Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Authors and Series' from 2016

There were several other books I wanted to mention in my top list, but they fell below the top 10. When I noticed that the books had authors and series' in common, I decided to do a separate post about them. So the following are authors I discovered or series' I discovered in 2016.


New Authors I Found in 2016

Sarah Addison Allen
Southern stories with a touch of magic realism. I didn't realize how much I like magic realism until I read a couple of her books. I knew I loved 100 years of Solitude and I knew that book is full of magic realism. I just didn't realize that was a primary reason why I loved the book.
I read The Peach Keeper and Sugar Queen this year. By read, I'm pretty sure that I listened to them on audiobook. And that added to the wonderful Southern atmosphere of the books. There is lots about friendship as well as romantic relationships. The characters learn and grow. They are wonderful.

Susana Kearsley
I read Mariana and The Shadowy Horses from her this year and bought another ebook, Named of the Dragon. History, a strong sense of place, light romance, and a little bit of magic make for some great books. I liked The Shadowy Horses better, but I will definitely be reading more from her.

Joe R. Landsdale
I only read one of his books, The Bottoms, but I heard an interview with him on a podcast as well. So there are a few other of his books that I have an eye on. There is mystery, a bit of suspense, some growing up to do, and a bit of danger. I was all over the place with my emotions as I read it. So I have to be in the right mood for this one, but I will be coming back to him.

Sarah Rayne
I was only able to get my hands on one of her books this year, but there are a couple others that I have my eyes on. There is mystery, history, and danger in The Bell Tower. It's good stuff.

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Cozy Mystery Series 

Coffeehouse Mystery by Cleo Coyle. I read my first one of these in 2015, but then in 2016 I read about 3 more. So it is definitely one of my favorites. I love the setting of a coffeehouse in Greenwich Village. I get frustrated with the romantic issues that seem to come up regularly in these cozy mystery series'. This series is no exception, but I will deal with the silly romance because the mystery and characters are worth it.

A Tea Shop Mystery by Laura Childs.  I've read 2 or 3 of this series. Theodosia and Charleston, South Carolina are a great pairing. There is generally less romantic silliness in this series and there is so much to learn about tea as well. This series has convinced me to start drinking tea!

Josie Prescott Antiques Mystery  by Jane K. Cleland.  I think I also started this series in 2015 and continued it in 2016. I love learning about the antiques business. The premise for investigating in this series is strong. The romantic silliness is average in this series. The setting of New Hampshire and the characters are great. This is a series that I started with book number 8, I think. And I'm glad I did. If I had started with #1, I might not have continued so lovingly.

The Sisters Grimm by Michael Buckley. This is not a cozy mystery series, but it is a series that I discovered in 2016 and I love it. The premise being that these sisters are descendants of the Brothers Grimm and learning to be in charge of the balance between the Everafters, fairytale creatures, and regular humans. Along the way, they are hoping to find and release their parents.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Top Reads of 2016

2016 was a great reading year. I read about 110 books. It was not a great writing year. Looking at the scarcity of posts on here that is obvious. I hope to do better this year. We'll see.

There were a couple that I didn't finish. However with 110 to choose from, it was difficult to narrow it down. So this post will be my top 10. The next post I will post a few new favorite authors, a few new cozy mystery series, and a couple honorable mentions.

The Undoing of Saint Silvanus by Beth Moore

The sense of place in this one is amazing. I could see the places and felt like I was walking the streets. The religious aspects of this were not pushy, but a natural outgrowth of the story. The characters are people that I want to sit down and talk to them. They grew as people throughout the book and it was great to see what happened. There is a bit of a mystery in the story as well and I always love this. I finished this one and had a happy sigh.

The Dead House

Oh my goodness! This book! It is told through emails, journal entries, and transcription of video. I listened to this one and the narrator was fabulous. The narrator is possibly unreliable and you know it. She seems to be a criminal as well, but how did this happen? That's what we discover. Is she mentally ill or possessed? Or both? This one still has me thinking about what really happened.  

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

A man who owns a book store falls in love and becomes a dad in an unexpected way and then they keep on living. This is another one that I finished with a contented sigh. 

Vinegar Girl (Hogarth Shakespeare)

A girl needs to marry to help her dad's favorite assistant stay in the country. Sounds like a marriage of convenience, but is it? Kate and Pytor are just fabulous people. Just a story of a rather regular life made better by the people in it. Le sigh. Gorgeous.

