Wednesday, December 4, 2019

December's Bookish Art...

August Macke -- Elizabeth With Colorful Book

"A book is a dream that you hold in your hands."
--Neil Gaiman

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Survive this!

Title & Author:  Ice Dogs by Terry Lynn Johnson
Genre:  YA Adventure
Setting:  Alaska

How it begins:  "All eight of my dogs are stretched in front of me in pairs along the gangline. they claw the ground in frustration as the loudspeaker blares. 'Here's team number five. Our hometown girl, fourteen-year-old Victoria Secord!'"

What happens next:  Victoria is still grieving the death of her father who taught her everything she knows about surviving in the Alaskan wilderness. Her dogs and mushing are what she loves most...and what help her survive her overwhelming grief. So when she gets a chance to acquire a new lead dog from a neighboring musher, she heads out cross-country with her sled and her dogs without telling anyone where she's going. Only she forgets to check the forecast. When a sudden March storm threatens, she debates about turning around and heading back home. But then she runs across a crashed snowmobile. The driver, Chris, is a teenager who's new to Alaska; he's hurt, and he's lost. As the storm worsens, it's up to Vicky and her dogs to keep them both alive...and somehow find their way back home.

My thoughts:  At 279 pages, Ice Dogs is a fun and fast-paced adventure. I read it in a day. Vicky's survival skills were impressive, but the Alaskan wild is unpredictable and dangerous. Finding food, staying warm, and protecting her dogs from wolves and moose takes everything Vicky's got. And Chris's lack of outdoor skills isn't exactly helping (especially when he accidentally burns up her only map). I have to admit, while I liked both these characters, Vicky's lead dog, Bean, was my favorite. I liked all the survival bits, too. Johnson's writing rings with authenticity, especially all the dog sledding parts, and her pacing never lets up.

Happy Reading!


Thursday, November 28, 2019

Happy Thanksgiving!

Gratitude should be expressed much more often than once a year, 
but I for one am glad there's one holiday that reminds us to stop and give thanks.




Here are a few of the things I'm most grateful for this year:

Game nights
Laughter
Beautiful mountain trails
Blue skies and sunshine
Enough to eat
A warm place to sleep
Letters in the mail
Homemade cookies
Good books, bubble baths, and cute boots
Forgiveness
Freedom,
Family & Friends
Life, Liberty & the Pursuit of Happiness!




Enjoy some turkey and a piece of pumpkin pie and have a very happy day of Thanksgiving!


Monday, November 25, 2019

Would Like To Meet by Rachel Winters


A brief summary: Evie Summers is 29 and living in London. She once dreamed of becoming a screenwriter; instead, she's been a lowly agent's assistant for the last seven years. And now, in order to save her job, she has to convince arrogant Ezra Chester to actually finish the screenplay he's been promising her boss for the last year. Only Ezra claims romantic comedies are unrealistic and completely beneath him. (Evie suspects he has writer's block.) To help him out, she offers to reenact those meet-cute scenes from her favorite rom-com movies to order to prove to him people really can fall in love like they do in the movies. Only so far it isn't working. She's spilled orange juice on a stranger, attended a book group, and even gotten her heel stuck in a sewer grate in the hopes a handsome stranger will rescue her. The results? Public humiliation and failure. And Ezra still isn't writing. What is she going to do?

My thoughts:  There is a lot to like about this book! It's entertaining and humorous and it has that happy "ahh" moment at the end. Evie's attempts to recreate her favorite meet-cute movie moments made me smile, especially when those moments came from some of my own favorite romantic comedies. My favorite parts were Evie's interactions with single dad, Ben, and his seven-year-old daughter, Anette, who witness several of her less-than-successful attempts to meet a cute guy. The way her friends cheer her on through their group texts was also fun. And what happens on the red carpet and at her friend's wedding totally made me laugh. I do wish Evie had stood up to her boss and Ezra more often, because neither one deserved her help or loyalty, but I was glad she finally stood up for herself at the end. It's hard to put a fresh spin on a romantic comedy, but Winters manages to do it well. Of course, the happy ending was completely predictable, but I thought it was cute and very satisfying. All in all, I'd give this one 4 stars.

Happy Reading!


P.S. I won a free copy of this book in a Goodreads Giveaway. 


