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
    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
      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),
      15. Six Shooter Challenge  Target #72  Shot #1


      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

      Tuesday, March 16, 2021

      Chorus Lines, Caviar and Corpses

       This was the first book in the Happy Hoofers series by Mary McHugh.  I enjoyed the premise of the book and the tight comradery of the main characters.  They are a strong group of women who have a great friendship.  Their individual character strengths and weaknesses were accurately represented.  Their internal squabbling and the peacemaker in the group all felt realistic.  

      The vivid descriptions of the Russian towns and St. Petersburg were wonderful.  The food and culture of Russia were well represented.  As was the historical facts blended in under the auspicious of a tour guide and local guide on board their cruise ship.  The premise of the mystery was a good one although the strength of the revelation was a bit lacking as I found myself guessing the guilty party early on in the book.   

      I am looking forward to reading more adventures with these ladies.  There next adventure is in Spain so that should be interesting.  The series seems like it will be a fun way to virtually travel the world.

      Chorus Lines, Caviar, and CorpsesChorus Lines, Caviar, and Corpses by Mary McHugh
      My rating: 3 of 5 stars

      I enjoyed the ensemble cast of friends in this cozy. I did find the mystery a bit predictable which is why it’s a 3 not a 4 star. The characters were like able and realistic. I look forward to seeing their relationships develop in the series. The descriptions of St Petersburg and the towns along the river were wonderful and makes me want to visit even more than I did previously

      View all my reviews

      Challenge Prompts

      The Challenge Prompts I will use this for are:  

      1. Literary Escapes  #LiteraryEscapes  Russia
      2. Beat the Backlist #BTB2021  #33 non-binary protagonist
      3. Mount TBR   #MountTBR2021  Book #5
      4. Back List Reader  #Backlistreader  Book #38
      5. Calendar of Crime  #CalendarOfCrime2021   
      6. Cruisin thru Cozies  free choice #9
      7. Cloak & Dagger  #CloakDaggerChal  Book #27
      8. Craving for Cozies  Book #23
      9. 52 Book Club  #the52bookclub2021  #50 A Shoe On The Cover
      10. The Unofficial Magnus Archives Challenge  #TMARC21  #9. The Stranger: MC/author is a performer
      11. Magic in the Books Book 6 #7 A book involving music
      12. Pick your Poison #13-4 A book about cross dressing
      13. Monthly Motif #MonthlyMotifGXO  set in russia
      14. Book Voyage  #bookvoyagechallenge  Eastern Europe
      15. Backpacking Bookworm  #bbReadingChallenge2021 
      16. Medical Examiner Challenge  1 Toe Tags
      17. Beachcomber Challenge  
        • Crime Scenes 
          • Row 1
            • Boat
        • Weapons
          • Row 2 
            • Knife
        • Detectives- Tina
        • Victims- Brad
      18. Six Shooter Challenge  Target #53  Shot #1
      19. Unruly Reader Bingo  #23 russia

      Monday, March 15, 2021

      Death in Four Courses

       This is the 2nd book in the Key West Food Critic series by Lucy Burdette.  It's a great recipe for a wonderful cozy mystery.  Take a dash of FL sunshine, the spice of Key West characters and history and a large portion of food writers and you have the recipe for an intriguing mystery.  Hayley Snow has her mother in town for the Food and Literary seminar being held in her new hometown of Key West.  The keynote speaker, Jonah, decided to stir the pot with his fellow authors and threaten to tell the truth about many of their pasts and to bring more honesty to the food writers' sphere.   Apparently someone took issue with this new found need to come clean and forthright.  

      Hayley had the misfortune of becoming involved in his death when she stumbled upon him.    Her mother's curiosity is as piqued as her own and the two find themselves looking into the mystery.  Another death, a friend acting strangely, and a disappearance all round out this cozy mystery.  The mystery is well written and the resolution quite a surprise.

      The development of Hayley's relationships and her history is well done.  It is easy to feel a part of her social circle and to feel her frustrations and love for family and friends.  This aspect of the book establishes a connection that has the reader cheering for Hayley and wanting to read more about her life in tropical Key West.  Fortunately there is more to the series to achieve just that.

      Death in Four CoursesDeath in Four Courses by Lucy Burdette
      My rating: 4 of 5 stars

      Foodie lover mystery

      Burdette captures the charm of Key West and reveals the behind the scenes machinations of a food writers convention as told by Hayley Snow. This second book besides having to deaths to solve, reveals a lot about Hayley and develops her as a character. We see a glimpse of her relationships with her mother and love interest both the good and bad. The mystery definitely was not an obvious solution but was plausible and believable. I look forward to reading more in the series

      View all my reviews


      Challenge Prompts

      The Challenge Prompts I will use this for are:  

