Friday, April 20, 2018

Friday Linkups - Murder in the Bowery


It's Friday linkup time!  I'm linking up with the Book Blogger Hop hosted by Coffee Addicted Writer, Book Beginnings of Fridays hosted by Rose City Reader, and the Friday 56 hosted by Freda's Voice

This Week's Book Blogger Hop Question:
How do you organize your books for review?  Does it work for you or have you had to change it?

My Answer:
For ebooks I have a list of reading order based on review commitment dates.  For print books I have kind of a stack filing system.  The next 5 upcoming books are stacked in order that they need to be read and I also have a list for them as well.  It works pretty well but for the print books especially I'd like to have a neater system.

This week's book is a historical mystery in a series that I've been wanting to read for quite some time.  I loved a book from another series by Victoria Thompson but I've bene wanting to read her long running Gaslight Mystery series so I'm starting with Murder in the Bowery.

The Beginning:
"I need you to find my kid brother, Mr. Malloy."

My Thoughts:
I love a missing persons case!

The 56:
The room was dark and dank, lit by feeble electric lights and cooled by the water they kept dripping over the bodies to slow decay until they could be identified.

My Thoughts: 
Well that's a bit gruesome!  I never thought about how they slowed decay before there was refrigeration but it does make sense.

So what do you think?  Keep reading?  How do you keep track of all your books?

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Chicken Culprit - Cozy Mystery Review + Giveaway

Chicken Culprit: Backyard Farming Mystery Series by Vikki Walton

About the Book

Chicken Culprit: Backyard Farming Mystery Series Cozy Mystery 1st in Series Setting - Colorado Morewellson, LTD Print Length: 251 pages Digital ASIN: B079SS1C4S
Finally healing after her heart-breaking divorce, Anne Freemont is ready to put the painful past behind her. Discovering an old Victorian for sale in the small mountain town of Carolan Springs may be just what she needs. The beauty of Colorado beckons, so Anne heads west to start her new life. Yet, before Anne'scompletely settled in, her neighbor is found dead in his compost pile. What’s worse is that Anne’s quirky young neighbor, Kandi Jenkins, could be the killer. When Kandi begs for her help, Anne feels she has no choice but to help the young woman. However, she finds herself quickly at odds with the local sheriff. And while she uncovers more of the community's secrets, she's also exploring her awakening feelings for Sam Powers, the town's deputy coroner. Once Anne starts looking at who could be the real killer, the suspect list keeps getting longer and longer. It seems that Carolan Springs is a place of many secrets. But who would want to murder Ralph and who’s willing to kill again to keep their secret?
My Thoughts:  This was a lot of fun!  I liked Anne Freemont quite a bit and her excitement and trepidation about moving and get a fresh start were very relatable.  I loved all the bits about the small town and the farming though it did make me desperately want a fresh heirloom tomato and those won't be in season for a few months!  The quirkiness of the characters was sometime a bit over the top but never fell to slapstick levels so it made for an entertaining read.  This was a solid mystery with a likable and slightly older than usual main character and a fun new setting.  This is a book I really enjoyed and a series I'm looking forward to continuing.  Rating: Good!

About the Author

Vikki Walton is a suburban homesteader aka the Havensteader. She has chickens, gardens, and bees and is a certified permaculture designer. She’s also the author of nonfiction books. She loves to travel, is a global house and pet sitter and when not out in the garden or hiking in beautiful Colorado, is plotting her next mystery.
Author Links: Website:
Purchase Link Amazon

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Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Hero's Return - Contemporary Romance Review

Rating: Very Good
Source: Blog Tour 

The prodigal Cahill is back—and ready to confess

Tucker Cahill disappeared from Gilt Edge, Montana, hoping to escape a secret that has haunted him for nineteen years. Then, when a young woman’s remains are found in the creek near his family’s ranch, he has no choice but to face his demons. The truth that sent him running years ago could take away his freedom now.

Kate Rothschild came to town looking for vengeance—and Tucker Cahill. What she finds is a tortured and irresistible man who’s more than meets the eye. Caught up in the past, they are drawn deeper into a twisted game that’s not over yet. And the consequences could prove fatal for them both…

Genre: Romance - Contemporary

Why I Picked This Book:
  I enjoyed the previous Montana Cahills book and I love how Daniels weaves suspense in with the romance.

My Impression:
  I do love a romance with a bit of a suspense and I adore when characters who don't know each other at the beginning of the book form a team to solve a mystery.  Why don't I ever end up on a team of people solving a mystery?  It sounds like a lot of fun - well except for the emotional issues the past trauma would have of course.

Characters with "big secrets" very rarely live up to all the hype.  The secret is rarely big enough to have done the damage and caused all the after shock that it tends to do. However, I completely bought Tucker's story.  Not only was it dramatic and with lots of emotions but he was only 17/just turned 18 at the time so I can see why he reacted in the way that he did though it was a bit over the top.  In the same way I believe Kate's reasons for becoming involved in the story.   She has both personal and professional reasons for becoming involved and I did liked that she knew how to successfully run an investigation but at the same time her emotions got in the way.  Because of the teamwork, the time spent together and all the emotions running amok I could even believe in the relationship which can be a bit iffy in this kind of book.  I liked that it wasn't insta-love but it was insta-attraction that grew in stages from allies, to friends and then to more.

