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24 May 2017

Rambling About.. When We Danced At The End Of The Pier by Sandy Taylor

Sandy Taylor
Publisher: Bookouture (March 31, 2017)
First Line: I wasn't sure how long I'd been sitting in the tree -- I think it was a long time cos my leg was going numb from trying to balance on the branch.
Faves on 4s:
4% -- I'd stood at the window, looking out over all the gardens of all the houses in See Saw Lane and I'd felt something wonderful was about to happen. I'd felt suddenly as if my life was about to change.
24% -- 'Corpus Christi,' said the priest, which means 'Body of Christ'. We had to let the wafer melt because Sister Aquinas said that if we chewed it, it would be like putting a knife in God's heart.
54% -- They didn't have to be dripping in diamonds and pearls to get noticed, there was just something about the way they held themselves that said 'I'm rich'. Whereas poor people spent their time apologizing for breathing.
84% -- None of us knew what was going to happen, none of us knew the moment we'd end up in the bottom of a smelly bucket, we just joined in the dance until the music stopped.

I wasn't sure at first if I was even going to read it. It's the third of Taylor's Brighton Girls Trilogy and I haven't read the other two (yet). I was bummed when I saw it on NetGalley and instantly fell in love with the cover because you know how I am about reading things out of order. Luckily, this time, there's been a trick. While this is the third in the series, it's also first chronologically. Once I found that out I hopped back onto NetGalley and hit the request button. Once I received my approval I flew through the book I had been reading and then lost myself in the pages (or screens, since it's on my phone) of this one. 

And now I'm a mess.

This is one of the hardest reviews I've had to write so far. There must be somebody chopping a ton of onions nearby and that's why my eyes have been watering so much. This book, after all, was far too beautiful and, at times, hilarious to be making me ugly cry. 

It must be onions.

It's the story of Maureen O'Connell and we follow it through her eyes from her childhood in 1930 through World War II and her young adulthood. It tells of growing up on the council estates in Brighton with a mother who worked full time and a father who wasn't well (though, as a girl, she didn't know how or why). Her sister, Brenda, was just a couple of years younger and there were also aunts and uncles nearby -- one pair wonderful and other not so much. On Maureen's first day of school she and Monica become best friends and not long after they meet Jack and Nelson. Before she had ever even spoken to him, Maureen knew that she and Jack were destined to be together.

This book is so .... just .... real. It's like reading someone's diaries or memoirs rather than a piece of fiction. Sandy Taylor gave life to these characters in such a way that I want to meet their children and grandchildren (or at least follow them on Twitter). Jack, Nelson, Maureen and Monica would have been similar in age to my grandparents. And, of course, Brenda. Oh gosh how I love Brenda! She reminds me so much of one of my grams younger sister, Clara. A sweet little riot she was! And the two of them together was, undeniably my favorite relationship in the whole book.

I'm still a sniffly mess. I'm a sniffly mess who then remembers something that made me snort my coffee out of my nose by laughing too hard. Now I'm a sniffly giggly mess.

I was going back through to grab my quotes for "Faves on 4s" and accidentally hit the 20% mark where Maureen and Brenda are at church lighting a candle for Nelson ... and Maureen's "exchange" with the Blessed Virgin Mary:
Now I realize that maybe you don't go in for murder but I'm hoping you might know someone who does. Perhaps you could have a word with that sinner who was hanging on the cross next to Jesus. You must know each other pretty well by now.
Yep. Maureen is trying to arrange a hit via the Holy Mother.

Probably the most splenderific (it's a word. Really. I just wrote it.) thing about this -- the thing that makes it the most "real" -- is how the thought patterns and use of language advances as the ages of the characters do. The beginning reads like an adolescent is telling the story and it matures as she does.

I am absolutely in awe of Sandy Taylor and look forward to reading more from her. I think I might wait a handful of months before I dive in to The Girls from See Saw Lane -- if only to give my tear ducts (and my coffee filled nasal passages) time to recover.

Stupid bloody onions.


23 May 2017

#20BooksofSummer 2017

We've got just over a week until June 1st and the official start of this year's 20 Books of Summer ... and I've got my first 20 picked out!!! I've been reading freakishly fast the past couple of weeks so I may end up going way over, but this is at least where I'll be starting from (not necessarily in order).

