Saturday, March 30, 2019

A bookish space!

Ada, a princess from House von Hasenberg, has been on the run for two years when she's snagged by mercenaries. They mean to return her to her family and claim their reward. But then Richard from House Rockhurst, the man she was supposed to marry, turns up to claim her for his own. She's in serious trouble this time. But she's not the only captive on board ship with a price on her head. Marcus Loch, the notorious Devil of Fornax Zero, is also a prisoner. If they team up, they just might be able to escape. But can she trust him not to double-cross her the moment he regains his own freedom? And how is she ever going to get Richard Rockhurst off her trail without starting a war between both their houses?

The engine steadied and the window shutters retracted, leaving a clear view of the vast emptiness of space. And for the first time, the magnitude of what I'd done hit me. I was alone on a tiny lifeboat, in the middle of nowhere, with a man twice my size. And he was a known murderer. Without the adrenaline driving me, fear crept in.
Polaris Rising by Jessie Mihalik is non-stop space adventure fun. I stayed up half the night reading this book because I didn't want to put it down. Ada and Marcus are irresistible characters--both smart, stubborn and tough; they're also complete opposites...and completely perfect for each other. I loved them both. There's also some great futuristic tech--healing nanobots, shield bracelets, FTL drives, etc.--but the story never bogs down in the science. It's all fast-paced, compelling, entertaining action (with some sex and romance, too). Can you tell I really liked this one?

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Haiku Reviews...

Another Little Piece by Kate Karyus Quinn

Missing for a year,
Anneliese, now found, knows she's really
someone else inside.

YA mystery with a supernatural twist .... 429 pages .... 4/5 stars.

Ten Kisses to Scandal by Vivienne Lorret

Briar's matchmaking 
schemes catch the attention of a
famed rake; love ensues.

Romance (set in 1825) .... 372 pages .... 3/5 stars.
(Lorret's nod to...and quotes from...Jane Austen's Emma throughout this book made it even more fun; it's my guilty pleasure of the month.)

The Black Widow (Gabriel Allon #16) by Daniel Silva

A doctor turned spy
must track down an Isis terrorist
known as Saladin.*

(*All under the watchful eye of Gabriel Allon--my favorite Israeli artist/assassin/spy.)

Action/Thriller .... 566 pages .... 4/5 stars.

Happy Reading!

Sunday, March 24, 2019

A classic comic novel...

I chose to read a Georgette Heyer for this year's Back to the Classics Reading Challenge classic comic novel category because Heyer's books always make me laugh. And Sprig Muslin is no exception. Here's just one example of Heyer's wit and humor:
"Sometimes one is forced to take desperate measures. And it is of no use to tease oneself about propriety, because it seems to me that if you never do anything that is not quite proper and decorous you will have the wretchedest life, without any adventures, or romance, or anything!"
 So says 17-year-old Amanda, a young lady who's run away from home as part of her "campaign" to force her grandfather to give her permission to wed Captain Neil Kendal (who is completely unaware of what she's done).

Sir Gareth Ludlow is on his way to Brancaster to make an offer of marriage to Lady Hester Theale when he happens upon Amanda at a public inn. His conscience won't let him leave her there unprotected; so, against her wishes, he determines that the only thing he can do is to take her along to Brancaster where he knows she'll be safe.
"If Sir Gareth meant to arrive at Brancaster Park with this dazzling young beauty on his arm, he was unquestionably out of his senses. But it was not the business of his groom to point out to him the unwisdom of introducing his chance-met bit of muslin to Lady Hester."
 Lady Hester, unassuming and shy, does indeed reject Sir Gareth's proposal. (Despite his claim of affection and esteem for her, she wishes for love.) And that's when things really start to get interesting. Amanda runs off. More lies are told. And many other humorous complications ensue as Sir Gareth tries to wrangle the headstrong runaway and return her safely home. Even Lady Hester manages to have a small adventure. Sprig Muslin is a charming and delightful Regency romance with captivating characters and happy endings for all. I loved it. In fact, it's now my favorite Heyer novel. (With The Quiet Gentleman a close second.)

Happy Reading!

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Bookish suspense...

Opening sentence:  By the time the boy in ward four attacked me, I'd already nicknamed him the Lost One in my head.

The main players:  

  • LUCAS BLACKTHORN, age 19.  Ten years ago, he and his father, Josiah, trekked into the Boundary Waters, a remote wilderness in northern Minnesota, and never returned. Everyone assumed they died. Now Lucas is back. Only he refuses to talk about where he's been for the last decade, or what happened to him and his father.
  • MAYA STARK, age 23.  Abandoned by her mother when she was 10, she's now a language/speech therapist at the psychiatric facility where Lucas has been placed, and the one tasked with getting Lucas communicating again. But the connection she ends up making with him surprises even herself. (Oh, and she has an awesome German Shepherd named Jasper.)