Friday, November 22, 2019

Happy 200th Birthday, George Eliot!


Mary Ann Evans was born on November 22, 1819. She grew up in Warwickshire, England and moved to London in 1851 where she met George Henry Lewes. Though they never married, she and Lewes lived openly together for 24 years, a daring move in Victorian times. More importantly, Lewes encouraged Mary Ann's writing. Under the name George Eliot, she published her first novel in 1859. Five more classics followed. Eliot became the foremost woman novelist of her day. She died in 1880 at the age of 61.

George Eliot in Love by Brenda Maddox is an excellently written biography of this amazing writer. It details the most important moments in her life and gives you a sense of what kind of person she was. I really liked it, almost as much as I love these three favorite novels by Eliot, and these favorite quotes:



"Love once, love always."




"It is never too late to be what you might have been."







"And, of course, men know best about everything, 
except what women know better."












"It will never rain roses: when we want to have 
more roses, we must plant more roses."






Happy Reading!

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

A new favorite historical mystery...


Murder is not uncommon in Regency London. Charlotte Sloane and the Earl of Wrexford have already solved several murders together. But this time it's personal; this latest victim is Charlotte's childhood friend and cousin. And the supposed murderer? His twin brother. Only Charlotte is certain he's innocent. And as her friend, Wrexford is determined to help her prove it, whether their investigation leads to opulent drawing rooms, secret scientific societies, or somewhere much darker.
"That was the trouble with murder, thought Wrexford. All too often, the moment of Death wasn't the end of Evil, it was merely the beginning. Like a stone hitting water, its impact could ripple out, bringing secrets to the surface that were best left submerged. And suddenly there were more victims."
Murder at Kensington Palace by Andrea Penrose is the third Wrexford & Sloane mystery and I loved it every bit as much as I did the first two books in this series. Why? The characters! Charlotte is independent, strong-willed, artistic, clever and spunky. Wrexford is intelligent and sardonic and does not suffer fools gladly. He can also laugh at his own flaws and foibles. And he's a great friend to Charlotte and the two street urchins, Hawk and Raven, who live with her. The mystery itself is interesting, the writing compelling, and the growing romance between Charlotte and Wrexford charming. I hope Penrose writes many more in this series.

Happy Reading!

Other books in this series:

Saturday, November 16, 2019

A Bookish Update


Look what Goodreads Giveaway I recently won:


I'm excited to read this latest book by Joanna Schaffhausen. Ellery Hathaway and FBI Agent Reed Markham are two of my favorite characters; although, when I first met them in The Vanishing Season, I wasn't sure I was going to like either one. But that quickly changed. And now I can't wait to read this latest adventure about them. (The second book about them, No Mercy, is also awesome.)


Gotta love this bookish tote from Out of Print! Fun isn't it?
(I should buy some for my niece and nephews who love both dinosaurs and books.)
A few more laughable spam comments...from the inexplicable to the indecipherable:
 (Can you guess my favorite one this time?)

1. whoah this blog is magnificet i really like reading your articles. Stayy up the great work!

2. As he was logging off of his laptop and gathering up work to complete at home later, the receptionist alerted him that a Beverly Hills flower supply bike messenger had one thing for him.

3. Thank you for the writeup. It in fact was a amusement account it.
 Look advanced so far agreeable.

4. That is the sum of it. Betting is completely legal.


Recent read that I totally loved but didn't review 
(mostly because I just couldn't find the right words):




Recently checked out of the library:

Ice Dogs by Terry Lynn Johnson
The Cold by Rich Hawkins
Vulnerable by Mary Burton
Fallen (Alex Verus #10) by Benedict Jacka
Deep Dark by Laura Griffin
The Lady in the Coppergate Tower by Nancy Campbell Allen


Ever wonder why there aren't a lot of Thanksgiving reads?
Now you know...

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Breaking Creed by Alex Kava

From the blurb:
Ryder Creed and his dogs have been making national headlines. They’ve intercepted several major drug stashes being smuggled through Atlanta’s airport. But their newfound celebrity has also garnered some unwanted attention.  To make matters worse, Creed helps one of the cartel’s drug mules escape—a fourteen-year-old girl who reminds him of his younger sister who disappeared fifteen years ago.

