Thursday, February 22, 2018

Couldn't resist....

I'm especially fond of #5 & #10 myself, although lately
I've been giving #2 & #3 quite a workout.
The only one I never seem to need is #1.
What about you? What's your favorite bookish right?

Happy Reading! 

Monday, February 19, 2018

Ellie Jordan, Ghost Trapper

It's a tricky business, ghost trapping. Ghosts have a funny way of not showing up when you want them, but instead creeping up on you when you don't. When you're alone in the house late at night, minding your own business, that's when you're likely to hear the unexplained footsteps, walk into a cold spot, or feel invisible fingers touch the back of your neck. When you're actually trying to find them, they can hide silently for days, even weeks. The ghost at Treadwell house, fortunately, did not keep us waiting long.

What I loved:

           ❤ It's funny!  Especially Ellie's little comments and asides all through the book.

            ❤ It's awesomely scary!  What's haunting The Treadwell house down in Savannah, Georgia is mysterious, malevolent. dark and completely terrifying.

            ❤ The ending doesn't disappoint!  Some ghost stories just peter out at the end, leaving you with a lot of unanswered questions. Or else, the ending feels unfinished and unsatisfying. But Ellie Jordan, Ghost Trapper by J.L. Bryan doesn't do that. The ending of this book is awesome.

            ❤ Plus, it has great characters.  I really liked Ellie and Stacey, her new, untested ghost-trapping partner; I also liked Jacob, the psychic/CPA who helps them out on this case. Which makes me even more excited to read the next book in this series. Go Ellie!

Happy Reading!

Friday, February 16, 2018

Celebrating the Year of the Dog!

Stalking Ground: A Timber Creek K-9 Mystery by Margaret Mizushima

Robo is back, along with his handler, Deputy Mattie Cobb. Together they find a missing woman, weather a mountain snowstorm, take on a mountain lion, and help solve a murder mystery. They're a good team. I like Mattie, but Robo is my favorite. (He's such a smart dog!) In Killing Trail, the first book in this series, I felt the characters were a bit stilted, but in this one they felt much more natural and well-developed. And the mystery itself had a few added layers I did not anticipate. (Although I did guess right about who did it.) All in all, this was a fun read.

The Patron Saint of Lost Dogs by Nick Trout

This is a mildly entertaining book about Dr. Cyrus Mills, a 40-year-old veterinary pathologist who inherits his estranged father's veterinary practice. There's just a few problems:  the practice is in Vermont, it's deeply in debt, and Cyrus hasn't practiced on live animals since veterinary school. Which leads to some humorous situations. There's also the obligatory small-town quirkiness. But this book felt a little too predictable to me. (And a little long, too!) It's also written in present tense, which isn't my favorite thing. So while it's not a bad read, I didn't love it. Or even like it much. But you might!

Hotel For Dogs by Lois Duncan

Feeling nostalgic, I couldn't resist rereading one of my favorite children's books about dogs. I love this one! It's a charming and funny adventure involving two siblings, the mean boy next door, nine dogs, and an abandoned house at the end of the street. There's even a ghost dog! I'd forgotten how much I like this book; it made me smile all the way through it. I think it's the best read of the three...and a great way to start off the new lunar year.

What dog books would you recommend this year?
Happy Reading! 

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

February's Bookish Art...

Carl Larsson -- Holiday Reading

"Be a Book Nut!" 
--Dr. Seuss

Carl Larsson -- Holiday Reading

I couldn't choose between these two paintings; 
so I decided to post them both.

Happy Reading!

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Bookish thoughts...

On the vanishing blog.  Have you ever visited a blog one day, maybe even posted a comment or two, only to have 'WEBSITE CANNOT BE FOUND' come up when you search for it a few days later? Or, more disconcertingly, 'BLOG HAS BEEN REMOVED'? It's happened to me a couple of times in the past year, and it always leaves me a little flummoxed. I mean, I can understand someone deciding to take a blogging break, or even stopping altogether, but to make your blog vanish without a trace from the internet?  What makes someone decide to do that?

My 11-book splurge!
On the irresistible library book sale.  All the sign has to say is Paperbacks--5¢ and I suddenly find myself with an armful of books I wouldn't normally buy. But when they cost so little I just can't seem to resist. Ten books for 50¢! Could you resist that?  Even if I never read any of them I'm only out two quarters. That's the kind of risk I can afford. And sometimes I get lucky and find a book or two by an author I love. Like last month when I found four Fred Vargas novels, an Agatha Christie mystery, and my favorite Molly Harper fantasy. I love the bookish serendipity that can occur at these sales, but I hate the sense of urgency I sometimes feel knowing that this may be my last chance to read any of these books. Which is probably why I also ended up buying 5 other paperbacks I've never read but that looked good, adding to my ever-growing TBR pile. But let's not talk about that. So, happy splurging at the next library sale near you.

