Sunday, February 28, 2021

The Afterlife of Holly Chase

 I really had no idea what to expect in this retelling of A Christmas Carol by Cynthia Hand.  I was pleasantly surprised by how engaging and unique it was.  It had all the elements of a Scrooge finding their way to reform but it also had some fun twists and turns.   The book had some science fiction elements to it including the explanations for how the ghosts travel with Scrooge.  There are elements of time paradoxes and alternate realities in the story as well.  It seems to be common in many of the books I have selected this year and is not a norm for my go to reading.   I have not read many retellings and found this enjoyable.  

The book definitely had its moments that caused the reader to stop and reflect on life and priorities.  As a parent there were moments when you realize it would be better to stop and slow down rather than get caught up in life- be in the moment.  There is a romance piece to the story as is often found in YA books but it was relevant to the story.  The ending definitely leaves you thinking about who knew what and when.  Also, there is definitely a bit of a chicken and the egg as well.   

It's funny because as I read it at times I kept finding myself visualizing the movie Scrooged with Bill Murray.  There are very few similarities but for some reason the production aspect of the story made me keep thinking of it and specifically Bill Murray.  I guess it's my year to read books that remind me of movies Murray stars in -  Groundhog day (In a Holidaze) 

The book is both enjoyable and thought provoking and I am glad I spotted it and checked it out from the library.

The Afterlife of Holly ChaseThe Afterlife of Holly Chase by Cynthia Hand
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A book about chances

This was a wonderful surprise. I really had no idea about this book when I borrowed it from the library. I found myself cheering for Holly and Ethan to find their respective happiness. The book has some intrigue and a wonderful sense of what if that keeps the reader engaged. Anyone looking to lose themselves in a fantastic retelling of A Christmas Carol or just read a book about the potential to find one’s better self should read this book

View all my reviews

Challenge Prompts

The Challenge Prompts I will use this for are:  

  1. Library Love  #LibraryLoveChallenge  Book #19
  2. AtoZ   #2021AtoZReadingChallenge  #AlphabetSoupChallenge
  3. Color Coded #6 Black
  4. Beat the Backlist #BTB2021  #37 non-fairytale re-telling 
  5. Virtual Mount TBR #VirtualMountTBR2021   Book #27
  6. Back List Reader  #Backlistreader  Book #30
  7. Around the Year in 52 Books #20  3 books related to "Past, Present, Future" - Book 3
  8. 52 Book Club  #the52bookclub2021  #34 A Book You'd Rate 5 Stars
  9. The Unofficial Magnus Archives Challenge  #TMARC21  #18. Mr. Pitch: with an immortal character
  10. BooklistQueen   # 40. Fantasy
  11. A Pretty Mess Challenge # 15. Genre you don't usually read
  12. Nerd Daily  #NERDREADING2021 #43. A RETELLING
  13. Bookworm  #33.) Read a book where the main character is a magic user
  14. Magic in the Books  Book 7 #4 A Retelling
  15. Pick your Poison #25-2 A fairytale or myth retelling in a modern setting
  16. Bloggers Bookshelf   #bloggersbookshelf #4 story about witches or magic 
  17. 52 books in 52 weeks  #4 illusion
  18. Unruly Reader Bingo  #17 restoration

Saturday, February 27, 2021


 This is the 55th Stone Barrington novel by Stuart Woods  These books are always good for a bit of escapism reading.  They usually have a bit of travel thrown in and this book is no exception.   In this installment Stone finds himself caught up in a murder that literally lands at his feet.  Fortunately he is not a suspect for long but the mystery continues to unravel and involve him.   There are a series of coincidences that intertwine different threads of the book which are good for the plot but not so good if you are looking for a practical/ realistic read.  This book returns to the bedroom escapades of Stone and you practically need a chart to keep track of his revolving companions but the details are minimal so those looking for a cleaner book would be ok reading this since it is easy to skip over the parts that are not of interest.   

All in all a decent book to lose yourself in for an afternoon or 2

ShakeupShakeup by Stuart Woods
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is the 55th book in the series and the ideas for crimes continue to be unique even if the plots are a bit formulaic. This one has a bit more twists and turning with intertwining plot lines. You are back to needing a map to keep Stone's bedroom trysts and companions straight though. The story manages to involve most of the recurring main characters even if in very cursory roles in the plot.
Always a fun escape read especially if you're willing to believe in small worlds intersecting

Challenge Prompts

The Challenge Prompts I will use this for are:  

  1. Library Love  #LibraryLoveChallenge  Book #18
  2. Finishing the Series   #FinishingTheSeries2021  Stone Barrington series #55
  3. Beat the Backlist #BTB2021  #5 set in a major city
  4. Virtual Mount TBR #VirtualMountTBR2021   Book #26
  5. Back List Reader  #Backlistreader  Book #29
  6. Calendar of Crime  #CalendarOfCrime2021   
  7. Cloak & Dagger  #CloakDaggerChal  Book #19
  8. The Unofficial Magnus Archives Challenge  #TMARC21  #8. The Hunt: a murder mystery
  9. Nerd Daily  #NERDREADING2021 #40 released in 2020
  10. Bookworm  #12.) Free Space! Pick any book!
  11. Pick your Poison #16-3 A rollicking adventure story
  12. Bloggers Bookshelf   #bloggersbookshelf #11 one word title 
  13. Medical Examiner Challenge  3 Toe Tags
  14. Beachcomber Challenge  
    • Crime Scenes 
      • Row 4
        • Hotel room
        • Street or sidewalk
        • Row 5
          • Bedroom
      • Weapons
        • Row 1 
          • Poison, poisoned food
        • Row 2 
          • Hand gun x 2
      • Detectives- Stone/Dino
    • Six Shooter Challenge  Target #5b  Shot #1