Meanwhile, FBI agent Maggie O’Dell is investigating a series of murders — the victims tortured, killed, and dumped in the Potomac River. She suspects it’s the work of a cunning and brutal assassin, but her politically motivated boss has been putting up roadblocks.  By the time she uncovers a hit list with Creed’s name on it, it might be too late. The cartel has already sent someone to destroy Creed and everyone close to him.

But Creed and his dogs have a few surprises in store on their compound in Florida. 


What I liked:  Ryder Creed and all his dogs! Creed is an ex-marine, one of those ruggedly handsome guys with a penchant for taking in strays. He has a compound in Florida where he trains cadaver dogs, search-and-rescue dogs, and even drug sniffing dogs. That's what Grace, his Jack Russell terrier, does. She can also air scent, and she loves her pink elephant squeaky toy. Then there's Bolo, his overly protective Lab and several more. Ryder and ALL his dogs are awesome. I also liked FBI agent Maggie O'Dell. She's got an eye for detail and is trained as a profiler. She and Ryder make a great team. (Apparently Kava has written several mysteries with Maggie as the main character, but I haven' read any of those.)

This book is well-written. The mystery is compelling. And it reads fast. But it's the characters who made it a 4-star read for me.

Happy Reading!

Sunday, November 10, 2019

November's Bookish Art...

Carl Wilhelm Holsoe-- Interior with Woman Reading

"Between the pages of a book
is a lovely place to be."

Thursday, November 7, 2019

One Way by S.J. Morden

Xenosystems needs workers to help them build Mars Base One on time and under budget. They need men and women who won't ask too many questions, who will follow orders, who have the necessary skills, and who no one will miss. Most importantly, they need people who are expendable. Who do they find? Frank, Zeus, Marcy, Declan, Abigail, Zero and Dee--seven felons serving life sentences in a Panopticon prison.
"We've been bought and sold. Xenosystems owns Panopticon. Panopticon owns us. But we all said yes when they asked us to go to Mars. It's going to be as good as we want to make it. It's going to be our home from now on ... We do our jobs, we take care of ourselves, respect each other as human beings. You wanted more out of life than that? Maybe we should have all thought just a little bit harder about our life choices."

Of course, things never go as smoothly as one hopes. Frank quickly learns that as he and the others are put through a rigorous training somewhere in the Nevadan desert. They hope things will be better once they get to Mars...but they know they'll never really be free.
"XO are getting edgy over whether you can keep it together up there... Once you're on Mars, there's no Hole. No discipline. No one to keep you in line. You'll fall apart, and with it, the project. You know how much Uncle Sam is ponying up for this? ... Trillions. And you, and your fine fellows, are now the only people standing between Mars Base One and an expensive failure. Which is why I'm going with you."
I've always been drawn to books about exploring and colonizing Mars, and One Way by S.J. Morden does not disappoint. From the first page to the last, I could not put this one down. I immediately liked Frank, just an ordinary guy in prison for murder, who's also good at getting things done. Now he's on Mars trying to get the base built on time even though they don't have all the necessary equipment, all while keeping himself and his fellow prisoners alive despite their overseer's cold indifference. All he really wants to do is make it back home to see his son. But that's looking more and more iffy as everything on Mars starts to go wrong. There's science and mystery in this one, and adventure, too. The suspense really builds as XO's ultimate plan for the seven convicts is revealed. Talk about a compelling read!
"Mars was a thing. A living, breathing thing. ...Tomorrow, they'd all build, and by night fall they might have done enough to mean they'd actually made an impact on Mars. A Mars that had already taken two of them."
I'm glad this book has a sequel!
Happy Reading!


   

Monday, November 4, 2019

Mystery & Suspense...

Title & Author:  The Stranger Diaries by Elly Griffiths

The Setting:  Talgarth High, West Sussex, England

The Main Characters:  
CLARE CASSIDY -- a divorced high school English teacher who's writing a biography about the Gothic writer R.M. Holland (or at least trying to)
GEORGIA -- Clare's 15-year-old daughter who's into creative writing and Wicca (which her mother doesn't know)
HERBERT -- their fluffy white dog that's a cross between a cairn terrier and a poodle
DS HARBINDER KAUR -- the lead detective on the case who still lives with her parents and who also attended Talgarth High when she was a teenager

The Premise:  This well-written mystery begins with the murder of Ella Elphick, an English teacher at Talgarth High and Clare Cassidy's friend. The police think the murderer is someone Clare knows, but she can't imagine anyone wanting to kill Ella. Then she finds a note in her diary written in the same handwriting as the note the police found by Ella's body. How did the killer get hold of her diary? And is she next on the killer's list? Or is he killing for her?