  1. Rejected Writers Take The Stage -- Suzanne Kelman 
  2. A Suitable Affair -- Erica Taylor 
  3. Death Around The Bend -- TE Kinsey
  4. Bad Housekeeping -- Maia Chance
  5. The Wardrobe Mistress -- Natalie Meg Evans
  6. Pemberley : Mr Darcy's Dragon -- Maria Grace *
  7. A Natural History of Dragons -- Marie Brennan *
  8. Heart & Stone -- Elle Katharine White *
  9. His Majesty's Dragon -- Naomi Novik *
  10. Tooth and Claw -- Jo Walton *
  11. Seraphina -- Rachel Hartman * 
  12. The Law of Attraction -- Roxie Cooper
  13. Summer at Buttercup Beach -- Holly Martin
  14. A House to Mend a Broken Heart -- Alison Sherlock
  15. Death Plays a Part -- Vivian Conroy
  16. The Quick and the Thread -- Amanda Lee
  17. Unmasking Miss Appleby -- Emily Larkin
  18. Hook's Tale -- John Leonard Pielmeier
  19. The One That Got Away -- Melissa Pimentel
  20. Xoe: or Vampires, and Werewolves, and Demons, Oh My! -- Sara C Roethle

* -- reading as part of #becausedragonsRAT

The Ghosts of Peppernell Manor by Amy M Reade (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 [who's on vacation, it seems ... which I discovered after putting together this post]. "Teaser Tuesday" at The Purple Booker asks for a random line or two from anywhere in the book currently being read.

When I first started The Ghosts of Peppernell Manor I thought that I would be getting spooky gothic ghost story. Nope. 

Then I thought that maybe I was in store for a cozy mystery with the main character, a home restoration specialist, playing amateur sleuth. Nope again. 

I thought that I was going to be horribly disappointed with neither of these scenarios being true. Yet again, a big nope.

What I had was a compelling story of Carleigh Warner not only restoring her friend Evie's family home, Peppernell Manor, but also her own life and, in a lot of ways, the lives of the Peppernell family (at least, those who survive the telling of the tale). 

Carleigh and her young daughter left Chicago for Peppernell Manor, located in South Carolina just outside of Charlotte. Carleigh and Evie had been friends since college and when Evie's grandmother decided that she wanted the home revived to its original splendor, Evie knew that Carleigh would be the perfect one for the job. Recently divorced after her husband left her for a stripper named Jilly (or "Jiggly," as Carleigh calls her), it was a perfect opportunity for Carleigh and three-year-old Lucy to get away from the stressors of life for a bit. Of course, the Peppernell household has its own share of stress going on housing three generations of Peppernells. Evie is there while her boyfriend is off traveling for business, her brother Heath lives in the carriage house on the property, his twin brother Harlan is nearby in Charlotte, and then their parents, aunt and grandmother all reside in the house full-time. There's also Phyllis, the house manager who happens to be descended from the slaves who built the house for the original Peppernell owners generations before. (One of her ancestors, her great-great-great-great-great grandmother, Sarah, is still present .... according to Phyllis, anyway.) 

Evie's grandmother wants the house restored and then intends to bequeath it to the state when she dies. Her mother and brother Harlan want to turn it over to an investment group to turn it into a tourist destination. Her aunt doesn't say much of anything, nor does her father who spends most of his time working on his latest novel, and Phyllis is constantly warning people that Sarah isn't happy about what's going on. The family dynamics are a bit whack and become even more so after Evie's grandmother dies. Plus we have romance, another death, crazy ex's, a freaking hurricane, a potentially cursed dog, vandalism, and an alligator attack. It's so much more than a ghost story or cozy mystery would have been. 

It was a fast read for me thanks to my unwillingness to put it down for long once I had started. A great part of that might be thanks to me being a bit of a history nerd. I absolutely loved the details involved in the restoration -- especially after ..... oh, just read it for yourself. 

22 May 2017

Rambling About.. The Antique House Murders by Leslie Nagel

Leslie Nagel
Publisher: Alibi (May 30, 2017)


I absolutely loved Leslie Nagel's first Oakwood mystery, The Book Club Murders, so I jumped at the chance to get the second one as soon as I saw it on NetGalley! Of course, since I've been reading an advanced copy any quotes may be different in the final version ... and the fact that I received my copy for free has had no influence over whether or not I enjoyed it.