    View all my reviews


     Wow, this is an impactful memoir by Augusten Burroughs.  He manages to write a memoir as though it is a novel.   As the reader, I felt like I was right there going through all his experiences with rehab and sobriety.  He is very honest about the process and his feelings as he goes through this experience. it is not a light read.   This is a very emotional book that has levity interspersed that keeps the book from being too depressing or emotionally wrought.  I found myself rooting for his success and stressing as he was faced with tough life moments.   

     If you have anyone in your circle who has experienced addiction this is a brutally honest insight into what it feels like.  I would imagine if you are an addict or a recovering addict this book will hit upon feelings/emotions you have experienced.  According to his forward it has touched many lives in positive ways and continues to inspire those struggling through this awful affliction.  

    DryDry by Augusten Burroughs
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    Poignant memoir

    A brutally honest memoir about an alcoholic going through rehab and approaching sobriety. Burroughs journaled while in recovery and he shares his experiences forthrightly in this book. Anyone who has a family member or friend who has or does struggle with addiction should read this to gain insight into the honest struggle it takes to push the beast down. There are plenty of emotions in this memoir so be prepared for a roller coaster of a read

    View all my reviews

    Challenge Prompts

    The Challenge Prompts I will use this for are:  

    1. Library Love  #LibraryLoveChallenge  Book #17
    2. Alphabet Soup Author Edition #AlphabetSoupAuthorChallenge  "A"
    3. Beat the Backlist #BTB2021  #17 cover features your favorite color prominently
    4. 2021TBR  #2021ReadingChallenge #7  about mental health
    5. Virtual Mount TBR #VirtualMountTBR2021   Book #25
    6. Back List Reader  #Backlistreader  Book #28
    7. Memoir  #10. _ Written by a person who identifies as LGBTQIA
    8. Around the Year in 52 Books #4. A book with a monochromatic cover
    9. 52 Book Club  #the52bookclub2021  #37 An Educational Read
    11. Bookworm  #57.) Read a book without a picture on the cover
    12. Magic in the Books Book 7 #6 Been on your TBR forever
    13. Pick your Poison #21-4  A nonfiction book about alcohol
    14. Diversify your reading #DYRC21  Memoir
    15. 52 books in 52 weeks  #3 12 things 

    Egg Shooters

     Another fun installment in the Cackleberry Club by Laura Childs.  I always enjoy reading this series by her, second only to her Carmela Bertrand Scrapbooking series.   This is the ninth installment in the series and there were a few twists from a typical book in the series.  This time Suzanne was involved in the primary crime as a witness so she is caught up in the case from the start.  There are definitely some plot twists involved and there are some parallel crime stories going along in this book.  

    All in all it is an enjoyable series and I find it easy to get lost in the book for the day or two it takes to complete.  If you like reading about recipes and a trio of female business owners this is a great series to read.

    Egg ShootersEgg Shooters by Laura Childs
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    Always enjoyable to read this series based around the Cackleberry Club. The usual trail of crimes seems to find Suzanne. This time it's much closer to home when she is caught up in a hospital shooting. The relationships between Suzanne and Dr. Sam is developed a bit further in this installment as is her relationship with Toni and Petra, her business partners/friends.
    The book does a wonderful job of mixing the mystery and its solution with the side plots of the Cackleberry Club and its meal and tea services. Anyone who likes charming books stores and cafes will like this series plus it's full of recipes for those who look to expand their recipe box.

    View all my reviews

    Challenge Prompts

    The Challenge Prompts I will use this for are:  

    1. Library Love  #LibraryLoveChallenge  Book #16
    2. Literary Escapes  #LiteraryEscapes  TN
    3. AtoZ   #2021AtoZReadingChallenge  #AlphabetSoupChallenge-  "E"
    4. Finishing the Series   #FinishingTheSeries2021   series 11
    5. 2021TBR  #2021ReadingChallenge # 20 Wild Card
    6. Virtual Mount TBR #VirtualMountTBR2021   Book #24
    7. Back List Reader  #Backlistreader  Book #27
    8. Calendar of Crime  #CalendarOfCrime2021   
    9. Cruisin thru Cozies  free choice #3
    10. Cloak & Dagger  #CloakDaggerChal  Book #18
    11. Craving for Cozies  Book #16
    12. Nerd Daily  #NERDREADING2021 #22 SFF or Mystery
    13. Bookworm  #18.) Read a book by an author born in the 20th Century (1901-2000)
    14. Magic in the Books Book 3 #1 Read a Guilty Pleasure
    15. Pick your Poison #23-4 A book that comforts you on a rainy day 
    16. Medical Examiner Challenge  1 Toe Tags
    17. Beachcomber Challenge  
      • Crime Scenes 
        • Row 3  Free square- hospital
      • Weapons
        • Row 2  Hand gun
      • Detectives- Suzanne/Toni/ Dooger
    18. Six Shooter Challenge  Target #1  Shot #4

