Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Reading Challenge Wrap Up: 52 Books in 52 Weeks Challenge

I made it!  Okay, so that is no surprise.  I read enough that reading a book a week was something that just fell into my lap.  But I did complete the 52 Books in 52 Weeks Challenge.

Here's what I counted for this challenge.

1Veronica Mars: Mr. Kiss and Tell by Rob Thomas and Jennifer Graham
2. A Literal Mess by J. C. Kenney
3. Saturn Night Fever by Diane Vallere
4. Not a Creature was Stirring by Christina Freeburn
5. Pruning the Dead by Julia Henry
6. Murder, She Wrote: Manuscript for Murder by Jessica Fletcher and Jon Land
7. The Victory Garden by Rhys Bowen
8. Permanently Booked by Lisa Q. Mathews
9. Drawn and Buttered by Shari Randall
10. Survive or Die by Catherine Dilts
11. Bridges Burned by Annette Dashofy
12. Drowned Under by Wendall Thomas
13. Downton Tabby by Sparkle Abbey
14. Murder from Scratch by Leslie Karst
15. A Dream of Death by Connie Berry
16. With a Kiss I Die by J. A. Hennrikus
17. Lights! Camera! Murder! by Parnell Hall
18. The Scent of Murder by Kylie Logan
19. Dying for Devil's Food by Jenn McKinlay
20. Murder in Little Italy by Victoria Thompson
21. Forget Me Knot by Mary Marks
22. Murder, She Wrote: Murder in Red by Jessica Fletcher and Jon Land
23. Full Bodied Murder by Christine M. Blum
24. Murder at the Palace by Margaret Dumas
25. Book, Line, and Sinker by Jenn McKinlay
26. Jane Darrowfield, Professional Busybody by Barbara Ross
27. Scoop to Kill by Wendy Lyn Watson
28. Risky Biscuits by Mary Lee Ashford
29. Ripe for Vengeance by Wendy Tyson
30. The Subject of Malice by Cynthia Kuhn
31. Let's Fake a Deal by Sherry Harris
32. Becoming Superman by J. Michael Straczynski
33. The Deep End by Julie Mulhern
34. Silent Night Deadly Night by Vicki Delany
35. Mulberry Mischief by Sharon Farrow
36. The Zombie Ball by John Gaspard
37. Fatal Cajun Festival by Ellen Byron
38. A Killer Carol by Laura Bradford
39. The Skeleton Stuffs a Stocking by Leigh Perry
40. Finding Zelda by Sue Ann Jaffarian
41. Charlie Thorne and the Last Equation by Stuart Gibbs
42. I'll Be There For You by Kelsey Miller
43. Death of a Gigolo by Laura Levine
44. Murder Cuts the Mustard by Jessica Ellicott
45. The Chocolate Shark Shenanigans by JoAnna Carl
46. Murder at the Mansion by Janet Finsilver
47. Ghosts of Painting Past by Sybil Johnson
48. A Time for Murder by Jessica Fletcher and Jon Land
49. Raiders of the Lost Park by Sparkle Abbey
50. Crime Travel edited by Barb Goffman
51. Owl Be Home for Christmas by Donna Andrews
52. Sealed Off by Barbara Ross

Reading Challenge Wrap Up: New Release Challenge 2019

I had a great year with the New Release Challenge for 2019.  I got 81 books that were new releases read this year.  And here they are.