My Thoughts:  Griffiths writes such engaging and compelling characters! The narrative rotates between three POVs: Clare's, Harbinder's, and Georgia's. And I liked them all. None of them are perfect, but I got caught up in each of their stories. Griffiths also weaves the fictional R.M. Holland's Gothic tale, The Stranger, throughout the narrative, adding another layer to this intriguing mystery. While I didn't guess the killer, I had fun trying to figure it out. I had even more fun reading this book with Melody. This is our fifth buddy read this year. Be sure to check out her review, and her questions for me that follow.

Happy Reading!

1. The author has written a suspenseful mystery with a Gothic tone in this story (and a story within as well.) What do you think of this "book within a book" concept? Generally, do you think it's a good addition or is it a diversion to the overall story?
I usually like it when an author uses this 'story within a story' device. It's always interesting to get an added layer and a secondary story to go along with the main one. But it doesn't always add to the mystery. In this book, for example, I think the overall story would have been the same with or without including those parts from Holland's short story, The Stranger, along the way. But even though the short story didn't tie in too tightly with the main mystery, I still thought it was fun to read. I just wish I could have read Holland's other short story, The Ravening Beast, too.  

2. To put this in a fun and hypothetical way, what do you think Harbinder and Gary had seen back when they were both students back at Talgarth High? Do you think it's the ghost of Alice Avery or is it their imagination, given the atmosphere of the old building?
Hmm... Harbinder doesn't strike me as the kind of person to be influenced by atmosphere or rumors of ghosts (even though she loved to read horror stories as a teen). So I'm going to say that they really did see the ghost of Alive Avery. The fact that neither she nor Gary ever told anyone about what they saw afterward also makes me think that they really did see something creepy and supernatural that night at the school that they both wanted to forget. I loved that practical, no-nonsense Harbinder had this unexplainable and eerie moment as a teen; it made me like her even more. 

Thanks, Melody, for another fun buddy read!

Friday, November 1, 2019

Haiku Reviews...


Day By Day Armageddon by J.L. Bourne



Written like a journal:
one man's fight to survive the
growing zombie hoard.


Apocalyptic fiction .... 200 pages .... 3/5 stars.
(There are a few flaws, and the ending felt way too abrupt, but overall a fun zombie read.)





Deadly Dreams by Kylie Brant


Ritual fires. Three cops dead.
Could Risa's psychic dreams help
Det. McGuire solve this case?


Mystery/Suspense .... 325 pages .... 4/5 stars.
(I really like Brant's Mindhunter Series!)





Murder at Half Moon Gate by Andrea Penrose



An inventor's murder
 draws Wrexford and Charlotte into
a maze of death and lies.


Historical mystery .... 358 pages .... 5/5 stars.
(I liked this one even better than Murder on Black Swan Lane.)




Cut and Run by Mary Burton


Missing girls, murder,
twin sisters separated at birth...
and one Texas Ranger.


Mystery/Suspense .... 323 pages .... 4/5 stars.
(Thanks for the recommendation, Rachel! I really liked this one.)




Happy Reading!

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Haunting...

How would you like to visit one of these haunted castles?
Don't they look cool?


Burg Frankenstein, Darmstadt, Germany

Bran Castle (Dracula's Castle), Romania


Chateau Miranda, Belgium

Leap Castle, Ireland

Happy Halloween!

(And be sure to check out My Favorite Halloween Movies!)

Monday, October 28, 2019

Fantastic Fiction...

In The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter, Theodora Goss weaves together a captivating mystery involving Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson and the daughters of several classic mad scientists: Mary Jekyll, Diana Hyde, Beatrice Rappaccini, Catherine Moreau, and Justine Frankenstein. Their fathers were all involved in the Societe des Alchimistes, a society devoted to helping humans and animals evolve through transmutation whose strange and terrible experiments involved their very own daughters! And while these men are all dead now, someone from their society has been killing women in London ... and stealing their body parts. Mary Jekyll is determined to figure out her father's part in the society, who this new murderer is, and what his ultimate goal may be.

