End of the Month Review – MAY 2017

Welcome to the May 2017 edition of the “End of the Month Review”!  It’s been a busy month around here, which I’m happy for! Let’s get started seeing what all happened during the month! At the end of April, I was up to 50 followers here on WordPress. At the end of this month, I’m up to 74!! Yay!! Thank you to all of my new followers and please, keep spreading the news around about the site!

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Site Statistics in May

This month was my best month since I began the blog in April 2016. I always find it interesting not only to see how many people visited my blog, but where they’re from as well. In May, I had 405 views from 165 visitors from 15 countries! For me, that’s really exciting and a lot! While the number of visitors only went up by about 40 since the month of April, the amount of posts they viewed almost doubled! I feel like I’m really starting to gain a fan base now and it’s exciting to see how it grows month by month!

I had a total of 18 posts this month that garnered 104 likes and 35 comments. 11 posts were for reviewing books, 2 of which reviewed multiple books. Three (3) of the review posts also had author interviews. 1 post had 4 mini reviews, 1 was a book tag post, 1 was a blogger award post, 1 was a spotlight post, and 3 were general/other posts, one of which was a post for Mental Health Awareness month where I talked about mental illness and stigma.

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Books Read & Reviewed in May

During the month of May, I read a total of 19 books – 16 cozy mysteries, 2 non-cozy/thriller mysteries, and 1 middle grade children’s fiction book. I reviewed a total of 15 books this month (including 2 books that were read in April) and wrote mini reviews for 4 books.

I currently have the next set of mini reviews for the Bibliophile Mystery series by Kate Carlisle almost done, but they won’t get posted tonight. Perhaps tomorrow. I’m trying to get all the mini reviews done before the 11th book comes out next week on the 6th.

I still have 2 reviews from books read in April that are in draft format. One of them I’m close to finishing. The other might turn into a mini review as it’s also part of a longish series that I need to write at least mini reviews for. 🙂

Reading Challenges Progress in May

I made progress on several of my reading challenges during the month of May. For the purpose of Goodreads (and many of my challenges), 3 of my cozy mysteries only counted as 1 book as it was a box set

  • Goodreads 2017 Challenge – I read 17 books total in May, bringing my total to 81.
  • Pages Read 2017 Challenge – I read 4,759 pages during the month of May, bringing my total to 22,299 pages.
  • EBooks 2017 Challenge – I read a total of 14 eBooks, bringing my total to 51.
  • Library Love 2017 Challenge – I read 1 library book, bringing my total to 24.
  • Craving for Cozies 2017 Challenge – I read a total of 14 cozy mysteries for a total of 52.
  • Agatha Christie Reading Challenge – I read another Agatha Christie book this month. I’ve slowed down on reading them since I’ve had so many blog tours lately, but I managed to squeeze in one this month. 🙂
line of books - some stacked, some standing, some leaning - books are blue, brown, red, green, and yellow
©Graphic Garden

Looking forward to June

During the month of June, I’ll be participating in 5 blog tours and have 1 review that’s not part of a blog tour. One of my blog tours is not a review, just an author interview. I have tentatively scheduled 4 other books for review in between the blog tours and other review that I have already scheduled. The other 4 include three that I need to read for NetGalley reviews and the newest Kate Carlisle book, Once Upon a Spine.

Here are the books that are definitely on the menu for June:

Book Cover: Bearly Departed by Meg Macy - teddy bear store/workroom setting - shelves full of teddy bears in the background and a partially unstuffed bear in the foreground on the floor.     Book Cover: Treble at the Jam Fest - A Food Lovers' Village Mystery by Leslie Budewitz - background has a country music stage with guitars, double bass, and drum set - Foreground has a table with jam for sale, a pitcher of lemonade and two cats sitting on the ground     Book Cover: The Swallow's Nest by Emilie Richards - a young white woman with long dark brown hair holding a curly, blond haired toddler boy.

Book Cover: Death on West End Road - a Hamptons Murder Mystery by Carrie Doyle. Background is beige with little white dots, there's hydrangea flowers, a tea pot and a glass of liquid with lemon slices     Book Cover: All Signs Point to Murder - a Zodiac Mystery by Connie Di Marco - Study setting with a window overlooking a garden set up for a wedding - foreground has a white table full of candles, astrological charts and a bridal bouquet     Book Cover: Stuck - The Penningtons Investigate by C.T. Collier - green background with a dagger thrust point down into a table

I decided to try something new for myself. I created a separate Google calendar for blogging and have been tentatively scheduling books from my back list in between my blog tours and other obligations. This month, I’ve managed 2 books from my TBR pile in between blog tours and other reviews. Next month, I have 4 that I tentatively scheduled, so we’ll see how it goes. I’m hoping that this will help me both a) get caught up on my backlist of reviews for NetGalley and b) help me be more consistent about making content for my blog. We’ll see how it goes. I say that they’re tentatively scheduled so that it gives me the opportunity to change-up what I read in those slots. Maybe I don’t want to read the new Nora Roberts book yet (yeah, right!) so I can choose something else in its place. I’m hoping that this will help keep me accountable and yet provide flexibility so I don’t end up seeing all my reviewing/reading as a chore and not pleasurable anymore.

