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Murder by Death

I read cozy and historical mysteries, a bit of Paranormal/UF, and to mix it up, I read science and gardening books on occasion.

BookLikes-opoly: Free Friday Read #2

Secrets in the Mist - Anna Lee Huber

This free Friday is perfect - I finished by read for Carland, but can't roll again until tomorrow.  I'm in the mood for old school romantic suspense, but I'm saving my Mary Stewart book, just in case I land on the island space again.  Hopefully, this is the next best thing.


Page count:  378

Sweep in Peace (Innkeeper Chronicles, #2)

Sweep In Peace  - Ilona Andrews

I'm a huge fan of Ilona Andrews' writing (or, at least, her Kate Daniels series) so I was inclined to like this to start with; it's a testament to her writing that I did in spite of the undercurrent of science fiction running through the storyline. 


I'm not sure if I should admit that my favourite character is Caldenia, but she is.  She gets all the best lines and if not for the cannibalistic tendencies, she might be my literary heroine of choice.  But Dina is no slouch either and while there's never any doubt she has the abilities, her overwhelming innkeeper mandate sometimes makes her a bit trod-upon, so that final scene was awesome.  It's nice to see her abilities balance out; that she can be as bad as she can be good.


I never doubted for a minute who Turan Adin really was, it could never have been anyone else, but I couldn't figure out how Andrews was going to explain the timing.  Once she did, I was left wondering what the vampires and hoard thought about the "mysterious creature".  I also thought it interesting that Andrews dropped a huge clue about Dina's brother but then never followed up on it; ditto the clue about what happened to her parents.  I suppose they're saving that for book three.







Page count: 301

$$: $6.00

BookLikes-opoly: Turn 27 (June 22)



A new-to-me square!  I thought this was going to be harder to find a book for, just because of the manual searching involved to check setting or page number, but the first book I pulled off the stack turned out to be the book that fit:  Sweep in Peace by Ilona Andrews; it's set in Texas and the book ends on page 301 (which also just gets me over the line in monopoly dollars).


Sweep in Peace  - Ilona Andrews Dina DeMille doesn’t run your typical Bed and Breakfast. Her inn is a living entity that defies laws of physics, her fluffy dog is secretly a monster, and the only paying guest is a former Galactic tyrant with a price on her head. But the inn needs guests to thrive, and guests have been scarce, so when an Arbitrator shows up at Dina’s door and asks her to host a peace summit between three warring species, she jumps on the chance.

Unfortunately, for Dina, keeping the peace between Space Vampires, the Hope-Crushing Horde, and the devious Merchants of Baha-char is much easier said than done. On top of keeping her guests from murdering each other, she must find a chef, remodel the inn… and risk everything, even her life, to save the man she might fall in love with. But then it’s all in the day’s work for an Innkeeper…

Nightshade for Warning (Enchanted Garden Mystery, #2)

Nightshade for Warning - Bailey Cattrell

I had been looking forward to this book, because I was pretty impressed with the first one. Although I'm a fan of Cattrell's other work, I really fell for this series' backdrop of a woman who creates a beautiful garden and uses what she grows to distill her own essential oils, mixing custom perfumes in her small shop.  I'm not overly interested in the perfume angle, but the gardening and the tiny house she lives in all sound, not to put too fine a point on it, enchanting.


This sophomore entry doesn't disappoint as far as the garden and the distilling goes, and the slight hint at paranormal gifts that was in the first one is expanded upon here, but there's a love triangle in the making, which is always disappointing.  Luckily, the murder mystery was pretty good; the resolution managed to take me almost completely by surprise.  


I'll definitely read a third one, if it's in the offing, and there's a recipe for lavender shortbread in the back of this one I'm itching to try.






Total pages: 306

$$:  $6.00

BookLikes-opoly: Turn 26 (June 20)

*Sigh*  I rolled last night right before bed, so I could choose my next book after finishing Storm in a Teacup and told myself I'd write up the post today, in the morning, because I was tired.


But I only remembered just now, when I came to the computer to write up the review of the book I'd chosen for the space.  You know, the space I didn't post about last night.  