1. A Literal Mess by J. C. Kenney
2. Not a Creature Was Stirring by Christina Freeburn
3. Pruning the Dead by Julia Henry
4. The Gun Also Rises by Sherry Harris
5. Murder, She Meowed by Liz Mugavero
6. The Victory Garden by Rhys Bowen
7. The Golden Tresses of the Dead by Alan Bradley
8. Drawn and Buttered by Shari Randall
9. Restaurant Weeks are Murder by Libby Klein
10. One Feta in the Grave by Tina Kashian
11. Survive or Die by Catherine Dilts
12. Killer Thriller by Lee Goldberg
13. Lion Down by Stuart Gibbs
14. Chocolate Cream Pie Murder by Joanne Fluke
15. The Revenge of Magic by James Riley
16. Drowned Under by Wendall Thomas
17. Out of the Dark by Gregg Hurwitz
18. The Hidden Corpse by Debra Sennefelder
19. Death Waits in the Dark by Julia Buckley
20. Murder from Scratch by Leslie Karst
21. A Dream of Death by Connie Berry
22. Dyeing Season by Karen MacInerney
23. Sifting Through the Clues by Daryl Wood Gerber
24. With a Kiss I Die by J. A. Hennrikus
25. Lights! Camera! Puzzles! by Parnell Hall
26. Staging is Murder by Grace Topping
27. The Scent of Murder by Kylie Logan
28. Dying for Devil's Food by Jenn McKinlay
29. A Deadly Feast by Lucy Burdette
30. Spy School British Invasion by Stuart Gibbs
31. The 18th Abduction by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro
32. Murder, She Wrote: Murder in Red by Jessica Fletcher and Jon Land
33. The Big Kahuna by Janet Evanovich and Peter Evanovich
34. Malice Domestic 14: Mystery Most Edible
35. Murder at the Palace by Margaret Dumas
36. Murder Knocks Twice by Susanna Calkins
37. Jane Darrowfield, Professional Busybody by Barbara Ross
38. Strangled Eggs & Ham by Maddie Day
39. Risky Biscuits by Mary Lee Ashford
40. The Pawful Truth by Miranda James
41. Ripe for Vengeance by Wendy Tyson
42. The Tell Tail Heart by Cate Conte
43. Scone Cold Dead by Karen MacInerney
44. The Subject of Malice by Cynthia Kuhn
45. Let's Fake a Deal by Sherry Harris
46. Penne Dreadful by Catherine Bruns
47. Love and Death Among the Cheetahs by Rhys Bowen
48. Becoming Superman by J. Michael Straczynski
49. Tilling the Truth by Julia Henry
50. Silent Night, Deadly Night by Vicki Delany
51. Mulberry Mischief by Sharon Farrow
52. Haunted House Murder by Leslie Meier, Lee Hollis, and Barbara Ross
53. The Zombie Ball by John Gaspard
54. Terns of Endearment by Donna Andrews
55. Fatal Cajun Festival by Ellen Byron
56. Judge Thee Not by Edith Maxwell
57. A Dangerous Man by Robert Crais
58. A Killer Carol by Laura Bradford
59. Have Yourself a Beary Little Murder by Meg Macy
60. Christmas Cocoa Murder by Carlene O'Connor, Maddie Day, and Alex Erickson
61. The Skeleton Stuffs a Stocking by Leigh Perry
62. Finding Zelda by Sue Ann Jaffarian
63. A Legacy of Murder by Connie Berry
64. Wicked Harvest Karen MacInerney
65. Murder's No Votive Confidence by Christin Brecher
66. Death of a Gigolo by Laura Levine
67. Murder Cuts the Mustard by Jessica Ellicott
68. Apple Cider Slaying by Julie Anne Lindsey
69. The Chocolate Shark Shenanigans by JoAnna Carl
70. City of Scoundrels by Victoria Thompson
71. The 19th Christmas by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro
72. The Last Dragon by James Riley
73. Ghosts of Painting Past by Sybil Johnson
74. And Then There Were Crumbs by Eve Calder
75. A Time for Murder by Jessica Fletcher and Jon Land
76. Cobblered to Death by Rosemarie Ross
77. Crime Travel edited by Barb Goffman
78. Owl Be Home for Christmas by Donna Andrews
79. Sealed Off by Barbara Ross
80. Sell Low, Sweet Harriet by Sherry Harris
81. Legacy by Shannon Messenger

Reading Challenge Wrap Up: Mount TBR and Virtual Mount TBR Challenges 2019

I did well with both the Mount TBR and Virtual Mount TBR Challenges this year.

For Mount TBR, I was trying to read 12 books, which I almost doubled.

Mount TBR Books:
1. Veronica Mars: Mr. Kiss and Tell by Rob Thomas and Jennifer Graham
2. The Double-A Western Detective Agency by Steve Hockensmith
3. Saturn Night Fever by Diane Vallere
4. Due or Die by Jenn McKinlay
5. Manuscript for Murder by Jessica Fletcher and Jon Land
6. Murder on Lenox Hill by Victoria Thompson
7. Permanently Booked by Lisa Q. Mathews
8. Downton Tabby by Sparkle Abbey
9. Barking Mad at Murder by Jacqueline Vick
10. Murder in Little Italy by Victoria Thompson
11. A Baker Street Wedding by Michael Robertson
12. Scoop to Kill by Wendy Lyn Watson
13. Murder in Chinatown by Victoria Thompson
14. Read It and Weep by Jenn McKinlay
15. I'll Be There For You by Kelsey Miller
16. Murder at the Mansion by Janet Finsilver
17. Raiders of the Lost Bark by Sparkle Abbey
18. A Parfait Murder by Wendy Lyn Watson
19. On Borrowed Time by Jenn McKinlay

I didn't make it quite so far over my goal for Virtual Mount TBR, but I did read more than 24 books.