There are lots of monsters and adventure in this one, and I enjoyed every page. I think it helps to be a little familiar with the original classics that Goss draws from, but she does a good job of having each character narrate enough of her own story to catch you up of you're not familiar with them or their infamous fathers. Mary Jekyll and Beatrice Rappaccini were by far my favorite of the bunch, but all of these headstrong heroines are well-drawn and memorable. And the mystery is a good one, too. But then any mystery with Sherlock Holmes in it is one I know I'll like. For me, this was just a fun read. It's also my fourth and last book for this year's R.I.P.

Happy Reading! 








Friday, October 25, 2019

So....

I was in a bit of a bookish funk last week. Do you ever get in one of those? For some reason, I just couldn't seem to find a book I wanted to read. I started several different ones that all sounded good:




But in the end, I didn't finish any of them; I just wasn't in the right bookish mood. So, I returned them to the library and grabbed a book off my shelves instead: The Lost City of the Monkey God by Douglas Preston.


This is a book I've been meaning to read for a couple of years. And you know what? It did the trick! Douglas Preston's captivating writing pulled me into the narrative and I got caught up in the history of this lost city and all the previous jungle expeditions that trekked through the inhospitable and unexplored Honduran rain forest in search of this ancient legend. It was fascinating and fun. And I always love that primeval jungle setting. Best of all, this adventurous nonfiction tale pulled me out of my bookish funk. Gotta love a book good enough to do that!

Happy Reading!



Similar nonfiction read:








Tuesday, October 22, 2019

October's Bookish Art...

Edward Burne-Jones -- Portrait of Katie Lewis

"One must always be careful of books and what is inside them, 
for words have the power to change us."
--Cassandra Clare, Clockwork Angel


Saturday, October 19, 2019

The Anomaly by Michael Rutger

       "You're that guy ... The You Tuber. That archeologist guy. Unsolved mysteries and stuff."
       This, I should note, seldom happens. My grin in response was charming, and the accompanying shrug could have been used as a Wikipedia illustration of self-deprecation.
       "Guilty as charged," I said. "I am indeed Nolan Moore."


Nolan Moore is a failed screenwriter who is now the face of The Anomaly Files, a small-time YouTube show that seeks to uncover unexplained phenomena and other strange mysteries. This time he and his crew--his producer, Ken, assistant producer, Molly, and cameraman, Pierre, as well as a journalist and one of their new backers--are on the trail of a 1909 explorer who claims to have found a mysterious cavern hidden somewhere high up in the Grand Canyon reportedly full of wonderful things. This time their expedition is backed by the Palinhelm Foundation, and they have a shot at making the move to cable TV if they can actually find this cavern. Despite his immense amount of research on this project, Nolan doesn't really believe it'll be there, so when they do find a cave where he predicted it would be, he's as surprised as everyone else. Eager to enter and explore, none of them stop to question if what's hidden deep inside this lost cavern should be shown to the world...or if there's a reason what's inside should stay hidden forever.
It felt strange to be standing in a place where at some point -- hundreds or thousands of years ago -- there had been an intense fire and great heat. That was gone now, along with any hope of understanding what had caused it. All that remained was an unpleasant olfactory echo. And us, stuck, with no way out.
 The suspense mounts slowly in this one, but I thought it was a fun escapist adventure. But then, I've always liked survival stories that take place in mysterious caves. And you'll never guess what's in this one! Nolan is a fun character who doesn't take himself too seriously but is a surprisingly good person to have around in an emergency. I liked him and his crew (even though I thought Ken used the f-word a little too much.) There are some good twists along the way as they explore the cave, and some tense and suspenseful moments as they try to find a way back out. I liked Rutger's writing, though I did think the ending was a bit fantastic and out-there. Still, The Anomaly is a pretty entertaining read. (And it'd make a great Syfy movie.)

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Mystery & suspense...

Title & Author:  The Retreat by Mark Edwards

The Setting:  Nyth Bran, a writer's retreat in North Wales

The Main Characters:  
JULIA -- the owner of Nyth Bran who's still grieving the disappearance of her young daughter, Lily.
LUCAS RADCLIFFE -- a horror writer who's working on his next book...or trying to anyway.
MAX, SUZI, and KAREN -- the other writers at the retreat.
ZARA SULLIVAN -- the private  detective Lucas hires to look into Lily's disappearance.

