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28 April 2017

Except the Dying by Maureen Jennings (Book Beginnings & Friday 56)

Except the Dying is the first of Maureen Jennings' book about Detective William Murdoch in Victorian Toronto. Yes, the same William Murdoch of the hit tv series Murdoch Mysteries ... sort of. I say "sort of" because although the show is based on the characters and set in the same time period and location, the similarities between the show (now in its tenth season) and the books (at least this first one of seven) are few and far between. I'm pretty sure that if I had read the books first, I probably wouldn't have continued to watch the show past the first episode or two. They're that different. The book is beautifully dark and gritty and far more serious. Jennings has a way with words that, now, almost seem to be satired in the show. I'm greatly looking forward to picking up the next book in the series ... and now not so excited for the next episode.

Friday 56 (today is page 156 from the paperback) is hosted at Freda's Voice & 
Book Beginnings (share the first few sentences) is at Rose City Reader.

From Amazon:

25 April 2017

The Magnificent Flying Baron Estate by Eric Bower (Tuesday Intros & Teaser Tuesday)

Once I finished Rachel McMillan's The White Feather Murders (Tuesday's teaser post has been updated with my ramble), I needed something a bit more lighthearted and decided that Eric Bower's middle grade historical fantasy/adventure/western/steampunk/mystery/whatever would be it. I initially nabbed The Magnificent Flying Baron Estate off of NetGalley for John, but since he's currently wrapped up in something else he's been reading, I decided to hop on it first. It sounded too good to pass up! Happily, it was just the comic relief I was in need of. It's clever and funny and I'm fairly certain that my son is going to adore it ... and then he'll likely recommend it to his friends (boys and girls as it's got something for everyone ... at least for the younger "everyone"s). It's not as ageless as some "middle grade" books are (*cough*Robin Stevens*cough*), but it has been a bit of fun to almost take my mind off of the heartbreak of finishing one of my favorite series.
"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.





21 April 2017

The White Feather Murders by Rachel McMillan (Book Beginnings & Friday 56)

My son has been on Spring Break all week and I've still had to work my usual full-time overnight gig so, as you can imagine, I'm oh-so-very thankful that my work week is coming to a close. My plan for the next 2 1/2 days? Pajamas, blanket, and The White Feather Murders by Rachel McMillan! I absolutely adore Rachel and the dynamic duo of Merinda and Jem (and, of course, Ray and my dear sweet lovable Jasper). I already know that I'm going to love it, but I'll be sure to verify as much once the weekend lovefest comes to a close! 

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.

From Amazon:


*** UPDATE -- 24 April 2017 ***

It took me a bit longer than usual to really sink my teeth into this one but I'm blaming that largely on the lack of sleep & focus thanks to my son being on break from school this whole past week. Once I was rested up some, though, I started again and couldn't put it down willingly until it was finished.

The world is changing rapidly around our wonderful quartet of Merinda, Jem, Ray and Jasper (my dear, beloved Jasper). It's the summer of 1914 and World War I has begun in Europe. Toronto's large immigrant population (Ray included) is under constant scrutiny and harrassment from those who fear they may side with the enemy. (Gee, sound familiar?) There is a group, known as the Cartier Club, that is trying to fight for the rights of the immigrants. When the members start getting murdered (with white feathers left behind -- used to symbolize cowardice), our foursome gets shaken to the core.

While the mystery part of this outing was gripping and kept me guessing, the real treasure here is the interaction and introspection of our main characters. Each of them struggles with who they've been, who they are, and who they want to be in the world. It's simultanteously heartbreaking and uplifting.

18 April 2017

The Secret Life of Anna Blanc by Jennifer Kincheloe (Tuesday Intros & Teaser Tuesday)

There are so many things you could dislike about Anna Blanc. She's a spoiled rich girl who's more than a bit flippant, rarely thinks things through, and when she does think things through those thoughts are often only of herself. She's a right pain in the rear .... and I love her to bits.

Anna Blanc doesn't really mean to be a spoiled rich girl. It's not as though she could have chosen which family she born into, right? In fact, she tries really hard to break free from it -- including following her passion for crime novels (which she brilliantly hides from disapproving eyes in the covers of "more suitable" books) and secretly getting a job as an assistant police matron. (It's rather hilarious watching her and her "chaperone" manipulate each other in order to get this to work!)

She uses an alias, Anna Holmes, to secure the position ... and also lies about her background, her familiarity with places that aren't her upper-crust norm, and even her typing skills (of which she has none). When prostitutes start disappearing and/or turning up dead, though, she decides to investigate because no one else will.