    Friday, February 26, 2021

    Felicia's Food Truck

     This was a collection of 4 short cozies each intended to be read in an hour.  Celia Kinsey created an endearing series with Felicia as the main character.  She owns a food truck that she runs with her BFF, Arnie.   The 4 books also have recurring characters from Detective Scott to several octogenarians who frequent the food truck.  The mysteries vary between robbery, vandalism, and mugging- no murders.  Each have a good degree of twists, false accusations, and misdirection but are readily completed in a short sitting.  

    All in all a very enjoyable series that I hope gets new entries in the future.  

    Felicia's Food Truck One-Hour Mysteries : Bite-Sized Culinary Cozy MysteriesFelicia's Food Truck One-Hour Mysteries : Bite-Sized Culinary Cozy Mysteries by Celia Kinsey
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    Enjoyable bite size cozies

    This set of 4 stories based around Felicia’s food truck are just a nice length to finish in one sitting for each the stories are fun quirky mysteries involving non murder crimes. The books work well in succession as the characters have a bit more revealed in each. Their personality, the relationships with each other and their pasts are revealed a bit at a time. There are some humorous scenes surrounding the c eaten ve mysteries in NCIS living Felicia, her food truck partner- Arnie, officer Scott- her ex, and the residents of the local senior complex all in all enjoyable reads

    View all my reviews

    Challenge Prompts

    The Challenge Prompts I will use this for are:  

    1. Beat the Backlist #BTB2021  #41 novella
    2. Virtual Mount TBR #VirtualMountTBR2021   Book #22
    3. Back List Reader  #Backlistreader  Book #25
    4. Calendar of Crime  #CalendarOfCrime2021   
    5. Cozy Mysteries   #5 title that's a characters name
    6. Cruisin thru Cozies  #10 2nd book
    7. Cloak & Dagger  #CloakDaggerChal  Book #17
    8. Craving for Cozies  Book #15
    9. Around the Year in 52 Books #36. A book with six or more words in the title
    10. The Unofficial Magnus Archives Challenge  #TMARC21  #25. Terminus: the last book in a series
    11. BooklistQueen   # 23. Eye-Catching Cover
    12. Bookworm  38.) Read a book with an orange cover 
    13. Magic in the Books Book 5 #3 Includes food
    14. Pick your Poison #12-3 A book with your favorite color on the cover
    15. Unruly Reader Bingo  #13 final book- the whole package
    16. Beachcomber Challenge  
      • Crime Scenes 
        • Row 2 Lawn
        • Row 3 restaurant
        • Row 4 sidewalk
      • Weapons
        • Row 1 Poison, poisoned food
        • Row 2   Hand gun
        • Row 4  Push or fall
      • Detectives- Felicia/Scott
      • Victims- Prue/Clarence

    The Day the World Came to Town

     This non fiction work by Jim DeFede is a recounting of the days from Sept 11, 2001- Sept 15th.  If you were alive that day you know exactly where you were when you heard and how your family was impacted.  This story is about people who were right in the middle of the chaos, not in NYC or DC but immediately impacted nonetheless.   It is written as perspectives of local residents of Gander, Newfoundland and passengers on the flights that were redirected and grounded there when all air traffic was stopped in the US.  Coincidentally there were some very influential passengers on a few of the flights who shed some additional background and insight beyond just having been there, the stories are engaging as well as inspiring.

    Mr. DeFede wrote a novel like non-fiction account.  It was a pleasurable read that I sat down and completed on a bleak winter afternoon.  The book reminded me of the good in man kind and at the heart of most people that is so easily overshadowed by the news media today.  It was refreshing to be reminded there are good people who do the right thing just because it is the right thing.  

    The people of Gander and the surrounding small communities took in nearly 7000 stranded passengers and crew.   They rallied to house, feed and transport those individuals who found themselves stranded during a time of confusion and angst.   The author was able to focus his narrative on a small group of those individuals that tells a story of survival and innate goodness.  The people of Newfoundland put their lives on hold to help provide some proximity of normal to complete strangers, and wanted NOTHING in return.    

    I urge you to read this book and treasure the beauty of human nature at its best.  I had the opportunity to visit St. Anthony, Newfoundland in 2019 with my husband and I can attest to the warm nature of the citizens.  It reminded me of my experiences in New Zealand.  These are truly people who will give the clothes off their backs to strangers and think it's weird that you are surprised at the gesture.  There is a chapter on being screeched in and I can say we too experienced this on our cruise ship.  It is an unforgettable experience to say the least- you will have to read the book to see what it means.  

