She's a parent who desperately wants to protect her daughter.

Isabel's father.  He suffered a trauma very similar to Isabel when his wife disappeared.  He's determined to learn from his mistakes as a father to Isabel and be the best grandfather he can be.  As well he really tries to give advice to Isabel based on his own mistakes.

The history.  I love history and enjoyed the present day research whether it was looking into genealogy or Isabel's job as an archaeologist.

The Bad:
The book felt a bit overwrought.  Isabel's emotions were on high from beginning to end as were most of the other characters.  It got a bit exhausting.

I never quite bought how Max managed to slip through time in the first place.  I mean I know you have to suspend belief a little bit anyway and I'm fine with that but his motivations for the whole thing - especially at that exact moment just didn't ring true.

The ending.  I actually liked the way it worked out but it didn't fit the book at all.  I just didn't feel that the characters would have done that.  Obviously I can't say too much without giving it away but I just struggled with it.

Overall:  I loved the history elements and the setting but felt like there were some significant plot holes.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Potentially though the blurb would really have to appeal to me.

Would I Recommend this Book?  If the time travel element really appeals to you than you may enjoy this one.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Books I've Meant to Read But Haven't

So often I find myself saying the same thing when it comes to books - "Oh I've been meaning to read that!" or "I really want to read that but just haven't yet."  That list or books that I really mean to read is so ridiculously long that it some times feels more than a little overwhelming.  So of course the answer is to put some of them in a list!  Lists really fix most everything.  I figure I'll focus on these 10 for now so I at least feel like I'm making progress!

1.  I Found You by Lisa Jewell - Really I want to read just about anything by Lisa Jewell but this one sounds especially good!  I love dual time lines and lots of mystery.

2.  Until It Fades by K.A. Tucker - I've been hearing raves about Tucker's books years and somehow still haven't managed to pick one up.

3.  Written in Blood by Anne Bishop - I've heard fantastic reviews on this series since I started blogging and while it's a little outside my reading comfort zone it definitely has caught my attention.

4.  A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman - This book has been everywhere for ages and it sounds like a book I would love.

5.  Burn For Me by Ilona Andrews - Andrews is one of those can do no wrong authors and while it's another one outside of my usual reading it's definitely one I want to try!

6.  Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy: Four Women Undercover in the Civil War by Karen Abbott - I haven't really seen anyone mention this one for a bit but for awhile it was everywhere and I really wanted to read it.  Just the other day I saw it at the library and if my bag wasn't already full there was no way I could have resisted!

7.  Devil in Spring by Lisa Kleypas - Devil in Winter is quite possibly one of my absolute favorite romance novels so why haven't I read this sequel featuring their son that came out months ago??  No idea!

8.  A School for Unusual Girls by Kathleen Baldwin - When I first heard of that one I thought what a great concept!  I should really read it.  And then somehow the third book was just released and I still haven't read it.

9.  Beach House for Rent by Mary Alice Monroe - Every summer a new Beach House book comes out with a gorgeous summer-y cover and a plot that sounds wonderful.  Then the glowing reviews start showing up!

10. The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater - Another one that it a little outside my comfort zone and another one that I've heard nothing but raves for.  I'm really looking forward to this series!

What books have you been meaning to read but haven't managed to get around to yet?

Monday, August 7, 2017

Shadow Girl - Blog Tour Mystery Review + Giveaway

SHADOW GIRL by Gerry Schmitt

Shadow Girl (An Afton Tangler Thriller)
Suspense/Thriller 2nd in Series Release Date - August 1, 2017
Hardcover: 320 pages ISBN-13: 978-0425281789 Kindle ASIN: B01MXHV6CL

The brutal murder of a business tycoon leaves Afton Tangler and the Twin Cities reeling, but that’s just the beginning of a gruesome crime spree...
Leland Odin made his fortune launching a home shopping network, but his millions can’t save his life. On the list for a transplant, the ailing businessman sees all hope lost when the helicopter carrying his donor heart is shot out of the sky.
Now with two pilots dead and dozens injured, Afton Tangler, family liaison officer for the Minneapolis Police Department, is drawn into the case. As she and her partner investigate family members and business associates, whoever wants Leland dead strikes again—and succeeds—in a brazen hospital room attack.
The supposedly squeaky clean millionaire has crossed the wrong person—and she’s not finished exacting her revenge. The case explodes into an international conspiracy of unbridled greed and violence. And as Afton gets closer to unearthing the mastermind behind it, she gets closer to becoming collateral damage...