So - anyway.  Last night I rolled:

which put me back on Main Street #10


Small US towns are easy on my TBR, because almost all the cozies take place in small towns.  For this one I chose Nightshade for Warning by Bailey Cattrell  


Nightshade for Warning - Bailey Cattrell A journalist has come to Poppyville, California, to write a feature on Ellie’s tiny house and the Enchanted Garden for a national design magazine. It could put the town on the map. But Poppyville develops a more ominous reputation—for murder—when the journalist is found dead in his hotel room.

Also in the hotel are Ellie’s brother and his girlfriend, Robin. They’re thinking of putting down roots in Poppyville, but when Robin becomes a suspect, she could find herself planted behind bars. So before everything goes to seed, Ellie must rely on her superior sense of smell to pick out the real killer from an ever-expanding bouquet of culprits…

Page count: 305

Storm in a Teacup: The Physics of Everyday Life

Storm in a Teacup - Helen Czerski

A pretty excellent book for anyone who gets a bit giddy about science and the everyday ways that science is part of everyone's life.


Czerski has a very accessible voice and a very clear way of explaining what are at times complex topics and she covers the gamut of topics:  electromagnetism, water tension, viscosity, plate tectonics, and Newton's laws of motion (I'm old-school) among them.  I learned so much about so many things and those that I had a basic understanding of, she elucidated in ways that really brought the concepts to life in better detail.  I had no idea that an electromagnet was what held down the tray in my toaster - did y'all know that?  That's why the tray doesn't stay down when the toaster is unplugged.  


So much of this book got read out loud to MT, who is not a lover of science, but even he found the bits I shared fascinating (he was equally surprised about the toaster), and there were so many suggestions throughout the book that can easily be done at home and I plan to do several of them with my nieces when next they are here - including building our own trebuchet.  


Honestly, anyone interested in science but might feel intimidated by the often tedious or complex explanations, or anyone who just thinks the science involved in the every day fascinating will get a lot out of this book.  Czerski often gets auto-biographical with her narrative, and sometimes it can feel a little forced, but she is a physicist, so why wouldn't she use her own experiences to illustrate her points?  (For the record, MT and I both think she and her friends got totally screwed over on the whole trebuchet debacle.)


Overall, a lot of fun.





Total pages: 358

$$:  6.00

The Circular Staircase

The Circular Staircase -  Mary Roberts Rinehart

My second read of this book and it's almost as good as the first.  


I continue to like Rachel; I'd like to think she comes closest to how I'd act in a parallel situation.  The humour held up too and I still marvel at Rinehart keeping all the plot points of her story straight.  I've read too many contemporary books that have half the plot complexity and holes you could drive a train through.


But the racism is still confronting enough to take me out of the story; Thomas might have been well respected by the characters, and the story a product of its time, but the descriptions and use of vernacular were the bruises on what would have been a perfect peach of a story in my time.  And on this second read, I marvelled at how anyone believed so pitiful a disguise could have worked so thoroughly for so long.


Still, this is a great story; a gem that shows some things transcend time (in this case almost 110 years): there have always been crafters of labyrinthine plots, there have always been strong women with resourceful intellects, and there is always a place for humour and wit, even in the most extraordinary circumstances. 


I'll continue to heartily recommend this book to lovers of a great mystery.

BookLikes-opoly: Turn 25 (June 16)

My last roll had me on New Orleans Square 21 and I'm ready to get back into the game after my holiday.  I've rolled:




and I'm back on Free Parking so I rolled again and got:



 which is an even number and puts me on: 



One of the books I'd chosen for my holiday but never got to was Storm in a Teacup by Helen Czerski about how everyday life is affected by physics, so I'm going to go with that for my STEM read.  (Page count: 383)


Storm in a Teacup - Helen CzerskiJust as Freakonomics brought economics to life, so Storm in a Teacup brings physics into our daily lives and makes it fascinating.

Our world is full of patterns. If you pour milk into your tea and give it a stir, you’ll see a swirl, a spiral of two fluids, before the two liquids mix completely. The same pattern is found elsewhere too. Look down on the Earth from space, and you’ll find similar swirls in the clouds, made where warm air and cold air waltz.

