Her Royal Spyness by Rhys Bowen

Dear Fellow Reader,

I have found a new cozy mystery series. I don’t remember how I heard of this series but I know that when went to the library to reserve the eBook that it took a long time to get it. I think I had to wait a month or so. Which tells you that either the book is popular or lots of people saw the same thing I did and got to the library site ahead of me.

The first book in the series is Her Royal Spyness by Rhys Bowen. The book takes place in England in 1932. It is the time between World War I and World War II. The narrator is Lady Georgiana, who is 34th in line for the throne. She was raised to be a proper English Lady and has come out to society but did not find a husband. Her father, the Duke of Glen Garry and Rannoch, shot himself after he lost all his money gambling. Her brother, Binky, inherited the family estate in Scotland and the house in London. The death taxes that he had to pay meant that he had to sell part of the estate and live very frugally. Binky’s wife, Fig, has convinced him the Georgie should not receive any allowance and she wants her to leave the estate in Scotland. Georgie heads off to the London house by herself. While this might sound great – she’ll get away from Fig – the problem is that she doesn’t know how to do anything. She had never even had to dress herself. She gets to London with very little money and must figure out how to live by herself and not freeze or starve in the family house.

Luckily for Georgie, her father had married a commoner. Georgie has a grandfather who lives in London. He is a retired policeman. They have a special bond and he tells her how to start fireplace fires and get the boiler running. She also has a good friend from her school days who lives in London and takes her out to some parties.

A man comes to the door one day looking for Binky. The man claims that the dead Duke had gambled away the London house and that he has the paperwork to prove it. Binky comes up to meet the man and engage a solicitor. Georgie then finds the man dead in her bathtub. She knows that Binky could not have killed him but who did? She doesn’t trust the police – they seem sure it had to be Binky.

As I said, this is the first book in a series. There are currently 10 books in the series with number 11 coming out in August. I was not totally thrilled with the first book. I do think that it serves the purpose of setting the stage for all the other books. In this book, you get to meet the main characters and you get to know Georgie. The mystery part is a bit light and if being able to determine “who did it” ruins the book for you, you might be disappointed. With this being said, I am now reading book #6 in the series (The Twelve Clues of Christmas) and I feel that they have gotten better each book. Can you read the books out of sequence? I think you can because there is usually an introduction to the characters in the first chapter but I think you will get a better feel for the story if you start with the first book.

Ah, a fireplace, comfy couch, a cup of tea, and a book…..

If you are a fan of reading cozy mysteries and reading mystery series books, I think these will be right up your alley. I have been enjoying them. They are fairly quick reads and Georgie is a fun narrator.

The author of the Her Royal Spyness series, Rhys Bowen,  also has three other series – the Molly Murphy series and the Evan Evans series and the Red Dragon Academy series.  I have not read any of those books.  Rhys Bowen is the pen name of  Janet Quin-Harkin. She has won numberous awards for her writing.  You can find out more about her at her author website.

Happy Valentine’s day a little early!

(Okay, here is the part that if you click on the links below that I can make a penny or two from Amazon.  I have still not made any money from the affiliate referral program.)




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What Can You Change in a Year?


Hello Fellow Reader!

I decided in January to try a 100-day challenge. I had heard about 100 day challenges a few years ago. The idea is that you use 100 days to master something. It could be something that you want to learn how to do or use the time to start a habit. You are supposed to commit and then do a SHORT video of you doing your activity every day for the 100 days. This way you could see the changes that you have made from the first day to the 100th day. I decided that my challenge would be to NOT SHOP.  I felt I needed to call a halt to mindless shopping. I have plenty of clothes. (I have spent the last year cleaning out and clothing took several rounds to get it down to where it is today.) My other not surprising mindless purchasing is – can you guess? – books. Yes, I get the emails everyday with sale books and I will usually buy a couple a week. Okay, they are generally $1.99 or $0.99 but still I didn’t need to do it. I did make two exceptions. I can get personal items like toothpaste and I can buy gifts. The main idea is not to buy much.

So far, it is going well. I had been looking at a lamp for months waiting for it to go on sale. It still has not gone on sale but I needed a lamp and so I did finally order it. I don’t consider that a mindless purchase. I still catch myself doing some mindless looking from time to time. My hope is that by April 14, I won’t be doing that any longer.

Last month I talked about reading challenges. While I think that Warren Buffett’s idea of reading 500 pages a day is interesting, I don’t think it is feasible for me. I just need to do other things sometimes. (Pinterest and knitting come to mind.)  I did make progress on my Goodreads goal this month. I read 5 books in January. If I keep this up, I should have no trouble making the goal of 55 books this year. We are going on vacation for a week soon and I am hoping that I will read more books in February.