My Thoughts:

I've been a longtime fan of Laura Childs' cozy mysteries so when I heard she wrote thrillers under another name how could I resist?   To be honest I was expecting a thriller with some pretty cozy undertones but wow was I ever wrong!  This is a serious thriller with a lot going on.  There's surface to air missiles, conspiracies to kill no matter who gets hurt and what has to be done, and characters with some seriously shady backstories.  

This book flies with super fast pacing between the intense investigation and just the short chapter structure of the book.  While espionage wasn't really involved it had a very spy thriller feel to me with some pretty lethal bad guys.  This is more of a why than a who kind of mystery.  The names of the bad guys (and I mean that in a general sense versus just males) are revealed in the first paragraph but their reasoning takes some time to uncover.  I enjoyed watching the investigation unfurl as the police start with just the bits they know and slowly build a scenario and then a case.

I enjoyed the partner dynamic between Afton and her partner Max.  While Afton's role is a family liaison officer and not an investigator I didn't feel that Max didn't value her contributions to the investigation.  They really worked as a partnership which was nice.  As well the glimpses of Afton's home life added a lot of depth to her character and I felt like I knew her a bit better.  

This was a fast and enjoyable read.  I really enjoyed the Minneapolis setting and Afton's character. It isn't the most intense thriller I've read but it was thoroughly enjoyable and quite the fun puzzle-y read!  Rating: Good

About The Author

Gerry Schmitt is the author of the Afton Tangler Thrillers, and, writing under the pseudonym Laura Childs, the New York Times bestselling author of more than thirty-five novels, the Tea Shop, Scrapbooking, and Cackleberry Club Mysteries. She is the former CEO of her own marketing firm, has won TV and radio awards, and produced two reality TV shows. She and her professor husband enjoy collecting art, travel, and their two Shar-Pei dogs. Author Links - WebpageFacebook Purchase Links Amazon B&N BAM

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July 31 – Valerie’s Musings – REVIEW, INTERVIEW
July 31 – Books,Dreams,Life – SPOTLIGHT
August 1 – Varietats2010 – REVIEW
August 2 – Mystery Playground – GUEST POST
August 2 – A Holland Reads – REVIEW
August 3 – Maureen’s Musings – SPOTLIGHT
August 3 – Back Porchervations – REVIEW
August 4 – Bookworm Cafe –  REVIEW
August 5 – Queen of All She Reads – REVIEW
August 5 – Texas Book-aholic – REVIEW
August 6 – Brooke Blogs – REVIEW
August 7 – The Editing Pen – GUEST POST
August 7 – I Wish I Lived in a Library – REVIEW
August 8 – My Reading Journey – REVIEW
August 9 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
August 10 – StoreyBook Reviews – GUEST POST
August 11 – The Book’s the Thing – REVIEW
August 12 – A Blue Million Books – INTERVIEW
August 12 – Bibliophile Reviews – REVIEW
August 13 – Mystery Thrillers and Romantic Suspense Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
August 13 – I Read What You Write – REVIEW

Sunday, August 6, 2017

This Week in Reading - August 6

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 Comfort Food Diaries:  My Quest for the Perfect Dish to Mend a Broken Heart by Emily Nunn - After her life falls apart all at once Emily Nunn turns to cooking for solace which starts a Comfort Food Tour project.  I love food books and I love project books so this one is perfect for me!  (NetGalley)

Duke of Desire by Elizabeth Hoyt -  I've been wanting to read the Maiden Lane series for awhile and Elizabeth Hoyt for even longer so I couldn't resist this one when I came across it on NetGalley! (NetGalley)

The Winter Wedding Plan by Olivia Miles - I really enjoyed the first book in this series and was excited to see the little sister who has had a rough couple of years was getting her own book.  I'm excited to see her story!  (NetGalley)


Reading:  The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin and All Signs Point to Murder by Connie di Marco

Listening:  I should be getting A Study in Scarlet Women by Sherry Thomas any day now but until then I'm listening to podcasts.  I'm really enjoying What Should I Read Next? right now and getting some good bookish recommendations and I've loved The History Chicks too.

