Tuesday, July 21, 2015

A Batter of Life and Death by Ellie Alexander (thoughts)

Summary from Goodreads:

"Welcome to Torte-a small-town family bakeshop where the coffee is hot, the muffins are fresh, and the cakes are definitely to die for...

It's autumn in Ashland, Oregon-'tis the season for a spiced hot apple cider with a serving (or two) of Torte's famous peach cobbler. It's also the perfect time for Jules Capshaw to promote her family's beloved bake shop by competing in The Pastry Channel's reality show, Take the Cake. The prize is $25,000. But as Jules quickly learns, some people would kill for that kind of dough. Literally.

Then, just as Jules dusts off her Bavarian Chocolate Cake recipe and cinches up her apron, the corpse of a fellow contestant is discovered-death by buttercream. What began as a fun, tasteful televised adventure has morphed into something of a true-crime detective show for Jules and everybody else on set. Who could have killed Chef Marco, and why? Can Jules sift out the killer before someone else gets burned?"

My Thoughts:

This is such fun mystery series and I really cannot get enough of it!  It sure does make me hungry while reading it though!  Ha!  Seriously though, all of the descriptions of all of the yummy treats and coffees that are made at Torte have me craving sweets and iced coffee.  I would absolutely love it if we had a shop just like this near where I live!  Or if I could bake like Jules does.  That would be even better!  One of my favorite things about this series is all of the details that go into Jule's work at Torte and her baking experiences.  I love that we get to see the struggles of making the shop a success and that everything isn't just perfect all of the time.  In fact, it is the closeness that Jules and her Mom have while working together that really makes this series feel so real to me.  I'm invested in the characters and want for them to be happy.  With Jules it means wanting to continue to read and see what she is going to decide to do with her life.  Right now she is at a crossroads between going back to her husband and moving on.  I'm eager to see how this all plays out and I really love that Jules has taken her time in figuring everything out.  It comes across so realistically as in real life you don't find answers like this instantly.  It takes time to figure out what you want and I feel like that this really adds another layer to this book.

The book is also a fun read and completely light-hearted at times which provides the perfect contrast to all of the serious stuff.  I loved how once again the mystery was meant to be a complete whodunnit with tons of possible motives/culprits!  I spent my time reading and changing my mind on who the possible killer was.  The book is fast paced and I love how with this book the author changed everything up by throwing Jules into a baking competition.  As this is one of my daughter's favorite kind of shows I could just imagine it all too easily.  The ending left me with some questions that I'm hoping we get answers for in the next book.  

Overall, I really just can't get enough of this series!  I find that I'm already itching to get my hands on that third book!  This is a cozy mystery series that I can easily recommend but start with the first book so that you get the full experience.  Recommended but with a warning that you are going to be hungry while reading- don't say I didn't tell you so!!

Bottom Line:  A new favorite cozy mystery series for me!

Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book thanks to the publisher as part of a CBB Book Tour.  Thoughts are my own!

Monday, July 13, 2015

An Unwilling Accomplice by Charles Todd (thoughts)

Summary from Goodreads:

"Bess Crawford has been summoned by the War Office to accompany a wounded soldier from Shropshire to Buckingham Palace, where he's to be decorated for gallantry by King George himself.

Heavily bandaged and confined to a wheelchair, Sergeant Jason Wilkins will be in her care for barely a day. But on the morning after the ceremony when Bess goes to collect her charge for his return journey, she finds the room empty. How could such a severely wounded man vanish without a trace?

Both the Army and the Nursing Service hold Bess to blame for losing the war hero. The Army now considers Wilkins a deserter, and Scotland Yard questions Bess when Wilkins is suspected of killing a man in cold blood. If Bess is to clear her name and return to duty in France, she must prove that she was never his accomplice. But the sergeant has disappeared again and neither the Army nor the police can find him.

Following a trail of clues across England, Bess is drawn into a mystery that seems to grow darker with every discovery. But will uncovering the truth put more innocent people in jeopardy?"

My Thoughts:

All I can say after finishing this book is that I definitely don't read enough historical mysteries.  I really enjoyed this one and am excited to have finally started this series.  This was one of those books that I just found myself immersed in.  It wasn't one of those books that causes you to fly through the pages or read as fast as you can.  Instead, I immersed myself in Bess' life and the mystery that she finds herself caught up in.  I took my time with this book and enjoyed it all the more because of it.  I loved how this book really brought  me into this world and me feel like I was part of this time period.  I'm not a huge history buff but I do really love learning about different things.  I felt like I learned different things from this book in regards to nurses and the war.  The difficulties that they faced.  The life they lived.  I found all of the different details so intriguing and I really couldn't get enough!

