Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Death with All the Trimmings

 This 5th Key West Critic mystery is not your typical holiday book although it is centered around Key West and their Christmas traditions.  Lucy Burdette does a wonderful job of capturing the charm and traditions of the island festivities and interweaving them into the life of her protagonist, Hayley Snow.  I have been in Key West at the beginning of the holiday season and it is fun to see those experiences reflected in this book.  They love any excuse to have a parade.


In this installment we meet some of Hayley's extended family as well as witness more of her interactions with the core group of friends she has made in Key West.  We witness the drama of her workplace and her thrill at meeting the New York Times food critic.  All this is mixed in with a mystery that she finds herself mixed up in unexpectedly.  

The characters and storylines shine in this series and I appreciate the mysteries are a subplot of the bigger story of Hayley's life in Key West.  The characters have realistic reactions to personal situations and Burdette does a wonderful job of capturing this in this book.  




Death with All the TrimmingsDeath with All the Trimmings by Lucy Burdette
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I continue to enjoy reading about the exploits of Hayley Snow. I think what I enjoy the most about this series is there is a story being told with character interactions etc and then a mystery is interweaved in the story. The investigation and crime are part of the bigger story but aren't necessarily the entire focus. Much of this book is about Hayley and her job as a food critic. Again this book has many elements of the character and lifestyle of Key West, both those tourist would recognize and much of the charm that attracts the Conch Nation to live there.

View all my reviews


Challenge Prompts

The Challenge Prompts I will use this for are:  

  1. Library Love  #LibraryLoveChallenge  Book #41
  2. Finishing the Series   #FinishingTheSeries2021 series 13 bk 4
  3. Virtual Mount TBR #VirtualMountTBR2021   Book #49
  4. Back List Reader  #Backlistreader  Book #56
  5. Calendar of Crime  #CalendarOfCrime2021   
  6. Cruisin thru Cozies  free choice 18
  7. Cloak & Dagger  #CloakDaggerChal  Book #40
  8. Craving for Cozies  Book #34
  9. Monthly Motif #MonthlyMotifGXO  yes restaurants
  10. Medical Examiner Challenge  1 Toe Tags
  11. Beachcomber Challenge  
    • Crime Scenes 
      • Row 3
        • Bar, store, restaurant
    • Weapons
      • Row 1 
        • Fire
    • Detectives- Hayley Snow
    • Victims- Juan Carlos
  12. Six Shooter Challenge  Target # 8  Shot #5

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Murder with Ganache

 This is the 4th book in the Key West Food Critic mysteries by Lucy Burdette.  The mysteries do a wonderful job of mixing Key West flair and a cozy mystery together.  I appreciate how Burdette creates a storyline that introduces extra characters while still fitting within the inner circle of Hayley Snow's life.  The book is full of character interaction, family drama and miscommunication, just like real life.  The charm of Key West is shown during this book as Hayley hosts family from out of town, it gives a glimpse into the major tourist sites while in the context of the eyes of a local.  The books continue to engage my interest and indulge in a foodies desire to read about food and recipes


Murder with GanacheMurder with Ganache by Lucy Burdette
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Good twist with unexpected villain

These cozies set in key west are always a joy to read. I enjoyed the take on the crime that mixed some of the treasure hunter lore and Hemingway notoriety into the mystery. Good balance of personal life mixed with crime solving

View all my reviews



Challenge Prompts

The Challenge Prompts I will use this for are:  


  1. Finishing the Series   #FinishingTheSeries2021 series 13 bk 3
  2. Mount TBR   #MountTBR2021  Book #7
  3. Back List Reader  #Backlistreader  Book #55
  4. Calendar of Crime  #CalendarOfCrime2021   
  5. Cruisin thru Cozies free choice 17
  6. Cloak & Dagger  #CloakDaggerChal  Book #39
  7. Craving for Cozies  Book #33
  8. Monthly Motif #MonthlyMotifGXO  yes restaurants
  9. Medical Examiner Challenge 1 Toe Tags
  10. Beachcomber Challenge  
    • Crime Scenes 
      • Row 1
        • Boat
    • Weapons
      • Row 4
        • Pillow, smother, asphyxiation

    • Detectives- Hayley Snow
    • Victims- Mariah
  11. Six Shooter Challenge  Target # 8 Shot #4


Monday, April 12, 2021

Daisy Jones and the Six

 This mockumentary interview style book was an unexpected gem.  I really wasn't sure what to expect especially given all the hype the book has received.  

Taylor Jenkins Reid did a wonderful job of creating a realistic story of a band from the 70s.  It is so realistic if you google you will find just how many people thought they were a real band.  The format of interviewing the different band members and telling a retrospective of the bands formation and subsequent dissolution is quite a unique approach and very entertaining.  

I listened to the audiobook and can highly recommend that format.  Each character is voiced by a different person.  This really made it feel like a documentary that you would find on MTV.   There are even a few surprise twists at the end.  All is all it is a great look at the personalities and dynamics of rock and roll in the 1970s- including all the sex and drugs.  Definitely has mature topics that are not camouflaged.   I found this to be one of my best reads of the year so far.  

