Sunday, December 10, 2017

Weekend Book Review: Ring in the Year with Murder

Auralee Wallace's Ring in the Year with Murder is the fourth book in the Otter Lake Mystery series.  It is New Year's Eve, and Erica finds herself as a working guest at a party along with co-worker and best friend Freddie.  The two run Otter Lake Security and their job is to keep an on eye on a guest who has received threatening notes.  The mystery was good with quite a few twists and turns.

What makes this series for me is the combination of Erica and Freddie.  The situations the two end up in and the banter between them is wonderful.  I literally laughed out loud a few times.  I had read a previous book in the series, but it is not absolutely necessary to enjoy this book.  Ms.Wallace's writing style is wonderful and adds true humor rarely found in a cozy mystery.

disclosure:  I received a complimentary copy of this book but was not otherwise compensated for this review.  All opinions are my own!

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Weekend Book Reviews

Canal Days Calamity by Jamie M Blair is the second book in the Dog Days Mystery series.  Cam is rushing to finish the planning for Canal Days when she finds a local man dead behind her sister's shop.  When the town handyman is arrested, Cam knows she must jump into the investigation and find the real murderer.  I read the first book in this series.  While it is helpful, it is not necessary.  The mix of characters in this book is a definite plus.  I enjoyed this book, and the mystery kept me guessing a bit until the end.  The only downside for me was Cam's constant use of "good gravy".  It is not enough to keep me from reading book number three though.

I was excited to read The Herbalist's Guide to Formulary by Holly Bellebuono.  I am a big fan of using herbal remedies.  This book is based on using a 4 Tier system for making remedies.  While the book provides good information, it is not for a beginner.  Very little information is given regarding preparation and dosing.  I found the descriptions of how the body works a bit unnecessary.  As good as the information is, the book left me wanting more.

A Fatal Collection by Mary Ellen Hughes is the first book in the Keepsake Cove Mystery Series.  Callie reconnects with her Aunt Melodie.  Her aunt's sudden death finds Callie the sole heir of her estate which includes a music box shop and cottage in Keepsake Cove.  Callie is not convinced that her aunt's accident was as simple as that and begins an investigation.  The mystery in this book is not strong, but the characters and setting more than make up for it.  Keepsake Cove sounds like such a charming place.  This is a great start to a new series!

disclosure:  I received these e-books through NetGalley but was not otherwise compensated for these reviews.  All opinions are my own!

Monday, December 4, 2017

Weekly Goals Update: Week 49

1.  Completely Finish New House & Update Property
The only thing I accomplished on this goal was finally buying curtains for the living room and bedroom.  I have picked out a curtain rod for the bedroom, but W will need to build one for the living room.  The weather is supposed to be damp and rainy all this week.  That will limit what we can do. 

2.  Plan Ahead for Birthday & Holiday Gifts
I did end up ordering a second copy of Moo for my nephew.  I am almost done with the photo gifts for my parents.  The plan is to order those this week.  With the cooler weather moving in, I will put on a Christmas movie, make some hot chocolate, and wrap gifts this week!  The photo gifts should be the last thing on my list to purchase.  It will be nice to be done early.

3.  Use the Garden to Be More Self-Sufficient
I will start harvesting some lettuce this week so salads will be on the menu more often.  I have also been harvesting greens for the rabbits.  I need to harvest some for the chickens this week.

4.  Take One Class a Month
I will be focusing on Christmas treats this week.  I doubt there will be any extra time for a class.  I plan to pick this back up after the holidays.

5.  Pack Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes on a Budget
Done!  This year's boxes went to Tanzania, Mali, Belize, and Jamaica.

6.  Boost Savings
No extra money into savings this past week.  This seems to be a bad time of year for savings.  I did use some Amazon gift cards to buy a few wants/needs.  I am at least trying to avoid any impulse purchases.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Weekend Book Reviews

Slay Bells Rings by Karen Rose Smith is the seventh book in the Caprice De Luca Mystery series.  Caprice is busy with holiday home staging for Chris, a friend of her dad.  Chris also plays Santa for the town.  Chris' strange behavior confuses his friends and family, but nothing is as bad as when he is found murdered.  Caprice finds herself drawn into the mystery which is not as simple as it seems.  I enjoy the characters and setting of this series.  While I have read a previous book, it is not completely necessary.  I found the mystery very interesting, and the side stories added to the book!

Daryl Wood Gerber's A Deadly Eclair is the first book in the French Bistro Mystery Series.  Thanks to a generous benefactor Mimi realizes her dream of owning her own bistro and inn.  She is set to host the wedding of a famous talk show host, Angelica.  The wedding guests are an eclectic mix that do not always get along.  The weekend takes an awful turn when Mimi's benefactor and uncle of the bride is found murdered.  Mimi sets out to avenge his murder.  The setting is fun, and the characters definitely have room for growth and development.  I look forward to seeing how the series develops since the first book left me wanting more!

Garden of the Lost and Abandoned by Jessica Yu tells the story of Gladys.  Gladys is a reporter in Uganda writing a column titled "Lost and Abandoned".  The column features children searching for their families.  Gladys takes it much further by investigating both children and families.  When no families can be found Gladys takes on the children's care all while struggling to support herself.  The stories are hard to read at times, but Gladys in an inspiration.  The book is wonderfully written and captures the hard truth of daily life in Uganda.

