All the Bright Places – Jennifer Niven

4.5/5 Finches

On The Back:

Theodore Finch is fascinated by death, and he constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him.

Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister’s recent death.

When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it’s unclear who saves whom. And when they pair up on a project to discover the “natural wonders” of their state, both Finch and Violet make more important discoveries: It’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself—a weird, funny, live-out-loud guy who’s not such a freak after all. And it’s only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink.

My Thoughts:

The first 75 pages or so I was wondering what I’d gotten myself into. I’d read so many great reviews on this book, and yet it just wasn’t “clicking” for me, but after page 75 the book escalated and became a fast-paced realistic read that I couldn’t put down.

I really loved this book. It had me laughing out loud, rolling my eyes, and at some points tearing up. The characters felt so real to me, like they lept off the page. The plot almost draws a parallel to parts in The Fault in Our Stars, however, this had enough different areas to make it stand on it’s own.

Overall a really great book that I would really recommend. I may have to buy it for myself instead of holding this library copy!

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Her Royal Spyness – Rhys Bowen

4/5 castles

On The Back:

London 1932. Narrator Lady Victoria Georgiana Charlotte Eugenie, 34th in line for the throne, is flat broke. She bolted from Scotland — and engagement to Fishface (Prince Stiegfriend) — for London, where she has:

a) built a fire in the hearth
b) fallen for an absolutely unsuitable Irish peer
c) made a few quid housekeeping incognita, and
d) been summoned by the Queen to spy on her playboy son

When an arrogant Frenchman trying to swipe our family estate winds up dead in my bathtub, how can I clear my very long family name?

My Thoughts:

Typically I’m not crazy abut historical mysteries because I find them harder to read, however this was a really good mystery that I enjoyed.

I really enjoyed the setting and the entire premise of the book, the fact that Georgie was 34th in line to the throne, but absolutely penniless really appealed to me. I also loved the fact Georgie only had to drop her name and she could get away with things, though in some books that would make the character seem arrogant, the author does a nice job keeping Georgie down to Earth.

The main problem I had with this book was the cover. I’m assuming that it’s supposed to be Georgie on the cover, but in the mook she’s said to have red hair and on the cover she has blonde. Not really a major point, but it annoyed me. Also, Georgie’s brother Binky really annoyed me. He seemed like the type of person to have his sister do all of the work but he takes credit for it.

Overall a really good book. I loved the characters, setting, and mystery. I’ll read the next one!

The Help – Kathryn Stockett

5/5 Southern Towns

On The Back:

Three ordinary women are about to take one extraordinary step….

Twenty-two-year-old Skeeter has just returned home after graduating from Ole Miss. She may have a degree, but it is 1962, Mississippi, and her mother will not be happy till Skeeter has a ring on her finger. Skeeter would normally find solace with her beloved maid Constantine, the woman who raised her, but Constantine has disappeared and no one will tell Skeeter where she has gone.

Aibileen is a black maid, a wise, regal woman raising her seventeenth white child. Something has shifted inside her after the loss of her own son, who died while his bosses looked the other way. She is devoted to the little girl she looks after, though she knows both their hearts may be broken.

Minny, Aibileen’s best friend, is short, fat, and perhaps the sassiest woman in Mississippi. She can cook like nobody’s business, but she can’t mind her tongue, so she’s lost yet another job. Minny finally finds a position working for someone too new to town to know her reputation. But her new boss has secrets of her own.

Seemingly as different from one another as can be, these women will nonetheless come together for a clandestine project that will put them all at risk. And why? Because they are suffocating within the lines that define their town and their times. And sometimes lines are made to be crossed.

My Thoughts:

I tried really hard to stick with my goal, but then we discussed this book in a lass of mine and I realized I’d never read it, and the temptation was too big. Oops. But, I’m glad I read it! This book was amazing.

Really there were only a few parts that I thought were unneeded, but besides that there was absolutely nothing wrong with this book. Sometimes I’m weary of picking up popular books because I don’t know if I’ll like them, but I’m pleased to say that this book was a pleasant surprise that I’ll happily read again and again. This belongs on your shelf next to To Kill A Mockingbird.

Night of the Living Deed – E.J. Copperman

4.5/5 Hilarious Ghosts

On The Back:

Welcome to the first Haunted Guest House mystery-the getaway every reader can afford.

Newly divorced Alison Kerby wants a second chance for herself and her nine-year-old daughter. She’s returned to her hometown on the Jersey Shore to transform a Victorian fixer-upper into a charming-and profitable-guest house. One small problem: the house is haunted, and the two ghosts insist Alison must find out who killed them.

My Thoughts:

I told myself I wouldn’t read another book from the library or buy any more books until I had finished five books from my tbr stack. This is my second one, and I wasn’t expecting much. It hand been sitting on my shelf for forever, and I never read it, but I was pleasantly surprised. This book was great!

