Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Favorite Quotes...

Top Ten Tuesday is a fun weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week's theme is Inspirational or Thought-Provoking Book Quotes. Which is a good one for me, because I've been collecting favorite quotes for years. I have a notebook full of them. The hardest part? Choosing just ten for this list. But I did my best.
Here they are:

"That was another of our fears: that Life 
wouldn't turn out to be like Literature."
Julian Barnes, The Sense of an Ending

"One's life is more formed, I sometimes think, by books than by human beings; it is out of books one learns about love and pain at secondhand. Even if we have the happy chance to fall in love, it is because we have been conditioned by what we have read, and if I had never known love at all, perhaps it was because my father's library had not contained the right books."
Graham Greene, Travels With My Aunt

"What if 'someday' is today?"
Wendy Welch, The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap

"The biggest jolt in growing up was to discover that you didn't like 
what others liked and they thought you were crazy to like what you liked." 
Dawn Powell, My Home Is Far Away

"Perhaps all dragons in our lives are really princesses
waiting to see us just once being beautiful and courageous."
Rainer Marie Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

"It is a good thing to turn your mind upside down
now and then, like an hour-glass, to let the
particles run the other way."
Christopher Morley, The Haunted Bookshop

"The problem with anger against God is that 
it's impossible to go higher in the system to complain."
Peter Hoeg, The Quiet Girl

"Once the storm is over you won't remember how you made it through, how you 
managed to survive. You won't even be sure, in fact, whether the storm is really over. 
But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm you won't be 
the same person who walked in. That's what the storm is all about."
Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore

"I knew that if I allowed my fear to overtake me, my journey was doomed. Fear, to a great extent, is born of a story we tell ourselves, and so I chose to tell myself a different story from the one women are told. I decided I was safe. I was strong. I was brave. Nothing could vanquish me. ... I simply did not let myself become afraid. Fear begets fear. Power begets power. I willed myself to beget power. And it wasn't long before I actually wasn't afraid."
Cheryl Strayed, Wild

"...nothing is more unlike a novel than real life."
 Maria Edgeworth, Belinda

Happy Reading!

Saturday, April 27, 2019

A British Crime Classic...

Title & Author:  Seven Dead by J. Jefferson Farjeon
Genre:  Classic British Mystery
First line:  This is not Ted Lyte's story. He merely had the excessive misfortune to come into it, and to remain in it longer than he wanted.

Plot summary:  When six men and one woman are found dead at Haven House, it appears to be a mass suicide. Only the shuttered room where they were found was locked from the outside. And there's a portrait of a young girl in the dining room that's been shot through the heart. Who are these seven strangers? And what happened to Mr. Fenner and Dora, his niece, the owners of Haven House? Detective-Inspector Kendall and freelance journalist, Thomas Hazeldean, suspect there's something much more sinister going on, and they're determined to find out the truth.

My thoughts:  I like how these classic British mysteries are more about piecing together a bunch of seemingly random clues than about shocking crime scenes or dark plot twists. It's refreshing. I also really liked Hazeldean's brash optimism and cheerful confidence. His over-protectivness of Dora, and her 'feminine' fearfulness was a bit of a cliche, but then this book was written in 1939. As the mystery proceeds, Detective-Inspector Kendall ends up doing a lot of explaining as to his theories of what really happened, but I loved his understated British humor so much I didn't mind. I hope he's in Farjeon's other books. And even though the mystery itself got a bit fantastical towards the end, I still thought this one was a lot of fun.

Happy Reading!

Another British Crime Classic to check out:

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Cool bookish tees...

Because who doesn't love a good Albus Dumbledore quote?

I also love this one!

And this one is just so true!

And now you know my weekend plans!

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Frightening fun!

Welcome to the First Annual Haunted Forest Halloween Tour!
"Nobody has ever been eaten on one of our tours, and nobody ever will!"