And oh boy did I ever enjoy it!!!

"The house reeked of death."

That's how it starts and how great of a first line is that?!?

The house in question is Mulbridge House -- the once grand and stately home in a secluded wooded area of Oakwood. Augusta Mulbridge died 18 months ago and the house is being cleared out and much of its contents auctioned off by a close friend of Charley's family, Calvin Prescott. The heirs want to knock the house down and turn it over for a new housing development. The local preservation society wants to turn it into a museum. Charley just wants the vintage clothes and accessories to help stock her shop, Old Hat Vintage Fashions.

When Charley and her good friend (whom I quite fell in love with in the first book) Dmitri go to Calvin's to pick up her auction winnings, they find Calvin dead. Because of the events from the first book, Charley is all gung-ho about putting her detecting skills to use again to find out who killed her friend ... and her boyfriend, police detective Marc Trenault, is all gung-ho to keep her out of it (and out of danger). She promises not to get involved, but doesn't really mean it and is soon uncovering potential motives and suspects and pulling her friends along for the ride.
[from the 33% mark of the uncorrected proof -- final copy may differ]
A sure-fire way to my nerdish little mystery-loving heart? Toss in good Scooby references. (I just want to be Velma!)

I probably don't have to tell you how frustrated Marc gets with Charley. Even without reading either book you can probably imagine. I totally get it, too. I love cozy mysteries. I've been reading them for years and will probably continue to do so until I can read no more. The heroines (as the main character is almost always female) frustrate the bejeebers out of me, too, more often than not. They never seem to consider the danger they're putting themselves and their loved ones in by getting involved and sometimes I just want to grab one by the shoulders and shake some sense into them! Charley seems to be worse than most just because of the sheer multitude of people who seem to flock to her in support as potential innocent bystanders. 

I still pretty much adore her and her cohorts and her family and this series in spite of my urge to shake some sense into her. Leslie Nagel makes it difficult not to become part of Charley's gang, sifting through the red herrings attempting to uncover the truth ... and I still want to be Velma.


21 May 2017

Rambling About.. Elizabeth Essex's Highland Brides

I nabbed A Fine Madness off of NetGalley and then, of course, realized that it's the third in a series and went to grab the other two. I am so glad that I did!

1. Mad For Love
Publisher: ERB Publishing (March 26, 2016)
First Line: Marie Chantal Amelie du Blois never felt more French than when she was in London.

Marie (Mignon to friends and family) is the daughter of Charles du Blois who, much to her dismay, is a master art forger. It's 1790 and the two live in London, largely on the money he has earned selling his copies. One night when her father is out at an exhibit showcasing one of their family heirlooms (also a forgery created by her grandfather), Mignon catches a thief in their house. He happens to be gorgeous and he also happens to be Rory Cathcart -- an expert at detecting forgeries for Christie's. His friends tipped him off about du Blois and he was there to investigate more than steal. Of course, he couldn't tell Mignon that -- especially not when she later approaches him to have him help her steal her own statue from the exhibit before it can be studied for authenticity ... by Mr Cathcart.

A note at the beginning of the book indicates that it was written in homage to one of my all-time favorite movies, How To Steal A Million, starring Audrey Hepburn and Peter O'Toole.


This had me worried at first because retellings are so often horrid, but Essex did a beautiful job (and included some of my favorite bits of dialogue!). It's also just enough different to have held my interest and make me curious about Rory's friends -- the men who will be the leads in the rest of the series!

Stars: *****

2. Mad About the Marquess
Publisher: ERB Publishing (April 5, 2016)
First Line: Lady Quince Winthrop had always known she was the unfortunate sort of lass who could resist everything but temptation.

This time we're revisiting the Robin Hood legends in 1792 Scotland with Lady Quince Winthrop standing in for Robin and Rory's friend Alasdair taking the Sheriff of Nottingham role. The two have history together as Alasdair used to court her older sister. Now she's all grown up (after all, it's 1792 and 19 was considered grown up) and he's working as a Member of Parliament. He has been tasked with stopping the thefts happening in the area while home tending to the castle he has recently inherited from his grandfather. Of course, she's the thief he's looking for.

