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:


Historical Fiction:


Without A Summer

Summers at Castle Auburn




A Classic:


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


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!

Monday, May 21, 2018

A bookish update...

Series I'm still reading (and loving):

The second mystery with Magnus "Steps" Craig
and the FBI's Special Tracking Unit
Alex Verus Series #4 by Benedict Jacka

Bookish confession #1:  When someone tells me that they don't remember the last time they read a book, or that they don't like to read novels, deep in my heart I know that we can never really truly be friends. 

Recently arrived in the mail:

Looks like it's going to be  
a ghostly summer for me.

Bookish confession #2:  Buying a bunch of new books is awesome, but it never seems to still the craving in me to buy even more. No matter how many books I own, I don't think it'll ever be enough. I want them ALL.  😀

Books I recently checked out of the library (because apparently 
I don't have enough books at home waiting to be read):

The Kitchen Witch by Annette Blair
The Queen's Gambit by Elizabeth Fremantle
All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda
The Sorrows by Jonathan Janz
Kill Creek by Scott Thomas

Bookish confession #3:  If I'm not sure I want to finish reading a book, I skip ahead to see how it ends. And if the ending is stupid or disappointing, I quickly move on to another book. Because life is too short. You know?

What's up next:

Happy Reading!

Friday, May 18, 2018

From the H Shelf...

Author:  Jody Hedlund
Title:  With You Always

It's 1857. With both her parents dead, 19-year-old Elise Neumann is now the sole provider for herself and her younger siblings. But work for a woman in New York City is hard to find. She finds a position as a seamstress, but when New York's economy falters she loses that job and can't find another. Desperate, she heads West to the growing town of Quincy, Illinois, with only the promise of a job and the hope of building a new life for her family. And even though life in Quincy is not everything that was promised, Elise is not one to give up. 

Then there's Thornton Quincy. He and his twin brother have been issued a challenge by their dying (and very rich) father:  "First, each son must build a sustainable town along the Illinois Central Railroad. And second, each son must get married to a woman he loves. Whoever succeeds in doing both by the end of six months wins the challenge and becomes owner of Quincy Enterprises." Thornton is determined to win and prove to his father that he's as good as his brother. But then he meets Elise, and all his plans start to change.

This book has both humor and heart. Hedlund's prose is very readable and I loved the historical setting. And the two main characters have depth and personality that make them both easy to root for, and to like. Yes, this story is completely predictable. But it's also an entertaining and fun read with a satisfying happily ever after ending. I ended up liking it a lot.

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Prepper fun

Only the strong will survive.
But what does it mean to be strong?

When an economic collapse leads to both gas and food shortages, power outtages, lawlessness and chaos, two men, D.J. Frost and Gabe Horne, will each have to figure out how they will face the challenges ahead in order to survive. One is prepared; one is not. But it's the choices they make that will ultimately put them on a collision course.

D.J. Frost has been preparing for this 'Smash' for years. He's stockpiled guns and ammo, has a secret cache of supplies buried outside the city, and a carefully mapped out 'bug-out' route. But things don't go according to his plan. And the way he handles each setback quickly shows his true character. D. J. Frost is NOT a lovable character.  He's not even likeable; he's selfish and manipulative and cruel. (All traits he feels he needs in order to survive.)
"Life had thrown obstacles his way, but he had overcome them. Others would not have been able to make the difficult choices he had made. They would pay for their weakness, maybe even with their lives. It was a new world and it would make hard men, men like him, to survive ... no, to thrive in it..."
 Gabe Horne, on the other hand, is completely unprepared. Still mourning the loss of his wife and son, he's so drunk when the collapse comes he doesn't even realize at first how bad everything is. But when his neighbor and her teen-age son need help, Gabe steps up. And in helping them, he ends up saving himself.
"He wondered how things could be going so well. He wasn't drinking any more, he was in love, his neighbors respected him and looked up to him. It had taken the world falling apart to put his world back together."
In Collision Course, David Crawford has written a compelling novel of survival, and of the good and bad that lies in every human being. It's action-packed and character-driven at the same time. And I really loved the preparedness aspects. There were some other things that happen along the way that I didn't love as much. But overall, this is a good read; I'm just not sure how I feel about the ending. Still...

Happy Reading!

Saturday, May 12, 2018

May's Bookish Art...