    The Day the World Came to Town: 9/11 in Gander, NewfoundlandThe Day the World Came to Town: 9/11 in Gander, Newfoundland by Jim DeFede
    My rating: 5 of 5 stars

    This is an amazing non fiction book that shows an entirely different side to the events of 9/11. It is easy to forget that so many people's lives were impacted on that day outside of those on the 4 planes and in the Towers and Pentagon. DeFede writes an amazing compilation of the stories of some of the passengers and the local residents of Gander, Newfoundland.

    The different unique stories he was able to identify and relay are amazing. It is interesting to see how many different compelling stories were established in a small province of Canada. The strength and goodness of people really shine in this book. DeFede's writing style reads like a story instead of a non fiction textbook and it is so enjoyable.

    This book reminds us of the wonderful kindness and generosity of good people in a time of need. It is a refreshing read that reminds me of the good in mankind which is much needed in such a turbulent time right now.

    View all my reviews

    Challenge Prompts

    The Challenge Prompts I will use this for are:  

    1. Library Love  #LibraryLoveChallenge  Book #15
    2. Literary Escapes  #LiteraryEscapes  Newfoundland, Canada
    3. Virtual Mount TBR #VirtualMountTBR2021   Book #23
    4. Back List Reader  #Backlistreader  Book #26
    5. Non Fiction Reader  #2021ReadNonFic  #1 Biography
    6. PopSugar #popsugarreadingchallenge #37. A book you think your best friend would like
    7. Around the Year in 52 Books #2. A book by an author whose name doesn't contain the letters A, T or Y
    8. 52 Book Club  #the52bookclub2021  #8 A Book In The 900's Of The Dewey Decimal System
    9. The Unofficial Magnus Archives Challenge  #TMARC21  #1. The Eye: Nonfic about an unfamiliar subject
    10. BooklistQueen   # 4. Biography
    11. NJM Book Challenge  #NJMBookChallenge2021  #7 biography/autobiography
    12. Nerd Daily  #NERDREADING2021 #36. RELEASED BETWEEN 1991 - 2012
    13. Bookworm  #7.) Read a book with the color white on the cover
    14. Pick your Poison #26-3 A book set after a major world event (war, weather disaster, etc.)
    15. Bloggers Bookshelf   #bloggersbookshelf #21  a book with illustrations
    16. 52 books in 52 weeks  #9 anithero
    17. Unruly Reader Bingo  #7 narrative non fiction 

    Saturday, February 20, 2021

    Lost Palm

     This is a great quick read by Chris Niles.  I received it as promotional book to try and am glad I took the opportunity to read it.  It is a short novella set in Shark Key which is a welcome locale in the middle of a snowy cold month here in Chicago.  It is a fun blend of the legend of Ernest Hemingway's presence in Key West with a modern mystery story.  Ms Niles does a wonderful job of describing the local geography and scenery as well as capturing a bit of the crazy, unique scene that is Key West.   

    I look forward to reading more books in the series

    lost palmlost palm by Chris Niles
    My rating: 0 of 5 stars

    This was an entertaining novella set in the beautiful Keys. The descriptions of the local terrain and the town of Key West are wonderful balances to the cozy mystery story. The story is a fun blend of current day Key West and a historic figure who is associated with Key West, Ernest Hemingway. It is a quick read that is an introduction to a larger series of mysteries that I look forward to reading more about.

    View all my reviews

    Challenge Prompts

    The Challenge Prompts I will use this for are:  

    1. Literary Escapes  #LiteraryEscapes  FL
    2. Alphabet Soup Author Edition #AlphabetSoupAuthorChallenge  "N"
    3. Calendar of Crime  #CalendarOfCrime2021   
    4. Cruisin thru Cozies  freebie #1
    5. Cloak & Dagger  #CloakDaggerChal  Book #15
    6. Craving for Cozies  Book #13
    7. Around the Year in 52 Books #26. A short book (<210 pages) by a new-to-you author
    8. The Unofficial Magnus Archives Challenge  #TMARC21  #47. Nikola: with a fictionalized historical figure
    9. Nerd Daily  #NERDREADING2021 #4. TWO WORD TITLE
    10. Bookworm  #11.) Read a book with exactly two words in the title
    11. Magic in the Books  Book 5 #5 Book under 100 pages
    12. Beachcomber Challenge  
      • Crime Scenes 
        • Row 4
          • Island
    13. Six Shooter Challenge  Target #50  Shot #1

    Friday, February 19, 2021

    Cold Case Crumble

     This is the 3rd book in the Jessica James series by Jennifer Joy (Becca Bloom).   The series is set in Ecuador and does a wonderful job of blending descriptions of the local atmosphere with the mystery itself.  The characters are charming and feel like a real family, full of quirky habits and gentle teasing.   If you are looking for a well developed mystery with surprises these are great books to select.

    Jessica is visiting with a family that has a long term relationship with her own family.  Unfortunately her vacation has turned into a repetitive case of finding bodies and having to solve mysteries.  This time, she and Tia Flora, Sylvia, and Abuelita uncover a cold case going back to when Sylvia was in high school in Banos.   The characters continue to develop as do the relationships between them.  The family is a tight knit group with typical family interactions.   It is easy to visualize the characters and the locations described in the book.

    The mystery itself is a wonderfully written book with plenty of twists and turns with a surprise conclusion.  I look forward to continue reading the series to see how Jessica continues to fare in Ecuador.  

