Happy Literary Friday, My Lovelies!  Last week I read one of the best books I've read so far this year: The Lost for Words Bookshop by Stephanie Butland.  Rarely do I read a book that stays with me for days after completing it.  This book has done just that, and Loveday's story and character touched my very soul!

According to Goodreads:

The Lost for Words Bookshop is a compelling, irresistible, and heart-rending novel, perfect for fans of The Storied Life of AJ Fikry and The Little Paris Bookshop.

Loveday Cardew prefers books to people. If you look carefully, you might glimpse the first lines of the novels she loves most tattooed on her skin. But there are some things Loveday will never, ever show you. Into her hiding place - the bookstore where she works - come a poet, a lover, and three suspicious deliveries. Someone has found out about her mysterious past. Will Loveday survive her own heartbreaking secrets? 

My Review:

Yes, this novel is perfect for fans of The Storied Life of AJ Fikry and The Little Paris Bookshop.  I loved both of those novels, too!

The Lost for Words Bookshop is definitely character-driven.  Loveday Cardew's story will touch, break, and uplift your heart.  Told from Loveday's point of view, I felt like I got to know her well.  She's an only child with a tragic childhood she'd rather forget.  She's built tons of fortifications around her heart, so much so that she's been unaware of those who've loved and protected her while she was in the British foster care system.   Loveday begins working at the Lost for Words Bookshop when she's an older teen.  Archie, the bookstore's owner, is a bigger than life character with quite the storied past.  He's gregarious, loquacious, and loves to tell stories about his many escapades.  Archie is like a surrogate father to Loveday, and I enjoyed reading about their repartee and "system" in dealing with customers.  

Although she clearly prefers books to people and isn't very trusting, she starts dating a jerk named Rob, a doctoral student studying the Italian Renaissance.  Unfortunately he's mentally ill and self-medicates.  He uses his illness to get away with very bad behavior, probably because he's also a narcissist.  But when he commits his first abusive act she does not take anything off of him, bully for her!  Then when sweet poet and close-up magician Nathan enters her life, I was holding my breath because I didn't want her to mistreat him just because of her past experiences with Rob the Jerk!  Loveday is a bit of a closet poet herself, and Nathan hosts an open mic poetry night at the local pub.  She accepts his invitation to attend, and she eventually shares her poetry.

Stephanie Butland eases the reader into Loveday's past.  Her spirit, tenacity, and transformation are miraculous given her background, and the entire narrative mesmerized me. I couldn't put this book down, and I was so sad when it ended.  Sidenote:  I love her given name!  It's sometimes a surname, but also a given name usually only in Cornwall.  Her name suits her!

Like I said in the introduction, this book will always stay with me.  It has definitely made my top ten for books that touched my heart and soul.  I highly recommend it!  I checked this one out from my local library because I noticed it and thought I'd like it because I enjoy reading stories about bookshops and libraries.  I will be ordering a copy for our home library this week because I know I will want to read this book again and again!

Below is an affiliate link for purchasing The Lost for Words Bookshop via IndieBound.

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org

I hope y'all have a great weekend!  We're off to another horse show in Tuscaloosa!

Until next time...

Happy reading!
Ricki Jill

Happy Wednesday, My Lovelies!  I'm finally caught-up with the horse show laundry and all the other clothes we messed-up during Fall Break #2.  In between travel and laundry, I read one of Joanne Fluke's latest Hannah Swensen mysteries, Raspberry Danish Murder.  It was one of the mysteries I featured on my Cozy Mysteries Set in Autumn Round-up post from several days ago.  I have several of the books from this series on my iPad, and this is book #22 in the series.  There are recipes throughout the book because as a recipe is introduced in the plot, it is inserted at the end of the chapter.  Sometimes there are several recipes at the end of chapters.  Some of them sound so good, but my favorite one that I must try is the Oatmeal and Marmalade Muffins recipe.  I'll post about it once I make it maybe next week because we have another horse show Saturday in Tuscaloosa!