Of course one of the best things about a contemporary romance series based around a family is getting a bit more of those family dynamics and this was no different!  I was so glad to see the rest of the Cahills and catch up with them - especially Flint and Maggie.  While this is 3 books into the series you can jump in right here no problems.  And if you start here I have a feeling you'll be wanting to go back and read the previous two books.

This book manages to do a good job representing multiple subgenres.  It's got a fantastic ranch-y/cowboy feel, a wonderful loving family, and a convincing suspense plot all rolled into one! This is one I thoroughly enjoyed and kept me reading well past my bedtime!

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?
  Absolutely!  I'd only read book 2 in this series but I'll be going back for book 1 and I'll be keeping my eye out for more.

Would I Recommend this Book?  If you enjoy contemporary romance, cowboy romance, or romantic suspense you must give this series and this book a try.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday - Five Signs You’re in a Cozy Mystery and Five Signs You Aren’t

This Week's Top Ten Tuesday topic from That Artsy Reader Girl is a freebie.  A few years ago I did a post entitled - Ten Things I Learned From Cozy Mysteries. I've read a lot of cozy mysteries since then and I decided it was time to update the list just a bit so you can be prepared to stumble over a dead body periodically or relieved to know you're in the clear.  I'm a big cozy mystery fan so this is all in good fun.

Signs You Are In a Cozy Mystery:

1.  You have recently uprooted your life in the big city (New York/Chicago/San Francisco preferably) either because something in your life unraveled or because you were called home by an ailing relative  or other family crisis.

2.  You find yourself surrounded by a crowd of quirky retirees (it is acceptable to be one yourself) who have very complicated and active social lives, aren’t afraid to speak their mind, and tend to get suspected of murder.

3. You either own or work in a small business.  Diners and junk stores are preferred but farmers markets, bakeries, bookstores, and boutiques are acceptable.  You can also refinish furniture found at a junk store.  Inns are also okay.

4.  You have a relative with boundary issues who you are always doing crazy favors for or is always talking you in to running craft fairs or festivals.  It can be a mother, grandmother, aunt, or sister but it is usually a woman.

5.  You live in kind of waterfront town- any kind of water - but it must have lots of festivals.

Signs You Aren't in a Cozy Mystery

1.  You work for a large corporation.  Basically if your company has shareholders and a board of directors you won’t be stumbling over a body when you go to pick up lunch.  The exception is libraries.  If you’re a librarian you’re still not safe.

2.  You live in a big city.  Now this could come apart at any point (see #1 in Signs You Are) but for now you’re safe.

3.  You don’t have pets.  If you don’t have a dog, cat, or bird to discuss things with you’re probably okay.

4.  You have no hobbies that require supplies and you don’t go to antique/junk stores.  These kinds of stores are full of dead bodies so it’s best if you avoid them.  TV is way safer.

5.  You aren’t very nice.  It seems that only nice people find bodies regularly and get periodically suspected of murdered.  The only problem here is that if you’re not very nice that significantly increases your chance of being the body in cozy mystery land.

Do you read cozy mysteries?  Do you agree or disagree with these?  Any I need to add for next time?

Monday, April 16, 2018

Ramblings from the Stacks - Is this Book Too Dated?

So I read I Capture the Castle  earlier this month.  I'm a big fan of children's literature and some of my absolute favorite children's books are from this time period.  Plus the family LIVED in a castle so how could it miss.  Except for me it did.  I mean, I could appreciate the excellent writing and the crazy wonderful setting but it just felt so incredibly dated that I really struggled with it.  That being said I don't expect books written in the 1930s to have the same views on social justice issues as we do today but I am expecting to still have an enjoyable reading experience.

Now I read a fair number of books that were published in 50+ years ago and that dated feeling usually isn't a problem for me even when the book contains shining examples.  Agatha Christie's treatment of the locals at archeological digs at times is painful.  Ian Fleming has had James Bond essentially state that he feels that women should either be in the bedroom or the kitchen.  Even my beloved Elizabeth Enright has Portia staying at home tending house while her male cousin is out having a few grand adventures in Gone-Away Lake.  Yet, these three authors are some of my absolute favorites.

So what's the difference?  There's really two things that makes me fall in love with some books and want to run away from others.  The first is the amount of page time the datedness gets.  Yes, Agatha Christie can be incredibly dismissive of the local people hired to work on digs that feature prominently in her books but in terms of page time it gets maybe 4 sentences in the entire book.  Portia's cleaning the playhouse takes maybe a paragraph and most of this is about how much fun she's having with her friend who is helping her.  James Bond's cringe-worthy comments may show up twice in the book.  

