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12 March 2019

New Starts and Cherry Tarts at the Cosy Kettle by Liz Eeles (Tuesday Intros & Teaser Tuesday)

It took me a bit to get into this, but I'm awfully glad that I stuck with it. I was a bit flummoxed at first -- expecting a book about a cafe, and then it started with the main character working in a bookstore! I was a bit heartbroken thinking about having to give that up as I so love books about bookstores ... but the cafe ended up being part of the bookstore so Eeles redeemed herself in that matter. It never really became a book that I couldn't bear to be parted with, so it almost got three stars ... but Callie's grandfather, Stanley, is worth an extra star all on his own. I hope we see more of him in future visits/books!

"First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros" is from the first paragraph or two of a book being read now (or in the future) and is hosted by I'd Rather Be At The Beach. "Teaser Tuesday" at The Purple Booker asks for a random line or two from anywhere in the book currently being read.

08 March 2019

i am Elephant, i am Butterfly by Leslie Tall Manning (Book Beginnings & Friday 56)

 Amazon description:

An absolutely lovely book. I loved Simone and cheered her and Phoebe (and the others, of course) on from the get-go ... even when they were breaking my heart. Maybe especially then. I felt like the second third or so was a bit rushed which knocked out a star.

Friday 56 (today is from the 56% mark of the ebook) is hosted at Freda's Voice & Book Beginnings (share the first few sentences) is at Rose City Reader.

05 March 2019

Lady Helena Investigates by Jane Steen (Tuesday Intros & Teaser Tuesday)

Amazon description:

"First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros" is from the first paragraph or two of a book being read now (or in the future) and is hosted by I'd Rather Be At The Beach. "Teaser Tuesday" at The Purple Booker asks for a random line or two from anywhere in the book currently being read.

I do so love a good historical mystery with a bit of romance and a strong female lead ... although it takes a bit of convincing on Lady Helena's part. The sixth of seven children, she's referred to as "Baby" by her siblings and treated as such -- even by her younger brother. Being newly widowed (was it an accidental death or murder, though?), she's determined to stand on her own. I love that even though there is the mystery angle, this is just as much or more about her learning how to do that with so much that could stand in her way. I can't wait to see where the series takes her next!

15 February 2019

Vivian Conroy's A Testament to Murder (Book Beginnings & Friday 56)

I'm fairly certain that I have already found my favorite book of 2019 and Vivian Conroy's A Testament to Murder is it. It has the twists and turns and red herrings and humor and dysfunctional family dynamics that I love from so many novels written in the 1920s and 30s. I could just see Christie, Wentworth or Allingham curled up in a cozy chair with a cuppa flipping through the pages with smiles on their faces. In fact, it's a perfect homage to my beloved Dame Agatha Christie and I'm certain that the ending would have her begging for more. I may have even audibly gasped at the conclusion, drawing rather odd looks from those around me. Had I but known, I might not have finished it when I probably should have been working. (Nah .... I still probably would have .... I just would have worked harder at muffling my gasps!)

From the Amazon description:

And my Book Beginnings & Friday 56 teasers:
Friday 56 (today is from the 56% mark of the ebook) is hosted at Freda's Voice
& Book Beginnings (share the first few sentences) is at Rose City Reader.

09 February 2019

BLOG TOUR: The Year of Starting Over by Karen King

I'm thrilled to be able to join in the blog tour for Karen King's delightful The Year of Starting Over! I was able to read it in advance thanks to Netgalley and Bookouture and absolutely flew through it.

The book starts with poor Holly and her miserable waste of a boyfriend whom she's certain is "The One" in spite of the protests of her mum, best friend, and beloved grandfather. After her grandfather dies and wants her to use her inheritance on herself and her dreams she begins to really take stock of her life and, hence, begins her year of starting over.

Haven't we all felt that desire to just start over at one point or another? I was super-jealous of her ability to make a bucket list that she would now have the means to tackle! I was especially jealous that she had friends in Spain who would let her stay with them rent-free for months! I need to get me some of those.... but at least I got to live vicariously through Holly for the couple of days it took me to fly through her story. Once I really got into it, I didn't want to put it down. (Just ask my boss .... she knows all too well!)

It was a joy getting to know Holly as she got to know herself. Along the way we also get to know  her friends Fiona and Pablo and watch them turn their run down estate into a fabulous artist retreat. Of course, there's also Matias and Luna. I absolutely fell in love with Luna! Matias? Well, he took some warming up to ... for myself and for Holly. I'll let you read for yourself how that all plays out.

Make sure you check out what everyone else is saying about this fabulous book!

The Year of Starting Over: A feel good novel about second chances and finding yourself

What if – to find yourself – you had to run away?

Last year was meant to be when Holly got her happy-ever-after. But stuck in a job that’s going nowhere, and a relationship that feels more like it’s going backwards… this year Holly hasdecided it’s time to change her life. She just has to:

– End the relationship with the commitment-phobic boyfriend
– Go on a proper adventure
– Learn to be herself again
– Definitely, categorically not fall in love.