According to Goodreads:

Thanksgiving has a way of thawing the frostiest hearts in Lake Eden. But that won’t be happening for newlywed Hannah Swensen Barton—not after her husband suddenly disappears . . .

Hannah has felt as bitter as November in Minnesota since Ross vanished without a trace and left their marriage in limbo. Still, she throws herself into a baking frenzy for the sake of pumpkin pie and Thanksgiving-themed treats while endless holiday orders pour into The Cookie Jar. Hannah even introduces a raspberry Danish pastry to the menu, and P.K., her husband’s assistant at KCOW-TV, will be one of the first to sample it. But instead of taking a bite, P.K., who is driving Ross’s car and using his desk at work, is murdered. Was someone plotting against P.K. all along or did Ross dodge a deadly dose of sweet revenge? Hannah will have to quickly sift through a cornucopia of clues and suspects to stop a killer from bringing another murder to the table . . . 

My Review:

I've read several of these mysteries, and this one is not one of my favorites for a couple of reasons.  First of all, most of the plot is centered around meals.  This does allow for many excellent recipes to be included throughout the narrative, but it makes the story a little boring.  I understand that Hannah owns a bakery, but I would have enjoyed reading about other things, like her sister Michelle's drama internships....basically anything else but strictly mealtime and food!  Also, Hannah seems to have lost her confidence because she worries that perhaps her husband Ross left her because she snores.  Really?  If that's the case then SO WHAT WHO CARES!!!  Most fans of the series don't like Ross anyway, so GOOD RIDDANCE!

One thing I do like about this edition to the series is the mystery itself.  Although a nice character is killed, the mystery is interesting, and that part of the book is well-written.  Hannah is a very good investigator, and she solves the case because her intuition and observation is spot-on.  The book ends with a shocking cliffhanger, so I want to read the next one in the series,  Christmas Cake Murder.

If the recipes are as good in this one as other Hannah Swensen Mysteries, the girls and I might like to bake several of the recipes during Christmas.

Are you a fan of the Hannah Swensen series: Murder, She Baked on Hallmark Movies and Mysteries?  I think they're great, and I love Alison Sweeney and Cameron Mathieson.  

Until next time...

Happy reading!
Ricki Jill

Happy Saturday, My Lovelies!  

While Shelley and I are enjoying her Fall Break out of state at a horse show, there's been a wild rumpus in our kitchen.

Apparently, The Bad Apple Gang has cornered and is bullying and harassing The 'Lil PUNKins.

Jack, the leader of the 'Lil PUNKins hiding from the Bad Apple Gang...

The Bad Apple Gang

Run and hide, 'Lil PUNKins!

Surely the situation will sort itself our before we return home.

In the meantime, I hope you have a lovely weekend.

Speaking of the weekend....what are YOUR plans?

Until next time...

Ricki Jill

Halloween is a little over two weeks away.  Do you decorate for Halloween?  

Happy Monday, My Lovelies!

I thought it would be fun to put together a round-up post to help me decide how to decorate for fall and/or Halloween.  I've only taken out a few velvet pumpkins, and I want to decorate for Christmas early this year so it's done before Thanksgiving.  That means Christmas decor will be up for a very long time because Thanksgiving this year is November 22,  the earliest it can be.

Below is a stroll down memory lane of how I've decorated for autumn and Halloween in the past.

I have a nice collection of glass pumpkins that reflect light on our breakfast room table.

A few years ago I used a lot of white in my autumn decor.  I hope my photography has improved a little since then!   ;P

Traditional autumn colors with a touch of blue

Pale in the dining room

Scooby Doo...Where are you?

Fall colors and pinks

One thing I've noticed is that I don't decorate very much for Halloween because October is our busiest month.  October brings travel to several horse shows, fall break (this year we have two), and  Shanley Belle's birthday.  

I think I'll decorate for Halloween this year and skip Thanksgiving because I won't be hosting Thanksgiving this year.

Come back later in the week for my Halloween decor!

Until next time...

