Sunday, October 22, 2017

This Week in Reading - October 22


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:

In the Shadow of Agatha Christie by Leslie S. Klinger (editor) - With Agatha Christie in the title you know there was no way I could resist this one.  This book really isn't about her but about the women mystery writers who came before her that have largely been forgotten. I'm looking forward to reading it!  (NetGalley)

The Pines of Winder Ranch by RaeAnne Thayne - I love RaeAnne Thayne's books and this is from a series I haven't read much from.  I'm looking forward to it.  (NetGalley)

Assault and Buttery by Kristi Abbott - This is a series I've been wanting to read for awhile and this one features the discovery of an old diary in the walls of a popcorn store.  I can't wait! (Publisher)

Better Late Than Never by Jenn McKinlay - I love Jenn McKinlay and her library series is one of my favorites so I couldn't pass this one up.  (Publisher)

A Late Frost by Sheila Connolly - I love this cozy mystery series set in an apple orchard and this was another series I couldn't pass up. (Publisher)

City of Lies by Victoria Thompson - I've been wanting to read Victoria Thompson for ages and this first book in a new historical mystery series was another I couldn't resit.  (Publisher)

Currently:

Reading:  Treasure on Lilac Lane by Donna Alward and Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalo

Listening:  I finished How to Train Your Dragon which was really fun (and narrated by David Tennant) and am now listening to The Lying Game by Ruth Ware which I've really been looking forward to getting.

Watching:  Mostly movies.  Over the weekend I watched Mrs. Miniver (if you enjoyed The Chillbury Ladies Choir you need to watch this movie.  The plot is very different but there's a similar feel), To Have and Have Not, and From Here to Eternity.  All were amazing.  J and I watched Saving Mr. Banks which I loved and then all of us watched The Nightmare Before Christmas which somehow neither J or I had watched.  The Tornado gets a pass on that as he's only 7.

Off the Blog:

This is the first weekend in a month that I've been home and I'm really enjoying it!  I even slept late (a whole 9AM) which was a super heavenly.  Most of this weekend was spent at home though we did go see The Lego Ninjago movie this weekend AND got a Halloween costume for the Tornado. 

I actually ordered actual hold in your hand photos!  It's been on my to do list for ages as I really miss having photo albums.  My first thought was to do the whole digital scrapbook thing but I finally had to admit to myself that that wasn't going to happen.  So now my goal is to order photos and put them in an album and call it done!  I figure if I make it too complicated it won't get done.  That being said most of the photos I ordered are the Tornado with characters at Disney.  I want to do an album that has the photo and the autograph all together so I'm still staying a little complicated!  What do you do with photos? 

I also somehow missed that this weekend was the Readathon.  Needless to say I'm not participating though I really want to.  I need to get better about just deciding I'm going to do with it and work around any conflicts that arise (because they always arise).  I do love seeing what everyone is reading and their results so I'm enjoying those posts!

On the Blog:

What Happened:

What's Coming Up:

Monday:  Death Overdue - Cozy Mystery Review
Tuesday:  Fall Tag
Wednesday: The Betrayed - Paranormal Romantic Suspense Review
Thursday:  In the Woods - Mystery Review
Friday: Friday Linkups with Current Book
Saturday: Dinner with Edward - Foodie Nonfiction Review

Have a great week and happy reading!

Saturday, October 21, 2017

The Stolen Marriage - Historical Fiction Review

The Stolen Marriage by Diane Chamberlain (Amazon Link)

Rating: Good
Source: Publisher

Description:  In 1944, twenty-three-year-old Tess DeMello abruptly ends her engagement to the love of her life when she marries a mysterious stranger and moves to Hickory, North Carolina, a small town struggling with racial tension and the hardships imposed by World War II. Tess’s new husband, Henry Kraft, is a secretive man who often stays out all night, hides money from his new wife, and shows no interest in making love. Tess quickly realizes she’s trapped in a strange and loveless marriage with no way out.
The people of Hickory love and respect Henry and see Tess as an outsider, treating her with suspicion and disdain, especially after one of the town’s prominent citizens dies in a terrible accident and Tess is blamed. Tess suspects people are talking about her, plotting behind her back, and following her as she walks around town. What does everyone know about Henry that she does not? Feeling alone and adrift, Tess turns to the one person who seems to understand her, a local medium who gives her hope but seems to know more than he’s letting on.