Alasdair had a bit of a scandalous time in his youth and has worked hard to over come it, but there's something about Quince that makes him feel that being so serious isn't necessarily a good thing. Of course, considering who Quince is and what she does, it isn't necessarily a good thing to have her be any sort of influence in his life. At least, it wouldn't be in real life, probably. Luckily for them, they live in a book where two wrongs may not make a right but several may ... and they each do several wrongs along the way.

It's a fun romp with snark galore from both parties. You know how much I love my snark! It felt a bit too long and dragged out at times -- I would have been pleased as punch with it being half the length like Mad for Love -- but all-in-all it was still an enjoyable read.

Stars: ***1/2 

Publisher: ERB Publishing (May 2, 2017)
First Line: Elspeth Otis had never particularly liked birthdays.

It's June of 1792 and, at the ripe old age of 24, Elspeth Otis is officially a spinster. She has even received a birthday present of a little cap like spinsters are so known to wear by the spinster aunts she lives with. She also, though, receives a great big trunk from an aunt she never knew existed -- her father's sister, Lady Augusta Ivers. Lady Ivers had been writing and sending gifts and invitations for Elspeth to visit her in Edingburgh for Elspeth's entire life. Her spinster aunts, however, thought it best to keep this from her. They would have continued to do so had the trunk not arrived when Elspeth was present. Her aunts did refuse the trunk and when the delivery driver said that he was told to take it back to Lady Ivers if that happened, Elspeth insisted that he take her as well. I fell in love with her instantly!

Meanwhile, back in Edinburgh, Rory's half-brother Hamish has been given an ultimatum by their father : find a wife in under five weeks time or be cut off financially. Hamish doesn't want an arranged marriage. He doesn't have any interest in marriage at all, really, but if he doesn't want to settle for anything less than marrying for love like Rory did. He also doesn't want to be destitute, though, so when Lady Ivers approaches him with a business proposition regarding the republication of her late brother's scandalous (and censored) novel, he more or less jumps at the chance.

While Hamish is tasked with cleaning up the published novel, Elspeth is urged to finish the partial manuscript that was left in the trunk. You can pretty much already see where this is headed, can't you? It heads there splendidly, too, with the right amount of angst and the right amount of romance to overcome it.

Stars: *****

20 May 2017

A Little Ramble About.. Archie of Outlandish

Lynnette Kraft
Published July 1st 2016 by New Wrinkle Publishing


Archie of Outlandish is a darling read with gorgeous illustrations ... and even a free soundtrack.
(the library in Outlandish -- aka my dream room)

It's set in the quirky little coastal town of Outlandish, California, where people walk or ride their bikes instead of driving cars and where Archie lives life under a multitude of umbrellas because he's afraid of looking up. His family and community are incredibly accommodating, not wanting Archie's condition to be seen as a disability. (Which I totally get, being the mother of a child with Autism.) On his twentieth birthday he meets Tallie -- an outsider sent to get the scoop on Outlandish and ends up finding her other half in Archie.

At times it was all just a little too "darling" for me, as my typical reads have some sort of grit -- murder or supernatural or romantic angst. This was just a little too safe and unoffensive for my usual tastes, but one I'm sure I'll recommend to others.

18 May 2017

Summer at the Little Wedding Shop by Jane Linfoot (Book Beginnings & Friday 56)