Daisy Jones & The SixDaisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was an unexpected find and I highly recommend the audiobook for it. The book is written like a biographical interview of band members years after their career. The book is so well developed that it seems like a real band and there are plenty of google searches to show that many feel it is a real band. The style is unique and worked perfectly. It was a book that made me think of the MTV where are they now or rockumentaries. There are times you cannot stand some of the characters and you wish they could get their lives sorted out. It was easy to get invested in the characters and to feel as though they were real people. There are even some twists at the ending that surprise the reader. Highly recommend this book

View all my reviews



Challenge Prompts

The Challenge Prompts I will use this for are:  


  1. Library Love  #LibraryLoveChallenge  Book #40
  2. Beat the Backlist #BTB2021  #24 written in letters or diary entries
  3. Virtual Mount TBR #VirtualMountTBR2021   Book #48
  4. Back List Reader  #Backlistreader  Book #54
  5. Historic Fiction  #histficreadingchallenge   Book #7
  6. Around the Year in 52 Books #38. A book related to a word given by a random word generator- Dad
  7. 52 Book Club  #the52bookclub2021  #42 An Epistolary
  8. The Unofficial Magnus Archives Challenge  #TMARC21  #21. Piper: music is a plot element
  9. Bookworm  #54.) Read a book that takes place in the 1960s
  10. Pick your Poison #26-2 A book about self care or recovery
  11. Diversify your reading #DYRC21 hist fiction



Sunday, April 11, 2021

Salt to the Sea

 This was the second book I have read by Ruta Sepetys and I enjoyed it as much as I did The Fountains of Silence.  This book was about a lesser known maritime disaster that occurred during WWII.  The sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff was something I was unfamiliar with but it was an intriguing aspect to this historical fiction book.  I appreciated the variety of the characters, including some you did not like.

I enjoyed how the book was written in chronological order but was told by alternating narrators.  Sepetys does a wonderful job of revealing each of the narrators' back stories and secrets.   The ending had a twist to it that was intriguing and wasn't all sunshine and roses which made for a more realistic outcome.  

I will definitely continue to work my way through Sepetys' catalogue of works as I enjoy her blending of historic facts and a fictional story.


Salt to the SeaSalt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this historic fiction book based upon the little know sinking of the Wilhelm Guatloff. Sepetys writes a good YA book that appeals to adults. Her characters are well developed and have aspects to their personality that make them like able and unlike able. The story is well written by different narrative voices while on the same timeline. There is a nice build up to the back stories of each character and a nice twist at the end. There is a good balance of happy ending with tragedy as well. Rather than everything coming out perfect it mixed both outcomes. I look forward to reading more by this author

View all my reviews


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 #39
  2. Literary Escapes  #LiteraryEscapes  Prussia
  3. Virtual Mount TBR #VirtualMountTBR2021   Book #47
  4. Back List Reader  #Backlistreader  Book #53
  5. Historic Fiction  #histficreadingchallenge   Book #6
  6. PopSugar #popsugarreadingchallenge #6 A book with a gem, mineral, or rock in the title 
  7. Around the Year in 52 Books #6 a love story
  8. 52 Book Club  #the52bookclub2021  #28
  9. Monthly Book Awards #AwardReadingChallenge  Audie winner 2017
  10. Book Voyage  #bookvoyagechallenge  yes Prussia
  11. Beyond the Bookends    Read/listen to Audie Winner
  12. Backpacking Bookworm  #bbReadingChallenge2021 teaches you something new 



Saturday, April 10, 2021

The Corpse Who Knew Too Much

 This is the 4th installment in the Food Blogger series by Debra Sennefelder.  This book focuses on Hope's relationships with friends from her childhood and centers around a missing person case from 20 years prior when she was in high school.  The mother of a friend went missing and now this friend, Devon,  has returned to town to try to determine what happened back then.  Unfortunately the truth of that event is not the only past secret that is dredged up in this story.  

Hope manages to alienate quite a few members of her small CT town while trying to assist Devon and her sister Felice determine what really happened to their mother.  Some of these relationships will be more difficult to mend than others.  The book also delves deeper into Hope's relationship with Jack.   All in all it is a good read with plenty of plot twists.  At times the story could use a bit more details but it is still an enjoyable read. 


The Corpse Who Knew Too MuchThe Corpse Who Knew Too Much by Debra Sennefelder
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Hope Early continues to be a strong female character in this cozy mystery series. This book has plenty of shocking reveals and unexpected criminals. The book does a great job of showing Hope’s struggles with her relationships while pursuing her natural curiosity. The book is the 3rd in the food blogger series but can be read alone

View all my reviews



Challenge Prompts

The Challenge Prompts I will use this for are:  


  1. Finishing the Series   #FinishingTheSeries2021 series 18 book 3 Caught up on Series
  2. Mount TBR   #MountTBR2021  Book #6
  3. Back List Reader  #Backlistreader  Book #52
  4. Calendar of Crime  #CalendarOfCrime2021   
  5. Cozy Mysteries   #16 excited to get but haven't read yet
  6. Cruisin thru Cozies  free choice 16
  7. Cloak & Dagger  #CloakDaggerChal  Book #38
  8. Craving for Cozies  Book #32
  9. Pick your Poison #24-4 A book you're excited to read
  10. Monthly Motif #MonthlyMotifGXO  Yes food motif
  11. Medical Examiner Challenge 3 Toe Tags
  12. Beachcomber Challenge  
    • Crime Scenes 
      • Row 4
        • Street or sidewalk
    • Weapons
      • Row 1 
        • Motor vehicle (wreck)
      • Row 3
        • Motor vehicle (carbon monoxide)
      • Row 5
        • Hands or fists
    • Detectives- Hope Early
    • Victims- Devon/Donna/Joyce
  13. Six Shooter Challenge  Target #2  Shot #2