Four years ago, an entire forest sprouted up out of nowhere, engulfing the town of Cromay, New Mexico, and killing hundreds of people. Rescue teams went into the forest to search for survivors and never returned. What lives in the forest now is an array of fanged and fierce nightmares come to life, the kind of creatures cryptozoologists love to study and crazy tourists love to view. That's why H.F. Enterprises installed a track and built reinforced trams to transport tourists of all ages through the monster-filled forest. And their safety record is impeccable. Until the first Halloween tour enters the forest. That's when everything goes horribly wrong.

This horror novel has everything you could possible want:  freakshow monsters that want to chomp everyone in sight, characters to root for...and against, a dark and eerie forest, explosions, bloody battles, that timeless fight of good vs. evil, supernatural suspense, and some great one-liners. Great literature it's not, but it is entertaining and scary good fun. (Good nightmare material, too.) 

Happy Reading!

Saturday, April 20, 2019


I love this clock:

(Does your day ever feel like this, or is it just me?)

I recently read a new favorite character in a new favorite series:

(I'm looking forward to reading the rest of Jacqueline Winspear's Maisie Dobbs' mysteries some time in the near future. Or at least some time this year. Or next.)

I checked out some fun books from the library yesterday:

The Wild Lands by Paul Greci
Gone Too Deep by Katie Ruggle
Lost Girls by Merrie Destefano
Time to Die by Caroline Mitchell
Woman 99 by Greer Macallister
Seven Dead by J. Jefferson Farjeon

But I think I'm most excited to read this one: 

(Because I've heard it's really good.)

And last, but certainly not least....

Happy Easter!!

Thursday, April 18, 2019

A Classic Play...

For several years now, I've been working my way through Shakespeare's plays, trying to read each and every one. (Boy are there a lot of them!) I'm getting close; I only have seven more to go. And one of those is Cymbeline. Which is why I picked it to read for Karen's Back to the Classics Challenge. It's not one of Shakespeare's plays that I was very familiar with, but after reading it, I think they should change the name of the play to Imogen, because I felt like it was more her story than her father's.

.....Alas, poor princess,
Thou divine Imogen, what thou endur'st.--
Betwixt a father by thy stepdame govern'd:
A mother hourly coining plots; a wooer
More hateful than the foul expulsion is
Of thy dear husband ... The heavens hold firm
The walls of thy dear honour; keep unshak'd
That temple, thy fair mind; that thou mayest stand
To enjoy thy banish'd lord and this great land.

So, here's my attempt at explaining the plot of this play. Be forewarned...it gets a little complicated. 

Cymbeline is the king of Britain. His two oldest sons were stolen away in their infancy, leaving him with Imogen, his only daughter, as his sole heir. He wants her to marry Cloten, the son of his second wife, who's now the queen. (And a very conniving one at that.) Instead, Imogen marries Posthumous Leonatus, a noble Roman soldier. Before the marriage is consummated, the king banishes Posthumous from Britain. Before Posthumous leaves, he gives Imogen a bracelet as a token of his love and she gives him a ring, promising to be faithful to him. 

Back in Rome, Posthumous brags about his beautiful and virtuous wife, so much so that his friend, Iachimo, bets him that he can easily seduce her. Posthumous agrees to the bet and off Iachimo goes to Britain to woo Imogen. But the princess refuses his advances. (Just as she's been refusing Cloten's.) Not wanting to lose his bet, Iachimo sneaks into Imogen's rooms at night and steals the bracelet from her arm as proof of her infidelity. When he sees the bracelet, Posthumous believes Iachimo's lies, gets all mad, and sends a letter to his servant, Pisano, ordering him to kill his wife. Pisano helps Imogen escape to Wales instead. There, she disguises herself as a boy named Fidele. While in disguise, she meets her two older brothers who don't know who she is....or that they are actually Cymbeline's sons. (It's another miraculous Shakespearean coincidence!)

