Death of an Alchemist by Mary Lawrence

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Death of an Alchemist by Mary Lawrence is the second book in the Bianca Goddard Mystery series which takes place in 1543.  While I enjoyed the first book, The Alchemist’s Daughter, I did enjoy Death of an Alchemist more. Bianca befriends an Alchemist, Ferris Stannum, who teachers her. He has discovered the Elixer of Life and shows her the journal that shows his work. When Bianca returns the next day she finds him dead and the journal missing. When her husband falls dangerously ill Bianca not only searches to find who killed Stannum but also where the journal has gone in hopes that she can save her husbands life. 

While the mystery was engaging what I really enjoyed was the look into immortality and what effects that has on humanity. There is a very minor character from The Alchemist’s Daughter that shows up in a surprising way. 

One minor thing that bothered me a bit was Bianca talked about how much she loved John but she never seemed to spend much time with him and did not take into consideration his wishes. Yes, she wanted to save his life but that was really the first thing she did that showed she loved him.

I continue to like the look into a time period and class that I have not read much about

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

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There were some things I really loved about The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang and some things that I really did not love. Stella has a problem. Her mother keeps pressuring her for grandchildren and if Stella doesn’t find someone her mother will. The problem for Stella is that she has Asperger’s and relationships are not something she knows how to do. So she decides she first needs to improve in the bedroom. In order to do that she hires an escort to teach her. Luckily for her, she gets Michael. When things don’t go easily in the bedroom she hires Michael to be her practice boyfriend. Of course, they soon decide they like spending time together but both have issues they need to overcome. 

So for the things I did not love about The Kiss Quotient. First off I just didn’t see a need for the open door look into their sex life. I’m of the opinion that the imagination does just fine on its own and things can be alluded to without going into explicit detail. I also was very troubled with why Stella’s mom never talked to her about having a relationship. She wants Stella to be in a relationship and have children so she can have grandchildren and she knows Stella has Asperger’s so I was very frustrated with the mom for being so absent in teaching and helping Stella. 

I did find the story cute and Stella and Michael were a couple I was rooting for. What made the book for me was seeing their personal growth. They were different people at the end of the book than at the beginning and I love a book where the characters are growing. I also really loved how both Stella and Michael saw the good in each other. Their weaknesses or quirks didn’t matter. They were able to see the good and potential in one another. I also really loved the behind the scenes look into Asperger’s and what someone thinks or feels when they have Asperger’s.

I would really have loved this book and probably be recommending it to lots of people if it were not for the many detailed sex scenes. For me those just lowered the enjoyment of the book. 

Beneath the Book Tower by Steve Hamilton

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Beneath the Book Tower by Steve Hamilton is a short story that tells a story of Alex McKnight before his story in the Alex McKnight series begins. Beneath the Book Tower takes place one night in Detroit where Alex is a police officer. The story tells the reason he became a cop and his feelings about being a cop in Detroit. 

I enjoyed the story and the writing. I got a little taste of the character Alex McKnight and am looking forward to reading the series

Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum

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In Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum, Jessie is thrown into a high pressure prep school in Los Angeles when her father marries a woman and they move  from Chicago where Jessie has grown up. She doesn’t relate to her new step mother or step brother and is having a hard time navigating the students in her new school. Until one day when she receives an email from Somebody/Nobody (SN), offering to help her. They start a friendship and Jessie begins to rely on him for more than just school advice. She wants to meet him but will meeting in person effect the ability they have to share close, personal things?

This was a fun, cute story and as she meets different guys at school it was fun trying to guess who it was that was SN. Sometimes I have a hard time with YA for all the angst that is in them. There is some angst in Tell Me Three Things but it was tolerable for me. The ending was page turning and laughable and relieving. All in all for a YA not bad

Raymie Nightingale by Katie DiCamillo

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I have loved many books by Katie DiCamillo so of course I needed to read Raymie Nightingale and it was everything I expected it to be. 

Raymie needs to win the Little Miss Central Florida Tire pageant. She enrolls in baton twirling lessons and there meets Louisiana, who also needs to win, and Beverly who intends to sabotage the contest. These three girls become friends and though vastly different in some ways they depend on one another. Each of the girls is going through things that will make you feel for them, laugh with them, and cheer them on as they take their futures and situations in their own hands. 