Friday, April 9, 2021

Triple Chocolate Cheesecake

 This is the 27th book in the Hannah Swensen series by Joanne Fluke.  Amazingly, the books still manage to maintain original plots and develop character relationships as the series progresses.   This installment actually centers around a very unlikely victim and Hannah's family is in the center of the investigation yet again.   There are several good plot twists and a fairly surprising ending.  I appreciated the development of the character of Stephanie Bascombe.  She is portrayed as more than just a victim and her motivations and relationships with her husband are explored.   The book does a wonderful job of portraying strong women but also showing the importance of their relationships with other women and the men in their lives.  I look forward to reading the next book in the series whenever it is published.


Triple Chocolate Cheesecake MurderTriple Chocolate Cheesecake Murder by Joanne Fluke
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Enjoyable read about Hannah Swenson and her family and friends. Fluke does a wonderful job of keeping the stories fresh and unexpected even when on book 27. If you love reading books with recipes then this cozy is for you

View all my reviews




Challenge Prompts

The Challenge Prompts I will use this for are:  


  1. Library Love  #LibraryLoveChallenge  Book #37
  2. Finishing the Series   #FinishingTheSeries2021 series 7, book 2 Caught up on Series
  3. Virtual Mount TBR #VirtualMountTBR2021   Book #45
  4. Back List Reader  #Backlistreader  Book #50
  5. Calendar of Crime  #CalendarOfCrime2021   
  6. Cruisin thru Cozies  free choice 15
  7. Cloak & Dagger  #CloakDaggerChal  Book #36
  8. Craving for Cozies  Book #30
  9. 52 Book Club  #the52bookclub2021  #49 A Flavor In The Title
  10. Monthly Motif #MonthlyMotifGXO  Yes food motif
  11. Medical Examiner Challenge 1 Toe Tags
  12. Beachcomber Challenge  
    • Crime Scenes 
      • Row 5
        • Home or business office
    • Weapons
      • Row 2 
        • Pointy object
    • Detectives- Hannah/Andrea/Norman
    • Victims- Richard Bascombe
  13. Six Shooter Challenge  Target #49  Shot #3

Hop til you Drop

 This 3rd installment in the Jules and Bun series by J.M. Griffin was a well timed read for me as it was set around Easter.  In this book Jules and Bun get caught up in the death of a cantankerous city employee while working at the Easter Hop event.  They have the unfortunate timing to discover her body while helping set up the event.  The book is full of multiple suspects and has plenty of twists and subplots.  There are some fun moments with the bunnies on Jules' farm and in her interactions with Bun.  This cozy has a bit of the supernatural as Jules is able to hear Bun telepathically.  It makes for some interesting dialogue to say the least.

The development of Jules' character and her business is a great center to the stories in the series.  I enjoyed the subplot of Jules and Jessica giving a seminar to college students on entrepreneurship and owning your own small business.   This adds a nice dimension to the story along with the plot aspects involved in running the store at the rabbit farm.  It provides authenticity to the setting and storyline.   

I look forward to reading more about the exploits of these 2 characters and there friends.



Hop 'Til You DropHop 'Til You Drop by J.M. Griffin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A fun continuation in the Jules and Bun series. This book continues to develop the relationships Jules has with her friends and employees. It does a good job of balancing a mystery with a realistic look at trying to run a small business. The cute rabbit that communicates telepathically doesn’t hurt either. 3rd in the series but can be read stand alone as well

View all my reviews



Challenge Prompts

The Challenge Prompts I will use this for are:  


  1. Library Love  #LibraryLoveChallenge  Book #38
  2. Literary Escapes  #LiteraryEscapes  NH
  3. Finishing the Series   #FinishingTheSeries2021  series 17 book 3 Caught up on Series
  4. Virtual Mount TBR #VirtualMountTBR2021   Book #46
  5. Back List Reader  #Backlistreader  Book #51
  6. Calendar of Crime  #CalendarOfCrime2021   
  7. Cruisin thru Cozies  #4 book 2 paranormal
  8. Cloak & Dagger  #CloakDaggerChal  Book #37
  9. Craving for Cozies  Book #31
  10. Medical Examiner Challenge  2 Toe Tags
  11. Beachcomber Challenge  
    • Crime Scenes 
      • Row 2
        • Lake or ocean
      • Row 5
        • Garden, park, gazebo
    • Weapons
      • Row 1 
        • Poison, poisoned food
      • Row 2 
        • Knife
    • Detectives- Jules/Bun
    • Victims- Della/Frank
  12. Six Shooter Challenge  Target #23  Shot #3

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Survival of the Fritters

 This was a surprisingly involved cozy written by Ginger Bolton.  While many cozy mysteries are light and quick reads, this one read more like a novel.   I don't mean that as an insult to either cozies or this book, just that it felt different.  I read cozies because they are quick and breezy with enjoyable plots.  This one just happened to be a bit deeper with more layers to the plot and the characters.  I felt as though the background on Emily was much more deliberate in the explanation, rather than just coming right out and saying she was widowed and how.  I liked the way the information built not just about the characters but the plot as well.   All in all this was a very good cozy mystery and I am glad I selected it for the WI novel and have now found a series I would like to complete.