The Madwoman Upstairs by Catherine Lowell

This one made me huff in anger, close it because I just couldn't handle the amazingness, and sigh contentedly at the end. I loved how it wove the BrontĂ« stories into this one. It really was hard to decide the order of #3, #4 and #5. Even thinking about it now, I want to rearrange them at least 2 other ways. All 3 left me happy at the end and didn't get me too upset throughout the novel. 
Library of Souls by Ransom Riggs

I finished a couple series' and started a couple others. This is one that I finished and I'm so glad I did. I read book one in this series when it came out and then left it sitting. I was burned by a couple series that will remain nameless. I started them and couldn't stand to finish them because they just didn't turn out very good. I had a student who encouraged me to pick up this series again. And I'm so glad I did. It is so amazing! And don't even bother with the movies. There is no way they could live up to this and they change important part for no good reason. Just read these and use your imagination. There is lots of imagining to do with these.

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

I have heard several people didn't like this series, but I am not one of them! I love the mix of futuristic science and fairy tales. I like more science fiction than I thought I did.

The Madman’s Daughter by Megan Shepherd

Again a mix of science and well-known stories. In this case the Island of Dr. Moreau and other classic novels in this series. I am in love with the Juliet, Edward, and Montgomery. Be still my heart!

Let's Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny  Lawson

I laughed out loud multiple times while reading this. I actually shed tears while laughing at this book. And I don't laugh out loud about much. (I have an odd sense of humor.)


Imagination!!! Again a good book, but the imagination is off the charts in this one. Oh so amazing.

Look for future posts about cozy mysteries, new authors, and more.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Book Review: A Whole Latte Murder by Caroline Fardig

A Whole Latte MurderA Whole Latte Murder by Caroline Fardig
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I stayed up until 1 am to finish this book and only gave it 3 stars. That might seem a little contradictory and that is a pretty good summary of the book. There are parts of the book that I am completely in love with and there are parts of the book that I detest. The plot is great. The murderer is super evil and not wholly unexpected. Some of the characters are amazing! And some I want to strangle.

The amount of hate I have for some parts of the book makes me think that the author is a genius to get me so emotionally invested in a cozy mystery.

I'm going to get into detail in the next part, so be warned this next part has spoilers.


What I hate ..... Juliet, Pete, the hatred toward Ryder, the constant love quadrangle, and the term "Red Headed She Devil."
I hate how Juliet pushes Ryder away and then gets upset when he acts distant. I hate how Juliet gets injured and then gets upset when people worry about her. I hate the relationship that she and Pete pretend they don't have. They make out and admit they want to be together and then decide the time isn't right, so they push one another to date other people. I hate that Pete is made to be this epic person and just comes off so unsure of everything. He can't make a decision about if he should date, who he should date, how he should treat people, who he should be friends with, etc. I get Ryder isn't liked by everyone and has this dark place that worries people, but seriously everyone hates him and Juliet together? They have their own agendas. It isn't like they are unbiased observers. Show me more of why Ryder is a bad person before you start crucifying him. Juliet needs to stop dating. She doesn't need a man to be valid. She says stuff like that, but doesn't actually do that. It isn't enough to have her pining for Pete, and confused about Ryder, but now she has to be involved with a 3rd guy. It is ridiculous. Please don't introduce any more guys. I hate the term "Red Headed She Devil". Can she please just be angry?

What I love .... Ryder, Stafford, the tie in to book one, and the psychopath killer.
Ryder's character is getting deeper and darker. He is chasing after Amanda's killer, who is a psychopath, and the rest of the world be damned. This is a character that is worth reading about, even if all the other people in the book are awful. I do love the character of Stafford. I think he is being misused because he is a horrid pairing for Juliet. I want to see how things develop for him, but I honestly don't have much hope that things will end happily for him. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE it when an author can tie up loose ends from a previous book. I don't mind having loose ends in a book, especially when they serve to further the plot of the entire series. So the fact that this murderer is Amanda's murderer makes me so happy. (Not the murder, but the plot ties.) It gives me so much hope that all the stuff that I hate in this book will get better in the next one. The killer is totally evil, a bit of a mastermind (not quite Moriarty though), and someone you want to see dead, which makes his escape a genius move for the series.