And happy reading!

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Red Hill

"With all the television shows, comics, books, and movies about the undead, it shouldn't have been a surprise that somebody was finally both smart and crazy enough to try and make it a reality. I know the world ended on a Friday. It was the last day I saw my children."

Scarlet, a single mom, is at work at the hospital when it all begins; her two daughters are with her ex-husband. Now all she can think about is finding her daughters and getting them to safety at Red Hill Ranch.
"I couldn't do this if I wasn't with them. I needed to see Jenna roll her eyes at me again, and for Halle to interrupt me. They needed me to tell them that everything would be okay. We couldn't survive the end of the world without each other. I didn't want to."
Miranda and her sister, Ashley (and their two boyfriends) are also trying to get to Red Hill Ranch. It's their father's country house and a beckoning sanctuary from all the chaos and violence surrounding them. But they're miles away, and the roads are clogged with cars, terrified people...and zombies.
"We passed more people, unsure of who was running and who was chasing. A couple of times people screamed at me to stop, begged me to help them, but stopping always meant dying in the movies, and I was barely eighteen. I wasn't sure how long we would survive, but I knew I wasn't dying on day one of the f**king zombie apocalypse."
Nathan's wife chose this day of all days to leave him. Now it's up to him to keep his young daughter, Zoe, safe. But how is he supposed to do that when nothing in the world is safe, or even sane, any more?
"Watching a movie about zombies is one thing. Watching zombies outside your windows was another. The movies didn't talk about terrifying each moment truly was. I tried not to think about tomorrow, or that we would still be fighting for our lives every day from now on. I glanced back at Zoe, and choked back the sadness welling up in my throat. I didn't want her to grow up in a world like this."
Page-turning action and suspense, along with some pretty good characters, make this novel by Jamie McGuire a better-than-average zombie read. I was rooting for the whole group to survive. (Never a realistic hope in any zombie novel; someone you like always dies!) The first half reads the best; the story slows a bit towards the end, especially in regards to Scarlett and her daughters. Overall, though this novel offers lots of tension and violence, smart survival, sad deaths, humor, friendship and hope.

Happy Reading! 

Sunday, February 4, 2018

A bookish update...

Almost through reading:

I've never read an Elizabeth Bowen novel before, and while I probably won't be blogging about this one, I did like it enough to want to try some of her other books.

Highlights from the St. George Winter Bird Festival:
Jan. 26-27th turned out to be an awesome birding weekend for me. I saw 17 birds that I'd never seen before, which was a lot of fun. My favorite? The Vermillion Flycatcher.


Isn't this bird cute?  It's common in places like Texas, but it is very rare in Utah. There are only a few that winter over here. And I got to see two of them!!! I also saw several Great-tailed Grackles.

Apparently, they like to hang out in the Wal-Mart parking lot. But that's not where I saw them; I spotted these birds walking along the Virgin River and at Tonaquent Park along with one Hooded Merganser, a dozen Wood Ducks, two Verduns, three Kestrels, a Rock Wren, Bewick's Wren, Wilson's Snipe, Northern Mockingbird, Black Phoebe, Abert's Towhee, several Gambel's Quail, a Ladderback Woodpecker, some Black-tailed Gnatcatchers, and a Crissal Thrasher (which has a long curvy beak and a very lyrical song). And on our very last day at the bird festival we finally spotted this sleepy screech owl.

All in all, it was a very good birding trip!

Recently checked out of the library:
Blood Mist by Mark Roberts
Red Hill and Among Monsters by Jamie McGuire
Stalking Ground by Margaret Mizushima
Ellie Jordan, Ghost Trapper by J.L. Bryan
Mobile Library by David Whitehorse
Wickedly Wonderful by Deborah Blake

Recently viewed on DVD:

Traitors, an Arabic movie with English subtitles, is set in Tangiers, Morocco, and follows Malika, the lead singer of an all-female punk rock band, as she tries to earn enough money to pay for her band's first demo and keep her mother from being evicted from their apartment. It's written and directed by Sean Gullette. And I loved it. The setting. The tough and fiesty main character. The music. Everything.

 Happy viewing.
And Happy Reading!

Thursday, February 1, 2018

A Gentleman In Moscow

For the crime of having been born an aristocrat, Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov is sentenced to spend the rest of his life confined to the Metropol Hotel in Moscow. It is 1922. The Tzar has fallen, the Bolsheviks are in charge, and the life Count Rostov once knew is gone forever. So begins Amor Towles' A Gentleman in Moscow.