Survival of the FrittersSurvival of the Fritters by Ginger Bolton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I thought this was a deeper read than a typical cozy. I mean that in a good way. I love cozies for their light and easy reading aspect. This one just felt more detailed and layered. The author reveals the past of Emily in pieces rather than just blatantly telling the reader the details. I also liked the complexity of the suspects and how even though it seems straightforward there are always families and friends of the accused that get caught up in the crime as well. The friendships that date back to high school are well written and seem as though they will develop with the series. I really enjoyed it and plan to continue with the series.

View all my reviews


  

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 #36
  2. Literary Escapes  #LiteraryEscapes  WI
  3. Virtual Mount TBR #VirtualMountTBR2021   Book #44
  4. Back List Reader  #Backlistreader  Book #49
  5. Cruisin thru Cozies  #free choice 14
  6. Cloak & Dagger  #CloakDaggerChal  Book #35
  7. Craving for Cozies  Book #29
  8. Pick your Poison #1-4 A book about a cat 
  9. Medical Examiner Challenge  1 Toe Tags
  10. Beachcomber Challenge  
    • Crime Scenes 
      • Row 5
        • Bathtub, shower, bathroom
      • Weapons
        • Row 2 
          • Rock, brick, blunt object
      • Detectives- Georgia Treetor
      • Victims- Emily Westhill/Brent Fyne/Lois 
    • Six Shooter Challenge  Target #58  Shot #1


    The Lost Apothecary

     This debut novel by Sarah Penner is a wonderful mix of historical fiction with a touch of fantasy.  I original discovered this book while reading the Book Pages magazine from my library.  The book sounding interesting so I placed a hold on it prior to its release at the beginning of March.   I am glad I did.  

    The author did a wonderful job of interweaving a historic "mystery" with a modern investigator.  Caroline and Nella are both women who were betrayed by men they loved, only 300 years apart.  It is a timeless tale that is  captured in contrasts between the options available to  women of the 18th century versus the modern era.  Both are strong women who found their way to move forward in the face of adversity.  Each found a new purpose and quest.  

    The story had a very little bit of fantasy/supernatural that was presented in both times in the dual timeline.  It is up to the reader to decide whether there were other magical forces at work or just the coincidence of the universe.   Either way the tale that is woven is very engaging and a great combination of timelines and multiple points of view of 3 very different women.


    The Lost ApothecaryThe Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    This debut novel does a wonderful job of mastering a dual timeline and 3 female points of view. I appreciated the contrasts of how similar misfortunes for women are represented in the 2 timeframes. Women in 1790s had very little recourse if their marriages were destroyed versus 2020. I enjoyed how the themes of betrayal and self definition was presented in both Caroline and Nella. The innocence of Eliza is such a wonderful contrast but her wiseness beyond her years was also well developed. I enjoyed the ending and how you weren't sure if there was supernatural elements at play in both the 18th and 21st centuries. This book was an unexpected pleasure and I am glad I discovered it in a book publication previewing it before its release.

    View all my reviews



    Challenge Prompts

    The Challenge Prompts I will use this for are:  


    1. Library Love  #LibraryLoveChallenge  Book #35
    2. Alphabet Soup Author Edition #AlphabetSoupAuthorChallenge  "P"
    3. Virtual Mount TBR #VirtualMountTBR2021   Book #43
    4. Back List Reader  #Backlistreader  Book #48
    5. Historic Fiction  #histficreadingchallenge   Book #5
    6. BooklistQueen   # 22. A Highly Anticipated Book
    7. A Pretty Mess Challenge # 14. A book everyone is talking about
    8. Nerd Daily  #NERDREADING2021 #3. GOLD ON COVER
    9. Magic in the Books Book 5 #1 Read a fantasy novel 
    10. Pick your Poison #17-3 A book with a shape on the cover that reminds you of a Rorschach test
    11. Bloggers Bookshelf   #bloggersbookshelf #7 with foiling on the cover
    12. Monthly Keyword #MonthlyKeyWordGXO-  "Lost"
    13. Uncorked Reader #UncorkedReading2021  Historical Fiction Novel Featuring Inspiring Women
    14. Diversify your reading #DYRC21  Historical Fiction 
    15. Medical Examiner Challenge  3 Toe Tags
    16. Unruly Reader Bingo  #3 eye catching


    Saturday, March 27, 2021

    Theater Nights are Murder

     This cozy in the Poppy McAllister series is a fun and often funny mystery.   The mystery itself is well structured and I was genuinely surprised by the reveal of who was the murderer. Beyond the story though the character representations are hysterical.  Poppy's Aunt Ginny and her friends get into enough trouble to give anyone gray hairs and they draw Poppy into more trouble than she wants- she had no intention of investigating Duke's death.  Some of their escapades made me truly laugh out loud especially during the production of Mamma Mia.   If you are looking for a good cozy series with funny characters in good mysteries then this series by Libby Klein is one you should definitely check out.  


