Thursday, January 30, 2020

Review: Shelved Under Murder

Shelved Under Murder (Blue Ridge Library Mysteries #2)

Shelved Under Murder
Victoria Gilbert

When Librarian Amy Webber, her boyfriend Richard, and library assistant Sunny decide to head out to a farm in the Blue Ridge Mountains to pick up a painting from artist Rachel LeBlanc, which has been donated for charity, the last thing they expect to find is a body. The body isn't just anyone either; it's the artist herself. Rachel's husband, Reese is missing, and the police find a cache of forged paintings in the barn where Rachel's body was found. Amy has her doubts about the young man the police are looking for in connection with the crime. And, although she is busy with the Taylorsford, Virginia, arts and crafts festival in town, she is only too happy to find time to help the police catch a killer. Of course, trying to find a killer may be more dangerous than she first suspects.

Cozy mystery lovers will appreciate Victoria Gilbert's ability to create fun, memorable characters as well as a twisting tale of art deception focusing on both the past and present. Shelved Under Murder is a delight to read, and will no doubt leave fans wanting stories from Taylorsford Virginia.

This review was written by me for City Book Review.

Monday, January 27, 2020

Review: Where Have all the Boys Gone

Where Have All the Boys Gone?

Where Have All The Boys Gone
Jenny Colgan

Katie Watson works in PR in London. She's single and spends her time going out with friends Louise and Olivia. The prospects of finding a decent man in London is not easy, particularly since women far outnumber men. But when she gets a new assignment in a remote Scottish village, she finds she's in a town with a lot of men and very few women. It should be a dream come true. But is it? Her job is to help save a forest from being turned into a golf course. The fresh air and her cranky boss Harry are a far cry from the chaos and excitement of London, but if she can persevere, the highlands might throw a few surprises her way.

Where Have All The Boys Gone was such a fun book to read. I felt like I had been whisked off on an adventure. The characters were memorable, and it was full of fast-paced action. I think it's fair to say that once you get started on this one, you won't be able to put it down. This was my first time reading a novel by Jenny Colgan. I can't wait to read another one now that I know she is such an entertaining author.

Thanks to LibraryThing and William Morrow for allowing me to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, January 24, 2020

Review: Sir Francis Bryan

Sir Francis Bryan: Henry VIII's Most Notorious Ambassador

Sir Francis Bryan
Sarah-Beth Watkins

Sir Francis Bryan was a member of Henry VIII's inner circle, and throughout his life, he served the King in various capacities. But more often than not, he seems to have sent his time representing the King as ambassador to France. Bryan spent much of his time engaged in Henry's obsession with either declaring war on France or finding ways to outmaneuver his on and off again neighbor and ally. As one of Henry's most trusted friends and members of the court, he undertook numerous missions for the King. Even traveling to Rome to help persuade the Pope to agree to Henry's divorce from Queen Katherine so that he could marry Ann Boleyn, a cousin of his from his mother's side of the family. He was also related to another of Henry's Queens, Katherine Parr.

Unlike many others at Henry's court, Bryan managed to stay mostly on the right side of the King, even as the King became increasingly unpredictable. He managed to outlive him and serve his son King Edward VI. From this account of his life and work, I found myself wondering when he had time for a private life; he was so busy traveling and working for the court.

Before picking up this book, I didn't know anything about this man who played such a significant role in Henry's life. Not only was this a well-written account of his times, but it was also fascinating. I enjoyed seeing how many familiar figures from history were related to one another and how they fared during changing times. If you are as intrigued by Tudor history as I am, this is a book you will not want to miss.

Thanks to Chronos Books for allowing me to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, January 13, 2020

Review: Party Girls Die in Pearls

Party Girls Die in Pearls: An Oxford Girl Mystery

Party Girls Die in Pearls
An Oxford Girl Mystery
Plum Sykes

When Ursula Flowerbottom arrives at Oxford University, she is ready for a productive academic year, full of lectures and sleepless nights spent studying in the library. Her new American friend, Nancy, on the contrary, is much more interested in Oxford's party scene and snagging a well-connected aristocrat. Before either can settle into their new lives at Christminster College, an aristocratic “it” girl, India Brattenbury is murdered.