Cramming her belongings into her little yellow Mini, Holly drives on to a ferry bound to Spain, to stay at a remote farmhouse near a beautiful village in the Andalusian hills.

But the day she arrives she nearly crashes her car into a gorgeous guy on a motorbike. He’s called Matias and their paths keep crossing, much to Holly’s irritation. Because as she learns to speak Spanish from the locals, finally starts laying out plans for her own design business, and sips sangria in the sunlit village square, Holly is beginning to remember who she is and what she wants.

So she won’t allow herself be distracted by Matias. Because this year – for Holly – there are more important things in life than love. And she won’t let yet another bad relationship ruin everything… will she?

A moving and uplifting romantic comedy about living each moment and learning to trust yourself again, for fans of Jenny Hale, Debbie Macomber, and Sophie Kinsella.

About the author

Karen King is a multi-published author of children's books, YA and romantic fiction. She has had 120 children's books published, two young adult novels, six romantic novels and several short stories for women's magazines.

'The Cornish Hotel by the Sea', published by Accent Press, became an international bestseller, reaching the top hundred in the Kindle charts in both the UK and Australia, and #2 and #3 in Holiday Reads respectively. Karen recently signed a two book contract with Bookouture, the first book 'Snowy Nights at the Lonely Hearts Hotel' was published in November 2018.

01 February 2019

Betty Church and the Suffolk Vampire by MRC Kasasian

I became a Kasasian fan with The Mangle Street Murders and, quite frankly, was a bit wary when I saw that he was coming out with a new series. How could anyone be as good as March Middleton???

Aaaaaah, me of little faith.

Enter Betty Church -- March Middleton's goddaughter. She's a policewoman in 1939 (50 years or so after her godmother's stories), she's missing an arm, and she's transferred to her hometown of Sackwater as an Inspector just before a series of murders take place that may or may not have been committed by a vampire. She's cynical and sarcastic and everything that I loved about her godmother.

This is highly recommended, even if you have yet to read the first series. Betty can definitely stand on her own and I look forward to seeing where she goes from here. 

Friday 56 (today is from the 56% mark of the ebook) is hosted at Freda's Voice
& Book Beginnings (share the first few sentences) is at Rose City Reader.

25 January 2019

A Slice of Magic by A. G. Mayes (Book Beginnings & Friday 56)

I've got such mixed feelings about this. It was a fast read because I couldn't seem to put it down for long ... but that was more because I kept waiting for something to happen that would really grab me and I kept thinking that I was almost there. Sadly, even at the end of the book I was still waiting to be grabbed. It wasn't a bad read by any means, it just didn't have the spark I was hoping for. If you've read it and loved it, please let me know what I missed!

Friday 56 (today is from the 56% mark of the ebook) is hosted at Freda's Voice
& Book Beginnings (share the first few sentences) is at Rose City Reader.

16 January 2019

The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe

To be honest, The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane took me a while to get into and I was uncertain for the first 25% or so if I was going to finish it or add it to my DNF (did not finish) list. It was definitely slow to start and then, like magic, the pace picked up and I couldn't put the book down unless absolutely necessary. Even then I would sneak in a paragraph or two here and there whenever I could. Recommended for fans of American historicals ... who believe in the magic around them or are willing to suspend disbelief for a bit.

11 January 2019

A Moment of Silence by Anna Dean (Book Beginnings & Friday 56)

I'm surprised that I haven't jumped on this series until now. It's like an Agatha Christie-ish Jane Austen and it's delightful. It drives me a bit batty when a book with a perfectly good title and a perfectly wonderful cover gets re-made. If you go looking for the first of Anna Dean's Dido Kent books now you'll likely have more luck if you look for Bellfield Hall (yes, they even renamed the location) ... but hopefully the beginning and 56% are still the same. 

Friday 56 (today is from the 56% mark of the ebook) is hosted at Freda's Voice
& Book Beginnings (share the first few sentences) is at Rose City Reader.

08 January 2019

Building Mr Darcy by Ashlinn Craven (Tuesday Intros & Teaser Tuesday)

I've never been a huge fan of Mr Darcy. I'm more of a Knightly/Tilney girl. Above all, though, I'm an Austen girl and will gladly pick up just about anything that pays homage to my beloved Jane -- even if the main focus is Darcy. Typically I'll put them down again with a shake of the head and a disgusted "how could they do that to my characters?!?" sort of angst (this happens especially when I pick up a 'reimagining' of Austen's works, but that's another gripe for another time I'm sure).Ashlinn Craven's Building Mr Darcy has been sitting on my Kindle cloud for over a year and I'm glad that I finally opened it up. Sure, I still would have rather Building Mr Tilney, but I think here Darcy was the perfect choice. 

Zoe Bunsen and Max Taggart are working on building and perfecting an artificial intelligence version of Fitzwilliam Darcy. Zoe is very much an Austenite (she even wears a "Mr Darcy Ruined My Life" t-shirt to the office on her first day). Max knows nothing about Darcy, but is a whiz at the project management. She's full of exuberance ... he's, well, more like Darcy. 

