Friday, April 3, 2020

A little bookish escapism....

Sometimes I just want to read a book that's lighthearted and fun, with some romance, a little adventure, and a happy ending. A Distance Too Grand by Regina Scott definitely fills that bill. It's set in 1871 and centers around two very engaging characters. Young, serious and handsome Capt. Ben Coleridge is leading an Army survey of the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. He's also looking for his father who went missing on a previous scouting expedition. Then there's Meg Pero who is determined to take her late father's place as the survey's photographer. She's determined, and spunky, and loves capturing the wonders of nature on her photographic plates.

Ben and Meg have a history and their relationship is at the heart of this novel. But there's also a mystery to solve, and it's not just the question of what happened to Colonel Coleridge. Someone is following...and sabotaging the expedition. Is it one of the other members of their team? Or someone else? And why do they want the survey to fail?

I enjoyed this one. The Old West setting is always a favorite of mine. I thought the two main characters were believable and well-matched, if a little predictable. There were some very likable secondary characters, and all of Scott's historical details, especially when it came to Meg's photography, gave the novel some nice authenticity. All in all, A Distance Too Grand is an entertaining and sweet romance. And just what I needed right now.

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Top Ten Tuesday...

Top Ten Tuesday is a fun weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week's theme is Ten Signs You Know You're Book Lover.

Fun, huh? You should join in. What signs show that you're a bibliophile? Here are mine:

You know you're a Book Lover if.....

1. Your To-Read list is longer than your To-Do list.

2. Your only card that's "maxed out" is your library card.

3. Your bookshelves 'runneth over'...onto your floor, under your bed, stacked next to your chair...

4. At lunchtime, you care more about the book you're reading than the food you're eating.

5. You talk about your favorite characters like they're close, personal friends.

6. You'd rather buy books than shoes.

7. Your hardest packing decision when going on a trip is not only which books to bring, but how many you can fit in your suitcase.

8. Your decorating style of choice is Bookshelf Chic.

9. You don't have one favorite book (or author), you have many.

10. Sometimes you wish everyone around you would just shut up and let you read in peace.

Happy Reading!

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Bookish suspense...

An innocent sleepover takes a horrifying turn when three 12-year-old girls sneak out of the house in the middle of the night in search of a dark and deadly urban legend. The investigation that follows will tear up the small town of Pitch, Iowa. What really happened that night? What part did the three girls play in it? And who is Joseph Withers?

My thoughts:  Before She Was Found by Heather Gudenkauf is a riveting psychological thriller that's hard to put down. It's told in several different voices and styles, which I actually liked. Cora's journal entries from before the sleepover were my favorite and really helped build the suspense. The other two girls, Jordyn and Violet, were seen more through the eyes of their parents and the police. And their online conversations. I really liked how Gudenkauf wove the separate narratives together. It's very compelling the way the bits and pieces of this mystery come together. The ending did feel a bit abrupt, but I'd still give this one 4 stars. I'll definitely be checking out Gudenkauf's other novels. If my library ever reopens.

Happy Reading!

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Book Love by Debbie Tung

This is a delightful collection of 'book love' moments. The illustrations are charming, and the captured moments so real they often made me smile and nod my head in agreement. Some even made me laugh...something everyone needs about now. Book Love is a very quick (and very fun!) read. It'd make a great gift for any bookworm. Here are three of my favorite pages:

Happy Reading!

Monday, March 23, 2020

Haiku Reviews...

Aurora Blazing (Consortium Rebellion #2) by Jessie Mihalik

When her brother is kidnapped,
Bianca does whatever's necessary
to find and rescue him.

Space Opera/Adventure .... 381 pages .... 4/5 stars.
(Great sequel to Polaris Rising which was one of my favorite reads last year.)

The Butterfly Girl by Rene Denfeld

Though her sister's been 
missing for years, Naomi refuses to
stop searching for her.