In Storm in a Teacup, Helen Czerski links the little things we see every day with the big world we live in. Each chapter begins with something small – popcorn, coffee stains and refrigerator magnets – and uses it to explain some of the most important science and technology of our time.

This is physics as the toolbox of science - a toolbox we need in order to make sense of what is around us and arrive at decisions about the future, from medical advances to solving our future energy needs. It is also physics as the toy box of science: physics as fun, as never before.



Reading progress update: I've read 79 out of 362 pages.

The Circular Staircase -  Mary Roberts Rinehart

I'm pretty behind at the moment but hope to rally tonight.  MT just wiped the floor with me at Scrabble, so I'm ready for an ego soothing read.  :)


I'm at a slowish point so far, and most of the best quotes have already been posted, but what's freshest in my mind is that the detective is surprisingly lax with Rachel and her disinclination at full disclosure.  

BookLikes-opoly update for June 16

Well, my planned Booklike-opoly reading while on holiday was pretty much a fail as I didn't even manage to finish a single book while I was gone.  This is bad news for my Booklikes-opoly balance, but great news for the success of my vacation, since it meant I was having too much fun to experiencing New Zealand to want to stay inside and read.


Since there's no way I'm going to catch up with any of those reads, with the exception of Platypus, which I made myself finish before starting The Circular Staircase, I'm going to call the rest of the spaces a wash.


My last roll was to have covered Wednesday, June 14th, which leaves me ready to roll again today, but with the new Shake-up rules and the Free Friday reads, I'm going to put off my next roll until tomorrow, so I can relax and enjoy The Circular Staircase (my first Free Friday read).


I'll roll again tomorrow and update all my stuff.  


Platypus - Ann Moyal

For Christmas a year and a half ago, my SIL bought me the chance to swim and play with a platypus at Healesville Sanctuary, the conservation facility that has been dedicated to the care and study of platypuses since the early 1900's.  It was, hands down, one of the best, if not the best, wildlife experiences I have ever had.


that's me with my new bestest friend!


I was besotted.  Besotted in the way that almost required me being physically dragged from the pool when it was time to leave.


So imagine my disappointment when I started reading Platypus and discovered not so much a book about platypuses, but a book on the human history of discovery and research on platypuses.  All of which apparently required an overabundance of killing, preserving and dissecting these wonderful, adorable, sweet animals.  The first approximately 190 pages of the slim 206 page book was not much more than a recitation of what could pretty much be defined as harvesting. 


Not. happy.


I went with three stars in a huge effort to be fair; it's relatively well-written (a bit dry) and for many this might have been exactly what they were expecting from the book.  I recognise the dichotomy that often arises from my adoration of animals and my love of science.  The last 15 pages or so was much more what I'd been expecting of the whole book and at least left me feeling somewhat upbeat, but on the whole, I did not like this book.





Total pages:  205

$$:  $3.00

Reading progress update: I've read 25 out of 362 pages.

The Circular Staircase -  Mary Roberts Rinehart

"There's going to be a death!" she wailed.  "Oh, Miss Rachel, there's going to be a death!"


"There will be," I said grimly, "if you don't keep quiet Liddy Allen."


The first thing that struck me about this book was the unexpectedly acerbic humour.  It's 1908 publication date had me expecting something more staid and earnest; possibly quietly melodramatic, so this wry wit immediately hooked me.


The other thing that stands out is the way Rinehart uses foreshadowing.  It's seamless, and flawlessly done; she winds up the suspense without beating the reader over the head with the literary equivalent of those giant foam fingers.

Reading progress update: I've read 0 out of 362 pages. BUDDY READ!

The Circular Staircase -  Mary Roberts Rinehart

Moonlight Reader and I are buddy reading this starting today and hope that anyone else interested will join us.  



I'm back...And almost nothing got read!

