Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday - Ten Favorites of 2017

This week's Top Ten Tuesday topic from The Broke and the Bookish is Favorites of 2017.  This is a hard topic!  I've read some great books this year and it's so hard to narrow them all down!  My only rule was no rereads so some of these were published in 2017 and others not so much.  I'm sure there are dozens I've forgotten and I'll be shaking my head when I see them on your lists!

For my favorites from the first half of 2017 you can check out my list here

1.  Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick - I'm don't really consider myself an Anna Kendrick fan though I have enjoyed the movies of hers that I've seen.  However, this book was really fun!  I went with the audio version and absolutely loved it.

2.  Death at the Emerald by R.J. Koreto - I love a historical mystery but sometimes they can be either a little dry or really really historically inaccurate (I can deal with really inaccurate but not really really).  This one however, was a perfect balance and I'm looking forward to continuing the series.

3.  A Week in Winter by Maeve Binchy - I have been wanting to try Maeve Binchy's book and when I discovered my library had this one audio I couldn't resist.  I've heard it wasn't her best but I absolutely loved it! 

4.  The Chillbury Ladies' Choir by Jennifer Ryan - I heard rave reviews of this epistolary novel set in the English countryside during World War II and it completely lived up to the raves.  It was an amazing listen and just a great book.

5.  Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen - This has been on my TBR for ages and jumped even higher up the list when I read The Peach Keeper last year.  I'm really looking forward to reading more from Sarah Addison Allen!

6.  Tuesdays at the Castle by Jessica Day George - My only problem with this magical children's book is that it wasn't around when I was a kid. 

7.  Booked 4 Murder by J.C. Eaton - I've read a lot of great cozies this year but this one stands out for most fantastic premise - a cursed book that causes the death of those who read it. 

8.  The Beach at Painter's Cove by Shelley Noble - I was new to this author but I loved her beachy covers and was excited to give her books a try.  I was not disappointed.  I love this story about a seriously dysfunctional family coming together (or not) when they need to most.

9.  The Cottingley Secret by Hazel Gaynor - This is another author that was on my TBR forever and I was so excited to finally get a chance to read one of her books.  I loved this dual timeline stories full of fairies and magic.

10. The Cafe by the Sea by Jenny Colgan - Colgan's The Bookshop on the Corner was a winner last year for me and while it took me a little longer to warm up to Flora once I was hooked by this book I was fully hooked!  The setting is amazing and it's just such a fun heartwarming read!

What were some of your favorite reads from 2017?

Monday, December 11, 2017

Bel, Book, And Scandal - Cozy Mystery Review

Bel, Book, and Scandal (A Belfast McGrath Mystery) by Maggie McConnon (Amazon Link)

Rating:  Good
Source: Publisher

Description:  Maggie McConnon rings in Christmas in Bel, Boiok, and Scandal,the third adventure for everybody's favorite Irish-American culinary artist turned amateur sleuth.
Bel McGrath tries her best to keep herself on the straight and narrow but she just has a taste for trouble. This time danger arrives in the form of a newspaper left behind by visitors to Shamrock Manor--and a photograph that jolts Bel out of the present and back into a dark chapter from her past. The person in the photo is Bel's best friend Amy Mitchell, long gone from Foster's Landing, at a commune in upstate New York shortly after her disappearance. The picture, and Bel's burning desire to find out what happened to Amy--and whether she may still be alive--is the catalyst for a story in which old secrets are revealed, little by little...and certain characters are shown to not be as genuine as Bel once thought.

Genre: Mystery - Cozy

Why I Picked This Book:  I enjoyed the previous book in the series and I love mysteries from the past.

My Impression:  I love a good quirky family in books and the McGrath clan has quirky in spades.  And because they all work together at Shamrock Manor they see a lot of each other which means arguments and hi-jinks abound.  The characters are really fun and I loved their interaction though if I was Bel I think I'd be looking for a job far far away.

In the previous book, the mystery of just what had happened to Bel's childhood friend Amy was an ever present mystery.  When they were both 17 Amy had disappeared without a trace and while a discovery at the end book lent an ominous tone to whatever had happened nothing was ever really known until this book.  I really enjoyed Bel's investigation though she does get a little impulsive at times (okay quite a bit) however, with her emotional involvement in the case it was easy to understand her reasoning.

