Thursday, October 19, 2017

Book Review: The Witches of New York

Goodreads Summary:

The year is 1880. Two hundred years after the trials in Salem, Adelaide Thom ('Moth' from The Virgin Cure) has left her life in the sideshow to open a tea shop with another young woman who feels it's finally safe enough to describe herself as a witch: a former medical student and "gardien de sorts" (keeper of spells), Eleanor St. Clair. Together they cater to Manhattan's high society ladies, specializing in cures, palmistry and potions--and in guarding the secrets of their clients. 

All is well until one bright September afternoon, when an enchanting young woman named Beatrice Dunn arrives at their door seeking employment. Beatrice soon becomes indispensable as Eleanor's apprentice, but her new life with the witches is marred by strange occurrences. She sees things no one else can see. She hears voices no one else can hear. Objects appear out of thin air, as if gifts from the dead. Has she been touched by magic or is she simply losing her mind? 

Eleanor wants to tread lightly and respect the magic manifest in the girl, but Adelaide sees a business opportunity. Working with Dr. Quinn Brody, a talented alienist, she submits Beatrice to a series of tests to see if she truly can talk to spirits. Amidst the witches' tug-of-war over what's best for her, Beatrice disappears, leaving them to wonder whether it was by choice or by force. 

As Adelaide and Eleanor begin the desperate search for Beatrice, they're confronted by accusations and spectres from their own pasts. In a time when women were corseted, confined and committed for merely speaking their minds, were any of them safe?



My Thoughts:

I love this cover.  And all things witchy. I love reading books with witches, ever since I read Anne Rice's Witching Hour (I still love that book!). 

This book was amazing, but terrifying. Not necessarily terrifying in a horror genre way, but more in a crimes against women way. I am not intending to be political by saying this either, I am referring only to the time period in which this book is set. As the description states, it is a time when "women were corseted, confined and committed for merely speaking their minds" which is a true fact, albeit a sad one. It is horrifying in the same way that The Handmaid's Tale is- for women of today, modern women, with all of our rights and freedoms, to imagine what life was like for our ancestors, who were not allowed to read newspapers even. A time when women were always being sized up and judged, and if found to be different, sometimes labeled a witch. 

There were some pretty scary parts in this book - zealots of any brand are pretty darn scary, and this book has one or two. But the scary is outweighed by the beauty of the writing, the way the story unfolds, the characters themselves- Beatrice, Adelaide, Eleanor, and Quinn. Add in a raven (who is more than meets the eye) and I am sold on this story. The magic shop, the tea, the fortunes, the time frame, the ghosts - I loved it all.  I became immersed in this world and could have kept reading. 

These three women are tough and resourceful, strong and smart, and despite the problems and evils they encounter, are able to survive and bloom, maybe even stronger and better off than where they began. These characters are strong women, in a time that was tough on women. I definitely enjoyed this book, with these wonderful witchy women characters. 

Monday, October 16, 2017

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?





It's Monday! What Are You Reading is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date

So I knew last week was going to busy - but I still wasn't ready! W. had so many appointments, and we were exhausted by the end of the day. Our weekend was also busy, but with fun stuff, not yucky doctor's appointments. We went to the Detroit Zoo Boo, and despite the rain we had a fantastic time. Then Sunday we went to an apple orchard - my favorite fall thing to do. It was so blustery and windy I thought we were going to blow straight off the porch while eating our doughnuts but we managed. The weather only enhanced our day, honestly, making it feel more cozy to be all snugged away with our cider. 


Greg at Book Haven nominated me for a blog recognition award! Thanks Greg! I hope to get my post up soon!


Read Last Week:

I'm afraid to say - not much! A little more Harry Potter, and a little more of Hoffman's new book, Rules of Magic. (which I love!) I also hope to read more this week!

Reading This Week:

And hopefully some library holds come in!

 

Watching:

Lore (Amazon Prime) - we binge watched soo many episodes on Sunday. We ended up stopping because I got freaked out by the Robert the Doll episode, so scary!

Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries

and we are going to be starting Riverdale again, woohoo!

So that's my week - not much progress on the reading front, but I hope to change that this week. How have you been doing?

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Book Review: The Summer That Made Us by Robyn Carr

Thank you to Lake Union Publishing, who provided this book to me in exchange for a fair and honest review.