Virtual Mount TBR Books:
1. Lost Light by Michael Connelly
2. A Lady's Guide to Etiquette and Murder by Dianne Freeman
3. The Golden Tresses of the Dead by Alan Bradley
4. Bridges Burned by Annette Dashofy
5. "M" is for Malice by Sue Grafton
6. The Sentry by Robert Crais
7. Double Whammy by Gretchen Archer
8. The Narrows by Michael Connelly
9. The 18th Abduction by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro
10. Forget Me Knot by Mary Marks
11. The Big Kahuna by Janet Evanovich and Peter Evanovich
12. Taken by Robert Crais
13. Full Bodied Murder by Christine M. Blum
14. The Promise by Robert Crais
15. One Taste Too Many by Debra H. Goldstein
16. Book, Line, and Sinker by Jenn McKinlay
17. Beaches, Bungalows, & Burglaries by Tonya Kappes
18. "N" is for Noose by Sue Grafton
19. Murder with a Cherry on Top by Cynthia Baxter
20. The Wanted by Robert Crais
21. The Closers by Michael Connelly
22. The Deep End by Julie Mulhern
23. A Dangerous Man by Robert Crais
24. Fashionably Late by Lisa Q. Mathews
25. "O" is for Outlaw by Sue Grafton
26. The Lincoln Lawyer by Michael Connelly (re-read via library audio books)
27. The Lost World by Michael Crichton

Reading Challenge Wrap Up: Audio Book Challenge 2019

The year is winding down, so it is time to start posting some reading challenge wrap ups.  Since I am done with my audio books for the year, I am going ahead and posting my wrap up for the Audio Book Challenge, hosted by Hot Listens and Caffeinated Reviewer.

I did very well this year with 14 audio books, which met my goal of 10-15.

I'm looking at catching up on the series I am currently listening to in the next year or two, so I will have to start finding a new series that my library has most of.  That seems to be harder than I thought it would be.  If any audio book fans have suggestions on places I can legally get cheap or free audio books, I'd love to read it.  I've been spoiled so far by my library, but they don't have even some of the titles I listened to 15 years ago I thought I would go back and listen to now.

But that's about the future.  Literally.

Here's what I listened to in 2019.

1. Lost Light by Michael Connelly
2. The Golden Tresses of the Dead by Alan Bradley
3. "M" is for Malice by Sue Grafton
4. The Sentry by Robert Crais
5. The Narrows by Michael Connelly
6. Taken by Robert Crais
7. The Promise by Robert Crais
8. "N" is for Noose by Sue Grafton
9. The Wanted by Robert Crais
10. The Closers by Michael Connelly
11. A Dangerous Man by Robert Crais
12. "O" is for Outlaw by Sue Grafton
13. The Lincoln Lawyer by Michael Connelly (a re-listen)
14. The Lost World by Michael Crichton

Reading Challenge Wrap Up: Foodie Reads 2019

It was another great year of culinary cozies.  I logged 32 books for Foodie Reads in 2019.

1. Drawn and Buttered by Shari Randall
2. Restaurant Weeks are Murder by Libby Klein
3. One Feta in the Grave by Tina Kashian
4. Chocolate Cream Pie Murder by Joanne Fluke
5. The Hidden Corpse by Debra Sennefelder
6. Murder from Scratch by Leslie Karst
7. Dyeing Season by Karen MacInerney
8. Sifting Through the Clues by Daryl Wood Gerber
9. Dying for Devil's Food by Jenn McKinlay
10. A Deadly Feast by Lucy Burdette
11. Full Bodied Murder by Christine M. Blum
12. Malice Domestic 14: Mystery Most Edible
13. One Taste Too Many by Debra H. Goldstein
14. Strangled Eggs and Ham by Maddie Day
15. Scoop to Kill by Wendy Lyn Baxter
16. Murder with a Cherry on Top by Cynthia Baxter
17. Risky Biscuits by Mary Lee Ashford
18. Ripe for Vengeance by Wendy Tyson
19. Scone Cold Dead by Karen MacInerney
20. Penne Dreadful by Catherine Bruns
21. Mulberry Mischief by Sharon Farrow
22. Haunted House Murder by Leslie Meier, Lee Hollis, and Barbara Ross
23. Fatal Cajun Festival by Ellen Byron
24. Christmas Cocoa Murder by Carlene O'Connor, Maddie Day, and Alex Erickson
25. Wicked Harvest by Karen MacInerney
26. Apple Cider Slaying by Julie Anne Lindsey
27. The Chocolate Shark Shenanigans by JoAnna Carl
28. Murder at the Mansion by Janet Finsilver
29. And Then There Were Crumbs by Eve Calder
30. Cobblered to Death by Rosemarie Ross
31. A Parfait Murder by Wendy Lyn Watson
32. Sealed Off by Barbara Ross

Reading Challenge Wrap Up: Cloak and Dagger Challenge 2019

I did very well with the Cloak and Dagger reading challenge this year, I read well over 100 books for it.  This also marks the last year that Books, Movies, Reviews! Oh My! is hosting.  Fortunately, we've got a new host for next year.

But that's next year.  For today, here's what I read in 2019.