When a sudden polio epidemic strikes the town, the townspeople band together to build a polio hospital. Tess, who has a nursing degree, bucks Henry’s wishes and begins to work at the hospital, finding meaning in nursing the young victims. Yet at home, Henry’s actions grow more alarming by the day. As Tess works to save the lives of her patients, can she untangle her husband’s mysterious behavior and save her own life?

Genre: Fiction - Historical

Why I Picked This Book:  I've seen Diane Chamberlain's books around for sometime and have always wanted to try them. 

My Impression:  This book was really beautiful.  The writing was gorgeous but not overly lyrical, the setting was brought perfectly to life and the characters were extraordinarily vivid.  It was also incredibly sad.  I've heard quite a lot about polio from my Grandmother who grew up in a small southern town in the 30s and 40s.  Entire families were decimated in a week's time with no warning.  The boy who played in a high school football game one Friday night was dead by the next Friday night.  Swimming pools were closed and people stayed in their houses hoping to protect their children from the merciless disease.  In the age of modern medicine I've always had a hard time imagining that level of helplessness and fear though the imagery was so vividly grim.  However, Chamberlain's book brought it fully to life. 

My heart broke for Tess.  She's so full of life and happiness and determination in the beginning of the timeline and we then we see her so lost and scared and empty.  She's alone in a houseful of people with no support whatsoever except for little scraps of kindness she finds in unexpected places.  But when the polio epidemic hits Tess's new home of Hickory, North Carolina the sun starts to shine again though the sky is far from cloudless. 

While there were tears in my eyes many times through out the reading of this book it was all worth it to see Tess slowly start to find herself again and stand on shaky legs.  I would have liked more hope or a twist of humor to lighten things a little but that is personal preference and not a problem with the book.  If you're looking for vivid historical fiction that brings a time period to life than this is a great choice - just have tissues nearby!

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  I would though I think I have to be in the right mood for her books.  While they aren't especially dark there is a bit more sadness than I'm typically drawn to.

Would I Recommend this Book?  If you enjoy historical fiction with fully fleshed characters I think you'd enjoy this one.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Friday Linkups - Stalking Jack the Ripper


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:
Off the book topic - What is your favorite scary movie?

My Answer:
I don't really watch a lot of horror movies because they seem to be really gore-y which I don't love.  I do love a good scary movie though.  Two of my favorites are probably The Blair Witch Project (though I haven't seen it in years - I should rewatch it) and The Conjuring.

This week's book is Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco.  I've been wanting to read it since it came out last year but just never got around to it.  I decided it looked like the perfect Halloween reading!  I also love a good Jack the Ripper mystery so that makes this even more appealing.  I haven't gotten very far in this one but so far I like what I'm reading.

The Beginning:
I placed my thumb and forefinger on the icy flesh, spreading it taut above the breastbone as Uncle had showed me.

My Thoughts:
I don't feel that this Uncle guy is a particularly kindly uncle.  There's something a little creepy about the sentence.

The 56:
The murderer truly must be a madman if he thought what he was doing was helpful or righteous.  And that thought was more terrifying than any other.

My Thoughts:
I can see how fighting a murderer who thinks he's on the side of the right would be especially difficult. 

So what do you think ?  Keep reading?  What spooky reads to you have going this Halloween season?

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Lona Chang - A Super Hero Detective Story Blog Tour Review

About Lona Chang

• Paperback 
• Publisher: Seventh Star Press, LLC (August 30, 2017)

 When one of the world's greatest superheroes dies in her arms, Lona Chang takes it upon herself to investigate his murder. Armed only with a power she barely understands and a mysterious coded book, Lona begins a quest for answers that leads her down a dark rabbit hole of secrets—secrets the ancient organization known as the Guild is determined to keep hidden at all costs. Meanwhile, when a new threat descends upon Arc City, Lona's soulmate (and freshly minted superhero) Awesome Jones defies the Guild, dons the cape and cowl of his father and finds a group of unlikely allies. But can Awesome trust them—or himself? He'll have to fight his own demons first if he has any hope of defending the town–and the people–he loves. As tensions rise between the Guild, Lona, Awesome, his allies and Arc City's criminal underground, Lona realizes that life, and the answers to its questions, are never as simple as they seem in comic books.

