*** Please note that various posts will contain affiliate links for Amazon. Purchases from these links will make me a small percentage in store credit. ***

28 February 2017

Elementary, She Read by Vicki Delany (Tuesday Intros & Teaser Tuesday)

I took the majority of this most recent weekend "off" from reading. There were basketball games to be watched, a Wing Walk to go on with my son, bookshelves to work on rearranging, and lots of television to be caught up on thanks to my recent renewal of my Acorn.tv account. 
I started Vicki Delany's Elementary, She Read on the bus trip in to work Sunday night and by the time my shift was over I was more than half-way finished. (Had I not had to also actually work I may have finished it!)

When I saw the description on NetGalley I knew that it would be one I would need to request:
Gemma Doyle, a transplanted Englishwoman, has returned to the quaint town of West London on Cape Cod to manage her Great Uncle Arthur's Sherlock Holmes Bookshop and Emporium. The shop--located at 222 Baker Street--specializes in the Holmes canon and pastiche, and is also the home of Moriarty the cat. When Gemma finds a rare and potentially valuable magazine containing the first Sherlock Homes story hidden in the bookshop, she and her friend Jayne (who runs the adjoining Mrs. Hudson's Tea Room) set off to find the owner, only to stumble upon a dead body. 
The highly perceptive Gemma is the police’s first suspect, so she puts her consummate powers of deduction to work to clear her name, investigating a handsome rare books expert, the dead woman's suspiciously unmoved son, and a whole family of greedy characters desperate to cash in on their inheritance. But when Gemma and Jayne accidentally place themselves at a second murder scene, it's a race to uncover the truth before the detectives lock them up for good.
Fans of Sherlock Holmes will delight in the sleuthing duo of Gemma and Jayne in Elementary, She Read, the clever and captivating series debut by nationally bestselling author Vicki Delany.
See, for as long as I can remember I have adored Sherlock Holmes and stories inspired by Doyle and his beloved duo. I even got craftastic enough to make myself Holmes & Watson dolls for the Sherlockian part of my bookshelves!


I have read some rather awful Holmes & Watson-related stories over the years. This is definitely not one of them. Even without the fact that the main character pretty much has my dream job of a bookshop and cafe, there's an abundance of humor and sass and Gemma is very Holmes-esque in how she sees and relates to the world around her. It's a great book to curl up with in your favorite easy chair (or bus seat ... or rolling computer desk chair ...) and lose yourself in for a handful of hours. It was fun to keep flip-flopping over who I was certain was the guilty party and I eagerly await more visits to West London!


"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.

Elementary, She Read is being released on March 14th. Once I can get my hands on the paperback it will definitely be added to my Sherlock shelf!



24 February 2017

A Knightsbridge Scandal by Anita Davison (Book Beginnings & Friday 56)

Please do yourself a favor and start this wonderful series at the beginning with Flora's Secret (originally titled Murder on the Minneapolis)! Unlike some series where book after book go by with little change in the main character, Davison's Flora has the kind of life that you really don't want to just jump in at with the third installment. 

The year is 1903 and Flora is visiting London where she gets wrapped up in society, the suffragist movement, international affairs and, of course, murder. There are a lot of other things going on, as well, but we'll not get into those just in case you're a book or two behind. The long and the short of it, though, is that this remains one of my favorite historical mystery series and each installment is better than the last. Considering I gave the first one five out of five stars, we must be up to at least seven stars for A Knightsbridge Scandal -- and I feel that at least one extra star needs to be given for the addition of the spunky lady's maid, Sally! 

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.

22 February 2017

WWW Wednesday -- 22 February 2017

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

What I'm Currently Reading
Anita Davison
A Knightsbridge Scandal

This is the third in the series and I loved the first two so I was thrilled to see the new one listed on NetGalley. It's going to be a difficult one to review without giving away spoilers from the first two, but so far I'm enjoying it just as much as I did those.


What I Recently Finished
Lauren Westwood
Finding Secrets

I will be completely flabbergasted if this one somehow doesn't end up on my "favorite books of 2017" list at the end of the year. It was that good -- which, to be honest, in itself completely flabbergasted me!


What I Think I'll Read Next
Vicki Delany
Elementary, She Read

I'm trying to knock as many books off my NetGalley shelf as I can before The Begorrathon 2017 starts up in March. I have hopes for that and I don't want to get it thrown too far off course just because I can't stay away from NetGalley. With this one, though, can you really blame me? A cozy with a Sherlock Holmes themed bookshop?!? 