The Mystery:  Three years ago, eight-year-old Lily disappeared along the River Dee. Most assumed she drowned, but her body was never found. Did her disappearance have anything to do with the legend of the Red Widow? Did a stranger take her? Or is she still alive as her mother believes? Her disappearance is not the only mystery at Nyth Bran. Strange things have been happening at night:  a girl's voice singing, an unexplained smell of fear, and a whispered warning, "You're not welcome here!" Are Lucas and the others being haunted by Lily's ghost? Or by something more sinister? And what is watching Lucas and Julia from down in the woods?

My Thoughts:  This is a tangled and twisty, compelling and eerie mystery. I didn't guess where it was headed, but I happily went along for the ride. It's entertaining; and it's a page-turner! Lucas was my favorite character, but maybe that's because I've always been drawn to characters who are writers. I also really liked the way Mark Edwards writes. I'd definitely read him again. The Retreat is a fun R.I.P. read.

Happy Reading!



Sunday, October 13, 2019

Randomness....

Got the time?
Here is the perfect clock for all of us bookworms:
(Don't you love it?)


On unwanted blog comments.  Like all of you, I get spam comments from time to time on my blog. All from Anonymous, of course. They're mostly annoying, but sometimes I do get a good laugh out of them. Like these recent ones:

  • I used to be able to find good advice from your blog posts.
  • With exactly what went via your head: uhh.
  • Heart tattoos can encompass lots of senses.
  • Generally Ido nnot read article onn b1ogs, but I would like to say that this write-up very forced mee to try and do sso!.
  • Hack my singing monsters.
  • Plus, solar panels are not transportable either.

So, there you go. Pithy comments from questionable sources that I usually delete as spam, but thought I'd share this time around. Hope you got a laugh from them like I did. (The last one is my favorite.)


Have you seen these Strange Planet cartoons by Nathan W. Pyle? They're all about aliens interpreting life here on earth in ways that always make me smile. Here are two of my favorites... the one with the three-eyed dog, and the one where they're watching a horror movie:


Funny, right?
Pyle has a book of these clever cartoons coming out next month:


And I definitely want it!

Happy Reading!

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Seek by Anthony O'Neill

"If he be Mr. Hyde, I shall be Mr. Seek."



As Henry Jekyll's lawyer, Gabriel Utterson was one of the only people who knew that Dr. Jekyll was also Mr. Hyde. So when Edward Hyde was found dead almost seven years ago, Utterson knew his friend, Henry, was dead, too. But he couldn't tell anyone how he knew without revealing his friend's darkest secret. So, when a man suddenly appears in London claiming to be Henry Jekyll, Utterson is the only one who knows he's an imposter. Everyone else thinks that Jekyll has finally come home. And Utterson can't convince them of the truth. In fact, the more he argues the point, the more they start to question his own motives....and his sanity. To make matters worse, as Utterson obsessively seeks to prove that Jekyll is an imposter, he discovers that several people who once knew and could identify the real Henry Jekyll have recently died. Is it just a coincidence?  Or...is Utterson himself imagining things that just aren't real?

I found Utterson's search for answers in this book quietly compelling. I also empathized with his frustration at not being able to convince anyone else of the truth. And the suspense really mounts when he begins to question his own sanity. Could Jekyll really be alive? Is Utterson going mad?

I love Robert Louis Stevenson's original tale of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and while this sequel doesn't equal that one, it's still a fun mystery. It's short, only 216 pages. And Anthony O'Neill does a good job of capturing the unsettling atmosphere of the original novel. The ending, though, is a bit abrupt and not nearly as satisfying as I wanted it to be. For me, it left a few too many questions unanswered--questions that the author himself raised. So, I didn't love this one, but I did like it. Best of all, it counts as my second R.I.P. read

Happy Reading! 

Monday, October 7, 2019

Got Monsters?



If Monet Painted a Monster by Amy and Greg Newbold is a whimsical picture book that imagines how 16 famous artists, from Frida Kahlo to James Whistler, might have painted a monster. The text is fun and the artwork amazing. I loved the entire book! Here are just two of my favorite illustrations:

(A play on Edward Hopper's Nighthawks...