1. Veronica Mars: Mr. Kiss and Tell by Rob Thomas and Jennifer Graham
2. The Double-A Western Detective Agency by Steve Hockensmith
3. A Literal Mess by J. C.
4. Saturn Night Fever by Diane Vallere
5. Due or Die by Jenn McKinlay
6. Not a Creature was Stirring by Christina Freeburn
7. Lost Light by Michael Connelly
8. Pruning the Dead by Julia Henry
9. The Gun Also Rises by Sherry Harris
10. Murder, She Meowed by Liz Mugavero
11. Manuscript for Murder by Jessica Fletcher and Jon Land
12. Murder on Lenox Hill by Victoria Thompson
13. A Lady's Guide to Etiquette and Murder by Dianne Freeman
14. The Golden Tresses of the Dead by Alan Bradley
15. Permanently Booked by Lisa Q. Mathews
16. Drawn and Buttered by Shari Randall
17. Restaurant Weeks are Murder by Libby Klein
18. One Feta in the Grave by Tina Kashian
19. Survive or Die by Catherine Dilts
20. Killer Thriller by Lee Goldberg
21. Chocolate Cream Pie Murder by Joanne Fluke
22. Bridges Burned by Annette Dashofy
23. "M" is for Malice by Sue Grafton
24. Drowned Under by Wendall Thomas
25. Out of the Dark by Gregg Hurwitz
26. The Hidden Corpse by Debra Sennefelder
27. Downton Tabby by Sparkle Abbey
28. Death Waits in the Dark by Julia Buckley
29. Murder from Scratch by Leslie Karst
30. A Dream of Death by Connie Berry
31. Dyeing Season by Karen MacInerney
32. Sifting Through the Clues by Daryl Wood Gerber
33. With a Kiss I Die by J. A. Hennrikus
34. The Sentry by Robert Crais
35. Lights! Camera! Puzzles! by Parnell Hall
36. Barking Mad at Murder by Jacqueline Vick
37. Staging is Murder by Grace Topping
38. The Scent of Murder by Kylie Logan
39. Dying for Devil's Food by Jenn McKinlay
40. A Deadly Feast by Lucy Burdette
41. Spy School British Invasion by Stuart Gibbs
42. Double Whammy by Gretchen Archer
43. Murder in Little Italy by Victoria Thompson
44. The Narrows by Michael Connelly
45. The 18th Abduction by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro
46. Forget Me Knot by Mary Marks
47. Murder, She Wrote: Murder in Red by Jessica Fletcher and Jon Land
48. The Big Kahuna by Janet Evanovich and Peter Evanovich
49. Taken by Robert Crais
50. Full Bodied Murder by Christine M. Blum
51. A Baker Street Wedding by Michael Robertson
52. Malice Domestic 14: Mystery Most Edible
53. Murder at the Palace by Margaret Dumas
54. Murder Knocks Twice by Susanna Calkins
55. The Promise by Robert Crais
56. One Taste Too Many by Debra H. Goldstein
57. Book, Line, and Sinker by Jenn McKinlay
58. Beaches, Bungalows, & Burglaries by Tonya Kappes
59. Jane Darrowfield, Professional Busybody by Barbara Ross
60. Strangled Eggs & Ham by Maddie Day
61. "N" is for Noose by Sue Grafton
62. Scoop to Kill by Wendy Lyn Watson
63. Murder with a Cherry on Top by Cynthia Baxter
64. The Wanted by Robert Crais
65. Risky Biscuits by Mary Lee Ashford
66. The Pawful Truth by Miranda James
67. Ripe for Vengenace by Wendy Tyson
68. The Tell Tail Heart by Cate Conte
69. Scone Cold Dead by Karen MacInerney
70. The Subject of Malice by Cynthia Kuhn
71. The Closers by Michael Connelly
72. Let's Fake a Deal by Sherry Harris
73. Penne Dreadful by Catherine Bruns
74. Love and Death Among the Cheetahs by Rhys Bowen
75. The Deep End by Julie Mulhern
76. Murder in Chinatown by Victoria Thompson
77. Tilling the Truth by Julia Henry
78. Silent Night, Deadly Night by Vicki Delany
79. Mulberry Mischief by Sharon Farrow
80. Haunted House Murder by Leslie Meier, Lee Hollis, & Barbara Ross
81. The Zombie Ball by John Gaspard
82. Terns of Endearment by Donna Andrews
83. Fatal Cajun Festival by Ellen Byron
84. Judge Thee Not by Edith Maxwell
85. A Dangerous Man by Robert Crais
86. Fashionably Late by Lisa Q. Mathews
87. A Killer Carol by Laura Bradford
88. Have Yourself a Beary Little Murder by Meg Macy
89. Christmas Cocoa Murder by Carlene O'Connor, Maddie Day, and Alex Erickson
90. The Skeleton Stuffs a Stocking by Leigh Perry
91. "O" is for Outlaw by Sue Grafton
92. A Legacy of Murder by Connie Berry
93. Read It and Weep by Jenn McKinlay
94. The Lincoln Lawyer by Michael Connelly (re-read via audio)
95. Wicked Harvest by Karen MacInerney
96. Murder's No Votive Confidence by Christin Brecher
97. Death of a Gigolo by Laura Levine
98. Murder Cuts the Mustard by Jessica Ellicott
99. Apple Cider Slaying by Julie Anne Lindsey
100. The Chocolate Shark Shenanigans by JoAnna Carl
101. City of Scoundrels by Victoria Thompson
102. The 19th Christmas by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro
103. Murder at the Mansion by Janet Finsilver
104. Ghosts of Painting Past by Sybil Johnson
105. And Then There Were Crumbs by Eve Calder
106. A Time for Murder by Jessica Fletcher and Jon Land
107. Cobblered to Death by Rosemarie Ross
108. Raiders of the Lost Bark by Sparkle Abbey
109. A Parfait Murder by Wendy Lyn Watson
110. Crime Travel edited by Barb Goffman
111. On Borrowed Time by Jenn McKinlay
112. The Wolves of Christmas by Sandy Dengler
113. Owl Be Home for Christmas by Donna Andrews
114. Sealed Off by Barbara Ross
115. Sell Low, Sweet Harriet by Sherry Harris