It's a light read and I grew to care about the characters and even the Darcy AI prototype (and what a character he ended being at times!). Sure, there were times when I shook my head and debated whether or not I was going to continue, but in the long run I'm still glad that I saw it through and would gladly pick up another of Craven's books.

"First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros" is from the first paragraph or two of a book being read now (or in the future) and is hosted by I'd Rather Be At The Beach. "Teaser Tuesday" at The Purple Booker asks for a random line or two from anywhere in the book currently being read.

04 January 2019

Someone to Hold by Mary Balogh (Book Beginnings & Friday 56)

Someone to Hold is the second in Mary Balogh's Westcott series. I adored the first one when I read it in October and I think I may just adore this one even more (which hardly even seems possible)!

We met Camille Westcott in the first book but never really got to know her and this is the story where we get to know her and, more importantly, she gets to know herself. She had always been Lady Camille -- until it was discovered that her birth (and those of her sister and brother) was illegitimate as her father had been married to the mother of our Someone to Love heroine, Anna. Now Lady Camille is just Camille and living in the place where Anna had grown up. Not only is she living in the same town, but she starts to work at the same orphanage where Anna had spent the majority of her life leading up to StL! Of course, this means she gets to meet the people who knew her half-sister the best -- including her lifelong best friend, Joel Cunningham. 

It's a lovely story of opening up to others and self and I easily devoured it in just over a day. It would have been done in a sitting, but one has to work, eat and sleep ... rather unfortunately.

Friday 56 (today is from the 56% mark of the ebook) is hosted at Freda's Voice
& Book Beginnings (share the first few sentences) is at Rose City Reader.

01 January 2019

In Peppermint Peril by Joy Avon (Tuesday Intros & Teaser Tuesday)

It's almost as though Vivian Conroy knew that I would need an author whose last name started with an A for the Alphabet Soup Challenge when she started her new Tea and Read Mystery series under the name Joy Avon. I always figured she I and had a special bond beyond author and devoted reader.

In Peppermint Peril is the first in a new cozy mystery series featuring Calliope (Callie) Aspen, who is home at Heart's Harbor, Maine for the holidays and to help her Great Aunt Iphy (whom I adore to pieces) with her business. She has a vintage tea shop where all of her treats are bookish and often mysterious ... which, of course, I adore. When the first couple of chapters drop shoutouts to Agatha Christie and Brother Cadfael I know I've landed in a happy place.

Oh how I'm going to love this series!!! It's got everything I love in a cozy. A setting I would love to call home; a spunky, sassy and sometimes snarky main character; a great set of supporting characters I can't wait to learn more about (I totally want to be Great Aunt Iphy when I grow up!); and an oh-so-swoon-worthy male who dresses up as well AND looks good rugged. Most of all, it had a story that hooked me immediately and it kept me laughing and guessing and wanting more. I already have the next one on my "want to read."

"First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros" is from the first paragraph or two of a book being read now (or in the future) and is hosted by I'd Rather Be At The Beach. "Teaser Tuesday" at The Purple Booker asks for a random line or two from anywhere in the book currently being read.

31 December 2018

Murder at the Flamingo by Rachel McMillan

I started this last night before bed and just finished. Rachel McMillan is amazing. I'm still madly in love with Jasper (even though he was only mentioned briefly he still made my heart skip a beat) ... and I need to meet Maisie and find out who her mother is!

30 December 2018

Suitors & Sabotage by Cindy Anstey

I'm not exactly sure how Cindy Anstey first came into my life. It may have been via NetGalley or Goodreads or just randomly stumbling upon her first book. However it happened, I am exceedingly glad that it did because every time I pick up one of her books I know that I am about to fall in love with whatever she has written. I loved the first book, tossed aside Mr Darcy and Colonel Brandon over the second, and the third? Well, the paperback won't be released until this coming April but I pre-ordered it after the first chapter had been read because it needs to be on my shelf with the other two and my beloved Jane Austen collection.
Now, you probably know that I read more than a bit of Regencies. Many have I loved, but few have I felt the need to own. It says a lot.
Suitors and Sabotage has a bit of humor, a bit of mystery, and a whole lot of "just admit how you feel already" frustration. Cindy Anstey has once again written a delightful romp suitable for the younger and more delicate fans of the genre, while still being engaging enough for those of us who also enjoy the more bodice-ripping end of the Regency spectrum.

28 December 2018

The Butterfly Conspiracy by Vivian Conroy (Book Beginnings & Friday 56)

Just when I thought no one would top Lady Alkmene and Jake ... or Guinevere and Oliver ... Vivian had to go and give me Merula and Raven!
How many more fictional men do I need vying for my affections??? 
I think, surprisingly, Raven may be in the lead at the moment ... maybe ... though there is something about Galileo and I need to find out more! I've always been a sucker for the awkward and geeky types.
Once again, Conroy has created an amazing cast of characters and thrown them into a mystery that kept me guessing right along with them. I can't wait to see what they all get into next!

