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If it's good, I'll read it! Instagram:  @crystenasbooks

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Death By Chocolate Lab

— feeling amazing
Death by Chocolate Lab - Bethany Blake

Author: Bethany Blake

Series: Lucky Paws Petsitting Mystery #1

Rating: 4.5 stars


I received this book free in exchange for an honest review.


Book Blurb: Pet sitter Daphne Templeton has a soft spot for every stray and misfit who wanders into the quaint, lakeside village of Sylvan Creek. But even Daphne doesn’t like arrogant, womanizing Steve Beamus, the controversial owner of Blue Ribbon K-9 Academy. When Steve turns up dead during a dog agility trial, Daphne can think of a long list of people with motives for homicide, and so can the police. Unfortunately, at the top of the list is Daphne’s sister, Piper—Steve’s latest wronged girlfriend.

Certain that Piper is innocent, in spite of mounting evidence to the contrary, Daphne sets out to clear her sister’s name—and find Axis, Steve’s prize-winning chocolate Labrador, who went missing the night of Steve’s death. Aided by Socrates, her taciturn basset hound, and a hyperactive one-eared Chihuahua named Artie, Daphne quickly runs afoul of Detective Jonathan Black, a handsome and enigmatic newcomer to town, who has no appreciation for Daphne’s unorthodox sleuthing.

Can a free-spirited pet sitter, armed only with a Ph.D. in Philosophy and her two incompatible dogs, find the real killer before she becomes the next victim.


I am going to say right off the bat, this book surprised me. The book blurb read like your standard cozy mystery and the cover did nothing for me. But I gotta tell ya, this was an excellent start to a cozy mystery series and goes on my must read list for series.


What I Liked:  The writing. I don't know how else to say it, Blake writes dog well. These dogs were characters, they each had their own unique personalities and it came across well on page. I loved waiting to see what Artie the chihuahua would pull next and Socrates the basset hound made me fall in love with basset hounds. Nothing supernatural or the like,  just dog behavior dog lovers and owners can relate to. It made me miss my dog so much.  


I also liked the relationship between Daphne and Jonathan Black. It is cliche for the MC to have a police detective as a romantic interest but this was written so well - that perfect mix of banter, tension and humor. I loved when they were on the page. Full disclosure - yes, there is a love triangle present but it's not as ridiculous as most. You know where this is headed and the other person is an afterthought. So it did not bug me. As much.


I also enjoyed the mystery- the culprit took me by surprise. I didn't see it coming, but it wasn't so out there I couldn't buy it.


What I Didn't Like: It's not that I didn't like it per se, but the philosophy angle came across as a touch gimmicky. The story and the writing stood so well on it's own that the series didn't need this as a hook. Though I reserve the right to change my mind if the angle plays out well in future books.


I recommend this if you like cozy mysteries or mysteries in general. Definitely would be an evening of enjoyable reading.

Mystery Science March 2017

Knight's Shadow - Sebastien de Castell Saint's Blood (The Greatcoats) - Sebastien de Castell Defy the Stars - Claudia Gray Miles, Mystery, and Mayhem - Lois McMaster Bujold Kneaded to Death - Winnie Archer Murder at an Irish Wedding (An Irish Village Mystery) - Carlene O'Connor Edgar and Lucy: A Novel - Victor Lodato Single Malt Murder: A Whisky Business Mystery - Melinda Mullet
— feeling excited

So I'm excited for the month of March!


Aside from what I'm presently reading, here are some of the things in the TBR. 


As you can probably tell, there is some science fiction/fantasy picks in there. I was going through withdrawal.  And one can't go back to reading the genre without a Vorkosigan novel.  I've also decided to continue with the Greatcoats series as the first book was a five star read. 


I've thrown some mysteries in there as well as I've gotten back into reading them and have been enjoying myself.


Edgar and Lucy was an impulsive Netgalley pick last month. My literature picks off Netgalley have been mediocre at best, but this one was well reviewed. So I'm gonna try. 


Happy reading! 




Elementary, She Read

Elementary, She Read - Vicki Delany

Author: Vicky Delany

Series: A Sherlock Holmes Bookshop Mystery #1

Rating: Solid 4 stars


I received this book free in exchange for an honest review.


