I Have Been Nominated Liebster Awards

I want to thank Book Junkiez at http://bookjunkiez.com/ for nominating me for the Liebster Award. This is a great honor and would like to thank everyone who read my blog. You are the reason I am here.

A Liebster Award is a blog award presented to bloggers, by other bloggers. It is just a nice way to give your fellow blogger a pat on the back, and hopefully increase their site traffic too!

So here are the rules I was given:

  1. Each nominee must link back the person who nominated them.
  2. Answer the 11 questions which are given to you by the nominator.
  3. Nominate 11 other bloggers for this award who have less than 200 followers.
  4. Create 11 questions for your nominees to answer.
  5. Let the nominees know that they have been nominated by going to their blog and notifying them.

Here are the eleven questions I have to answer:

  1. What is your least favorite aspect of blogging? – I always come away wishing I was more creative with my blogging.  I tend to be pretty formulaic….title of book, picture of book, brief review (minus the synopsis)
  2. What was your favorite book as a child?…I loved Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame.  
  3. What was the last book that you bought?…The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett.  It is one of the October selections for my One  Drink Minimum book club.
  4. If you were on a deserted island, what fictional character would you like to be stuck with? …Maybe Robinson Crusoe because he could do the whole deserted island survival thing 🙂
  5. What is your favorite T.V. show?  Currently Midsomer Murders, love it!
  6. Who is your favorite author?  For mysteries, I would have to say M.C. Beaton. I love so many of her books.
  7. Who is your favorite fictional character?  So many, it is hard to choose.  Miss Zukas is pretty close to the top.  Also, Bernie Rhodenbarr, from Lawrence Block’s Burglar series.  Qwilleran from Lilian Jackson Braun is awesome as well.
  8. What is your favorite genre to read?  Mystery…without a doubt.  I’ve been a mystery reader since I was a child reading, Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, & The Famous Five. 
  9. Where is your favorite place to read?  I have a big comfy red chair and ottoman in my living room where I love to read, although bed is a close second.
  10. If you could have lunch with your favorite author, who would it be?  Probably MC Beaton, she writes so many of the books that I love.
  11. What is your favorite book series?  Again, too many to choose!  I love the Cat who….series, Agatha Raisin, Hamish Macbeth, so many good writers!

I nominate:

  1. http://midnightbookgirl.com/
  2. http://greenmushroom1up.blogspot.com/
  3. http://www.lovelybookshelf.com/
  4. http://athomewithbooks.net/
  5. http://bewitchedbookworms.com/
  6. http://www.bookinginheels.com/
  7. http://bookdout.wordpress.com/
  8. http://carstairsconsiders.blogspot.com/
  9. http://jerseygirlbookreviews.blogspot.com/
  10. http://novelmeals.wordpress.com/
  11. http://www.capriciousreader.com/

My questions:

  1. What series would you most like to see made into a TV show?
  2. What is your favorite genre to read?
  3. Have you ever thought about writing?
  4. Do you read across genres?
  5. Have you ever found a book that was made into a movie, which you liked the movie more than the book?
  6. Do you ever change your mind about a book?  In other words, maybe you really liked a book at one point in your life but when you went to reread you don’t understand why you liked it in the first place.
  7. Have you been a reader since childhood or is it something you came into later in life?
  8. Can you truly say that reading any one book was a life changing event or at least made you reexamine your life?
  9. Do you attend any book events, (conventions, author signings, etc.)
  10. Do you have real life friends who are readers?
  11. If you are married or have a partner, are they a reader?  Is/was that a non-negotiable for you? 
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Insomniac Reading

Could not sleep tonight, probably due to meds from ankle surgery that I had today. I put my insomnia to good use by finishing the books pictured above.

The Outsmarting of Criminals was a great read when I needed cheering up so much.  Funny satirical take on the typical “village” mystery.  The character, Miss Prim, is anachronistic for her time, the book is set currently..but she is a perfect old time cozy mystery sleuth eschewing computers and CSI-type testing or forensics.  The author has set up the characters to fulfill all the standard mystery tropes.  Miss Prim even has a checklist to fulfill her requirements as an “outsmarter of criminals”.  The book might be a smidge too long but it was nevertheless a quick read and a page turner.