Friday 56 (today is from the 56% mark of the ebook) is hosted at Freda's Voice
& Book Beginnings (share the first few sentences) is at Rose City Reader.

24 December 2018

2019 Alphabet Soup Reading Challenge

It's been a while since I've cared enough to sign up for a challenge, much less actually do one .... but I always loved the alphabet based challenges so I'm going to try and keep my oomph up long enough to do the Alphabet Soup Reading Challenge (title-based) .... and the author based one as well! The plan in my head is to not overlap between the two .... maybe ...

Click on the images to find out more ... and I'll try to keep updating here as I make progress!

G- The Grave's a Fine and Private Place by Alan Bradley (Goodreads review)
H- Happily Never After by Emma Robinson (Goodreads review)
I- i am Elephant, i am Butterfly by Leslie Tall Manning
M-My So-Called (Love) Life by A.L Michael (Goodreads review)
T- A Testament to Murder by Vivian Conroy
W- The Whispered Word by Ellery Adams (Goodreads review)
Y- The Year of Starting Over by Karen King
Z- Zen Queen by Kirsty McManus (Goodreads review)

A- Avon, Joy -- In Peppermint Peril
B- Balogh, Mary -- Someone to Hold
C- Craven, Ashlinn -- Building Mr Darcy
D- Dean, Anna -- A Moment of Silence
E- Eeles, Liz -- New Starts and Cherry Tarts at the Cosy Kettle
F- Fox, Hester -- The Witch of Willow Hall (Goodreads review)
H- Howe, Katherine -- The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane
J- Johnstone, Julie -- My Fair Duchess (Goodreads review)
K- Kasasian, MRC -- Betty Church and the Suffolk Vampire
M- Mayes, A.G. -- A Slice of Magic
R- Ranald, Sophie -- Sorry Not Sorry  (Goodreads review)
S- Stainton, Keris --The Invitation (Goodreads review)
Y- Young, Suzanne -- Girls With Sharp Sticks (Goodreads review)

We Wish You a Murderous Christmas by Vicki Delany

It's been three years since I read the first book in Vicki Delany's Year-Round Christmas Mystery series, Rest Ye Murdered Gentlemen. A really good indication of this being a really great series? Three years later I was able to pick up the next installment, We Wish You A Murderous Christmas, and all of the characters and love of the first book were still fresh in my mind. With as much as I read (which, I know, hasn't seemed like a lot this year), one would think that a fictional town full of people would get lost in the shuffle and pushed back into the far recesses of my brain after a few months much less a few years. There's just something special about Rudolph.

From the first few pages my love for the series, the town and the most of the characters was rekindled as though I had read the first book three days ago rather than three years ago. Yes, I still wish Rudolph, New York was a real place within easy traveling distance from my own. Yes, I still adore Merry and her parents and best friend and dog and still so do not adore her business "competition" Betty, her employee Jackie and Jackie's boyfriend Kyle. And speaking of boyfriends, I am most definitely Team Alan. By the end of the book all of these held true... and then some.

 As for the story itself? Well, Delany definitely knows how to keep the pace steady and keep me guessing. It took me just under two days to finish -- including time spent sleeping, eating, working, and celebrating Christmas a few days early with my boy. I hadn't figured out "whodunnit" until Merry had which is always a pleasure. I get a bit aggravated at times when I figure something out early and have to spend pages and pages waiting for the book to catch up! Now? My only aggravation is that Rudolph still isn't real.

17 December 2018

An Improper Encounter by Erica Taylor

I love a book that makes me laugh. I really love a book that makes me cry. If a book can do those and give me other feels of the more, well, touchy-feely kind? It's definitely a five-star book! Erica Taylor's third Macalisters book, An Improper Encounter, excelled at giving me "all the feels" so intensely that I would give it more stars if I could.

This is the story of Sarah and William. Sarah is the eldest of the Macalister clan and grew up being the mother figure to her siblings -- including Susanna from A Suitable Affair and Andrew from The Perfect Duchess.
Yes, this is where I urge you to get the first two books and read them. Start with Andrew's, even though it's technically book 2. Right now they're both free for Kindle so there really isn't any reason not to. (Even if they're not free at the time you read this, if you love a good Regency, do it anyway.)
Anyway, this is Sarah's story. Sarah, the widowed dragon-in-training for the ton, who has spent most of her life dealing with tragedy and heartbreak and taking care of everybody else first. She has had a feeling for quite some time that she wants more out of life, and it takes a bet from her best friend and sister-in-law Lydia and the improper encounter from whence we get our title for her to actually do anything about it. Or, at least, attempt to. The encounter is with William -- a mysterious man with tragedy and heartbreak of his own to overcome. I really don't see it as being a "spoiler" when I give away that they end up falling in love. Of course they do. The Amazon description even gives that much away:
Lady Sarah Hartford is beautiful, wealthy, widowed, and bored. After agreeing to a scandalous dare to seduce a stranger into her bedchamber, she meets the devilishly handsome doctor, William Gordon. Though both keep their true identities hidden, an intense romance blooms between them, and Sarah finally feels like she could be happy again.
Instead, William disappears from her life only to arrive three months later on her doorstep—married, a duke, and with a pregnant duchess in tow. The pair must try to untangle truth from lies while keeping their history a secret from everyone around them.
What Amazon fails to tell you, though, is that this very well may be a book you need to read in private because ... well ... feels.