My thoughts:  Leave No Trace by Mindy Mejia is a compelling psychological thriller about the choices we make and the secrets we keep. And there are secrets! Maya quickly becomes obsessed with finding out what happened to Lucas, while Lucas only wants to get back to the wilderness and his father. Both are haunted by their pasts. I thought it was interesting how their stories intersected. I ended up really liking this one. Mejia combines good writing with engaging characters. Lucas and Maya are easy to root for, and the novel really picks up suspense and speed toward the end. All in all, Leave No Trace is an entertaining, page-turning ride.

Happy Reading!

More bookish suspense:

Jenclair at A Garden Carried in the Pocket and Rachel at Waves of Fiction have already reviewed this book better than I ever could. So go read their reviews and you'll understand why A Merciful Death by Kendra Elliot is a mystery worth reading! FBI Agent Mercy Kilpatrick is a great character; and I loved all the prepper stuff. Talk about a 5-star read. I can't wait to check out the next book in this series. 

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

March's Bookish Art...

Jane Peterson -- Reading at a Cafe, 1920

"I read that I may think for myself."
-- Maria Edgeworth

Sunday, March 17, 2019

From my TBR shelf...

Title & Author:  The White Magic Five and Dime by Steve Hockensmith

Why I bought it:  Two reasons:  the title and the fact that it's "A Tarot Mystery". (Also, being used, it was pretty cheap.)

The Premise:  When Alanis McLachlan's con-woman mother is murdered, she unexpectedly inherits the White Magic Five and Dime, her mother's New Age shop and tarot business located in Berdache, Arizona. She and her mother haven't actually spoken in twenty years, but Alanis still feels an obligation to find out who killed her and why. Even if it means taking over her mother's business and faking the ability to read the tarot cards in order to do it.

Favorite quotes:
"I don't have any cats. They remind me too much of my mother. Beautiful, finicky, aloof, and you're the one who always has to clean up their crap."
"Every con artist of every kind knows how to cold-read a mark. I'd been doing it since before I could read books, and I was good at it. Mom had made sure of that."
"I was in a little desert town I didn't know, in an apartment with a stranger who may or may not have homicidal tendencies. The floor below us was a crime scene, while outside, somewhere nearby, was a man who said I'd die if I didn't leave. And now I was lying in my dead mother's bed ... If 'creepy' were a lottery, I'd just won."

My thoughts:  This is an entertaining read. I loved the use of Tarot cards throughout the book. And Alanis is such a great character:  street smart, fiercely independent, and full of sass. She's also pretty funny. I liked her a lot. I also liked how Hockensmith wove together Alanis's and her mother's past cons with the present mystery. This book is a fast, fun read that totally made me laugh.

Rating:  4/5 stars.

Happy Reading!

P.S. This book also counts towards The Backlist Reader Challenge which is hosted by Lark at The Bookwyrm's Hoard


Thursday, March 14, 2019

A bookish adventure...

It's 1814. Napolean has just been exiled to Elba and 16-year-old Georgiana Fitzwilliam is facing her own exile to Stranje House. Which really isn't fair. She didn't mean to burn down her father's stables; she was only trying to formulate some invisible ink when things got a little bit out of hand. And now, for her crime of having a scientific and curious mind, she's being sent away to Emma Stranje's School for Unusual Girls. But Stranje House is much more than a reform/finishing school for unmarriageable young ladies. And Georgie is about to embark on her most exciting adventure yet.

"One thing I knew for certain. My life would never be the same. Maybe that wasn't such a bad thing. I glimpsed something, something shimmering with possibilities. Maybe, just maybe, Stranje House would be a way out of the tight-lidded box into which I'd been born."
There's A LOT to like about Kathleen Baldwin's A School for Unusual Girls. It's entertaining, and unexpected, and full of humor and romance. All the girls at Stranje House are exceptional in very unconventional ways:  from picking locks, to training rats, to making Holmesian deductions, to dissembling with a curtsy and a smile. I liked all five girls, especially Georgie and Tess. And I enjoyed all the secrets and spies, too. Stranje House is the place to be if you're looking for some fun and adventure. I can't wait to read the next installment in this YA series.

Happy Reading!


(P.S. Happy PI Day!) 

Monday, March 11, 2019

This & That...

Basic bookish arithmetic:  one book goes out, five new ones come in. No wonder the space on my shelves doesn't add up. 

Book Nook Envy:

I could happily curl up here with a good book!
And I have a stack to choose from because I just
got back from the library with this bookish haul:

A School For Unusual Girls by Kathleen Baldwin
A Merciful Death by Kendra Elliot
Polaris Rising by Jessie Mihalik
Leave No Trace by Mindy Meija
The Girl From the Savoy by Hazel Gaynor
Sprig Muslin by Georgette Heyer

Two bookish necklaces I'd love to own:

(Because how do you choose between them?)

