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 was 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!