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Mary's Books

I have loved to read since I was little. I would borrow many books from the library and still borrow to this day, but I also purchase books (mostly for my kids) and freebies on Kindle. I read as much as I can daily. Sometimes I read several books at one time. I don't have a preference of paper book over an ebook, I just love to read. Keeping lists of what I have read is a good way for me to remember. 

Currently reading

Cinnamon Toasted
Gail Oust
A Catered Mother's Day (A Mystery With Recipes Book 11)
Isis Crawford
Delicious and Suspicious
Riley Adams
All Fudged Up
Nancy CoCo
Black River Falls
Jeff Hirsch
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
J.K. Rowling
Magic and Macaroons
Bailey Cates
The Devotional Bible: Experiencing The Heart of Jesus
Max Lucado
Progress: 51 %
Cover to Cover: Through the Bible in 365 Days
John A Carroll
Progress: 60 %

First in Miracle Springs

The Secret Book & Scone Society - Ellery Adams

Nora has been in the hospital for a very long time healing from burns she sustained in an accident. She is being cared for by a British sounding nurse who brings her books to read to help her heal through the mess her life has become. After she is released from the hospital she sells all that she has left and moves to Miracle Springs and starts over as a bookseller. The people come and talk with her and she helps them find books that will help them through what is happening in their lives. She also notes when people buy books what they are reading and the theme of the books. She is known in the town as a bibliotherapist. One day while sitting in the park, a man comes up and starts talking with her and when he learns that she is the bookstore owner, he asks for her help. She sends him to Hester, the local baker, who makes comfort scones and tells him to come back to her store and she will try to help him. Before he can return, he is pushed in front of a train and dies. The local sheriff, known as Sheriff Toad, rules it a suicide. Nora, Hester, Estella (a hairdresser) and June (an employee at the spa) all feel that this is wrong and start to work together to find out what really happened to the man and make sure there isn't a miscarriage of justice. 


As they work on the mystery, they tell their stories (secrets) to each other and share books and scones. 


I started out listening to the book, but because I had to rerun it a few times and ran out of time, I had to borrow the actual book in order to finish the story. 


It was a really interesting story and I really enjoyed the growth of the women with each other and singly. 

The Last Al Roker Story

The Talk Show Murders - Al Roker, Dick Lochte

Okay, there were moments that I was just frustrated with the story and then as this one went on there were some laugh out loud moments. 

Billy Blessing and the crew are in Chicago for the show and he has been sent to visit someone else's show, while a blackmailing former cop is on and this starts the ball rolling for many deaths and other things going wrong. Billy's past is being brought out by the former cop who wants lots of money to keep it quiet. At the same time there are so many others who he is trying to blackmail, the only thing, he went after the wrong man and is murdered for his troubles. 

While the murderer tries to get the files back, they are going after Billy and anyone who comes between him and the files. 

One of my favorite lines in the story involved Billy being kidnapped from in front of the police station, not once, but twice. 

The story was interesting and had moments of intrigue and I did not really have a clue about who murdered whom. I did feel that Cassandra's calls of irritation at Billy for not being around to help run his restaurant were over the top and the mysteries of what was wrong with the electric and where the rodents and bugs were coming from were just too much. 

Middle or End of a Series

Look Both Ways - Carol J. Perry

I stumbled across the book and just liked the title, "Look Both Ways." The reason I know that there are books before it is because Maralee (the main character) keeps mentioning things that happened before. 


Maralee is a scryer and she is keeping this information from her boyfriend, Peter, a police officer. She has also moved into the attic apartment she and her aunt created in her aunt's house after a fire (happened in the previous book), the apartment is bare and she starts by going to an antique store to buy a dresser like the one she had owned and was destroyed in the fire. When she goes back to the store to get some dishes, she finds the owner dead and describes the owner's former partner as the man who bumped into her when running from the scene. As the investigation wears on, she volunteers to help find items for the plays that her employer is putting together for the summer. As she goes along she meets all three men that her friend, River, tells her to be cautious of. 


When she finds information in the dresser, she shares it with her boyfriend and when someone (one of the men involved in the investigation) say something she thinks is important she shares that with her boyfriend, helping to solve the case. 


It was a good stand alone story and I may go back and read the other books to better understand the one, but on the whole, it was an interesting story. 

Another from Roker

The Midnight Show Murders - Al Roker, Dick Lochte

This one was less showing of his beliefs, but he does have his main character, Billy Blessing, show his bias towards police. When he is involved in a bombing at the studio, where another person is blown up. He is asked why he didn't notify police of what had happened and states that he didn't believe it would do any good. 


In this mystery, he has been flown to CA to help start a new Midnight show and he meets an Irishman who has a past and his friend. They invite him to stay at the house that has been rented for them, in the guest house. He meets the daughter of a man he knew when he was living in CA and is supposed to be working with an author on a story about the serial killer that he helped police catch. When the host of the Midnight show is blown up the police suspect that Billy was the targeted person. 