    Cold Case CrumbleCold Case Crumble by Jennifer Joy
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    Always fun to read about Jessica James' adventures in Ecuador. This installment has Jessica and her hosts, Tia Flora, Abuelita, Adi, and Sylvia, all discovering an unwelcome surprise while fixing up the new building Tia Flora has acquired to build her new bakery. This time Jessica actually has the permission of the Head Policeman and the local officers to investigate the mystery. She only has a short time window to solve the cold case since the pertinent individuals will only be in Banos for 4 days. As is typical with this series there are moments of levity and some twists and turns in the mystery. The characters continue to be endearing and you feel as though you could hang out with them in Abuelita's restaurant kitchen.
    If you are looking for a fun cozy set in South America this is a great series to explore

    View all my reviews

    Challenge Prompts

    The Challenge Prompts I will use this for are:  

    1. Literary Escapes  #LiteraryEscapes  Ecuador
    2. Finishing the Series   #FinishingTheSeries2021
    3. Virtual Mount TBR #VirtualMountTBR2021   Book #21
    4. Back List Reader  #Backlistreader  Book #24
    5. Calendar of Crime  #CalendarOfCrime2021   
    6. Cruisin thru Cozies  #5-1 set outside US
    7. Cloak & Dagger  #CloakDaggerChal  Book #16
    8. Craving for Cozies  Book #14
    9. Around the Year in 52 Books #35. A book set in a country on or below the Tropic of Cancer
    10. The Unofficial Magnus Archives Challenge  #TMARC21  #22. Es Mentiras: with a door on the cover
    11. NJM Book Challenge  #NJMBookChallenge2021  #23 weather word in title
    12. Bookworm  #29.) Read a book from your favorite genre
    13. Magic in the Books Book 3 #6 With a source of light on the cover
    14. Pick your Poison #25 Borrowing A book with a character from a different book
    15. Medical Examiner Challenge  2 Toe Tags-  hit, poison
    16. Beachcomber Challenge  
      • Crime Scenes 
        • Row 1
          • Kitchen or bakery
        • Row 4
          • Hotel room
      • Weapons
        • Row 1 
          • Poison, poisoned food
        • Row 2 
          • Rock, brick, blunt object
      • Detectives- Jessica/Tia Flora/Abuelita/Adi/Sylvia
      • Victims- Sophia/Alex
    17. Six Shooter Challenge  Target #22  Shot #3

    Thursday, February 18, 2021

    A Piece of the World

    This is the first novel I have read by Christina Baker Kline and I am definitely interested in reading more.  I read this novel as a selection for our book club this month.   Previously I had placed her book "The Exiles" on my reading list for this year's challenges and now I cannot wait to read that selection.

    This book is a fictional piece based upon the work "Christina's World" by Andrew Wyeth.  This story is wonderfully written and the characters well developed.  They exhibit realistic emotions and reactions to their lives.  I appreciated that their shortcomings, moments of jealousy,  spite and self pity are portrayed along with their strengths and admirable traits.  It made them feel real.   

    Kline's descriptions of the landscape and the farming and fishing life was wonderful.  Not too descriptive to lose readers who prefer more active text but enough to really paint the picture.   I think I may have had a very vivid image of the landscape in my mind as I actually had the opportunity to discuss this piece of art with my son's elementary class for art appreciation.  This novel gives so much more depth and "life" to the art piece.  I really enjoyed it.  

    My only hesitation and why I didn't give it 5 stars was a bit of confusion at times remembering where in history the particular portion of the story was set.  Since the dual time progressions were both historic it wasn't always easy to discern where in time the story was a moments.  This did not ruin the story at all, but rather just slowed down my progression as I either had to flip back or keep guessing until the context came into focus.  

    I highly recommend this book and cannot wait to read her other works as well.  

    A Piece of the WorldA Piece of the World by Christina Baker Kline
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    This book is an amazing novel delving into the story behind Andrew Wyeth's famous painting, "Christina's World" The characters are well developed and truly realistic. They each exhibit selfishness, love and compassion. They truly feel like real people. The fictional weaving of a story around the painting and the relationship between Christina Olson as Wyethy's muse and as a person is amazing. My only hesitation in giving it 5 stars was the fact that at times it was hard to remember where in the dual timeline the story was at the moment. It is especially tricky since all of it is in the past; the modern piece was in the late 1940s so there were not ready clues to ground my awareness especially since the story spans 2 World Wars. The depiction of the hardship and the challenges of living on a farm in Maine is well portrayed and it is easy to see the paradox between year round residents and the summer visitors. Some of the temporary residents fit in better than others.
    All in all this is a great book and I recommend it highly, I especially think it is well worth reading the author's note at the end to give full context.