      1. Finishing the Series   #FinishingTheSeries2021  book 2 in Key West Food Critic series 
      2. Mount TBR   #MountTBR2021  Book #4
      3. Back List Reader  #Backlistreader  Book #37
      4. Calendar of Crime  #CalendarOfCrime2021   
      5. Cozy Mysteries   #9 item of clothing on cover
      6. Cruisin thru Cozies  free choice 8
      7. Cloak & Dagger  #CloakDaggerChal  Book #26
      8. Craving for Cozies  Book #22
      9. Around the Year in 52 Books #19. 3 books related to "Past, Present, Future" - Book 2
      10. Magic in the Books Book 2 #7 A book with clothing on the cover
      11. Pick your Poison #11-2 A book with an insect on the cover
      12. Medical Examiner Challenge  2 Toe Tags
      13. Beachcomber Challenge  
        • Crime Scenes 
          • Row 2
            • Lake or ocean
            • Alley or mews
            • Lawn
            • Basement
            • Attic
          • Row 3
            • Bar, store, restaurant
            • Cliff, roof, high place
          • Row 5
            • Garden, park, gazebo
        • Weapons
          • Row 3
            • Drowning
          • Row 4
            • Push or fall
        • Detectives- Hayley
        • Victims- Jonah/
      14. Six Shooter Challenge  Target # 8  Shot #2
      15. 52 books in 52 weeks  #10 number in title

      Topped Chef

       This 3rd installment in the Key West Food Critic series is another charming cozy set in the tropical clime of Key West.   What better location to read about when it's winter at home.  This book finds Hayley embroiled in another mystery when her job at Key Zest finds her judging a food contest.  The mystery itself is well constructed and I didn't predict the guilty party until the reveal at the end.  The story also does a wonderful job of continuing to develop Hayley's relationships with friends, family and romantic interests.  The fun quirky interactions make her seem very realistic.

      It is kind of funny that I read two different books back to back that centered around cooking programs.  Of course Ree's program was just part of the story she tells in her memoir, Frontier Follies, but the cooking show contest is the focus of this cozy mystery.  It gives a glimpse into the world of "reality" tv shows and how they are still scripted even when they are supposed to be live reality shows.  The cutthroat nature of the shows is revealed as part of the plot line for sure.  

      The story does a wonderful job mixing in the culture and uniqueness of Key West.  It is always fun to read about the crowds at sunset in Mallory Square.  This is a flashback to the first family vacation we took when my son was just 6 months old.  I know it sounds strange but it really was a great get away as people are so laid back that they don't mind a kid sleeping in a stroller at the bars on Duval street happy hour or in the restaurants on the beach.  We even met Captain Tony. 
      We had a wonderful and relaxing time and I cannot wait to revisit there- perhaps for his 21st birthday :)

      I look forward to continuing to read the series and seeing what delicious foodie adventures Hayley has as she continues to find her roots in Key West.

      Topped ChefTopped Chef by Lucy Burdette
      My rating: 4 of 5 stars

      Another fun mystery set in tropical Key West. Hayley manages to stumble upon another murder in the course of doing her job as a food critic for Key Zest magazine. The book has some definite foodie moments as well as the drama of a reality cooking show. This book continues to develop Hayley’s personal relationships and the reader continues to feel like they are in the friendsphere of Hayley As always the charms and culture of Key West shone through in this cozy

      View all my reviews


      Challenge Prompts

      The Challenge Prompts I will use this for are:  

      1. Library Love  #LibraryLoveChallenge  Book #27
      2. Finishing the Series   #FinishingTheSeries2021 book #3 in series
      3. Virtual Mount TBR #VirtualMountTBR2021   Book #
      4. Back List Reader  #Backlistreader  Book #
      5. Calendar of Crime  #CalendarOfCrime2021   
      6. Cruisin thru Cozies  free choice #10
      7. Cloak & Dagger  #CloakDaggerChal  Book #28
      8. Craving for Cozies  Book #24
      9. 52 Book Club  #the52bookclub2021  #41 An Endorsement By A Famous Author On The Cover
      10. The Unofficial Magnus Archives Challenge  #TMARC21  #51 Mikaele: involves pirates 
      11. Pick your Poison #16-3 A book about pirates
      12. Medical Examiner Challenge 1 Toe Tags
      13. Beachcomber Challenge  
        • Crime Scenes 
          • Row 1
            • Boat
        • Weapons
          • Row 2 
            • Rock, brick, blunt object
        • Detectives- Hayley
        • Victims- Sam Rizzoli
      14. Six Shooter Challenge  Target #8  Shot #3
      15. 52 books in 52 weeks  #14 swashbuckler

      Frontier Follies

       I will admit I have never actually watched an episode of Pioneer Woman but now I am very intrigued after listening to Ree Drummond's audiobook.  It was a great way to pass time while driving on my errands and she is such a positive spirit it was hard not to get a smile on my face as I listened.  She is a wonderful storyteller and didn't hesitate to tell stories that were less than flattering to her.  It felt like I was sitting next to her in her kitchen listening to her regale me with her activities of the week.   The stories ranged from early marriage in the 1990s to current Covid stories.  I feel as though I was right there with her and her family and could absolutely visualize the action as they transpired.  

      If you are looking for an inside look at Ranch life, a cooking show on tv and the fun and drama of a family with 4 kids this is a perfect book to read or even better, to listen to.  I promise you will find yourself laughing and smiling anytime you pickup this book.