Ricki Jill

Happy Weekend, My Lovelies!  We attended a Fall Festival this morning, and I almost forgot to post!  Are you in the fall mood yet?  If not, then why not pick-up a cozy mystery from your local library set during autumn?  I spent a couple of hours curating a few I thought y'all would like, and I've included a brief description of each.

I love this series, and this one involves an archaeological dig, plans for a Harvest Festival, and ghosts in the Vicar's meadow.  This one is a bit more village secrets than mystery, but the creepy factor makes it a good choice for fall.

This is the twelfth in a series, and it involves a the Heritage Society's "Pirates and Plunder" soiree. A valuable ring goes missing at the same time a history intern is murdered.  

It’s late autumn in Tinker’s Cove, Maine, and the last surviving flowers on Lucy Stone’s porch have fallen victim to the first frost of the season. The Turkey Trot is a 5K run in the village, but before the event Lucy discovers a frozen body in a pond.  I find this series to be a little darker than most cozy mysteries (I've read a couple) but they are highly popular, and I do love Lucy's character.

In this book from the series featuring catering sisters Bernie and Libby Simmons, a Thanksgiving dinner goes awry thanks to a killer who's hiding a cornucopia of secrets.  This one might be worth it because of the recipes in the back; one of them is for Pecan Pie using Steen's Syrup, a Louisiana pantry staple.

I love the Hannah Swenson murder mysteries.  I've read several of them! You might have seen them on the Hallmark Movies and Mysteries Channel.  In this one, Hannah is a newlywed, and Hannah has felt as bitter as November in Minnesota since Ross (her husband) vanished without a trace and left their marriage in limbo. Still, she throws herself into a baking frenzy for the sake of pumpkin pie and Thanksgiving-themed treats while endless holiday orders pour into The Cookie Jar. Hannah even introduces a raspberry Danish pastry to the menu, and then her husband's business partner is found dead.  There are around thirty wonderful recipes woven throughout the narrative in this book.  I usually buy Fluke's books on my Nook app so I can follow the recipes using my iPad.

Carmela Bertrand knows that Halloween in New Orleans means a week of rabble-rousing, costumed craziness—and she can’t wait to get the party started. But when a local antiques dealer turns up dead, Carmela suddenly finds herself in a real-life danse macabre…
If you love stories set in New Orleans and scrapbooking, then this is the cozy mystery series for you!  Plus this one has some classic New Orleans recipes like Carmela's Crazy Dump Cake, Party Shrimp Dip, and New Orleans-Style Beignets.  All the recipes are super simple!

I love the Hamish Macbeth series, and I also love M.C. Beaton's other series: Agatha Raisin Mysteries.   
In the isolated villages in the very north of Scotland, the villagers rely on the services of the itinerant chimney sweep, Pete Ray, and his old-fashioned brushes. Pete is always able to find work in the Scottish highlands, until one day when Police Constable Hamish Macbeth notices blood dripping onto the floor of a villager's fireplace, and a dead body stuffed inside the chimney. Some citizens in Loch Dubh are certain that Ray is the culprit....but is he?

Whispers, footsteps, and a cold white mist are plaguing Mrs. Witherspoon, but the police have failed to come up with any leads, supernatural or otherwise. But when she turns-up dead under suspicious circumstances, it's up to the Cotswolds most famous amateur detective to solve the case.  I love Agatha Raisin mysteries.  Agatha is so sassy and endearing!

This is the 23rd installment of Daheim's Bed and Breakfast Mysteries Series.  I could simply entice you to read this by describing a vacation in a remote and possibly haunted Scottish castle owned by a rich whiskey distillery baron, but when I also add that there's a murder mystery and some of the oddest, most quirky character north of Hadrian's Wall, then this one is a slam-dunk.

And finally, if you want to read my full reviews of the new Sloane Krause Murder Mysteries by Ellie Alexander, you may read my reviews HERE.  I highly recommend both.

Which of these mysteries appeals to you most?  Let me know in the comments section below!

Until next time...

Ricki Jill

Happy Literary Friday, My Lovelies!  Today I want to share the first two books in a new cozy mystery series by Ellie Alexander.  I've read many of the books in her Bakeshop Mystery Series, and I'm enjoying the Sloane Krause Mystery Series so very much!