I'm so immensely glad that Jennifer Kincheloe somehow started to follow me on Twitter early in March which, in return, made me follow her and buy The Secret Life of Anna Blanc. In her description on Twitter, Kincheloe refers to herself as a "serious Miss Fisher and Amelia Peabody fan" and that shines through Anna Blanc. There's humor galore, characters I both love to love and love to hate, and a mystery that has kept me turning the pages to find out what's going to happen 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 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.

13 April 2017

Duels & Deception by Cindy Anstey (Book Beginnings & Friday 56)

Friday 56 (today is page 156 from the paperback) is hosted at Freda's Voice
Book Beginnings (share the first few sentences) is at Rose City Reader.

I have a confession to make : I stopped reading the ebook I received from NetGalley of this on Thursday morning. (Well, except for the bus-ride in to work Thursday night. I just couldn't NOT read a little bit more.... Anstey is positively addictive!) BUT I did so because I knew that on Friday I'll be receiving the actual book in the mail from Amazon and it's so flipping good that I know I'll want to finish it up with it actually in my hands flipping the pages in the comfort of my recliner and pajamas.

That's a good reason, right?

(The page 156 above is thanks to the "Surprise Me!" preview pages on Amazon. I can't wait to find out what's going on!!! But, of course, I can ... because I need that book in my hands!)

Oh, and in case you were wondering, it's a standalone novel. It has the same general feel and era as Love, Lies and Spies, but it isn't necessary to read one before the other. You know that I'm a bit obsessive about reading things in the proper order and here it's really okay if you don't!

***UPDATE -- 16 APRIL 2017***
I was spot-on over needing this book as an actual book. I even took it to Easter lunch at my sister-in-law's to read and had a good chuckle over the amazement that I had my head in an actual book instead of just my phone or tablet.

This book is needed on my shelves and will, without a doubt, be re-read over the years just as my Jane Austens have been and will be. Anstey, once again, has penned a delicious Regency romance with a tinge of intrigue -- this time around Miss Lydia Whitfield. Her father had passed on years earlier and she has been managing her family estate with the assistance (or lack thereof) of her mother's brother. When a disagreement about the management forced the involvement of her solicitor to get involved, the solicitor's clerk (and soon-to-be apprentice) Mr Robert Newton entered the picture.  

Oh, Robert. 

My adoration of this man so far surpasses my previous longings for a Mr Darcy or a Colonel Brandon. From this day forward, all of my Regency daydreams will be his... at least, until Anstey's next book is released.

12 April 2017

WWW Wednesday -- 12 April 2017

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

What I'm Currently Reading
Cindy Anstey
Love, Lies & Spies

This BOOK. It's such an absolute joy to read. I used it for this week's Teaser Tuesday & Tuesday Intro post and have been recommending it in practically every conversation I've had with people. Store cashier? "Oh, by the way ... do you like to read? Let me tell you about this book ...." Random person on the bus? "Oh my gosh ... this book is SO good! Let me tell you ...." Heck, even the poor guy who just delivered the food I ordered at work after he apologized for being late! "Oh, it's okay .... I've been reading this book ...." I have just over one hundred pages left and it's definitely a ten stars .... out of five .


What I Recently Finished

I finished these three since last week's WWW Wednesday post and enjoyed them all. 
Click on the covers for their rambles.



What I Think I'll Read Next
Cindy Anstey
Duels & Deception

There is no "I think I'll read" about this one as it's already queued up in my Kindle app thanks to getting an advanced copy from Swoon via NetGalley! (It was released on Tuesday, but I don't think I can wait for the paperback I ordered to arrive before I start. Yeah ... Love, Lies and Spies has been so incredible that Anstey is now on my "If she writes it, I'll buy it" list.

11 April 2017

Love, Lies and Spies by Cindy Anstey (Tuesday Intros & Teaser Tuesday)

No, I am not spending my entire work shift reading Cindy Anstey's ever-so-amazing Love, Lies and Spies. It's actually only going to end up being about half of my shift ... plus the bus ride in ... and a good amount of time when I should have been sleeping before coming in to work ... and a whole lot of Tuesday. Suffice it to say, I'm loving this book. In fact, as soon as I had read the first paragraph of the digital copy, I hopped on to Amazon and ordered the paperback so I could have it on my shelves and in my hands.


From the back cover:
"In this hilarious homage to Jane Austen, a lady with a penchant for trouble finds a handsome spy much more than merely tolerable."
I keep thinking it's like Elizabeth Bennet still falls for Colin Firth ... but this time he's playing Harry Hart from Kingsman instead of Fitzwilliam Darcy from Pride and Prejudice. (Although, Taron Egerton is more accurate age-wise by about 30 years ... but you understand where I'm coming from, right?)