Book BlurbGemma Doyle, a transplanted Englishwoman, has returned to the quaint town of West London on Cape Cod to manage her Great Uncle Arthur's Sherlock Holmes Bookshop and Emporium. The shop--located at 222 Baker Street--specializes in the Holmes canon and pastiche, and is also the home of Moriarty the cat. When Gemma finds a rare and potentially valuable magazine containing the first Sherlock Homes story hidden in the bookshop, she and her friend Jayne (who runs the adjoining Mrs. Hudson's Tea Room) set off to find the owner, only to stumble upon a dead body.

The highly perceptive Gemma is the police’s first suspect, so she puts her consummate powers of deduction to work to clear her name, investigating a handsome rare books expert, the dead woman's suspiciously unmoved son, and a whole family of greedy characters desperate to cash in on their inheritance. But when Gemma and Jayne accidentally place themselves at a second murder scene, it's a race to uncover the truth before the detectives lock them up for good.


This was a highly enjoyable first in a series. Probably one of the better ones I've read. The main character is supposed to be a distant relative of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and therefore possesses some of the quirks of the famous detective. She oversees a bookshop that contains all things Sherlock. I liked the premise.


Gemma as a sleuth is entertaining. She doesn't understand why her condescension and deductions annoy people, and it was interesting and amusing to be inside her head as she came to her conclusions. She's logical but likable and very human. She struggles with her nature and wants to be liked.  Also, the trivia concerning Sherlock Holmes drizzled throughout the story was great for fans of the original books and all its many spin offs, books,tv series, memorabilia  and the like.


The mystery was decent, not terribly difficult. The strength of this story lies in the characters. In the end, I wanted to read more about them. So I will definitely be reading the next in the series. 


Definitely recommend. 



February Recap 2017

On Second Thought - Kristan Higgins My Not So Perfect Life - Sophie Kinsella Elementary, She Read - Vicki Delany

I read ten books this month!   


Not bad. My month was unusually busy.


My Favorite Reads This Month: 


On Second Thought- great women's fiction. Just an enjoyable read.


My Not So Pefect Life - Again, nice chic lit that pleasantly surprised me.


Elementary, She Read- Enjoyable cozy mystery, Capturing what I love about the genre.



Two Most Disappointing Reads:  


One of the Boys All That's Left to Tell


These two books were both well written but so highly disturbing that I would never recommend then to anyone. I was trying to branch out of my reading comfort zone and strayed too far it seems. Live and learn. 


February TBR Update: 


In line with my goals for February, I managed to greatly reduce my physical TBR. This was actually spurred on by a desire to simplify and organize my life. I didn't just do it with books.  I also did a capsule wardrobe, reducing the clothes I own to under 40 interchangeable pieces. I had been reading a lot about this idea of minimalism and decided to follow some of the principles and  just do it.  The idea spilled over into other aspects of my life including books. I have completely gone through my entire book collection. I have donated and given away a LOT of books this past month. My shelves look under control and I kept books I only really want to read. I must say I enjoyed the process. And I liked picking out books for my friends as surprise, just cause gifts. That was definitely my favorite part. :)


Since the TBR is under control, I've relaxed on the whole MUST READ MY OWN BOOKS mantra. So for March, while I will still be reading some books I own, I will definitely be visiting my library. (Oh how I have missed it!) Buuuuuut I will limit the amount of books I take out to a maximum of 4 at a time. We won't get into how many I was doing before. And I have resolved to only buy when I'm ready to read. To be balanced when it comes to this, part of my organizing process has been signing up for favorite authors on ereaderiq so when Louise Penny or Lois McMaster Bujold go on sale I don't miss out.  I have read this method has helped other bibliophiles keep things under control. Also, for the month of March, I miss science fiction/fantasy so I will definitely be reading some to make up for it. I will post my March TBR tomorrow.


Looking forward to reading everyone's February recaps and March TBRs. They always brighten my day. :)


Happy reading guys! 



One of the Boys

One of the Boys: A Novel - Daniel Magariel

Author: Daniel Magariel

Rating: 2 stars


Received this book free in exchange for an honest review.


The opinion that I found this book well-written but depressing as all get out is purely my own.


Can't recommend it because I'd feel guilty putting you through it. 

Friday Reads!