The mystery portion of this book was very interesting and I could never quite figure out what was going on.  I liked that I was kept guessing although for me it wasn't the mystery that really pulled me in.  Instead it was all of the historical details and the characters that made this book such a winner for me.  My one complaint was there was a point where I really had no idea what was going on and who Bess and Simon were following.  I won't share any more than that so I don't spoil anything.  I will say that it turned around for me not too long after that and I felt much less confused.  

Overall, I really enjoyed this book and am so excited to continue on with this series.  Yes, I started it out of order and no this didn't affect my enjoyment in the slightest.  This is one of those books that should be enjoyed and relaxed with.  One of those books to take your time with.  And that is exactly what I did.  I can easily recommend this one to mystery lovers and historical fiction fans as well.  Recommended!

Bottom Line:  One of those mysteries that should be savored!

Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book from the publisher as part of a TLC book tour.  Thoughts are my own!

Sunday, July 12, 2015

The Sunday Post #17 (Bookish Podcasts Edition)

"The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted here @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It’s a chance to share news~ A post to recap the past week on your blog, showcase books and things we have received. Share news about what is coming up on our blog for the week ahead. See rules here: Sunday Post Meme"

Good morning everyone!  It continues to be quieter than usual on the blogging front but I am hoping to change that this week.  Also, I sometimes feel like I'm a broken record here.  How many times can I tell you how busy I've been without starting to annoy myself?  Apparently I have hit the limit so time to start carving out some extra blogging time no matter what.  Good intentions and all!

In other news, how many of you listen to bookish podcasts?  I've been dipping my toes into them for awhile now but I've only found a couple so far.  My current favorite is the Dear Bitches, Smart Authors podcast which I have started listening to while I clean and do laundry.  This is a podcast that focuses on all of romance in all of its' genres and I am loving it!  I've found that I need to keep a pen and paper handy so that I can jot down titles and authors to check out.  I've started at the beginning (I think I'm only on episode 17 or something) and there hasn't been one yet where I didn't add something to my TBR list.  While I am absolutely loving finding all of these new to me authors, I must admit that I wish there was something out there just like this that focused on mysteries and thrillers.  So that is where you guys come in: has anyone found a great podcast that focuses on crime authors or the mystery/suspense genre?  I'm also open to any other suggestions you have for great bookish podcasts so share those as well if you like!

In bookish news, my reading has slowed down a bit as of late.  I only finished one book last week but it was a good one so that always makes it better.  I'm in the midst of some good reads though which makes me hopeful that this week will be better.  I've finished at least four books since my last reading update but as I'm feeling lazy this morning I think I will just share this past week's reading update.

Last week I finished the following:

I'm posting my thoughts on this one tomorrow as part of a blog tour.  You'll have to stop by then to hear my thoughts on it.  I am now currently reading the following:

I'm actually reading both of these on my kindle which is unusual as I try to have one print book and one kindle book going at all times.  I've just begun both of them so I will have to let you know more of my thoughts on them next week.  Both will also count towards the #COYER Summer challenge that I am participating in so that is good!

New Arrivals:

Plenty of good reading ahead of me if I do say so myself!!  Plans for today include a workout (or run), loads of laundry, and general household cleaning.  Quality time listening to another episode of the podcast!  I will also be around later to blog/comment/read.  If you have any bookish podcast suggestions for me, I would love if you leave them in the comments.  Have a great week everyone!

Happy Sunday and Happy Reading!

Monday, July 6, 2015

That Chesapeake Summer by Mariah Stewart (thoughts)

Summary from Goodreads:

"Jamie Valentine is the wildly successful author of self-help books advocating transparency in every relationship. But when her widowed mother passes away unexpectedly, Jamie discovers her own life has been based on a lie. Angry and deeply betrayed, she sets out to find the truth—which may be in a small town on the Chesapeake Bay. Cutting her most recent book tour short, Jamie books a room at the Inn at Sinclair’s Point, just outside St. Dennis.

The death of Daniel Sinclair’s father forced him to take over the family inn, and his wife’s death left him a single parent of two children, so there’s little room for anything else in his life. His lovely new guest is intriguing, though, and he’s curious about the secret she’s clearly hiding. But in the end, Jamie and Dan could discover the greatest truth of all: that the search for one thing just might lead to the find of a lifetime—if you keep your heart open."

My Thoughts:

I love the cover of this book!  Doesn't it just make you want to sit outside in the sun and read?  This really was a great summertime read that I couldn't help but adore.  I've read another book in this series a year or so ago and have meant to get back to this series every since.  This book reminded me exactly why as I got to visit and fall in love all over again with Chesapeake Bay.  Now this is a town that I want to go visit!!  I've read this series completely out of order (starting in the middle and then now a few books behind that) and I can honestly tell you that it hasn't affected my enjoyment of these books in the slightest.  I'm sure I'm missing some of the character's back stories but that just means I have something to look forward to.  I found myself easily immersed yet again into the lives of the residents that live in this small town.  And now I can't wait to read other books and get back to it once again!

