Saturday, July 14, 2018

July's Bookish Art...

Valentine Cameron Prinsep -- Lady Tennyson on Afton Downs
"...no one---but no one at all---can tell you what to read and when and how."
--Doris Lessing

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Bookish Suspense...

"Five women have disappeared from Gideon County, Texas, in the last six months. The latest was two nights ago. The victims have all vanished on Saturday night. And the period between abductions is diminishing. Commonalities between the abductions indicate that we're dealing with a single offender. Someone who's growing bolder, more confident."

Three FBI agents from the BAU--C.J. Emmerich, Brianne Rainey, and rookie Caitlin Hendrix--head to Texas to help chase down this escalating serial killer. Into the Black Nowhere by Meg Gardiner is a compelling cat-and-mouse game  between Caitlin and the killer. The suspense really picks up towards the end, making the last half unputdownable. I thought it read a lot like an episode of Criminal Minds, but without the overly graphic crime scenes. Caitlin, the main narrator, is very well developed. She has flaws and fears, grit and stick-to-itiveness, and a complicated past; I liked her a lot. The secondary characters were all good, too. And the killer is scarily manipulative, which made the book even better. And even though this is Gardiner's second UNSUB novel, you don't necessarily need to read the first one in order to enjoy this one. I didn't. Though I intend to go back and read it in the very near future. Gardiner's a great author. I'm excited to check out her many other novels.

Happy Reading!



Similar Read:  Blood Mist by Mark Roberts
                        The Vanishing Season by Joanna Schaffhausen
                        Color Blind by ColbyMarshall


Saturday, July 7, 2018

Favorite Fictional Characters...

The other day, Chuckles the Scot did a fun post about her favorite things. Among many other topics, she listed her favorite book characters, which got me thinking about who my favorite literary heroes and heroines are. So I came up with my own list. Here are my favorite bookish characters:

Ladies first:  (All ten of whom are smart, stubborn, strong-willed, independent, and full of spunk...which is why I like them!)

  • Mercy Thompson  (Shapeshifter & car mechanic extraordinaire...who actually only has one tattoo:  a coyote paw.)
  • Kiera  (artist & amateur detective from Anna Lee Huber's Lady Darby Series)
  • Raederle of An  (from Patricia A. McKillip's Riddle-Master of Hed series...my all-time favorite fantasy trilogy!)
  • Mina Harker (No one in Bram Stoker's Dracula is tougher than Mina!)
  • Lacey Flint (Sharon Bolton's complicated detective constable)
  • Menolly (daughter of Yanus Sea-Holder, apprentice harper, and owner of nine small dragons)
  • Laura Ingalls Wilder (Who's both character and author.)
  • Kit Tyler (from Elizabeth George Speare's The Witch of Blackbird Pond)
  • Lisbeth Salander (Probably the toughest girl of the bunch...and yet it was her vulnerability that really made me like her. Created by Stieg Larsson, of course.)
  • Nancy Drew (Need I say more?)


Now for my favorite leading men:

  • Sebastian St. Cyr, Viscount Devlin (He tops my list!)
  • Gabriel Allon (Daniel Silva's complicated Israeli artist & assassin)
  • Morgan of Hed (Did I mention already that Patricia A. McKillip's Riddle-Master of Hed Series is my all-time favorite fantasy series?)
  • Harry Potter (Who needs no other introduction!)
  • John Charming & John Taylor (This is a tie for me between Elliott James' exiled Knight Templar and Simon R. Green's hero of the Nightside who can find just about anything. They're both awesome!)
  • Joe Harmon (from Nevil Shute's classic novel.)
  • Francisco D'Anconia (my favorite character from Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged, although Dagny is a close second and almost made my first list of favorite female characters)
  • Agent Aloysius Pendergast (Preston & Child's enigmatic and one-of-a-kind FBI agent)
  • Alex Verus (Benedict Jacka's mage who can see into the future)
  • Kaspar Krone (the only clown I've ever liked and hero of Peter Hoeg's The Quiet Girl)
Honorable mention:  All of Louis L'Amour's reluctant heroes...especially if their last name happens to be Sackett.