In order to pursue her dream of writing for the prestigious college newspaper, Ursula sets out to discover who killed India. Nancy is all too ready to help find out more about India if it means she can attend the numerous posh balls at the college and at the same time hunt for a new beau.

This fabulous mystery kept me entertained from beginning to end. Ms. Sykes really knows how to keep the reader invested in the story with brilliant descriptions and fun characters. I was so glued to the page, I almost hated to make it to the end. Not only was the 1980's setting a hoot, but it brought back long forgotten memories. I'm so glad I got to read this one.

This review was written by me for City Book Review.

Friday, January 10, 2020

Review: How the Light Gets In

How the Light Gets In (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, #9)

How The Light Gets In
Louise Penny

Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Sûreté de Québec gets a call from a friend in the village of Three Pines, claiming a friend is missing. She never made it to the village for Christmas. Gamache heads to the remote town with his assistant to see what he can find out. Frankly, he could use a break from the office. His department has been slowly dismantled, leaving him surrounded by officers he doesn't trust and whose loyalties may lie elsewhere.

While Gamache is looking for the missing woman, who was once famous for being one of the nation's first surviving quintuplets, he's also aware that his superior officers are up to no good. If only he could find out what they are up too then perhaps he could prevent them from bringing shame onto the respected force. That is if they don't find and stop him first.

How The Light Gets In is another gripping tale involving a man who never loses faith in the institution he is sworn to serve. Like the other books in this series, it has everything the reader could want, a great plot, wonderful characters, and a fantastic setting. This beautifully written, complex tale is something Penny's fans will not want to miss.

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Review: The Positive Shift

The Positive Shift: Mastering Mindset to Improve Happiness, Health, and Longevity

The Positive Shift
Catherine A. Sanderson, PhD

Do you want to live longer? Well, feeling happy might help you do that. The Positive Shift examines what makes us happy, and in some cases, what makes us unhappy. How we think about ourselves and our social conditioning plays a part in our happiness, and there are ways in which we can shift our thinking and behaviors to find more happiness in life.

By answering a few questions at the beginning of this book, you will find out whether you are a born optimist or a pessimist. In the second part of the book, you will find tips to help you shift your mindset. For example, spending more time in nature has been shown to increase focus, memory, and mood. Feeling gratitude, volunteering, and having more shared experiences with friends and family are also ways to increase happiness and in the long run, live longer.
The Positive Shift is a well-written, thoughtful book that provides a look at a large number of studies which show that increased happiness can have a significant impact on the quality of life. The examples mentioned in this book are easy to follow and helpful for mastering the mindset needed for a better life.

This review was originally written by me for CityBook Review.

Thursday, January 2, 2020

Review: High Heels & Beetle Crushers

High Heels & Beetle Crushers: The Life, Losses and Loves of an Officer and Lady

High Heels & Beetle Crushers
Jackie Skingley

This memoir follows the life of Jackie Skingley as she grows from a young girl at home with her mother and stepfather, to an aspiring young ladies determined to strike out on her own by joining the Women's Royal Army Corps. The book is full of emotional stories of love and loss, as well as the great sense of camaraderie she found with the other women who joined the corps. The reader gets an understanding of the changes going on in Britain during the 1960s and how that affected women. Especially those who wanted to have a career and not just a life inside the home. It seemed a shame that married women had to choose whether to serve their country or build a life around a husband. But Mrs. Skingley faced that just like she faced any other obstacles and difficulties, head-on.

High Heels & Beetle Crushers is more than just a personal memoir. It's a look at the changing roles of women in the 1960's. I found Mrs. Skingley to be an excellent storyteller. I became so engrossed in her story and with the details of how she handled issues that came up either while she was on duty or while trying to manage her personal life that I had a hard time putting the book down. I have a feeling that she might have some more exciting stories up her sleeve that readers would love to hear.

Thanks to Chronos Books for allowing me to read this book in exchange for an honest review.