Sunday, July 5, 2020

Left Fur Dead

This was a different style cozy by J M Griffin than those I normally read.   In this case the main character, Jules, has the ability to telepathically communicate with her rabbit, Bun.   Bun is an active participant is trying to solve the mysterious death of an acquaintance of Jules.  He is also an active player in discovering who is behind some unexplained activities at Jules' Rabbit Farm.   I enjoyed the book more than I expected because I am not generally a fan of the supernatural style cozy mysteries.  I think I would continue to read the series to see what further adventures the two amateur detectives find themselves involved in going forward.


Left Fur Dead (Jules & Bun Mystery #1)Left Fur Dead by J.M. Griffin
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

While I did end up enjoying this cozy mystery, I did have a hard time getting engaged in the story. I found the beginning a bit slow and at times the dialogue between Jules and Bun felt forced. It created an unnatural flow to the story telling at times. That being said it was a nice cozy set among the rabbit farm in a small town in New Hampshire. The characters were endearing and the plot twists were unique even if you figured out the who the why provex to be an interesting component.


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Challenge Prompts

The Challenge Prompts I will use this for are:
  1. Library Love  #LibraryLoveChallenge -  Book #70
  2. Literary Escapes-  NH
  3. Cravings for a Cozy and Cloak and  Dagger #CloakDaggerChal : Book  #55
  4. Cruising through cozies -  paranormal #2
  5. Medical Examiner-  1 Toe Tag 

Saturday, July 4, 2020

All Systems Red

This is the first in the Murderbot books by Martha Wells.  I was pleasantly surprised by this novella.   I selected it for a challenge prompt to read a book in a genre you don't normally read.  I am definitely not a science fiction reader but I think I will be trying to read more of this series.  The main character is a non human but definitely seems to show some human like traits at times.  The book actually points our some of the idiosyncrasies of human behaviors at times.  I think I found this book enjoyable because it had elements of a mystery and suspense novel and wasn't just a science fiction story.   I definitely found myself liking and disliking characters based on their actions and behaviors toward the SecBot aka murderbot.  The ending definitely leaves opportunities for furture installments in the series and I am curious to see if they are about the same Bot or different ones of its kind.

If you are looking to try science fiction without a huge commitment this novella is a great choice.


All Systems Red (The Murderbot Diaries, #1)All Systems Red by Martha Wells
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I don’t usually read sci fi but I really enjoyed this book. It’s a great length for getting a feel for the genre without a huge commitment. It had a bit of a mystery/suspense angle to the plot as well. The character interaction was very well done and kept your interest as the reader. Definitely going to check into more of the series


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Challenge Prompts

The Challenge Prompts I will use this for are:
  1. Library Love  #LibraryLoveChallenge -  Book #69
  2. Cloak and  Dagger #CloakDaggerChal : Book  #54
  3. 52 Books in 52 weeks  #9 set in space
  4. While I was Reading #8   with a non-human narrator
  5. Monthly Book Award-   #GXOAwardReadingChallenge  Locus Award Best Novella 2018

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

The Holdout


This was the second novel I have read by Graham Moore.  It is very different from The Sherlockian which was the first one I had read.  I am glad I read this one.  One of the underlying topics of the book is racism and what constitutes it.  The author represents the discussion from multiple perspectives and I found it to be a well rounded, thought provoking approach to discuss the topic within the context of a fiction work.   He does a great job of taking different approaches to the topic and different perspectives without it being an in your face black vs white issue.  At the heart of it he has a black character state it isn't about the color of the accused, rather whether you can see the good in the person.   I firmly believe this is at the core of what is wrong in our society today.  We need to treat each other with respect and assume that we are all good people.  I try to hold this to heart until someone proves otherwise to me. 

We can always find the bad or guilt in everyone if we look for it or look at a single aspect in an isolated vacuum.  This is another theme that Moore hits on in the novel in the context of whether someone is guilty or innocent in a court case.   He points out the media plays a role in the story as well, especially if they only report the piece of information that fits the dialogue they are looking to express.

All in all this was an excellent book that left me thinking about many of the topics that surround our legal system today.  I can highly recommend the book.  It has plenty of action and substories to keep the reader engaged and a big twist that makes it an interesting finish til the end.





The HoldoutThe Holdout by Graham Moore
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book does a wonderful job of balancing a thriller with a twist will including discussion of many perspectives relative to current events. I enjoyed the fact the story bounces between the trial 10years earlier and present day. The reflection in the past alternates between different jurors as the narrator. This was a very good story that approached a sensitive topic from different perspectives while being respectful and well rounded. The characters represent many perspectives and are developed in a manner such that the reader has emotional responses to them while also absorbing their perspectives to the same events. The twists to the story are very unexpected and make a great bonus to the novel


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Challenge Prompts

The Challenge Prompts I will use this for are:
  1. Library Love  #LibraryLoveChallenge -  Book #67
  2. Cloak and  Dagger #CloakDaggerChal : Book  #53
  3. Medical Examiner-  2 Toe Tags 

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

You've been volunteered

This is the 2nd in the series of Class Mom books by Laurie Gelman.  It was as funny and realistic as the first book.  As a stay at home mom who has volunteered in the PTA and other organizations I can truly relate to how the protagonist gets dragged into doing an additional role within the PTA.  My emails to my class parents were definitely not as snarky as Jen Dixon's were but I can surely relate to the different personalities she encounters and how getting people to show up to do the things they signed up for   isn't always easy as it would seem.  If you enjoy humorous realistic fiction then you should enjoy this book.