Reading Challenge Wrap Up: Crusin' Through the Cozies and Craving for Cozies 2019

I fell just shy of 100 books for the Cruisin' Through the Cozies and Craving for Cozies challenges in 2019.  I'm a bit disappointed, but I don't see how I could have gotten any more cozies in this year.  Oh well, some year I might hit 100 cozies.  But for this year, I stopped at 94.

Here are the cozies I read this year.

1. A Literal Mess by J. C. Kenney
2. Saturn Night Fever by Diane Vallere
3. Due or Die by Jenn McKinlay
4. Not a Creature was Stirring by Christina Freeburn
5. Pruning the Dead by Julia Henry
6. The Gun Also Rises by Sherry Harris
7. Murder, She Meowed by Liz Mugavero
8. Manuscript for Murder by Jessica Fletcher and Jon Land
9. Murder on Lenox Hill by Victoria Thompson
10. A Lady's Guide to Etiquette and Murder by Dianne Freeman
11. The Golden Tresses of the Dead by Alan Bradley
12. Permanently Booked by Lisa Q. Mathews
13. Drawn and Buttered by Shari Randall
14. Restaurant Weeks are Murder by Libby Klein
15. One Feta in the Grave by Tina Kashian
16. Chocolate Cream Pie Murder by Joanne Fluke
17. Bridges Burned by Annette Dashofy
18. Drowned Under by Wendall Thomas
19. The Hidden Corpse by Debra Sennefelder
20. Downton Tabby by Sparkle Abbey
21. Death Waits in the Dark by Julia Buckley
22. Murder from Scratch by Leslie Karst
23. A Dream of Death by Connie Berry
24. Dyeing Season by Karen MacInerney
25. Sifting Through the Clues by Daryl Wood Gerber
26. With a Kiss I Die by J. A. Hennrikus
27. Lights! Camera! Puzzles! by Parnell Hall
28. Barking Mad at Murder by Jacqueline Vick
29. Staging is Murder by Grace Topping
30. The Scent of Murder by Kylie Logan
31. Dying for Devil's Food by Jenn McKinlay
32. A Deadly Feast by Lucy Burdette
33. Double Whammy by Gretchen Archer
34. Murder in Little Italy by Victoria Thompson
35. Forget Me Knot by Mary Marks
36. Murder, She Wrote: Murder in Red by Jessica Fletcher and Jon Land
37. Full Bodied Murder by Christine M. Blum
38. A Baker Street Wedding by Michael Robertson
39. Malice Domestic 14: Mystery Most Edible
40. Murder at the Palace by Margaret Dumas
41. Murder Knocks Twice by Susanna Calkins
42. One Taste Too Many by Debra H. Goldstein
43. Book, Line, and Sinker by Jenn McKinlay
44. Beaches, Bungalows, & Burglaries by Tonya Kappes
45. Jane Darrowfield, Professional Busybody by Barbara Ross
46. Strangled Eggs and Ham by Maddie Day
47. Scoop to Kill by Wendy Lyn Watson
48. Murder with a Cherry on Top by Cynthia Baxter
49. Risky Biscuits by Mary Lee Ashford
50. The Pawful Truth by Miranda James
51. Ripe for Vengeance by Wendy Tyson
52. The Tell Tail Heart by Cate Conte
53. Scone Cold Dead by Karen MacInerney
54. The Subject of Malice by Cynthia Kuhn
55. Let's Fake a Deal by Sherry Harris
56. Penne Dreadful by Catherine Bruns
57. Love and Death Among the Cheetahs by Rhys Bowen
58. The Deep End by Julie Mulhern
59. Murder in Chinatown by Victoria Thompson
60. Tilling the Truth by Julia Henry
61. Silent Night, Deadly Night by Vicki Delany
62. Mulberry Mischief by Sharon Farrow
63. Haunted House Murder by Leslie Meier, Lee Hollis, and Barbara Ross
64. The Zombie Ball by John Gaspard
65. Terns of Endearment by Donna Andrews
66. Fatal Cajun Festival by Ellen Byron
67. Judge Thee Not by Edith Maxwell
68. Fashionably Late by Lisa Q. Mathews
69. A Killer Carol by Laura Bradford
70. Have Yourself a Beary Little Murder by Meg Macy
71. Christmas Cocoa Murder by Carlene O'Connor, Maddie Day, and Alex Erickson
72. The Skeleton Stuffs a Stocking by Leigh Perry
73. A Legacy of Murder by Connie Berry
74. Read It and Weep by Jenn McKinlay
75. Wicked Harvest by Karen MacInerney
76. Murder's No Votive Confidence by Christin Brecher
77. Death of a Gigolo by Laura Levine
78. Murder Cuts the Mustard by Jessica Ellicott
79. Apple Cider Slaying by Julie Anne Lindsey
80. The Chocolate Shark Shenanigans by JoAnna Carl
81. City of Scoundrels by Victoria Thompson
82. Murder at the Mansion by Janet Finsilver
83. Ghosts of Painting Past by Sybil Johnson
84. And Then There Were Crumbs by Eve Calder
85. A Time for Murder by Jessica Fletcher and Jon Land
86. Cobblered to Death by Rosemarie Ross
87. Raiders of the Lost Bark by Sparkle Abbey
88. A Parfait Murder by Wendy Lyn Watson
89. Crime Travel edited by Barb Goffman
90. "The Queen of Christmas" by Shari Randall
91. On Borrowed Time by Jenn McKinlay
92. Owl Be Home for Christmas by Donna Andrews
93. Sealed Off by Barbara Ross
94. Sell Low, Sweet Harriet by Sherry Harris