Death by Chocolate Lab - Bethany Blake One of the Boys: A Novel - Daniel Magariel In the Shadow of Lakecrest - Elizabeth Canning Blackwell

Happy Friday everyone!


Here are my reads for the weekend. Don't let the corny cover fool you, Death by Chocolate Lab is shaping up to be an excellent first in series. 


This weekend will be a bit rainy tomorrow. Perfect day for cleaning and reading,which is probably how I'll spend my afternoon.


Enjoy your weekend! Happy Reading! 

Reading progress update: I've read 100%.

Elementary, She Read - Vicki Delany

I really enjoyed this!


Will post detailed review closer to publication, but overall  -solid start to a series. 

Friday Reads!

Elementary, She Read - Vicki Delany Death by Chocolate Lab - Bethany Blake Kneaded to Death - Winnie Archer Murder in an Irish Village - Carlene O'Connor Knight's Shadow - Sebastien de Castell

It's that day again!


I am so happy it's Friday.  It's going to be almost 60 degrees and sunny tomorrow so we are visiting my boyfriend's mom down by the beach. Hopefully it wll be a good day.  


Here are my planned reads for this weekend going into next week. I am reading Elementary, She Read and am really enjoying it so far! The others are Netgalley obligations and ones I personally own - still working on that TBR. 


What are your reading/weekend plans?


Happy reading everyone! 

The Crepes of Wrath

The Crêpes of Wrath: A Pancake House Mystery - Sarah Fox-Davies

Author: Sarah Fox

Series: A Pancake House Mystery # 1

Rating: 3 stars


Book Blurb: When Marley McKinney’s aging cousin, Jimmy, is hospitalized with pneumonia, she agrees to help run his pancake house while he recovers. With its rustic interior and syrupy scent, the Flip Side Pancake House is just as she pictured it—and the surly chef is a wizard with crêpes. Marley expects to spend a leisurely week or two in Wildwood Cove, the quaint, coastal community where she used to spend her summers, but then Cousin Jimmy is found murdered, sprawled on the rocks beneath a nearby cliff.
After she stumbles across evidence of stolen goods in Jimmy’s workshop, Marley is determined to find out what’s really going on in the not-so-quiet town of Wildwood Cove. With help from her childhood crush and her adopted cat, Flapjack, Marley sinks her teeth into the investigation. But if she’s not careful, she’s going to get burned by a killer who’s only interested in serving up trouble.


Not bad for the first in a series. I enjoyed reading it... for the most part.

What I liked:    The story moved at a nice pace. The mystery was decent - there were some nice red herrings to keep you guessing. The story does not seem to be weighed down by a love triangle so that's a definite plus. Yay!

What I didn't Like:    For some reason, I failed to connect with the characters in this series. I didn't feel they had any depth to them. Even the main character, Marley. When she's revealing a pretty dark back story - unusual for a cozy but kudos to the author for trying this - I felt a lack of empathy. The narrative didn't engender the right amount of emotion for what I was reading.  This is what kept the book at 3 stars for me. I kept reading to find out what happened, but I wasn't emotionally invested. I may pick up the next book, but I'm not going out of my way.



Reading progress update: I've read 32% and then DNF'd the mess out of this.

— feeling angry
Better Late Than Never - Jenn McKinlay

I'm out people.


I can't stand love triangles. When you include them in your stories you take the maturity level of these grown people, GROWN PEOPLE and bring it down to adolescence. How insecure and needy are you that you need to lead two men on at once? 


But the clincher in this book was when the  MC made a choice and still entertained the other guy's antics. It annoyed me so much I just didn't want to continue with the book anymore, so I bailed. 



A Likely Story

A Likely Story - Jenn McKinlay

Author: Jenn Mckinlay

Series: Library Lover's Mystery #6

Rating: 3.5 stars


Being this is the 6th book in the series, I will keep it to impressions.  Our MC, Lindsey is trying to solve a murder of one of her patrons. She discovers him dead when dropping off his books.


1.  This love triangle is ridiculous. That last line annoyed me. 


2. That being said I loved the characters and setting. I want to live in this town. Though the crime rate is off putting...


3. The mystery was decent. You knew who it was, but the why was interesting.


4. Emma - the police chief and Medical Examiner Griffiths. I wanted to read more about them from one page of banter than I did Lindsey and Sully. Please make this happen.