Edward Robert Hughes -- Idle Tears

"There's a book for everyone ... 
a book that reaches in and grabs your soul."
--Veronica Henry

Wednesday, May 9, 2018


I love Barbara Pym's novels. She writes about ordinary people living ordinary lives in a way that makes you smile, laugh, and sometimes even cry. She had a real gift for creating memorable characters and also for writing witty observations about life. I recently finished reading No Fond Return of Love, a novel about a thirtyish single woman named Dulcie Manwaring and her tangle of relationships, which I quite enjoyed. Here are a few of my favorite Pym-isms from it:

"There are various ways of mending a broken heart, but perhaps going to a Learned conference is one of the more unusual."

"It was sad, she thought, how women longed to be needed and useful and how seldom most of them really were."

"Viola had turned out to be a disappointment. In a sense, Dulcie felt as if she had created her and that she had not come up to expectations, like a character in a book who had failed to come alive, and how many people in life, if one transferred them to fiction just as they were, would fail to do that!"

"Life's problems are often eased by hot milky drinks."  
Barbara Pym

"One never met anybody interesting travelling second class."

"Some men seem to make a habit of choosing the wrong women," said Dulcie thoughtfully.

"Perhaps love for somebody totally unsuitable dies more completely, when it does dies, than any other kind of love."

Happy Reading!

Other Pym novels I've read and enjoyed:
Quartet in Autumn
Less Than Angels
Jane and Prudence
A Few Green Leaves
Some Tame Gazelle
Excellent Women (which oddly enough I never reviewed, even though it's my favorite.)

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Call Me Princess

When an online flirtation leads to a brutal rape, Detective Inspector Louise Rick gets put on the case.  The victim, Susanne Hansson, doesn't know her attacker's real name, and can't even give the police a good description of him. And Louise starts to think they might never catch this guy. Then another rape victim is found.  Only this time she didn't survive the attack. But it appears that she, too, met her attacker online. Now Louise must put herself at risk and enter the online dating world in order to catch this faceless predator before he rapes again.

Sara Blaedel writes a solid police procedural. It's set in Copenhagen.  And her main character, Louise Rick, is a good cop who's better at her job than she is with her personal relationships. I didn't like her best friend, Camilla, a journalist who also puts her job first, quite as much. The victim, Susanne, drove me crazy. And while the mystery itself is interesting, it isn't as suspenseful or as gripping as I hoped it would be. I also felt things wrapped up a little too neatly and a little too fast at the end.  Call Me Princess isn't a bad read, but it's not exactly an unputdownable page-turner either. Still, I liked it enough to give this author another try. (I think her novel The Forgotten Girls looks intriguing.) Be warned about this one:  there are two fairly graphic rape scenes in it. They are easy to skip over though, and the rest of the book isn't really dark or violent at all. In fact, as Nordic crime fiction goes, this one is fairly tame.

Happy Reading!

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Bookish thoughts...

On springcleaning.  Besides washing a winter's worth of dirt off the windows and cleaning out my closet and getting rid of the clothes and shoes I no longer wear, I've been doing a little bookish springcleaning as well. First, I tackled the teetering TBR pile by my bed; I read three, discarded four, and somehow managed to find places for the rest on my already overcrowded shelves. I didn't tackle them, but the floor of my room is now free of books. I also went through my Goodreads "want to read" list, deleting all the books that I didn't remember putting on it, and the ones I don't want to read any more, shrinking it to a slightly more manageable length. Despite these accomplishments, I still have to finish springcleaning my house, and then I have to tackle the mess that is my backyard. Sigh. I think I'd rather curl up on the couch with a good book and read instead.

On summer splurging.  I don't know what it is about this time of year, but whenever summer nears I always get this urge to do some book shopping. I think it might be because I spend the first part of the year trying to be good and making a conscious effort to not buy any new books, or at least not very many--I mean I already have a ton of unread books sitting on my TBR shelf, so I really don't need to add more. But by May or June, my willpower is gone, and my book-buying addiction has kicked into high gear, and I can't resist filling my Amazon cart with books, books, and more books. What will I be splurging on this summer? Right now, my cart is full of ghost stories and post-apocalyptic survival fiction, with a few psychological thrillers and one P.G. Wodehouse for good measure. And you know what? I'm already feeling better. So here's to a little bookish splurging...and an upcoming bookish summer.

Happy Reading!