    View all my reviews

    Challenge Prompts

    The Challenge Prompts I will use this for are:  

    1. Library Love  #LibraryLoveChallenge  Book #14
    2. Literary Escapes  #LiteraryEscapes  ME
    3. Beat the Backlist #BTB2021  #29 historical with a twist
    4. 2021TBR  #2021ReadingChallenge # 1 historical fiction
    5. Virtual Mount TBR #VirtualMountTBR2021   Book #20
    6. Back List Reader  #Backlistreader  Book #23
    7. Historic Fiction  #histficreadingchallenge   Book #4
    8. Around the Year in 52 Books #18. 3 books related to "Past, Present, Future" - Book 1
    9. 52 Book Club  #the52bookclub2021  #47 A Character With A Disability
    10. The Unofficial Magnus Archives Challenge  #TMARC21  #34. Martin: by/about a poet OR includes poetry
    11. BooklistQueen   # 27. Book Club Favorite
    12. Nerd Daily  #NERDREADING2021 #23. A NEW AUTHOR TO YOU
    13. Bookworm  #55.) Read a book (fiction or nonfiction) about a topic that's always interested you, but you haven't read about it yet
    14. Magic in the Books Book 2 #6 A book that was borrowed
    15. Pick your Poison #5 occupations- about a farmer

    The Red Address Book

     This novel is a well written reflection on the life of Doris as told by Sofia Lundberg.   It is a compilation of stories as told by Doris to her great niece, Jenny as she nears 97 years of age.  These different experiences and stages of Doris' life are presented as individual sections categorized by the entries in Doris' address book.   Her stories are associated with the different stages in her life as they relate to the different people she had met over the years and had entered into her address book.  These entries represent different stages in her life, all closed chapters at this point with the exception of her relationship with Jenny.  

    There are many aspects of this novel that are sad and it would be easy to imagine the story as being a tear jerker.  Lundberg has done a wonderful job of pointing out the sadness and isolation of the end of Doris' life without being overly dramatic.   The stories of her life are the focus, they show how fully she lived.  As is often the case, they demonstrate the life before children and the lives that children know.  Often times, our offspring are shocked by the person who lived a different life before they were born.  This is definitely the case with Doris and Jenny.  Similarly, we find out Jenny has a similar change to her life when she became a mother.  

    The stories Doris shares with Jenny depict and amazing life which helps offset the sadness of the current situation Doris finds herself in.   It would be easy to focus on the isolation Doris is experiencing late in her life and be overcome with sadness but rather the tapestry of Doris' life is central to the story.  This novel is an amazing layered journey through Doris' life but also a closure for herself and Jenny.  

    I highly recommend this book and the only reason I did not give it 5 stars was the slow pace in which the story began.  Once the story got going, it was harder to put down but the format of each chapter representing an encapsulated story made it easy to start and stop my reading.

    The Red Address BookThe Red Address Book by Sofia Lundberg
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    I wasn't sure what to think about this novel at first. It started out a bit slow and then it really caught my attention and I couldn't read it fast enough. One of the nice aspects about it is each of the chapters tend to be encapsulated stories so you ca read it a little bit at a time and not feel like you have to backtrack to get started again.

    The story is full of reminiscences and stories of Doris' life in Stockholm, Paris, New York and England. She experienced an amazing amount during her lifetime, but it is apparent she never shared it with her great niece, Jenny. Jenny discovers the stories as she visits Doris for one last time in Stockholm and wants her great aunt to tell her more and share more about their shared past as well as Doris' before Jenny was born. The story is poignant about how, as she lived to be quite an elderly lady, most of her acquaintances have passed away. The story is structured as a events of her life through the interactions with the different individuals in her address book. The reader hears about her love and tragedies as well as the adventures she experienced. Doris is clearly a strong woman who is reflecting on her life and her loss of independence. We should all be so blessed to have such a long life and to remember it is such detail.
    I highly recommend this book

    View all my reviews

    Challenge Prompts

    The Challenge Prompts I will use this for are:  

    1. Library Love  #LibraryLoveChallenge  Book #13
    2. Literary Escapes  #LiteraryEscapes  Sweden
    3. Beat the Backlist #BTB2021  #24 written in letters or diary entries 
    4. 2021TBR  #2021ReadingChallenge # 19 written in a foreign language  
    5. Virtual Mount TBR #VirtualMountTBR2021   Book #19
    6. Back List Reader  #Backlistreader  Book #22
    7. Historic Fiction  #histficreadingchallenge   Book #3
    8. PopSugar #popsugarreadingchallenge #38. A book about art or an artist
    9. Around the Year in 52 Books #12. A book eligible for the Warwick Prize for Women in Translation
    10. 52 Book Club  #the52bookclub2021  #22 A Family Saga
    11. The Unofficial Magnus Archives Challenge  #TMARC21  #39. Oliver: involves dreams
    12. BooklistQueen   # 28. A Book About Friendship
    13. A Pretty Mess Challenge # 3. Debut author
    14. NJM Book Challenge  #NJMBookChallenge2021  #19 translated book
    16. Bookworm  #41.) Read a book where the main character is elderly
    17. Magic in the Books Book 4 #7 Read a book in translation
    18. Pick your Poison #20- 2 A book about overcoming obstacles
    19. Bloggers Bookshelf   #bloggersbookshelf # 9 on your tbr for over a year
    20. Monthly Keyword #MonthlyKeyWordGXO  "RED"
    21. Book Voyage  #bookvoyagechallenge  Western Europe
    22. Beyond the Bookends  about addiction
    23. 52 books in 52 weeks  #27 diary
    24. Unruly Reader Bingo  #22 immigrant


    Ms. Marvel Vol 2

     This is the 2nd installment of the G. Willow Wilson Graphic Novels I have read.   Last year for my graphic novel selection I picked Vol 1 of the series.   See my review here.    I decided to pick the next one in the series for this year as well since it covered several of my topics for different challenges.   