21 February 2017

Finding Secrets by Lauren Westwood (Tuesday Intros & Teaser Tuesday)


When I realized that Lauren Westwood's Finding Secrets would likely be my Tuesday Intro/Teaser Tuesday book this week I kept my eye out for the perfect lines for the teaser. I soon discovered that there are just far too many perfect lines to choose from.

This book.

Oh my ... this book.

By the half way point (thanks to sleep and work getting in the way of things), I had already found myself laughing and crying and audibly gasping and "omig_d"ing repeatedly. On Amazon it's listed as
Finding Secrets: An uplifting romance where love conquers all, but it's so much more than just another romance book. Sure, there is that aspect to it ... but it's also full of history and intrigue and the journey of self-discovery.  There's so much going on and rather than try to figure out what's going to happen several steps in advance, this time I just went along on the journey with great delight (even when there are tears involved).

It's only February and I already have a feeling it'll remain one of my top books of 2017.

"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.




Finding Secrets is set to be published on March 1st 2017 by Aria.
I received my copy for free through NetGalley. 
The freeness, of course, has had no influence on my opinion. 

18 February 2017

The Skeletons of Scarborough House by Kitty French

In honor of the book makeover ... and next month's release of the second book ...

(the rambley stuff below is largely a reprint from my original review 
-- the book is retitled, but my thoughts remain the same!)

*************Rambley Stuff*************

I have to admit that I got a bit giddy when I saw this on NetGalley (well, first on Twitter to say it was on NetGalley) because omigosh that COVER! How freaking fun is THAT? Then, as per my norm, I did some Amazon-ing about Kitty French to see what else she may have written.

(February 2017 Note:  The new cover is cute ... but the first cover won my heart.)

Erotica.

Uh-oh.

If you've been around me for any significant length of time you'll know that I don't do steamy sexy stuff well. (Not written, anyway.) I didn't want to request a book because of its awesomesauce cover only to end up skimming it between my fingers as they mostly covered my eyes hoping for something positive and non-erotic to gently jump out at me.

After I was finished hyperventilating, I saw that Kitty French is also Kat French so Amazon-ed some more and felt a bit more optimistic since Kat writes romantic comedy/chick lits and has been compared to some authors I have come to adore.

So I hit the request button.

From the beginning I laughed so hard that I had to stop drinking my coffee for fear of spurting it all over my desk.
'He's not mum's date, her's mine. Or else, he was,' I mutter, and then I'm distracted as a beer-bellied pensioner in a soup-stained shirt slowly materialises through the ceiling, his flannel trousers not quite meeting his bony ankles. Stay with me; I see dead people, remember? As do my mother and grandmother, who also watch him descend with matching expressions of distaste. (3%)
Yep, Melody Bittersweet can see and converse with ghosts. Her mother and grandmother are focused on connecting the living and the dead. Melody, much to her mother's dismay, wants to help them move on. They constantly put a cramp on her social life and any attempt she makes at getting a non-ghost-related job. When she turns 27 she decides to do something worthwhile with her life and starts her own ghostbusting business with her best friend, Marina. They also take on the tall and timid Artie as a "trainee" as a favor to his father -- who happens to be dead. Oh, and we mustn't forget Babs -- 1973 Ford Transit.

The Bittersweets aren't the only act in town. Leo Dark, Melody's ex-boyfriend, is a bit of a celebrity ghost whisperer and when Melody and Marina see him on the television at the site of his latest case they decide (with the help of Melody's Magic 8 Ball) to try and nab the job for themselves.
Leo doesn't answer straight away. He's too busy rearranging his features through a speedy cycle of 'hello ex-girlfriend who I dumped acrimoniously, oh shit you've got your vicious sidekick with you,' and 'don't come a step closer, this job has Leo Dark stamped all over it.' (14%)
Needless to say, Leo isn't thrilled when the owner of Scarborough House gives Melody a key to the house and declares that whichever one solves his ghost problem first will be the one who gets paid. On their first official visit to the house Melody encounters the ghosts in residence -- the elderly Isaac and Lloyd, and the young and handsome (and flirtatious) Douglas.

Have I mentioned yet that I have a super huge weakness for hunky ghosts? I blame it on watching movies like The Ghost & Mrs Muir and Topper almost religiously when I was young. Only thing better than a hunky ghost would probably be a hunky pirate ghost. You must know by now how I feel about pirates.

Anyway, the three brothers are cantankerous and hilarious and have been stuck in the house together for 45 years. There's a little question as to which of them actually killed Douglas way back in 1910 and, apparently, none of them are going anywhere until the case is solved.