Goodreads Summary:

Mothers and daughters, sisters and cousins--they lived for summers at the lake house until a tragic accident changed everything. The Summer That Made Us is an unforgettable story about a family learning to accept the past, to forgive and to love each other again. That was then... For the Hempsteads, two sisters who married two brothers and had three daughters each, summers were idyllic. The women would escape the city the moment school was out to gather at the family house on Lake Waseka. The lake was a magical place, a haven where they were happy and carefree. All of their problems drifted away as the days passed in sun-dappled contentment. Until the summer that changed everything. This is now... After an accidental drowning turned the lake house into a site of tragedy and grief, it was closed up. For good. Torn apart, none of the Hempstead women speak of what happened that summer, and relationships between them are uneasy at best to hurtful at worst. But in the face of new challenges, one woman is determined to draw her family together again, and the only way that can happen is to return to the lake and face the truth. Robyn Carr has crafted a beautifully woven story about the complexities of family dynamics and the value of strong female relationships.


My thoughts:

This is my 2nd Carr novel, and I adored it even more than the first that I read.

The Summer That Made Us is about family, the secrets that hold them together, the secrets that pull them apart. The summer of ‘89 was a bad one for the Hempsteads. Their picture perfect idyllic summers at the lake house take a 360 degree turn in the other direction, when the youngest family member tragically drowns.  The once close family splits apart, sending the cousins, and their mothers, adrift on their different courses, not all of them good ones.

The book is set twenty-seven years after this incident. Meg is sick, and wishes to spend what could be her last summer at the lake with her family - all of them. Slowly, bit by bit, family members arrive, secrets are divulged, pieces are put back together, and things start to look up.

I did have a few unanswered questions at the end of this book; however, they were small and inconsequential for the most part, and didn’t hamper my enjoyment of this wonderful story. Heartwarming and bittersweet, this book has a little of everything, and a lot of reasons to read it.


Sunday, October 8, 2017

The Sunday Post/It's Monday! What Are You Reading?



Check out the The Caffeinated Book Review for the Sunday Post
It's Monday! What Are You Reading is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date

October is so busy! And hot. Where did this sticky hot weather come from? Blech. I've been working hard lately. It's been fun but has been keeping me ultra busy! I did however get a chance to make a small Halloween/fall craft, and go on a "daycation" to Saugatuck, MI with my friends. 

I am not a great crafter, so when I saw the easiest craft in the world intended for children on Pinterest, I knew I had a winner. Mine are still a bit messy, but I love them anyway. I have them stashed and tucked in among my other fall decorations and they look pretty cute!


My day trip was a blast. I haven't been out like that since my little guy was born, and while I missed him, I needed the time out. I had such a good time just laughing and chatting and sharing with my girl friends. We had mimosas in the morning and ended the night with wine on the water. Then we had to book back across the state to beat the storm system that was moving in. We stayed ahead of it the whole way home thank goodness. 


We went to The Butler, which felt rather iconic - old, classic, traditional. We had a great dinner and the view of the water, and coming storm added some drama.


Read Last Week/Reading This Week:

I seem to have fallen into the wizarding world and I can't get out! I can't stop with the Harry Potter reread. I did start The Rules of Magic but the heart wants to read what the heart wants to read. And right now, I am reading Harry. I am almost finished with Chamber of Secrets, and will probably finish up with The Rules of Magic this week as well. It is a long week for me, with two appts for the kiddo, plus 4 therapies for him, and a haircut, but I have found that sometimes when I am most pressed for time I read more. Maybe because I have to actually make time for it? I also have Caraval waiting for me at the library! 

  


And finally I am reading The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow for work. It looks super fun!


Watching:

Miss Fishers Murder Mysteries - we are in love with this show on Netflix. I am a big fan of the time period though - I think I would have been an awesome flapper

Getting ready to watch Riverdale, which returns this week (yay!), and also a new show called Lore, which is on Amazon and based on my favorite podcast of the same name! The trailer is pretty scary so I will just share the link. I can't wait!



What about you all? What's going on in your world?





Thursday, October 5, 2017

Book Review: Sugar Pine Trail by RaeAnne Thayne

From Lake Union Publishing/NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

Goodreads Summary:

Librarian Julia Winston is ready to ditch the quiet existence she's been living. She's made a list of new things to experience, but falling for Jamie Caine, her sexy military pilot neighbor, isn't one of them. Julia's looking to conquer life, not become the heartbreaker's latest conquest. But when two young brothers wind up in Julia's care for the holidays, she'll take any help she can get—even Jamie's. 