I always enjoy Jill Mansell’s books.  The characters are always easy for me to relate to and I love the way the relationships among them develop and show growth along the way. In Take a Chance on Me, Cleo is the protagonist.  A single woman in her thirties, she lives in the village she grew up in with her married sister close by.  She works as a chauffer and quite enjoys it.  In the beginning, she has a “perfect” boyfriend, who turns out to be not quite so perfect.  Rounding out the cast is her sister and her sister’s husband, her best friend and neighbor, Ash, and her childhood nemesis, Johnny La Venture.  There are other character’s as well and lot’s of “action” to keep the pace clipping along.  Death, divorce, almost affairs, car accidents, and minor celebrities make for an entertaining fast read. Anyone who likes women fiction or romance would enjoy this (or any of the other Jill Mansell books).

The Spinster Sisters was my third read and definitely my least favorite.  The story idea was interesting, what happens to sisters who have an entire self-help business devoted to spinsterhood, and one of them decides to get married.  The aunt characters were more interesting than the spinster sisters themselves.  I found the dialogue awkward and unnatural and the main characters, Jodi and Jill, were just really not all that likable.  They seemed shallow and always seemed to be looking down on others.  This one just didn’t work for me.  Also, they excerpts from their self help manuals were …irritating and overly long.

 

Sink Trap by Christy Evans

 

Sink Trap has been on my TBR list for a while and it was actually available from my local library so I picked it up this week.

There is a lot to like in this first of a plumbing themed cozy mystery series.  The main character, Georgiana Neverall, her mother, Sandra, her “not my boyfriend”, Wade, and boss, Barry are all good characters.  They are interesting and behave as they are drawn. The relationships between them flow naturally in conversation and are believable, (who doesn’t have moments that their mother drives them nuts?)  The plumbing theme is not overwhelming but the pieces included are interesting, at least to me.  The book is well written as far as voice and tone for a cozy mystery.

The issue is that it is patently obvious almost from the beginning of the mystery, when Georgiana finds the brooch of Ms. Tepper in the sink trap, who the villains are and basically why they did it.  The rest of the book is spent with the sleuth leading the readers around as she chases red herrings and tires to convince others that a crime has actually been committed.  She lets her feelings of animosity towards certain characters drive her investigation rather than looking at what is actually happening. In fact, she doesn’t really solve the mystery, the reveal is more that the killer(s) come out.

There is enough enjoyable here with the characters and the setting that I will probably give another in the series a try.

 

Good Enough to Eat by Stacey Ballis

 

Picked up this one from the library and really enjoyed it.  If I had to classify it, I would call it more women’s fiction, however there is some romance in it.  Melanie, the protagonist, has lost a lot of weight, basically a whole other person.  On top of that she has changed careers, giving up the law for a healthy eating food business and just as she is feeling the success of these positive changes her husband leaves her.  The fact that he left her for a heavier woman and a woman who was her friend just added salt to the wound.

This could have been a very typical “fat girl gets thin, finds love, lives happily ever after”, however it is not.  The author does a great job showing that the weight is not the defining feature of Melanie, there is so much more to her, and any person than his or her body size.  The supporting characters, Kai, Phil, Nadia and Nate all have interesting lives and are well fleshed out.  The intersection of this particular group of people is believable and works with the plot of the story.

The treatment of food addiction/comfort eating/unhealthy relationship with food is well done.  Food is a really difficult addiction to live with and conquer, mainly because you can’t just go cold turkey on it 🙂 and it is not a very sympathy inducing addiction.  This struggle is really brought to life well through Melanie, her actions and reactions and her relationship and conversations with her nutritionist, Carey.  As someone who struggles with my own weight, I could so relate to Melanie’s feelings and experiences and they rang very true to me.

I loved the ending…I won’t give it away but definitely not typical.  Highly recommended read!

Echoes From the Dead by Johan Theorin

 

I picked this up based on a Goodreads recommendation and my local library had it.  This is a Swedish mystery translated into English.  I think that this accounts for the fact that the dialogue seems stilted at times, probably a translation issue not a writing issue.

If you are looking for fast paced thriller, this is not the book for you.  This moves at a much more sedate and at times non-linear pace. The focus is more on the after effects of the crime over time.  The central crime is the disappearance and assumed murder of a young child that occurred 20 years in the past.

The case is reopened with the appearance of one of the child’s sandals.  This brings the mother back to the “scene of the crime” and reunites the local people who were around at the time of the child’s disappearance.  Nothing is as it seems, the resolution is not what I expected and it was good to see that it was not a stereotypical child abduction/pedophile story.