Okay. Now I'm going to obsess about a Love, Lies and Spies movie being made and Egerton being cast as Spencer... and Sophie Cookson would be a most excellent Juliana... and now I want to watch Kingsman again as soon as I finish this (and before I begin Anstey's next book -- Duels & Deception!).

Anyway, back to 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 April 2017

Rambling About.. Stuck With You by Carla Burgess

I adored Carla Burgess' first book, Marry Me Tomorrow, and when I saw that she had a new one coming out I rearranged my planned reading in order to lose myself in it as soon as NetGalley said it was on my shelf. To be honest, I didn't think it would be possible for Burgess to come up with another couple that I would love half as much as I loved Emily and Sam, but then I met Elena and Daniel.

Burgess has another absolute winner with Stuck With You. Elena has pined for years over Daniel and has been replaying one perfect memory the whole time (in spite of living with her boyfriend, Alex, for the past two years). They were teeneagers. He was about to go traveling, she was heading off to university and, amazingly, he asked her to dance, kissed her, and they never saw eachother after that.  

Until, several years later when they're 25, the elevator breaks down at the supermarket with the two inside.

I don't know if you have an "if only" in your past but if you don't you'll just have to take my word for the fact that all of Elena's pinings even years later? Yep. They can most definitely happen. I'm 41 with a long-term partner and child and I still "if only" and "what if" about one particular "almost" from my awkward teens! That may be one of the reasons why Elena and Daniel have joined Emily and Sam on my list of "favorite book couples" -- they're so relatable and hopeful and put a big ol' goofy grin on my face (and prompted me to listen to quite a lot of The Doors and think of my particular "almost.").

Now ... for the next book could we find out what happens with Rachel? Maybe a Zach update? And, of course, more of Sam, Emily, Elena & Daniel!


Amazon Description

One lift. Two strangers. Anything could happen!

Elena thought that today would be just like any other day…until the supermarket lift jams and she realises she’s stuck.
And not just stuck in the lift. Stuck with her childhood crush, Daniel Moore, who unfortunately seems to be just as gorgeous as she remembered…

07 April 2017

Sebastian's Castle by Lisa DeVore (Book Beginnings & Friday 56)

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.


Being married to a cop is hard, being the widow of one is harder. After Brynn Austin’s husband, Nate, was murdered in an undercover operation, there wasn’t enough evidence to convict the gang leader who killed him. Brynn refuses to let him kill their dream to renovate an old Connecticut castle. But her plan is hampered by a ghost who’s not ready to give up his home.
Contractor Jaxson Maddox signs on to renovate the old castle that’s sat empty for years. He didn’t believe the rumors about the place being haunted. But that was before he met the resident ghost. What Jax didn’t sign on for was trouble in the form of falling for the beautiful widow, dealing with a pesky ghost, and risking his life when a threat from Brynn’s past surfaces. He’ll do whatever it takes to protect her, even if it means becoming a ghost himself.
Ramble
It's highly unusual for me to be contacted by an author previously unknown to me asking if I would be interested in reviewing something for them. It's even more unusual for me to say yes. When I got a message from Lisa DeVore, though, I immediately said yes and suggested (my inner voice was begging a bit) her March 2017 release, Sebastian's Castle

It's got a castle... and mystery... and a ghost. Was there really any chance of me not wanting to read it?

Brynn Austin is moving from Brooklyn to Mystic, Connecticut in order to work on renovating a castle into a bed & breakfast. It was a dream for her and her husband, Nate, before he was killed while undercover for the NYPD just over a year prior. Now she's trying to move on and see their dreams become a reality ... but aside from changing location the whole "moving on" bit is proving difficult. They were never able to prove who killed her husband and it's been eating away at her.

Also unable to "move on" is Sebastian Morgan -- the man who had originally built the castle for his wife, Helena, in 1898. She mysteriously disappeared and he died in 1936 under a cloud of suspicion that perhaps he had killed her.

When Brynn and her contractors start working on the house, Sebastian tries to scare them off but is a bit intrigued by Brynn (and the fact that she can see him) and, well, the place could use some repair work so he lets them stick around.

I know that most people who read this will probably be more wrapped up between the "will they/won't they" romance that starts between Brynn and contractor Jax, but for me that paled in comparison to her relationship with Sebastian. They formed such a wonderful bond and she insisted on helping him with his moving on -- and he was determined to help her do the same. 

It's a wonderful story and, at just shy of 200 pages, was perfect reading for a couple of rainy days curled up under a blanket!