I absolutely adored this book. The characters, especially the MC and ghosts, were so real to me I felt like I was seeing them interact with each other. The author also did a wonderful job of making the 9 year old, Melissa, realistic without being annoying.

The mystery was also well-plotted. I really didn’t expect the killer to be who they were and it threw me for a loop.

Why then did you take off a half star? I took it off because of the MC, Allison’s interactions with one of the ghosts, Maxie. Allison was at times cruel to Maxie, and even though they got off to a bad start Maxie tried making things better in various parts of the book.

Overall, however, an enjoyable read. I’ll have to get the next one!

Murder of a Small-Town Honey – Denise Swanson

4/5 Small Illinois Towns

On The Back:

When school psychologist Skye Denison left Scumble River after high school, she swore she would never return to such a small minded town. But when credit card and boyfriend trouble caused her to slink home, she tries to blend in unnoticed. However inconspicuous has never been one of Skyes attributes, as the small-town busybodies try to bring her out in the public eye whenever they can. When she stumbles upon a dead TV personality, the police accuse her brother and she is forced to prove him innocent. This proves to be a daunting task, but Skye is up to the task. She is bright, persistent, gutsy and the perfect amateur sleuth.

My Thoughts:

This book was a good start to a series I can see myself reading, it had a few annoying moments, but overall an enjoyable read.

I really appreciated the setting. I’ve lived in a small town in Illinois myself and the author did a beautiful job portraying it. Though I can’t agree with some of the negative aspects the author described of it, based on my experiences, most of the setting was point on.

The main drawback of this book was Simon, May, and Vince. First of all Vince and May are Skye’s family and yet they rag on her for gaining weight. That’s not right. And Simon starts off as such a jerk, but he does a complete turn around somewhere and suddenly is the nicest guy in town? I didn’t think it was believable or realistic.

However the rest of the story was good, the mystery was nicely plotted, and the writing overall nice. I’ll be reading the next one.

A High-End Finish – Kate Carlisle

5/5 Home Renovations

On The Back:

In the seaside town of Lighthouse Cove in northern California, everyone knows the best man for the job is actually a woman—contractor Shannon Hammer. But while Shannon can do wonders with a power drill and a little elbow grease, she’s about to discover that some problems aren’t so easily fixed….

Shannon’s home-renovation and repair business is booming, but her love life needs work. On a blind date with real estate agent Jerry Saxton, she has to whip out a pair of pliers to keep Jerry from getting too hands on. Shannon is happy to put her rotten date behind her, but when Jerry’s found dead in a run-down Victorian home that she’s been hired to restore, the town’s attractive new police chief suspects that her threats may have laid the foundation for murder.

Determined to clear her name, Shannon conducts her own investigation—with the help of her four best friends, her eccentric father, a nosy neighbor or two, and a handsome crime writer who’s just moved to town. But as they get closer to prying out the murderer’s identity, Shannon is viciously attacked. Now she’ll have to nail down the truth—or end up in permanent foreclosure.…

My Thoughts:

I’ve wanted to read this book for awhile, it was one of the priorities on my tbr list and so when I finally got it I was ecstatic, and I can honestly say that I wasn’t let down.

The MC was extremely likeable, and unlike the protagonist in many other cozy mystery series you actually saw her doing work during the book. It was a refreshing change. The rest of the characters were also great, but the author seems to be setting up a love triangle. Let’s hope that gets dropped.

Really there’s nothing bad in this book. The chapters were a bit long but besides that a great mystery, setting,a nc characters. I can’t wait to read the next one!

Couple of Weeks Worth of a Haul!

For the last couple of weeks I’ve gone to a few different places not eally shopping for anything, and I’ve found some great books. I’ve also ordered some books online that I’m excited to finally get.

Total Spent: Around $30

Books Bought: 13

Lucky Finds (Thrift Stores)

The House of Silk – Anthony Horowitz I’ve wanted to read this for a long time, so imagine my surprise when I found it in my local thrift store for only 75 cents

Hooked on Murder – Betty Hechtman Found it for under a dollar at Goodwill, and I’ve heard good things about it

Death in the Clouds – Agatha Christie Found for under a dollar at Goodwill again, it’s an Agatha Christie I haven’t read

Exit the Milkman – Charlotte Macleod I actually didn’t know this was the last book in this series when I got it, I’d just heard good things about it

Thriftbooks/Barnes and Noble

Murder and Marinara – Rosie Genova Been wanting this for awhile, finally ordered it from thriftbooks.com

Murder of a Small-Town Honey – Denise Swanson Sounds really super good, can’t wait to read it!