So, there you have it. My favorite fictional characters, male and female. It was hard narrowing it down to ten each, because there are a lot of great book characters out there, which means many characters that I love didn't make the list. But if I'd tried to list them all, this post would have been way too long.

Who are some of your all-time favorite book characters?





Happy Reading!




Wednesday, July 4, 2018

From the G Shelf...

Author:  Camille Griep
Title:  Letters to Zell


Excerpts:

Dearest Zell,
     What am I supposed to do without you? You and I didn't start out as royalty--me the little cinder girl and you Rapunzel, prisoner of the Tower. We complemented our eccentric princesses, the four of us a perfect team. Now we're like a three-legged goat.... The thing is, I had no idea that you wanted anything other than the life we're currently living. ....We've all lived beneath the weight of our Pages for so long that wanting something of our own volition feels dangerous. We aren't like the lucky ones waltzing around as they choose. You and I had to live out unpredictable stories penned by a capricious author. It's true we're free now, but I've never dreamed of admitting I still want more than what I already have ... 

We're all at risk of becoming imprisoned within our own mirrors. By our expectations of ourselves.

Happily Ever After isn't an ending, it's the journey we take from here.


Thoughts:

Camille Griep takes the stories of four princesses--Cinderella, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty and Rapunzel--and weaves them all together in her own imaginative interpretation of what happens when each princess tries to make her own dream come true. It's humorous and unexpected, and written entirely in letters. Which is one of the reasons I checked it out. I really like epistolary novels! I also liked how Griep drew from the Grimm versions of these tales as the basis for hers--and the characters' reactions when they visited Disneyland and saw the skewed Disney versions of their stores was VERY funny. But what I didn't love was how Griep chose to portray these four well-known fairy tale characters. While they had spunk and were distinct from one another, they were also childish, self-absorbed (Cinderella), a little whiny, a little spineless (especially Briar Rose), and kind of irritating at times. And Bianca (Snow White) used the f-word WAY too much. One other small thing bugged me:  Rapunzel left Grimmland to go tend unicorns in Oz, only there aren't unicorns in Oz. There never were! And I have L. Frank Baum's fourteen Oz books to back me up on this! Still, Letters to Zell is a pretty fun read. Not perfect. But fun. And I did like how Griep wrapped things up at the end. All in all, I'd give it 3/5 stars.

Happy Reading!


P.S. Happy Fourth of July ...especially to everyone in America! I hope you all have a wonderful Independence Day!

Sunday, July 1, 2018

A Bookish dream...



Happy Reading!!


 P.S. I also love this inviting reading nook.
Oh, the happy hours I could spend here:





Thursday, June 28, 2018

Haiku Reviews...

(Just don't count the syllables too closely!)


Past Midnight by Mara Purnhagen



Charlotte Silver knows
"Life doesn't stop just because you're
being stalked by ghosts."


(YA .... Supernatural/Mystery .... 216 pages ..... 3.5/5 stars)



Megalodon in Paradise by Hunter Shea:


Win lottery. Buy 
island. Bring friends. But beware!
A monster lies in wait.



(Action/Horror .... 232 pages .... 3.5/5 stars)


A Caribbean Mystery by Agatha Christie



Seeking rest in the
Caribbean, Miss Marple
finds murder instead.


(Mystery .... 220 pages ....  4/5 stars )




Happy Reading!





Monday, June 25, 2018

A great non-fiction read....

In The New Kids: Big Dreams and Brave Journeys at a High School for Immigrant Teens, Brooke Hauser enters the International High School in Brooklyn, New York, where the students are immigrants and refugees who speak more than 28 languages and come from more than 45 countries. Some are documented, some are not. All struggle with varying obstacles from loneliness, stress from past traumas, cultural pressures, separation from family, poverty, language barriers, where to go to college, and who to ask to the prom. But they all have their own American Dream.



