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31 January 2017

Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen (Tuesday Intros & Teaser Tuesday)

Don't expect to see any sort of ramble or review about this one. Quite simply, it's one of my all-time favorite books and I've read it at least once every few years for over 25 years. I'm about half way through the latest re-read and it's still just as precious as ever. Granted, I'm still waiting for someone to slit dear Miss Bingley's throat. Not even Pride and Prejudice and Zombies has given me the pleasure!
And, in case you were wondering, the 1995 BBC mini-series is far superior to the 2005 film, but both are worth watching. 1995, after all, has Colin Firth & 2005 has the film debut of Carey Mulligan. We'll ooh and aah about her later on in The Year of Austen since she also played Isabella in ITV's Northanger Abbey ...

"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 Bibliophile by the Sea. "Teaser Tuesday" at The Purple Booker asks for a random line or two from anywhere in the book currently being read.

29 January 2017

A quick little weekend recap

Two books knocked out this weekend! While not nearly as impressive as last weekend's four, I also didn't have a readathon looming over my head so I had the audacity to do other things like watch tv and play ridiculous games on my phone.

The first book finished was the one I had teased on Friday -- Robin Stevens' First Class Murder.
This series just gets better and better! Hazel is still my spirit animal, Daisy still drives me a bit nuts, Uncle Felix is still .... whatever he is. Highly recommended to any fans of Golden Age detective stories regardless of age and to those who know middle graders & tweens who could some day become GA fans. Please, though, start with the first book so you get all the nuances and back stories!

The second one is the first book in Lucy Arlington's series about 45-year-old Lila Wilkins -- Buried In A Book. (At this point "Lucy Arlington" was actually Ellery Adams and Sylvia May. The name switched hands after the third book.)
After being let go from the newspaper where she had worked for twenty years, she finds a position as an intern at a literary agency in the quaint village of Inspiration Valley, North Carolina. A man drops dead in the office on her first day and, of course, Lila takes it upon herself to investigate since the police are too busy with other things. It's your basic cozy complete with a possible law enforcement love interest and super quirky neighbors/family members ... but there's a reason it's such a popular formula that gets repeated over and over again. It works and folks like me will still eat them up as long as their well-written! Luckily, I have yet to read anything by Adams that I haven't enjoyed and this was no exception. I already have the next one lined up waiting!

27 January 2017

First Class Murder by Robin Stevens (Book Beginnings & Friday 56)

Oh how dreadfully happy I am to be back with Daisy and Hazel! This is the third book in the series and, of course, I highly recommend that you back up and start with the first in the series if you haven't already fallen in love with these two. There's background information on the girls and some of the people that they encounter here that is covered elsewhere and I would hate for you to feel left out. Besides, they're spiffing books and I would recommend them to anyone who enjoys a good mystery -- not only the "middle grade" set that they're marketed for!
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.

25 January 2017

WWW Wednesday - 25 January 2017

WWW Wednesday is hosted over at Taking On A World Of Words

What I'm Currently Reading
Robin Stevens
First Class Murder

It's so good to be revisiting my dear Daisy and Hazel! It's one of my favorite mystery series in spite of it being "for" the middle grade set.

What I Recently Finished
Charlotte Fallowfield
Never The Bride

I laughed. I cried. I laughed until I cried. I teased and rambled about it yesterday.

What I Think I'll Read Next
Lucy Arlington
Buried in a Book

This is the first in the series by "Lucy Arlington" -- back when "Lucy" was Ellery Adams & Sylvia May. I've loved everything I've read so far by Adams so I'm sure I'll love this, too! 

24 January 2017

Never the Bride by Charlotte Fallowfield (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 Bibliophile by the Sea. "Teaser Tuesday" at The Purple Booker asks for a random line or two from anywhere in the book currently being read.