Monday, December 30, 2019

Ornament Review: Glistening Lantern Snowman - 2019 Hallmark Ornament



Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Looks great, power cord adds to fun
Cons: Would be fun if it interacted with others
The Bottom Line:
Snowtop compliment
Magic’ly glows from within
For truly fun piece





Glowing Snowman

Hallmark’s Snowtop Lodge series is celebrating 15 years this year, and they released a couple of fun unofficial ornaments to celebrate this year.  One of them is the Glistening Lantern Snowman.

Just by looking at the ornament, any fan of the series knows it is a compliment to the series.  Of course, the ornament itself is a snowman.  He’s looking dapper in a top hat and leaning on his cane, which just happens to be a candy cane.  He’s got a festive green, red, and white scarf around his neck as well.  And, as is usual for the series, he’s got a scene on his lower snowball.  In this case, it’s of snowpeople out in a field with Christmas trees behind them.  They look like they are out greeting their friends.

You can enjoy the ornament this way, but the ornament does plug into the Keepsake Power Cord, which is sold separately.  When you plug it in, you’ll see that it glows.  And we aren’t talking just white lights either.  There are multiple colors of lights in the bottom of the ornament that change on a regular basis.  The result is spectacular, really.  The light also really shows off the other part of the scene that I hadn’t mentioned yet.  Above the snowpeople, you’ll see Santa and his sleigh of reindeer.  What’s fun is, depending on how the lights are flashing, it can look like the they are flying.  You have to be looking at the ornament up close to see that since it is an illusion based on the angle the lights is hitting the images, but when you do, it’s magical.

I will complain again about the fact that this ornament doesn’t interact with any of the other ornaments connected to the Power Cord.  Don’t get me wrong, it looks great all on its own, but if it reacted to a show put on by other ornaments, that would be even more fun.

  Because the plug for the cord is in the back of this ornament, you can set it out to display and still plug it in.  The bottom is flat, so he will stand up.  He is a little bigger than the ornaments in the official series, so adding him to a display of them might be a little weird, but if you set him in the back, I bet he’d look good.

I’ve got mine hanging on my tree this year.  I’m happy to report that he hangs straight.

Glistening Lantern Snowman is a fantastic looking ornament.  Even if you aren’t collecting the rest of the Snowtop Lodge series, he’d make a great addition to your tree.

Here are the rest of the Snowtop Lodge ornaments.

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Book Review: Legacy by Shannon Messenger (Keeper of the Lost Cities #8)


Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Fast moving fun fantasy
Cons: Size might intimidate some before they start it
The Bottom Line:
Sophie’s adventure
Takes another step forward
Long yet absorbing




Sophie’s Journey Continues – Now with Twice the Alicorn Cuteness

I don’t pick up 800 page books often.  I just don’t have the time to immerse myself in books that long any more.  However, I make an exception for the Keeper of the Lost Cities series.  I’ve been reading since the first book came out and the books were a few hundred pages shorter, and I have to keep up with Sophie’s adventures.  Legacy is the latest in the series, and the pages just flew by.

If you aren’t familiar with this series, this is a fantasy series aimed at middle graders.  And yes, they do get excited for books this long.  I go to the launch parties every year, and they sell out with kids anxious to dive in and find out what happens next to their favorite characters.  Anyway, the series focuses on Sophie Foster, a young elf who has been recruited by a group called the Black Swan to fight the Neverseen, a group who wants to overthrow not only elf culture but rule the entire world.  That’s the simplest explanation of the series, but considering we are in book eight, trust me, Sophie’s life is much more complicated than that.

