Sunday, September 30, 2018

Craven Manor

Abandoned and practically in ruins, Craven Manor looks and feels haunted. When he's offered the job of groundskeeper, Daniel Kane wants nothing to do with the manor. Especially after he reads the owner's list of unsettling rules for staying there:

  • No strangers are allowed onto the property.
  • Do not enter the tower.
  • Do not leave the groundskeeper's cottage between midnight and dawn. Draw your curtains. Keep the doors locked. If you hear knocking, do not answer it.

But Daniel is desperate. So he reluctantly accepts the job and moves into the groundskeeper's cottage. His first task? To clear the crypt of thorny vegetation. And it's going well. Except for the strange tapping on his door at night. And the mysterious figure he glimpses in the tower window. Then there's the feeling he has of constantly being watched. And the ghost-like black cat haunting the manor's halls. But that's not all. There's a terrible evil inside Craven Manor's tower itching to get out.

This is another good haunted house adventure from Darcy Coates. It's entertaining, fast-paced, and full of ghostly suspense. The strange history of Craven Manor had me questioning everything Daniel was told. And just when I thought I had it figured out, Coates threw in another twist. Daniel makes a few very stupid mistakes along the way, but I still liked him. Overall, this book is a fun mix of supernatural and mystery. It's not super scary, although it does have it's moments. And I liked the ending a lot.

Happy Reading!

Thursday, September 27, 2018

W. Somerset Maugham

"I have an idea that some men are born out of their due place.  Accident has cast them amid strangers in their birthplace, and the leafy lanes they have known from childhood remain but a place of passage.  They may spend their whole lives aliens among their kindred and remain aloof among the only scenes they have ever known.  Perhaps it is this sense of strangeness that sends men far and wide in the search for something permanent, to which they may attach themselves ... Sometimes a man hits upon a place to which he mysteriously feels that he belongs.  Here is the home he sought, and he will settle amid scenes that he has never seen before, among men he has never known, as though they were familiar to him from his birth.  Here at last he finds rest."  --W. Somerset Maugham,  The Moon and Sixpence

This is the quote that made me pick up my first Maugham novel.  He used Paul Gauguin's life as inspiration for The Moon and Sixpence.  This particular novel is a great look at the passion and genius of an artist, and I liked it so much I went on to read the rest of Maugham's books.

Up at the Villa reads the fastest.  Rosie, from Cakes and Ale, is his most memorable character.  Liza of Lambeth's story is the saddest, while the story of Mrs. Craddock is quiet and bittersweet.  Of Human Bondage is his most serious and literary, but I admit, it's not my favorite.  I prefer Maugham's shorter novels. In fact, The Magician, with the naive and beautiful Margaret Dauncey, the sinister Oliver Haddo, and intrepid Susie Boyd, just might be my favorite of all his novels. It's the one I chose to reread recently ... and I liked it as much the second time around as I did the first.  If you haven't yet read W. Somerset Maugham, give one of his novels a try. He just might surprise you.

Happy Reading!

Monday, September 24, 2018

Love this!

Lori Nix and Kathleen Gerber
Don't you wish this place was real? It's so intriguing. I'd love to explore every nook and cranny... and read all those books, too.  Even abandoned and in ruins, it's a truly magical library.

I thoroughly enjoyed these two recent reads.  My Sister's Intended by Rachael Anderson is an engaging Regency Romance that didn't make me roll my eyes once. And The Thin Woman by Dorothy Cannell  is both a treasure hunt and a mystery all in one. Both of these books are light-hearted, humorous reads by authors I look forward to reading again.

Another John Atkinson 'summing up' that totally made me laugh! 
His Stephen King spoilers are equally funny:

(And now you don't have to read the books!)  

Another thing I love? This....

Need I say more?

Happy Reading!

Friday, September 21, 2018

Bookish suspense...

 "For us, there was no such thing as fate. Fate was a word you used when you had not prepared, when you were slack, when you stopped paying attention. Fate was a weak man's crutch."

Sarah and Jennifer created the Never List to protect themselves from any and every accident or mishap, sure that if they adhered to the rules of their list they would be safe. And for years it worked. Until they went away to college. Then one night, coming home from a party, they're taken by a man named Jack Derber, who locks them away in his cellar and holds them captive with two other girls for the next three years. Sarah survives, but she's not the same girl she once was. As for Jennifer? Sarah doesn't know what happened to her.

"We'd been naive. We hadn't believed other minds could be as calculating as ours. We hadn't counted on actual evil as our enemy rather than blind statistical possibility."

Thirteen years later, Jack Derber is up for parole. He's been taunting Sarah from prison with strange letters and clues. And Sarah knows she's going to have to face up to the nightmares of her past so she can finally find out what happened to her friend all those years ago.

I could not put this suspenseful mystery down! I'd tell myself I was only going to read one more chapter, but one chapter would turn into two, then three, then four... Sarah's story is so compelling, and Zan's writing so amazing, I was completely drawn in. Sarah's search for the truth takes her back into the darkness of her past. (And it is a very dark place.) And the other girls who survived seem to have good reasons to hate her. This is an intense thriller, but not an overly graphic or explicit one, for which I was grateful. And that twist at the end! It's a good one. I'd give this book 4/5 stars. 

