Thursday, November 30, 2017

A little YA fun...

They are the lost causes:  Sandra, Gabby, Justin, Z, and Andrew. Five teens struggling with drug addiction, OCD, anger issues, depression and hypochondria; five teens who everyone has given up on. Which makes them the perfect subjects to assist the FBI in tracking down a killer, all with a little help from a secret serum that unlocks an untapped psychic ability in each of them. Suddenly, Sandra can see ghosts, Gabby has visions of the past, Justin can move objects with his mind, Z can hear the thoughts of others, and Andrew 's brain can process information like some kind of genius. Which only leaves two questions:  Can they trust these newfound gifts?  And what isn't the FBI telling them?

This YA novel requires a little upfront suspension of disbelief in order to truly enjoy it. But if you can get past the absurdness of the FBI having an ESP-inducing serum that only works on teens and that they would recruit a bunch of misfit delinquents to help them solve one of their cases...this ends up being a very entertaining read. In The Lost Causes, authors Jessica Koosed Etting and Alyssa Embree Schwartz have created five quirky characters that are genuinely likeable. Seeing them bond as friends as well as try to solve the FBI's case on their own were some of my favorite parts. I also enjoyed the bits with them trying to figure out their new psychic abilities. I cared less about the whole FBI investigation, especially at the beginning of the book, but even that got more interesting and more suspenseful as the story went along. There was even a good twist at the end that made the initial premise more believable. All in all, I thought this was a fun read. And if the authors ever decide to write a sequel, I will be checking it out.

Happy Reading!

Monday, November 27, 2017

The Silent Girls by Eric Rickstad

  • Mandy Wilks, sixteen and missing
  • Frank Rath, current PI and former police detective with a teen-age daughter of his own.
  • Sonja Test, Canaan's "forensics team-of-one", mother & marathoner
  • Harland Grout, detective on the Canaan police force
  • Ned Preacher, the man who murdered Rath's sister and who's up for parole...and out for revenge
Where:  Rural Vermont

What:  Girls are going missing without a trace; beautiful Mandy Wilks is just the latest victim. And no one knows why...or who is taking them. But Rath is determined to find a connection and figure out the truth, while keeping his own daughter, Rachel, safe.
"Wherever there were girls, some would go missing, plucked like errant threads from the fabric of  everyday life and cast into a lurid nightmare of someone else's making. Movies created suspense out of a 'forty-eight-hour window' cops had to find a girl alive, as if kidnapped girls had a 'kill-by" date. The colder reality remained:  A girl gone missing against her will, nine times out of ten, was dead within three hours."
The Verdict:  I didn't love this book, but I did like it enough to want to read the sequel, and not just because of the cliffhanger ending in this one. Rath is a flawed, but dogged detective; I liked him more as the novel went on, but I think Sonja was my favorite character. I like the way she and Rath work together. Too bad she wasn't in this book more. The mystery surrounding Mandy's and the other girls' disappearances was good:  interesting and intense, but not necessarily mind-blowing. I'm hoping the next one, The Name of Dead Girls, is better. That's why I'm off to put it on hold.

Happy Reading!

Friday, November 24, 2017

My non-fiction reads of 2017:

The ones about famous people, past and present:

And the not-so-famous people who have important stories to tell:

Then there's the scary scenarios:

The one I just finished reading:

And the one I'm currently reading:

What non-fiction book do you think I should read next?

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

The Silent Land by Graham Joyce

"If there are few moments in life that come as clear and as pure as ice, when the mountain breathed back at her, Zoe knew she had trapped one such moment and it could never be taken away.  Everywhere was snow and silence. Snow and silence; the complete arrest of life; a rehearsal for and a pre-echo of death."

Zoe and her husband, Jake, are skiing in the French Pyrenees when they are caught in an avalanche. Zoe is buried in snow, struggling to dig herself out. Then, like a miracle, Jake finds her. Together they make their way down the mountain. Only when they get to their hotel no one is there. The nearby town is deserted, too. Zoe and Jake can't figure out where all the other people went, or why. And every time they try to leave to get help, they find themselves right back where they started. Still, it's not too bad having this winter wonderland all to themselves. And they still have each other. But all is not right. Especially when Jake guesses the truth about their situation; something Zoe doesn't want to believe.

This novel by Graham Joyce ended up being a completely different kind of story than I was expecting. (Though I did guess the truth about Zoe's and Jake's situation before they did.) The Silent Land is not quite a supernatural fantasy, mystery or horror story, although it does have elements of all three. And it's that intriguing mix of elements, combined with a more introspective look at death and life and love, that makes this book such an interesting read. I wish I could tell you more, but I don't want to give anything away.  This is the kind of book every reader should discover for herself. I can't guarantee you'll like it, though I did, but I can say that it is one of those thoughtful books that will linger in your mind when you're done.

Happy Reading!

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Last Christmas in Paris...

My dear Tom,
    ...How strange that we have known each other for so many years and know so many little things about each other, and yet only in these past months, since writing to you, do I feel that I've really begun to know you at all. Letters make one uncommonly honest, don't you think? I've told you things in words that I would have been far too shy or distracted to tell you in person. I wonder if I will have anything to say to you at all when we see each other in the flesh again. Will it be soon? ...
With much love,

I love epistolary novels! This one is set during World War! Evie's and Tom's exchange of letters tell the story of the war--both on the front lines and back home in England.  It's also a story of friendship, courage, death and loss, endurance, and love. I wish people still wrote letters like this! It's such a great novel. I loved it as much as The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. And I was sad when it ended. Everyone needs to read this book! You'll be glad you did.