You've Been Volunteered: A Class Mom NovelYou've Been Volunteered: A Class Mom Novel by Laurie Gelman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A funny book anyone who has volunteered at school can relate to readily. The story is the second in the series of Class Mom books. It is a fun structure combining emails from the class mom with her first person narration. Her snarky sense of humor is often misunderstood and leads to many comical confrontations. The author creates a novel that has you laughing along with her protagonist's antics and relating to her struggles to balance helping at her son's school with her home and personal life. She makes plenty of mistakes which makes her relatable to any parents who struggle with similar concerns.

All in all a fun book that keeps you smiling.


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  1. Challenge Prompts

    The Challenge Prompts I will use this for are:
    1. Library Love  #LibraryLoveChallenge -  Book #66

The Twenty-Ninth Day

This memoir by Alex Messenger is intense and not for the faint of heart.  I could not put it down and read it in an afternoon.  The author describes in great detail his month long journey into the Northern tundra of Canada in 2005.   He ventured out with 5 other young men, including a guide to canoe the tundra within the Northwest Territories and Nanuchak 1000 miles from the US border. 
.
His description of the landscape, wildlife and journey are wonderful.  It is not hard to imagine you are in the canoe and tent right alongside these intrepid young men.   The story of his attack by the grizzly goes into great detail.  It is amazing he survived the attack and the subsequent journey to get back to civilization. 

This is an example of the amazing ability to persevere  and overcome obstacles.  This book helped me to appreciate the growth my son experienced when he hiked the Appalachian Trail the other year with his Scout troop.     I must admit the story makes me a bit nervous to send him off on his next high adventure but that part of letting him grow and find himself. 

This is an amazing memoir that reads like a novel and I recommend it highly especially if you have an adventurer in your family. 




The Twenty-Ninth DayThe Twenty-Ninth Day by Alex Messenger
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What an amazing story. Cannot believe this is a true story. What an experience Alex Messenger endured. The book does an amazing job of describing a life changing adventure journey over the Canadian tundra. He does a great job of describing how the experience transforms him even before the grizzly attack. The details of the attack and the subsequent care plan is amazing and demonstrates his internal strength

Amazing memoir full of description of the tundra and the experience


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Challenge Prompts

The Challenge Prompts I will use this for are:

Possible prompts

I will decide as the year goes along which prompts I use it for on several challenges since it meets multiple criteria within the challenge.
  1. Library Love  #LibraryLoveChallenge -  Book #68
  2. Literary Escapes-  Canada- Northwest Territories
  3. 20 in 20 #Read20in2020 #8 a humor book 
  4. Memoir  #14 author under 40
  5. Wizarding World Tour  
    • Mahoutokoro: with an exquisite cover

Monday, June 29, 2020

All Fudged Up

Chocolate and Bichon's what's not to love in this first book in the Candy Coated mysteries by Nancy CoCo.   Allie has come to Mackinaw Island to run her family's McMurphy hotel and fudge shop.  She never learned how to address finding a murder victim in your hotel when she was studying hospitality in school.  The characters are a diverse bunch and it isn't hard to imagine them as real characters on the small island.  I enjoyed the twists in the story and look forward to reading more about Allie and her hotel.

This book was extra interesting to me as I have heard about Mackinaw Island for years and it is on my list of places to visit.   Now I am really intrigued to go after reading the stories of the horse drawn transportation and the flashes to bygone eras. 

This is a fun cozy that was an easy read while still keeping me guessing on who the guilty party was and what the true mystery the McMurphy hotel was hiding.



All Fudged Up (Candy-Coated, #1)All Fudged Up by Nancy CoCo
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A fun cozy mystery for those looking to see a strong female character that is determined to follow her dreams. CoCo sets the story on iconic Mackinaw Island and does a wonderful job of describing the charm of the island and its residents. The characters are easy to relate to and a touch of romantic tension is thrown in for good measure. This is the first in the series and I look forward to reading more.


View all my reviews


Challenge Prompts

The Challenge Prompts I will use this for are:
  1. Library Love  #LibraryLoveChallenge -  Book #64
  2. Cravings for a Cozy and Cloak and  Dagger #CloakDaggerChal : Book #52 
  3. Cruising through cozies -  Free choice #12
  4. Medical Examiner-  1 Toe Tag 
  5. Six Shooter- new target- 1st shot
  6. Mystery Bingo
    • Clues:  well oiled hinge

Class Mom

This debut novel by Laurie Gelman is laugh out loud funny at many times.   If you have ever been a class parent and dealt with the other class parents then you will definitely find stories you can relate to in this book.   Jen Dixon finds herself drawn back into the PTA and class mom after years  of absence when her son, Max, enters Kindergarten.   Her challenges getting volunteers, trying to get timely responses and controlling expectations is absolutely relatable.   The term heding cats comes to mind at times and many of the personalities that she encounters are very realistic.