The stories in this book are humorous, hopeful, and heartbreaking. One 11-year-old Tibetan boy escaped China curled up in a small suitcase; his older brother crossed the Himalayas on foot. Then there's Yasmeen, a gorgeous 17-year-old Yemeni girl who wants to go to college but who is a seriously considering accepting an arranged marriage so she can continue to take care of her younger brother and sister (because both her parents are dead). Other students come from Sierra Leone and Burma with equally moving stories. I found myself rooting for them all.

This is such a great read; it's interesting and well-written, and it feels very timely with the immigration debate that's going on right now. The New Kids is one of those books that I think everyone should read:  it's informative, and compelling, and completely unforgettable.

Happy Reading!


Friday, June 22, 2018

Foxglove Summer


"The news cycle reset at the top of the hour and I learned that the tiny village of Rushpool in sleepy rural Herefordshire was the center of a massive police search operation for two eleven-year-old girls, best friends, Nicole Lacey and Hannah Marstowe, who had been missing for over forty-eight hours. Neighbors were said to be shocked and time was running out."

SUMMARY:  Peter Grant, police constable and apprentice wizard, is sent to Rushpool from London to see if there's a magical connection to these disappearances. What he finds is traces of vestigia and a few other clues that point him toward the fae. It's not what he was hoping for, because the land of the fae is tricky to navigate. Luckily, his river goddess girlfriend comes to help him try to find the girls and bring them back.

Foxglove Summer by Ben Aaronovitch is a fun investigative mystery, although I was expecting there to be a lot more magic than there was. Still, it does have an invisible unicorn in it. And Peter is a great character. I liked his girlfriend, Beverley Brook, too. I just wish I'd read the previous four books in this series before this one so I understood the many references to past characters better. But the mystery itself needed no extra clarification. (Although it could have moved at a slightly faster pace and had a touch more suspense in it.) Still, I'll definitely be reading the other books in this series. In order this time!

Happy Reading!


Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Beach Reads...

Top Ten Tuesday is a fun weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week's theme is supposed to be a list of pool or beach reads, but I tweaked it just a bit and decided to go with five beaches that I wish I were reading on...and the books I'd read if I were there. Here they are:



The beach:

Napili Bay, Maui...my favorite beach in the whole world!
and the book:



Beach #2:

Cancun, Mexico
And the book:




Beach #3:

Haystack Rock, Cannon Beach, Oregon

And the book for this beach:


Or maybe: 





Beach #4:

St. Ives, Cornwall...where I hope to go someday!

The book:




Beach #5:

South Carolina
And the book?



Happy Beach Reading!

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Have you seen these tees?

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz 



They're from Litographs. And they're awesome. They take the words from a favorite book, create a cool design, then print it on a tee. So you can actually read and wear your favorite book at the same time. Isn't that cool?

I want one. Or more. And maybe a bag, too.

But choosing which one to get is the hardest part. They offer so many great books from Shakespeare's plays to Frog and Toad.






Jane Eyre




See what I mean?

How would you even pick?

And as great as the tees are, I think I like the totes even more. They're so apropos. I mean, what's better for carrying books in than a bookish tote?
Walden
Henry David Thoreau










Anyway, these Litograph products are my new obsession.
I can't wait to get my own tee, and a tote, and maybe a poster of one of my favorite books for my room....


Happy Reading...and shopping!


Friday, June 15, 2018

Bookish quotes...


I didn't love this book. Some parts were good. But I ended up skimming the rest.
Which is too bad, because I usually like Susan Hill. But even though I didn't end
up loving this particular book, I did love these four quotes from it:


"Cold room, warm bed, good book."

"I thought I had cleared out all the books I would ever need to lose five years ago, but books breed....As fast as I get one out of the back door, two new ones come in through the front."

"A book that cannot be returned to again and again, and still yield 
fresh entertainment and insights, is only half a book."