These are the tentatively scheduled books:

Book Cover: Once Upon a Spine: A Bibliophile Mystery by Kate Carlisle - Background shows a bookstore front window - foreground has tea service sitting on a wrought iron table with a cat on the table and a copy of Alice in Wonderland on a wrought iron chair     Book Cover: The Frog Princess Returns - Tales of the Frog Princess by E.D. Baker - Pink background - Vignette picture of the Princess with the Frog prince on her shoulder talking to a fairy     Book Cover: Superfairies: Adventures in Peaseblossom Woods by Janey Louise Jones - Pink background with four fairies on the cover - a caucasian fairy in yellow, an Asian fairy in red, a Hispanic fairy in red and a black fairy in purple    Book Cover: Effie Starr Zook Has One More Question by Martha Freeman - young girl riding a bike over hills - goat standing on top of one hill.

They may change depending on what I decide I really want to read, but those are tentatively the planned books. We’ll see if this new plan/calendar idea works!

 

 

A Christmas Tartan – REVIEW

4.5 out of 5 stars.

A Christmas Tartan is a novella that comes in between The Cracked Spine and Of Books and Bagpipes in the Scottish Bookshop Mystery series by Paige Shelton. It’s a wonderful holiday story and a cozy mystery to boot!

Book Cover: A Christmas Tartan by Paige Shelton - Dark green background with wooden counter - red, green & black plaid tartan scarf, silver plate etched with trees, silver spoon, brown button, and book on table - holly hanging in the bkgd.

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Long tree branch with cluster of two pinecones and evergreen stems at the right end of the line
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Brief Synopsis

Christmastime has come to Scotland, and Delaney and all her coworkers at the Cracked Spine, the quirky bookshop in the heart of Edinburgh, are all in the holiday spirit. Between mugs of hot chocolate and nibbles of gingerbread, Delaney has been given the task of tracking down the provenance of a mysterious box of objects that her boss, Edwin, has recently acquired. In it are various trinkets, but what really catches Delaney’s eye is a worn copy of A Christmas Carol, where she also finds an old photo tucked inside. On the back is a name, which leads her to a woman whose granddaughter has gone missing. When it becomes clear that the box might be connected to the missing girl, Delaney is pulled into the intrigue, and takes it upon herself to figure out what really happened—and why. (Source: Goodreads)

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Review

This novella is a little bit different from the other two full-length novels in this series (I can’t really state how it is different though, as that would give some of the plot away). However, that being said, I really enjoyed this story!

This story deals mostly with Delaney herself. Our other usual cast of characters have very little role in this mystery, but we do see them a little. This story has our heroine checking out the provenance of this mystery box of items. In doing so, she comes across an old, unsolved mystery of a missing young woman.

This is just a fast-paced, fun little mystery to whet the appetite for the second book in the series. It’s definitely fun and a page-turner, but there’s not a lot of character development or personal relationship development in this book. Nothing that really seems important to the overall arc to the series. Yet, it’s still a delightful read.

There’s not much else I can say without spoilers, so I’ll just end with saying pick it up – you’ll enjoy it!!

Long tree branch with cluster of two pinecones and evergreen stems at the right end of the line
©Graphic Garden

End of the Month Review – MARCH 2017

Wow! Where has 2017 gone?! I cannot believe it’s April already.  Time to review the month of March and all the things that happened on this blog!

During the month of March, I read 14 books and participated in 5 blog tours. I wrote 12 reviews (including one for a book I finished in February), 1 author interview, 1 book spotlight post, and 1 general book post. Of the 14 books I read, I read 10 cozy mysteries, 2 romance, and 2 children’s books (1 picture book and 1 middle grade fiction). I did not review either romance book (tho’ I’m still considering adding a review for one of them) and I did not review 1 of the cozy mysteries. The other 9 cozy mysteries and 2 children’s books have reviews up on my blog.

I’ve made some progress on some of my reading challenges as well:

  • Goodreads Challenge – I’m up to 50 books actually because I finished one yesterday (April 1, 2017). At the end of March I was up to 49 books out of my 175 goal.
  • Pages Read Challenge – I read a total of 3434 pages during the month of March bringing my total to 13,590 pages out of my goal of 60,000!
  • Blogger Shame Challenge – I completed 1 more book out of the Netgalley books I’m behind on, bringing my total to 3 out of my goal of 12.
  • Read It Again, Sam Challenge – I read 1 more during the month of March, bringing my total to 7 out of my goal of 16+ re-reads.
  • E-books Challenge – I read 7 ebooks this month bringing my total to 23 out of my goal of 50 (which I may raise to 75).
  • Beat the Backlist Challenge – I read 7 books off of my “to read” list in March bringing my total to 12 out of my goal of 50.
  • Library Love Challenge – I read 6 books from the library this month, bringing my total to 23 out of my 50+ goal.
  • Craving for Cozies Challenge – I read 10 cozy mystery books this month, bringing my total to 32 out of my goal of 80.