Susanna and Ian. Andrew and Clara. Sarah and William. Erica Taylor knows how to write couples that will leave you laughing, crying, and more than a bit hot and bothered ... and sometimes all three simultaneously.

Three Macalisters down and six to go. I can't wait to see who gets matched up next! Actually, I can ... but only because I'll need some time to recover from Sarah and William's emotional and physical whirlwind.

19 October 2018

Aunt Dimity's Death by Nancy Atherton (Book Beginnings & Friday 56)

I've been hearing about the Aunt Dimity series since it first started ... over 25 years ago. Had I started reading them then, I doubt that I would have gotten as much out of them. I was expecting a quirky ghost story. That isn't quite what happened. I was also expecting a traditional cozy mystery. That isn't quite what happened either. What happened is that I fell in love with the very non-traditional telling of a girl, her ghost, and the mysteries of love, loss and finding joy in spite of everything else. 

I'm now 22 books behind ... but I have a feeling that number will shrink quite quickly (especially as I already have the next three in my possession)!

Friday 56 (today is from the 56% mark of the ebook) is hosted at Freda's Voice
& Book Beginnings (share the first few sentences) is at Rose City Reader.

09 October 2018

Someone to Love by Mary Balogh (Tuesday Intros & Teaser Tuesday)

Oh, this book!

I grabbed it off the shelf as it was the only thing I physically had in my possession that was a regency that hadn't been read and reread ... and I'm participating in the OWNtober readathon for the month of October devoted to books already owned. I debated going out to buy a Julia Quinn before the end of September, but ultimately decided that it would be cheating in a way. I'm glad I went with Balogh instead for now I have another wonderful author to turn to for the blissful escapism my life so frequently seems to need now.

This was a surprising read. I had figured out quite early on who was going to end up with who, but how it came about and how it played out was beyond what I had imagined. Their story made me laugh and catch my breath and panic and filled my thoughts and heart with all sorts of "if-only"s.

My only regret is that it ended too soon, but I'm hopeful that the next installments in the series will revisit the characters I have come to cherish, even if only briefly.

"First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros" is from the first paragraph or two of a book being read now (or in the future) and is hosted by I'd Rather Be At The Beach. "Teaser Tuesday" at The Purple Booker asks for a random line or two from anywhere in the book currently being read.

28 September 2018

The "I Do" Deli by Josie Castel (Book Beginning & Friday 56)

It took me a little while to get into Josie Castel's debut, The 'I Do' Deli, and by "a little while," I mean a handful of paragraphs at the most. It's an absolutely delightful love story ... or four, depending on your math. Maybe five. We'll have to see what happens with the sequel and I am definitely looking forward to that!

I keep trying to decide which of the pairing was my favorite. They were each so perfect! I'll probably end up claiming Carmine and Rosemary as the best, though ... and you'll just have to read it yourself to find out why.

Friday 56 (today is from the 56% mark of the ebook) is hosted at Freda's Voice
& Book Beginnings (share the first few sentences) is at Rose City Reader.

25 September 2018

The Girl With the Make-Believe Husband by Julia Quinn (Tuesday Intros & Teaser Tuesday)

I'm reading another prequel to the Bridgertons series, Julia Quinn's The Girl With the Make-Believe Husband. Right now I'm about half-way through and love it. It's the story of Cecilia Harcourt and Edward Rokesby (brother of George from Because of Miss Bridgerton). She has traveled to the Colonies in search of her brother after hearing that he had been injured in battle. When she arrived, however, the wounded soldier that she found was his good friend Edward and the only way that she could care for him and, hopefully, continue the search for her brother, was to convince people that she was his wife. It wasn't all that difficult .... until he woke up. Luckily, in a way, he woke up missing at least three months of memories so when he was told that they had been married it wasn't hard for him to believe that it was just part of his lost time. It was, however, extremely difficult for Cecilia who found the lies piling up around her and tearing her up inside because she genuinely cared for Edward (they had gotten to know each other through her correspondence with her brother).
So far this has all of the charm and wit and catch-your-breath romance of the other Quinn books I have read recently and I can't wait to see what happens next! 

"First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros" is from the first paragraph or two of a book being read now (or in the future) and is hosted by I'd Rather Be At The Beach. "Teaser Tuesday" at The Purple Booker asks for a random line or two from anywhere in the book currently being read.