Meanwhile, Cloten comes to Wales determined to kill Posthumous, have his way with Imogen, and then bring her back to Britain. Happily, he fails. Imogen never encounters him, but she does drink a potion which causes everyone around her to think she's dead even though she's not. Complicated, right? While all of this is happening, Rome prepares to invade Britain over unpaid tributes. This leads to war, which everyone participates in. In the end, Imogen's two brothers and her husband help Cymbeline defeat the Romans; Cloten is killed; Jupiter makes a brief appearance; Cymbeline and his two sons are brought back together; Iachimo is captured and admits his deceit; and Imogen's honor is restored and she and her penitent husband are reunited at last. Whew. What a play! 

Despite it's convoluted plot, I actually ended up liking this one. And if they ever perform it on a stage near me, I'm definitely going. And congrats if you actually made it to the end of this post!

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Bookshelf envy...

I wish my house had this many bookshelves...

Or a windowseat as lovely as this....

I'd even settle for a bedroom like this....

Happy Reading...and bookshelf dreaming!

Sunday, April 14, 2019

The Beast's Heart

For the longest time after the curse fell, I did not know if I was a beast who dreamed of being a man, or a man who dreamed he was a beast.

So begins Leife Shallcross's enchanting retelling of Beauty and the Beast, which has always been one of my favorite fairy tales. Over the years, I've read many different versions of it. Robin McKinley's Beauty has long been my favorite, but this latest retelling is now a close second. Overall, The Beast's Heart sticks closely to the traditional story line. Where it differs is that it's told wholly from the Beast's point of view, and that's what I liked about it. Seeing him struggle to understand his curse, and despair of ever breaking it, made the story that much more poignant and endearing. And then he meets Isabeau, his 'Beauty', and the Beast begins to not only fall in love, but to hope.
I turned to stare at Isabeau. It was her. She was the key. Since she had arrived, the magic that held this place had started to weaken. First the birds and animals had begun to come back to the forest; now the seasons were returning to my garden. If this curse could be broken, she could do it. I didn't know how. ... But she was the key to the ending of this spell.
If you like fairy tale retellings, this is a good one. I liked Isabeau's two sisters, Marie and Claude. And I liked Isabeau. But most of all, I liked the Beast.

Happy Reading!

Similar read:  Hunted by Megan Spooner

Thursday, April 11, 2019

April's Bookish Art...

Charles Burton Barber -- Girl Reading With Pug, 1879
"When her mind was discomposed...a book was 
the opiate that lulled it to repose."
--Ann Radcliffe, The Romance of the Forest

Monday, April 8, 2019

An entertaining bookish drama...

"Femi makes three you know. Three, and they label you a serial killer."

For our next buddy read, Melody and I chose My Sister, The Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite. It's set in Lagos, Nigeria, and centers around two sisters:  Ayoola and Korede. Korede is the older sister, and the narrator of the story. She's a nurse; she's also the responsible, careful and controlled one who knows how to clean up after her sister's messes. Even when those messes involve blood and a dead body. I had a lot of empathy for her. I also felt a bit impatient with her at times, too, wanting her to show some backbone and stand up to her sister. Especially when Ayoola takes an interest in Tade, the young doctor she likes. But Korede's relationship with her sister is tangled and complicated.

"I am more haunted by her actions than she is."

Ayoola, on the other hand, has an angelic face with a "music video vixen body." She's "incapable of practical underwear" and "completely oblivious to all but her own needs." And she gets away with anything and everything. As Korede describes her, "Ayoola is inconsiderate and selfish and reckless, but her welfare is and always has been my responsibility."  And that's the heart and soul of this novel.

With its very short chapters and easy-to-read narrative style, it was tempting to fly through this book in one day. But I'm glad I didn't. Braithwaite's amazing prose deserves to be savored. I really got caught up in Korede's and Ayoola's sad yet compelling story.  I loved this novel. And reading it with Melody just made it better. Be sure to check out her review and see what she thought about this one.

Happy Reading!