I loved this book! I have a feeling that it might end up being my favorite read of 2018. Towles' writing is amazing, and Alexander Rostov is such an unforgettable character. I never got tired of his quiet reminiscences or his perceptive observations of the changing world outside his window.
Having acknowledged that a man must master his circumstances or otherwise be mastered by them, the Count thought it worth considering how one was most likely to achieve this aim when one had been sentenced to a life of confinement.
His inward journey as he creates a life for himself within the walls of the Metropol Hotel is an act of courage, dignity, grace, and above all, humor. He even manages to find love. That along with the varied acquaintances he meets, and the deep friendships he makes over the 30 years he is confined to the Metropol, make this book something to be savored. Near the end of the novel, one of Rostov's friends says this to him:
Who would have imagined when you were sentenced to life in the Metropol all those years ago, that you had just become the luckiest man in all of Russia.
I know I feel very lucky to have read this book, even more so because I got to read it with Bettina. This is the third book we've read together, and I think it's the best. But be sure to check out her review to see what she thinks. And then go check out this book!!

Happy Reading!

Monday, January 29, 2018

Urban Fantasy Fun...

The Who:  

Barbara Yager -- one of the Baba Yagas. (It's a title, not a name.) She rides a motorcycle; she can heal and do magic; and she can kick some serious ass. She's been summoned to Clearwater County to help find a missing girl.

Liam McClellean -- the small town sheriff who is leading the investigation into the recent disappearances of three young children. He's doing everything he can, but there are no leads and no clues. Then Barbara Yager shows up out of nowhere and not only is she beautiful, she's also stubborn, odd, mysterious, and infuriating. And Liam is not quite sure what to make of her.

The What:   

Barbara is sure there's Otherworldly magic behind the children's disappearances, but she doesn't know why, or who's responsible. Although she does have a suspect. Now if only she had some proof to go along with her suspicions,  and a way to counter the spell and recover the missing children. Then there's Liam. He's determined and sincere and not entirely sure he can trust her.  And she wants to tell him the truth about who she is and what's really going on in his town, she's just not sure how to do it so he'll believe her. But she's got to figure it out fast, because they're running out of time.

The Fun:  

Wickedly Dangerous by Deborah Blake is an entertaining mix of mystery, magic, and mayhem, with just the right amount of romance. Liam and Barbara are great characters, but I also really liked Chudo Yudo, the dragon disguised as a dog who lives with Barbara and guards the Water of Life & Death. (Not only does he read historical romances, but he finds Barbara's attraction to Liam--a first for her--very amusing.) There's great magic in this book, too:  rusalkas, and spells, and a hidden door to the Otherworld. It's a good escapism book and a fun fantasy read. I liked it a lot.

Happy Reading!

Friday, January 26, 2018

Bookish thoughts...

On finding a bookish balance.  Sometimes I have trouble finding the right balance between the library books I want to read and the books on my TBR shelf at home; between the series I want to finish and the new books I've recently discovered. (I have to admit, the newer reads usually win.)  But there ought to be a better way--a way to balance ALL the different kinds of books I want to read. I just wish I knew what it was. Got any suggestions?

On the lottery.  There's no lottery here in Utah, so I never play it, which means I'll never win it. But every once in awhile I like to imagine what I'd do if I did win all that money. I'd for sure quit my job and replace my old car with a brand new one. And maybe I'd buy a house at the beach, or take a yearlong trip around the world, flying first class, of course. There's so much I could do if I had a little extra money! It's a nice dream, isn't it? I know people say that money can't buy happiness, but I'd sure like the chance to prove them wrong.

On my weekend plans: 

So this weekend I'm headed to the Winter Bird Festival in St. George, Utah, with my sisters. I'm hoping to spot some birds that I've never seen before, as well as enjoy the sunshine and scenery of Southern Utah. Along with my hat and my binoculars--my essential birdwatching accessories--I've packed a couple of books:  How To Be A Bad Birdwatcher by Simon Barnes (for laughs) and Doubletake by Rob Thurman (for fun). So if you don't hear from me 'til Monday, that's where I'll be.

Have a great weekend everyone!
And Happy Reading!

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Bookish Suspense At Its Best...