I'm glad a read this first book in the series and promptly started the next chapter in the story.  It is a fun book that is written in a different structure,  combining snarky emails with a first person narrative.  All in all a great book.



Class Mom (Class Mom, #1)Class Mom by Laurie Gelman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A laugh out loud book that any volunteer in a modern PTA can relate to. Gelman does a wonderful job at creating a protagonist that is easily misunderstood. Not everyone gets Jen Dixon's approach to the job of class mom. Being older than many of her son's classmates' mothers makes her stand out as it is but then her humor is often misconstrued. Gelman does a great job of developing her character and letting the reader get a glimpse at what is underneath the surface of Jen's attitude. In reality, she is just like many of us, trying to get everything done and be liked. This book is great for someone looking to read a book that has laugh out loud moments but you can still see glimpses of your own life in the story


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Challenge Prompts

The Challenge Prompts I will use this for are:

Monday, June 22, 2020

The Last House Guest by Megan Miranda

This was another engaging thriller that I finished in 1 day.  I am finding that I really enjoy this genre in addition to the cozy mysteries. This novel keeps you guessing as to who it on Avery's side and who is not.  You begin to doubt her story and whether she is involved in the death of Sadie or is truly a friend trying to figure out what happened to her.  You cannot help but feel sorry for Avery for all the struggles and tragedies she has overcome through her life.   She made mistakes but you can understand how they came about.  The story does a wonderful job of peeling back the layers of her story as well as that of Sadie's death.  There are definitely some creepy characters and you cannot help but get a bit on edge when Avery finds herself alone in the house and hearing noises. 

This story is an exciting and engaging thriller that you can finish quickly if you choose.   It will keep you on the edge of your seat and guessing til the end.

 

The Last House GuestThe Last House Guest by Megan Miranda
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a very good thriller with some unexpected twists. You really don't know who Avery should trust when trying to determine what really happened to Sadie the previous summer. The book is written in alternating time frames. It transitions back and forth between summers and at times Avery reflects even further back in history when remembering memories. Avery is a girl who finds herself caught between the 2 worlds of summer residents and year round citizens. Neither group really views her as one of their own. Her character struggles to overcome past mistakes and behaviors and to try to reconnect with her former friends. She is motivated to find out what really happened to Sadie the previous summer and she really doesn't believe the version of the story that is being told. The book is very good at keeping the reader guessing and trying to figure out who Avery should trust.
I recommend this book for anyone who likes mystery/thrillers.


View all my reviews



Challenge Prompts

The Challenge Prompts I will use this for are:
  1. Library Love  #LibraryLoveChallenge -  Book #62
  2. Alphabet soup Author- #AlphabetSoupAuthorChallenge
  3. AtoZ and Alphabet soup challenge #AlphabetSoupChallenge
  4. Cloak and  Dagger #CloakDaggerChal : Book  #50
  5. Medical Examiner-  1 Toe Tag 
  6. Mystery Bingo
    • Clues:  candle

20th Victim

Lindsay and the Women's Murder club are at it again in their 20th book.   This time we get a glimpse of some personal struggles which make the characters more relatable.  They all go through some different struggles in this book.   Joe Molinari, Lindsay Boxer's husband, has a mystery of his own to solve.   There are definitely a lot of victims piling up in this story and some plot lines that are quire possible and scary.  All in all it is a good read that stays in line with the other Patterson books in the series.




The 20th VictimThe 20th Victim by James Patterson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another good Womens Murder Club book. This one certainly had a large list of victims and was quite a challenging case for Lindsay to solve with her partner. This book also had Joe Molinari off on his own investigation. This tome dove into more personal lives and interactions than some of the previous versions. All of the club members had to deal with their own trials and issues with each other. Overall a good book and it stepped out of the formulaic template of the series to a certain degree.


View all my reviews


Challenge Prompts

The Challenge Prompts I will use this for are:
  1. Library Love  #LibraryLoveChallenge -  Book #63
  2. Finishing the Series-  #FinishingTheSeries2020   up on the Women's Murder Club
  3. Cloak and  Dagger #CloakDaggerChal : Book  #51
  4. Medical Examiner-  20 Toe Tags 
  5. Six Shooter- 4th Shot for James Patterson
  6. Popsugar- #popsugarreadingchallenge  #42-  number 20 in title

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Disappearing Earth


This novel by Julia Phillips was a totally unexpected hidden gem that I read with my book club for this month's read.  I admit I wasn't looking forward to the book as I was mislead by the title.  I expected a book about climate change etc and didn't really feel up to reading a controversial topic in the current climate of the US.   Well this book was not about that topic at all and I am glad I read it.

When I went to write my Goodreads review, I went back and forth between a 3 and 4 star rating.  I initially gave it a 3 because at times it felt like there were too many characters many of which felt unnecessary.   But after reflecting on the book upon completion, I decided the characters played a role in pointing out some themes in the story.   It demonstrated how the area of Kamchatka is a largely wilderness area but in the end there are not many degrees of separation among its inhabitants.

 The story weaves among different narrators as 1 year elapses.  As you read through the novel, the different narrators' relationships with one another become apparent. I do still feel as though some of the characters were potentially unnecessary but in the end they all had a connection to Marina in some tenuous way or another.   I think these relationships showed a sense of community that often gets lost in our society today. 

