If it's good, I'll read it! Instagram: @crystenasbooks
Author: D.M. Quincy
Series: Atlas Catesby #2
Rating: A Solid 3.5 stars
I received this book free in exchange for an honest review.
This was a solid follow up to Murder in Mayfair.
In this installment, our main character and gentleman Atlas Catesby is called on to help solve the mystery of the death of a footman. The footman is the brother of Lilliana's maid, Lilliana being the woman and now "Lady Roslyn" that Atlas helped save in the first book. The brother died with a belly full of arsenic. The mystery takes some interesting twists and turns, with me suspecting everyone who crossed the page at one point. It was well done. The author's notes indicate that this particular mystery is based on a little-known court case at the time. I thought this was great. At the end, it was interesting reading the comparisons between what actually happened and what she took liberties with. Truth is stranger than fiction.
On the personal front, Catesby is struggling with his feelings for Lilliana. Due to his station, he does not think himself worthy of her. This dilemma plays out with the characters in the mystery as well - and the parallels played off each other nicely. The will they/won't they pull of their relationship was well done. There was an interesting subplot involving Catesby's best friend and Catesby's sister that carried over from the last book. I'm curious as to where that storyline is going. I guess we will see what happens as the series continues.
Reading all the "rules" of English society made me grateful I was not around as I would never be able to keep them straight.
Overall a good mystery. Between the two books, a solid start to a historical mystery series. I'll be reading the next one.
Author: Ashley Gardner
Series: Captain Lacey Mysteries #7
A solid installment in the Captain Lacey series. I hadn't read this series in a while and now I remember why I was so crazy about it.
The mystery was excellent. There are two mysteries going on in this book. A mysterious disappearance of a young girl many years prior and the disappearance of one of James Denis' men. Denis, who is Lacey's archenemy turned frenemy, is handled nicely. He is still a gray, mysterious character and in this book, you get to know more about his background. Though you can empathize with Denis, you are reminded in no uncertain terms that he is still a very dangerous man. I had not clue how either mystery would resolve, and it kept me turning the pages.
On the personal front, Lacey is settling in nicely with his love interest. To say more than that would be spoilers for the previous books, but I like her. I love the secondary characters as well. There is some insight as to Lacey's background which was surprising. I like the layers Ms. Gardner adds to the characters. This is a reliably good historical mystery series for me and it is still going strong as installments are coming out every year. I look forward to the next one.
Author: Anna Lee Huber
Series: Lady Darby Series # 4
Rating: 3.5 stars
This was an enjoyable read. I did like that we got to see Kiera and Gage prepare for their wedding by addressing issues in their relationship rather than focusing on the dress. It was realistic and romantic. Though I no doubt will be reading the novella A Pressing Engagement with a smile.
The tension provided by her sister's pregnancy was well done. I like Philip and Alana as characters so I had a real worry about how the birth of their next child would affect them.
The mystery overall was well done. I thought it was someone else, so I was surprised. The Bonnie Brock involvement adds just the right amount of tension to Gage and Kiera's love story. His motivations for still engaging with Kiera go beyond a debt because of her help I think. And I don't know what Ms. Huber plans on doing with him in the future. It leaves me unsettled but in a way that will keep me reading the series.
Overall, I recommend this series.
Author: Deborah Crombie
Series: Duncan Kincaid and Gemma James #5
Using poetry to solve a murder? Yes, please.
This book had off-the-hook character development. Excellent. To have that much happening and to not let the mystery fade into the background... Bravo!
This installment starts with Kincaid receiving a call from his ex-wife who wants him to look into the apparent suicide of a poet. Simple. Gemma and Kincaid begin to look into things and the story takes a startling, shocking turn. I did not expect it- and the subsequent reveals after were just as good.
This is not a series you can just pick up and read out of order. Each mystery builds on the previous ones. I will definitely be continuing with this series.
Author: C.S. Harris
Series: Sebastian St. Cyr #4
Rating: 4 stars
I only mildly enjoyed the first few books in this series. When I expressed this, fans of the series told me that Hero's character- who plays a prominent role in this installment - is a great addition to the cast and turned it around for them. Considering this, though I had said I would read the series no further, I decided to give this one a shot.
They were right.
In this installment, Sebastian comes to the aid of Hero, his enemy's daughter, who is investigating the death of prostitutes killed under suspicious circumstances. The subsequent mystery is very much tied up in history- Harris takes a historical event and has spun her own story as to the motivations behind it. It is well done.
The characters were rich with depth. Harris' descriptions make them come alive as you're reading. Sebastian still isn't my favorite character, but my least favorite has taken a huge leap back from the forefront and that improves things considerably. I'd elaborate more but #spoilers.