Random Quote:

"Reading is the key to enriching one's life.
Besides information, it is about fantasy, imagination,
imagery, magic and intellectual and emotional stimulation.
It opens doors and leads you places
you never knew existed."
--Jonas Kage

Just for fun:

Gotta love John Atkinson!

Happy Reading!

Friday, March 8, 2019

Series update...

Burning Ridge: A Timber Creek K-9 Mystery (#4) by Margaret Mizushima

When Mattie and Robo are called in to help find the charred remains of a murder victim, Mattie has no idea how personal this mystery is about to become. Luckily, Cole Walker, the local vet, has her back because she and Robo are going to need all the help they can get. This book is suspenseful, fast-paced, and such a good read. Robo reigns as my favorite bookish canine; and this particular mystery is my favorite book in this series so far.

Rating: 4/5 stars.

More from Mizushima:  Killing TrailStalking GroundHunting Hour.

Deadly Rising (A Booke of the Hidden Novel #2) by Jeri Westerson

Strange things are afoot in Moody Bog; both girls and goats are going missing and it's up to Kylie to find the evil creature responsible and return it to the Booke of the Hidden. To complicate matters, her ex-boyfriend has just shown up to try and win her back; and her new boyfriend, Sheriff Ed Bradbury, doesn't know anything about her supernatural woes. Luckily, she has the help of the local Wiccan coven, as well as the tall, dark and handsome demon Erasmus Dark. I thought this was a fun read even though Kylie is such a frustrating character she totally drives me crazy. I kept reading because I love the secondary characters so much. But I think I'm done. Even though this one ended on a bit of a cliffhanger, I just can't deal with this main character any longer. But she might not bug anyone else like she bugs me.

Rating: 3/5 stars.

More from Westerson:  Booke of the Hidden.

Bound (Alex Verus #8) by Benedict Jacka

I love this series! In this one, Alex is back in the service of the Dark mage Richard Drakh, a place he swore he would never be. He only did it to protect his friends. Too bad he couldn't figure out a way to keep Anne from suffering his same fate. The Council and the Keepers are no help; they still want him dead. And for once, his divination magic isn't working, because no matter how many futures he scans, he can't see a way to get them out of their predicament. This is a good one! It's got everything: action, magic, suspense and a great twist at the end. I really, really, really liked it.

Rating:  4.5/5 stars

More by Jacka:  FatedVeiledHidden.

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a fun weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week's theme is Characters I'd Like to Switch Places With. Which was a little tricky because there are a lot of characters who I really like but whose lives I really don't want to live. Not even for a little while. So after much thought, here's my....

7 Fictional characters I wouldn't mind switching places with:

Dorothy Gale .... 'cause she has great adventures and she lives in Oz where animals talk and books grow on trees.

Harimad-sol (Harry Crewe) ... 'cause she gets a cool horse, a legendary sword...and a great guy, too. 

Lessa of Pern ...  'cause she has a dragon!!!

Daphne ....  'cause this version of Daphne totally kicks ass.

Thursday Next ... 'cause being a Special Operative in literary detection sounds like a much better job than mine!

Nancy Drew ... 'cause she's always so fearless and capable no matter the situation; I mean, how would that be?

Wonder Woman .... 'cause Hello! She's Wonder Woman. Who wouldn't want to be her?

Happy Reading!

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Another Classic...

A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs was first serialized in 1912, "during the heyday of the pulp fiction era". It is the first book in Burroughs' John Carter of Mars series. The blurb on the back describes it as an "epic, swashbuckling Red Planet tale of derring-do and dazzling romance." I wasn't sure what to expect when I started reading it, but even though there's a lot of detailed description to go along with the action, and the prose is decidedly old-fashioned, I thought it was kind of fun. And I ended up really liking John Carter who narrates the entire tale.

"I have determined to write down the story of the interesting periods of my life and of my death. I cannot explain the phenomena; I can only set down here in the words of an ordinary soldier of fortune a chronicle of the strange events that befell me during the ten years that my dead body lay undiscovered in an Arizona cave."

What else this novel contains:

  • Woola, the loyal ten-legged Martian 'hound'
  • sword fights and battles to the death
  • an imaginative Martian landscape
  • the warrior race of tusked and multi-limbed green martians
  • Dejah Thoris, the beautiful red martian princess (in need of rescuing)
  • adventure and romance

I'm glad I read this one. I think I might check out the movie now to see how it compares. And who knows, I might even read the next book in this series to see what happens to John and Dejah next.  Best of all? Since A Princess of Mars is less than 250 pages, it counts as my Classic Novella for Karen's Back to the Classics reading challenge. 

Happy Reading!