Mystery .... 261 pages .... 4.5/5 stars.
(I really liked Denfeld's previous novel, The Child Finder, which is also about Naomi and her search for a lost girl.)

The Librarian of Auschwitz by Antonio Iturbe

Eight tattered books. That's all.
But to Dita and the other children
they are life...and freedom.

YA Historical Fiction .... 407 pages .... 3.5/5 stars.
(This well-written novel is based on the true story of Auschwitz survivor Dita Kraus.)

Happy Reading!

Friday, March 20, 2020

A 5-Star Thrill Ride...

The Orphan Program was a secret government agency that took orphans and trained them to be covert operatives and assassins. Evan Smoak was 12 when he became Orphan X. He went on his first mission at 19. Ten years later, he managed to escape from the program and disappear. Now he's the Nowhere Man, a well-trained weapon and rumored protector of the innocent and desperate. He lives by the rules he was taught as Orphan X:  one mission at a time, always play offense, master your surroundings, never make it personal, and most important of all, never let an innocent die. But his current case is testing all those rules...and all his survival skills, too. Because the bad guys aren't just gunning for his client. They're gunning for him.

I loved this book! Evan Smoak is like a combination of Jack Reacher, Gabriel Allon, and Jason Bourne, three of my all-time favorite tough guys. He's great. And so smart. I loved watching him outwit his enemies. But my favorite moments were his interactions with the 8-year-old boy who lives downstairs. This book is jam-packed with action and suspense. And it's so well-written. I could not put it down. And I was sad when it ended. I can't wait to read the next book in this series.

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Coronavirus craziness...

So most of you know I like to read apocalyptic and dystopian fiction, especially books involving zombies, natural disasters, EMPs, and even pandemics. But while I like to read about these things, I've never wanted to actually live through one.

But here we are. Right smack dab in the middle of a worldwide pandemic.

I think the worst thing for me is that unsettled feeling that comes with not knowing what will happen next, and the worry I have for my mom who is part of that older and most vulnerable population. If I get sick I'll be fine; if she does....  Watching the news doesn't help. Neither does the fact that normal life as been so disrupted. Public schools, libraries, and other places closed. Church and other events cancelled. Panic buying at the grocery stores. It's all so crazy!

I have to keep reminding myself that even though it might feel like the end of the world, it really isn't. Things might be hard, but we've lived through hard things before. And nothing bad lasts forever. This pandemic will come to an end. Life will go back to normal. Until then, I just have to keep breathing... and believing. And I have to cling to those things that make life worthwhile:  my family, my faith, love, laughter, good friends, hope, prayer, and those shining moments of happiness that come even in the midst of all the darkness.

Hang in there everyone! 
Stay well. Stay calm.
And never stop looking for the positive things in life.
Especially now.

P.S. Woke up to a 5.7 earthquake this morning. Fun times! Thankfully, there was no damage where I live and my family is all doing fine. I wonder what fun thing will happen next. 

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Top Ten Tuesday...

Top Ten Tuesday is a fun weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week's theme is an easy one: My Spring 2020 TBR list.

I have a lot of favorite authors with new books coming out this spring, so their books are the ones I chose for my list. I can't wait to read them all!

Smoke Bitten by Patricia Briggs

The Last Odyssey by James Rollins

A Stroke of Malice by Anna Lee Huber

Who Speaks For the Damned by C.S. Harris

Murder on Pleasant Avenue by Victoria Thompson

The Goodbye Man by Jeffery Deaver

Chaos Reigning by Jessie Mihalik

The Secrets of Bones by Kylie Logan

Happy Reading!

Saturday, March 14, 2020

A bookish gem...

"Because it's complicated explaining why you love a book. And I can't always do it. There are books that when I've read them I feel ... well ... something stirs inside me."