Happy to step in, Jamie reveals a side of himself that's much harder to resist. Not only is he fantastic with kids, he provides the strength Julia needs to tackle her list. She knows their temporary family can't last beyond the holidays, but the closer she gets to Jamie, the more she wonders if things could be this merry and bright forever…





My Thoughts:

Let’s take a step back from fall and Halloween for a minute. Or rather, a step forward. To winter, and Christmas, and RaeAnne Thayne’s Sugar Pine Trail.

Sugar Pine Trail is another great story from Thayne, and in my favorite happy time genre, Christmas romance. Is there anything more joyful?

Julia Winston has a great life - friends, a job she loves (librarian!), a beautiful home. But she is also lonely, a little regretful, and yearning for more in her life. When her book club reads a book that asks the members to make a list of things they would like to do, a bucket list of sorts, she complies, albeit slightly tipsily. She doesn’t expect anyone else to see the list, so is no holds barred with her last experience on it.

When dashing, charming, adventurous, larger than life Jamie Caine moves in upstairs, into her neat and tidy antique house, the neatness of her life becomes a bit messy, like coloring outside the lines a bit. And unbeknownst to Julia, Jamie finds her list..and is set upon helping her to fulfill it.

Added to the new crazy of her life are two lost little boys, who seem to be living in the library. With the help of her friend Wyn, Julia takes them in while Wyn and the authorities search for their mother. Jamie is not only super hot, he is also good with kids. He helps Julia out with the boys, trying to keep their spirits up through the holidays.

I really enjoyed this book - all the different plotlines worked well together, and it was both fun and heartfelt, with touching moments. The boys, of course, were heartbreaking, but all in all, this is an uplifting, romantic holiday read. And it doesn’t even need to be the holidays to enjoy it!

Sunday, October 1, 2017

The Sunday Post/It's Monday! What Are You Reading?



Check out the The Caffeinated Book Review for the Sunday Post
It's Monday! What Are You Reading is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date


We decorated for Halloween - my favorite! And wow, for being my favorite holiday I have like 4 things to decorate with. Lol. I'm going to try my hand at a few super easy crafts this month. Lol. I am not a great crafter but I always try. I am on the hunt for a chestnut tree; I want to gather a bunch for a project. My brother has a giant oak tree, so I have a source for acorns, and I plan to fill up a bag with them today. I also bought some orange yarn - I saw a Pinterest post for an easy craft for kids, but I am going to try it myself. :) Lol. I'll post pictures if I manage to do it. Or maybe even if I can't.

This week we don't have much on the schedule - next week however, is a nightmare. I am looking forward to the 7th though - I am going to Saugatuck for the day with a few friends for some shopping, a drink or two, and some time away. 

Read Last Week:

  

This book was excellent! Review very soon. 

I had planned to read the new Alice Hoffman, but somehow I picked up Harry Potter....lol. I have been wanting to reread that series and I guess it was time I did. I am enjoying it just as much as I did the first time!


Reading This Week:


And probably finishing up Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. 

Watching:

Miss Fishers Murder Mysteries, American Gods (so good!), and we finished up Midnight, Texas.  And it's officially October, so it's game on for scary movies! (although we have watched Curious George Boofest quite often...)



How are you all doing? What's going on in your world?

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Book Review: Wicked Deeds by Heather Graham

Title: Wicked Deeds
Author: Heather Graham
Source: NetGalley, for an honest review

Goodreads Summary:

Eager to start their life together, historian Vickie Preston and Special Agent Griffin Pryce take a detour en route to their new home in Virginia and stop for a visit in Baltimore. But their romantic weekend is interrupted when a popular author is found dead in the basement of an Edgar Allan Poe-themed restaurant. Because of the mysterious circumstances surrounding the corpse, the FBI's Krewe of Hunters paranormal team is invited to investigate. As more bizarre deaths occur, Vickie and Griffin are drawn into a case that has disturbing echoes of Poe's great works, bringing the horrors of his fiction to life.

The restaurant is headquarters to scholars and fans, and any of them could be a merciless killer. Except there's also something reaching out from beyond the grave. The late, great Edgar Allan Poe himself is appearing to Vickie in dreams and visions with cryptic information about the murders. Unless they can uncover whose twisted mind is orchestrating the dramatic re-creations, Vickie and Griffin's future as a couple might never begin...