Maybe I'm supposed to be more horrified that Ryder ran off after the murder instead of tending to Juliet. I'm not and maybe that's because I'm so in love with Ryder. At first, I expected him to have back up coming, so he ran off after the murderer and back up would get Juliet. He had no way to know that there were more people hidden in the other room. But then I find out he didn't have back up coming. So I'm a little more horrified, but still not bothered to the amount I probably should be.

I think I'm looking forward to book 4, but a part of me is worried that there will be more of what I hate and less of what I love.

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Sunday, August 14, 2016

Book Review: The Lafayette Sword by Eric Giacometti

The Lafayette SwordThe Lafayette Sword by Eric Giacometti
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The second in the series with Dectective Antoine Marcas. Again he has found himself chasing a murderer and defending Freemasonry. There is plenty of action and conspiracy. There is also lots of history and nearly too much violence. The ending surprised me and I was strangely satisfied with it. The violence in parts was alnost too much for me to read, but it stopped just before too much. The historical aspects of Nicholas Flamel, the Inquisition, and the connections between France and the United States at its founding were well told and compelling. The villian seemed to be a mastermind that was outplayed at the last minute and the sketchy organization was actually doing the right thing.
This is a great follow up to the first one and continues to turn conspiracies on their ears. I enjoyed the ride through 2 continents and 700 years.

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I really did almost have to put the book down because of the violence, but every time I got close to putting it down, the violence backed down. So it really gets right up close to that line. The historical parts seemed to be a dark view of the time period, but maybe it was just a dark time period. I enjoyed it even though it is a bit outside my normal cozy mystery genre.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Book Review: Mug Shot by Caroline Fardig

Mug ShotMug Shot by Caroline Fardig
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I am just so in love with Juliet! This one had me talking to my e-reader. Juliet is not only at her sleuthing again, but she is more brazen than I remembered her being last time. She is putting her health and wealth on the line for this one. And by the end, she finally seems to be making some good decisions for her love life as well.

I was surprised by the victim, surprised by the victim's secrets, surprised by the suspects (not Pete, but the others), and surprised by the ending. This one is just so good! I do have to say I figured out who was the real murderer about 15 pages before Juliet, but the ending is just so fabulous.

This is considered a cozy mystery and follows a rather predictable pattern. If that is going to bother you, you probably shouldn't read this. If you are interested in a fun read with fun characters and a bit of surprise, you should read this. If you like cozy mysteries, this series should be on your list. It is amazing!

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This series is similar to the series by Cleo Coyle. I figured that out because I read, listened to, one of hers recently. Both series are fabulous even if I get them mixed up sometimes. It might not be a good idea to read 3 different cozy mystery series at the same time. (I also just finished a Josie Prescott mystery.) Amazing literature this isn't, but it isn't supposed to be. It is a cozy mystery which is my favorite formulaic genre fiction. I don't care if the characters are eerily similar and the situation is unrealistic. I still love them! And Juliet is developing into a fabulous character. So if you want a fun mystery read, this is a great one to choose!

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Book Review: Roots & Sky: A Journey Home in Four Seasons by Christie Purifoy

Roots and Sky: A Journey Home in Four SeasonsRoots and Sky: A Journey Home in Four Seasons by Christie Purifoy
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

First thing, I got this from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

So my honest review, this spoke to my heart in a way that I didn't know I needed. The summary didn't seem to fit me. I didn't move into an old farmhouse and didn't have an interest in moving to an old farmhouse. So why would this be for me?

Because it is about so much more than a house!

It is about being a young mother. It is about moving outside of your comfort zone. It is about making connections with your neighbors. It is about making your house a home. It is about accepting where you are and God's plan for you.

"Whoever told me that perfect is only perfect if it lasts?" (Purifoy, 135)

This is just one quote. I had so, so many things underlined. And I feel like there is someone else out there who is going through the same emotions and stressors as me. I am not alone. I genuinely feel so much stronger and ready to face the world and my problems because of this book. I feel ready to face the day and enjoy it. This book spoke to me way deep down in my soul.

If you are stressed out with life and being an adult, this book can help. If you are wondering what in the world God is doing in your life, this book can help. If you just need to know you are not alone, this book can help. So go get it and feel better.