    I continue to realize I am not the best audience for graphic novels, even though I do enjoy the Marvel movies.  I think I just have trouble following the flow of the story line.  This plot was a bit confusing for me at times but I also think so of that relates to the fact this is a compilation of several issues of comic books.   I do like that there is a strong young female as the lead in the story.  The dynamics are especially complex as she is a Muslim teen trying to balance her religious beliefs and constricts with being a typical American teen.  I appreciated that she sought the advice of her church leader in this book and came to realize the applicability of his advice.  

    The target audience is YA for this series and the messages at the end were a bit too "woke" and preachy for my taste at times.  I truly hope not all fiction geared toward YA is so pessimistic and fatalistic.   I think this is often the message given to them in school as well and I worry about their outlook for their futures. There are many positive aspects of life today versus the past.  We have progressed while realizing we can still grow as a nation.  This might also explain the popularity of dystopian tomes with that generation as well.   I suspect much of it is just this generation's cause and as they take on responsibilities their outlooks may change some and balance the extremes with the possibilities.  

    Ms. Marvel, Vol. 2: Generation WhyMs. Marvel, Vol. 2: Generation Why by G. Willow Wilson
    My rating: 3 of 5 stars

    great story with a strong teenage girl in the lead character role. I appreciate watching her growth as a person/superhero while enjoying the action. I did find the storyline hard to follow at times, not always certain who was talking but the general idea was readily able to be followed.

    View all my reviews

    Challenge Prompts

    The Challenge Prompts I will use this for are:  

    1. Library Love  #LibraryLoveChallenge  Book #12
    2. Literary Escapes  #LiteraryEscapes NJ
    3. Alphabet Soup Author Edition #AlphabetSoupAuthorChallenge  "G"
    4. 2021TBR  #2021ReadingChallenge #13 ya book
    5. Virtual Mount TBR #VirtualMountTBR2021   Book #16
    6. Back List Reader  #Backlistreader  Book #19
    7. PopSugar #popsugarreadingchallenge #24. A book by a Muslim American author
    8. Around the Year in 52 Books #17. A book with a Muslim character or author
    9. 52 Book Club  #the52bookclub2021  #26  An Author Of Color
    10. The Unofficial Magnus Archives Challenge  #TMARC21  #26. Titan: a graphic novel
    11. BooklistQueen   #8. An Author Who Uses Initials
    12. A Pretty Mess Challenge #6. YA book by author of color 
    13. NJM Book Challenge  #NJMBookChallenge2021  #14 with images
    14. Nerd Daily  #NERDREADING2021 #11. RELEASED IN APRIL
    15. Bookworm  #47.) Read a book with the main character  of a different ethnicity than you 
    16. Magic in the Books  Book 4 #4 Includes a shapeshifter
    17. Spells and Spaceships Monster Badge
    18. Pick your Poison #27-3 A comic book 
    19. Bloggers Bookshelf   #bloggersbookshelf #1 an unusual format 
    20. Uncorked Reader #UncorkedReading2021 Contemporary Black Author
    21. 52 books in 52 weeks  #19 robot

    Wednesday, February 17, 2021

    The Murder Mystery Cruise

     This next book, the third in the Cozy Cruise Mysteries by Lizzie Josephson, finds Adrianne and Keith on board a rival cruise line enjoying a vacation.   This themed cruise is from England to the Canary Islands and focuses on a Murder Mystery being hosted aboard as the entertainment.  Adrianne continues to try to travel as inconspicuously as possible and this time runs into her belligerent cousin, Stavros, who is still annoyed at her inheriting the Cosmo Cruise Line instead of him.   This is not his only annoying trait we come to find out in the book.   He is quite an obnoxious character that is easily disliked by the other cruise passengers and the reader.  

    This story once again is filled with business development plot lines and some descriptions of exotic ports of call.   Anyone looking for a warm respite from winter cold will enjoy spending an afternoon reading this book.

    The Murder Mystery Cruise: Book Three: The Cozy Cruise MysteriesThe Murder Mystery Cruise: Book Three: The Cozy Cruise Mysteries by Lizzie Josephson
    My rating: 3 of 5 stars

    Another cruising adventure with a murder mystery show

    Adrianne and Captain Keith Knowles decide to combine some vacation time with some background research on another cruise line’s vessel. The ensuing adventures combine family dynamics, murder mystery theater and business acumen all while trying to hide Adriannes true identity. These mysteries are lots of fun while enjoying details of cruising and ports of call. Their main focus is on the plot lines of the mystery and less on derp development of the characters and their relationships Very enjoyable reading.

    View all my reviews


    Challenge Prompts

    The Challenge Prompts I will use this for are:  

    mpts I use it for on several challenges since it meets multiple criteria within the challenge.