First of all, there's a story that features both Jules Capshaw, owner of the charming bakeshop Torte and main character in the Bakeshop Mysteries, and Sloan Krause, who’s in from out of town for the beer festival that has landed in Ashland, Oregon. Sloan is the brewmaster at the famed Der Keller brewing company that operates out of Leavenworth, Washington, and she’s come to the festival to show off the newest spring brew. When Sloan drops in to Torte for a pistachio bar and a latte, she meets Jules, who is interested in the idea of adding beer to some of her baked goods.  Jules and Sloan become instant friends, and when they both head out to sample Sloan's beer, they discover that one of the kegs is missing.

This is a cute introduction to the Sloane Krause Mystery Series, and it's only available on Kindle or Nook.  I got it for my Nook app on my iPad.  

And now, on to the novels....

According to Goodreads:

When Sloan Krause walks in on her husband, Mac, screwing the barmaid, she gives him the boot. Sloan has spent her life in Leavenworth, Washington becoming an expert in brewing craft beer, and she doesn’t have time to be held back by her soon-to-be ex-husband. She decides to strike out on her own, breaking away from the Krause family brewery, and goes to work for Nitro, the hip new nano-brewery in the Bavarian-themed town. Nitro’s owner, brewmaster Garrett Strong, has the brew-world abuzz with his newest recipe, “Pucker-Up IPA.” This place is the new cool place in town, and Mac can’t help but be green with envy at their success.

But just as Sloan is settling in to her new gig, she finds one of Nitro’s competitors dead in the fermenting tub, clutching the secret recipe for the IPA. When Mac, is arrested, Sloan knows that her ex might be a cheater, but a murderer? No way. Danger is brewing in Beervaria and suddenly Sloan is on the case.

My Review:

The first thing I love about this book is the setting.  Leavenworth, Washington is a quaint "alpine village" that's German-themed.  It reminds me of Helen, Georgia, and I imagine it as a picture-perfect Hallmark Christmas movie town.  The second thing I love is Sloane's character.  She has such a big heart, and she's the sweetest mama to her son, Alex.  She's also the best in-law to her husband's family, and they are the first family she's ever known because she grew-up in foster care.  This is why her husband Mac's infidelity is such a tremendous blow to her.

I enjoyed the mystery in this book because there are several colorful characters who could have been the murderer. Sloane's new boss at Nitro, Garrett, is a little bit of an enigma, and there's definitely chemistry between Sloane and Garrett, but she would never act on it because she's still married to Mac.  Also, Alexander did her research because she's well-versed on the brewing process.  I learned a lot about it, and I found it interesting even though I don't drink beer.  This series is going to be so good, and I might end up liking it better than Alexander's  Bake Shop Mysteries.

According to Goodreads:

Amateur sleuth Sloan Krause returns in The Pint of No Return, another delightful cozy by Ellie Alexander—this time investigating a movie star who's murdered not long after arriving in Leavenworth, WA to film his latest project.

No other festival compares to Oktoberfest in Leavenworth, Washington. The whole town is buzzing with excitement over this year’s activities and eagerly awaiting Nitro’s latest offering Cherrywizen, made with locally sourced cherries. But local brewmaster Sloan Krause is tapped out. Between trying to manage the pub, her pending divorce with Mac, and her mounting feelings for Garrett, she’s fermenting in internal turmoil.

To complicate matters, dreamy movie star Mitchell Morgan and his production crew have arrived in the village to film during the authentic Bavarian brewfest. Mitchell has his eye on Sloan and a taste for Nitro’s Cherrywizen. Sloan escapes his advances for good when she finds Mitchell slumped over the bar. Is this a case of one pint too many, or has Mitchell been murdered by microbrew?

My Review:

This is one of my favorite cozy mysteries ever, and that's saying a lot because I've read many of them!  Like the previous installment, this one has plenty of suspects with possible motives because the victim is not very delightful.  And I love the premise: a documentary chronicling micro and nano breweries and women brewmasters.  The producer quickly sees a gem in Sloane: She is beautiful, and the camera loves her.  It's an added bonus that she knows her way around a brewery!