DiCamillo is a wonderful writer that develops great characters that are just quirky enough that I feel like they are real people that I would know. I loved the situations she places the girls in and I loved the friendship they develop. 

Beautiful Bad by Annie Ward

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Beautiful Bad by Annie Ward starts in a small town in Kansas with a call to 911 by a woman with a desperate plea for help. When the police arrive they find a very bloody scene, one dead body and evidence that there is a child in the home. From there the story goes back and forth between the police at the crime scene, a few weeks previously, and many years previously. Through these timelines we come to know Maddie, her friendship with Joanna, and her relationship with Ian. We travel mostly between Kansas and Eastern Europe, though there are stops in Iraq and New York. This is a psychological thriller so I think it is best not to say much more than that. 

I enjoyed the parts that took place in Bulgaria. Maybe not so much for the story as there was a lot of partying and drinking and behavior that felt like high school, I wanted the characters to act more like adults. I did though enjoy reading the descriptions of  Bulgaria and what it was like there. The writing was such that I could easily picture Bulgaria. 

Except for Bulgaria, Beautiful Bad felt like a story I have read before. It pretty much felt like lots of psychological thrillers that are out there and I didn’t feel like it brought anything new. Things are revealed in the end that I think were suppose to be a surprise but they weren’t. The story pretty much kept me engaged, it just wasn’t a shocking thriller. 

My copy of Beautiful Bad was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Thanks!

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

0B08BD98-6084-4084-AA4B-935B443032A9In Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None, ten guests are invited to a private island. Their host is unknown and also nowhere to be found. Just like in the poem Ten Little Indians found in the house, one by one the guests fall to a demise similar to that found in the poem. 

It was fun trying to guess not only who was killing all these house guests and how they were all connected but also who would be next and how the poem would play out for them. It is a quick read and I was busy trying to figure things out the whole time. When the murderer is discovered at the end I had guessed that person. Though to be honest I had guessed everyone at some point

The Alchemist’s Daughter by Mary Lawrence

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The Alchemist’s Daughter is the first book in the Bianca Goddard Mystery series by Mary Lawrence. It take place in London in 1543 during King Henry VIII and takes place among the commoners. Bianca uses the knowledge she received from her mother of herbs and medicinal plants and her father of alchemy to make remedies for the many diseases found in the slums of London. When her friend Jolyn comes to visit and dies in Bianca’s home, Bianca finds herself trying to prove her innocence using her knowledge. 

I found the look into the slums of London in 1543 really interesting and not a time period or people I have read much about. As this is the first book in a series I felt like I was just getting to know Bianca but wasn’t quite there yet. The story moved along well enough to keep me interested not only in this book but also in continuing the series. 

Huge warning!!!! Lots and lots of rats and not in a cute Ratatouille way. I was pretty creeped out in a few parts. 

Bluegate Fields by Anne Perry

6FBBB71C-E287-4C13-9046-DB0629A3FB69 In Anne Perry’s Bluegate Fields, the sixth book in her Charlotte & Thomas Pitt series, she tackles the topic of child boy prostitution when an upper class boy is found dead in a dangerous part of London. Inspector Pitt is receiving a lot of pressure to solve the murder and with the help of his wife, Charlotte,  continues working on the case until he uncovers the truth. 

What I loved the most about this book was the help that Charlotte and her sister, Emily try to give to people who live a very different life style than they do. They saw prostitution differently than many in their social class and realized that help needed to be given. It was a problem that they aren’t able to solve themselves and so they took the matter to people who did have the power to find solutions and change the climate of social opinion. I enjoyed reading their example of empathy and kindness. 

Wise Guy by Guy Kawasaki

9132AC4B-DFB7-46B3-905F-BCAB0B8AE4E2 My husband has loved Apple since the very beginning. I read Wise Guy by Guy Kawasaki because he worked for Apple and my husband has read many of his books. So I guess I read this book for my husband. 

This book is not a memoir but a compilation of stories from his life. In each chapter he shares a bit about his life and the lessons he learned from those experiences. I enjoyed the histories more than the lessons and it was interesting learning more about him since I have heard so much about him from my husband. 

My copy of Wise Guy was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Thanks!