One of the January books I read is MWF Seeking BFF by Rachel Bertsche. Rachel moves to Chicago to finally be in the same zip code with her boyfriend who shortly afterwards becomes her husband. She finds that she sorely misses having a best friend in Chicago. She had friends in New York that she had been friends with forever and could call anytime to get together or to re-hash the day’s events. She decides that she will spend a year finding a new best friend. Her nature is to be quiet and not overly friendly with strangers. She sets a goal of going on one “girl date” per week or 52 for the year. At first, she connects with friends of friends who live in the Chicago area. As she gets more comfortable going out to find a friend, she feels more comfortable suggesting to women she meets that they get together. She joins some groups to find friends. Her husband is supportive of this because he doesn’t want to listen to her complain about not having a BFF in Chicago.

Admittedly this book appealed to me on the surface because I feel that I am in the same place as Rachel. I had head of this book a few years ago when it came out and I was happy to run across it again. The book was interesting and without telling too much, she was successful in finding friends. She did find out a lot about herself over the year and she made some personal changes. She did research about friendship and shares that information throughout the book. I personally could use about half the information that she gave. I got a little tired of hearing about the theories. Also, it took me what seemed like forever to read this book. I thought the plot moved along well but it was a slow read. You might not want this at the top of your TBR pile but if you feel you need to expand your friendship circle, you might learn a few things from Rachel.

This was also the third “commit for a year to something” book I have read lately. The first was My Year with Eleanor, followed by The Year of Yes, and then this book. I might be feeling that that “year of” theme is running a bit thin with me. I did really like the first two books. If you missed my review of Shonda Rhimes book, you can use this link to The Year of Yes. I also really enjoyed My Year with Eleanor. In My Year with Eleanor, Noelle Hancock takes the quote from Eleanor Roosevelt “Do one thing every day that scares you” and applies it to her life for a year. I thought the author’s choices were interesting and in some cases brave. The book moved at a good pace. She also included facts about Eleanor Roosevelt’s life throughout the book. I found both Eleanor and Noelle interesting!

Have a great weekend!

Thanks for reading.

The following are links if you are interested in purchasing the books listed above.  As usual, it is possible that I could make a few pennies if you buy the books using these links. Seriously, I have still not made one penny.  Yes, I must be doing something wrong.  Oh well as long as you read I am happy.  




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Books For Living by Will Schwalbe


Dear Fellow Reader,

Reading Challenge

Last week I talked about reading goals and book clubs. Since that time, I read an interesting article about reading. The article led off with the following quote:

“Read 500 pages like this (referring to a stack of books) every day. That’s how knowledge works. It builds up, like compound interest. All of you can do it but I guarantee not many of you will do it.”

                                                              Warren Buffet

I like to read but 500 pages a day seems rather daunting. The author of the article explains the changes and adjustments he made so that he could read 400 books over the last two years. He did not reach the goal of 500 pages a day but feels that he reaped many benefits from reading much more than he did before. (You can check out his ideas.)

Reading 400 books in two years is approximately twice my current pace. Could I step it up and read twice the number of books? It would take some real effort (or much more vacation time). It is an interesting idea. I am still mulling it over in my mind but have a leaning toward trying to pick up my reading pace. By picking up the pace, I would have to branch out to other types of books that perhaps I avoid. That could be a good thing.

What do you think? Can you double your reading pace?

Books for Living

Speaking of people who read a lot and remember much more than I do about the books they read, I read Will Schwalbe’s new book, Books for Living last week. I had read Mr. Schwalbe’s previous book, The End of Your Life Book Club and enjoyed it so I was looking forward to his new book.

Mr. Schwalbe is a reader. He has read widely and takes home lessons from what he reads. In his new book, he devotes each chapter to a book that he has read and explains what he learned from the book. I found his connections interesting and he thoroughly explains the lessons learned. The books he selected run the spectrum from children’s books to classics to current fiction. For example, he talks about how he learned about searching from Stuart Little and embracing mediocrity from The Odyssey. The connections, while not clear to me at first, did make sense when he explains them.

In each of the chapters, the reader also finds out more about Mr. Schwalbe’s life and experiences. I found them interesting and they contained insights as to why he reacted as he did to certain books.

This type of book earns a special place in my heart. It is an interesting read and I come away with more books for my TBR pile. I always find it interesting to see what others are reading and how they like the book. I would probably not have ever picked up The Importance of Living by Lin Yutang, I now have it on reserve through my local library.