*********************************

I adored Charlotte Fallowfield's first romcom, Until We Collide.  It was sweet and unexpected and hilarious and I jumped at the chance to read her upcoming Never The Bride (set for release February 28th).
This is the story of perpetual bridesmaid Abbie, set just outside where Alec & Paige hailed from in UWC, in Dilbury -- a quaint little British village "where a neighbor might stab someone to death with pruning shears for winning the coveted first place rosette for their floral display at the village show." You know, just the kind of place I've always dreamt of living. 😏
Abbie is a bit of a hot mess and a whole lot of a riot and I adore everything about her and Dilbury. It's also a bit heartbreaking and a bit swoony and I'm beyond ecstatic that Fallowfield will be bringing more tales of Dilbury into our lives. I laughed, I cried, I laughed some more until I cried and I cannot wait to do it all over again!

23 January 2017

#24in48 Winter 2017 Readathon Recap

It's not 12:30am and the 24in48 Readathon is finished. I fell half an hour short of the 24 hours, but had a blast, won a prize, and read four great books in the process (well, two great, one pretty good and one okay).

Book 1: The Corpse in Oozak's Pond by Charlotte MacLeod -- Not my favorite in the Peter Shandy series (likely because there wasn't enough Svenson for me), but not a bad read. This installment revolves heavily around the Buggins family, murder, and a lawsuit over the pond that the college uses for their utilities. Shandy is his same ol' snarky brilliant self and Chief Ottermole is along for a great deal of the investigation. Of course, he is the police chief so that makes sense ... but he's just not nearly as much fun as some of the other sidekicks have been. Lots of twists and turns and old family secrets kept things interesting, but I still missed my viking President.
*also fits in with my Cloak & Dagger Challenge

Book 2: The Vintage Cinema Club by Jane Linfoot -- This was a light UK-based chick lit which I almost always love, but not at all what I was expecting. I guess it's my own fault for picking it up because of the adorable cover and Linfoot being an author that I've previously enjoyed. I enjoyed this, as well, but not as much as I had hoped. Silly me, I was expecting the Vintage Cinema Club to be based around old movies in some way! I also hoped to have the three "main" characters (Izzy, Luce and Dida) to have actually all been main characters rather than one main character and two afterthoughts. I kept reading through hoping for more on the other two and got very little.
*The "V" for Alphabet Soup

Book 3: If Fried Chicken Could Fly by Paige Shelton -- I originally grabbed this because I needed an "I" for the Alphabet Soup challenge and thought "Hmmm ... a cozy about a cooking school? Sounds okay. Sure!" It's so much better than okay, though -- there are GHOSTS!!! Of course, in my mind this instantly takes it from "okay" to "fantabulous." The only thing better would have been if they had been pirate ghosts instead of cowboys, but this is set in Missouri so pirates wouldn't be too prevalent. (There is, however, a funny bit about dubloons between the main character and her best friend so that sort of makes up for it!) Absolutely loved this book and I look forward to visiting Broken Rope again soon. (I've already checked and my library has the whole series!)
*The "I" for Alphabet Soup and fits the Cloak & Dagger Challenge

Book 4: Sorcery & Cecelia or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot by Patricia C Wrede and Caroline Stevermer -- I had wanted to read this when I was in middle school and it was first released but my father heard someone say something about it that made it forbidden. I had completely forgotten about it until OpenRoad was doing a giveaway on Twitter and it was one of the options. Nothing (and no one) to hold me back now! Such an interesting read! Heavily inspired by Jane Austen (therefore fitting into my Year of Jane) and magic, each chapter is a letter written from one cousin (Cecelia) to the other (Kate), with the authors each taking one of the cousins to write as. There's magic, mystery, humor, romance ... and I highly recommend it.
*The "W" for my A to Z Authors, also fits The Year of Jane in a roundabout "inspired" way

20 January 2017

Charlotte MacLeod's The Corpse in Oozak's Pond (Book Beginnings & Friday 56)

I just completed Susan Elia MacNeal's Mr. Churchill's Secretary, which was amazing and teased this past Tuesday ... so now to move on to my next book! I picked it out as the first book for the 24in48 Winter 2017 Readathon, but I'm not sure I'll be able to bring myself to wait until Saturday to start it in earnest. After all, it's a Peter Shandy and I'm head over heels for the odd man. Once I get started on a MacLeod book I typically fly through them. It may be done by the time the Readathon begins!