Additionally, the novel highlighted how there are forms of bias around the world.  In this case there was a perceived difference between Russians and the natives of Northern Kamchatka.  I found myself visualizing the native cultures as similar to those in Alaska, which turned out to be rather accurate when the author describes them as Aleut.   I definitely think having visited Alaska makes it that much easier to envision this area of the world. 

I also enjoyed the perspectives of the older generation versus younger and how they perceived the old USSR vs modern Soviet Republic.   It also felt as though there was a common idea of how many who grow up in small communities cannot wait to get out of those but then find they don't quite know how to acclimate to their new surroundings.  This book has many layers to it and probably could have been much longer and delved deeper into the characters. 

The last portion of the book picks up its pace and has the reader holding their breath to see the outcome.   Alas, the book does not provide a conclusion that many would prefer to see.  In fact, I read a review that describes the ending as being a low voiced f*** because you don't get to see how it ends. 

If you like books that wrap everything up in a neat bow and tell you how the characters go on with their lives or resolve conflicts, this is not going to be a book that leaves you satisfied.  If you are looking for a book that leaves you thinking about it for long periods after completing it, this is the book for you.

Disappearing EarthDisappearing Earth by Julia  Phillips
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Dramatic story

This book was an fascinating story that centered around a mysterious disappearance. The approach of writing a month by month account from different narrators’ perspectives was interesting. At first glance it seems there are too many characters and stories going on. As the book progresses the purpose becomes clearer. Ultimately it seems to show how small a world Kamchatka is but also how big and diverse. The book touches upon the different cultures present and the different experiences they represent. I enjoyed the book


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Challenge Prompts

The Challenge Prompts I will use this for are:
  1. Library Love  #LibraryLoveChallenge -  Book #61
  2. Literary Escapes-  Kamchatka Peninsula Russia
  3. Cloak and  Dagger #CloakDaggerChal : Book  #49
  4. 2020 TBR  #2020TBRReadingChallenge #16 set in Asia
  5. TBR Book #36  #Backlistreader ; #MountTBR2020; #StartOnYourShelfathon

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

The Murder of Twelve- Murder She Wrote #51


This book reminded me of the famous Agatha Christie, And Then There were None and oddly enough Jessica Fletcher draws that parallel during the case.   It really amazes me how many murder cases one person can come across in such a small town but Jessica Fletcher sure knows how to puzzle them out and come to a successful conclusion.  This book had lots of victims and lots of twists.

It was an interesting deviation from the normal group of crime solvers.  There was minimal involvement from Jessica's usual supporting cast.  Mort Metzger, Sheriff of Cabot Cove, and Dr. Seth Hazlett were only involved from a distance for most of the book.  Jessica had to puzzle it out with the proprietor of the Hill House hotel, Seamus McGilray and the wedding party members in residence with her during a major blizzard.  We did get glimpses of her PI buddy, Harry McGraw in this via the telephone.   I have to admit though when I read about him I always picture the actor who plays him on the TV show and more specifically with Lenny from Law & Order.  Adds a bit of a diversion from the story at times.

In the end the guilty party is identified and the story wrapped up.  It was not totally predictable or far fetched so it wasn't frustrating.   All in all it is an enjoyable light mystery that can be read fairly quickly. 


The Murder of Twelve (Murder She Wrote #51)The Murder of Twelve by Jessica Fletcher
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Good and entertaining mystery. Jessica Fletcher sure does stumble upon a lot of murders in Cabot Cove. This one was a decent mystery with a few twists, some more predictable than others. It was a quick read that focused more on Jessica and the hotel guests/victims than her usual cohorts. She only interacted with sheriff Mort Metzger and Dr. Seth Hazlett at the beginning of the story and via telephone later. We got a bit of her PI buddy, Harry McGraw from a distance as well.

All in all a good entertaining light mystery able to be finished quickly.


View all my reviews


Challenge Prompts

The Challenge Prompts I will use this for are:
  1. Library Love  #LibraryLoveChallenge -  Book #60
  2. Literary Escapes-  ME
  3. Finishing the Series-  #FinishingTheSeries2020   - book 51 in series
  4. Cravings for a Cozy and Cloak and  Dagger #CloakDaggerChal : Book  #48
  5. Medical Examiner-  6 Toe Tag 
  6. Six Shooter- 2nd shot
  7. Mystery Bingo
    • Weapons card :  Car (carbon monoxide)  & Falling Object
  8. TBR Book #31  #Backlistreader ; #MountTBR2020; #StartOnYourShelfathon
  9. Monthly Motif   #MonthlyMotifGXO-  Number in Title

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Hit List

This is the 53rd book in the Stone Barrington series by Stuart Woods.  As to be expected when you are on a book that far into a series, the books become a bit formulaic.   I enjoy a light read that doesn't require a long time commitment periodically between novels that require a bit more focus. 

There is always action and romance abound in these books.  There is as always a bit of a mystery to solve in this story as well.  What was a bit unique about this installment was Stone and Dino Bacchetti, his ex partner who is now NYPD Chief,  struggled to capture the guilty party even after they had identified him.  Normally the bulk of the story is them identifying the culprit, this time they determined that fairly quickly  and then struggled to end his crime spree.  Eventually it wrapped up.

