Monday, January 23, 2017

A Perilous Undertaking

by Deanna Raybourn

Love the cover!  This is the second installment in the Veronica Speedwell mystery series.  I read the ARC for book one, A Curious Beginning, and was thoroughly delighted with it.  You can read my review HERE

I didn't enjoy A Perilous Undertaking as much.  Veronica is a high-spirited, free-thinking young woman that doesn't mind discussing her dalliances and her feelings about "physical congress."   Here's a quote from Veronica, "Whilst I was perfectly forthright about such matters, Stoker possessed a charming reticence to discuss his baser urges."  I thought there was too much of Veronica's forthrightness and it grew wearisome.   Add to Veronica's coarseness a courtly, elderly woman, Lady Wellingtonia, who was every bit as salacious.  

A few days before starting this book I had added Veronica to a list of favorite characters.  I don't think that highly of her anymore and she is not someone I want to identify with as I tend to do with the main female character.

It's interesting to me that I was put-off by Veronica's crassness, but not bothered by the debauchery of a group of people involved with the accused murderer.  Perhaps it is because I didn't become personally attached as I did to the main character.  

Raybourn's writing style, idioms, and vocabulary seemed to fit the late 1800s, though I'm not an expert.  It just felt like I was reading in that time period.  I highlighted many words that I wouldn't know their meaning if they had not been in context.  I like picking up new words and idioms.

 Would I recommend this book?  Not readily and certainly not without conditions.  There are so many books that entertain, enlighten, and enrich - why waste time of less than satisfying reads?

One to Five

by Ryan Scott

You gotta love a cookbook that features"Foolproof Hard-Boiled Eggs" as its first recipe.  When I saw the title I would have bet money that he boiled his eggs like I do.  Nope. Going to have to give Ryan's eggs a try.

The philosophy behind this cookbook is to master one basic recipe, like hard-boiled eggs, and spin it into five quick, affordable, and crowd-pleasing dishes. I like it!

I enjoy reading cookbooks and looking at the pictures, unfortunately I didn't get to make any of the recipes before reviewing this book - blame it on a month of flu/cold.  I liked the introduction and pictures of Ryan and his mother.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Trigger Warning

by Neil Gaiman

I don't usually read short stories but when this one showed up on Pixel of Ink for $2 I grabbed it because it was Neil Gaiman. I enjoyed the introduction. After reading the first 2 or 3 stories I was feeling bewildered. I felt like I might not be smart enough or imaginative enough to "catch on" to the meaning or purpose of these stories. As if my ego wasn't deflated enough, my husband started reading this book and absolutely loved the story about the chair. I was about to quit and start a new book but I persevered and enjoyed the rest of the stories. My favorite story was the one about Sherlock Holmes. Next favorite was probably the spin on Sleeping Beauty.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

by Joanna Faber & Julie King

A gem of a parenting self-help book. There are so many worthwhile suggestions but I mostly appreciated the chapter on giving praise. I raised my four daughters when building a child's self-esteem was the cry-word of all self-help books. In schools everyone received an award for whatever they did. I didn't agree wholeheartedly with that concept but I didn't know a better way so I sort of mushed along without a plan. 

This book suggests you don't use praise that evaluates, such as "you are so smart," "you are the best," etc. And don't use praise that reflects on you, such as "I'm proud of you." Instead we want to describe their effort and improvement. I think knowing how to praise effectively is something that can be learned and used on all ages of people, not just the 2-7 year-olds in our lives.

I've oversimplified this process whereas the book explains it very well. Another thing I liked how the book shares ideas on how to deal with specific problems, such as lying, tattling, sibling rivalry, etc. 

I recommend this book to parents and grandparents who want to improve their skills in dealing with our most charges.

Saturday, January 07, 2017

The House on Candlewick Lane

by Amy M. Reade

I was drawn in right from the beginning but then my interest dwindled.  The tempo of the story slowed.  The main character and mother of the kidnapped 5-year-old girl moved to Edinburgh to search for her daughter but her focus seemed to shift to the beauty and food of the area.  Perhaps the author was more fully describing the setting but I felt derailed.  Greer, the mother, would talk about searching for her daughter but instead went to art museums and other charming points of interest.  To be fair, I eventually realized that Greer was in Edinburgh to be close to the investigation and to only do a little bit of personal sleuthing.

About the time I was ready to stop reading the story picked up it's momentum again.  I enjoyed the flashbacks to an earlier time when Greer had visited her in-laws.  Big lesson - don't marry someone until you've met his family!  The sense of danger picked up when Greer's sister was beaten and then when Greer's husband . . . whoops, I almost left a spoiler.   

Overall, I liked this mystery.  I wouldn't describe it as a cozy but not a thriller, either.  It was a worthwhile and fun read.

The House on Candlewick Lane will be published on Feb. 7, 2017.

**I received a complimentary copy of this book from Kensington Books and NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.  No compensation was received.

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Everything You Want Me To Be

by Mindy Mejia

I cringed when I started reading this book and the main character was a high school senior. I don't do YA anymore because there is too much teenage angst. It goes with the age and I'm beyond that age and then some. Then when a male, high-school English teacher entered the story, I groaned out loud.

That said, I continued reading and liked the book overall. My favorite character was the police chief. He was tough yet caring. He tried not to let the emotion aspect of the case cloud his job of finding the killer. And he did his job well.

There were a lot of components to the story that drew me in and got me to care and sympathize this the characters. I admired how the English teacher loved his wife and tried so hard to reignite their relationship. I couldn't understand his wife's distance at first but I even sympathized with her towards the end.

By the end I really liked this book.  The mystery wasn't easy to solve and my guesses as to who the murderer was kept jumping from one to another person and back again. I will watch for future books by Mindy Mejia.

I learned a new technique while reading this book. Each chapter starts with a character's name and a date. If this had been a paper book I would have left a bookmark at the beginning of each chapter so I could flip back and forth to see if what I was reading took place before or after "the defining event." Since I was reading an ebook I couldn't do that so I highlighted the title of each chapter. When I needed to reference what I was reading I just looked at the highlights. It really worked quicker than flipping back and forth in a paper book.

Sunday, January 01, 2017

First Book of the Year

I want to join with Sheila in celebrating the first book of 2017.  I love this idea!  How perfect to celebrate our ability to read and the many, many possibilities enticing our minds and imaginations.  It's good to pause and reflect on the literary gifts available to us.  And from all those shelves of books to have the freedom to choose which one we will read to start the year.  The whole idea is humbling when we think of the magnitude of people who have been denied our joy.

I am starting off this new year with Liane Moriarty's Truly Madly Guilty.  Even though I have been sick for four days straight and am still feeling raunchy I am going to brave the picture-taking.  Then I'm going to use my not-always-muddled-but-right-now-muddled brain to figure out how to get it on this post.  Can't be that hard.  People do it all the time!

I did it!  I had to use my lips and nose to balance the kindle while I click the camera on the phone. 

 Looking forward tomorrow at seeing what everyone else is reading.  Click on the bar above to see for yourself.