     Theater Nights Are Murder

    Theater Nights Are Murder by Libby Klein
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    A humorous cozy with lots of yummy recipes. Poppy Macallister, her Aunt Ginny, and the biddies are up to al sorts of trouble again in this 4th book in the series. The seniors in town are putting on a production of Mamma Mia but the drama on the stage isn’t all the drama. There’s romantic rivalries, family drama and a suspicious death to contend with. Poppy is a great lead character that seems like a normal 30something trying to get by in life and have a life. She is very relatable and her antics trying to wrangle her Aunt and her friends are enough to put anyone over the edge. The story is a great mystery mixed with humor and a lot of realistic issues people face as we grow older. Looking forward to reading more of the series

    View all my reviews


    Challenge Prompts

    The Challenge Prompts I will use this for are:  


    1. Library Love  #LibraryLoveChallenge  Book #34
    2. Finishing the Series   #FinishingTheSeries2021 Poppy McAllister #4
    3. Beat the Backlist #BTB2021  #35 WTF plot twist
    4. Virtual Mount TBR #VirtualMountTBR2021   Book #42
    5. Back List Reader  #Backlistreader  Book #47
    6. Cruisin thru Cozies  free choice 13
    7. Cloak & Dagger  #CloakDaggerChal  Book #34
    8. Craving for Cozies  Book #28
    9. Humor  Book #3
    10. Nerd Daily  #NERDREADING2021 #50. PROTAGONIST STARTING WITH G
    11. Pick your Poison #16-1 A book with a sword on the cover 
    12. Medical Examiner Challenge  1 Toe Tags
    13. Beachcomber Challenge  
      • Crime Scenes 
        • Row 3
          • Cliff, roof, high place
      • Weapons
        • Row 4
          • Push or fall
      • Detectives- Poppy/Ginny
      • Victims- Duke
    14. Six Shooter Challenge  Target #21  Shot #4

    Friday, March 26, 2021

    Grilled for Murder

     Grilled for Murder is the 2nd book in the Country Store series by Maddie Day.  For some reason I didn't enjoy this one quite as much as the first book in the series.  Maybe it just felt a little too predictable and like it was following the same pattern as the first one, Robbie finding herself in similar treacherous circumstances.  The characters are interesting and believable. Although I do find it unlikely that a family would speak as disparagingly about a deceased family member as Sue and Glen did, but then it made for a better story line and expanded the possible guilty pool significantly.     

    The descriptions of the Country Store and the town of South Lick, IN were well done without losing the readers attention.  The development of relationships with the townspeople and family are interesting and keep the reader wanting to read more, which I plan to do with the next in the series, 


    Grilled for MurderGrilled for Murder by Maddie Day
    My rating: 3 of 5 stars

    This is a good cozy with a strong tamale MC. Robbie is living her dream of running a restaurant but dead bodies keep appearing and ruining her fledgling business. Luckily the support of her Aunt and friends help her pull through and help solve the mystery of the recently returned local girl. Problem is she wasn’t a very nice person in High school or after so there are plenty of possible suspects. The story definitely explores the different options and has a few twists. I didn’t give it more stars only because in some ways the story felt very similar to the first book in the series and I would like to see a bit more variety in the course of the action in the book.

    View all my reviews



    Challenge Prompts

    The Challenge Prompts I will use this for are:  


    1. Library Love  #LibraryLoveChallenge  Book #33
    2. Literary Escapes  #LiteraryEscapes  IN
    3. Finishing the Series   #FinishingTheSeries2021  Country Store #2
    4. Virtual Mount TBR #VirtualMountTBR2021   Book #41
    5. Back List Reader  #Backlistreader  Book #46
    6. Calendar of Crime  #CalendarOfCrime2021   
    7. Cruisin thru Cozies   free choice 12
    8. Cloak & Dagger  #CloakDaggerChal  Book #33
    9. Craving for Cozies  Book #27
    10. Pick your Poison #25-3 A book written by an author with a pseudonym 
    11. Medical Examiner Challenge  1 Toe Tags
    12. Beachcomber Challenge  
      • Crime Scenes 
        • Row 4
          • Stairs
        • Weapons
          • Row 4
            • Push or fall
        • Detectives- Robbie
        • Victims- Erika Shermer
      • Six Shooter Challenge  Target #57  Shot #2


      Thursday, March 25, 2021

      One of Us is Lying

      One of Us is Lying is an intense YA book by Karen McManus.  It has been on my To Read list for over a year and I am very glad I finally made sure to read it.  It is a fairly high paced thriller set in High School.   Think of all the worst things about High School you can remember and now add onto that cell phones (cameras/videos) and Social Media.  It makes high school in the 80s feel tame.  

      McManus does a magnificent job of capturing teen angst, insecurity, selfishness and immaturity.  This book has been described as Breakfast Club and that is apropos in my opinion.  The eclectic mix of student types that are all serving detention together sets the stage for a very strange occurrence.   The reader then witnesses the ensuing chaos through the eyes of the different characters in the novel.  These characters hit the stereotypes of high school and capture much of the emotions and concerns of a typical teenager.