Purchase Links

Amazon

My Thoughts:  I wasn't quite sure just what exactly a super hero detective story was but this was pretty fun!  This is a straight up detective story in the middle of a world with super heroes, politics, and lots of secrets.   It did take me several pages to get really pulled into the flow of the writing and the story itself.  Part of the issue may have been that I didn't read the first book in the series.  While the story itself is stand alone the world and the relationships are fairly complex.  If you enjoy mysteries and super heroes this is a series you really need to read! 

About AshleyRose Sullivan

Originally from Appalachia, AshleyRose Sullivan lives in Los Angeles with her husband and their many imaginary friends. Her work has been published in places like The Rumpus, Barrelhouse, and Monkey Bicycle and her novels, Awesome Jones: A Superhero Fairy Tale and Silver Tongue are available from Seventh Star Press. She can be found at ashleyrosesullivan.com.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Duke of Desire - Historical Romance Review

Duke of Desire (Maiden Lane Romance) by Elizabeth Hoyt (Amazon)

Rating: Good
Source:  NetGalley

Description:  Refined, kind, and intelligent, Lady Iris Jordan finds herself the unlikely target of a diabolical kidnapping. Her captors are the notoriously evil Lords of Chaos. When one of the masked-and nude!-Lords spirits her away to his carriage, she shoots him . . . only to find she may have been a trifle hasty.

A DUKE IN DEEPEST DARKNESS

Cynical, scarred, and brooding, Raphael de Chartres, the Duke of Dyemore, has made it his personal mission to infiltrate the Lords of Chaos and destroy them. Rescuing Lady Jordan was never in his plans. But now with the Lords out to kill them both, he has but one choice: marry the lady in order to keep her safe.

CAUGHT IN A WEB OF DANGER . . . AND DESIRE

Much to Raphael's irritation, Iris insists on being the sort of duchess who involves herself in his life-and bed. Soon he's drawn both to her quick wit and her fiery passion. But when Iris discovers that Raphael's past may be even more dangerous than the present, she falters. Is their love strong enough to withstand not only the Lords of Chaos but also Raphael's own demons?

Genre: Romance - Historical

Why I Picked This Book:  I've been wanting to try Hoyt's Maiden Lane series for awhile because of a number of really glowing reviews so when this book came up on NetGalley I couldn't resist.

My Impression:  This was my very first book by Elizabeth Hoyt and while I had read lots of great reviews for her books I really didn't know what to expect.  While I love historical romance there can sometimes be a sameness about them.  Not all authors stand out but Hoyt is one of the ones who does.  Her writing and the world she has created in this book - and I'm assuming the series as a whole - is like no other.

This is not a love match and really Iris and Raphael barely even know each other but the marriage is necessary for Iris's survival.  I loved that while Iris doesn't blindly follow everything that Raphael tells her she also isn't so insistent on having her own way that she falls into the dreaded To Stupid To Live territory.  Raphael reminded me a bit of a classic historical romance hero.  He's such an alpha male that he's almost a stereotype and he has the whole tortured hero thing down.  However, his baggage is seriously real and he also has a softer sweeter side and is willing to actually listen and converse with her.  While he is fiercely protective of Iris (for good reason) they also develop an emotional connection that was really lovely to watch.

My main issue was the Lords of Chaos.  They are most definitely villains but I struggled with their level of debauchery and cruelty.  While the scenes aren't particularly graphic there is mention of sexual assault as well as sexual abuse on children which kept me from fully enjoying the novel as much as I would have without that.

While I did struggle with an issue in the plot of this particular book I'm in love with Hoyt's vivid characters and writing style.  This is a world I'm already looking forward to visiting again.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Definitely!  I already have a novella by Hoyt ready to go.

Would I Recommend this Book?  With reservations.  I love the couple and their connection but the level of darkness was a little difficult for me.  Just go in prepared.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

SMP - Holiday Romance Release Blitz + Review of Deck the Halls


It's that time of year again!  The time when all the wonderful holiday romances are coming out!  St. Martin's Press has so many great ones that I'm having a hard time choosing!

There's something for everyone here from historical to cowboy to small town contemporary.  I loved the first book in Emma Douglas' Cloud Bay series so A Season of You is high up on my list.  In fact there's a little something for everyone here - historical, cowboy, Scottish, and your small town contemporary.

But when I really had to make the decision of just what my first holiday romance would be the choice was obvious - Deck the Halls by Donna Alward (Amazon Link).