The mother, Julia, reunites with her father in the course of investigating the new evidence.  The writer did an excellent job with the depiction of loss and depression that follows in the wake of a child’s disappearance.  I could completely relate to Julia’s issues with not being able to “let go” or move on from the loss of Jens.  I have always imagined that having a child disappear without a trace would be worse than a situation in which you know they are dead.  The not knowing would drive me mad, in Julia’s case she hangs on to her sanity with the aid of drink and isolation.

My only criticism would be that the ending or reveal seemed somewhat abrupt, however I have since realized that this is book one in a quartet so that is maybe to be expected.

Reading through My Insomnia

pollifax double booked 18210686

 

Last night I couldn’t sleep…too many aches and pains from packing and hauling boxes I guess.  Anyway, I read the above three cozy mysteries.  Well actually I just finished the last part of the Ali Brandon and then read the other two.

Double Booked for Death was great.  I loved the theme, even though the whole bookstore and cat thing has been done to death.  This series even revives a little of the original Cat Who… series in which the cat gives hints in book titles.

The sleuth, Darla, really appealed to me.  She comes across as intelligent and having common sense, very “real” feeling as a person.  Her various sidekicks, Jake, a retired cop/store security/tenant, Hamlet, the series named “Black Cat”, and James, a retired Lit. professor/store manager all add to the story rather than detract from it.  The book was very well written, with a higher level of vocabulary than often seen in cozies.  There were many elements that gave it a modern feel, sometimes books can get “stuck” in a time and feel dated.  There is the tiniest hint of a romance that might develop in future books, but the focus really was on the mystery.  I did find a side plot resolution a little odd, but it was still ok.  The only other negative was James’ behavior regarding some questionable business practice, I just don’t think a small business owner would be willing to allow an employee to buy up what would be valuable stock to flog on Ebay.  It also seemed out of character for James as written.

The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax was my first introduction to this older series.  It is a book I never would have picked up on my own but it came highly recommended from a friend.  Well written, fun and humourous, I did enjoy reading it.  It is definitely not my normal type read.   I don’t know if I would classify it as a mystery, it was more of a comedic twist of a spy/adventure story.  Reminded me very much of Elizabeth Peters’ work and I’m sure Amelia Peabody fans would like it.  The character of Mrs. Pollifax is delightful and her relationship with Carstairs and the other spies or operatives is engaging.  I’m sure I will read more of this in the future.

A Tough Nut to Kill is a brand new series.  I attempted to grow nut trees once, years ago when I was married and we had a huge yard, well not huge by Texas standards I’m sure, but pretty big by Suburban NJ standards.  They all died. So,  I thought the nut farming theme might make for an interesting read.  The book was well written and edited and full of local color for the Texas setting.  The murder mystery was interesting and was tied to an older death in the family, so two mysteries twined together.  I just didn’t connect with this one for some reason.  I’m sure that it will work for other readers, particularly ones that are a fan of the Texas setting.

buttoned up bowled over

 

Last night I read these two cozies, Buttoned up is book 4 in Kylie Logan’s A Button Box Mystery series and Bowled Over is book 2 in Victoria Hamilton’s A Vintage Kitchen Mystery series.

The Button Box Mysteries are a fun series that took a darker turn in this outing, incorporating elements of voodoo and black magic and I quite enjoyed it.  As in many cozy mysteries, you do have to practice some suspension of disbelief in Josie’s involvement in the mystery but it did not hamper my enjoyment.  There were plenty of clues sprinkled throughout and I was able to solve the mystery about half way through but wasn’t 100 percent sure I was correct.  The romantic element of the book has some twists and turns in it as well.  Unlike many other cozies, this series does not have a large cast of  quirky recurring secondary characters, however Nev and Stan are both in this book.  This is definitely a series that I will continue to read.

I just recently started the Vintage Kitchen Mystery series with A Deadly Grind, which I enjoyed so much that I went out and bought this one right away.  I really like the protagonist in this series, Jaymie Leighton.  She is a very active sleuth, following up on leads and investigating connections, not just falling into solving the mystery.  In this book, more of Jaymie’s background is revealed and the setting is developed further, a small town on the Canadian-US border.  Unlike the Button Box series, there are many recurring characters which are handled well, they add color but don’t detract from the plot. The theme, all things vintage and kitchen, is fun and adds a lighthearted element to the mystery without overwhelming it.  Another series that I will continue to read! Freezer I’ll Shoot is the next book.