The Girl Who Reads on the Metro by Christine Feret-Fleury is one of those unexpectedly and delightfully charming books that don't sound like much at first, but are actually quite enchanting. The story centers around Juliette, a young woman who loves books but who is disenchanted with her job and the dull routine of her life. Though she does like making up stories about the people she sees riding on the Metro every morning. Then, one day, she stumbles upon a cramped and dusty bookshop in an out-of-the-way Paris street and everything changes for Juliette. The owner asks her to pass along some of his books to strangers that she meets. And unexpected things their lives, and in hers. That's the magic of books. They can change lives. And that's what I liked about this gem of a novel. The Girl Who Reads on the Metro is a bookish fairy tale with it's own quirky, happy ending.
"If she had learned one thing, it was this:  with books, there were always surprises."
Another favorite quote:
"...Juliette was sitting cross-legged, the books arranged in a fan around her. Seventeen books. She'd counted them. Held them, sized them up, flicked through them. She'd inhaled the smell of their folds, peeked at the odd sentence, words as appetizing as sweets, or sharp as blades.... So many words. So many stories, characters, landscapes, laughter, tears, sudden decisions, hopes, and fears. But for whom?"
Happy Reading!

Thursday, March 12, 2020

And the spam goes on....

I love getting comments on my blog.....EXCEPT when they're those obnoxious spam comments that I have to delete. But these made me laugh. So I thought I'd share them:

  • Hi, its fastidious piece of writing on the topic of media print, we all understand media is a great source of facts.  (It is?)
  • I am looking for a mont blanc replica pen.  (Good luck with that.)
  • I'm now not positive the place you are getting your info, but good topic. I must spend some time learning more or working out more.
  • He says the quantity of curiosity signifies that the group should be capable to coordinate bringing extra towers up on the first sealift shipment of the summer for people to garden in their own homes.  (Now I'm curious!)
  • Birthdays are all the time special to an individual.  (So true!)
Happy Reading!

Monday, March 9, 2020

March's bookish art...

Pablo Picasso -- Head of a Woman Reading

"Books give me an escape from reality,
even if it's only for a few minutes."

Friday, March 6, 2020

Innocence by Sean Danker

"...if my life was a building, the very foundations were made of reinforced irony."
The Admiral is back! And once again he's in trouble. This time he's locked up in "the most brutal penitentiary in regulated space". What happens there is also aired as real-time entertainment for those outside. No one ever escapes. But the Admiral has a plan.
"The key to winning is never to play anyone else's game.  Always make sure they're playing yours, and by your rules. The house always wins."

While this book is #4 in the Evagardian series, it actually follows book #2, Free Space in the timeline. (The third book in the series, The Glory of the Empress, follows different characters and is set before book #1, The Admiral.) Besides the suspense of the Admiral's current situation, this book also gives a glimpse into his past and how he became what he is. Though there's still a lot about him that remains a mystery.
"I haven't always made the best decisions, and there's an argument to be made that I might not be the nicest person. But I don't lose."
I love this character so much! I wish there were many more books about him because I would read them all. But I guess I'll take what I can get. Here's another favorite quote from this book:
"When things like elegance and logic are just broken pieces on the floor, there's still nerve. Aggression could never fill in all the gaps, but a little audacity could go a long way." 
Happy Reading!
(I know this series certainly made me happy.)

Thursday, March 5, 2020

Just for laughs...

John Atkinson's take on life always makes me laugh. 
Here's another one of his cartoons that had me grinning:

Have an awesome day!

Monday, March 2, 2020

Haiku Reviews...

Tracking Game (Timber Creek K-9 Mystery #5) by Margaret Mizushima

Mattie and Robo
must track a wild predator...
and a murderer!

Mystery .... 280 pages .... 4.5/5 stars.   (I love this series!)

Unfed (Undead#2) by Kirsty McKay

Bobby must escape
Xanthro, fight zombies, and find
Smitty and her mom.
(All while not getting bitten!)

YA Adventure/Survival .... 278 pages .... 3.5/5 stars.
(A fun sequel to Undead.)