21 September 2018

Because of Miss Bridgerton by Julia Quinn (Book Beginnings & Friday 56)

I've only just started reading Julia Quinn's Because of Miss Bridgerton, a prequel to the Bridgerton series that I'm anxious to begin (especially since Shonda Rhimes is adapting them for Netflix!). I actually should have probably done Alan Bradley's Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew'd  today since that was just finished ... but I'm still trying to recover emotionally so I'm going for what I'm assuming will be a lighthearted romp. Maybe by Tuesday's post I'll be able to wrap my brain around the other.
I may never fully recover.

Friday 56 (today is from the 56% mark of the ebook) is hosted at Freda's Voice
& Book Beginnings (share the first few sentences) is at Rose City Reader.

14 September 2018

Girl Waits With Gun by Amy Stewart (Book Beginnings & Friday 56)

I've been meaning to pick up Amy Stewart's Girl Waits With Gun since I first saw it mentioned on Goodreads before its release. Since I'm a bit of a nerd when it comes to, well, just about everything, I devoured every bit of factual information that I could find on Constance once I learned that it was based on a true story. I added it to my TBR .... three years ago. I distract easily sometimes. It wasn't so easy, though, to distract me from this book once I finally started to read it ... yesterday. 

I had found a pristine copy of the paperback in a Little Free Library box near my house and also ended up borrowing the ebook from my public library so I would be able to continue reading in bed with the lights off, while walking to and from the store, or at work. I became completely entranced by this telling of the story of Constance Kopp and her sisters. Even though I knew ahead of time how things would more or less turn out in real life, the additions and details added by Stewart kept the pages turning -- and my internal casting director picking out who should play which part if ever made into a movie or series (Gwendoline Christie would positively rock as Constance.)

I absolutely highly recommend this book and have already made sure that my library has the next installments in the system so I can continue the saga soon. (And by "soon" I mean hopefully before three more years pass .... but I make no guarantees.)

Friday 56 (today is page 56 from the paperback) is hosted at Freda's Voice
& Book Beginnings (share the first few sentences) is at Rose City Reader.


Author: Amy Stewart
Publication: Mariner Books, September 1, 2015

First Line
Our troubles began in the summer of 1914, the year I turned thirty-five.

Favorites on 4s
p14 - "My head aches terribly," she said, "from listening to Fleurette go in about how she was nearly killed yesterday. She talks too much for a girl who is almost dead."

p84 - I had the shaky, nauseated feeling that comes from being thrown so suddenly from sleep. I gathered my blankets around me as protection against whatever had hit my bed. My fingers skipped around, past the broken glass, and there it was. A brick. There was a piece of string around it, and paper tucked underneath.

p134 - As I was distracted by those thoughts, I didn't notice that an automobile had driven past and circled the block, rolling slowly by and coming to a stop just ahead of me. My whole body went cold at once when I saw it. I couldn't take a breath.

p174 - There was a sugary smell that hung around Fleurette, like the crumb tarts we used to bake when she was a little girl. I closed my eyes and the memory of it came over me. I used to tell her that she was good enough to eat, and she would shriek and run to Mother in mock horror.

p234 - "Sheriff Heath," I said, suddenly worried. "You don't look well." Why hadn'ti noticed it before?
He gave a shuddering, chesty laugh that sent him into a coughing fit.
" Strange men are firing guns at your house and you're asking after my health?"

p284 - The stories in the papers were like the old Austrian fairy  tales my mother used to whisper to us at night, populated by ogres and trolls and the weak-limbed mortals who could not fight them off.

p354 - At last sleep caught up with me again and I didn't move until the chickens started cackling at daybreak. The truth was with me, as if I had known it all along.

p384 - "I mean wasn't it the most interesting year of our lives? We learned to fire a gun and, and rode in an automobile, and you got to run around with the sheriff, and we never would have met Lucy Blake, and what about --"

13 September 2018

Moonlight on the Thames by Lauren Westwood

When Lauren Westwood asked if I would like to read her latest outing, I eagerly said yes. After all, I quite loved the first book of hers that I had read. 

And then I found out that it was a Christmas story. 

I had been having a rough few days and I so wasn't in the mood for a fluffy chicklit full of all of the trappings that such books typically include. I'm sure you know the type. The ones with so little conflict and so much lighthearted cheer that, if in the right mood, they can make you want to break out the tinsel and mistletoe even when it's still hot enough outside to be wearing shorts and tank tops. 

I wasn't in the mood. 

Luckily, Moonlight on the Thames isn't a sappy and sickeningly sweet holiday romance. Instead, it's a touching, sometimes heartwrenching, story of redemption, forgiveness and love ... with a bit of Christmas thrown in. I may not be ready to break out the holly and the ivy, but an eggnog might not be out of the question.


Title: Moonlight on the Thames
Author: Lauren Westwood
Publication: Aria, September 4 2018

First Lines
She wasn't meant to be here. That was the worst thing.