Dr. Jenna Ramey sees colors when she talks to people; she has grapheme-color synesthesia.  "Where for most people, traits blended in, the colors that flashed in her mind at certain statements or mannerisms could make a quality stand out like a brunette in a sea of bald heads."  Purple for narcissism. Red for wrath or love or a very dominant type A personality. That's what color she sees when she talks with Isaac Keaton, a sociopathic serial killer.  He may be behind bars, but he has at least one partner still on the loose and a much larger game set in motion. It's up to Jenna to figure out what that deadly game is and who all the other players are before more innocent people die.

Color Blind by Colby Marshall turned out to be a 4-star read for me. It's compelling and unexpected and Jenna's synesthesia gives this psychological thriller an interesting and unique twist. Isaac Keaton is a very formidable opponent, but he's not Jenna's only problem; there's also her sociopathic mother, Claudia, who's in a mental hospital awaiting trial. (She only tried to kill Jenna's father and younger brother 17 years ago.) Then there's her ex, FBI agent Hank Ellis. He's also working the Keaton case. It gets a little complicated, but in a good way. I have to say, I liked all the layers in this book. It's fast-paced and suspenseful. And Jenna Ramey is a character I would gladly read about again. (Now if only I can convince my library to buy the next 2 books in this series!)

Happy Reading!

Saturday, January 20, 2018

January's Bookish Art...

Ernst Anders -- Ein Stiller Moment
"Books are not luxuries.
They are meat and drink for the mind."
--Andrew Taylor

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

No End In Sight

Rachael Scdoris was born in February 1985, the same year that Libby Riddles became the first woman to win the Iditarod. She also born legally blind.
"Yes, I am legally blind, but blindness has not stopped me. In fact, the question of my vision would rarely come up if I gave in to my blindness, but I refuse to. Especially when there are so many activities I enjoy:  rock climbing, swimming, running competitively, and racing on a tandem bicycle. But my passion, the reason I believe I exist, is to raise, train, and race sled dogs. I am a musher, a sled dog racer, and I live for those moments when everything in the universe seems to align into a delicate balance of perfection. In those moments my vision is never an issue."
This interesting and inspiring memoir chronicles Rachael's life from her early school days when she was teased and bullied on a daily basis, to her dog-racing days where she experienced her first taste of true freedom. I think what I admired most about Rachael is how she never let fear stop her from trying something new, and how she got back up every time she fell, ready to try again. Talk about never giving up! I also really admired how she pursued her goal of racing in the Iditarod despite all the odds (and the people!) stacked against her. Not all non-fiction reads well, but this book does.
It's an amazing read about a truly remarkable young woman, and I loved it.

Happy Reading!

Another fantastic read:

Favorite Quote from the book:

"Every time I overcome my personal fears and prove something to myself, I want to set the bar a little higher.  In my life, and in all our lives, there should be no limitations, only possibilities."
--Rachael Scdoris

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Not a Review...

You know that saying, "The best laid plans of mice and men oft go astray?" Well, that's been my week. I blame it on Jane Austen...and the two library books I DNF'd. See, I was supposed to be able to write a review on one of those two books, but I wasn't enjoying them so I quit after only a few chapters. And then, before I could start a new book, I made the mistake of watching Persuasion. The version that stars Ciaran Hinds and Amanda Root. Which made me really want to reread the book. So I am. Only I haven't finished it yet; I'm just halfway through...happily ensconced at Lyme with Anne, Capt. Wentworth, and the two Miss Musgroves. Which leaves me without a review to post today. But I'll have one next week. Sometime. I promise.

On a side note, have you seen the previews for the new movie supposedly based on Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time? Because from the previews I've seen it doesn't look anything like the book I read and loved as a child. Trust Hollywood to try to "improve" a classic. They're doing it to Peter Rabbit, too. Those previews look even worse! I think I'll stick with the books.

Happy Reading!

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Bookish Suspense...

Title & Author:  One Was Lost by Natalie D. Richards
First Line:  "No one said anything about rain in the brochures."

Summary:  Every senior at Sera's high school must sign up for a Senior Life Experience Mission. So Sera and five others sign up for a backpacking trip in the Appalachian mountains. The first thing that goes wrong is when Lucas--the boy Sera has a history with she'd rather forget--joins their group at the last minute. Then, on day two, it begins to rain; it rains so much that the river they have to cross floods, washing out the bridge and dividing their group, stranding them on opposite banks. But the worst thing comes the next morning when Sera, Lucas, Jude and Emily discover their teacher drugged and comatose, their supplies destroyed and stolen, and accusatory words written on each of their wrists:  deceptive, damaged, dangerous, and darling. Someone is watching them; hunting them. And they don't know who or why. Or if they'll survive.

