Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Top Ten Tuesday - Books I Love That Were Written Over Ten Years Ago

Happy Top Ten Tuesday, my fellow list makers and readers! This blog hop is brought to you by That Artsy Reader Girl. There you will find links to others who are participating in Top Ten Tuesday.

I had a lot of fun compiling this list. I did not begin reading cozies until last year and most of the ones I have read are fairly new, so I chose to list books in other genres as well. I've listed books I enjoyed reading as a child, books I shared with my students as a teacher before I retired on disability in 2010, and books I've read as an adult just for fun. They are listed in alphabetical order.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, by Roald Dahl - As a teacher, I used to read this to my third graders every year. It's just plain fun!

Charlotte's Web, by E.B. White - This is another one I used to share with my third graders every year. We always ended the year with this book. I didn't necessarily read this one to them. They usually read it on their own and we discussed it a chapter at a time.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder, by Joanne Fluke - This is quite a departure from the previous two! This is the first cozy mystery I ever read and it's the one that made me want to read more cozies. You can read my review here.

Curious George, by Margret Rey and H. A. Rey - Now we're back to the children's books, but even younger children this time. This is one I enjoyed reading when I was a child. I think the reason I liked it so much is because it features a monkey. I've always loved monkeys. Lol.

Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott - I was a late bloomer when it came to reading. I read this for the first time last year and I loved it. It's the only book I can think of that made me cry a river of tears. No other book, especially one chapter, has had such an emotional impact on me.

Magic Tree House Series, by Mary Pope Osborne - This may be cheating, but I cannot single out one book from this series. It's a good introduction for children to chapter books. I used to read this series to my second graders after recess everyday when I was a teacher. I have not read the entire series, but I read a good bit of them. I felt so nostalgic when I added it to this list that I added the first one in the series to my TBR list so I can re-read it. It's a children's fantasy book, but I think adults can enjoy it as well. I cannot say enough good things about this series. I highly recommend it. You'll be taken to places you never imagined you could travel to and you'll learn a thing or two along the way.

Mount Vernon Love Story: A Novel of George and Martha Washington, by Mary Higgins Clark - This was originally called Aspire to the Heavens and it was Clark's first published novel. I owned a copy of this book for many years until I finally read it earlier this year. I was blown away. It's so well-written and engaging. The writing style, which is a series of flashbacks and "flash forwards" is something I did not expect. It really works to neatly tie everything together.
 
Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen - This is another classic for which I was late to the party. I watched the movie first and I loved it. It really helped me understand the book when I finally read it last year. It's become a bit of an obsession for me. I watch everything, even loose adaptations, that has anything to do with it. I also have a few related books on my TBR list.

Steal Like an Artist, by Austin Kleon - I read this years ago and I read it again last year. It's the first in a trilogy of books by this author. It's simple to read and it contains practical tips anyone on a creative journey can put into practice. 

The Notebook, by Nicholas Sparks - This is the first book ever published by Nicholas Sparks and it's the one that made me a fan of his work. I have read several of his books, but not all of them. In due time, I will.

Have you read any books on this list? Are there any that interest you? What would you put on your list? Do tell in the comments below!

Monday, August 15, 2022

"Buried in A Good Book" (By the Book Mysteries, 1), by Tamara Berry

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I had heard of "Buried in a Good Book" and had planned on reading it soon. Soon came sooner than I had expected because it was chosen as the book of the month for the cozy book club I participate in.

Tess Harrow is a best-selling thriller author who needs a fresh start with her teenage daughter, Gertrude, after Tess's recent divorce. The mother and daughter duo head to a cabin in the woods that Tess inherited from her grandfather. They are looking forward to a peaceful time in nature away from technology, which in one way is evident from the typewriter Tess brings.  Peaceful that is, until Tess and Gertie discover a dead body - most of the dead body anyway. And so begins the quest to unravel this mystery.

There are many things I like about this book. First and foremost, the body is discovered very early in the story. It always bugs me when I'm a third or more of the way through the book, and the crime has not happened yet. This was definitely not a problem here. Since it happened early, most of the book's focus is on solving the mystery.

There are enough red herrings, legitimate clues, suspects with motives and means, and twists and turns to keep the reader guessing until the culprit is revealed. I had my suspicions about the culprit as soon as that character was introduced. So it wasn't a complete surprise to me, but I still wasn't sure until it was revealed. 

There is a hint of romance, but not so much that it overpowers the rest of the story. It is enough to keep the reader interested  not only in what happens in this book, but also in what might happen in future books. The sheriff happens to look exactly like the fictional detective in Tess's books. That alone makes for a fun read. 

There is more humor in this book than I've read in any other cozy mystery. I mean, there really are some laugh-out-loud moments. Some will appreciate it, but it may be too much for others. I enjoyed the humor. Along with the humor, there is also more grit. It's definitely more edgy than most cozy mysteries I've read, but it still most certainly qualifies as a cozy. I wasn't crazy about this aspect of it, but others will enjoy it.