Faves on 4s
4% - The breath seized up in her chest; the hand holding the glass started to tremble. Breathe… this was silly. Christmas… She’d never told Jules, or anyone else, the real reason why she hated this time of year. Ice on the pavement… footsteps behind her… that smile… Jules was her little sister – she had a duty to protect her. There were some things that she didn’t need to know—

14% - His frown still hadn’t wavered, but she could feel his eyes moving away from her face. Appraising all of her. She already felt stripped and raw from the music, and she was sure he could see right through her to the core of ugliness at her centre.

44% - His head hadn’t stopped aching since waking up earlier in the afternoon. All he wanted to do was play piano for a while, then go home and have a cup of tea and a shower. He’d make a start on the damn application – he’d promised Tanya that much. And then, sleep. Praying that this time, he didn’t dream.

74% - Nicola tried again to find her voice. She was desperate for him to leave and desperate for him to stay. How could something that had happened so many years ago still affect her like this? It was ludicrous and it was wrong. It had festered so deeply inside of her that it had turned all of her ugly and rotten. And now, she had tried to lift up this man and had let him drop like a stone. He deserved better than this, even if she didn’t. He had done nothing wrong. All she could offer him now was an explanation.

84% - She felt like something inside of her was torn and waiting to be stitched back together. It was painful, but on the other hand, the anticipation – knowing that he would return later – was delicious. It was a very strange and unsettling feeling, and one that she was almost certain she’d never had before this week.

11 September 2018

The Secret, Book & Scone Society by Ellery Adams (Tuesday Intros & Teaser Tuesday)

"First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros" is from the first paragraph or two of a book being read now (or in the future) and is hosted by I'd Rather Be At The Beach. "Teaser Tuesday" at The Purple Booker asks for a random line or two from anywhere in the book currently being read.


I have a strange aversion to putting holds on library books. If a book has already been checked out when I go to look for it (since I also seem to have an aversion to checking the catalog ahead of time), then it obviously isn't the right time for me to be reading said book. I had to wait almost an entire year for the circulation gods to smile on me and the stars to align and for Ellery Adams' The Secret, Book & Scone Society to be in the stacks at just the right moment. 

It was well worth the wait.

Miracle Springs, North Carolina is a place where people go for healing -- physical and emotional. It's what drew Nora Pennington there after personal tragedy, and where she opened Miracle Books and began to offer her own "bibliotherapy" to select customers in order to help them heal as needed through the pages of a good book (often, several of them). 

I absolutely love the idea of bibliotherapy. I've often been saved from myself thanks to a book and will often find myself recommending books to others who seem to be "in a mood."  

When a potential customer of Nora's is killed before she could give her recommendations, she teams up with some other local women -- all of whom have their own painful secrets -- to form The Secret, Book & Scone Society to find out the truth of what is happening in their town. Along the way scandals are uncovered, secrets are divulged, romance lingers, and a sisterly bond is formed. 

The mystery angle of the book was a good one and it kept me guessing as Ellery often does, but the real highlight of the book was watching these women and their friendship grow. My heart ached for each of them and I would love to be able to grab a mug and a scone and join their sessions. I would especially love to know what books Nora would pick out for me ... as if my TBR wasn't already toppling.


Author: Ellery Adams
Publication: Kensington Books, October 31 2017

First Lines
The man on the park bench stared at the empty space above the knuckle of Nora Pennington’s pinkie finger.
Strangers were always hypnotized by this gap. They would gaze at the puckered skin stretched over the nub of finger bone for several awkward seconds before averting their eyes in disgust, pity, or both.

Fave on 4s
p4 - “Stories don’t change much across continents and centuries. Hearts are broken. Pride is wounded. Souls wander too far from home and become lost. The wrong roads are taken. The incorrect choice is made. Stories echo with loneliness. Grief. Longing. Redemption. Forgiveness. Hope. And love.”

p44 - Hoping to keep a firm hold on the positive energy that had been building among the four of them, Nora said, “The key to our success lies in careful listening. And secrecy. From now on, we can only trust each another.”

p64 - After hanging out with you gals on Sunday, though, I realized that I wanted more of this.” She gestured around the circle. “We’re no Fellowship of the Ring, but I haven’t had girlfriends since high school. Not close ones, anyway. These days, my closest friends are all fictional.”

p94 - Nora avoided making eye contact with Jed, but she was hyper-aware of his arm around her waist and of the way his fingers pressed into her lower back. She felt possessed and protected. And completely unnerved.

p144 - “She won’t let anyone see the real her,” Nora pointed out. “None of us have been willing to do that. We’ve become adept at hiding behind our armor. Until we found each other. I don’t know about you, but this is the first time in years I’ve opened up to anyone.”

p204 - “That sounded a bit like therapy.” His tone wasn’t judgmental. Merely inquisitive.
Nora was reluctant to explain her role of self-trained bibliotherapist, but since Jed had already told her that he was open to nontraditional forms of medicine, she said, “Sometimes, I recommend certain titles to help people find healing.”
Jed mulled this over. “But you gave that customer a stack of novels. How does fiction heal?”
“Not all injuries are physical,” Nora said, and moved off to ring up a customer waiting at the front counter.

p224 - “The three of us are crashing this party. And by the end of the night, we’ll have what we need to take care of the vermin infesting our town.”
June hooted in enthusiastic agreement. “Pass me the rat killer, sister. I am ready to do some exterminating.”