My thoughts:  This YA novel brims with mystery, suspense and a whole lot of teen angst. I liked Sera at the beginning, but by the end of the novel I mostly found her frustrating. Especially when it came to Lucas. I spent half the novel wishing she and Lucas would get over their little romantic drama already. But it took the entire book for Sera to resolve her issues. Sigh....teenagers! Still, there are some good things about this book:  it's pretty suspenseful, the mystery part kept me guessing, and it has quite an unexpected twist. And I liked how the author wrapped things up at the end. But what really made this book fun was reading it with Melody. Because books are always better when shared with a friend.

Happy Reading!

P.S. Every time we do a buddy read, Melody and I always exchange questions at the end. Here are hers to me, and my answers. (And be sure to go check out her review of this book on her blog!)

Q.  Mr Walker, the teacher-in-charge, had chosen a remote place for their field trip. Do you think this is a good or a bad choice?

A.  I thought it was an odd choice for a "Senior Life Experience"--hiking to a famous landmark would've made more sense. And I thought taking so many inexperienced hikers into such a remote area, especially one that had no cell service and no nearby help, was a very bad decision.

Q. The four characters were each branded with a word which defines their characteristics. Based on your opinion, who do you think best fit with the description?

A. This is a hard one. When threatened, or when defending Sera, Lucas could definitely be a dangerous adversary, but I wouldn't classify him as a violent or dangerous person. So I guess I would have to go with Jude who got branded with the word deceptive--not that he was a liar per se, but because he wasn't very open or forthcoming with anyone. About anythingl. 

Monday, January 8, 2018

Bookish anticipation...

Some of my favorite authors have new books coming out this year and I'm counting down the days until I can read them. The first comes out on January 29th....a new Flavia de Luce mystery!

Then, in March, two of my favorite authors have new books
coming out that I'm really looking forward to:

And I can't wait for these two April releases written about two of my favorite characters:

Last, but certainly not least, is this new Gaslight Mystery coming in May:

Such a good year of reading ahead!
What books are you looking forward to this year?

Happy Reading!

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Another bookish day...

I opened up one of my library books the other day and was bowled over by the smell of stale cigarette smoke. It was so strong it made my eyes water. Besides the occasional stain of dubious origins, this is one of the unfortunate drawbacks of library books:  sometimes they stink. Luckily for me, Febreeze works on more than couches and carpets. A few judicious squirts above the offending pages managed to knock out the worst of the stink and make an unreadable library book readable again.  Which is a good thing because this particular library book turned out to be a pretty decent read.

Title & Author:  Killing Trail by Margaret Mizushima
Genre:  Mystery (First in a series)
Setting:  Timber Creek, Colorado

First lines:  Deputy Mattie Lu Cobb liked her new partner. In fact she was quite taken with him...Large, muscular, strong and rugged, he was the only one in the department who could outrun her in a cross-country foot race. In addition to all that, he could sniff out a missing person. He was Timber Creek's new police service dog, a German Shepherd named Robo.

What I liked best:  Robo! He and his human partner, Mattie, made this small-town murder mystery more interesting and fun. The rest of the book, while good, fell short of amazing for me. Still, I feel like Mizushima has all the necessary ingredients to make this a great series, and I'm very hopeful that she'll be able to better develop the rest of her characters in her next book, and make them as likeable--and her next plot as memorable--as Robo. Because he's awesome.

Happy Reading!

Monday, January 1, 2018

Welcome to 2018!

The beginning of a new year always feels like a fresh beginning to me. Like waking up to newly fallen snow.  365 days of unlimited possibilities, unmarred by disappointments or mistakes, just waiting to be filled. Anything can happen! I think that's why so many people feel inspired to set New Year's Resolutions. Because on the first day of a new year it's easy to imagine we can do anything, be anything. And that optimistic can-do attitude is what I want to hold onto this year. I want to let go of fear and be open to every opportunity that comes my way. To say YES to life (paraphrasing Shonda Rhimes). I want to be more positive and adventurous and dare to dream big. To truly be me. Most of all, I want to learn to let the little things go and focus on what's truly important:  faith, family, friends, and on creating more joy in my life.

As for my blogging and reading goals, I'm not setting any this year. No reading challenges. No TO-READ lists of classics, no keeping up with Goodreads, and no stack of TBRs beside my bed. I don't need the pressure, however self-imposed it may be. I want 2018 to be a year of happy reading with no stress. And no guilt. This year I intend to read just for me. I might even spend an entire month rereading my favorite books. (There's certainly  plenty of them to choose from sitting on my own shelves.) And if that means I don't write as many reviews this year, or publish as many posts, so be it.

What new year's resolutions and reading goals are you setting this year?
Happy reading...and 2018!