After a tiny amount of drama generated by my new updated passport messing with my visa status, I'm home from an amazing holiday in New Zealand.  I take nothing away from Australia when I say this, but New Zealand rocks!  It was amazing.  We were in Queenstown and I'll bore you all with just two photos:  sunrise from the house we were renting:



and, of course, the main reason we went to Queenstown in June (winter):

taken from the car, so it's a little blue tinged from the window


The highlight of the trip though, was a day trip MT and I took to Te Anau to see the glow worm caves.  It's unbelievably well done from start to finish - they take you on a boat tour across the lake (which on the day was heavy with snow clouds and the scenery looked like Mordor) to the island where the cave system begins, which is beautiful.  Once you're in the caves, you walk for a bit along the underground stream until you come to a grotto where the bulk of the glow worms are.  From there it's by boat in pitch, absolute blackness, and suddenly the glow worms... You're forbidden from taking any photos or videos in the caves, but here's an official image that gives you an idea:



Magic.  It was magic.


Anyway, as predicted, I got almost NO reading done; I read, but I kept skipping around and putting down one book to start another.  I'm almost done with Platypus but otherwise, I'm still where I started last week and have a lot of catching up to do.


Hope everyone here had a great week!  :)

BookLikes-opoly book options for June 8th-14th EDITED to fix board mistakes

Platypus - Ann Moyal Darjeeling: A History of the World's Greatest Tea - Jeff Koehler My Beloved Brontosaurus: On the Road with Old Bones, New Science, and Our Favorite Dinosaurs - Brian Switek Question Everything: Amazing Scientific Insights from Simple Everyday Questions - New Scientist Storm in a Teacup - Helen Czerski Lincoln as I Knew Him: Gossip, Tributes, and Revelations from His Best Friends and Worst Enemies - Harold Holzer This Rough Magic - Mary Stewart

EDITED to reflect the books I plan on reading after correcting the error I made on the game board that Ani's Book Abyss thankfully pointed out to me.


I have options.  I get angsty if I don't have a wide choice of books when I travel, so I've chosen more than one for each category, allowing me to pick according to my mood.


For the first square, A book set in Africa or Asia, or a book with an exotic animal on the cover I have three options:


Platypus - Ann Moyal  Darjeeling: A History of the World's Greatest Tea - Jeff Koehler  My Beloved Brontosaurus: On the Road with Old Bones, New Science, and Our Favorite Dinosaurs - Brian Switek  


I'm not sure animals get more exotic than the Platypus and after getting to swim and play with one last year, I'm besotted with them.  This book might be the driest of the bunch though, so if it fails to hold my holiday brain's attention I also have Darjeeling: A History of the World's Greatest Tea which is set in India and fits for Asia.  But just in case I'm feeling the need for something else again, I have My Beloved Brontosaurus: On the Road with Old Bones, New Science, and Our Favorite Dinosaurs; dinosaurs certainly qualify as exotic animals don't you think?  And it's supposed to be a humorous as well as educational, read.


To offset the non-fiction spree I have going on above, for my free space I've chosen two chick-lit type reads

This is where I went wrong on the board - I should have rolled the dice to determine where I go from the Free Space: Water Works, Electric Company or Luxury Tax.  I rolled an even number so I'm on Electric company.  Finally!  And one of my book selections for the Space space (which no longer applies) fits here, so I'm keeping it, but I'm also adding Storm in a Teacup: The Physics of Everyday Life by Helen Czerski  in case the first doesn't hold my attention.


 Question Everything: Amazing Scientific Insights from Simple Everyday Questions - New Scientist  Storm in a Teacup - Helen Czerski 


Old stuff that no longer applies: Now.... the dreaded SPACE space - Read a book with an image of space on the cover, that takes place in space, or whose author's name contains all the letters in SPACE.  


If this is too loosy-goosy an interpretation of the rules, I do have a short story in my Vintage Mystery and Detective Stories Anthology, written by Hesketh Prichard called The Murder at the Duck Club.


Lastly but one I'm excited to get started on, for my home-away-from-home square, Space #8, Read a Mystery, or a book with a title that starts with the letters in CLUE.  