07 September 2018

The Secret Diaries of Miss Miranda Cheever by Julia Quinn (Book Beginnings & Friday 56)

I honestly can't remember the last time that I flew through a book quite as quickly as I did Julia Quinn's The Secret Diaries of Miss Miranda Cheever. I decided that it was going to be my next read on September 3rd, actually started reading it the evening of September 4th, and finished it the morning of September 5th. I may have stayed up until about 3am ... and I may have snuck in the last few chapters while at work ... and it was definitely worth every second. I laughed. I cried. I swooned. Oooooh boy did I swoon! I have no idea how this was my first Julia Quinn read, but it most certainly won't be my last. 

Friday 56 (today is 56% from the ebook) is hosted at Freda's Voice
& Book Beginnings (share the first few sentences) is at Rose City Reader.

19 August 2018

As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust by Alan Bradley

To say that I've been in a slump may be one of the great understatements of the year. Life has been ... slumpish. On the upside, I've been working out more ... but on the downside, I've been reading far less. I have a huge list of books that I "should" be reading from NetGalley and other review requests (sorry!), but I decided that I needed to revisit an old friend and spend some quality time with her.

The slump is, at least temporarily, over.

As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust  is the seventh novel in Alan Bradley's series featuring chemist/sleuth/pre-teen extraordinaire Flavia de Luce. Unlike the other installments, this tale takes place in Canada at the boarding school Flavia's mother had attended in her youth. I missed Buckshaw and Bishop's Lacey back in England almost as much as Flavia did, and found myself sniffling more than a few times as she recalled her home, friends, family, and even her beloved bicycle, Gladys.

Of course, along with the anguish of missing home, Flavia also has to deal with a murder mystery almost literally falling at her feet ... as well as a great deal of other mysteries which may or may not be related. After all, this isn't a typical boarding school. It's also the training facility for a secret society known as the Nide. There wasn't as much detail about that aspect as I was hoping for, but the poor girl was a bit busy trying to adjust and solve the mystery of the body that fell out of her chimney. She managed in typical Flavia fashion with her wits and more than a bit of spunk. I do so love her spunk.

I debated, briefly, giving this less than five stars. When it came right down to it, though, I had no good reason. The mystery and characters kept me guessing. Flavia kept me entertained. Once again, Alan Bradley reminds me why I love reading so much, and how much joy can be had in staying up late for just "one more chapter." If I ever find myself in a slump again, he will be the first one I turn to.

Author: Alan Bradley
Publication: Delacorte Press (Random House), 6 January 2015

First Lines: If you're anything like me, you adore rot. It is pleasant to reflect upon the fact that decay and decomposition are what make the world go round.

Faves on 5s:
5%: One of the things I dread about becoming an adult is that sooner or later you begin letting sentimentality get in the way of simple logic. False feelings are allowed to clog the works like raw honey poured into the tiny wheels of a fine timepiece.

15%: "Curse this life!" I thought. And then I remembered the dead body upstairs and I cheered up at once.

55%: There is an electric silence that comes with shock: a silence which is intolerable yet which, in spite of that, you are powerless to break.

75%: There's something in human nature, I'm beginning to learn, that makes and adult, when speaking to a younger person, magnify the little things and shrink the big ones. It's like looking -- or talking -- though a kind of word-telescope that, no matter which end they choose, distorts the truth. Your mistakes are always magnified and your victories shrunken.

95%: Sleep was impossible. I tossed and turned, sweated and swore. By daylight I was a bad-tempered haystack, but I didn't care.

17 April 2018

The Perfect Duchess by Erica Taylor (Tuesday Intros & Teaser Tuesday)

To say that I loved Erica Taylor's first Macalister book, A Suitable Affair, would be an understatement of major proportions. I haven't quite finished her second book (which is actually a prequel so feel free to read it first), but I couldn't wait to oooh and aaah and squeal with delight over Andrew and Clara (and to say yet again how much I NEED more Luke!)! 

Andrew is known as the "Stone Duke" for his typically cold demeanor, and Clara is followed by horrid gossip about her pretty much wherever she goes. The two have known each other since childhood, though, and were almost in-laws as Andrew was once engaged to Clara's twin sister. When they meet again at a ball hosted by the Macalisters, their chemistry and attraction was undeniable ... to the reader, anyway. 

When I last put down my book (okay -- my phone ... thank you ever-so-much to NetGalley for making this book the reason I rejoined!), Andrew had just beaten the tar out of Clara's brother (he had it coming). I've got a lot more to go and can't wait to see what happens next!

"First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros" is from the first paragraph or two of a book being read now (or in the future) and is hosted by I'd Rather Be At The Beach. "Teaser Tuesday" at The Purple Booker asks for a random line or two from anywhere in the book currently being read.