Of course it won't be so easy as to just get one of them to fess up and *poof* they go. Don't forget there's also Leo butting around and local hot-shot reporter/supernatural-skeptic Fletcher Gunn is determined to prove that it's all just "a load of hokum bollocks."

I failed to mention that Leo and Fletch are also gorgeous and, of course, since Melody supposedly hates both of them you probably know where this is going:

Fasten your seatbelts, kids!
It's a ghostbusting murder mystery love triangle (oh wait -- Douglas. So a love square? rhombus?) romcom!

I'm ridiculously glad that I hit that request button. Along with the whole ghostbusting murder mystery love polygon romcom-ness, we also get Melody's obsession with sweets and superheros, plenty of references to Ghostbusters and Scooby Doo and other nerd-tastic delights, and the oh-so-amazeballs Grandma Dicey (who's still boinking Grandpa Duke even though he died 20 years ago). I seriously can't remember the last time I laughed this hard. The team even ends up getting a dog along the way -- Lestat, the one-eared pug from above. He's absofreakinglutely hilarious in his own right and, possibly, a little bit evil.
I bought new slippers yesterday, fancy knitted boots with fur inside, and I like them enough to sleep with them under my pillow. He knows it, of course. You don’t get to be a mafia boss without knowing everything that’s going down in your manor, and at 6.05 a.m. I feel one of the boots start to slowly slide out from beneath my head. It’s enough. It’s a direct threat. Get up, or the slipper’s history. I open my eyes and there he is, eyeballing me with the pompom of the boot locked firmly between his jaws.
I bare my teeth and growl at him, but he just sits there. I think he’s counting down in his head.(63%)
Now, it's not all a big huge laugh-fest. There are some incredibly emotional moments that had me reaching for my always-present tissue box. Having it not be non-stop hilarity or non-stop heartbreaking made it all that much better. A girl can take only just so much laughter and/or tears, after all. In fact, there really isn't anything I've found to complain about. Well, perhaps a lack of actual pirates (even/especially in ghost form) but it is the first in the series so maybe I'll luck out down the line.

17 February 2017

Ann Granger's The Companion (Book Beginnings & Friday 56)

I'm only just into the third chapter so I can't say much about it yet other than that the first three chapters have been enjoyable! I'm awfully glad that I have this as an e-book as it will make it easier to fly through since it'll make it easier to read it while in bed or walking to the grocery store or during half-time at this weekend's basketball game ...


"In the corners of the room the shadows cast velvety veils. It would not be too difficult to imagine someone stood there and watched. I thought of Madeleine Hexham.... I glanced around me. It was likely that I'd been given my predecessor's room and that it was here she had planned her flight into the arms of her mysterious lover."

When Lizzie Martin arrives in London in 1864 to become a lady's companion, her first impressions are disturbing. She's barely out of the station when her cab encounters a wagon carrying the remains of a young woman recently dead.
At her new home, Lizzie learns that her predecessor, Madeleine Hexham, disappeared without a word of warning. Despite rumors of immoral behavior surrounding the girl's departure, Lizzie is soon persuaded that there's a deeper mystery here. Her suspicions are tragically confirmed when Inspector Benjamin Ross delivers shocking tidings.
Lizzie is determined to unravel the truth about the lost Miss Hexham. As, too, is Ben Ross: a man who cares about justice, whatever the class of victim. But they must tread carefully, as a cornered killer is the most dangerous of all...

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.



***Update -- 19 February 2017***
So ... if any of you go ahead and try The Companion I hope you have more luck with it than I've had. It started strong but I've actually been opting to watch mindless reruns over reading ... which is a pretty good sign to me that a book belongs on the DNF pile

16 February 2017

Planning ahead ... #readireland2017 #begorrathon2017

As of right now, these are the books that I have in mind for The Begorrathon 2017!

Huge thanks to Cathy at 746Books and Niall at Raging Fluff for hosting what is sure to be a fun month. An entire month of books set in Ireland and/or by Irish authors!!! Hurry up and get here already, March!!!

(They're all on my Goodreads shelf for the challenge if you want more info on the books.)

15 February 2017

WWW Wednesday - 15 February 2017

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

What I'm Currently Reading
Robert Thorogood
A Meditation on Murder

Thorogood is the creator of one of my favorite shows -- Death in Paradise. If you haven't seen it yet, get thee to Netflix. The book features Richard Poole, who was the lead character for the first two seasons of the show, but the stories themselves don't overlap. I only have the actual book and not the ebook so that limits my reading time a bit which kind of drives me crazy. It's an excellent story so far and I love revisiting the early cast of the show.