Before we go further, let’s discuss spoilers.  No, I won’t be spoiling the events in this book, and I am even going to dance around the cliffhanger at the end of book seven.  However, due to the evolving nature of Sophie’s life, there is no way to read this book without getting major spoilers about what has happened in previous books.  So it is best to read the books in order.  Besides, that’s the only way to fully understand everything that happens here.

This book opens nine days after the previous book ends.  Sophie is finally able to talk to Mr. Forkle, one of the leaders of the Black Swan.  However, he is most interested in discussing the most likely target for the Neverseen’s next attack instead of answering Sophie’s questions.  His theory makes sense, but can Sophie and her friends figure out a way to stop them?  Meanwhile, the Council has a surprising and game changing offer for Sophie.  Will she take it?

Yes, that’s all I’m teasing from the plot.  Truly, it is best to watch things unfold in their own way and their own time.  Naturally, there are all sorts of other storylines and sub-plots going on, but it gets too hard to tease what is happening with each of the characters without some major spoilers.

I did complain in the last book that the pacing was off.  Yes, there were a couple of times here I felt things could have been trimmed, but those never lasted for long.  And, when you think about how long this book is, the fact that I only felt that way once or twice tells you how fast the pace was overall.  Each time I picked up the book, I found myself transported to Sophie’s world and completely lost in whatever she was currently facing.

There are some pretty interesting developments that fans of the series will be happy to learn.  Yes, we still have some questions, but we’ve gotten some major answers as well.  And I can’t wait to see what this means going forward.  I definitely feel like this book advanced the overall story in some pretty major ways.

All your favorite characters show up, which is no surprise.  Some get more page time than others, but everyone gets a chance to shine, and I liked seeing how relationships grew and changed as a result.  Some characters have limited page time based on what is going on with them, but that’s story driven.  In a book this long, there would be room for everyone if the story called for it.

While the stakes of these books are always high, that doesn’t mean the isn’t plenty of time for fun along the way.  Some of the characters never fail to make me laugh, and that holds true here, too.  There are some moments that might make you tear up.  (I plead the fifth on whether they did for me or not.)  And for cuteness, it’s hard to top the alicorns in this book.

And that cliffhanger!  How long until the next book is ready?

I often say that I wish I had more time to read fantasy, and this series helps scratch that itch.  I’m glad I picked up Legacy, and if you, or your middle grader, enjoys books you can get lost in, you’ll be glad you picked up Legacy as well.  Just be sure to read it in order.

Need to backtrack?  Here are the Keeper of the Lost Cities books in order.

This review is part of Marvelous Middle Grade Monday.

Saturday, December 28, 2019

December 28th's Weekly TV Thoughts

Yes, I did get to watch all of the episodes after all.  So here are my thoughts by day.

Christmas Caroler Challenge (Sunday) – I’m not normally a fan of “Ave Maria,” but that group absolutely nailed it!  I mean, it was a phenomenal performance.  I wasn’t surprised the Jersey Boys went home in the first episode.  They insist on using tracks when no one else is.  Makes them stand out, but not in a good way.  In the second hour of the night, I definitely agree that the performances the judges singled out blew me away.  I was also really impressed by one of the teams that was sadly sent home.  I’m glad I’m not judging because the competition truly is fierce.

Christmas Caroler Challenge (Monday) – So hard to watch groups being eliminated at this point.  They are all so good!  I’m not surprised Bank of Harmony won since they seemed to be at the top of the competition each episode.  I really enjoyed them, and their “Grinch was lots of fun.  Honestly, both of their songs in the finale were great.  I’m considering getting their Christmas release (released yesterday) from iTunes, in fact.  Probably wait until closer to next year at this point.  Anyway, I’m glad I stumbled on this show.  It was a lot of fun.

Friday, December 27, 2019

Movie Review: Wait Until Dark


Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Outstanding cast brings this thriller to life
Cons: A few moments that veer toward overacting
The Bottom Line:
Blind woman alone
In great thriller movie that
Will not let you go




Don’t Wait to Watch This Thriller

I have found that the success rate of plays turned into movies is about the same as books.  Some translate well, and some are changed so much it’s hard to recognize them.  Having seen the play version of Wait Until Dark a couple of times, I was curious to see the movie version starring Audrey Hepburn.  This is definitely a case where the film captures the play perfectly.

Susy Hendrix (Audrey Hepburn) is a newlywed living in a basement apartment in New York City.  She’s also newly blind, having lost her sight in an accident.  She is trying to adjust to her circumstances, pushed by her husband, Sam (Efren Zimbalist, Jr.), to be the best blind person she can be.  She does get some help from Gloria (Julie Herrod), a young teen who also lives in the building.