Assault and Pepper – Leslie Budewitz New release that sounds good

Nook Books

All Fudged Up – Nancy Coco Wanted to read this for awhile

Antiques Roadkill – Barbara Allan Sounds decent

Staged to Death – Karen Rose Smith Sounds decent

Murder Grins and Bears It – Deb Baker Loved the first book in this series, so I got this

Mapleshade’s Vengeance – Erin Hunter *ALREADY REVIEWED* Used to be a huge fan of this series, not so much anymore, but got this anyway

Death of a Dapper Snowman – Angela Pepper This was free a few days ago. It might still be free.

Also this week I’ve gotten rid of about 20 books that were on my tbr shelf that I’d bought forever long ago and have no interest in reading them. I’ll probably take them to a little used bookstore not far away to get trade credit, and the ones they won’t take I’ll donate somewhere, so my bookshelf now has a tiny bit of breathing room. Yay I can buy more books!

In other news review for A High-End Finish coming soon!

Double Fudge Brownie Murder – Joanne Fluke

2/5 Double Fudge Brownies

On The Back:

Life in tiny Lake Eden, Minnesota, is usually pleasantly uneventful. Lately, though, it seems everyone has more than their fair share of drama–especially the Swensen family. With so much on her plate, Hannah Swensen can hardly find the time to think about her bakery–let alone the town’s most recent murder.  .  .

Hannah is nervous about the upcoming trial for her involvement in a tragic accident. She’s eager to clear her name once and for all, but her troubles only double when she finds the judge bludgeoned to death with his own gavel–and Hannah is the number one suspect. Now on trial in the court of public opinion, she sets out in search of the culprit and discovers that the judge made more than a few enemies during his career. With time running out, Hannah will have to whip up her most clever recipe yet to find a killer more elusive than the perfect brownie.  .  .

My Thoughts:

Wow this series was my first real entrance into the cozy-mystery world, and I’ve not followed the series order, just skipping around, but awhile ago I got fed up with the series and put it down. However, I heard some things were resolved in this book so I got it from my library and I was disappointed. The writing was sophomoric, the main characters annoying, and the ending rushed.

I really had not remembered how Ms. Fluke wrote, and I must say it was a disappointment! The writing is almost juvenile and the scenes that are supposed to create tension end up falling flat. There are an abundance of exclamation points. at some points three to five per page! They were overused and made parts almost comical in the book. Tracey’s character was also very poorly written. I couldn’t figure out her age, because the last book I read she was like 5 but in this book she is such a know-it-all, and extremely annoying.

Mike and Hannah’s characters were disappointing, also. I never liked Mike and he’s such an arrogant jerk. Hannah was always an okay character to me but she seemed so stupid in parts of this book and then in the next scene she’s acting like she knows everything.

However, the book was okay. I read it really quickly, it kept my attention. Most of the rest of the characters were also alright, I really like Lisa, Michelle, Delores, Norman, Ross, and Bill. The ending was really rushed and there were no real clues as to who the killer was, which made the mystery bland.

Overall an okay book I probably won’t read again. However, this does resolve the love triangle in Hannah’s life, so if you’re sick of that aspect of the other books in this series, like I was, this wraps that up.

Murder with Peacocks – Donna Andrews

3.5/5 Crazy Peacocks

On The Back:

Three Weddings…And a Murder

So far Meg Langslow’s summer is not going swimmingly. Down in her small Virginia hometown, she’s maid of honor at the nuptials of three loved ones–each of whom has dumped the planning in her capable hands. One bride is set on including a Native American herbal purification ceremony, while another wants live peacocks on the lawn. Only help from the town’s drop-dead gorgeous hunk, disappointingly rumored to be gay, keeps Meg afloat in a sea of dotty relatives and outrageous neighbors.

And, in a whirl of summer parties and picnics, Southern hospitality is strained to the limit by an offensive newcomer who hints at skeletons in the guests’ closets. But it seems this lady has offended one too many when she’s found dead in suspicious circumstances, followed by a string of accidents–some fatal. Soon, level-headed Meg’s to-do list extends from flower arrangements and bridal registries to catching a killer–before the next catered event is her own funeral…

My Thoughts:

Though this books tarted off slow, it soon sped up to a great read that I’m sure I’ll come back to again.

I really liked the characters, especially Meg and Michael. However, I felt like the three brides Meg was helping were all really using her and she never stopped them. It kinda upset me because I like a strong MC in a book, but Meg wasn’t that strong when it came to her future sister-in-law, mother, and best friend.

The setting was great. The mystery was surprising, I really liked it. The story also had a refreshing bit of humor in it that I loved.

The 1/2 of a star was taken off because of the title of the book. Honestly there were peacocks in the book, but I was expecting them to be more in the forefront. However, this was an enjoyable read that can easily be counted as 4 stars.