Alward is one of my go-to contemporary authors and the Darling, VT series has been a favorite.  And since the beginning there has been George.  We meet him as a homeless man and see his gradual transformation as he begins to get on his feet throughout the series.  But George is haunted by something and closely guarded by his secrets and I desperately wanted to know what they were.  So when I saw that George is front and center in this new novella I couldn't resist!

It was wonderful to get to know George better in this novella.  Hearing his story was heartbreaking and I enjoyed getting a better understanding of how he ended up in Darling.  It was impossible not to sympathize with Amy, the sister of George's old friend and Army buddy.   I can't imagine losing someone so close and not knowing what really happened.  I thought as friends they helped each other begin to heal.

The connection between them developed pretty quickly but I was okay with that because there was a previous connection and I think George felt obligated to answer her questions and seemed ready to take the next step.  While I believed in the connection between the two I had a hard time believing that either were really ready for romance.  They are both lovely people and I fully believe they needed each other but a full romance just didn't quite feel right.

However, I was able to ignore that issue and just really enjoy this holiday read.  After three books getting glances of George's story this was a Christmas gift from Alward to Darling, VT readers.

Next up, will probably be Hope at Christmas by Nancy Naigle (Amazon Link).  I've been wanting to read Nancy Naigle's books forever and this involves a bookstore and all kinds of holiday-goodness.  I can't wait!  What holiday reads are coming up for you?

Monday, October 16, 2017

Ramblings from the Stacks: Audio Books

While it took me a little while to get into audio books I can now admit that I'm fully in love.  They're a fantastic way to get a little extra reading in and they make tasks that I've found incredibly tedious so much more pleasant.  I thought I'd share some of my favorites and not so favorites over the past few years.

Audio Book Wins

1.  In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware read by Imogen Church - I think I would have enjoyed reading both this book and Ware's 2nd book, The Woman in Cabin 10 but Church's narration really took this book up to another level.  I know I can't have been holding my breath for the entire thing but it felt like it!  

2.  The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows read by Paul Boehmer, Susan Duerden, Rosalyn Landor, John Lee, and Juliet Mills - This was the first book I listened to that had multiple narrators and it was absolutely wonderful.  This book is told in a series of letters and the different voices brought it completely to life.  

3.  Chitty Chitty Bang Bang by Ian Fleming read by David Tennant - I think I would have enjoyed this book in print because the story is such fun but Tennant's reading made it spectacular.  The man could probably read me a grocery list and I would sit at rapt attention but throw in an adventure story written by the creator of James Bond and it's pure magic.

4.  Ready Player One by Ernest Cline read by Wil Wheaton - I don't think I would have gotten through this one if it wasn't for Wheaton's narration.  I'm glad I did because I ended up really enjoying it.

5.  Bossypants by Tina Fey - I actually read this one first and was kind of meh on it.  I mean it was funny but it wasn't as funny as I wanted it to be.  Then I saw the audio copy was available at my library's digital site and so on a whim I gave it a try.  It was 100 times better in audio.  There were parts were I laughed until I cried. 

Audio Book Losses

1.  Serafina and the Black Cloak by Robert Beatty read by Cassandra Campbell - Cassandra Campbell is one of my favorite narrators and when I saw she was reading this Middle Grade fiction that was high on my TBR list I was really excited.   Except I didn't end up really liking it.  While I love Campbell's voice something about it just didn't work for me with this story.  I'd like to continue the series but I think I'll be reading instead of listening.

2.  Faithful by Alice Hoffman read by Amber Tamblyn - I didn't dislike the audio and I really loved the book but it took me a little while to get into and I think part of my problem was with Tamblyn's narration.  While I think her voice was perfect for the main character her pacing was very slow.  Once I increased my speed to 1.25 I ended up loving the book much better.

3.  Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon  read by Bahni Turpin and Robbie Daymond - Now part of the problem here is that this book didn't really work for me (I know, I know, please don't throw anything at me) but I did have some issues with the narration that didn't help.  I love Bahni Turpin's voice but found it too old for the teenage main character.  As well it drove me crazy that Daymond's voice was used in the IMs but Turpin did a male voice when the boy talked in conversation.  This drove me crazy!  

Now I know plenty of people who loved all three of these in audio book format so I know this is purely personal preference.  Are you an audio book lover?  Any books or narrators work for you or really don't?