Jane Linfoot has done it again!
This is our third visit to the little wedding shop in Cornwall, Brides by the Sea, and each time I love it a little bit more. I highly recommend starting the series from the beginning so you can fall in love with the characters and watch how their lives change over the course. So many "series" seem to largely forget about the lives of those met in prior installments, but Jane keeps us filled in while giving us new people to care about!
This time the main focus is on Lily. She used to help out with the floral aspects at the shop until she up and got married herself. That didn't quite work out so now she's back and Jess has tasked her with starting up the styling department of the shop. Of course, she immediately gets to start dealing with dueling bridezillas who are all sorts of hilarious. There's quite a lot of smack talk, an Instagram battle, and any minute I expected an epic dance off!
tumblr_mqmb1yJZW51qgbgkuo1_500.gif
To make matters even better (or worse), one of the brides-to-be is her own widowed mother -- who is constantly on Lily's case over ... well ... pretty much everything, but especially over her lack of a lovelife. Of course there are options who could remedy that. There's Fred : the "boy next door" farmer type who may or may not have some secrets up his sleeves. Then there's Kip : the spoiled bad boy who just so happens to be starting up a posh wedding venue in direct competition with Lily's friends ... and has hired Lily as a stylist to help him.
I don't want to give too much away because I'm a firm believer that you should just read it yourself if you enjoy romance at all (and, if you don't, you wouldn't care what I gave away anyway). Jane Linfoot is amazing and, hopefully, has many more trips to the little wedding shop coming up!
As always, Friday 56 is hosted at Freda's Voice & Book Beginnings is at Rose City Reader.
This week's 56 is from the 56% mark in the e-ARC I received from the author.
The freeness, of course, had no influence on my love for the book.

from Amazon:


16 May 2017

Splintered Bones by Carolyn Haines (Tuesday Intros & Teaser Tuesday)

There are a few life lessons to be learned in Carolyn Haines' third Sarah Booth Delaney mystery, Splintered Bones
  • Don't mess with a Daddy's Girl.
  • Don't mess with her horse.
  • Don't mess with her friends.
  • Don't mess with her daughter.
and, of course, the one lesson that you likely won't ever have need for:
  • Don't let your live-in ghost help a teenager hook you up in the online dating world.
Sarah Booth is tasked by her fellow Daddy's Girl and long-time friend, Lee, with watching after Lee's 14-year-old daughter and helping to prove that her husband was such a vile specimen of mankind that he needed killin'. Lee has already confessed to the crime but few believe that she actually did it -- and those that believe that she did largely believe that it was for the greater good. Of course, things are complicated and suspects and secrets are popping up all over the place -- almost as often as the selection of men who arrive thanks to the online dating profile Sarah Booth wasn't aware she even had.

There's a great mix of humor and good ol' mystery going on and, once again, I found myself alternating between audible laughs and gasps. I've quite fallen in love with the community that Carolyn Haines has created in Zinnia, Mississippi and won't be waiting nearly as long to read the next one!


"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.

From Amazon:

15 May 2017

My #boutofbooks recap ... and planning for #20BooksofSummer

It's been just over a week now since I signed up for the BoutofBooks readathon! According to the time stamp, I published my sign-up post at 4:45am last Monday and it's currently 5:10am as I type.

I ended up completing four books:
These Vicious Masks
Snow White Red-Handed
Vane Pursuit
&
Death of an Outsider

I also knocked out half of Jane Austen's Emma, watched the four part mini-series, decided that my life needed more Jonny Lee Miller, watched half a season of Elementary, and started Carolyn Haines' Splintered Bones before crawling into bed Sunday evening! Right now I'm at the 36% mark and I'm loving it just as much as I did the first two books in the series .... which brings us to the next bit of excitement:

It's almost time for 20 Books of Summer!!! This will be my third year doing it and, thanks to NetGalley, I already have ten lined up and I'm pretty sure I'll end up going over the 20 ... again ... especially since another round of BoutofBooks will fall in there somewhere, too.

I love good excuses to read more.




12 May 2017

Friday Two-For-One (Book Beginnings, Friday 56, #boutofbooks 4 & 5)

I've decided to share two books this week for Book Beginnings & Friday 56 -- the one I've just finished and the one I'm just beginning (well, beginning again as it's a re-read). These are the 4th & 5th (and probably last) books I'm reading for the BoutOfBooks readathon. I've had a blast doing it ... have gotten to "know" quite a few more readers ... and already can't wait until the next one!

As always, Friday 56 is hosted at Freda's Voice & Book Beginnings is at Rose City Reader.

from Amazon:
Rambley Bits
This is the third of Beaton's Hamish Macbeth books. I think right now there are over thirty in the series so it should take me a while to catch up .... unless I stop taking so much time in between books (I read the second in February ... of 2016!). Really? I could catch up in about a month if I wanted to as they're delightfully fast reads. 
Anyway, this installment sees Hamish (and trusty canine Towser) away from home covering for another vacationing officer. Of course, a murder occurs shortly after Hamish arrives and Hamish has to do what he does best -- solve the mystery while annoying the inspector in charge. The wit I loved from him in the first two books are present yet again and even though he and Priscilla are separated for the vast majority (she's in London -- he's in the middle of nowhere), I'm still rooting for them to figure it the heck out already. 
Maybe I'll make a new goal of reading at least 2 Hamish's a month .... which will still take me over a year to catch up .... dangit.