"Reading is magic. Books are magic. It starts when we are shown picture books and realise there is another world beyond the everyday one we know.  Once we can read ourselves, we live inside the magic. The only problem is that we have to emerge at the end of a book, and we don't want to leave and return to that dull domestic world we know.  The only solution to that problem, of course, is that there is always the next book, and the next and there is bonus magic if it is another in a series we already love, so we are plunging back into a magic other world but one we already know.  We feel a lift of the heart, a lurch of the stomach, when we find ourselves in it again."

If this book appeals to you, I'd suggest you read Susan Hill's Howard's End is on the Landing instead. It's also a memoir about books and reading, but of the two, I think it's the better read.


Happy Reading!


Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Ghostly fun...

"Two weeks in the state's most haunted house. This is either
going to be a great decision or the worst experience of my life."



The Characters:

  • REMY:  a tour guide for Carrow House who knows its history better than anyone else.
  • MARK SULLIGENT:  the man with a secret who's spearheading this two-week experiment.
  • APRIL MAHON:  the seventeen-year-old owner of Carrow House with a passion for ghosts and hauntings.
  • LUCILLE PRICE:  April's chaperone
  • MARJORIE MCALLISTER:  a well-known and respected spirit medium
  • BERNARD:  Marjorie's taciturn assistant
  • TAJ SADANA:  ghost-hunter and tech guy
  • PIERS:  tour participant
  • EDGAR PORTER:  the serial killer whose ghost still stalks the halls of Carrow House
Carrow House:

Once an asylum for the sick, then a hotel for the rich, Carrow House has seen a lot of deaths over the years. And many of those spirits are still trapped within its walls. And it doesn't take much to waken them ... or the evil that haunts Carrow House.  An evil that is determined not to let Remy or anyone else in her group leave Carrow House alive. 

My thoughts:

I love a good ghost story, especially one that takes place in a haunted house, and The Carrow Haunt by Darcy Coates has all the elements I love:  good characters that are flawed but not frustratingly stupid, an eerie atmosphere, good scares, seances, bleeding walls, slamming doors, cold spots, a raging storm outside and some very creepy ghosts inside.  This novel is more supernatural mystery and suspense than horror, but I actually liked that.  It reminded me of all those classic ghost stories I've read and loved over the years. So here's to Darcy Coates and her awesome ghostly novel.

Happy Reading!



Saturday, June 9, 2018

June's Bookish Art...

Clarence Gagnon -- The Beach at Dinard

"There is indeed a heaven on earth, a heaven which 
we inhabit when we read a good book."
--Christopher Morley, The Haunted Bookshop


Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Queen's Gambit

 "The Parrs are on the rise thanks to you."
The thought of it is like a nail hammered into her. But it is not Will's fault the King has set his eye on her. Neither is it his fault that he wants the Parrs to go up in the world; he was bred for that, they all were. Every last noble swaggering about this court is gazing at the stars.
...The King will take her for a wife and she will not have any choice in the matter. All these men--the King, her brother, Hertford--have sealed her fate. She is no more free than she was as a girl ... There is no escaping .... It is a whore's job, this business of being a woman.


I've always been intrigued by the Tudors and the many wives of Henry VIII. This historical fiction novel tells the story of his sixth wife, Katherine Parr, the one who survived him. It begins with the death of her second husband and goes through her marriage to Henry VIII, his death and her own last chance at a happily ever after with her secret marriage to Thomas Seymour. It details the intrigues of the Tudor court and what life was like in the 1500s, and paints a picture of just how strong and resilient the real Katherine must have been. I'm no historian, so I don't know how accurate Elizabeth Fremantle's version of Katherine Parr's life is, but I felt like she took a few liberties with the facts. Still, I found this novel to be both interesting and readable. I only wish that Katherine Parr had had a happier ending. The next book about the Tudor queens I want to read is Jane Seymour: The Haunted Queen by Alison Weir. Check out Helen's review of this book and you'll see why.

Happy Reading!

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Urban Fantasy Fun...