If you are looking for a book that you can think about and find new books to read, I recommend Books for Living.

Thanks for reading!

And here is the link you can use to purchase the book from Amazon.  This is an affiliate link so that if you click on it and buy from Amazon that I will earn a commission.  BUT it has yet to have happened.  If I ever get any funds from Amazon, I will let you know unless I am so shocked that I can’t type.  


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I’ve moved this site to www.cecooney.com.  You can still visit my older posts here but my current work is on the new site.

Come visit me!



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Happy New Year!

Dear Fellow Reader,

Happy New Year!  I have a couple things on my mind that I thought I would share with you. I even sneaked in three short book reviews!

Reading Goals

Have you made reading goals for 2017? Prior to last year, I had never thought about reading goals. Last year, I happened to be at the Goodreads site at the beginning of the year and read about their reading challenge. You can sign up to challenge yourself to read a certain number of books for the year. Then you log the books into Goodreads and it keeps track for you. At the end of the year you get a summary of your totals. For example, I found out that I read one book that was only 26 pages (the shortest book I read) and one that was 415 pages (the longest one I read.)  The average length of book that I read was 286 pages. I read 53 books last year for a total of 14,883 pages.

While these stats are interesting, I found the best part was knowing how many books I read last year. I have never kept track before and it was interesting to see the number. I did set a goal for this year of 55 books.  I think that you might find it interesting to set a goal for yourself also. If you are not on Goodreads already, you might want to check it out.

Book Clubs

The other thing on my mind is book clubs. As you may know, I have moved in the last year. I didn’t know anyone where we moved and I had to find a way to meet people. One of the things I looked for right away were book clubs. I am currently participating in two book clubs. I have been going to a book club at the local library and one through the local newcomer’s club.

What I like about book clubs is that I get a chance to meet other people who like to read and want to talk about books. I obviously read a fair amount and it is interesting to hear other’s perspectives on the books.  The other thing I really like about book clubs is that you get a chance to read books that you might not ordinarily read. Actually, I think that is the point of book clubs. There may be some of the books that do not on the surface sound that interesting to me but because of book club, I read them.


For example, the library book club read The Wright Brothers by David McCullough. I had given this book as a gift but didn’t think that I would be interested in reading it. I don’t read a lot of non-fiction and so this book would not normally be on my TBR (to be read) pile. But much to my surprise, I really enjoyed the book. I did not know very much about the Wright Brothers and it was an interesting story.



Another non-fiction book that I would not have picked up to read was They Are All My Family: A Daring Rescue in the Chaos of Saigon’s Fall by John P. Riordan and Monique Brinson Demery. This is the story of an Assistant Bank Manager for (what is now) Citibank in Saigon trying to get his employees out of Saigon prior to the fall of Saigon in 1975. I didn’t have any interest in reading about war. That is not what the book is about and I found it interesting. The story was made more interesting to me because the author, John Riordan grew up in a neighborhood not far from where I used to live and he now lives not far from me. Those kinds of personal ties add a little more interest to the story.

I have found with book clubs that if there is a disagreement about the book that the discussions are often better. For example, The Wright Brothers was more of a favorite with the group than they anticipated. The discussion was good and interesting. But when we read Kitchens of the Great Midwest by J. Ryan Stradal, the conversation was lively. Most of those at the meeting felt that they would never recommend this book to anyone. I am included in that group. For the first third of the book, all I could do was sit and shake my head and wonder who had picked this book. I stopped reading it for two weeks. Only because the meeting was coming up and I thought I should finish the book, did I go back and finish the book. I will say that when I went back, the book seemed better and I could finish it. But the discussion was much livelier because the book engendered strong feelings.

Most book clubs will plan their books out in advance. I urge you to give a book club a try. You will be able to read books that you might not have ordinarily read and learn things through the discussion that you might have missed. In case you were wondering, this month’s book club books are The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah and Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake by Anna Quindlen. I have not finished The Nightingale yet. I had read Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake before but I re-read it for the discussion.

What is on your TBR pile?

Thanks for reading!

P.S. – As I have told you before, I do publish what are called “Affiliate Links” to the books I talk about. These links, if used, take you to Amazon.com so you can purchase the book. By using these links, I do get a small reimbursement. Sounds good, right? Here is the thing, I have never made a cent with these links. So, if you don’t want to use them because you dont’ want me to make money, go ahead and use them because in essence, I don’t. Some people make money on these.  I have not figured that out yet. If I ever do, I will let you know. Below are links to the books discussed today.



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