Amazon Description
 The rural town of Balaclava greets Groundhog Day as an excuse for one last cold-weather fling. The students and faculty of the local agricultural college drink cocoa, throw snowballs, and, when the temperature allows, ice skate. Oozak’s Pond is not quite frozen this year, though, and as the Groundhog Day celebrations reach their peak, the students see someone bobbing through the ice. The drowning victim is long past help, though; he’s badly decomposed and dressed in an old-fashioned frock coat with a heavy rock in each pocket.
 
First on the scene is Peter Shandy, horticulturalist and, when the college requires it, detective. But solving this nineteenth-century murder will take more than Shandy’s knack for rutabagas. Relying on his wife’s expertise in local history, the professor dives into a gilded-age mystery that cloaks secrets that remain potent enough to kill.



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

18 January 2017

WWW Wednesday - 18 January 2017

WWW Wednesday is hosted over at Taking On A World Of Words

What I'm Currently Reading

Susan Elia MacNeal
Mr Churchill's 
Secretary

Oh, what a lovely book this is turning out to be! It's set in 1940 London and, not surprisingly, has a huge focus on the beginning of England's involvement in WWII and Churchill's start as Prime Minister. I've been amazed at how many times I've found a tear in my eye and a lump in my throat when I know how the historical aspect of it turns out.

What I Recently Finished

Jane Austen
Sense & Sensibility

So much better as an adult than as a pre-teen! I also watched the 1995 movie AND 2008 BBC mini-series once finished. Obsessed? Me? The Year of Jane is starting out quite nicely!

What I Think I'll Read Next
Charlotte MacLeod
The Corpse in 
Oozak's Pond

I just signed up for my first 24 in 48 Readathon through 24in48.com so I'm pretty certain that there'll be more than just one book tackled in that time ... but I'm at least planning on starting the weekend with my beloved Peter Shandy.

17 January 2017

Mr Churchill's Secretary by Susan Elia MacNeal (Tuesday Intros & Teaser Tuesday)

This past September I paid a whopping ten cents a pop at a library book sale for the first two books in Susan Elia MacNeal's Maggie Hope series. I love historical mysteries -- especially those set in England -- and at ten cents each??? I really felt I had no choice. I had to snatch them both up. So far (as I'm not even half-way through the first yet), it's been twenty cents well spent.
"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 Bibliophile by the Sea. "Teaser Tuesday" at The Purple Booker asks for a random line or two from anywhere in the book currently being read.
London, 1940. Winston Churchill has just been sworn in, war rages across the Channel, and the threat of a Blitz looms larger by the day. But none of this deters Maggie Hope. She graduated at the top of her college class and possesses all the skills of the finest minds in British intelligence, but her gender qualifies her only to be the newest typist at No. 10 Downing Street. Her indefatigable spirit and remarkable gifts for codebreaking, though, rival those of even the highest men in government, and Maggie finds that working for the prime minister affords her a level of clearance she could never have imagined—and opportunities she will not let pass. In troubled, deadly times, with air-raid sirens sending multitudes underground, access to the War Rooms also exposes Maggie to the machinations of a menacing faction determined to do whatever it takes to change the course of history.
Ensnared in a web of spies, murder, and intrigue, Maggie must work quickly to balance her duty to King and Country with her chances for survival. And when she unravels a mystery that points toward her own family’s hidden secrets, she’ll discover that her quick wits are all that stand between an assassin’s murderous plan and Churchill himself.