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Virulent: The Release

The dogs died first. Then humans started getting sick. The manmade virus, an act of planned bioterrorism, spread quickly and acted fast. By day two, tens of millions were dead. (Sorry folks, no zombies in this one.) Trapped in the high school, Lucy King and her best friend, Salem, are two of the few survivors. There's also a boy named Grant with them. And the principal who's gone a bit mad. The school offers them food and water and some safety, but there's a chance Lucy's family is still alive. Outside. In a changed world where Lucy's real fight for survival is about to begin.

This is the first book in Shelbi Wescott's end-of-the-world apocalyptic series, and I liked it. It's not a perfect read. Some of the set up, like how Lucy got stuck at the high school in the first place, felt a little contrived. And both Lucy and Salem have a few annoying moments of teen angst, but overall, I liked Lucy and the other characters. Virulent: The Release is an entertaining, fast-paced and enjoyable read. And I'm looking forward to seeing how Lucy's journey continues in the next book.

Happy Reading!

Saturday, September 15, 2018

September's Bookish Art...

James Jebusa Shannon--Jungle Tales

"Can you smell it? The scent of new books. Unread adventures
Friends you haven't met yet, hours of magical escapism awaiting you."
--Katarina Bivald, The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Haiku Reviews...

I See You by Clare Mackintosh

On the train, at work,
coming home --- be on your guard.
Someone is watching.

(Psychological thriller .... 375 pages .... 3.5/5 stars.)

Murder on Union Square (Gaslight Myster #21) by Victoria Thompson

Accused of murder, 
Frank needs everyone's help to
prove his innocence.

(Historical fiction/mystery .... 323 pages .... 3/5 stars.)

Beauty and the Clockwork Beast by Nancy Campbell Allen

Gothic steampunk fun:
a cursed lord, murder, ghosts, vamps,
mystery & romance.

(Steampunk romance/mystery .... 313 pages .... 4/5 stars)
This is a crazy, entertaining take on Beauty and the Beast.

Happy Reading!

Sunday, September 9, 2018

In My Hands by Irene Gut Opdyke

"I was only a girl, alone among the enemy.
What could I do?"

Irene Gut was only seventeen when Poland was invaded by Germany on the West and Russia on the East. Separated from her family, raped by Russian soldiers, and then forced to work for the German army, she found a way not only to survive, but to fight back. She snuck food into the Jewish ghetto, passed on information she overheard from the German officers she served, and managed to hide twelve Jews from the SS in the basement of the house where she worked. She even fought with the Polish Resistance. Her memoir is an amazing story of survival, courage, and sheer grit, and shows what World War II was like through the eyes and heart of a young Polish girl caught between countless enemies who refused to give up. It's honest and moving and several parts made me cry; I read it all in just one day and loved every single word. Irene Gut is such an inspiring person and her story is a truly memorable one. This is one book that's definitely going on my list of favorite reads in 2018!

"The war was a series of choices made by many people. Some of those choices were as wicked and shameful to humanity as anything in history. But some of us made other choices. I made mine. ... I did not ask myself, Should I do this? But, How will I do this? Every step of my childhood had brought me to this crossroad; I must take the right path, or I would no longer be myself. You must understand that I did not become a resistance fighter, a smuggler of Jews, a defier of the SS and the Nazis, all at once. One's first steps are always small:  I had begun by hiding food under a fence."

 Happy Reading!


Thursday, September 6, 2018

A bookish gem...

Kristen at We Be Reading blogged about this book a few weeks ago and I'm so glad she did because this book is awesome. The way John Atkinson can take a classic and capture its essence with a witty and pithy one or two-panel cartoon is amazing. I loved each and every one. It's a book you can read in under an hour, and savor for days. Here are a few of my favorites:

Isn't this a perfect summary of Proust? I know it made me laugh.

I also thought this one was pretty funny.

And then there are these:

Aren't they great?


So, if you get a chance to check out this delightfully funny book of abridged classics don't pass it up! It's one of my favorite books of 2018!

Happy Reading!

Monday, September 3, 2018

Recipe for a fun read:

Combine one streetwise pick-pocket, two curators from the British Museum, and the fiesty daughter of an English clergyman.

Mix in the secretive Department of Unclassified Artifacts, some graverobbers, a walking dead man, a lost diary, murder at the museum, and some mechanical monsters.

Add a dash of humor and a teaspoon of suspense.
Set in all in Victorian London and stir.

What do you get?

An entertaining mystery that reminded me of a Holmes and Watson adventure. I liked the characters, especially Eddie the pick-pocket and Liz. And George Archer, one of the museum curators, had some mad mechanical skills. And I thought those mechanical monsters were both creepy and cool. There were a few chapters in the middle that read a little slow, but overall I liked this one. And even though it's labeled as a YA, it didn't feel like a YA to me. The Death Collector by Justin Richards is a fun mystery that readers of all ages can enjoy.

Happy Reading!