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


I believe I've only read Emma once before -- about a million and three years ago in high school. Hence, I probably only half paid attention to it and likely only half understood it. Of course, in the years since I've seen the movies and mini-series and have absolutely fallen in love. This, therefore, will be my weekend (aside from a trip to the dentist for the kid) : pjs, Emma and oooooh Mr Knightley. 

11 May 2017

Rambling About.. Charlotte MacLeod's Vane Pursuit (#boutofbooks book 3)

Author: Charlotte MacLeod
Title: Vane Pursuit
Publication: 1989 - The Mysterious Press

First Lines: "Hey, you! You kid! Get the hell down off that cannon."

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

This is my third book for the BoutofBooks readathon and the seventh book in the Peter Shandy mystery series by Charlotte MacLeod. The first book in the series was the very first book reviewed here and I've loved every one of them. I was actually thinking that this wouldn't be as wonderful as the others as there is very little mention and no sighting of my beloved President Svenson (vacationing with the family in Sweden) ... but I was happily mistaken. 

Charlotte MacLeod's Peter Shandy books are kind of like the tv series Midsomer's Murders. There's always some whacked out mystery involving something you would never think would be interesting and a cast of characters that make you shake your head at how in the world they could be interesting ... and it all makes sense somehow. This time around, the local soap factory is burnt down just hours after Helen has taken photos of the antique weathervane for a historical society project and the weathervane disappears (as has been the case after a few other local fires). While Peter's wife, Helen, and Iduna Stott head up to stay with a friend in Maine and do some more weathervane research, Peter stays behind to help local journalist Cronkite Swope clear his brother's name in the arson of the factory.

Sure. Soap factory arson and weathervane theft. Call me riveted.

No, really! I was!

And, in the end, it all made sense.

 I loved getting to see more of Cronkite and Iduna and fell in even more in love with Peter and Helen. (And, seriously, if I ever get thrown off of a boat I hope I have someone like Iduna with me!) I really think that one of the reasons this series is one of my favorites is that in spite of the "yeah, right ... like that would make a decent book" feel some of the storylines might initially have, the way MacLeod told them makes them feel so much more real than a lot of cozy mysteries. These people feel like family and all of their strange little stories and acquaintances along the way totally remind me of listening to my grandparents, their siblings, and various second/third/whatever cousins over the years. 

I'm crushed that I only have three more books left in the series, but absolutely know that it'll be a series I'll re-read. 

10 May 2017

Rambling About.. Maia Chance's Snow White Red-Handed (#boutofbooks book 2)

Author: Maia Chance
Publication: 4 November 2014 by Berkley Prime Crime

First Lines: Miss Ophelia Flax was neither a professional trickster nor a lady's maid, but she'd played both on the stage. In desperate circumstances like these, that would have to do.

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

This wasn't on my original TBR for BoutofBooks, but I finished my first book at work and realized that everything else was left at home. Thank goodness for my phone, my Kindle app, and my friend Shannon who suggested I pick a book with a color in the title. I immediately thought of this one which I purchased a couple of months ago since I've loved some of Chance's other books and have the first in her newest series sitting on my NetGalley shelf waiting for me.

It didn't take long for me to form a strong connection to Maia Chance's Snow White Red-Handed. I've always loved fairy tales and Snow White was my princess-of-choice growing up since she was the only one who looked anything like me. Before I even opened the book my hopes were high. Then, after the first chapter where our heroines Ophelia and Prue land jobs as maids for a wealthy American couple, the book immediately jumps location to just outside of Baden-Baden Germany. It's 1867. My great-great grandfather was in Baden-Baden until 1868.
(Source: The Hector Berlioz Website)
Yep. This book was destined to be adored by me.