(...and M.C. Escher.)


Now don't you want to buy the book and see the rest?

Happy Reading!


Their other picture books, If Picasso Painted a Snowman and If da Vinci Painted a Dinosaur are equally amazing. If you haven't already seen them, be sure to check them out. They're awesome!

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Wicked Fox (Gumiho #1) by Kat Cho

Gumiho -- n. an immortal nine-tailed female fox who can take the shape of a human woman, and who survives by consuming the gi, or energy, of men. 

Miyoung is eighteen and half-gumiho, half-human; in order to live she takes the energy of human men every full moon, killing them at the same time. But she's not a monster. With the help of Nara, a young shaman who sees ghosts, she chooses men who aren't innocent, but who are guilty of their own terrible crimes. It's not ideal, but she doesn't want to die.
"If I stop absorbing gi for a hundred days, I'll die. I trade human energy for my life and for immortality."
Jihoon, on the other hand, is a typical Korean teenager. He prefers video games to school and usually manages to charm his way out of trouble with his boyish grin. He stumbles upon Miyoung one night in the woods just after she's fed. She ends up saving him from a dokkaebi, a powerful goblin, losing her fox bead in the process (that's the bead that holds her gumiho soul). It's a problem. Jihoon now knows her secret, and that puts both of them in danger because the gumiho have many enemies. But even though Miyoung tells Jihoon to leave her alone, he persists in trying to be her friend. Because he can't seem to forget her.
"It had been a long week of thinking of Miyoung. Of worrying about her. Of remembering that night in the rain. That night ... he'd been tempted to kiss her. He'd wanted to see if she'd taste like rain. He suspected it was more likely she'd taste like lightning."
Melody suggested we read this book for our next buddy read and I'm so glad she did! I loved the fantasy part of it that revolves around the Korean folklore of the gumiho, and the dokkaebi, and the shamans and their power; and I loved the 'teen-ness' of Jihoon's friendship and growing feelings for Miyoung, and her guardedness against getting involved with him...or any human. Jihoon's loving relationship with his aging grandmother was another favorite part. Miyoung's mother, Yena, on the other hand, kind of scared me. The modern-day Seoul backdrop, with its distinctive culture, added really nice flavor to the entire story. This fun YA novel has humor and magic and suspense, along with death and loss, forgiveness and love.

I also thought it was really well-written, though there were times when the dialogue felt a little stilted and not quite realistic. And I could have done without the epilogue. But overall, I really liked this one. The chapters are short, so it reads fast. The characters are great. And there's even an unexpected twist or two at the end. Be sure to check out Melody's review of this entertaining novel!

Happy Reading!

Here are Melody's questions for me...and my answers:

Q. Prior to reading this book, have you heard of this Korean mythology featuring the mystical nine-tailed fox? In this story, what do you think of Miyoung preying on men who did evil deeds?
A. I'm not very familiar with Korean mythology and wasn't familiar with the gumiho at all. But after reading this book, I'd like to read more about these Korean myths and legends. And while I've never been a fan of characters meting out their own justice on people, I sympathized with Miyoung's desire to not be a monster while she's forced to kill in order to stay alive herself. The fact that she tries to only steal the life energy of evil men made me like her a little more.

Q. Love and trust seem to be the core factor surrounding this story. Which scenario touched you the most? 
A. Jihoon doesn't really know his father, and his mother left him with his grandmother when he was four, so it was his relationship with his grandmother that touched me the most. Especially what she was willing to sacrifice in order to save his life. That kind of love always makes me cry.



Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a fun weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week's theme is Book Titles With Numbers In Them. I did a very similar post to this several years ago called Reading By The Numbers where I listed ten book titles with numbers from 1 to 10; I even added a classics version. So, to change it up a little bit today, I decided to choose ten books from my Goodreads "want to read" list that have numbers in their titles. These are some of the books I hope to read this next year:

Seven At Sea by Erik & Emily Orton



The Girls at 17 Swann Street by Yara Zgheib



One Way by S.J. Morden



The Tenth Girl by Sara Faring



Zero Sum Game by S.L. Huang



The Six Sacred Stones by Matthew Reilly



The Seventh Plague by James Rollins



The Tenth Muse by Catherine Chung



The Dinosaur Four by Geoff Jones



The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton



Happy Reading!