      It is easy to find oneself rooting for the unlikely heroes and relationships in this novel.  The unlikely friendships that form are based on actually getting to know the real people, not just the outward stereotypes and appearances that are given off by a teen trying to fit into a certain role/group.  The twists and turns are well written and feel very real and accurate.  While I did suspect the outcome before it was revealed it still had some crazy twists that left me stunned.  I am very excited to begin reading the next book in the series, One of Us is Next.  


      One of Us Is LyingOne of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus
      My rating: 4 of 5 stars

      Great thriller with YA romance and angst

      I really enjoyed this book more than I expected to. It is definitely Breakfast Club meets social media. The story captures so much of high school accurately. No matter how much time has passed the drama is all the same. Only it’s amplified with social media and cell phones. The twists and turns are well done and I look forward to reading the next book

      View all my reviews



      Challenge Prompts

      The Challenge Prompts I will use this for are:  


      1. Library Love  #LibraryLoveChallenge  Book #32
      2. Beat the Backlist #BTB2021  #2 dragons OR lizards
      3. Virtual Mount TBR #VirtualMountTBR2021   Book #40
      4. Back List Reader  #Backlistreader  Book #45
      5. Cloak & Dagger  #CloakDaggerChal  Book #32
      6. PopSugar #popsugarreadingchallenge #5. A dark academia book
      7. 52 Book Club  #the52bookclub2021  #1 Set In A School
      8. BooklistQueen   # 45. A Book About Technology
      9. What's in a Name   #1-  "ONE"
      10. Nerd Daily  #NERDREADING2021 #29. ROMANCE OR YA 
      11. Bookworm  #13.) A book from https://www.whatshouldireadnext.com
      12. Magic in the Books  Book 6 #4 set in a school
      13. Pick your Poison # 4-4 A book about dealing with suicide
      14. Monthly Book Awards #AwardReadingChallenge  South Carolina Book Award Young Adult (2020),



       

      Sunday, March 21, 2021

      Death of an Irish Diva

       This is the 3rd book in the Cumberland Creek series by Mollie Cox Bryan.   I started this series because it is based around my other passion, scrapbooking.   I enjoy the books and the way they intermix the scrapbooking into the storylines.  All 3 have had a substory involving a scrapbook/memory album that plays a role in learning more about a character- a victim, a suspect etc.  

      This particular cozy just didn't thrill me for some reason.  I think it was a combination of the necessity to remember past storyline components and also the writing.  This book seemed to really jump around to me and it wasn't always easy to tell where in time the actions was at the moment.  Also, the flow between character points of view felt forced at times, almost like one abruptly left off and the other began without any real transition.  

      The second piece of the book that I didn't care for was the fact you needed to recall much of past events.   There is a bit of a recurring storyline in the book which often happens in series.  For some reason though this one felt like you needed to remember too much of the past storyline without actually catching the reader up.  Eventually I remembered enough and the story filled in some pieces but it was confusing until that happened.

       I think this series may be better read closer together rather than spaced apart which is often how I read my cozy mysteries.   I guess I better read the other books I have from the library sooner rather than later.


      Death of an Irish DivaDeath of an Irish Diva by Mollie Cox Bryan
      My rating: 3 of 5 stars

      This book wasn't my favorite cozy I've read this year. The storyline is a good mystery but the issue is much of it is a carryover from the previous books in the series. I have read them but don't remember all of the details. This plot seemed to require a substantial amount of recall to make the story flow. I think this series might be best read in order in a consecutive process rather than over time. I also found the story to feel as though it was jumping around quite a bit. I wasn't always sure how much time had elapsed between the previous scenes and the current one. The only real indication was the weekly crop meetings the friends had. The book did a nice job of intertwining scrapbooking terms and ideas into the story without being too distracting. I enjoyed how the different books have had storylines including scrapbooks that have been previously created that fit into the mystery even if only peripherally.
      I will continue to read this series especially now that I realize it might be better to read them closer together.

      View all my reviews


        

      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 #31
      2. Literary Escapes  #LiteraryEscapes   VA
      3. Finishing the Series   #FinishingTheSeries2021  Cumberland Creek #3
      4. Color Coded #9 Read a book a word/image that implies color
      5. Virtual Mount TBR #VirtualMountTBR2021   Book #39
      6. Back List Reader  #Backlistreader  Book #44
      7. Calendar of Crime  #CalendarOfCrime2021   
      8. Cozy Mysteries   #20 protagonist has your dream occupation
      9. Cruisin thru Cozies  #3 Crafty 1st choice
      10. Cloak & Dagger  #CloakDaggerChal  Book #31
      11. Craving for Cozies  Book #26
      12. PopSugar #popsugarreadingchallenge #7. A book where the main character works at your current or dream job
      13. Around the Year in 52 Books #51. A book whose title refers to person(s) without giving their name
      14. The Unofficial Magnus Archives Challenge  #TMARC21  #20. Flame: involves elemental powers-  earthquake
      15. Bookworm  #22.) Read a book that takes place in Spring
      16. Pick your Poison #6-2 A book about hippies
      17. Medical Examiner Challenge  1 Toe Tags
      18. Beachcomber Challenge  
        • Crime Scenes 
          • Row 3
            • Bar, store, restaurant
        • Weapons
          • Row 5
            • Stocking, pantyhose, belt, scarf, tie
        • Detectives- Annie/
        • Victims- Emily MacGlashen
      19. Six Shooter Challenge  Target # 56 Shot #1
      20. 52 books in 52 weeks  #33 lace


      Saturday, March 20, 2021

      Confessions on the 7:45

       I had this book by Lisa Unger on my to read list for a bit of time while waiting for the library hold to become available.   The title caught my eye and then the summary captured my interest as well.  While waiting for the book, I read several blog reviews and online chatter that gave the book mixed reviews. It seems to be an either you love it or you don't kind of book.