13 January 2017

Sense & Sensibility by Jane Austen (Book Beginnings & Friday 56)

The first of Jane Austen's books to be published, Sense and Sensibility is primarily a tale of two sisters, their love and loves. 

Elinor is 19 years old. (Hear that, Emma Thompson? 19 years old. You really shouldn't have played the role at 36. I don't care how many nominations and awards the movie got. SHE'S 19!) She is quite serious and is more concerned about doing for others than she is for herself. Marianne is 16 at the onset of the actual story (you know, once we get past the basic prologue of so-and-so dying and leaving such-and-such to whomever). She is pretty much the anti-Elinor, letting her emotions go wild and not caring about appearances or consequences as long as there's some sort of passion and drama. (There's a younger sister, as well, but she's more or less just there for show.)

I first read this at some point in middle school thanks to it being on my mom's shelves and my insistence on reading everything I could get my hands on. Did I "get it"? Not likely. I have, of course, since seen at least two filmed adaptations. I prefer the 2008 BBC mini-series. Hattie Morahan was a much more convincing 19 even though she was 29 at the time of filming ... and it also has Mark Williams and David Morrissey and Mark Freaking Gatiss and at least two others who have been on Doctor Who (or The Sarah Jane Adventures) at one point or another. Heck, the 2008 Marianne was on the most recent Christmas special which just makes me want to hop on Hulu to watch S&S again ....... as soon as I've finished reading the book.

It's not a fast read, of course. I don't recall ever flying through a full-length Jane Austen in a day like I do with so many cozies. Of course, we are still talking about books I originally read almost 30 years ago. It's worth taking my time with, though. The words are there to savor -- not just to read.

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

12 January 2017

Rambling About.. On Borrowed Time by Jenn McKinlay


Title: On Borrowed Time
Author: Jenn McKinlay
Publication: 4 November 2014 - Berkley
First Lines: Lindsey Norris, director of the Briar Creek Public Library, strode across the library with her keys in hand. It was lunch hour on Thursday, which meant book talk, crafts and snacks, as their weekly crafternoon book club gathered in a meeting room on the far side of the building.
Faves on 4s:
14% - He opened his arms wide as if to scoop Lindsey close and comfort her. Sully blocked him, intercepting his move and leaving Robbie hugging him instead.
44% - His voice was gravel rough and managed to turn Lindsey's insides to hot mush even while she felt an adrenaline surge of fear pump through her.
64% - She unlocked her front door and peeked out just to do one more visual sweep for peace of mind. It was a mistake.
84% - "Can you believe we pulled it off?" Beth asked.
           "Honestly, no," Lindsey said. "I feel like it most of it was sheer dumb luck."

Ramble: This is the fifth book in the Library Lover's Mystery series and, while I did enjoy it, it didn't grip me nearly as much as the other installments have. The "mystery" was hugely overshadowed by the love triangle and pretty much felt like an afterthought. Even though the mystery that I was longing for was lacking, the love triangle pretty much cracked me up. Watching the two men work against each other -- which often resulted in the two of them working with each other -- was a riot and I couldn't help but keep turning the pages just to see what they would do next. If you haven't read the other books yet, don't start with this one. Do them in order so the lack of mystery and emphasis on characters doesn't turn you off. It's one of my favorite cozy series and, hopefully, this was just a blip.

11 January 2017

WWW Wednesday - 11 January 2017

WWW Wednesday is hosted over at Taking On A World Of Words

What I'm Currently Reading

Jenn McKinlay
On Borrowed Time

I meant to read this last month since it takes place around Christmas. Whoops!
It's one of my favorite cozy series and I'm hoping to catch up on it this year.

What I Recently Finished
Lexi George
Demon Hunting in Dixie

This was an absolute hoot-and-a-half! Quite possibly the best 99 cents I spent in 2016. I teased and rambled a bit about it for this week's Tuesday Intros & Teaser Tuesday post and finished it early this morning. Very glad I already have the second in the series sitting on my Kindle Cloud!