(Oh, and I have to thank Nadia for recommending this book. It was her rave review that made me put this book on hold at the library in the first place.) 

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

A bookish update...

Recently finished reading:

(Gotta love Agatha Christie!)

Looking forward to eating all my favorite Thanksgiving dishes next week:
Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, shrimp salad, raspberry and lemon cream cheese jello, homemade rolls, and of course, pumpkin pie!

Bought myself an early Christmas gift:

(It's the best calendar; I buy one every year!)

Recently checked out of the library:
Omega Days by John Campbell
The Lost Causes by Jessica Etting
The Silent Girls by Eric Rickstad
Third Grave Dead Ahead by Darynda Jones
The Sparrow Sisters by Ellen Herrick
Lamb to the Slaughter by Karen Ann Hopkins

Up next:

(#6 in her Cal Leandros series.)

Happy Reading!

Sunday, November 12, 2017

November's Bookish Art...

Harold Knight -- The Reader
"She had no interest in people who could be summed up in a single sentence."
--Kim Fay, Map of Lost Memories

Thursday, November 9, 2017

From the J Shelf...

Author: Darynda Jones
Title:  Second Grave on the Left

There was a whole row of books by Darynda Jones on the shelf at the library and the titles sounded fun, so I thought I'd give one a try. Of course, my library didn't have a copy of the first one in the series, so I had to start with the second book instead.

Meet Charlotte Davidson, or Charley for short:  private investigator, police consultant, and grim reaper. She sees and talks to ghosts when she's not helping them crossover; she's also a portal into heaven for the demons who are apparently after her. Not that she's ever seen a demon. Unless you count Reyes "Rey'aziel" Farrow who happens to be the Son of Satan. He left hell and was born on earth in order to protect Charley, but that doesn't make him any less dangerous. And now there are demons after him. And if Charley doesn't find him soon he might just let his corporeal body die and become the next Anti-Christ. Oh, and she has another case to solve, too. This one involving a missing woman named Mimi whose case is more complicated than it first appeared and might just include murder.

This wasn't a bad read. The whole thing with Charley being a grim reaper was the best part in my opinion. I liked the connection she has with different ghosts, and the bits of back story of what it was like for her growing up as the grim reaper. The mystery involving Mimi was mildly interesting, but the majority of the book focused on Charley's search for Reyes and their relationship--parts of which I liked, parts of which I didn't. And sometimes I felt like Jones was trying too hard to be funny. (Or to make Charley be funny.) But I'd definitely be willing to read a few more of these books just to see what happens to Charley and Reyes next. 

Happy Reading!

Monday, November 6, 2017

I want this!

Only I want a better cushion on that seat and LOTS more pillows to lean up against. Other than that, it's perfect. Especially with all those great trees out the window. I think I'd hang a birdfeeder there so I could watch the birds in between books. Ahh...that would be the life!

Happy Reading (and Dreaming)!

P.S. Trish over at Desktop Retreat posted this lovely bookish nook a few weeks ago. I wouldn't mind have this one either.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Giving up!

First of all you should know that I'm a huge fan of reading bingo:  I love finding books that fit each category, and filling in each and every square. And for the past couple of years Stacey at Unruly Reader has created a super fun book bingo card. And I've always gone for blackout. Until this year. With six categories left to fill on my card, I'm officially giving up. No book bingo blackout for me in 2017. I know there's still time before the end of the year, and that I could probably push and get it done, but frankly, I'm running out of steam. And there are other books I'd rather read more.

Here's the card I started off with:

And the books I read that fill the 19 categories I did manage to complete:

POP PSYCHOLOGY:  Aim True by Kathryn Budig
OUTLAW:  Surviving Home by A. American
DOOM AND GLOOM:  Lights Out by Ted Koppel
A BOOK I OWN:  Dance Night by Dawn Powell
WHERE I GREW UP:  Stolen Innocence by Elissa Wall
CREATIVITY: Good Mail Day: A Primer For Making Eye-Popping Postal Art 
by Jennie Hinchcliff and Carolee G. Wheeler
GUILTY PLEASURE: The Care and Feeding of Stray Vampires by Molly Harper
OCCUPATIONAL HAZARDS: The Semester of Our Discontent by Cynthia Kuhn
AUTHOR'S NAME BEGINS WITH M: Arrowood by Laura McHugh
BEST IN CLASS: Lost by Michael Robotham
THE OUTDOORS: My Last Continent by Midge Raymond
HOT: The Definition of Wind by Ellen Block

And here are the six categories that will remain unread by me this year:
(Even though I own Russell Mean's autobiography Where White Men Fear To Tread, 
which has been sitting on my shelf for years and years waiting to be read.)
(Even though I found and bought a copy of Marilynne Robinson's Lila at a library 
book sale just for this bingo category; it now sits in my room also waiting to be read.)
(I never had a book in mind for this category.)
(This category should've been an easy one for me seeing how much I love 
Haruki Murakami and other Japanese writers, but...)
(This also sounds deceptively easy...but every book I attempted to read 
that fit the category ended up being too bad to finish. So...)
(Didn't even try!)

There you have it. My 2017 reading bingo journey. I did enjoy the books I read. And I had fun! And that's all that matters, right? Maybe next year I'll try for blackout again. Until then...

Happy Reading!