Watching:  J and I are finishing up Shetland on Netflix.  I really loved the episodes that were based of specific books but am less in love with season 3 which is just using the characters.  I'm also watching some I Love Lucy after listening to The History Chicks podcast about Lucille Ball and I've really been enjoying them.  In between all that I'm catching up on the hundreds of Hallmark Mystery Movies I've recorded in the last couple of years.  Pretty sure The Garage Sale Mysteries are my favorite.

Off the Blog:

His preferred sleeping position - under the blankets with his head on my shoulder

Kitten!  After much heated debate we've gone with the name Comet.  We're a bit space obsessed over here so Mars and Mercury were also suggested.  He adjusted really quickly and seems pretty content here   He's got lots of energy at times and it's impossible of him to take a picture when he's awake because he wants to see what is in my hand so usually I get a really close up shot of a cat nose or a paw.  He's super snuggly and wants to sleep under the blankets up against people which is a new one for me.  I've had cats that slept on beds but none that slept under the covers.  He's kind of a brat!  Okay more than kind of!  If he feels like he needs attention he's not quiet about.  He'll get between whatever you're working on and yowl at you until you pick him up.  Most nights he stomps on me and tries to head butt my Kindle out of my hand until I pet him enough for him to settle down.  It's really been so much fun to have a kitten around and he really does have an awesome personality even when he's driving me crazy!

On the Blog:

What Happened:

What's Coming Up:

Monday:  Shadow Girl - Mystery Blog Tour Review
Tuesday:  Books I've Mean to Read But Haven't
Wednesday:  Dream Keeper's Daughter - Review
Thursday: All Signs Point to Murder - Cozy Mystery Review
Friday:  Friday Linkups with Current Book
Saturday:  TBD

Have a great week and happy reading!

Saturday, August 5, 2017

The Escape - Historical Romance

The Escape (Survivors Club) by Mary Balogh (Amazon)

Rating: Very Good
Source: NetGalley

Description:  After surviving the Napoleonic Wars, Sir Benedict Harper is struggling to move on, his body and spirit in need of a healing touch. Never does Ben imagine that hope will come in the form of a beautiful woman who has seen her own share of suffering. After the lingering death of her husband, Samantha McKay is at the mercy of her oppressive in-laws—until she plots an escape to distant Wales to claim a house she has inherited. Being a gentleman, Ben insists that he escort her on the fateful journey.

Ben wants Samantha as much as she wants him, but he is cautious. What can a wounded soul offer any woman? Samantha is ready to go where fate takes her, to leave behind polite society and even propriety in her desire for this handsome, honorable soldier. But dare she offer her bruised heart as well as her body? The answers to both their questions may be found in an unlikely place: in each other’s arms.

Genre: Romance - Historical

Why I Picked This Book:  Mary Balogh has been one of my favorite historical romance authors for years and I couldn't resist this one.

My Impression: Mary Balogh has long been one of my favorite historical romance authors largely due to the fact that she really tackles darker issues than I usually find in historical romance.  She's not an author that really goes into the usual tropes.  Now don't get me wrong - I love some tropes and I adore a good light romp of a book full of witty banter but this isn't one of those books.

Ben is struggling to adjust to his new life post-wartime.  His injuries are keeping him from being the man he was before the war and there is a feeling of aimlessness that is causing him to start to fall into a depression.  Samantha's marriage wasn't the happily ever after she had hoped for but after 5 years of tending her wounded husband she is now stuck with his prim and stern sister after his death.  Both of them are unhappy and both of them long to live again though they don't have the faintest idea of how to go about it.

To say the romance is a slow burn would be an understatement.  They really don't have regular contact until a third of the way through the book.  While this would usually make me impatient it works here because their backstories and current situations are so important to who they both are that it never felt like nothing was happening.  The story was building from the very beginning and while the romance was slow developing the plot was not and the story itself hooked me early on.  I cared about these characters and I desperately wanted things to work out for them both as a couple and as individuals.