This mystery has more layers than the first installment, and I enjoyed considering all the suspects and their possible motives.  Plus Leavenworth's Octoberfest atmosphere with the thousands of tourists made the mood seem festive and oppressive at the same time.  I also liked the tension growing between Garrett and Sloane: they are a great team, and their creativity fits together nicely.  It's obvious that they're attracted to each other, and I really want Sloane to be happy and free from that obnoxious Mac!

This is the perfect cozy mystery for autumn.  I highly recommend it!


I received a copy of Pint of No Return from the publisher, Minotaur Books.  I would like to thank them for the opportunity to read it in exchange for a fair and honest review.  I liked it so much I purchased the first one in the series, Death on Tap, because I wanted to read more about Sloane's backstory.

Come back tomorrow for a round-up of other fall-themed cozy mysteries!

Until next time...

Happy reading!
Ricki Jill

Happy Fall, Y'all!  

I'm so happy to be a part of my first ever Ten on the Tenth Party, and I confess that I found it challenging because it's been in the nineties here in Central Alabama this month!  Plus, we were at the beach last week for Fall Break...and have I mentioned the *heat*???

The challenge: ten fun fall ideas, each under $10.00.  Oh, how I love autumn and everything about it.  I'm the type girl who loves pumpkin spiced EVERYTHING, and I also love cooking pumpkin recipes, too.  But when it's hot as stink, and I'm still wearing shorts and t-shirts, it's freakin' HARD to get into the spirit of fall, with or without pumpkins!

So what's a girl to do, living in the Deep South?  How can I possibly get into the spirit of fall AND conquer this challenge?  FAKE IT, of course!  We're good at faking stuff in the South, and if you didn't know that, well, bless your heart!  My {very loose} theme for this challenge is:  Faking Creating a Fall Atmosphere and/or Mood in Our Home.

Before you read any further, crank down your air conditioner (because that's what I did for inspiration).

1.   Mood music
Turn on Pandora radio to set the mood for fall.  I recommend three stations:
A.   George Winston Holiday Radio (great for straight chilling if you're alone)
B.   Autumn Radio  (nice variety of songs, and this station does have an autumn feel to it)
C.   Hipster Cocktail Party Radio  (everyone always asks us what station we're playing when we have this one on, and it appeals to all ages and musical tastes....this station is magical!)

Cost:   Free

2.   Morning fall aroma that's good for you
It's morning, and you must needs caffeine before you take on your day.  But before you put sugar in your legal stimulant of choice, try this instead:  For every 4 tablespoons of coffee you place in your coffee maker or French press, add 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon.  Not only will your whole house smell like heaven, but there's something about the addition of cinnamon that makes it sweet, and you won't want to add much if any sugar.  

You probably already have cinnamon in your pantry, but if not, it won't break the bank!

Cost of cinnamon:  around $3.00

Cinnamon reminds me of fall baking!  Our local grocery store stocks cinnamon brooms in early autumn, and the aroma hits customers as they enter the store!

Sorry about the weird light in my kitchen photos.  It's either been too light or too dark the past couple of days, so my photos aren't the best!

3.   Perk up your breakfast bar or other spot in your kitchen
Instead of drinking alcohol, I buy flowers every week.  I love them.  And they're calorie-free.  Bonus! YAY!!!
About every other week our local Piggly Wiggly sells pretty spray roses for under $5.00.  These are called Mambo, and I love the shade of orange.  Plus, add some colorful cocktail napkins that compliment your roses.  

I'm starting to get into the spirit of fall.  A little...

Costs:  roses: $4.95  cocktail napkins:  $4.25  Total:  $9.20

4.   Perk up your fridge
I actually stole this idea from my mom.  She changes out photos on her fridge for each season and/or holiday.  Instead of photos, I've placed seasonal recipes on our fridge with the hopes that mayhap they will encourage me to cook them!