    1. Literary Escapes  #LiteraryEscapes  Canary Islands (Spain)
    2. Finishing the Series   #FinishingTheSeries2021
    3. Virtual Mount TBR #VirtualMountTBR2021   Book #18
    4. Back List Reader  #Backlistreader  Book #21
    5. Calendar of Crime  #CalendarOfCrime2021   
    6. Cruisin thru Cozies  #8 travel #2
    7. Cloak & Dagger  #CloakDaggerChal  Book #14
    8. Craving for Cozies  Book #12
    9. Around the Year in 52 Books #8. A book set in a state, province, or country you have never visited  
    10. 52 Book Club  #the52bookclub2021  #35 Set In A Country That Starts With The Letter "S"
    11. The Unofficial Magnus Archives Challenge  #TMARC21  #32. Sasha: with a female detective
    12. Bookworm  #2.) Read a book under 400 pages 
    13. Magic in the Books Book 3 #4  With a character that's imprisoned 
    14. Spells and Spaceships Sea Setting
    15. Pick your Poison #18-2 A book with a photograph on the cover 
    16. Beachcomber Challenge  
      • Detectives- Adrianne/Keith
    17. Six Shooter Challenge  Target #43  Shot #3
    18. 52 books in 52 weeks  #39 high adventure

    Peril through the Panama Canal

     This is book 2 in the Lizzie Josephson Cozy Cruise Series.  These mysteries are well written and focus on the action in the plot.   If you are looking for huge character development or descriptive scenery this probably isn't the series for you.  But, if you are lookin for fun, clean and focused mysteries these are a great series.  The characters are a recurring cast centered around Adrianne Christander, a new inheritor of a cruise line and how she is growing into the role as an owner and how she is approaching the business development aspect of the cruise line.  Her BFF Carol is present in all the stories as is Captain Keith Knowles.   Their relationships are ancillary to the plot lines.   I don't mean to imply they don't feel relatable, in fact I find much of Adrianne's problem solving/business analytics very relatable as that was my previous role before becoming a stay at home mom.   The stories are just more plot driven and less about development of the relationships and dialogue outside of that which pertains to the mysteries/plots.

    The other aspect that differs from many of the cozy mysteries I read is these generally are not murder mysteries.  Instead, there are other crimes that are part of the storylines.  I find this a nice refreshing aspect even if it means I cannot put them down in my ME challenge :)

    All in all these are a fun set of cozies to get lost in for an afternoon.  

    Peril Through The Panama: Book Two: The Cozy Cruise MysteriesPeril Through The Panama: Book Two: The Cozy Cruise Mysteries by Lizzie Josephson
    My rating: 3 of 5 stars

    Charming cruising mystery

    This second installment on the Cosmos cruise ship has Adrienne and Carol meeting up with Captain Keith again. This time they find themselves on a cruise through the Panama Canal. I enjoyed reading the story about the cruise and the mystery they encounter. I found the story interesting and believable. The only part that I found a bit dissatisfying was the fact Adrienne had been on this cruise for more than two weeks with Carol working on a mystery that somehow she hadn’t kept her abreast of the situation. They seem close so this part felt a bit inconsistent. I enjoyed the story though and look forward to reading more in the series

    View all my reviews


    Challenge Prompts

    The Challenge Prompts I will use this for are:  

    1. Literary Escapes  #LiteraryEscapes Panama
    2. AtoZ   #2021AtoZReadingChallenge  #AlphabetSoupChallenge  "P"
    3. Alphabet Soup Author Edition #AlphabetSoupAuthorChallenge  "J"
    4. Finishing the Series   #FinishingTheSeries2021
    5. Beat the Backlist #BTB2021  #3 it’s on a ship!
    6. Virtual Mount TBR #VirtualMountTBR2021   Book #17
    7. Back List Reader  #Backlistreader  Book #20
    8. Calendar of Crime  #CalendarOfCrime2021   
    9. Cozy Mysteries   #14 published month of your birthday
    10. Cruisin thru Cozies  #8 travel #1
    11. Cloak & Dagger  #CloakDaggerChal  Book #13
    12. Craving for Cozies  Book #11
    13. PopSugar #popsugarreadingchallenge #29. A book set in multiple countries
    14. Around the Year in 52 Books #34. A book with a travel theme
    15. 52 Book Club  #the52bookclub2021  #18  Author With A 9-Letter Last Name 
    16. The Unofficial Magnus Archives Challenge  #TMARC21  #11. The Vast: set on a plane/boat
    17. A Pretty Mess Challenge # 17. Book less than 200 pages
    18. NJM Book Challenge  #NJMBookChallenge2021  #25 in another country
    19. Nerd Daily  #NERDREADING2021 #
    20. Bookworm  #44.) Read a book that starts with the letter P  
    21. Magic in the Books Book 2 #4 Mystery Novel
    22. Pick your Poison #23-3 A book with a picture of clear blue sky on the cover 
    23. Bloggers Bookshelf   #bloggersbookshelf #
    24. Beachcomber Challenge  
      • Detectives- Adrianne/Keith
    25. Six Shooter Challenge  Target #43  Shot #2
    26. 52 books in 52 weeks  #40 come sail away
    27. Unruly Reader Bingo  #