Ellen Crosby's The Vineyard Victims is part of the Wine Country Mystery series.  Lucie witnesses former presidential candidate Jamison Vaughn drive his SUV into a pillar at the entrance of her winery.  It seems like much more than a tragic accident.  Lucie dives into the mystery that becomes more and more complicated.  While this book fits into the cozy mystery genre, it is more serious than a typical cozy mystery.  The characters are well developed, and the mystery was filled with twists and turns.  If you prefer your cozy mysteries with a bit more depth, this is the book for you!

disclosure:  I received these e-books through NetGalley but was not otherwise compensated for these reviews.  All opinions are my own!

Friday, December 1, 2017

Frugal Friday

In spite of being a bit spend-y recently I have worked on saving some money. 

I did very little Black Friday/Cyber Monday shopping.  I had been on the lookout for a new crockpot since the lid on mine no longer closes securely.  I ended up purchasing it from Kohl's along with some on sale curtains for the house so I could get free shipping. 

I waited on sales for the online consignment stores (Schoola, Swap, and ThredUp).  I was glad that I waited until Cyber Monday when the sales were better, and I got free shipping.

I never got around to making my Christmas cards this year so I followed a tip from Frugalwoods.  I ordered postcards from VistaPrint.  I waited for a sale so they were budget friendly. 

I focused meals on what we had on hand.  I am cleaning out the refrigerator freezers first, and then I will tackle the big freezer.  I am not doing an official pantry challenge, but I am trying to eat what we have. 

I ordered some free magazine subscriptions with a couple of free gift cards, points from Recycle Bank, and Reward Survey. 

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Weekly Goals Update Week 48

I started off so good with the goals and updates.  Then life got in the way.  I have decided that some need to go on the back burner for the rest of this year. 

1. Completely Finish the New House & Update Property
This was a crazy month.  Honestly I feel like every one of my goals took a back seat, and I accomplished close to nothing.  W did finish the touch up painting in the hall and foyer.  I picked out and ordered a door handle for the pantry door.  We hosted Thanksgiving at our house.  My focus was on cleaning and preparing for that.  This week W is working on vehicle repairs.  He is putting house projects aside to get two of our vehicles plus the golf cart running again. 

2.  Plan Ahead for Holiday & Birthday Gifts
Birthday gifts are done for the year.  I finally found books for the four nearly six year old girls.  I bought two books from The Princess in Black series.  My two year old niece liked Cat so much that I ordered Moo for her.  I might get that for the two year old nephew too.  I need to get pictures together for my parents' photo calendar. 

3.  Use the Garden to Be More Self-Sufficient
Nothing happened in the garden this past week.  I do need to harvest some peppers this weekend.

4.  Take One Class a Month
I need to focus on baking holiday goodies.  I doubt that I will get around to any classes until after New Year's. 

5.  Pack Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes on a Budget - Done
The boxes were sent to a local collection location earlier this month.  They will then go to a distribution center before being sent out to the children.  I used trackable shoebox labels so I will find which countries the boxes go to.

6.  Boost Savings
Hmmm....November was a spendy month.  We purchased the fence, but it ended up being higher than quoted.  We also adopted a puppy.  We did not know that he was sick, and he ended up spending 5 days at the vet.  Thankfully that bill was lower than expected, but it was still an extra expense.  We are still focused on saving, but at this point it will be paying ourselves back.  Life - it goes that way sometimes.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Weekend Book Reviews

Knit to Kill by Anne Canadeo is part of the Black Sheep & Co. Mystery series.  There are other books in the series, but this is the first one I have read.  I was not at all lost.  The characters were introduced well.  While knitting plays a big part in the book, it is not the main focus.  A group of knitters heads to a resort for one last fling before one of them is married.  The weekend gets off to a rough start when they witness a nasty argument.  One of the men involved is murdered the next morning.  The women's hostess and her husband are in the middle of the investigation.  The knitters decide to help solve the mystery.  The friendship aspect of the book was wonderful.  The mystery had some twists and kept me interested until the end.

Lea Wait's Thread the Halls is the sixth book in the Mainely Needlepoint Mystery series.  It is Christmas in Haven Harbor, Maine.  Angie has big plans for Christmas that get side tracked when her friend Patrick's movie star mother plans to visit with several famous guests in tow.  When one of those famous guests is murdered, Angie finds herself in the middle of yet another murder mystery.  The setting of this series draws me in every time.  The characters are a nice mix, and Angie is a great heroine.  This book easily stands on its own, but I recommend reading the entire series!

Much Ado About Murder by Elizabeth J Duncan is part of the Shakespeare in the Catskills Mystery series.  This is the only book in the series that I have read, but I had not trouble following the characters.  Costume designer, Charlotte, is thrown for a loop when the current director quits suddenly.  The star of the play demands that the new director be Edmund, who is someone she worked with previously.  Things go from bad to worse when Edmund is found dead of a suspected suicide.  Charlotte must uncover the truth to keep the play on track.  This book got off to a slow start.  Once I really got into it, I could not put it down.  The varied characters and side stories were added bonuses.

disclosure:  I received these e-books through NetGalley but was not otherwise compensated for these reviews.  All opinions are my own!