All in all not a bad cozy read. I'm listening to the next book on audio.








Reading progress update: I've read 16%.

Knight's Shadow - Sebastien de Castell

I bumped Into the Wilderness cuz it was boring me, like seriously Zzzzzzzzzz... and replaced it with the next long book in my TBR pile.  I'd forgotten how funny and entertaining this series is.


Reading this along with A  Likely Story. 



Amazon Kindle John Scalzi Sale!

Old Man's War - John Scalzi The Ghost Brigades - John Scalzi The Last Colony - John Scalzi Lock In - John Scalzi Redshirts - John Scalzi Fuzzy Nation - John Scalzi
— feeling smile

When my EreaderIQ alert went off early this morning like someone was coming to get me, I knew some author I'd been tracking was having a good sale on Amazon. I was right!


The entire Old Man's War series is on sale for Kindle for $2.99 USD along with Lock In, Fuzzy Nation and Redshirts.


Had to spread the word. I'm so happy to pick up the rest of the series so I can complete it this year!










My Not So Perfect Life

My Not So Perfect Life - Sophie Kinsella

Author: Sophie Kinsella

Rating: 5 stars


I received this book free in exchange for an honest review. The opinion that it's a 5 star read is purely my own.


Book Blurb:


Everywhere Katie Brenner looks, someone else is living the life she longs for, particularly her boss, Demeter Farlowe. Demeter is brilliant and creative, lives with her perfect family in a posh townhouse, and wears the coolest clothes. Katie’s life, meanwhile, is a daily struggle—from her dismal rental to her oddball flatmates to the tense office politics she’s trying to negotiate. No wonder Katie takes refuge in not-quite-true Instagram posts, especially as she's desperate to make her dad proud.

Then, just as she’s finding her feet—not to mention a possible new romance—the worst happens. Demeter fires Katie. Shattered but determined to stay positive, Katie retreats to her family’s farm in Somerset to help them set up a vacation business. London has never seemed so far away—until Demeter unexpectedly turns up as a guest. Secrets are spilled and relationships rejiggered, and as the stakes for Katie’s future get higher, she must question her own assumptions about what makes for a truly meaningful life.


I loved this book! 


I thought I was reading a story about a girl handling her first job and her evil boss but this story was not what it seemed. What a pleasant surprise! It had great messages about putting yourself in others shoes, not judging, revenge.


Katie was a great character, she made decisions I at times didn't agree with but she was so likable and human. She grew so much throughout the course of the story. Kinsella was successful at making me feel like I grew right along with her. Trying not to spoil, but in my opinion, this book was more about female friendships and how we treat each other in the workplace than a romance. Not that it had no romance. Just it was definitely on the back burner.


This was a feel good book, one I will definitely read again in the future. Highly recommend.

Friday Reads!

All That's Left to Tell: A Novel - Daniel Lowe A Likely Story - Jenn McKinlay The Chilbury Ladies' Choir: A Novel - Jennifer Ryan Death by the Dozen - Jenn McKinlay Into the Wilderness - Sara Donati
— feeling smile

So these are the next batch of books from my  Reading List for the weekend into next week.


All That's Left to Tell is a Netgalley find that intrigued me.


A Likely Story - is where I left off with the Library Lovers cozy mystery series. 


The Chillbury Ladies Choir -  I was gonna wait to get the hard copy but I really want to finish it so I'm going to do that this week.


Death by the Dozen - Started and never finished. Same goes for Into the Wilderness - I picked up the latest book which takes place 70 years after the events in this series. While I could probably read it as a standalone, I want all the back story.  So I dug out this book and intend on working my way through it.


Nothing exciting planned this weekend. Sunday will be rainy, hopefully washing away the snow. 


What are your reading plans?


Happy reading! :) 



Reading progress update: I've read 67%.

My Not So Perfect Life - Sophie Kinsella

This book is not what I expected - and that's a good thing! I thought I was reading a book about a girl struggling to find her way in her new job in London and deal her difficult female boss. Just a well done fish out of water story. And that's not quite what this is about...


Loving the commentaries on judging others, revenge, buying into social media...   


Enjoying this one a lot.