There was  a bit of a confusing ending to the book though.  One of Stone's relationships that had  carried over from the previous book ended rather suddenly.  There is also a bit of a strange sign off at the end of the book with a dated The End which I don't recall being there in other books.  Perhaps this was the last installment in the adventures of Stone Barrington.  We will have to wait and see.





Hit List (Stone Barrington, #53)Hit List by Stuart Woods
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A typical but still entertaining Stone Barrington book by Stuart Woods. Although Stone is far more monogamous in this installment than usual. This book has lots of location hopping and hits on most all the spots Stone usually goes to in a book. The plot was probably a bit more realistic than many of the books involving Stone and Dino Bacchetti. This one actually had the criminal alluding them at several points rather than the often norm catch em when we want to scenarios. I did find the ending a bit strange, it was almost as though the series was being wrapped up in a way but I am not sure. We will have to see if there are future installments or if this is the end of the series


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Challenge Prompts

The Challenge Prompts I will use this for are:
  1. Library Love  #LibraryLoveChallenge -  Book #59
  2. Finishing the Series-  #FinishingTheSeries2020   caught up on Stone Barrington 
  3. Cloak and  Dagger #CloakDaggerChal : Book  #47
  4. Medical Examiner-  5 Toe Tag 
  5. Six Shooter- 5th Shot

Murderous Macaron

This was a cozy by Ana T. Drew that I received as an Advance reader copy which means I received it complimentary in exchange for providing an unbiased review. 

I enjoyed the book that is the first in a series set in Provence.  Julie  has recently returned to her hometown of her youth to open a Gluten Free Bakery.  Unfortunately her opening didn't go quite as planned when a class participant dies of a heart attack.  Julie is suspicious and presses the genardame to look into it as more than just a natural death.  The story has a bit of a slow start but once it got going ti was a fun and enjoyable read.  The characters are all enjoyable and there is a diverse cast from family to friends and coworkers.  Her grandmother, Rose, is a quirky charming woman. 

All in all the story was well written with a bit of a surprise in who was the guilty party but not so outlandish that you couldn't have figured it out if you picked up on all the clues.   There are currently 2 more books in the series and I plan to continue reading the series. 




The Murderous Macaron (Julie Cavallo Investigates Book 1)The Murderous Macaron by Ana T. Drew
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I enjoyed this book quite a bit. The reason I didn't give it more stars is the beginning of the story was a bit choppy and it didn't really seem to flow smoothly. Once the story got going it flowed much better. I suspect the rough flow has to do with setting the background for the characters and the setting. I never wanted to quit reading just wished it would hurry up and get into the action and mystery.

I found the characters likeable and multi- dimensional. The family dynamics were relatable and added an interesting layer to the story. The plot was interesting and believable. I thought there was a decent twist to the story and it wasn't too obvious who the guilty party was although the clues were there in retrospect like they should be.

All in all I enjoyed the book and look forward to reading more in the series.
I did receive an advanced reader copy in exchange for an honest review.


View all my reviews


Challenge Prompts

The Challenge Prompts I will use this for are:
  1. Cravings for a Cozy and Cloak and  Dagger #CloakDaggerChal : Book  #45
  2. Cruising through cozies -  Paranormal
  3. Medical Examiner-  2 Toe Tag 
  4. Mystery Bingo
    • Weapons card :  Animal Attack/Bite
    • Clues:  Disguise; empty poison bottle
  5. Wizarding World Tour  
    • Beauxbatons: set in Spain or France

Saturday, June 13, 2020

The Family Upstairs

This thriller by Lisa Jewell was fully engaging, sometimes downright creepy.   She uses 3 different narrators which adds to the complexity and the intensity of the story.  Jewell weaves a story that spans past and the present and she moves between the 2 eras very readily.  The story is a bit nerve wracking and you aren't quite sure if everyone is as they appear to be.   At times there were portions of the story that made me think of the VC Andrews Flowers in the Attic.  Dark and creepy with a sense of evil looming through the story. 

The characters are developed in such a way that the reader has emotional responses to them.  You cannot help but feel pity, anger, fear right alongside them during the story.  You root for them to find the resolution they are looking for and for it to have a happy ending.  I am not entirely sure there isn't a sequel on its way for this book based upon the ending and some unknown answers to some questions that still linger. 

All in all this is a very good book that I read in 1 day. I look forward to checking out additional books by Lisa Jewell.