What I Recently Finished
Gail Carriger
Soulless

I wanted to love this as much as I did Carriger's Finishing School series but ... it wasn't bad -- it wasn't as good. I'll likely continue the series just to see some old friends from the School, but I'm not in a big hurry to do so.


What I Think I'll Read Next
Ann Granger
The Companion

This series was recommended to me by a hotel guest eons ago when we were discussing our mutual love of historical mysteries. Hopefully it's as good as he claimed!

14 February 2017

A Meditation on Murder by Robert Thorogood (Tuesday Intro & Teaser Tuesday)

I absolutely adore the BBC show Death in Paradise and have been watching it since the beginning (thanks to the wonderful world of the internet). We're currently in the final stretch of the sixth season and while I wait for the next episode to air I found myself missing Saint-Marie. I could rewatch episodes ... but I decided that it would be even more fun to read a new story featuring the characters from the first season! 


Of course, I was beyond thrilled when I first found out that there were actually books written by the show's creator/writer that weren't just novelizations of cases I had already seen. Having watched (and rewatched) the show, the characters really jump off the page -- accents, idiosyncracies and all. Even if you haven't seen the show, though, I bet you would still love the book if you enjoy classic mysteries. It's very much a modern story with a Golden Age feel -- complete with the locked door murder (kind of)! Even better? Harry is around to wreak his own particular kind of havoc ... which, at this point, is going over the heads of those new to Saint-Marie. I highly suggest that you read the book.

"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.

10 February 2017

Soulless by Gail Carriger (Book Beginnings & Friday 56)

I absolutely fell in love with Gail Carriger's Finishing School series which, while written part way through this series, is a prequel of sorts to the Parasol Protectorate. I've been putting this series off in mourning of the other, I think, but I've decided that I'm ready. So far? I'm loving it! Maybe not as much as Finishing School yet, but enough to recommend it & keep on reading!

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

Alexia Tarabotti is laboring under a great many social tribulations. First, she has no soul. Second, she's a spinster whose father is both Italian and dead. Third, she was rudely attacked by a vampire, breaking all standards of social etiquette. 

Where to go from there? From bad to worse apparently, for Alexia accidentally kills the vampire -- and then the appalling Lord Maccon (loud, messy, gorgeous, and werewolf) is sent by Queen Victoria to investigate. 

With unexpected vampires appearing and expected vampires disappearing, everyone seems to believe Alexia responsible. Can she figure out what is actually happening to London's high society? Will her soulless ability to negate supernatural powers prove useful or just plain embarrassing? Finally, who is the real enemy, and do they have treacle tart?

SOULLESS is the first book of the Parasol Protectorate series: a comedy of manners set in Victorian London, full of werewolves, vampires, dirigibles, and tea-drinking.

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

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.

09 February 2017

Rambling About.. Kneaded to Death by Winnie Archer


Title: Kneaded to Death
Author: Winnie Archer
Publication: 28 February 2017 - Kensington
Amazon Description:
Everyone swears by Yeast of Eden, the Mexican bread shop in town. But tonight, the only thing on the menu is la muerte . . .

Struggling photographer Ivy Culpepper has lots of soul-searching to do since returning to seaside Santa Sofia, California. That is, until the thirty-six-year-old enters a bread making class at Yeast of Eden. Whether it’s the aroma of fresh conchas in the oven, or her instant connection with owner Olaya Solis, Ivy just knows the missing ingredients in her life are hidden among the secrets of Olaya’s bakery . . .

But Ivy’s spirits crumble when a missing classmate is suddenly discovered dead in her car. Even more devastating, the prime suspect is Olaya Solis herself. Doubting the woman could commit such a crime, Ivy embarks on a murder investigation of her own to prove her innocence and seize the real killer. As she follows a deadly trail of crumbs around town, Ivy must trust her gut like never before—or someone else could be toast!

First Lines: Santa Sofia is a magical town, nestled between the Santa Lucia Mountain Range and the Pacific Ocean on California's Central Coast. I've always seen it as the perfect place.

Faves on 4s:
(text from Advanced copy -- final print may vary)
4% - I listened, enthralled. Her words seeped into me, and I understood completely. It was all about passion.
24% - I'd bet my life that she was the most self-sufficient, organized, and capable eighty-six-year-old woman on the planet. In fact, if she were pitted against any woman of any age, I'd lay odds on Penelope Branford.
54% - I waited for the tug of sorrow I'd grown accustomed to feeling whenever my mom was mentioned, but for the first time it didn't come. Instead, I felt pride. It started as a sliver of a feeling in my heart and spread outward, giving each of my limbs a pleasant sensation of warmth.
84% - Billy and I had spent our childhoods climbing fences, sneaking through backyards, and being as stealthy as we could to stay out as late as we could. Now, nearly twenty years later, I was reliving those moments on Pacific Grove Street.

