Wednesday, April 24, 2024

{I've Been Reading} Murder in Rose Hill

A Flicker of a Doubt by Daryl Woods

This was probably my least favorite book in the series ao far. More is revealed about Fiona the fairy and her life beyond Courtney's garden and Carmel-by-the-Sea, which I enjoyed.  Fiona is as spunky as ever, but she's maturing a bit and learning some self control There's a whole lot going on with the murder investigation but I never quite got caught up in the plot, unlike the second book which managed to hold my interest with pickleball, of all things.  

 Making Fairy Garden Accessories by Anna-Marie Fahmy and Andrew Fahmy

I'm so intrigued by this book! Fairy gardens have always looked like a lot of fun, but I couldn't justify the purchase of the little resin houses and figurines I keep seeing in stores. The authors show you how to DIY houses, doors, furnishings, and accessories and how to weather treat them for sheltered outside display. For someone who already has a stash of crafting supplies, it seems like it would be easy to branch out and experiment with fairy gardens. 

Murder in Rose Hill by Victoria Thomson 

Midwife Sarah Malloy and her private investigator husband are hired to investigate the death of a young woman who was writing a magazine article on the dangers of patent medicines. This is the twenty-seventh Gaslight Mystery, which means I've missed a lot of history between the characters, but it was easy enough to jump in. The historical setting was fascinating with lots of details about the patent medicine insdustry and every day life. I'm used to mysteries that stick with one main protagonist -- this one was all over the place, jumping between Sarah and her husband and their family and employees as they all played a part in the investigation. 

Four-Alarm Homicide by Diane Kelly 

Whitney and her cousin have barely started converting a historic firehouse into a private residence when an older lady aproaches them about the dilapidated townhouse attatched to her own home. The owners have passed away and their adult children are doing nothing to preserve the structure. Whitney and Buck quickly decide to take on the extra project. As soon as the quit claim deeds are signed, they're dealing with angry criticism from neighbors who felt entitled to buy the house for themselves. There's murder and vandalism and the mystery is completely engaging. I've missed a couple of previous books in the series but was able to follow everything just fine. I definitely need to go back and read about their motel project. 

Disclosure -- The publishers provided me with advance review copies. 

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

{I've Been Reading} Every Living Thing - The Great and Deadly Race to Know All Life


Every Living Thing - The Great and Deadly Race to Know All Life Jason Roberts 

This is the story of Carl Linnaeus and Georges-Louis de Buffon, two scientists who were determined to document all life on earth and who both vastly underestimated how many plants and animals existed. Based on the book's description, I had hoped that the author would spend more time on the search for specimens.  It's long and a bit dry, covering the lives of Linnaeus and Buffon in exhausting detail. There were some sections I found absolutely fascinating,  but overall I slogged through it. 

A Botanical Daughter by Noah Medlock

Imagine two men living in a vast greenhouse, the only structure that survived after a fire took the adjoining manor house. Living walls separate the rooms. Humidity is taking a toll on everything, especially the grand piano. Gregor deals in exotic plants.  Simon creates whimsical taxidermy in his basement retreat. Once Gregor realizes that his newly imported sample of fungus seems to be intelligent and capable of movement, he sets out to see how much it's capable of. Before he's done, he's created Chloe, a walking, talking, sometimes angry combination of plants. Something about old glass greenhouses has always intrigued and fascinated me and the setting of this book was incredibly vivid. The story itself is hauntingly beautiful and it left me wondering if the parts I found most horrifying were what the author intended. It wasn't the grisly deaths that got to me, it was the awful lack of consent. (And one particularly explicit scene near the end of the book.) 

Grey Dog by Elliott Gish

This creepy folk horror is set in 1901, told through the writings of Ada Byrd, a school teacher who has accepted a post in a small town to escape the scandal that caused her to leave her last teaching position. Ada is fascinated by the owl skull and feathers and bits of stuff she finds in the woods. Not every thing she finds out there, though, is natural. The thing waiting for her in the woods is unsettling, but I found myself more horrified by the idea of how powerles Ada was against the members of her new community. The unpleasant depictions of pregnancy and childbirth also got to me. 

Disclosure -- The publisher provided me with an advance review copy. 

Wednesday, April 03, 2024

{I've Been Reading} The Fortune Teller

 The Fortune Teller by Natasha Boydell 

Not long after a fortune teller promises Simone she'll meet the love her life but their marriage will end in tragedy after five years, she does meet the perfect guy. She plunges into the relationship, ignoring the ridiculous warning, but it never leaves her thoughts and as time passes she becomes more and more certain that disaster is looming. Watching Simone unravel as time passes made this one a sad but compelling read. There are some intriguing twists near the end, but the last bit left me confused. 

Murder Takes Root by Rosie Sandler 

Steph and her big dog, Mouse, are on to a new job at Ashford Manor where she'll be restoring the historic gardens to something resembling their original design. I enjoyed the second Gardener Mystery. The bond between Steph and her dog (the only two characters to return from the first book) is absolutely adorable. Her work in the garden is fascinating. The mystery itself is a unique one. I do miss the unusual setting of the first book and it looks like the third will be set in a new place with new characters. 

One by One by Freida McFadden 

Three couples are driving to a week long getaway at a luxurious cabin when they take a wrong turn and the mini van breaks down. With no cell phone reception, they set off on foot and before dark they're hopelessly turned around. Soon, one of them is dead. Then another.... I started reading this one late one night and made it half way through before bed time, then had to get through a busy day before I could pick it up again. I had an absolute blast trying to figure out which of the four surviving characters could be the bad guy. I'm still not sure how they got so lost so quickly. If the dirt road you're on dead ends, wouldn't you backtrack to the main road? It seems obvious that they weren't going the right way, but these characters didn't know how to pee behind a tree so I was willing to suspend my disbelief and enjoy the ride. 

The Perfect Village by J M Hewitt 

A woman who lives alone and is no longer allowed to foster children finds a boy and girl next to the centuries old well behind her property and brings them home. The children are filthy and refuse to speak. Their skin is a troubling shade of green. The first few chapters of this book left me extremely confused and wondering whether the children were real or a figment of Vivacia's imagination. Based on the cover and description, I expected this to be a typical domestic thriller, but things in the gated community are a lot more complex, especially after a heavy rainstorm floods the old well and a body literally bubbles to the surface. It's definitely different and left me trying to figure a lot of things out. 

Disclosure -- The publisher provided me with an advance review copy. 


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