I really enjoyed this book and am looking forward to continuing on with this series.
I put these books down recently.
Morning Star - This book had the characters eating a bucket of cockroaches and raw snakes and nonsense as some initiation. No. Just No. My stomach never recovered. I just Wiki'd the ending and we're good. It's been real Pierce Brown.
Pride and Prometheus - I'm not going to discourage anyone from reading this - the Pride and Prejudice parts were good. The Frankenstein parts bored me. It could just be me.
How to Stop Time- Just a bad fit - it's smart sci-fi about a man who never ages and is part of some order who polices them and protects their secret. He is told never to fall in love. Of course, he does. It will probably be a hit but I found it depressing and kept wishing it would get to the point. It rambled a lot.
I received Pride and Prometheus and How to Stop Time free in exchange for an honest review.
I know it's early yet, but this will be the book to beat in 2018 for me. Or at least the standard for 5-star books this year.
John O'Leary accidentally set himself on fire when he was 9 years old. He was burned on 100% of his body. He was not expected to survive... yet he did.
This was inspirational, it was moving and the lessons that he was able to draw from his experience were powerful. His humility is palpable. He cites numerous examples of people who encouraged him and helped him along the way: his family - the older brother and two little sisters who put the fire out and held him while he waited for help; the janitor who kept his room clean so he wouldn't have infections; the doctor who, himself a previous burn victim, took time out to give him the words to keep fighting.
To say I cried throughout this book is an understatement, yet O'Leary refuses to allow you to feel sorry for him. Each experience cited is attached to a powerful lesson such as acceptance and growth through pain. (This. The growth through pain section had me bawling. If you read it you will understand why. I wanted to hug his physical therapists). He makes each lesson relatable even though his experience was dramatic, pointing out we all have points in our lives where we have to choose whether or not to change or give up.
I could go on and on.
Just read it. I will be buying this for people and saying just that. Just read it.
It will change you.
This book has made me cry at least four times already.
Written by a man who survived burns to 100% of his body when he was a boy, it's inspiring and amazing.
It's supposed to be crazy cold this weekend which means ... TIME TO READ BOOKS!
I started When Christ and His Saints Slept. Very different feel from the other Penman books I have read, but enjoyable nonetheless.
My next choice is Morning Star. I have been trying to finish this series for a while now. The books are so emotional I feel like I have to pump myself up to read them. Hopefully this time it will stick. I do want to know what happens with Darrow and the rest of the Red Rising universe.
My nonfiction choice is The Stowaway - true story about a teenager who sneaks on a boat to head to Antarctica.
This weekend we will be headed out to see an orchestral performance of science fiction movie themes at a local theater hall. I got the hubby hooked on these when we went to see Star Wars: Return of the Jedi live in concert in NYC. The Philharmonic did an amaaaaaaaaaaazing job and the energy from the audience was just as enjoyable as the performance.
Hmmm. What to say about this book.
I liked the idea of it. I liked that she encouraged people to live in the moment and stop chasing after things to make them happy. I liked that she was open and honest about her own struggles with doing this.
What didn't I like?I was under the impression that this was a self-help book. It is not a self-help book - it's a memoir. If you want a how-to, then you probably should google it or look elsewhere. This is just her talking about the fact that she did it. For about 200+ pages. It got repetitive. It's heavy on religion regardless of what blurbs and reviews say, so if you don't want to be preached to from her religious point of view you may want to pick up another book on the topic. I'm religious and felt it was a bit heavy-handed.
Overall three stars cuz the writing was decent and the message was positive.
It's that time of year again!!
In looking at the books I read this year, I realized I had a lot of ho-hum reads. Which means I will be examining my reading choices in 2018 more closely. It was a busy year- planning a wedding, getting married, moving my grandmother into my parent's house and becoming a caretaker for her ... That all may have something to do with it. BUT I did read some winners and here are my favorites.
#5 How the Light Gets In by Louise Penny
Just a great addition to the series and tied up the overall arc nicely. I was on the edge of my seat at the end of this book. If you haven't read this series, please do.
#4 The Blue Castle by L. M. Montgomery
A pleasant surprise. I had never heard of this book and a good friend of mine did a buddy read with me. This book is witty and entertaining. I will definitely be doing a re-read.
#3 Evergreen by Belva Plain
Epic, sweeping historical fiction following one woman's life through all its ups and downs and a few wars. When I was reading it, I couldn't stop talking about it. I could not wait to pick this book up. Loved it.
#2 My Dead Parents by Anya Yurchyshy.