The second thing is the depth of the story as a whole.  Yes, Elizabeth Enright sticks very much with traditional gender roles but Portia is also shown as being just as smart and capable as her cousin.  James Bond may not believe that women have any roll in espionage but in Moonraker and Diamonds are Forever Gayla Brandt and Tiffany Case show time and time again that they are just as smart and observant as Bond AND they both save the day.  As well Bond comes out very strongly against sexual assault of any kind as well as physical abuse.  So while these books may contain occasional comments that make me roll my eyes hard what these characters do and how they treat those around them tends to take the sting about it.

So just what about I Capture the Castle kept it from being on my keeper shelf?  It violated both of these things.  For one thing the focus on getting the oldest sister married off to a rich man was so constant and blatant that I think Jane Austen's Mrs. Bennett might have blushed.  As well there just wasn't enough depth to save it.  The family was in financial ruins and no one seemed to care or be able to come up with a plan that DIDN'T involve marrying money.  For me the characters never showed enough of other sides of their personalities to keep this on the nostalgic side of dated and instead landed squarely in the hard to get past.

What makes a book that is dated readable to you?  What would cause you to DNF a book?

Sunday, April 15, 2018

This Week in Reading - April 15

It's Sunday Post time!  This is hosted by the awesome Caffeinated Book Reviewer and gives us all a chance to recap our week.

What I Got:

The Masterpiece by Fiona Davis - I'm really excited about this one set in Grand Central station in 1928 and 1974.  I'm really looking forward to learning more about the station itself and the history of the two women.  (NetGalley)

A Howl of Wolves by Judith Flanders - I enjoyed a previous book by this author and I loved the premise of this one.  It sounds like something out of Agatha Christie or Ngaio Marsh when the main character and her boyfriend (a Scotland Yard detective) go to a play they soon realize that the figure hanging from the rafters is in fact a dead body.  (Publisher)

I have a few others in my inbox but I haven't sorted through everything yet.  


Reading:  Murder in the Bowery by Victoria Thompson and Chicken Culprit by Vicki Walton

Listening:  I just finished The Cruelest Month by Louise Penny so I'm catching up on podcasts until the next one comes in from the library.

Watching:  I've finished my binge of the true crime show called Disappeared and so far nothing else has really replaced it though I am enjoying this season of The Voice so far.

Off the Blog:

This weekend I'm in south Mississippi spending time with my grandparents.  I'm guessing there will be lots of movie watching and that kind of thing.  I was hoping that most of the week would be spent getting caught up so I'd be ready to go out of town but things never seem to work out that way.  Maybe next week!

I also did the first post in a new feature called My Classic Movie Essentials.  This month's movie was Mrs. Miniver from 1942.  It's one of my absolute favorites.

On the Blog:

What Happened:

What's Coming Up:

Monday:  Ramblings from the Stacks - Is This Book Too Dated?
Tuesday:  Top Ten Tuesday - 5 Signs You're in a Cozy Mystery and 5 Signs You Aren't
Wednesday:  Hero's Return - Contemporary Romance Review
Thursday:  Chicken Culprit - Cozy Mystery Review
Friday:  Friday Linkups with Current Book
Saturday: TBD

Have a great week and happy reading!

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Wedding Cake Crumble - Cozy Mystery Review

Rating: Very Good
Source:  Publisher

With Angie and Tate's wedding just around the corner, it's a happy--but very busy--time for Mel. Not only is she doing double duty as both the maid of honor and best man, but her bakery, Fairy Tale Cupcakes, has just been hired to provide cupcakes for a famous author's book signing. But when the author turns up dead, it's just the start of a murder mystery that Mel must solve.

Genre: Mystery - Cozy

Why I Picked This Book:  I read the first few books in this series and really enjoyed them.

My Impression:  There’s so much fun stuff going on here!  Not only are Mel and Angie busy getting all the last minute wedding stuff done but they get roped into catering an event involving a seriously gossipy pseudo-fiction book where more people have reason to kill the author than don’t.  I do love a mystery when suspects and motives are falling out of the woodwork.  But before we even get to that murder there’s the question of just who is killing off Angie’s wedding vendors and does it have anything to do with her.  Since this is book #10 in the series and Mel and Angie have stumbled over at least a dozen dead bodies this is a very real possibility.

This is an entertaining mystery from start to finish with lots of clues and red herrings and still manages a surprising ending.  While the characters and the world that surrounds them feels very well rounded and detailed I had no problem immediately feeling part of it even though it’s been quite some time since I read the first two and quite a lot has happened since that book.  If you’re new to the series I think you I could jump in here with no issue.

This is a fun mystery with a great group of characters, a solid plot, a dash of wedding planning, and yummy sounding cupcakes.  Now if you need me I’ll be making the chocolate bourbon cupcakes as found in the recipes in the back of the book!

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Absolutely!  I have the earlier books to catch up on and I’ll be looking for the next one!

Would I Recommend this Book?  If you’re a cozy mystery fan you must give this series and this author a try.