This is a romance that deals with very real issues yet never manages to lose its sweetness.  It pulled me in from the beginning and I didn't want to put it down!  While this is book is part of a series (and a later one judging from all the married friends) it works perfectly as a stand alone as it focuses almost solely on Ben and Samantha.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Absolutely!  I'm really looking forward to reading the rest of the Survivors Club books and really anything else Mary Balogh writes.

Would I Recommend this Book?  I would!  If you like Sabrina Jeffries books I think you'd love Balogh's.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Friday Linkups - The Secrets of Sir Richard Kenworthy

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 Weeks' Book Blogger Hop Question:
Do you ever go "way back" to when you first started blogging and look at your old review posts?  Do you see any differences from then to now?

My Answer:
I don't often go back (though I need to spend some time in the archives getting old reviews indexed!) but I think I can definitely tell a difference.  My reviews early on where much shorter and tended to be really choppy.  It's not quite night and day but I can definitely tell a difference.

This week's book is The Secrets of Sir Richard Kenworthy by Julia Quinn.  I may have featured this one before but since I don't remember if I did or not I figure it doesn't count!  This is one of several books that I meant to read at one time or another but then got overcome with other books that had to be read.  I'm really trying to clear out some of those books I've had on my shelves forever with mixed results.  I figure getting a few off the shelf is better than none!

The Beginning: 
To quote that book his sister had read two dozen times, it was a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.

My Thoughts:
I love this reference to Pride and Prejudice!  It always makes me happy when books reference other books.

The 56:
"Then we will discuss books.  Perhaps" - his head dipped closer to hers - "something your sister has not read?"

My Thoughts:
I couldn't resist another book reference!

So what do you think?  Keep reading?

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag

I saw this tag on Tina's blog Novel Meals and then Brittany over at This is the Story of My Reading Life tagged me and I knew I just had to do it.  It seemed appropriate since I'm in full mid-year book freak out since I saw a comment that there were only 5 reading months left in the year.  5!!!  How is that possible?  I haven't gotten nearly enough read!

I'm using books I've read in 2017 and not paying any attention to their publish dates and I'm also not counting rereads.

Best Book You've Read So Far - I've read a lot of good books this year but the best was probably The Kitchen Counter Cooking School by Kathleen Flinn.  It was inspiring and entertaining and really great way to start off the year!

Best Sequel You've Read So Far - Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Flies Again by Frank Cottrell Boyce.  I listened to the audio of this one and adored it.  I loved the first book and while I could definitely tell this was a different author it was just as much fun.  It didn't hurt that the edition I listened to was read by David Tennant.  He really should narrate more books.

New Release You Haven't Read Yet But Want To - Elementary She Read by Vicki Delaney.  I was really excited about this cozy mystery when it came out back in March but it hasn't made it on my stack of books to read just yet.  I'm really looking forward to it though!

Most Anticipated Release for the Second Half of 2017- Sleep Like a Baby by Charlaine Harris.  I was thrilled when Charlaine Harris released a new book in the Aurora Teagarden series last year and even more pleased when it was really good!  I'm super excited about this next one.

Biggest Disappointment - Serafina and the Black Cloak by Robert Beatty.  I really wanted to love this one but I just didn't.  I wanted more Biltmore behind the scenes and it just didn't wow me.  However, over time I've discovered that the story really stayed with me and I enjoy what I remember so I'm thinking that this story just didn't work in audio for me though I love Cassandra Campbell who was the narrator.  I think I'm going to try reading the 2nd book and I have a feeling I will enjoy it much more.

Biggest Surprise:  Tuesdays at the Castle by Jessica Day George.  I expected to enjoy this one and I absolutely LOVED it.  Loved the story, the characters, the castle, just everything.  I'm really excited to read the next book

Most Beautiful Book Cover So Far This Year - Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen.  There's a distinct possibility that the reason this was on my TBR in the first place was because of this cover!

Best Audiobook Narration - The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware narrated by Imogen Church.  Imogen Church's voice is amazing.  I would listen to a book just because she was the narrator!

Shortest Book-  Mystery on Church Hill by Steven K. Smith is the shortest at 160 pages.  I started this Middle Grade series which centers around kids solving historical mysteries this year.  It's kind of like National Treasure for kids and so much fun!

Biggest Book - At 492 pages The Lake House by Kate Morton narrowly wins this.  I have a few reads coming up that will most likely be longer but for now this one holds the record!