What I Think I'll Read Next
Jane Austen
Sense & Sensibility

I've read it before, but 25+ years ago at least. I'm fairly certain it's going to feel completely different for me now!

10 January 2017

Demon Hunting in Dixie by Lexi George (Tuesday Intros & Teaser Tuesday)

I was expecting to enjoy Lexi George's Demon Hunting in Dixie. I was NOT expecting to enjoy it as much as I am! It's a hilarious romp with more than a bit of sizzle -- but not so much that I found myself skimming over the sexy bits like I normally would. The humor is what kept me hooked. Addy is constantly thinking or saying something outrageous. Pretty much everyone (even her dog) just let it all come out with their own special kind of Southern charm. I think it's no secret that I love snark. This has it in abundance and if I didn't already own the second book in the series I would be buying it immediately!
"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 Bibliophile by the Sea. "Teaser Tuesday" at The Purple Booker asks for a random line or two from anywhere in the book currently being read.

05 January 2017

A Killer Plot by Ellery Adams (Book Beginning & Friday 56)


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


In the small coastal town of Oyster Bay, North Carolina, you'll find plenty of characters, ne'er-do-wells, and even a few celebs trying to duck the paparazzi. But when murder joins this curious community, the Bayside Book Writers are there to get the story... 
Olivia Limoges is the subject of constant gossip. Ever since she came back to town-a return as mysterious as her departure-Olivia has kept to herself, her dog, and her unfinished novel. With a little cajoling from the eminently charming writer Camden Ford, she agrees to join the Bayside Book Writers, break her writer's block, and even make a few friends... 
But when townspeople start turning up dead with haiku poems left by the bodies, anyone with a flair for language is suddenly suspect. And it's up to Olivia to catch the killer before she meets her own surprise ending.

************************************

A Killer Plot has been on my TBR since it was first released ... in 2010. I finally stopped letting other things distract me from it and I'm so very glad that I did! I think maybe it knew it wasn't the right time back then because I'm not sure I would have appreciated it as much six years ago.

Olivia Limoges, the main character, is a bit much. She's standoffish and curt and pretty much does what she wants when she wants. She had a tough life growing up and worked hard to overcome much and now, at 40, she's well-off and quite happily alone with her businesses, a few friendly acquaintances around town, and her beloved poodle, Captain Haviland.

I've read a lot of reviews for the book where the readers don't like Olivia. Several of them didn't finish because of it. They've seriously missed out. One of the things I loved best about this is seeing how much Olivia grew over the course of the book. She wasn't very likable at the beginning. At the end, though, I wanted to give her a hug, a right-hearty "attagirl," and invite her out for coffee.

From a "cozy mystery" standpoint, this was delightful. (I know -- I use that word a lot here. I obviously just have good taste in books.) I had my suspicions over whodunnit .... a few different times. I like it when they keep me guessing and I also like it when the big reveal comes and I can pat myself on the back over one of my theories being at least partially right. And, like so many other cozies, we have the intriguing potential love interest(s), the quirky group of friends, and good little bit of snark.

This is the first of eight (so far) in Adams' Books by the Bay series. I'm already planning on reading at least one more this year according to my Reading Thing but I may just need to bump something else off of the list (or read really fast) so I can read more!

04 January 2017

2017 Cloak and Dagger Reading Challenge

I just stumbled upon another challenge that I'm going to join -- the Cloak and Dagger Reading Challenge sponsored by Barb @ BookerTsfarm and Stormi @ Books! Movies! Reviews! Oh My!  I'm pretty sure that you've all figured out that I love a good mystery, so this should be right up my alley!


There are different "levels" to the challenge and I just went through my Goodreads TBR and Reading Thing to see how many would fit.