The Beantown Girls by Jane Healey

Three friends from Boston
head to Europe as Red Cross
Clubmobile girls.

Historical fiction/WWII .... 347 pages .... 3.5/5 stars.

The Never Game by Jeffery Deaver

When a video game
is played for real, Colter Shaw
must track down a killer.

Mystery/Suspense .... 399 pages .... 4/5 stars.
(I can't wait to read the next book in this new series!)

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

When We Were Lost by Kevin Wignall

"They had been in a plane crash. Their plane had crashed, torn itself apart, and they had survived .... For now."

"There would be no rescue party, he was certain of that now. He'd already sensed they might have a long wait, but unless someone had actually see or heard their plane cutting through the early morning dark, they might as well have vanished off the face of the earth. Right now, they would have become a mystery, filling news bulletins all over the world. But this was the reality of that mystery--most of them were dead, and the survivors would have no choice but to find their own way out of this vast and undoubtedly hostile jungle."
My thoughts:  You know I love disaster/survival novels and When We Were Lost by Kevin Wignall is a good one. It centers around a bunch of teenagers from the same high school who aren't exactly friends... until their plane crashes in a remote jungle and they are forced to band together in order to survive. Tom is the outsider. He's not okay with blindly following orders from anyone else because he has his own ideas on how to survive. I liked him a lot. He's quiet, self-effacing and definitely not interested in being designated the leader of their group. But others keep looking to him for what they should do next...and he really doesn't want anyone else to die because of his own inaction. So in a way, besides being a story of survival, this is also a coming of age story.

The jungle itself has many hazards: snakes and other predators, rough terrain, sweltering heat and a lack of clean water, as well as other hidden dangers. But the greatest threat of all may be from the other people in their group. This YA novel is well-written, has great pacing, and I thought the teens themselves were well-drawn and believable. I liked Barney, the smart nerdy kid, and Alice and Kate, two fiercely independent girls who aren't afraid to speak their minds. Then there's George. And Shen. So many characters to like. Parts of the story did feel a little predictable, and I could have totally done without the prologue and epilogue (I didn't think either added to the story). But overall, I'd give this one 4 stars.

Happy Reading!

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Bookish tees...

So many bookish tees out there to choose from...

...I can't decide which one I like best.
What about you? Do you have a favorite?

Happy Reading!

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Full Wolf Moon by Lincoln Child

"In the back woods of the Adirondacks, Dr. Logan,
there's history--and then there's mystery."

Both victims were backpackers.
Both were in the vicinity of Desolation Mountain.
Both were killed during full moons.
The park rangers may blame their deaths on bear attacks,
but the locals know better.
They blame the Blakeney Clan.

Dr. Jeremy Logan, a history professor and enigmalogist, comes to Cloudwater, an artist's retreat in the Adirondack Mountains, to finish his monograph on heresy in the Middle Ages. But when Randall Jessup, an old friend from Yale and a ranger in New York's Division of Forest Protection, asks for his help solving two suspicious and savage maulings, he can't help getting involved. Because investigating the strange and inexplicable is what he does. Only this time, what he finds is almost too strange to believe.

Lincoln Child always writes a fun supernatural mystery. Even though this one wasn't nearly as fast-paced or as suspenseful as I expected, I still liked it. Apparently Child has written several books about enigmalogist Jeremy Logan, but this is the first one I've read. I'll definitely be reading more though. Logan is a great character, equally open-minded and skeptical when it comes to proving--or disproving--the supernatural and the occult. I liked him. And the mystery in this one is pretty good. The middle was kind of slow, but the ending made up for it. For me, this is a 3.5/5 star read.

Happy Reading!

Monday, February 17, 2020

February's bookish art....