This memoir was riveting. I was impressed with how she expressed herself and how she shared her life with the reader. Her journey was universal, trying to understand your parents as well as yourself. Though I will be reviewing it next year when it comes out, I read it this year and had to include it on this list.
#1 The Sunne In Splendour by Sharon Kay Penman
This isn't a real surprise. I LOVED this book. It's one of the best books I have ever read. Historical fiction doesn't get better than this. I will definitely be reading more of her in 2018.
Those are my five faves!
Looking forward to hearing your favorite books of 2017.
I love this woman's self-help books about managing your house. She is funny and I can relate to her way of looking at things.
She has practical suggestions... and it all starts with doing your dishes. Every day - just do them. It's that "make your bed every morning" concept- but presented in a funny way. The psychological impact, the snowball effect, the feeling of accomplishment - it all adds up. From personal experience - I've tried some of the suggestions in her previous book and so far they have worked for me. I am aware it could be that she speaks in a language I "get" and understand - addressing the stops and starts and ups and downs in maintaining a household.
I definitely would recommend this book because it's practical and entertaining.
Told from the perspective of the two women who won the Pulitzer for their reporting, this is the true story of a police scandal in Philidelphia in 2003.
It was pretty good reading-wise. Wendy Ruderman and Barbara Laker recount the investigation and reporting they did during that time. Complete with tense moments and fears that would go along with exposing police corruption, this book was definitely a page-turner. It was disheartening to hear the level of corruption and pain caused to the victims because they thought no one would notice - or care.
What was interesting in all this was one of the reporters admits to giving gifts and presents to her main source and his family - a police informant. To be fair, she said they needed groceries and other items and it was never money. But I immediately thought, "Wait - is she supposed to do that?" Later in the book, she tried to justify what she did and contrast it with some of the accusations leveled at the police. I was uneasy. Not that I didn't believe bad things had happened to these victims but I couldn't figure out how her actions- whatever their motive - wouldn't complicate things.
When I was done with the book I went to google the final outcome of all this - and sure enough - she was taken to task for this and had to, at least in the public eye, defend the series "Tainted Justice" as their reporting series was called.
The expose on their expose was done by their sister paper the Inquirer. The two papers seem to not have a good 'relationship', even in the book. What prompted another look at the series was one of the police officers accused of misconduct seemed to escape charges though he was accused of horrible acts against women. When the Inquirer decided to do a follow-up piece to see why - they were told the main witness claimed they had also received gifts from the reporters thus tainting the witness' credibility. Ruderman denies this, saying its a cop-out so they don't have to fire him. The police commissioner said the allegations against the witness stick him "with a guy who shouldn't be a cop."
My opinion? What a mess.
Of note, I also wasn't comfortable with the excitement expressed at finding more victims. It jarred me. While yes- I get you're getting more evidence to expose corruption- it seemed like the story and the adrenaline rush was first - these victims and what they went through was a not-close second.
This book leaves me with mixed feelings. Solid retell of what happened but troubling.
I gave it three stars.
This was a good read.
After I read and loved two memoirs, a friend of mine thought I should continue on the nonfiction wave I was riding and dive into The Monopolists.
Me: "You mean a book about a board game?" *side eye*
My-entirely-too-patient-with-me-friend: "It's about the true history of the game. It's really interesting."
Me: "Uh... ok."
My friend introduced me to Candace Millard so she had built up some reading cred with me.
She is officially two for two.
This book tells the true story of how when Ralph Anspach went to market his game Anti-Monopoly, he was hit with a C&D letter from Parker Brothers that prompted him to look into the origins of Monopoly. At the time, the belief was Charles Darrow created the game in his basement when he was down and out and then sold it to Parker Brothers. A true Rags to Riches story.
Digging reveals that wasn't true. Digging leads you to a young woman named Lizzie Magie, to the Quakers and to some shady business dealings. I don't want to spoil the twists and turns for you. I was surprised to learn how much money was at stake prompting Parker Brothers to be so possessive. The fight over Monopoly's copyright leads to a dramatic court case. It was an enjoyable read and I learned a bit about copyright law. I also enjoyed learning about Lizzie Magie - what a character she was. I will admit, I was nostalgic remembering the hours my family spent playing Monopoly. It has been such a part of our culture for so long.
Overall, an excellent memoir.
Well-written, immersive, and emotional. This woman's journey overtook my last two days.
I will post a more in-depth review closer to publication date, but I will definitely be recommending this book.
I received this book in exchange for an honest review.
A great read!
Emotional, funny, relatable.
I will post a more detailed review closer to publication date which is next year.
I received this book free in exchange for an honest review.