So, we have Ophelia and Prue recently employed by the Coops as maids and the whole lot are off to the castle in the Black Forest. On their property a small house has been found which Mrs Coop is certain was the dwarves' house from the Snow White tale. Professors Penrose and Winkler are called in to examine the findings as both are deemed experts in the field of philology (the study and history of literary texts -- like Grimm's original tales). Winkler firmly believes that it's all nonsense but, secretly, Penrose is hoping to find proof that the "fairy tales" were based on truth.

The Coops are rather wretched and the rest of their household staff aren't exactly full of rainbows and butterflies. When Mr Coop is killed -- by a poisoned apple, of course -- Prue is the main suspect and Ophelia is determined to set things straight.

I love Ophelia. She's sarcastic and tricky and exactly what I love in a "cozy" heroine. She's also fiercely loyal and protective of Prue -- who is her own special breed of tricky. Of course, as with most things, we have some romance going on between Prue and Hansel the gardener and Ophelia and Gabriel Penrose. Luckily, neither relationship overshadows the mystery aspect.

It's a fast-paced story with twists and turns and fairytales galore (especially if you remember that those Grimm boys weren't big fans of rainbows and butterflies and pretty little endings!). It kept me smiling and guessing and I'm still kicking myself a bit for not figuring it all out on my own. Right now there are 2 other books in the series and I'm greatly looking forward to getting my hands on them.

09 May 2017

These Vicious Masks by Tarun Shanker & Kelly Zekas (#boutofbooks, Tuesday Intros & Teaser Tuesday)

I started reading These Vicious Masks on my way in to work on Sunday night. About 5am Monday morning I signed up for this week's Bout of Books readathon and, at that point, I had only managed to get to page 30. Silly distractions and work stuff..... but slap "athon" onto my reading and it's like my own superpower is activated. I finished the book at 1:35am Tuesday and didn't even skip sleep to do so.
And it's amazing.
I had read on Amazon that it's like Jane Austen meets X-Men. Whoever wrote that clearly doesn't know their time periods very well, but enough nitpickiness about Regency versus Victorian.... this book is still amazing. I immediately fell in love with Evelyn. From the very first page I knew she was my kind of spunky. And her male counterparts? Oooooh I'm having trouble picking between the two! What I do know is that the ending almost made me fall out of my chair and that I'm super excited to get my hands on the sequel.

"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.


from Amazon:

08 May 2017

Bout of Books 19

Bout of Books

Ooooh ... another readathon and THIS one goes for a week (give or take)! No ... I won't be reading nonstop for the whole time ... but I do tend to devote more time to reading when there's an "athon" attached.
The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda Shofner and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, May 8th and runs through Sunday, May 14th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 19 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team

So, here's my plan:
Tarun Shanker & Kelly Zekas
These Vicious Masks


Maia Chance
Snow White Red-Handed

MC Beaton
Death of an Outsider


Charlotte MacLeod
Vane Pursuit

Jane Austen
Emma

Jane Linfoot
Summer at the Little Wedding Shop


The order may change depending on how quickly I can get through things. I started These Vicious Masks on my way into work Sunday night and the Linfoot is an ARC set to be released May 18th so as long as I get that done & reviewed by release date I'll be okay even if I don't get it started during the Bout. I tend to fly through Beaton & MacLeod so, hopefully, those will help make up for Emma. Or, perhaps, I'll just put that one off ... again ...

Of course, most of my updates and such will be on Twitter ... but I WILL do my normal Tuesday and Friday posts (maybe not WWW Wednesday, though).

05 May 2017

Jane Bites Back by Michael Thomas Ford (Book Beginnings & Friday 56)

I'm almost ashamed to admit that I'm reading this. I'm not, though, because it's a freaking riot and I'm having a blast so far! I stumbled upon it on my library app while looking for something to kick off my weekend. The book I had been reading just wasn't doing it for me so I figured I'd jump back into my Jane lovefest. Of course, the next book I was intending for that is sitting home on my bookshelf and I'm sitting at work ... so ...
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.