Carl Larsson -- Portrait of Dora Lamm

"Some books you read. Some books you enjoy. 
But some books swallow you up heart and soul."
--Joanne Harris

Friday, February 14, 2020

99 Percent Mine by Sally Thorne

Things you need to know about Darcy Barrett:

  • She has a twin brother, Jamie, to whom she's currently not speaking.
  • She's working as a bartender (a job she hates), wishing she was traveling the world instead (if only she could find her passport).
  • She's addicted to sugar, especially marshmallows and chocolate.
  • She was born with a serious heart arrythmia, but she absolutely forbids everyone and anyone from making a fuss about it...or her.
  • She's in love with Tom Valeska, her brother's childhood friend. Only he's engaged to someone else. And even if he weren't, he probably wouldn't want to get involved with her.
  • Her beloved grandmother, Loretta, recently died and now Darcy and Jamie have to renovate her cottage and sell it. (When she'd much rather keep it for herself.) And who do they get to do the work? Tom! Just adding another complication to Darcy's already complicated life.
My thoughts:

Even though Darcy sounds like a great character, she ran hot and cold for me. I went from not liking her, to feeling some sympathy for her, to liking her for a page or two, only to end up getting really frustrated with her and wishing she would just grow up! I just did not connect with her at all. It didn't help that this novel is narrated in first person present tense, my least favorite POV.

I liked Tom better. He felt like a more believable and authentic character to me. But I didn't love the way he and Darcy interacted. Some of their banter was humorous and they shared some cute moments of genuine friendship that I liked, but there were more moments where I found myself shaking my head in frustration at their stubbornness and snarkiness towards each other, and their inability to just be open and honest with each other. I wanted to slap some sense into them multiple times, especially Darcy. In fact, there were moments when I wondered why Tom even liked her. But then, he wasn't perfect in this relationship either. 

In the end, I didn't love this one. But even though this particular romance didn't work for me, I did have a lot of fun reading it with Melody. Be sure to check out her review to see what she thinks of this one. Then check out her questions to me below.

Happy Reading!

Q. What are your likes and dislikes (if any) of this book?
A. I liked all of Darcy's references to her grandmother, Loretta. That's  one character I really wish I could have gotten to know better! I disliked how competitive Darcy and Jamie could get with one another. And while I really liked Tom as a person, I disliked how he acted around Darcy-- how he'd become all secretive, and even lie, just to "protect" her. I didn't like those moments at all. 

Q. What do you think of friends-to-lovers relationships?
A. In general, that friends-to-lovers trope is one of my favorites. When two characters have a genuine friendship and then proceed to fall in's the best. 😊

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a fun weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week's theme: Love Freebie.

I've done a few love-themed posts in the past:  Favorite Stories of Love and Romance and Favorite Bookish Couples. So I wasn't sure what I wanted to do this time around. But then, as I was sorting through my bookshelves trying to make room for some new books, I realized I own a lot of nonfiction books that I REALLY love. They're books that made a big impression on me the first time I read them; unforgettable reads that took me from Paris to the Amazon to the deepest of caves, back in time to important moments in history, across a desert, and around the world. The only problem? Trying to narrow my list down to just ten. (I failed!) So, without further ado, here they are, 13 Amazing Nonfiction Reads that I Absolutely Adore:

1. The Lost City of Z 
by David Grann

2. Beyond the Deep 
by William Stone and Barbara am Ende

3. Maiden Voyage
by Tania Aebi

4. Tracks
by Robyn Davidson

5. Prime Obsession
by John Derbyshire

6. Between Silk and Cyanide
by Leo Marks

7. The Piano Shop on the Left Bank
by Thad Carhart

8. The Professor and the Madman
by Simon Winchester

9. Ghost Soldiers
by Hampton Sides

10. The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million
by Daniel Mendelsohn

11. In the Spirit of Crazy Horse
by Peter Matthiessen

12. Lost in the Amazon
by Stephen Kirkpatrick

13. In a Gilded Cage
by Marian Fowler

Happy Reading!