This was a really fun read with quite a crazy cast of characters and a good mystery.  I enjoyed finding out just what had happened and felt like I got to know Bel a bit better through the investigation. 

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Absolutely!  I'm looking forward to the next book already.

Would I Recommend This Book?  Definitely!  If you enjoy cozy mysteries this is a fun one.  If you haven't read the previous books no worries!  You can jump in right here.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

This Week in Reading - December 10th

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 French Girl by Lexie Elliott - This has some comparisons to Ruth Ware and I'm hoping for a good thriller!  (Publisher)

Beyond the Pale by Claire O'Donohue - This looks like an entertaining mystery and isn't due out until May so I don't really think it counts quite yet.  (NetGalley)

Another One Bites the Crust by Ellie Alexander - This is one of my favorite cozy mystery series and I'm excited about this latest one! (Publisher)

The Crown Prince's Bride by Donna Alward - I love this author and I enjoyed the previous book in the series.  Plus, I can I do love an occasional royal romance.  (Publisher)

The Secret of Flirting by Sabrina Jeffries - Jeffries is hands down my favorite historical romance author and this looks intriguing.  (NetGalley)

Death Below the Stairs by Jennifer Ashley - I love a good historical mystery and I'm really excited about this one!  (Publisher)

Pre-Meditated Murder by Tracy Weber - I've had this series on my TBR for ever so I'm looking forward to giving this one a try.  (Giveaway win)

Eaves of Destruction by Kate Carlisle - I love Kate Carlisle's cozy mystery series about a book restorer and I love mysteries involving home renovation so I figure this is a match made in heaven!  (Giveaway win)


Reading:  A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens and Comic Sans Murder by Paige Shelton

Listening:  I finished From Russia With Love by Ian Fleming earlier this week and am about to start listening to One Snowy Night by Jill Shalvis.

Watching:  Not a huge amount.  I've really been enjoying The Voice and I watched a number of Jimmy Stewart movies over this past week.

Off the Blog:

This is what I woke up to Friday morning.  Now for lots of people this wouldn't be all that shocking but in South Mississippi where I happened to be it was quite a big deal.  The area got 6 inches of snow overnight which is more than it's ever gotten in all of recorded history.  The only snowfall that even comes close was 5 inches in 1895 so as you can imagine the whole area was collectively losing their minds.  The local media went around and took pictures of all the kids and their snowmen which was really cute.  I was out in the middle of nowhere as you can see so I didn't see too many snowmen though I did enjoy looking out the window at all the snow.  When I called home which happens to be 400 miles north they hadn't gotten a single flake.  The Tornado found it very unfair!

On the Blog:

What Happened:

What's Coming Up:

Monday: Bel, Book, and Scandal - Cozy Mystery Review
Tuesday: Top Ten Tuesday - Favorites of 2017
Wednesday: Cowboys Legacy - Contemporary Romance Review
Thursday: Comic Sans Murder - Cozy Mystery Review
Friday: Friday Linkups with Current Book
Saturday: TBD

Have a great week and happy reading!

No Place Like You - Contemporary Romance Review

No Place Like You (A Cloud Bay Novel) By Emma Douglas (Amazon Link)

Rating:  Good
Source: Publisher 

Description:  Leah Santelli always knew that Zach Harper, son of a rock legend and her best friend's brother, was painfully out of reach. Then, on the night of her eighteenth birthday, Leah shocked herself by asking for--and receiving--the gift she wanted: one night of passion with Zach before he left town to pursue his rock star dreams. Now, years later, Zach is back in Cloud Bay to record his first solo album. His return could also be Leah's big chance to step up her own music career. But getting the producing credit she needs means spending long hours with Zach in the recording studio...and falling back into the habit of longing for him, for better or worse.
Zach used to believe that a man must put his past behind him. But coming back home for Cloud Bay's famed music festival has allowed him to finally make amends with his family and, much to his surprise, reunite with Leah. He might have left her once but now it seems he can't stay away. Trouble is, even though the heat between them burns hotter than ever, Leah has old wounds in need of healing before she can give Zach a real chance. Can he find a way to convince her that they can make more than just great music together--and that she's the one that he wants for all time?