Sam has recently returned from a trip to Canada, and unbeknownst to him, he’s smuggled drugs into the country via a doll.  There are three men on the trail of that doll and the drugs, Roat (Alan Arkin), Mike (Richard Crenna), and Carlino (Jack Weston).  The three of them come up with a scheme to get Susy to give them the doll.  The catch is, Susy doesn’t know where it is and they’ve gotten Sam out of the apartment for the day.  Where is the doll?  Will a blind woman be easy to scam?

It’s been a couple of years since I watched the play, so I am rusty on the exact comparisons between the two.  However, I remember the basics of the play and the feeling of increased tension as the play goes on.  I wondered how that would translate to the screen without the immediacy of sitting in the audience with the action unfolding right in front of us, but it worked and it worked well.  I was drawn into the tale again, my eyes glued to the screen.

And that doesn’t even touch the climax.  No less than Stephen King has called it the most terrifying scene put to film, and it’s hard to argue.  I still would classify this as a thriller instead of horror, but watching how someone could treat someone else is truly terrifying.  My adrenaline was definitely working when I finished, and I already knew how the story ended.

One reason the movie works is that it rarely takes us outside Susy’s apartment.  Yes, the opening is outside that confined space, but once we get there, we spend most of the rest of the movie there.  That means we don’t get any breaks as the tension builds.  A few quick scenes across the street and in the apartment hallway really just help tell the story and don’t give us any relief from that tension.  This helps capture the feeling of the play for the movie audience.

The cast is fantastic.  With such a limited cast, everyone has to play their part well, and they do.  Alan Arkin deserves special praise for how well he does here.  Of course, the real standout is Audrey Hepburn.  She is phenomenal as the blind heroine.  It can’t be an easy part to play, but she is completely believable.  A few times, she does seem to go into hysterics bordering on overacting, which bothered me, but she pulls it back very quickly.  And I can’t say much.  If I found myself in Susy’s place, you’d find me curled up in a corner sobbing, so the character’s reactions are certainly believable.

While I highly recommend the play, I also highly recommend the movie version of Wait Until Dark.  You might want to watch it before dark, however.

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Book Review: Sell Low, Sweet Harriet by Sherry Harris (Sarah Winston Garage Sale Mysteries #8)


Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Strong mysteries, fun sub-plots, great characters
Cons: Maybe the pacing early on
The Bottom Line:
Two strong mysteries
Cast of well-loved regulars
Fantastic entry




A Killer on Base and a Challenging Estate Sale

Whenever Sarah Winston has a new adventure, I make sure it fits into my reading plans.  Author Sherry Harris has created a wonderful character and continues to give her such fantastic adventures.  Sell Low, Sweet Harriet is her latest adventure, and it is fantastic as always.

Tragedy has struck Fitch Air Force Base.  One of the wives of the men stationed there has been murdered in her own backyard in the middle of a cold January night.  While Sarah Winston no longer has any official connection to the base since she is divorced from CJ, her husband who was stationed there, she did know Alicia since both of them volunteered at the base thrift store.    She is surprised, however, when she is asked to use her position on base to help figure out what happened.  No, she’s not supposed to do any investigating.  Instead, she is supposed to listen, and listen only, and pass on anything she might hear that would help the case.

Meanwhile, Sarah has a welcome client for her garage sale business.  When she is asked to run the estate sale for a couple who recently died, she jumps at the chance since her income is very small during the winter months.  The couple were retired CIA agents, and their home is full of all kinds of treasures from around the world.  However, Sarah quickly begins to question how safe she might be in the house.  Is someone after something hidden inside?  Can she get ready for the sale and solve the murder as well?

While the murder is the main plot of the book, the estate sale is a very strong sub-plot.  Both stories kept me going, looking forward to whatever twist or clue Sarah was going to uncover next.  I did think the pacing was a tad off early on, but that might have been just me, and it certainly didn’t last for very long.  The ending made perfect sense by the time Sarah figured everything out.

And I haven’t even mentioned another couple of sub-plots in the book, which give some of the supporting players chances to shine.  They popped in and out as sub-plots should, never overwhelming either of the main stories.

I’m not going to complain that so much is going on since I love these characters, and the sub-plots give us a chance to see many of them.  Sarah has built a strong community out of her friends and neighbors, and it always makes me happy to spend time with all of them.  Sarah is continuing to grow as a character as she deals with what life has given her, and everyone else gets their moments to shine as well.  This truly is a fantastic community.  Naturally, we get new characters to fuel the mystery.  They don’t all get equal page time, but they all seem equally strong as the series regulars given the page time they do get.

There are a couple of very funny moments that could easily make you laugh out loud.  I loved them!

You can’t go wrong picking up any of Sarah’s adventures, and Sell Low, Sweet Harriet is no exception.  This book will keep you engaged until you reach the final page.  Now comes the long wait while Sarah readies her next garage sale.

Missing a sale?  Here are the rest of the Sarah Winston Garage Sale Mysteries in order.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book.