I had a difficult time connecting with the main character, Tess. Her personality is more abrasive than what I prefer in cozies. She has a good heart, she's a great mom, and she's been through a lot. I just think if this were real life it might take me a little more time to really warm up to her. Eventually I most likely would. I liked her daughter, Gertrude. She's very perceptive and intelligent, but she also has a very colorful personality. I think we would get along well.

I liked the twists and turns in this book, but untangling everything at the end was a bit too much for my brain. It did all come together, but it was a lot to take in. 

This was a good book to read in the summer. I'm glad I read it, but I haven't yet decided if I will read the next one in the series. I am not as excited about it as I usually am after reading a first in the series. I haven't ruled it out, though. 

Have you read "Buried in a Good Book" or any others in the series? Is it one that you think you might be interested in?

Sunday, August 14, 2022

What I'm Reading Week 3

My third week into this, I've changed the name of my Sunday posts to "What I'm Reading", since I'm participating in more than just Stacking the Shelves, which is hosted by Reading Reality. I am also linking with The Book Date, who hosts It's Monday! What are you reading?

AUDIOBOOKS

I am only adding one book this week to my "shelf" and it's an audiobook - Alexander Hamilton, by Ron Chernow. I started listening to this the first week of July after finally watching the musical on Disney+, but I didn't finish listening to the audiobook before I had to return it to the library. It's 36 hours long! I finished about half of it and I'm borrowing it again this week to finish it over the next few weeks.

Here's the update on books I've been reading this month:

PRINT BOOKS    

The Summer We Forgot, by Caroline George - I have the most amount of time to read this one before I have to return it to the library in September. So I'm taking my time with it. At this point, I'm reading about one chapter a day.

Happy Mind, Happy Life: The New Science of Mental Well-Being, by Rangan Chatterjee - I am planning to finish this book this week. I need to return it next Sunday.

E-BOOK

Can't Hurt Me, by David Goggins - This one is due on Friday, with no option to renew it. So I'll finish it by then.

Really missing my cozies! After I finish all of the above books that I've listed, I'll go back to cozies. I just have too much on my plate at the moment.

Happy Reading to all!

Saturday, August 13, 2022

Puzzle 3

Caturday Hugs and Purrs to all! I hope you enjoy this week's cozy puzzle. Remember, you can always go back to previous ones that you may have missed by clicking on the "Puzzles" label on the right sidebar of my blog.

This one took me 12 minutes and 30 seconds with 70 non-rotatable pieces. In the comments, feel free to share your time and if you modified the puzzle, how so.


Thursday, August 11, 2022

Felines and Fill-ins Friday Week 3

Happy Friday, friends! I am once again participating in three blog hops. By the way, does anyone know of any movie-related blog hops? If so, please do tell! I watch a lot of movies, so I might be interested in joining one of those.

Let's get hopping with today's installments.


Question: What are some of your favorite books?

My response: Well, from the description of my blog you can probably conclude that my favorite genre is cozy mysteries. To read more about how this came to be, click on "Why Cozies" on the right sidebar of my blog. 

Some of my favorite cozy mysteries are Farm to Trouble, by Amanda Flower, Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder, by Joanne Fluke, A Sprinkling of Murder, by Daryl wood Gerber (which I will review in September), and No Parm No Foul, by Linda Reilly. 

My favorite non-cozy mystery book is Pride and Prejudice and my favorite non-cozy author is Nicholas Sparks. I have not read any of his books in a while, but of the ones I read, The Notebook is probably my favorite.

My favorite non-fiction books are probably the two I'm currently reading - Can't Hurt Me (the clean version), by David Goggins and Happy Mind, Happy Life: 10 Simple Ways to Feel Great Every Day, by Rangan Chatterjee. The latter has a much calmer tone, but they are both very powerful and thought-provoking books. I didn't choose to read them at the same time on purpose (it just so happened one of them that was on hold became available at the same time I borrowed the other one), but they balance each other out nicely.

FRIENDLY FILL-INS, hosted by Four-Legged Furballs and 15 and Meowing

1. I'd like to peek into Tinker Bell's closet. I think she would have quite a stash of found things, with plans to repurpose them. I may even find in her closet some of my own things that I lost.🤔

2. I secretly enjoy eating in front of the television. (I guess this is no longer a secret.)

3. There's no use crying over pieces of egg shells that fall into the bowl when I crack them (although I certainly do feel like crying when this happens).

4. If I don't get 7-8 hours sleep, I don't function well the next day.

FELINE FRIDAY, hosted by Comedy Plus

Fiona (pictured below) wants to know if you have time to chat.

I am so proud of the cat this kitten is becoming. It used to be that I could not have her in my lap without her biting me. And it was her choice to stay in my lap! They were just little love nips and I know she was just being playful, but it was a bad habit that she needed to stop. 

Nowadays, at times I can tell she's tempted to bite, but she never follows through anymore. It's kind of funny to see the look on her face and the thought process she goes through when she ultimately decides not to bite.

Now, she's not completely obedient, though. She is now into grabbing my jewelry (I wear a medical bracelet, so I have to wear at least one piece of jewelry every day) and buttons on my clothes. She also loves to play with (a.k.a. attack) my hair. She attacks my hair from the front when she's on my lap and from the back when she gets up behind me on the top of the couch. I think my hair reminds her of Bell's tail, which she also loves to play with (much to Bell's dismay).

Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Top Ten Tuesday - Hilarious Book Titles

Happy National Book Lovers Day! I am celebrating with a new blog hop.

I am very much a list person. I love making lists and reading lists. I have a few books of lists - one related to movies, one related to books, and the other is a special list edition of my favorite magazine, Bella Grace. Oh, and then there's my Bullet Journal which contains lists. So when I found out about this blog hop I knew I had to hop on board. Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. Each week there will be a new top ten topic.

For this week's list, hilarious book titles, I've narrowed mine down to cozy mysteries. Cozies are known for their punny titles, so I knew I'd have fun with this one. The only one on this list that I've read is Up to No Gouda, by Linda Reilly (and it is a really good one!). The others look good, too! 

I've listed them in alphabetical order.

  1. Body Over Troubled Waters (Welcome Back to Scumble River #4), by Denise Swanson
  2. Dachshund Through the Snow (Andy Carpenter #20), by David Rosenfelt
  3. Dashing through the Snowbirds (Meg Langslow Mystery #32), by Donna Andrews
  4. Dewey Decimated (The Haunted Library Mysteries #6), by Allison Brook
  5. Peach Clobbered (Georgia B&B #1), by Anna Gerard
  6. Pride and Prescience: Or a Truth Universally Acknowledged (Mr. and Mrs. Darcy Mysteries #1), by Carrie Bebris
  7. Saturday Night Cleaver (Barbara Marr Murder Mystery #4), by Karen Cantwell
  8. State of the Onion (A White House Chef Mystery #1), by July Hyzy
  9. The Long Quiche Goodbye (A Cheese Shop Mystery #1), by Avery Aames
  10. Up to No Gouda (Grilled Cheese Mysteries #1), by Linda Reilly
Which is your favorite title from this list (even if you haven't read it)? 

Which titles would you add to this cozy list? There are certainly more than ten!

Monday, August 8, 2022

"Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder" (Hannah Swensen #1), by Joanne Fluke

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Happy International Cat Day! Fiona and Bell send their hugs and purrs to cats around the world.

The book I am reflecting on today isn't about cats, but it does feature a cat who lives with the main character and amateur sleuth, Hannah Swensen. I reflected on the movie "Murder, She Baked: A Chocolate Chip Cookie Mystery" last week. Now let's take a look at the book it is based on.

This is the first ever cozy mystery I read and it is the one that sparked my interest not only in cozies, but also reading in general (although my strong preference is cozies). I really enjoyed it when I read it last year, so I was very excited when I found out the cozy mysteries book club I participate in chose this one for August. Since I already read the book, I decided to listen to the audiobook this time around. It was the first cozy audiobook I listened to, so there are lots of firsts with this one! Funny enough, I finished listening to the audiobook on National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day. I couldn't have planned it that way if I tried.

Hannah Swensen owns a bakery called The Cookie Jar. She is happily single and she lives with her feline companion, Moishe. When Hannah discovers the dead body of the well-loved delivery man, surrounded by her chocolate chip crunchies, she sets out to get to the bottom of this heinous crime.

While I thought Hannah's motivation for wanting to solve this crime was a bit bizarre, this is a great cozy mystery. There is lots of talk about yummy treats that Hannah bakes, complete with recipes scattered throughout the book for readers to try. I have not tried to make any of them because I never buy sugar and I don't feel like I'd be doing the recipes justice by trying to recreate them in a different way. I always use maple syrup instead of sugar and I'm not even sure how to modify these recipes so that they taste good and keep the intended texture. However, if anyone is willing to bake Hannah's treats for me, I will not refuse a taste of them.

Along with the baked treats and Hannah's cat, the human characters in this book also contribute to the cozy aspect. Although Hannah is often annoyed by her mother, I get the sense that she really cares about her. I like the family bond Hannah, Delores (her mother), and Andrea (Hannah's sister) share. There is also a sense of community in the small fictional town of Lake Eden, Minnesota. Hannah gets along great with her assistant, Lisa, and they have regular customers who frequent the bakery. 

Most importantly, the mystery in this book is strong. There are countless suspects with possible motives, red herrings, and legitimate clues. The murder happens very early in the book, so most of the story is spent on solving the mystery. There are also engaging subplots that I was interested in as much as the mystery. The subplots are seamlessly woven into the story, so they are not really unwanted distractions.

While I prefer to read books, I did enjoy listening to the audiobook. I couldn't remember the details of the story nor who the culprit was until close to the end, so it was no less enjoyable than reading the book last year. Some of the voices raised an eyebrow, but most were good. I especially loved the voice of the character who ended up being the culprit. I couldn't help smiling when I heard that character's voice, even before they were revealed as the person who committed the crime.

If you enjoy cozy mysteries, I highly recommend "Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder". Since it is number 1 in the long-running and still ongoing series, there is nothing that needs to be read before it. It remains one of my favorites out of all the cozies I've read over the past year. It is clean and fun, making it a true cozy mystery.