P.S. Here are Melody's questions for me about this particular read...and my answers:

Q. Sisterhood seems to be the core of this story. How do you feel about the sisterly bond between Korede and Ayoola? Do you like any of the sisters?

A. I think their sisterly bond is a strangling and suffocating one. Especially for Korede. (Who I liked better than Ayoola.) They're so co-dependent and stuck in their self-defined roles. I don't think either of them will ever be able to change or grow as long as they're together.

Q. What do you think of Korede's crush with Dr. Tade Otumu? Do you think she has a chance with him if Ayoola and Tade didn't get to know each other?

A. I think Korede's crush on Tade is one of the few normal and humanizing things about her. And I think their friendship could have grown into something more if Ayoola's beauty hadn't gotten in the way. Then again, I don't know if Korede could ever have let down her guard enough to open up to Tade and let him into her life or let him see who she really is. And if she did tell him all her secrets I doubt he would have been able to love her.

Friday, April 5, 2019

Two TBRs...

1.  Cavern of the Damned by Russell James

Why I wanted to read this one:  I read (and enjoyed!) James' second novel with Dr. Grant Coleman, Monsters in the Clouds, last summer, which then made me want to go back and read this first one.

The premise:  A park ranger, a paleontologist, an untrustworthy spelunker, an actress, a film director and his two-man crew enter a cavern that's been sealed up for over 13,000 years. When the entrance of the cave collapses, they're trapped inside with a slew of monstrous prehistoric creatures. (And not everyone is going to make it out alive.)

The upshot:  This one's a short, fast-paced, fun adventure. It's humorous, too. And while there's not enough time for a lot of character development, I did really like the three main protagonists. And the creatures in the cave were kind of awesome. All in all, Cavern of the Damned, was a very entertaining read.

My rating:  4/5 stars.


2. Island in the Mist by C. G. Mosley

Why I bought this one:  The awesome cover! (I'm a bit of a sucker when it comes to dinosaurs.)

The premise:  Angus Wedgeworth is a self-made millionaire; he's arrogant, selfish ... and aging. When he hears a rumor of an island in the middle of the Bermuda Triangle with its own fountain of youth, he hires a crew to help him find it. There's just one problem. The island is full of dinosaurs. And they're not exactly friendly.

The upshot:  I hated Angus and his bodyguards; liked several of the other characters, especially Silas, the big game hunter, and the two paleontologists; and loved all the dinosaurs. The dialogue feels stilted and artificial at times, but the action scenes are fun. And it's another book off my TBR shelf. One that counts for the 2019 Backlist Reader Challenge

My rating:  3/5 stars.

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday

This fun weekly meme is hosted by
That Artsy Reader Girl.
What kinds of books do you find irresistible?

I like to read lots of different kinds of books, from suspense to romance. But there are certain premises and plots I always find irresistible. Here are 10 of them:

1. Disaster/Survival Reads
From airplane crashes to earthquakes to EMPs to zombies.
It really doesn't matter; I like reading about them all.

2. Extreme environments
From unexplored caves to remote jungles to Antarctica. Even Mars.
Bookish travel is the best!

3. Supernatural suspense--
Especially if it has to do with ghosts or haunted houses.
(The spookier the better!)

4. Epistolary novels
Because I love letters ... real or fictional.

5. Ancient artifacts, lost manuscripts, or hidden treasure
Especially when there are clues and puzzles to solve,
and a hint of the supernatural attached to the mystery.

6. Stories that take place at a Prep school, boarding school, or private college. The more exclusive the better. (Summer camp works, too.)

7. Gargoyles.  Or Paris.  Or cemeteries.
Preferably all three together.

8. Colonizing (in space) or homesteading (in historical fiction)

9. The whole ballet scene
(Don't ask me why. I can't explain this one. I just like to read about it.)

10. Anything to do with Art & Artists
Especially the Pre-Raphaelites and Impressionists.

What's irresistible to you?
Happy Reading!