My thoughts:

Ah, a return to the Krewe! I took a break from Graham and the Krewe of Hunters series for a bit, and it was worth it. I enjoy this world of FBI agents who can communicate with the spirit world. Every book is a bit of old and new - new agents, a new setting, a new mystery, matched with agents from previous books, favorites of the readers. Making these books comfortable, familiar, yet still interesting.

This book focuses on Baltimore, deaths that are straight out of Poe, and even on Poe himself. I have always loved Edgar Allen Poe, and I thought that Graham wound his story and mystery surrounding his last days through this book very well. Different theories as to his whereabouts, what he was up to, are bounced around between some of the characters, and I found them fascinating. Why was he wearing different clothes, clothes that weren't even his at the time of his death? We will never actually probably know the truth, although fiction writers and historians both try their best to explain what might have happened all the time. If only they had a psychic like Preston on their team! I thought the theory that Graham came up with (which might actually be a popular theory already, I just don't know) sounded pretty plausible, based on the facts that her characters presented. I love when books inspire me to go digging around in history, to read more about something else - and now I am all about googling and reading about Poe.

Anyway, back to Wicked Deeds. Besides the Poe mystery talk, there is a killer on the loose killing people Poe style. And by that, I mean, literary-ly from his works. (lol sorry) It kept me guessing, and took us to some spooky places, including an old mansion complete with its own cemetery, out in the middle of nowhere. In a storm, no less! Does the power go out? You bet it does. Did it give me the creeps right before bed? You bet it did.

The Krewe gets to work solving this mystery, which has many players and many stories and backgrounds. Just like the Scooby Doo gang, you know they'll catch that villain.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

The Sunday Post/It's Monday! What Are You Reading?



Check out the The Caffeinated Book Review for the Sunday Post
It's Monday! What Are You Reading is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date

This week has been so gross hot! I am ready for fall.  Wyatt's definitely in his "terrible twos" and while is still his sweet little self, also can throw some mammoth tantrums! It's been crazy. Lol. It's all part of learning and growing, I know, but still - it doesn't make it easier at times. Lol. I am sure he doesn't like this weather either.

I had a very productive blogging week! I posted three times here on QM, and then three times on my other blog, Still Life, With Cracker Crumbs. I don't think I will get there this week, not enough prep over the weekend this weekend, but I am pretty excited. 

Read Last Week:

  

I am still reading this book - I am about 75% of the way through it. I am taking my time with it. It is so good! And I love this cover. 

Reading This Week:

Finishing up The Witches of New York. I will also be starting


Yay! I am so excited!! I love Hoffman's books - I am looking forward to starting this one!


Received this week for review:




I've paged through A Charm of Goldfinches and love it already! I loved Sewell's Owls book, so I am looking forward to this new one.   

Posted Last Week:





That's about it from my world this week - how are you doing?

Friday, September 22, 2017

Book Review: A Beautiful Poison by Lydia Kang

Title: A Beautiful Poison
Source: Lake Union Publishing in exchange for an honest review

Goodreads Summary:

Just beyond the Gilded Age, in the mist-covered streets of New York, the deadly Spanish influenza ripples through the city. But with so many victims in her close circle, young socialite Allene questions if the flu is really to blame. All appear to have been poisoned—and every death was accompanied by a mysterious note.

Desperate for answers and dreading her own engagement to a wealthy gentleman, Allene returns to her passion for scientific discovery and recruits her long-lost friends, Jasper and Birdie, for help. The investigation brings her closer to Jasper, an apprentice medical examiner at Bellevue Hospital who still holds her heart, and offers the delicate Birdie a last-ditch chance to find a safe haven before her fragile health fails.

As more of their friends and family die, alliances shift, lives become entangled, and the three begin to suspect everyone—even each other. As they race to find the culprit, Allene, Birdie, and Jasper must once again trust each other, before one of them becomes the next victim.

My thoughts:

Allene, Jasper, and Birdie - a beautiful trio. Allene, rich, inquisitive with a scientific mind and interest in chemistry; Jasper, once a part of high society, now scraping by with an intense determination to be somebody, once again; and Birdie, with her fairy like beauty and tragic life, whom everyone wants to protect. The book begins with these three old friends reuniting. Once inseparable, circumstances beyond their control kept them apart. Now, five years later, Allene draws them all back together, despite the way that life has changed them over the years. They struggle to fit their new selves into their old roles, and the dynamic has shifted, as one would expect. Their reunion is made more difficult by the bodies that begin dropping around them, almost literally. The solving of a murder, which starts as a lark, a means to satisfy a curiosity, becomes more and more grim as more bodies are added to the death toll.