Levels:
5-15 books – Amateur sleuth
16-25 books – Detective
26-35 books – Inspector
36 – 55 – Special agent
56+ books – Sherlock Holmes
The way things look right now I'm pretty much a shoe-on for Sherlock Holmes since there are currently 61 mysteries of various types on my shelf! There's a side-challenge about finishing series and I think I have 4 or 5 on my list that are either the ends of ones I've already started or complete series that I plan on hammering out.
Stay tuned!!!

WWW Wednesday

I absolutely love my Tuesday and Friday meme days and have decided to find more! This is my first time doing a WWW Wednesday, hosted over at Taking On A World Of Words.

What I'm Currently Reading
Ellery Adams
A Killer Plot


I've been meaning to start this series for a while now since I absolutely adore Ellery Adams. I'm only on the third chapter at this point and no one is dead yet, but I'm still enjoying getting to know the characters and if it's even half as enjoyable as her Book Retreat Mysteries were, then I know that I'm in for a fun couple of days! Right now the plan is to use it for this week's Book Beginnings & Friday 56 post, so feel free to stop by if you're curious to find out what my verdict is!

What I Recently Finished
Tracy Kiely
Murder at Longbourn

This was such a fun book! It's got a ton of great literary references to some of my all-time favorites, like Jane Austen and Agatha Christie. Since 2017 is my Year of Jane I thought it was a good book to start the year out with -- especially since the murder in question happened at a New Year's Eve party! I posted a teaser & ramble about it already if you want to check it out! (Highly recommended for cozy mystery fans & lit nerds like me!)

What I Think I'll Read Next
Vivian Conroy
Dead to Begin With

This totally wasn't in my original plans, but then I saw it on NetGalley (which I swore I would stay away from for at least 6 months and obviously failed miserably) and I couldn't resist. Vivian Conroy did an amazing job with the Lady Alkmene Callender historical mysteries that I read in 2016. This is the first book in a new series with a totally different setting -- present-day Maine instead of 1920s London. The book is being released on January 13th and I will probably be teasing and rambling about it this next Tuesday.

02 January 2017

Murder at Longbourn by Tracy Kiely (Tuesday Intros & Teaser Tuesday)

Since 2017 marks the 200th anniversary of the death of Jane Austen, I have declared it to be The Year of Jane. Right now I have twenty-five books lined up either written by or inspired by Jane and I was thrilled to start the year with Tracy Kiely's Murder at Longbourn -- which just happens to take place at New Year's!

It's the first book in what I'm guessing will turn into one of my favorite cozy mystery series featuring Elizabeth (Lizzie) Parker.

Amazon Description
Planning New Year's resolutions to rid her life of all things unhealthy, Elizabeth Parker has dumped fatty foods, processed sugar, and her two-timing boyfriend. Indeed, the invitation to join her Aunt Winnie for a How to Host a Murder Party on New Year's Eve at Winnie's new Cape Cod B and B comes just in time. But when the local wealthy miser ends up the unscripted victim, Elizabeth must unearth old secrets and new motives in order to clear her beloved aunt of suspicion. The suspects include the town gossip, a haughty rich woman, and an antiques business owner much enamored of his benefactress, a Mrs. Kristell Dubois. If that isn't bad enough, Elizabeth must also contend with her childhood nemesis, Peter McGowan---a man she suspects has only matured in chronological years---and her suspicions about his family's interest in Winnie's inn.
Yesterday, her only worry was of ever finding her Mr. Darcy. Now she has a murder to solve. Is it any wonder her resolution to achieve inner poise is in tatters?
It's full of laughter and literary references and was an absolute delight to read. Not only is Kiely obviously a fan of Austen, but also of classic mystery authors like Agatha Christie and Dashiell Hammett. It took me until the 65% mark before I had a big "A-HA!" moment and even then it turned out to be a red herring! Oh, how I love those tricky fish!

"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 Bibliophile by the Sea. "Teaser Tuesday" at The Purple Booker asks for a random line or two from anywhere in the book currently being read.