Title & Author:  Lost Soul by Adam Wright
Setting:  Dearmont, Maine

How it starts:  "There are some days when everything goes okay, or at least as well as you could hope. Then there are other days when it would be better to stay in bed and let the hours drift by while you remain hidden under the blankets. Today had hardly even started but I already longed to crawl back into bed and pretend the sun had never risen.

The story:  Alec Harbinger is a preternatural investigator whose employer, the Society of Shadows, has just shipped him off to a small town in Maine. He's not excited. To make matters worse, the Society has someone spying on him, and two ogre assassins just attacked him on his first day on the job. Looks like Dearmont isn't such a sleepy town after all.

My thoughts:  This is one of the books I recently purchased online and now I wish I'd bought the next two books in the series at the same time because I loved this one! Alec is funny. I liked his assistant, Felicity, and his friend, Mallory. His supernatural cases are interesting. There's magic and mystery, witches (who run a bookstore) and werewolves, a run in with two changlings, spells and a magical sword, and suspense, too. Which makes this urban fantasy a very fun read.

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Summer reading...

Whatever kind of book you're in the mood for, there's a summer read for that!
Whether you want a mystery, historical fiction, romance, or even a good ghost story. 
Don't believe me? Just check out these ten "summer" books:

Mystery:



Historical Fiction:


Fantasy:

Without A Summer

Summers at Castle Auburn














Humorous:



Ghost/Supernatural:



Romance:



A Classic:



Non-fiction:



Last, but not least:


I'm looking forward to reading several of these summertime books this summer. 
What about you? What summer reads are you looking forward to?

Happy Reading!

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Salvage the Bones

Jesmyn Ward's novel takes place in Bois Sauvage, Mississippi, during the 12 days leading up to Hurricane Katrina. But in Esch's family, only her often-drunk father seems concerned about the approaching storm. He's running around gathering plywood for the windows and filling empty moonshine jugs with water. Esch and her brothers, on the other hand, are too consumed with their own problems to worry about a hurricane they don't believe is actually going to hit their town. After all, 15-year-old Esch just found out she's pregnant; her oldest brother, Randall, is  trying to figure out how to pay for basketball camp; Skeetah, the middle brother, can't think about anything other than his pit bull, China, and her brand new puppies; and Junior, the youngest, is too young to understand what a real hurricane can do.

This novel is "a wrenching look at the lonesome, brutal, and restrictive realities of rural poverty." It's gritty and raw, from its f-word filled prose to its tough-to-read dog fighting scenes. While I had the most sympathy for Esch and her struggles, I actually liked Randall and their friend, Big Henry, the best. Skeetah was equal parts likeable and frustrating. All of Ward's characters though felt very genuine and real. Overall, while good, this is not an easy book to read. At times it feels like a punch in the gut. Which made it hard for me to love it, or even like it that much. But I will definitely never forget it.

Happy Reading!

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Monsterrific!

Monsters in the Clouds by Russell James

She pulled a tablet from her purse and laid it on the table. With a few taps, an aerial photograph of a rainforest appeared. She pointed to a lush plateau towering over the landscape. "My organization just discovered this place, deep in a closed indigenous area in the Amazon rain forest. It's been isolated for who knows how long--the locals say since the world was created. (And) though the valley floods every year, no one climbs this plateau to escape the rising water. They say monsters rule in the clouds."



5 more reasons to read this book:

  • An expedition to the Amazonian rain forest
  • A plane crash
  • Pterosaurs
  • Giant ants
  • And paleontologist Grant Coleman and Brazilian activist Janaina Silva fighting for their lives.




They Rise by Hunter Shea

"They're not the prettiest fish in the sea. People call them ghost sharks, though they're not sharks at all, despite a distant relation. What you're seeing here is a chimaera fish, one of the oldest fish in the ocean. They've been around for over 400 million years, longer even than sharks."

5 more reasons to read this one:
  • The Bermuda Triangle
  • Mysterious fissures opening on the Ocean floor
  • A swarm of very ancient and lethal predators
  • Dead fisherman (because "deckhands on a fishing boat are always expendable".)
  • And one unforgettable and very bloody sea battle

Happy Reading!