I have to say, this book kept me guessing all the way to the end. I was hooked on every twist and turn, the setting, characters so vivid I could perfectly imagine this world. I was intrigued by the descriptions of Bellevue Hospital, the framing of science in this era, and forensics itself. The book talks about Bellevue being the first morgue, and how they could not be bought by the political machine of Tammany Hall, but desired to operate for science, purely and honestly. I haven’t checked to see if this a true fact, but I am interested enough to dig deeper on the history of this hospital, which sounds rather checkered! And the radium girls aspect - I am getting ready to start reading The Radium Girls, because this book piqued my interest, and I want to know more! In fact, I just really loved the whole setting for this book. I don't read much set in this time frame, and when I do, it is not usually set in the United States. Lol. I had to keep reminding myself that this book did not take place in London! I also had to keep reminding myself that the main characters were young - like 17-18. They seem a bit older, but I think it is due to the time period.

Overall, I very much enjoyed this book, and had a heck of a time ever setting it down to get anything done. It was unique, and I never stopped trying to figure it out. I am wary of giving anything away, so I will stop here!

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Book Review: When We Were Worthy by Marybeth Mayhew Whalen

Goodreads Summary:
A win brought them together, but loss may tear them apart.
When the sound of sirens cuts through a cool fall night, the small town of Worthy, Georgia, hurtles from triumph to tragedy. Just hours before, they’d watched the Wildcats score a winning touchdown. Now, they’re faced with the deaths of three cheerleaders—their promising lives cut short in a fatal crash. And the boy in the other car—the only one to survive—is believed to be at fault. As rumors begin to fly and accusations spin, allegiances form and long-kept secrets emerge.
At the center of the whirlwind are four women, each grappling with loss, regret, shame, and lies: Marglyn, a grieving mother; Darcy, whose son had been behind the wheel; Ava, a substitute teacher with a scandalous secret; and Leah, a cheerleader who should have been in the car with her friends, but wasn’t. If the truth comes out, will it bring redemption—or will it be their downfall?
My Thoughts:

Fall and football season go hand in hand - and with football, cheerleaders.

When I sat down to write my thoughts on this story, I found it difficult. It was about so much more than it seems, on the surface. This entire small town was struck by this tragedy, not just the families of those involved. How does a town that reveres its football team and cheerleaders cope with something like this? There is also the blame game - who exactly, was at fault? And how far do you go in that blame? And it’s not just the accident that has townspeople's heads spinning - there is also the scandal involving a new young substitute teacher.  

The story is told from multiple viewpoints - that of two mothers, one the mother of a victim, the other the mother of the boy driving the car. We are also privy to the viewpoints of Leah, who should have been in the car but wasn’t, and of Ava, the new substitute teacher, who has a secret.

I found this book riveting. I didn’t want to put it down. I don’t want to say too much, for fear of giving too much away, so I will just say this - I thoroughly enjoyed this book, its twists and turns and secrets and conclusions. The questions it raises about teenagers, the pressures of teenage life, of marriage, of parenthood. What choices we make, and why. And how these choices ultimately affect those around us.


I received this book from Lake Union Publishing in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

The Sunday Post/It's Monday! What Are You Reading?



Check out the The Caffeinated Book Review for the Sunday Post
It's Monday! What Are You Reading is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date

Last week went by in a flash! For real, I am not sure where that week went. Lol. Friday though was an amazing day. My son has Cerebral Palsy, and gets therapy three times a week. His facility teamed up with GoBabyGo and the Ford Motor Company and were able to provide some pretty sweet motorized cars to five lucky kids - and mine was one of them! He received a Ford F-150, that was adapted by Ford engineers on the spot to his needs. On top of all that, he made the news! 


Read Last Week:

  

I am diving headfirst into fall with these two reads! I didn't get The Witches of New York until Saturday, so I haven't read much yet, but what I have read, I love!


Reading This Week:

I will be finishing The Witches of New York

Watching:

Midnight, Texas, American Gods, and 



I am holding off on true Halloween type stuff until next month - this month is just the beginning. And technically, it is not fall yet. To me though, September always heralds the start of the autumn season.



So what about you all? How is it going?