It was an okay story and I was interested to know how it would end but unhappy with the biases against police. 

Book Better Than Movie

The Morning Show Murders - Al Roker, Dick Lochte

My family and I love the Hallmark Channel (January to October 15th, after the 15th you start seeing non-stop Christmas). We love the mystery movies that they put on and the mystery shows. So after Christmas, the commercials started talking about Al Roker's mysteries. I had seen them but had not read them. So with the movie coming, I decided I needed to "read" this book, but I have been unable to find it in Kindle format, so I borrowed it as an audio. 

Billy Blessing (male) is a chef with a popular NYC restaurant and host of morning news segments and a cooking program. One night the restaurant is visited by the local corrupt DA who demands that he be given a private room for his entourage. Billy's manager, Cassandra - a strong woman who doesn't take anything from anyone, refuses to move people to please this man. The next night, the restaurant is closed down by the police because one of Billy's coworkers, Rudy - a man who has a black book of women and cheats on all of them, is found dead in his apartment and they believe that Billy committed the crime. Because Billy is the main suspect and the police and DA are causing him problems in his business, he feels the need to find out who really killed Rudy. As he searches for the real killer, he comes across another killer, a serial killer called Felix. Because he is now being threatened, he is given a security detail and still works to find the true Felix. 

There were moments that the story felt like "The Gourmet Detective" by Peter King. At other times you could clearly see the author's beliefs. He dedicates the books to his family and says they think he hasn't got a clue. 

Overall, the book was pretty good, but the movie was okay but definitely different from the book. Billie (female), Cassandra (aunt) and Ian the detective helps while in the book, the detective was adversarial and crooked as well.

And Then There Were Nuns: Adventures in a Cloistered Life - Jane Christmas
""Every time you begin something, pray. It marks the start of a new chapter in your day and your life," Sister Jessica had taught me. "And Then There Were Nuns: Adventures in a Cloistered Life" by Jane Christmas"

Odd Name, but Good Facts and Trivia

Toiletrivia - General Trivia Sampler (History Trivia, Movie Trivia, Sports Trivia, Geography Trivia, and More): The Only Trivia Book That Caters To Your Everyday Bathroom Needs (Volume 6) - Jeremy Klaff, Harry Klaff

I found many of these Toiletrivia books on Amazon for free some time ago and I bought them. I didn't have time to go through them all at the time but thought they might be fun for trivia night (Trivial Pursuit questions can be dated) and I thought they might also spark the girls to find out more on something they see in these questions. I know that I marked this as read in 2017, but I again revisited the book and made the girls open it and start working on the questions today. It was really fun to watch them with their facts. 

First in the Series

Death by Chocolate Lab - Bethany Blake

I thought the name of the title was funny (criteria for me to choose to read it). It was a cute story about two sisters sharing a house together and their mother, a realtor. The youngest sister holds a Ph.D. in Philosophy and runs her own dog walking/sitting business. Her older sister is a veterinarian who is driven to succeed, like their mother, the realtor. The night before dog show for agility, the younger sister, Daphne is watching out her window while the people show up to set up for the next day. She sees her sister, Piper, giving a thermos of coffee to a man that she doesn't like. Later the next day, Daphne finds him dead in a tunnel. She doesn't want to see her sister as the person of interest in the murder and starts to find out the truth for herself. Along the way she learns many secrets of the people in the town she grew up in. She also learns that people will talk to her about what they know or what they suspect. She also keeps searching for the murdered man's dog that has gone missing following the murder. She also develops a relationship with the new detective in town. 


I did borrow the 2nd book in the series and am curious to see how things continue as Daphne is "involved" with two different men and she seems to be trying to figure out her own life. I know that as I write there are only in three in the series, so I don't know if I will read them all or not, but I did enjoy the story a little, but I just felt that Daphne needed to be more adult and not needing rescue from her constant running out of gas and leaving places without paying for meals. 



Well Researched and Written

The Case for Christ - Lee Strobel

I had marked the movie on Netflix to watch and then I remembered hearing that this was a book. I decided to read the book since I feel that books are often better than movies. I borrowed the audio version so that I could work on other things while listening to the book. Very early in the book, the author was talking about his criteria for someone to interview in his quest for the truth. His academic qualifications and then he said, he still believes that the Cubs will win the World Series. Given that this had just happened, I really laughed at this quote. 

It was interesting to hear about all the people he interviewed where they were and how much he learned from each one, showing that there are others outside of the Gospels that write about what they saw for the time of Jesus and the time after. 

I really did enjoy this book and I know that I will be telling my sister-in-law about it.