 

Looking Ahead to April

Here are the books/reviews I know I’ll be completing during the month of April:

Book Cover: Of Books and Bagpipes - A Scottish Bookshop Mystery by Paige Shelton: Teal plaid with white lettering, a drawing of a castle on a hill with a messenger bag, stack of books, and small brown/black dog in foreground.

 

Of Books and Bagpipes by Paige Shelton – I just finished this book yesterday (April 1) so I will be writing up a review for it in the next few days.  It will be released this Tuesday, April 4, 2017.

 

 

Dying on the Vine book cover - Bride dressed in a white sleeveless bridal gown, holding a wine glass - book cover is edged with grape vines, grapes, bees and wine glasses

 

Dying on the Vine by Marla Cooper – I recently did a spotlight on this book for a blog tour. I’m in the middle of reading it now and hope to have it done shortly so I can also get a review up!

 

 

Book Cover: The Moonlight Serenade by Ava Miles - The Dare Valley series - Background has a field under the moonlight so it's all in dark blues and teals. The lettering is on top in white.

The Moonlight Serenade by Ava Miles – This is the newest book in the Dare Valley series and it will be released on Wednesday, April 5, 2017!

 

 

 

Book Cover: Cat Got Your Cash by Julie Chase - Shop decorated for fall in background - counter with money, scissors, cash register and 2 siamese kittens sitting on it in foreground

 

Cat Got Your Cash by Julie Chase – This is my only blog tour for the month of April and it will include an interview with the author!

 

 

Book Cover: No Charm Intended - A Cora Crafts Mystery by Mollie Cox Bryan - Front of a house with pots of flowers sitting on the steps. A tabby cat is sitting in the foreground.

No Charm Intended by Mollie Cox Bryan – This is a book that I’m reading for review from the Cozy Mystery Review Crew group I’m a part of on Facebook.

 

 

Outside of these 5 books, I’m hoping to tackle more books on my “to-read” list and more of my backed up titles from Netgalley. I’m also hoping to maybe get a title or two read out of my goal of 7-12 books that have been banned/challenged in libraries and schools. Stay tuned to see what actually gets done!

Cat with a Clue – REVIEW

4.5 out of 5 stars.

catwithaclue

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Grey Tabby Cat peeking over the top of the left side of a stick line with a green butterfly at the right end
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Synopsis

Early one morning while shelving books in the library, Minnie stumbles upon a dead body. Authorities identify the woman as an out-of-towner visiting Chilson for her great-aunt’s funeral. What she was doing in the library after hours is anyone’s guess . . . but Minnie and Eddie are determined to save the library’s reputation and catch a killer.

As rumors about the victim circulate through Chilson, the police are in a bind over a streak of baffling break-ins. Luckily, Minnie and Eddie are traveling the county in their bookmobile, and they’ll stop at nothing to find the spineless killer before the final page is turned on someone else.

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Review

“Cat with a Clue” is the 5th installment of the Bookmobile Cat mysteries by Laurie Cass, and I have to say that I think this one is my favorite in the series so far.

The basic synopsis is that strange things are happening in Chilson and in its library. We start off with our heroine, Minnie, finding a dead body in the library and then there are a series of strange break-ins, both at the library and at other places around town. It’s up to Minnie to help the Sheriff’s Department to figure out who’s behind all this crime. Well, okay, technically it’s up to the Sheriff’s office alone, but Minnie thinks it’s her job too.

I thoroughly enjoy the characters in this series for the most part. They’re complex, well-developed and realistic. Minnie, like the rest of us, has trials just dealing with the stress of life sometimes (and don’t we all!). Since the two characters I didn’t really like left the series in the 4th book, including Minnie’s long-distance boyfriend, this book was even more fun for me to read! Minnie’s new love interest looks promising as well.

Laurie Cass has a very fluid writing style. The story line flows easily from section to section. The transitions of scenes are nearly flawless and I’ve never felt that the story line drags on and on. It moves at a steady pace throughout the whole book.

I will admit that I’m slightly biased on the descriptions of the settings, since it takes place in one of my favorite parts of Michigan. It’s a small town set on a small lake in the northwest portion of the Lower Peninsula, one of those places that Michiganders tend to refer to as “Up North”.  I love reading all the descriptions of the scenery and the places in the book since I’m familiar with the area. I feel like the descriptions aren’t too wordy (which is something I really don’t like), but as I said, I’m a bit biased on that front.

The only reason this book does not receive five stars is because it didn’t have a huge “wow” factor for me or an emotional hook for me, which is part of my criteria for a 5 star book. It is still a wonderful cozy mystery and I highly recommend it and the rest of this series!

[I received a free copy of this book from the author/publisher in exchange for my fair and honest review. My review was not influenced by this, nor was I compensated for my review. All opinions and conclusions are my own.]

Grey Tabby Cat peeking over the top of the left side of a stick line with a green butterfly at the right end
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