Ramble: 
Ivy Culpepper's mother was killed in a hit-and-run accident about 6 months ago, crushing herself, her brother and her father. Soon after Ivy returned to Santa Sofia and is still struggling to pick the pieces of her life back up and put them together. She signs up for a baking class at the local bread shop, Yeast of Eden, and on the first night of class not only does she find out that her high school sweetheart who cut-and-run on her almost twenty years ago is also back in town ... but one of her baking classmates is murdered in the shop parking lot.

Ivy doesn't believe that the prime suspect had anything to do with the girl's demise and is determined to help prove her innocence. Her best friend is the Deputy Sheriff so that makes it a bit easier to butt her nose into things. Through it all, she's also helping a new friend (the amazing elderly spitfire, Penny Branford) investigate a neighbor and questioning whether her mother's "accident" was an accident at all. 

The girl has a lot going on.

Luckily for readers, Winnie Archer never lets the chaos in Ivy's life distract from a good story being told. Too often an author tries to add too much and it ends up a muddled mess. Somehow, though, it never gets overwhelming -- as though she has just the right recipe and knows when to let things settle on their own and when to give them an extra little punch.

I don't want to give too much away but I will say that this is definitely a 5-star series debut for me. 
Great characters? Check. 
Steady pacing? Check.
Twists and turns that kept me guessing? Check and check.
Am I already looking forward to book 2? CHECK!




(Just an FYI : "Winnie Archer" is also Melissa Bourbon, Melissa Bourbon Ramirez & Misa Ramirez, so there are more books and series already out there!!! HOORAY!)

07 February 2017

Billionaire Blend by Cleo Coyle (Tuesday Intros & Teaser Tuesday)

I'm just starting this one tonight after having given up on another book that wasn't holding my attention. I've had pretty good luck with this series so far so I'm hoping this doesn't disappoint!
"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.



***UPDATE***

Billionaire Blend is the thirteenth book in the Coffeehouse Mystery series. I keep reading them (obviously), but I keep find myself wondering why. I can't stand the main character's love interest and, often, want to smack the main character silly. Everything else keeps pulling me in, though. I love her mother-in-law and ex-husband and the coffeeshop staff and I would absolutely love a spin-off book (or twelve) about her daughter and her love interest ... but Clare and Mike? Eh. 


03 February 2017

The Secret to Falling in Love by Victoria Cooke (Book Beginnings & Friday 56)

Oh, NetGalley. I swore I was going to stay away from you but oooooh noooooo you just had to tease and tempt and suck me back in. Thanks for that. No, really. Had you not tempted me onto the site with something totally unrelated I likely never would have noticed Victoria Cooke's The Secret to Falling in Love and I am loving it so far! Now, if only an order link for Amazon US was available I'd be all set. (It's coming out on February 9th -- for some reason Barnes & Noble is good to go with pre-orders but not Amazon?!? Crazy times ....)


Publisher's Description
Status Update: I’m going offline for a while… Wish me luck! xx 
Lifestyle journalist and thirty-something singleton Melissa hashtags, insta's and snapchats her supposedly fabulous life on every social media platform there is. 
That is until she wakes up on her birthday, another year older and still alone, wondering if for all her internet dates, love really can be found online? The challenge: go technology free for a whole month! 
Forced to confront the reality of her life without its perfect filters, Melissa knows she needs to make some changes. But when she bumps into not one, but two gorgeous men, without the use of an app, she believes there could be hope for love offline. 
If only there was a way to choose the right guy for her…


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

01 February 2017

WWW Wednesday - 1 February 2017

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

What I'm Currently Reading
Victoria Cooke
The Secret to Falling in Love

I told myself and told myself and told myself to stay away from NetGalley. It didn't work and this is one of several that caught my eye. It'll be released February 9th. 

What I Recently Finished
Jane Austen
Pride & Prejudice

An all-time favorite! Well, maybe not all time ... but it's been reread at least once every couple of years for the past 25+ years so it's pretty darn close.

What I Think I'll Read Next
Robert Thorogood
A Meditation on Murder

Thorogood is the creator of one of my favorite shows -- Death in Paradise. If you haven't seen it yet, get thee to Netflix. The book features Richard Poole, who was the lead character for the first two seasons of the show, but the stories themselves don't overlap.