      Frontier Follies: Adventures in Marriage and Motherhood in the Middle of NowhereFrontier Follies: Adventures in Marriage and Motherhood in the Middle of Nowhere by Ree Drummond
      My rating: 5 of 5 stars

      Charming stories from a great storyteller

      I actually listened to the audio book which was so much fun as it was narrated by Ree. The short chapters were perfect for car rides and do fun. Her stories are heart felt and you felt like you were sitting at a big farm table having coffee together as she regaled you with stories. Fascinating info about living on a ranch so far from town and neighbors. I just might have to watch the show now :)

      View all my reviews


      Challenge Prompts

      The Challenge Prompts I will use this for are:  

      1. Library Love  #LibraryLoveChallenge  Book #26
      2. Literary Escapes  #LiteraryEscapes  OK
      3. Beat the Backlist #BTB2021  #52 mentions a pineapple
      4. Virtual Mount TBR #VirtualMountTBR2021   Book #34
      5. Back List Reader  #Backlistreader  Book #39
      6. Memoir  #4 Food Memoir
      7. Non Fiction Reader  #2021ReadNonFic  #9. Food
      8. Humor  Book #2
      9. PopSugar #popsugarreadingchallenge #35. A book in a different format than what you normally read (audiobooks, ebooks, graphic novels)
      10. Around the Year in 52 Books #33. A collection of short stories, essays, or poetry
      11. 52 Book Club  #the52bookclub2021  #48 A Cover With A Woman Who Is Facing Away
      12. The Unofficial Magnus Archives Challenge  #TMARC21  #48. Adelard Dekker: MC is religious
      13. BooklistQueen   # 29. An Audiobook
      14. A Pretty Mess Challenge # 22. An audiobook
      15. While I was Reading  #2. An essay or short story collection
      16. Nerd Daily  #NERDREADING2021 #1 
      17. Bookworm  #56.) Read a nonfiction book that teaches you a new skill
      18. Magic in the Books Book 2 #5 A Funny book
      19. Pick your Poison #15-2 A memoir
      20. Bloggers Bookshelf   #bloggersbookshelf #18 an audiobook
      21. 52 books in 52 weeks  #20 tip toe through the tulips
      22. Audiobook  #2021AudiobookChallenge #1

      Sunday, March 14, 2021

      The Answer Is

       This memoir by Alex Trebek is a five star read for me.  I loved the short snippets of stories that were presented in each chapter.  It made for easy reading between activities that you didn't have to worry about flipping back a few pages to remember where you were in the narrative.  The book covers all aspects of Alex's life, from childhood in Sudbury, Ontario, his early career in Canada and into the days that lead to Jeopardy hosting.  There are personal life stories as well as stories relating to the shows he has hosted.  He includes stories about the behind the scenes workings of Jeopardy and some of the most famous contestants.  

      His writing style was much like you were sitting in his living room with him while he regales you with stories from his life.  He comes across as a down to earth man who values his family greatly as well as believing in the power of hard work.   The story touches briefly on his current battle with pancreatic cancer and some of his philosophies about this struggle and others in life.  There are brief tidbits about political and environmental issues but by no means does he use this book as a pulpit to try to preach about either.   He just expresses his opinion and feelings about the country and the impacts the topics are having upon us as a culture.  

      I absolutely enjoyed the format and his writing style.  He definitely feels like someone I would want to have dinner with if you were playing that what if game.  I challenge anyone to be able to read this book and not hear his voice narrating his stories he tells.  I highly recommend this book as a refreshing view into the life and history of a pop culture celebrity.

      The Answer Is…: Reflections on My LifeThe Answer Is…: Reflections on My Life by Alex Trebek
      My rating: 5 of 5 stars

      Feels like conversing with an old friend

      This is a great book by Alex Trebek. It feels like part biography part philosophy and part snippets of his show biz career. It’s written in nice little chapters that are self contained so you can read a bit and then pick it up later and not feel like you got lost in the story. It’s a wonderful tale by a seemingly wonderful man. I challenge you to read it without hearing his famous voice telling you the stories

      View all my reviews


      Challenge Prompts

      The Challenge Prompts I will use this for are:  

      1. Library Love  #LibraryLoveChallenge  Book #25
      2. Literary Escapes  #LiteraryEscapes CA
      3. Beat the Backlist #BTB2021  #42 person on the cover
      4. Virtual Mount TBR #VirtualMountTBR2021   Book #33
      5. Back List Reader  #Backlistreader  Book #36
      6. Memoir  #16. _ Written by someone from a country different from your own
      7. PopSugar #popsugarreadingchallenge # 4. A book by an author who shares your zodiac sign
      8. Around the Year in 52 Books #46. A winner or nominee from the 2020 Goodreads Choice Awards
      9. 52 Book Club  #the52bookclub2021  #4 An Author That Is Deceased
      10. BooklistQueen   # 26. Bestselling Memoir
      11. A Pretty Mess Challenge #  25. Book you saw someone reading
      12. Nerd Daily  #NERDREADING2021 #8. NYT BESTSELLER
      13. Magic in the Books  Book 1 #4 By a celebrity 
      14. Pick your Poison #14-4 A book about terminal illness