In this book, Jamie comes to Chesapeake Bay in the hope of finding answers to questions she never really knew that she had.  I'm deliberately being vague here so I don't spoil anything for other readers, but suffice it to say that she comes to this small town with the hopes that she will come to terms with everything surrounding her mother's death and the secrets she has uncovered.  The story really focused on Jamie and her trying to come to terms with finding that everything that she thought she knew was based on a lie.  A lie when her entire career has been centered around how important the truth really is especially when it comes to relationships.  I loved watching Jamie struggle with all of this....it really helped for me as the reader to connect with her.  I liked that there weren't always easy answers because that is real life.  She knew with both of her parent's being dead that she wasn't going to get all of the answers that she wanted and needed.  Her coming to terms with that and moving on felt very real to me.  The relationship that developed between Jamie and Dan was sweet but a bit rushed.  They start off disliking each other (this is my favorite type of romance) but for me their developing romance just felt secondary to the rest of the book.  I liked it but for me that wasn't what kept me reading.  Instead it was Jamie finding the answers to some of her questions in Chesapeake Bay that was what really compelled me to keep turning those pages.  And the ending really tied the storyline up perfectly for me!

Overall, this was a really great summertime read that I enjoyed.  Will I wait this long to visit once again Chesapeake Bay?  No!  I love the small town feel of these books and found myself wishing that I could actually visit a place just like this.  Especially with that ice cream shop!  It sounds delicious.  This is one of those books that you could read in one afternoon by the pool and it would entirely be worth it.  I would recommend this series to women's fiction fans easily.  This is part of a series but in my opinion you can read them in any order.  I can't wait to read more!

Bottom Line:  A pleasurable read that made me wish I had read more from this series sooner!

Disclosure:   I received a copy of this book thanks to the publisher.  Thoughts are my own!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Second Life by S.J. Watson (thoughts)

Summary from Goodreads:

"She loves her husband. She's obsessed by a stranger.

She's a devoted mother. She's prepared to lose everything.

She knows what she's doing. She's out of control.

She's innocent. She's guilty as sin.

She's living two lives. She might lose both . . ."

My Thoughts:

This book!  Oh my goodness, this book put me through the wringer and then back again.  I'm not even sure that I can come up with a coherent sharing of my thoughts but I'm going to have to try.  Well if that isn't vague enough for all of you....let's start at the beginning, shall we?

I basically added this book to my TBR wishlist instantly and based off of the author alone.  I loved Before I Go To Sleep which is this author's first book oh so much, so reading this one was a must just based off that experience alone.  I didn't read a summary of the book.  I just added it to the reading wishlist and then jumped on the opportunity to participate in this blog tour.  In fact, I was kind of hesitant to include the Goodread's summary of this one just because I don't want to take away from others' reading experience in any shape of form.  I'm getting off track though.  With little to no expectations (other than very high hopes) I can tell you that reading this book was a roller-coaster of an experience that I won't be forgetting any time soon.  

This book was completely intense and this started very early on.  From almost the very beginning I began to realize that I didn't really care for the main character.  At all.  In fact, I was almost at the point where I wasn't quite sure if this was going to be the book for me and if I was going to be sorely disappointed.  I persevered though because the pages just seemed to keep turning so easily and I was curious.  You should know me and curiosity at this point when it comes to books.  I couldn't stop reading and all of a sudden I realized that now I'm utterly hooked and there will be no setting this book down.  In actuality, now I'm really enjoying this book and wondering how I could have ever thought otherwise.  The twists and turns were nonstop towards the end.  I flew through the last portion of the book reading nonstop and as fast as I possibly could.  And then that ending.  That ending that had me hating the book all over again.  I'm not even going to lie....I was completely annoyed with the way it all ended.  That has changed though with time as the more I think about it, the more I like it.  

This book was absolutely one of those thrillers where lesson learned is to expect the unexpected.  Ha!  Second Life is a page-turner, is both dark and twisted (which is just the way I like these kind of reads), and kept me guessing until the very last page.  I loved it even when I didn't.  I hate to throw comparisons out there but my reading experience for this one was so similar to when I read Gillian Flynn's books that I couldn't help but mention it.  This is going to be a polarizing read for some but for me it was completely worth the roller-coaster ride that I went on.  Highly recommended!!  Oh, and read this one just so we can discuss it, alright??

Bottom Line:  A reading experience that I am not going to forget any time soon!

Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book thanks to the publisher and NetGalley as part of a TLC blog tour.  Thoughts are my own!