05 April 2017

Rambling About.. Holly Martin's Spring at Blueberry Bay


This is my 6th Holly Martin book and each one of them has been given five stars .... but only because that's as high as Goodreads and Amazon goes. If I could give more I would because Holly has certainly earned it! Once again I've been blessed by the fabulous folks at bookouture with an advanced copy of her latest, Spring at Blueberry Bay. Of course, this has had no influence on how much I've adored this book.

I've found that each time I open a Holly Martin book my heart grows a little bit bigger and my faith in happily-ever-after gets renewed a little bit more. In fact, that faith in happily-ever-after is really behind this book.

from Amazon:

Of course, the description doesn't do it justice ... nor will my little rambling thoughts. It's being released on Friday (April 7th), though, so you don't have long to wait to fall in love yourself! Since, though, this is supposed to be a "proper review" (as if any of my reviews are ever proper), here are some of my thoughts, jotted down along the way:
  • Bella has so much baggage I suspect there's a birthmark shaped like Louis Vuitton's monogram somewhere on her bum.
  • Isaac has everything a lit-crush should. His own baggage (duffle bag size in comparison to Bella's full travel set), strength, tenderness, a wicked sense of humor, and even a tinge of geek (he does, after all, excel in gaming).
  • Hope Island is the newest Holly Martin locale that makes me want to pack my bags and move yesterday. The details were so vivid, I feel like I could step foot off the ferry tomorrow and not get lost.
  • Be aware of speakerphones! They can be hilariously dangerous things.
  • Thou shalt not read Holly Martin books when thou art supposed to be sleeping. Before you know it you'll be howling with laughter and the jig will be up and everyone will know that you're up, too.
  • Thou shalt not read Holly Martin books at work when others may be around. The possibility of being asked a hundred times "are you sure you're okay?" because tears can unexpectedly stream down your face is very real.
  • I need more Bella & Isaac ... and Rocket and Alfie and Rome and Eden and Dougie and Freya and even Claudia. (Claudia must have some kind of backstory, right?) Oh! And Elsie and Roger! (They're so stinking cute!)
Bascially, summer can't get here soon enough. The next Hope Island book is supposed to be out then and I can't wait to revisit this glorious location and its wonderful residents!

WWW Wednesday - 5 April 2017

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

What I'm Currently Reading
Holly Martin
Spring at Blueberry Bay

I started this delightful story Tuesday morning before leaving work and will likely have it finished by the time I leave work this morning. Holly Martin is so ridiculously gifted and every time I read one of her books I feel like my heart grows a little bit bigger and my faith in happily-ever-after gets a little bit of a boost. 


What I Recently Finished
Amy M. Reade
Secrets of Hallstead House

A bit gothic and a bit cozy, I loved this book! The setting is near and dear to my heart which might have helped to sway my opinion, but I'm pretty sure I would have loved it even if I knew nothing of the area. I teased and rambled about it here.


What I Think I'll Read Next
Lisa DeVore
Sebastian's Castle

OR


Cindy Anstey
Love, Lies and Spies

It's a toss-up, but I think I'll Sebastian's Castle and then Love, Lies and Spies and follow that up immediately with Anstey's Duels & Deceptions which I just got my NetGalley approval for and is due to be released next week. Sebastian's Castle is just shy of 200 pages long so I'm thinking I can squeeze them all in ...


04 April 2017

Rambling About.. Secrets of Hallstead House by Amy M Reade


I wasn't able to really devote time to this gem until Sunday morning and once I really started I found that I couldn't/wouldn't put it down willingly! Secrets of Hallstead House is a beautiful tale set in one of the most beautiful places there is -- the Thousand Islands. I was born at the eastern end of the Thousand Islands region and while we moved from the area before I was old enough to really know anything of it, it's still near and dear to my heart.


Credit: New York Times
It's the story of Macy Stoddard who has accepted a job as the personal nurse to an elderly woman recovering from hip surgery. It's a bit of a dreary place and several of the inhabitants and frequest visitors make it known that they don't want Macy there, but she has a job to do and intends to do it. She does bond with her patient, though, as well as with the keeper of the boathouse and falls in love with the locale (as well she should!). 

Before long everything Macy thought that she had known about everything gets turned upside-down. It's part gothic, part cozy mystery, and all wonderful. Well, almost all. 

The only nit-picky thing I had with it was Macy's age. She's supposed to be 20 years old but seems older and that boathouse guy? She figured him to be in his mid-30s (I can't recall if we ever did get an exact age on him). Call me horribly old-fashioned, but she isn't even able to legally drink unless she crosses the border! If she had been, say, 25 and him mid-thirties I likely wouldn't have been as skeeved about it. Much. Maybe. Still, it's only a mild irritant in an otherwise wonderful book full of secrets and mystery and twists that I totally didn't see coming.