      Well, I found myself really liking the book.  At first I thought I was going to give in and put it aside as I had difficulty keeping the characters straight at the beginning.  There are quite a few characters and they take turns as the narrator.  In addition to the different points of view, the book also jumps around in time between present day and the past.  The timeline in the past moves forward quickly and ends up being brought forward 3 years or so.  The present day portion is only set over the course of a week or so.  This can be a bit tricky to follow at times.  That being said, I really liked the story and the suspenseful nature of the narrative.

      Unger builds the characters in such a way that you feel strongly toward them.  I felt invested in their stories, particularly Selena's and wanted to see her succeed in finding a happy resolution.  There are plenty of twists and turns to the plot during the story.  Even though I thought I had figured out the big mystery, there were still surprises right up until the last chapter.   I appreciated Unger wrapping up all the different story and character threads.   You finished the book with a feeling of resolution, even if you were left wondering how on earth people could behave the way they did in the story.  The characters are far from perfect but it is easy to find empathy and some understanding in most of the characters and the relationships that evolved during the story.

      If you like psychological thrillers with lots of plot twists then you should enjoy this book.  If you don't care for multiple timelines mixed with multiple point of views then you might want to steer clear of this one. 


      Confessions on the 7:45Confessions on the 7:45 by Lisa Unger
      My rating: 4 of 5 stars

      Intense til the end

      This is a suspenseful thriller that keeps the reader on the edge til the bitter end. Once you are able to settle into the story and keep the characters straight the story flows quite well. If you don’t like books with changing points of view and timeline jumping then this is not a book for you. Under does a wonderful job of maneuvering through both. It is easy to relate to how torn Selena would feel in the circumstances and your heart aches for her little boys. The relationships between characters are well developed and there are twists and turns til the end. Even when you think you have it figured out there are more twists. I appreciate the fact Unger tues up all the loose ends and tells you where characters and relationships stand at the conclusion of the book. Great read if you like psychological thrillers

      View all my reviews

      Challenge Prompts

      The Challenge Prompts I will use this for are:  

      1. Library Love  #LibraryLoveChallenge  Book #30
      2. Alphabet Soup Author Edition #AlphabetSoupAuthorChallenge  "U"
      3. Virtual Mount TBR #VirtualMountTBR2021   Book #38
      4. Back List Reader  #Backlistreader  Book #43
      5. Cloak & Dagger  #CloakDaggerChal  Book #30
      6. 52 Book Club  #the52bookclub2021  #25 A Book With Multiple Character POV
      7. The Unofficial Magnus Archives Challenge  #TMARC21  #38. Gerry: about ghosts/MC is a ghost
      8. BooklistQueen   # 43. Psychological Thriller
      9. Bookworm  #50.) Read a book about orphans
      10. Magic in the Books Book 2 #3 Includes a haunting
      11. Pick your Poison #11-1 A horror story or thriller
      12. Medical Examiner Challenge  3 Toe Tags
      13. Six Shooter Challenge  Target # 55 Shot #1
      14. 52 books in 52 weeks  #34 all aboard


      Friday, March 19, 2021

      A Burning

       This is the debut novel by Megha Majumdar.  It is a very good book that highlights many aspects of Indian culture that many Americans are most likely unaware of.  I have many Indian American friends so I am familiar with their culture particularly since they have immigrated to the US.  I don't think you can truly understand the deep division in socio economic situations and opportunities unless you travel there. This book definitely brings many of those issues to the forefront and they are a big factor in the interweaving stories in the book.  The idea of wealth and those having a life you want is all very perspective based, many want wealth and power, whereas there are those in this story who just want a basic existence- to not be hungry and have somewhere safe to live.  

      There are  deeper undertones in the book about what people are willing to sacrifice and do in order to reach their dreams.  There are characters who are willing to turn their backs on others in order to get ahead, no matter the cost.  

      What is interesting is how there are many parallels with the US and how the media and politics are able to set a narrative that then has much of the public following along regardless of facts.  The other takeaway for me from the novel is just how much better off the opportunities are in the US than in other parts of the world.  There are those who suffer in this country and that needs to be addressed, but for the most part we are offered more opportunities and basic needs than in many of the third world nations.  The ability to freely speak your opinions without being arrested is a true blessing our Constitution provides.  

      The reason I only gave this book 3 stars is the feeling of incompleteness I had when I finished the book.  There were several story threads that did not feel completed to me.  They were characters and storylines that supported the main thread but still left unanswered questions that I would have like to have seen resolved.  

      If you are looking to immerse yourself in another culture and read about the decisions people make shen faced with opportunities to improve their lot in life then this is a book you should read.