The cost of this should be free, but if you like a perfectly spotless kitchen and lack kitchen magnets, I found some lovely fall ones on Etsy:

This magnet set can be purchased via Etsy HERE.

Cost of magnets:  $6.97

5.   Washi tape!
I'm a little obsessed with washi tape.  I add it to snail mail as well as other projects around the house.  The package above is being sent to one of my daughters, and I love the football mums on the tape.  Do you remember wearing football mum corsages to homecoming football games?  They didn't count unless they were bigger than your head!  All three fall mini floral washi tapes come in a set from Paper Source.

Cost of washi tape set:  $7.95

6.   Thanksgiving stamp
While at Paper Source, I found another under $10.00 fall beauty.  Plus it's helping me plan ahead!  Take any craft paper (or any paper for that matter....everyone has paper) and make little cards.  Stamp the "I am thankful for..." stamp on them, and your Thanksgiving guests can fill out cards and place them in a jar during the day.  When everyone wakes up from their tryptophan-induced nap, or maybe after dessert, someone can pull them all out of your jar (yep, you can make the jar because I bet you already have one) and read them.

Cost of stamp:  $6.95

7.   Cheese plate Friday night
Cheese plate Friday night is a thing at our house.  We love it!  Weather permitting, we enjoy it outside on our patio while watching movies, with or without a fire.  Normally our plate is much larger than the one shown above, but it isn't Friday night, and I didn't want to take out a bunch of cheese for demonstration purposes, but you can use my search engine if you're interested in past posts about our cheese plates.

Getting back on subject: cookie cutters aren't just for cookies and pies.  I thought it would be fun to use them on a few of our hard cheeses for Cheese Plate Friday Night.  This was free for me because I've had these cookie cutters for a long time.  But I did find a cute set of autumn leaf cookie cutters from JoAnn Fabrics!

This is my set.

Cost of cookie cutter set:  $6.99

8.   Dining Table decor
Here's an idea for your dining room table that doesn't cost much.  Purchase a set of fall leaf parchment paper for cheese trays and place them on a solid color table runner.  I'll admit that it can be hard to find these for under $10.00, but I did it!  I purchased ours from our local wine shop.  I used a pale pink table runner, but any solid table runner or tablecloth will do.  Then just add a pretty casserole, bowl, or tureen, et voilĂ !  Fall prettiness on your dining table.

You can purchase this similar set HERE.

Cost for parchment leaf set:  $7.80

9.   Cozy mysteries
I'm still not quite in the autumn spirit.  Mayhap I need a little literary inspiration.  I visited the library, and I've curated a few cozy mysteries either set in autumn or with autumn themes.  I enjoy reading cozy mysteries in the fall.  It helps me get over the sadness of the end of baseball season!

Come back Friday for a review of The Pint of No Return.  Saturday, I'll post a fall cozy mystery round-up post with a brief synopsis of the other nine books.

Cost:  Free

10.   Snack time!
Thinking of this challenge and running to the library has made me famished.  It's snack time!  When the girls were little, I enjoyed thinking of creative after school snacks.  This one should be enjoyed by kids of all ages.  The snack of choice: Bigelow's Salted Caramel Tea and Walker's Shortbread.  YUM!

Oh, how I wish you could smell this tea.  It smells heavenly!!!  It's a rule that you must dunk the shortbread cookies into the tea.  

You should be able to find the tea at your local Walmart; if not, they can order it for you.  

You can order the tea online HERE.

Cost:  shortbread:  $3.94;  tea:  $2.48  Total:  $6.42

That's the end of my ideas for this challenge.  I hope I didn't bore you...  It was hard!  But I truly did enjoy it, and I want to thank the sweet group of bloggers who let me participate in the challenge with them.  Please use the links below to see their creative solutions to this challenge.  It should be fun!

My Heart Lives Here
Bluesky atHome
Exquisitely Unremarkable
Pandora's Box
Poofing the Pillows
The BoondocksBlog
White SprayPaint
Patina andPaint
The Sketchy Reader

Until next time...

Ricki Jill