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I just can't emphasize just how special this book is. Maybe everyone comes to this existential crisis when they get to about 35, so maybe my experience isn't unique. But to me, I've never been in a place that I am so sure of myself and so doubtful at the same time. I know there are so many good things I am doing with my life. And I know that all of the stressful stuff that has been going on has a purpose and it will all be okay. Then the other part of me is doubting that I'm putting my energy in the right things. I'm doubting that I'm really headed in the right direction at the right speed. Then this book comes along telling me that I'm not alone and I have time and I'm okay.

Oh this book is so amazing!

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Reading Preview 2016

My goal for 2016 is to read 70 books. I read that many in 2015, but in years prior to that I had only read 30 or so. I am a bit nervous to throw that number out there, but as long as my library's audiobook app can help me out, then I should be fine. From the books I have shelved either physically or digitally, I have listed the ones that I think I'm the most excited to read. My Reading Preview for 2015 was not even close to what I actually read. So this one may or may not be a list of what I actually read.

Books to Finish:
Library of Souls by Ransom Riggs
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I'm working on finishing several series' that I started. I am enjoying this series more than I expected. Can't wait to finish this book and see how it turns out.

Rampart Street by David Fulmer
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This is book #3 in the Storyville series. It was being tossed out by a friend, so I picked it up. The setting is great, but the plot is disjointed so far. We'll see how it all comes together.

The Dead Key by D.M. Pulley
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I wouldn't have thought an abandoned bank would be such a great setting. I'm not fond of the main character, but she may grow on me.

No One is Here Except All of Us by Ramona Ausubel
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I'm listening to this one and worrying that it might get painful. A Jewish community during the beginnings of WWII, but so far it isn't the story you would suspect.

Books I'm Waiting On:
Manners & Mutiny (Audiobook) by Gail Carriger
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I know the book is out, but I've listened to #2 and #3 in audiobook and LOVED it! So I'm trying to hold out for this one in audio book.

From My Shelves:
The Listening Life: Embracing Attentiveness in a World of Distraction by Adam S. McHugh
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Listening more and listening better. I think this will be good for me.

Go Tell It On The Mountain by James Baldwin
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This has been on my shelf for a while and is obviously a classic. So I think it is time to pick this one up.

Bandersnatch: An Invitation to Explore Your Unconventional Soul by Erika Morrison
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Unconventional soul? I think I am that. I want to know more about it.

Charis: God's Scandalous Grace For Us by Preston Sprinkle
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I can never read enough about God's grace and this one comes highly recommended.

Murder She Wrote: Margaritas and Mayhem by Jessica Fletcher & Donald Bain
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I've read several of these, but this one is supposed to be pretty good. And I always like to take a break from heavy reading.

Soulless by Gail Carriger
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I am in love with her Finishing School series, so I'm going to try another one.

Changeless by Gail Carriger
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And I'm going to finish the series too!

From My Kindle:
All Joy And No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenthood by Jennifer Senior
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There are lots of books about parenthood. Hopefully this one is a good one.

Mended: Pieces of a Life Made Whole by Angie Smith
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The title looks good and I always love reading about the stories of other women.

The Depths by Nick Thacker
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This is the only Thacker fiction book I haven't read. I will fix that this year.

It Was Me All Along by Andie Mitchell
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This one looked interesting. It was recommended on a blog, but a friend didn't like it much. I guess I'll decide for myself.

From My Good Reads Shelves:
Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration by Ed Catmull
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Pretty much anything Pixar says about creativity is something I should know about.

Daily Hazards of a Middle Eastern Wife by Soad Nasr
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I hope I can learn what the life of a Middle Eastern wife is like and I hope I can connect with her as well.

The Girl who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente
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Highly recommended fantasy novel and a cool title. Just recently came across this one.

The Library of Shadows by Mikkel Birkegaard
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Umm... A library, a mystery, some creepy. Sign me up!

The Quaker Café by Brenda Bevan Remmes
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Honestly the title and the blue mug on this one makes me want to read it. And it is set in North Carolina. That's cool.

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
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Another fantasy series that was recommended on a blog. I like the idea of Russian elements.

Sorcery & Cecelia or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot by Patricia C Wrede & Caroline Stevermer
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Another recommendation from a blog. Actually a couple of them. It seems like fun.