      A BurningA Burning by Megha Majumdar
      My rating: 3 of 5 stars

      This book provided a thought provoking read about the differences in opportunities based upon socioeconomic as well as gender. The book is set in India but many of the deeper issues can be reflected upon within our lives here in the US. This book highlights how easily people can be swayed by public opinion, particularly by the narrative the media might take. It also shows how seemingly good people can be caught up in bad situations. The reason I did not give it more stars is I felt the story lacked a resolution for many of the characters. I finished with a sense of incompleteness, there were certain story threads that were just sort of dropped and hinted at, but no real resolution occurred. The book was a good read and demonstrated the fact we should appreciate what we have in life and be sure to provide kindness and assistance to those who need it= no matter how little we might have, there are others with less.

      View all my reviews


      Challenge Prompts

      The Challenge Prompts I will use this for are:  

      1. Library Love  #LibraryLoveChallenge  Book #29
      2. Literary Escapes  #LiteraryEscapes India
      3. Beat the Backlist #BTB2021  #25 book centered around politics
      4. 2021TBR  #2021ReadingChallenge # 17 own voices
      5. Virtual Mount TBR #VirtualMountTBR2021   Book #37
      6. Back List Reader  #Backlistreader  Book #42
      7. PopSugar #popsugarreadingchallenge #34 A book about a social justice issue
      8. Around the Year in 52 Books #45. A book related to a codeword from the NATO Phonetic Alphabet
      9. 52 Book Club  #the52bookclub2021  #10 Related To The Word "Fire"
      10. The Unofficial Magnus Archives Challenge  #TMARC21  #33. Tim: with fire on the cover
      11. BooklistQueen   # 15. Own Voices Story
      12. A Pretty Mess Challenge # 18. A book on a controversial topic
      13. Bookworm  #8.) Read a book where the main character is a High School or College Student
      14. Magic in the Books Book 7 #2 Ugly Cover
      15. Pick your Poison #14-3 A book about oppression
      16. Monthly Motif #MonthlyMotifGXO  set in India
      17. Backpacking Bookworm  #bbReadingChallenge2021 celebrates diversity
      18. 52 books in 52 weeks  #5 silence



      Wednesday, March 17, 2021

      Killer Chardonnay

       This is the first book by Kate Lansing and it is a wonderful cozy set in Colorado.  Parker Valentine is opening a winery in Boulder and is trying to grow her business and the wine business in Colorado.  Unfortunately a death at her grand opening does not inspire many new customers and has her facing many negative social media posts.  As she works to figure out who killed the food and wine critic, Gaskel Brown, and save her store, Vino Valentine.  Interspersed with the mystery is her relationship with her best friend, Sage and her family, particularly her brother, Liam.   Those relationships have ups and downs and are realistically portrayed.  You cannot help but root for them to right themselves and for Parker to solve the mystery behind Gaskel's death before her business fails.   

      It is wonderful to see a strong female protagonist pursuing her dreams and opening a business.  The descriptions of the wines and winemaking process are wonderful as are those of the food pairings her friend Reid prepares for her VIP party.   I look forward to reading about more wine escapades in the next installment of the series, A Pairing to Die For.

      Killer ChardonnayKiller Chardonnay by Kate Lansing
      My rating: 3 of 5 stars

      Wonderful cozy centered around the wine business. This book centers around an unexpected death at the grand opening of Parker Valentine's new winery; "Vino Valentine" I enjoyed the premise of a woman following her dreams to open a business and then struggling to over the problems that ensue after the bad break. Parker is a likeable character and her relationship with her BFF, Sage, and her brother Liam are well constructed and realistic. I soused out the guilty party about halfway through the story despite the misdirects the author set forth. I enjoyed the book and the descriptions of Boulder and the Colorado mountain atmosphere. I look forward to reading the next book in the series.

      View all my reviews


      Challenge Prompts

      The Challenge Prompts I will use this for are:  


      1. Library Love  #LibraryLoveChallenge  Book #28
      2. Literary Escapes  #LiteraryEscapes CO
      3. Virtual Mount TBR #VirtualMountTBR2021   Book #36
      4. Back List Reader  #Backlistreader  Book #41
      5. Calendar of Crime  #CalendarOfCrime2021   
      6. Cruisin thru Cozies  # 19  FC11
      7. Cloak & Dagger  #CloakDaggerChal  Book #29
      8. Craving for Cozies  Book #25
      9. Around the Year in 52 Books #1. A book related to “In the Beginning...”
      10. 52 Book Club  #the52bookclub2021  #5 Published By Penguin
      11. The Unofficial Magnus Archives Challenge  #TMARC21  #27. Filth: with fruit on the cover
      12. NJM Book Challenge  #NJMBookChallenge2021  #18 debut author
      13. Nerd Daily  #NERDREADING2021 #13. TITLE STARTS WITH 'G' OR 'K'
      14. Bookworm  #58.) Read a book (fiction or nonfiction) involving mental illness
      15. Magic in the Books Book 4 #1 Read a book involving a sport
      16. Pick your Poison #21-1 A cozy mystery with a beverage in the title
      17. Medical Examiner Challenge  2 Toe Tags
      18. Beachcomber Challenge  
        • Crime Scenes 
          • Row 2
            • Lawn
          • Row 5
            • Bathtub, shower, bathroom
        • Weapons
          • Row 1 
            • Poison, poisoned food
        • Detectives- Parker Valentine/ Eli 
        • Victims- Max/ Gaskel Brown
      19. Six Shooter Challenge  Target #54  Shot #1