The Family UpstairsThe Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Chilling thriller

Wow is this an engaging thriller that is downright creepy times. I liked the style of having 3 different narrators the story is well written and Jewell does a great job of jumping between present day and the past. The reader is easily grabbed the storyline wanting to find out what really happened in the house in Chelsea. It is very easy to have emotional reactions to the different characters This was a definite page different kept me engaged


View all my reviews


Challenge Prompts

The Challenge Prompts I will use this for are:
  1. Library Love  #LibraryLoveChallenge -  Book #58
  2. Cloak and  Dagger #CloakDaggerChal : Book  #46
  3. Medical Examiner-  4 Toe Tag 
  4. Mystery Bingo
    • Red Herring :  Forgery
    • Crime Scenes:  Attic 
  5. Beat the Backlist #BeatTheBacklist2020 #8 
  6. TBR Book #34  #Backlistreader ; #MountTBR2020; #StartOnYourShelfathon

Friday, June 12, 2020

Pumpkin Spice Peril

Fairy Tale Cupcakes makes a return appearance in this the 12th installment.  This time Mel and Angie are investigating the sudden heart attack of their artist friend, Rene.  Jenn McKinlay does a wonderful job of describing her glass blown art and you cannot help but want to visit Scottsdale to see it if it really existed.   In addition to the death of their friend, there is lots going on in the personal lives of the 2 bakery owners.  Several are unresolved so we will have to wait for the next book to see what happens.   We meet a few new characters in this book\ and the DeLaura brothers play some central comedic roles in this story as they have in the past. 

The cupcakes in the story sound fabulous and the best part is there is no calorie to be found in reading about them.




Pumpkin Spice Peril (Cupcake Bakery Mystery, #12)Pumpkin Spice Peril by Jenn McKinlay
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Jenn McKinlay has written another fun installment in her Cupcake Bakery series. Always fun to catch up with the crew at Fairy Tale Cupcakes in Scottsdale. An amazing number of murders seem to happen around them and this is raising the concern of the police chief. Not even Uncle Stan seems to be able to Mel from the wrath of the chief. This installment had some fun twists on the dynamics of the central crew in the stories. The murder in the case is a bit close to home being a friend of Mel and Angie's. The story line takes a few good twists and keeps the reader guessing who is the guilty party.


View all my reviews


Challenge Prompts

The Challenge Prompts I will use this for are:
  1. Library Love  #LibraryLoveChallenge -  Book #57
  2. Literary Escapes- AZ
  3. Finishing the Series-  #FinishingTheSeries2020   up on Cupcake Bakery Mysteries
  4. Cravings for a Cozy and Cloak and  Dagger #CloakDaggerChal : Book  #44
  5. Cruising through cozies -  Free choice
  6. Medical Examiner-  1 Toe Tag 
  7. Six Shooter-  1 shot for Jenn McKinlay  (4th shot total)

Cruisin thru the Cozies Challenge goal updated

I originally set my goal to be Level 2 Investigator for this challenge.   I completed all but 1 prompt for this on June 12 so I have decided to update my goal to be Super Sleuth B-   So 2 books from each category and 10 books of my choice.   I have updated my tracking to reflect the new goals. 

For the original goal/post see this page.



The levels of the challenge are as follows:
Level one (Snoop) -
A) Read 10 cozy mysteries of your choice.
B) Read one book in each of the above cozy sub-genres (total of 10 books)

Level two (Investigator) -  
A) Read 20 cozy mysteries of your choice.
B) Read all the books in level one plus an additional 10 cozy books of your choice (total of 20)

Level three (Super Sleuth) -  Now going for this in B
A) Read 30 cozy mysteries of your choice.
B) Read two books from each sub-genre in level one plus an additional 10 cozy books of your choice (total of 30 books)

Level four (Sleuth Extraordinaire) -
A)Read 40 cozy mysteries of your choice.
B)Read two books from each sub-genre in level one plus an additional 20 cozy books of your choice (total of 40 books)


Optional Categories
- One from culinary (anything dealing with food: restaurants, baked goods, etc.)
- One from animal related (cats, dogs, birds, etc.)
- One from craft related (any kind of hobbies - knitting, crocheting, scrapbooking, etc.)
- One from paranormal (witches, vampires, etc.)
- One from cozy mysteries based outside the US (example: Belinda Lawrence series (British))
- One career-based cozy mystery (housekeeping, wedding planner, etc.)
- One holiday based (set during any holiday - Christmas, Thanksgiving, Valentines, etc.)
- One travel mystery (character could be on a cruise, touring another area, etc.)
- One historical mystery (any mystery not set in the present)
- One is your choice! (freebie!)


Basic Rules:

The challenge runs from 1/1/-12/31/20.  Books don't have to be unique to this challenge and can be in any format.  Reviews are not required but always encouraged.  You can track on a blog, Goodreads or just post in comments on the host site.  

So pick up a cozy and get reading.  

Here's my list:  Trying for Super Sleuth
Note: books are linked to my review page on GoodReads.  Date listed is completion Date
  1. Culinary Cozy  
  2. Animal Cozy  
  3. Craft Cozy 
  4. Paranormal Cozy  
  5. Outside US 
  6. Career Cozy 
  7. Holiday Cozy 
  8. Travel Cozy 
  9. Historical Cozy idea: Maisie Dobbs  by Jacqueline Winspear

  10. ReadHitting the Books by Jenn McKinlay 4/7/20
  11. ReadCoconut Layer Cake Murder by Joanne Fluke  4/23/20
  12. ReadThe Plot is Murder by V.M. Burns 4/30/20
  13. ReadRead Herring Hunt by V.M. Burns 5/1/20
  14. Read Sweet Saboteur by CA Phipps 5/7/20
  15. ReadDeath Al Dente by Leslie Budewitz 5/11/20
  16. ReadThe Novel Art of Murder by VM Burns  5/20/20
  17. ReadWed, Read, & Dead by VM Burns 5/21/20
  18. ReadBookmarked for Murder by VM Burns 5/26/20
  19. Read-  Death by Cashmere by Sally Goldenbaum 6/7/20
  20. ReadPumpkin Spice Peril by Jenn McKinlay 6/10/20
  21.  ReadAll Fudged Up by Nancy CoCo   6/23/20