Poet, Son of Slaves, From Ohio

The Complete Poems of Paul Laurence Dunbar - Paul Laurence Dunbar

I had not heard of this author, ever, in my college or high school time. I only discovered him while visiting Wright Brother monuments and museums located in Dayton, OH. I decided that I needed to learn about this man. I was amazed at his work. Not that he could do this work, but that his work, while it is poetry, it is a great quantity and it covers so many different things in his life. It covers love, laughter, death, work, slavery. It is in a dialect and plain English. He shows such emotion in his work. I read a little every day and just thoroughly enjoyed this work. 

Around the US in Mystery/Cozy Mystery

This is what I have achieved so far this year for the Mystery for each state in the United States. I think it is a good start. 






California - "Whistleblower" by Tess Gerritsen




District of Columbia


Georgia "Potions and Pastries" by Bailey Cates











Massachusetts "Look Both Ways" by Carol J Perry

Michigan - "Oh, Fudge" by Nancy CoCo.  Minnesota






New Hampshire

New Jersey

New Mexico

New York - "The Christmas Mystery" by James Patterson

North Carolina - "The Secret, Book & Scone Society" by Ellery Adams

North Dakota




Pennsylvania - "Death by Chocolate Lab" by Bethany Blake

Rhode Island

South Carolina

South Dakota





Virginia - "Not a Creature Was Purring," by Krista Davis 


West Virginia





So Much to Read and So Many Challenges!

If you look at my currently reading list you will be shocked by how much is being read. I have challenged my self to read 245 books this year. That was how much I had read last year. I always start with what I accomplished and see if I can repeat it or surpass. Some years I have surpassed and some I have not. A lot of this depends on my free time. I am using more audiobooks this year because I am also trying to finish many items (knit/crochet) and I am spending more time in the car driving back and forth between Ohio and Kentucky (my home and my father-in-law's home and sometimes my father's home). Without the audiobooks, I may not achieve my goal. 


I still love to read the books over listening because it is hard for me to hear all the time (noise levels). 


I decided to try challenges from one of the libraries I go to all the time, they are doing a "New Beginnings" Challenge: 


Happy New Year, and here’s to New Beginnings!

This year, we’re challenging ourselves, and you, to read something new. Each month, we’ll post a subject or genre and suggest some authors or titles that fit the bill.

January’s challenge: Read a book by a Central or South Americana author. Might we suggest….

Mariana Enriquez
Valeria Luiselli
Jennine Capo Crucet
Alejandro Zambra
Mario Vargas Llosa
Chico Buarque


Then I am also doing the book from each of the states in the United States Challenge with the added challenge being a mystery or cozy mystery books. It pays to spend tons of time in the local libraries. They love researching challenges, and so do I! 


I am hoping that these help me reach my goal of 245 books this year and maybe even getting past. 




Just starting out

The Case for Christ - Lee Strobel

I had seen the movie and was unable to watch uninterrupted, so I thought I would try to "read" this book instead. It has even been on my TBR list. Wish me luck. 

Who is Really to Blame?

Crooked House (Buku Catatan Yosephine) - Agatha Christie

I "read" this one with the audio download from a library. I did it this way so that I could knit while I was listening. 

A young man has met the woman of his dreams while stationed in Egypt and proposes to her, but states that they will wait until they are back in England to actually propose. Before he can actually meet her family and propose officially, there is a death of her grandfather. She is concerned that the wrong person is going to be accused of the murder and asks her fiancee to help solve the murder. 

He meets the entire family and learns the dynamics of the family. His father, a police inspector, encourages him to go and listen to the whole family. 

It was an interesting story and had a very interesting twist at the end. I did enjoy this story. I did have to rerun it many times as people kept talking to me and interrupting so that I couldn't follow along. 

Running from Government

Whistleblower - Tess Gerritsen

Viktor is trying to blow the whistle on his company for doing something that is highly illegal but authorized by the government. He first calls the FBI and starts to work with an agent, but when he is ambushed and starts running for his life, he runs in front of a car driven by Cathy Weaver. She saves his life and gets him to a hospital and medical attention. When he wakes up from the surgery he tries to get out of the bed and get to the woman who rescued him. 


It is through their running for their lives that they form a bond. They also work to get the only evidence back that was not reclaimed by his company. 


I enjoyed the story and read it pretty quick. I know that some said that they didn't enjoy this story, but I did. Make up your own mind. 

Christmas from Mackinac Island

Deck the Halls with Fudge - Nancy CoCo

This story was told from the perspective of Frances, who is celebrating Christmas with her new husband in their new house. As she and Douglas are unpacking and making a meal one night, they look out their kitchen window and see a man fall out of a sleigh and get run over by the sleigh. Douglas goes out to see if he can help the man and Frances calls for help. They find that the murdered man is Warren Engle and Frances is friend's with his step-mother and feels that she needs to find out the truth of who murdered her former student. 


The story was interesting and was shorter. It was nice to have a different perspective on the story series. 


This one also only had 1 recipe in it for Peppermint Fudge.