Genre: Romance - Contemporary

Why I Picked This Book:  I really liked the first book in the series and I love the best friend’s older brother trope.

My Impression:  This was fun!  I love a destination setting and Cloud Bay with its rock stars, music festival and miles of beaches definitely made for a fun destination.  I also loved the inside peek at the world of music production.  I had no idea how big of an influence a producer could be or the difference between a sound engineer and a producer.  I can’t swear by the accuracy but it was definitely fun to read!

I loved Leah right from the start.  She’s smart, good at her job, and independent.  Zach took a bit longer to warm up too but I think that was intentional.  He’s been a self absorbed jerk despite never making an actual appearance in the previous books and was keeping the streak alive   He wasn’t mean or cruel though which made him able to redeem himself in my eyes.  And redeem himself he did!  There was a lot of sweetness mixed in with the heat and it was fun to read.

My only issue was very minor and very subjective.  While I really liked the characters I didn’t feel a huge connection with them.  They never became characters that I missed when I wasn’t reading the book though they did come alive while I was reading.  However, this is a series I’m looking forward to continuing and based on the hint dropped at the end of this one I’m really excited for book 4!

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Absolutely!  I’ll be keeping an eye out for the next book.

Would I Recommend this Book?  If you enjoy contemporary romance this is a great series.  If you enjoy second chances and best friend’s older brother tropes you could jump in right here with no problems.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Friday Linkups - A Week in Winter

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

This Week's Book Blogger Hop Question:
If you celebrate Christmas, do you feel the need to stop reading anything but Christmas-themed romances as the holiday season starts?

My Answer:
No not really.  I do like to read seasonally and I love a good Christmas themed romance but I think it's always fun to find some non romance Christmas themed books.  I've found some really great mysteries and middle grade books that center around the holiday.

This week's book is one I've been wanting to read for ages - A Week in Winter by Maeve Binchey.  Binchey's name has been on my authors I must try list for years and when I read the blurb for this book I knew it was the one for me.  I can never resist a decaying mansion!  I've ended up going the audio route and am finding it an absolute delight and while there are no mentions of Christmas it's full of winter-y weather and heartwarming stories - so perfect for this time of year!

The Beginning:
Everyone had their own job to do on the Ryans' farm in Stoneybridge. 

My Thoughts:
I like the sound of this.  I can just picture the whole family going about their tasks.

The 56:
On the days when the Atlantic storms battered the house and the rain came in horizontally, there were old lofts to be cleared out, furniture to be shifted, woodwork to be painted.

My Thoughts:
I love this image!  The cozy house staying warm inside while the storms rage outside.  Plus I can't help but want to explore the lofts.

So what do you think?  Keep reading?  Do you read only Christmas reads?

Thursday, December 7, 2017

A Crime of Poison - Cozy Mystery Review

A Crime of Poison (A Silver Six Mystery) by Nancy Haddock (Amazon Link)

Rating: Very Good
Source: Publisher

Description: The Silver Six are known for their arts and crafts—but they’re about to be tested in the art of catching a crafty killer.
It’s early October, time for the Fall Folk Art Festival and Bake Sale in Lilyvale, Arkansas. Every business along the town square will benefit from the event, including the craft store run by Leslee Stanton Nix—aka Nixy—and the Silver Six, a group of retirees. In charge of making the festival go smoothly, Nixy is confident that it will be a success.

But things become knotty when local troublemaker Cornell Lewis is found dead with a plate of Snickerdoodles from the bake sale. Two members of the Silver Six are accused of cooking up a murder plot, but Nixy knows that the cookies weren’t literally to die for. With time running out, Nixy and company must catch the actual killer...before the Silver Six find their number permanently reduced

Genre: Mystery - Cozy

Why I Picked This Book:  I didn't know much about this series but murder by Snickerdoodle sounded pretty good.

My Impression:  While this is the 3rd book in the Silver Six mystery this is the 1st one I have read.  The blurb caught my eye and so I decided to give it a try and I'm so glad I did!  Really the only disappointment is that Lilyvale isn't a real place because I would love to visit the Fall Folk Art Festival and Bake Sale.