May reading recap

May Reading Progress

General Tracking

AtoZ  and  Alphabet Soup #AlphabetSoupChallenge  - May letters :  P, R,Y
completed previously - A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, K, L, M, N, O, P, S, T, U, W

Alphabet Soup Author Edition #AlphabetSoupAuthorChallenge- May letters:
completed previously A, B, C, D, E, F, H, J, K, L, M, N, P, R, S, T, V, W

Finishing the Series   #FinishingTheSeries2020  Tracked Here  completed 6/5 in total

New series in May:  Teddy Fay (#2 ) by Stuart Woods & Parnell Hall

Previously read:  Hannah Swensen; Hat Shop Mystery Series; Library Lover's Series;  Murder She Wrote;  New Orleans Scrapbooking Series;  Private; Stone Barrington,  Under Suspicion;

Library Love  #LibraryLoveChallenge  Tracked Here  /36 books read  (39 previously)

Literary Escapes  (Destination)  Visited in May: States: MT, NC, NV  Countries: China, Wales

visited previously CA, CT, FL. HI, IL, MA, MI , MN, MO, NY, OH, OR, TN, TX, WA, VT plus Australia, England, France, Ireland, Israel, Yugoslavia

Specific Criteria


PopSugar #popsugarreadingchallenge  completed in May # 28(meant to read in 2019), 33 (in country with "C"),
completed previously # 1, 2, 5, 6, 8, 9, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 27, 30, 34, 35, 38,40, 41, 43,  46, 47, 49, 50

Around the Year in 52 Books  completed in May #27 (history or historical fiction),  35 (geometric pattern or element on the cover )
completed previously # 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 21, 22, 23, 24, 26, 28, 32, 33, 34, 40, 41, 43, 44, 45, 48, 49, 50, 51

52 Books in 52 Weeks completed in May  #45 (cost you less than $5),
completed previously  #1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 8, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 17, 18, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 28, 29, 30, 34, 35, 37, 39, 42, 43, 46, 47, 48 , 52

BooklistQueen completed in May  ##15 (set in asia), 17 (celebrity memoir )
completed previously #3, 6, 8, 9, 10, 12, 13, 16, 20, 21, 23, 27, 28, 31, 32, 34, 36, 37, 39, 40, 42, 43, 46, 49

20 in 20 #Read20in2020 completed in May #

completed previously #1F, 2 NF, #5 F/NF, 7 F/NF, 8 F/NF, 9F, 10F, 13F, , 16F, 17F, 18F,

NJM Book Challenge  #NJMBookChallenge2020   completed in May #3(self published), #22 (spec-fic book):
completed previously #1, 2, 3,  4, 9, 10, 11, 12, 14, 15, 17, 18, 20, 21, 23,  24, 25

Wizarding World Tour
  • Beauxbatons: 0 new prompts in May 
    • 5/7 prompts completed previously
  • Castelobruxo- 0 prompts in May - 
    • 6/7 prompts completed previously
  • Durmstrang:   prompt in May - 
    • 6/7 prompts completed previously
  • Hogwarts:  0 new prompts in May 
    •  5/7 prompts completed previously
  • Ilvermorny-  prompt in May - 
    • 6/7 prompts completed previously
  • Koldovstoretz- 1  prompt in May -   involving potions; 
    • 2/7 prompts completed previously
  • Mahoutokoro-   new prompt in May - 
    • 3/7 prompts completed previously
  • Uagadou-   prompt in May - 
    • 4/7 prompts completed previously


While I was Reading  in May - #
completed previously- #1, 2, 4, 11

What's in a Name 0 new prompts in May -
completed previously- An Antonym, Given/First Name; reference to children; one of 4 natural elements

Color Coded  0 prompts in May -
completed previously Beige, Blue, Black, Brown, Green, Orange, Red, White,  and Yellow

Monthly Motif #MonthlyMotifGXO  Author Introduction
Monthly Keyword #MonthlyKeyWordGXO-    Keyword  Sky, Name, Blue, Book, Enchant, Is


    Monthly Book Awards #GXOAwardReadingChallenge - Agatha Award 2013


    TBR Based Challenges


    2020TBR #2020TBRReadingChallenge: completed in May - # 16 (Asia)
    completed previously  # 1, 5, 7, 9, 14, 16 (n america, australia, europe), 17,  20, 21


    Beat the Backlist #BeatTheBacklist2020  completed 7  books in May ;   new bingo square:

    completed previously 13  bingo squares:  #1, 4, 5, 6, 7, 10, 11, 12, 14, 15, 16, 18, 20, 21, 23


    Back List Reader  #Backlistreader Tracked Here  /24 read  (26 read previously)

    Start on Your Shelfathon  #StartOnYourShelfathon Tracked Here  26/5  thru May  2020

    Mount TBR  #MountTBR2020 Tracked Here  /24 read  (26 read previously)