(You can see my after-the-fact Goodreads reviewish type thing HERE)

04 May 2017

Rambling About.. Ella's Ice-Cream Summer by Sue Watson


Ella isn't having a very easy time of it. Her ex-husband is living up to his name (Dick), her 78-year old mother is sexting and online dating, her almost-grown children are jetting off to see the world, and her world seems to be caving in around her. When her aunt dies and she finds out that she's been left part of the family business she loved so much growing up -- an ice cream cafe at the beach -- she takes the chance and makes a change for herself, at least for the summer. It turns out that her share isn't anything that she had expected and that there are long-held family secrets and scandals just waiting to be discovered in the little seaside village.

I absolutely fell in love with Ella, the family's solicitor Ben, and especially Ella's Mum (who reminds me so much of a favorite great-aunt or two!). My heart broke for her as things crumbled and soared when they were looking up. No tears were shed while reading, but only just barely. Oh, all right ... there were tears, but no full-blown ugly crying. Okay, so maybe I came close as the secrets were revealed ... and maybe once or twice with Ben ... but I didn't go all snotty on my shirt sleeves. Really. No sleeves were damaged in the reading of this book ... although I did snort my Coke Zero onto some paperwork on my desk a few times from laughing.

Yep! Ella's Ice-Cream Summer has it all. There's sweet romance, family mystery, comedy, and some of the most amazing sounding ice cream! It's being released from Bookouture next week -- on May 11th -- just in time to get in the summer spirit. Sue Watson is quickly coming one of my favorite chick lit authors and Ella's Ice-Cream Summer is the next best thing to actually being at the beach with ice cream cone! It may be even better since it's unlikely you'll get sand in your pants just by reading.

03 May 2017

WWW Wednesday -- 3 May 2017

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

Currently Reading:
(Advanced copy received via NetGalley from Bookouture)

I started this Tuesday morning and I am absolutely loving it. It's only my second Sue Watson book (my first being the delightful holiday read, The Christmas Cake Cafe), and if these two books are any indication of how Sue typically tells a story, she'll be shooting up towards the top of the list for my favorite chick lit authors. I'll likely have it done for a good ramble tomorrow.


Recently Finished:
(click on covers to go to rambles)
I took part in a 24-hour readathon this past weekend and decided to devote it to reading books for my Year of Jane. Now I'm thinking that every weekend needs to be devoted to Jane!


What's Next?
I have a handful of ARCs to get through in May ... plus my new urge to only read Austen-ish things on the weekends ... but I just realized that one of those ARCs is actually the eighth book in a series (YIKES!) so I'm going to backtrack and at least read the first one .... or three .... or however many I can without getting absolutely burnt out (luckily, my library has them all in ebook)!
I really need to pay better attention when requesting things on NetGalley because I'm really not a fan of reading a single series back-to-back-to-back-to ..... you get it.



01 May 2017

Jane Austen Ruined My Life by Beth Pattillo (Tuesday Intros & Teaser Tuesday)

I had intended to read Beth Pattillo's Jane Austen Ruined My Life this weekend as the third book for the readathon ... and then I fell asleep almost immediately after finishing the second book and woke up six hours later with only enough time to read the first three chapters.
It's the story of Emma Grant -- a former college English professor whose specialty is Jane Austen. Her marriage and career are both over and she's taken off to England thanks to a lead on Jane Austen's lost letters. Emma is hoping that finding them will reignite her career -- even though the person who claims to have them has sworn her to secrecy about their existence and will only reveal bits and pieces of what she knows after Emma completes certain Austen-related tasks. 
It's like the scavenger hunt of my dreams!
As I spent most of Sunday resting my eyes from reading for 18 hours (and making a Jane Austen doll ... which you can see after the teasers), it took me a bit longer to get through than I had originally expected. There were some things that annoyed me -- like the ending (seriously ... what was that?!?) ... and Emma's simpering "woe-is-me" prattle throughout far too much of it. Happily, though, there were far more things that I loved -- like Adam, Mrs Parrot's quirkiness, and ooooooh so much Jane!
I had found the book in a three-book box set with two other Austen-related book by Pattillo and I'm definitely looking forward to reading them!
"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.


As promised:


12 Hours Later Update: Okay, I had to give the star back on Goodreads that I took away for the prattle and ending. It really wouldn't have worked as well without them and, considering the fact that hours later I'm still thinking about it this much, it definitely worked. Besides .... the ending? Is it really an end?