Nixy is a great main character.  She's only been back in Lilyvale after living in Houston for a short time and so almost has an outsider's eye while still being deeply rooted in the community.  The relationship between the six is a lot of fun as they're all very different with different backgrounds but the friendships all feel very authentic.  I also loved Nixy's interaction with NCIS-obsessed Bernice Gilroy.  She knows everything about everyone despite never leaving her house but only shares the information if you bring food - preferably white cake with chocolate icing.  Nixy is also dating local detective Erich Shoar which provides a little conflict in the book.  He's not always able to tell her what Nixy feels like she needs to know nor is he able to protect them from the new detective in town - Cynthia Vogelman - who has taken charge of this case.  While he's clearly torn between his loyalty to Nixy and his responsibility as a police officer he also comes off just as a really nice guy.  It was definitely a relationship that was easy to root for even when I understood Nixy's irritation with him.

The mystery was entertaining and definitely a whodunnit.  Potential suspects abound but true motive and opportunity are harder to come by and just how he was killed is providing some problems as well.  I enjoyed Nixy's work with the Silver Six to try and pin down rumors from a number of years ago.  The conclusion did seem a little rushed and I would have liked a little more detail though I cant' say more without spoiling it.  However, this is definitely a series I want to catch back up on.  I'm glad I have 2 previous books to catch up on while I wait for book #4!

This is a fun cozy mystery with a fantastic cast of characters.  While the mystery wasn't as tight as I would have preferred it was an enjoyable reading experience from start to finish.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  I would!  I'm looking forward to reading the previous books in the series and will be on the lookout for the 4th.

Would I Recommend this Book?  If you enjoy cozy mysteries I think you should give this series a try.  The cast of characters is really fun.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Rugged Texas Cowboy - Contemporary Romance Review

Rugged Texas Cowboy by Lora Leigh (Amazon Link)

Rating: Not For Me
Source: Publisher

Melina is one of two gorgeous twin daughters, the clever and considerate one who always spared her parents the humiliation of what her sister Maria had wrought. But now, Melina is finally ready to stand up for herself and seize control of her life—until she is kidnapped by a cowboy, named Jardin, who is dead-set on settling the score with her family. There’s only one catch: In capturing Melina, this tough, rough, hunk of a man has actually found a way to unleash her greatest fantasies, body and soul. . .

Beautiful, spirited Angel Manning has always longed to experience the power of her ancestors’ most precious heirloom. Her mother once told her that the legendary Irish torque would lead Angel to the one man worthy of possessing her heart. But when Angel learns that her father, now a widower, has sold the torque to the notorious two-timer Jack Riley, she is furious. Of course she plans to take back what is rightfully hers, by whatever means necessary. But the fate of the ancient Druids works in mysterious ways. . .Could it be that this slick, smooth-talking cowboy was destined to satisfy Angel’s deepest desires all along?

Genre: Romance - Contemporary

Why I Picked This Book:  It had been awhile since I read a cowboy romance and I like novellas so I thought I'd give this one a try.

My Impression:  This is the book version of the "It's not you, it's me" breakup speech.  Let me say that this book is compulsively readable.  I read the whole thing in just about one sitting.  Each time I'd think "it's time to put this up and go to bed" I'd decide to just read "one more chapter".  And we all know how that goes.  The plot of both novellas was nicely fleshed out and well paced.  There wasn't that feel of rush at the end or slow spots or any of the other pacing flaws that can sometimes curse a novella.

So what was the problem?  I'm more of a slow burn emotional connection romance reader and this was definitely more of an out of control bonfire in terms of heat.  I mean - wow.  Granted Jill Shalvis' contemporaries are on my high end of spice so use that as your guide for what to expect here. 

As for the stories they're entertaining.  Both are a take on the enemies turned not so much trope and both couples do not hold back when it comes to voicing their opinions.  There were a few times when I thought "Really?  You're attracted to him now??" as they seemed to really hate each other at that particular moment but as I continued with the story I found that I completely bought it. 

If you like your romance with some serious heat and can't resist a good enemies to lovers trope than these 2 quick reading novellas may be just the thing to keep you up reading past your bedtime.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Maybe.  While this wasn't really my kind of romance I did like Leigh's writing style and would try again if the blurb really grabbed me.

Would I Recommend this Book?  If you like a lot of heat in your romance than these novellas are definitely worth a try.