    Genre Specific


    Calendar of Crime  #CalendarOfCrime2020  a prompt in Jun -
    previously a prompt in 10 months-Jan, Feb Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul,  Aug, Sept, Oct, Nov, Dec

    Cloak & Dagger  #CloakDaggerChal - Mysteries Tracked Here  /25 total comp (23 prev)

    Craving for Cozies  Tracked Here  /26 total completed  (11 completed previously)

    Cruisin thru Cozies  completed  # ()  /20  total completed;   (14 completed previously)
    previously read the culinary, animal, craft, outside US, career, holiday and 4 freebie

    Historical Fiction  #2020HFReadingChallenge  Tracked Here  2/5  The Opium Lord's Daughter

    Memoir  total completed 4/5  Read   # ( )
    previously read memoir for the Food memoir category; Mental Health/Illness, person who identifies as LGBTQIA,  Lab Girl fits multiple prompts using for under 300 pages



    Tuesday, June 9, 2020

    What Happens in Paradise

    Well it was another intriguing visit to St John in this book by Elin Hilderbrand.  This is the 2nd in the series about the Steele family, Huck, Maia and Rosie and Ayers.  We continue to get a glimpse into life in St John as well as see the characters change and go through some additional challenging decisions. It is hard to not want to book a flight down to this island paradise when reading the descriptions of the island, the ocean and the food in this book. Plus, the idea of a painkiller on a hot summer day sure sounds refreshing.

    If you haven't read Winter in Paradise, the first book in the series, be sure to read it first.  There are spoilers in this book that will take away from some of the plot lines in the first book.

    I am looking forward to the release of the next book in the series later in 2020.  There was a plot evolution with a cliff hanger at the end of this book that intrigues me to read more about what will happen. 


    What Happens in ParadiseWhat Happens in Paradise by Elin Hilderbrand
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    Enjoyed reading this second installment of the series involving the Steele family, Huck and Maia as well as Ayers The characters continue to interact and develop relationships with one another. We see them struggle with decisions and discoveries. There is still some intrigue that carries over from the first installment, Winter in Paradise. I encourage people to read that book first as much of the story line in this book builds on the initial book and there are aspects of this book that would ruin some of the plot lines in the first book.

    Looking forward to Troubles in Paradise coming out later this year. This book ended in a cliffhanger that I want to see the resolution for.


    View all my reviews


    Challenge Prompts

    The Challenge Prompts I will use this for are:
    1. Library Love  #LibraryLoveChallenge -  Book #56

    Monday, June 8, 2020

    Death by Cashmere

    This is the first book in the Seaside Knitters Society series by Sally Goldenbaum.  It was an enjoyable read after I was able to get engaged in the book.  It took me several tries to read more than a few pages at a time.  Once I got into the rhythm of the story it was an enjoyable read.  I enjoyed the characters and the relationships between the residents of the small town on the Cape.  I am sure it would be even more fascinating if you were interested in knitting and knew a lot about it. 

    I will continue to try the other books in the series of cozy mysteries.


    Death By Cashmere (Seaside Knitters, #1)Death By Cashmere by Sally Goldenbaum
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    This book took a little bit to get flowing. I enjoyed it once I was engaged in the book. The story was different and had some unexpected twists. I really like the characters and cannot wait to read more stories involving them.


    View all my reviews


    Challenge Prompts

    The Challenge Prompts I will use this for are:
    1. Library Love  #LibraryLoveChallenge -  Book #55
    2. Alphabet soup Author- #AlphabetSoupAuthorChallenge
    3. Cravings for a Cozy and Cloak and  Dagger #CloakDaggerChal : Book  #43
    4. Cruising through cozies -  Free choice
    5. Medical Examiner-  3 Toe Tag 
    6. Six Shooter-  1st  shot for Sally Goldenbaum

    Friday, June 5, 2020

    The Silent Patient

    Wow,  now I see why this has gotten so many high praises from people in the different challenges I am participating in this year.  Alex Michaelides has written a crazy fast paced and engaging thriller with the Silent Patient.  I literally read it in one 4 hour sitting,  I never got up from the chair.  There were lots of plot twists and apparent clues but I never saw the ending coming.  It is a great book and I am so glad I read it.  The only thing that kept me from giving it a 5 star review was there was  bit of confusion in the timeline for me.  When I look back on it I think the confusion is intentional but I am not 100% sure.  This is a definite thriller to put on your list if you like psychological thrillers.


    The Silent PatientThe Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    Wow, was this an intense thriller. Couldn't stop reading, finished in 4 hours. There is a very surprising twist at the end that I definitely did not see coming. Only reason I didn't give it a 5 star was some of the chronological pieces didn't make sense to me. Overall a very fast paced and engaging thriller


    View all my reviews


    Challenge Prompts

    The Challenge Prompts I will use this for are:
    1. Library Love  #LibraryLoveChallenge -  Book #54
    2.  Cloak and  Dagger  #CloakDaggerChal : Book  #42
    3. Popsugar- #popsugarreadingchallenge #31 Medical Thriller
    4. 20 in 20 #Read20in2020 # 3 Fiction A book with a (mostly) white color cover
    5. TBR Book #33  #Backlistreader ; #MountTBR2020; #StartOnYourShelfathon