(show spoiler)



After adjusting my rolls to compensate for the Electric Company space, I ended up needing a book about Lincoln and a book set on an island or with the ocean on the cover.  My Lincoln read was easy as I've been waiting to land on this space so I could start Lincoln as I Knew Him: Gossip, Tributes, and Revelations from His Best Friends and Worst Enemies.  The book set on an island stumped me momentarily until I spied This Rough Magic, which takes place on the island of Corfu (and has an ocean or sea on the cover).


Lincoln as I Knew Him: Gossip, Tributes, and Revelations from His Best Friends and Worst Enemies - Harold Holzer  This Rough Magic - Mary Stewart  


I'm doing the buddy read with Moonlight Reader that starts on the Wednesday (June 14th) but I'll do it outside of BookLikes-opoly.  If anyone would like to join us in a read of The Circular Staircase by Mary Roberts Rinehart, I hope will; it's a classic mystery with a surprising amount of humour.  I'm really looking forward to it.


I'm not, however, looking forward to the weight of my carry on luggage.  Luckily for MT, it has wheels.  :)

BookLikes-opoly: Turn 21, 22, 23, and 24 (June 8, 10, 12 and 14th) - EDITED because I screwed up.

EDIT:  This is what happens when you don't pay close attention to the rules.  I mixed up the criteria for the Free Parking Space with the Go! space and this consequently alters my play from June 12th onwards.  I've edited my post below to show the changes in moves.  Thanks Ani's Book Abyss for catching my mistake!


This weekend is the weekend Aussies celebrate the Queen's birthday, never mind that Queen Elizabeth was born in April, and we've decided to stretch the long weekend into a trip to New Zealand.  Cuz apparently when we're freezing at home our solution is to go somewhere even colder.  


I'm not sure how much internet time or access I'm going to have (we're travelling with family), so I'm going to make all my rolls now, so I know which books to pack.  If I can't meet the reading schedule because I'm having too much fun (finger's crossed) then I'll adjust this post to reflect what actually happened.  As we're travelling with our 5 and 7 year old nieces, it's entirely likely I won't be able to read all the books, but better too many books than not enough, right?


Today's official roll is:






I rolled a 7 for the BookLikes, allowing me to double the dollars on my next read, but I can't read anything until Saturday.  My Saturday, June 10th roll will be:



That's a new one for me - I'll be digging through the piles to find something for this one; possibly a non-fiction since I'm pretty sure I have a book about platypuses that would fit the exotic animal requirement nicely.


If I make it through that one by Monday, my Monday, June 12th (Happy Birthday-not-Bithday to Queen E. II!) roll will be:



A book of my choice, plus another roll for the doubles which gives me:

EDITED 9 June:  Free parking space is a roll-to-go-to space, so I've rolled to determine my space and I got:

which is an even number which means OMG I get to go to the electric company!  Woop!


I still get to roll again, because of the doubles, but I'm going to keep that original second roll and just nudge the space it takes me too, which is now:




SO. MUCH. BETTER - I have a non-fiction book about Abraham Lincoln I've been itching to read but have held off in case I landed on this square.  Again, I say Woop!


Oh, that's not gonna happen.  I'll see if I can find a book/author to do the letters in SPACE, but if not, no stress.  More snowball fights with MT!


That brings me to my Wednesday, June 14th roll which will also be known as the "what MbD reads while stuck on airplanes for 7 hours" roll (alas, no direct flights home were available):


EDITED: Again, I'll keep the roll but adjust the space.  9 puts me on:




OMG... are you freaking kidding me with this???  I am DOOMED to land on this space every time I reach the bottom of the board.  You know why?  Because I'm DYING to land on the Electric Company space and read one of my STEM books, dammit!  Gah!


Hmm...  not a hard one, but not sure what I'll go with here, I'll have to adjust my to-pack stack and hit the TBR piles again.


Edit: My planned buddy read with Moonlight Reader, starting Wednesday, of The Circular Staircase by Mary Roberts Rinehart will still go ahead as planned, I'll just be reading it outside the Monopoly game, in parallel with my game reads.


That will bring me home and, if I can figure out how to hit the camera button with big fat snow gloves on, a picture or two to torture y'all with.  :)


I'll do edit my chosen books in a separate, edited post, once I've picked which ones I'm reading.