Thursday, May 30, 2019

Birding at Bear River...

The Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge in Northern Utah is a few hours drive from my house. I like to go there every spring to see the migrating birds. Thousands of birds stop here every year to breed and nest, from avocets to stilts. We saw over 30 different kinds of birds when we drove the auto tour loop this year, including this inquisitive great-tailed grackle that was hopping about the parking lot:

Isn't he cute?

I also like to visit this bird refuge because it's so beautiful. Check out these views:

My favorite birds? I love the cinnamon teals and American coots; and the avocets, great blue herons, and snowy egrets, too. And I have to admit to having a special liking for those crazy long-billed curlews and white-faced ibises.  But this year, for the first time, we also spotted a red-breasted merganser, a bird which doesn't normally come to the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge. And he became #194 on my bird list, making him my favorite this time around.

Happy Birding!

Related post:  Of Books and Birds

Monday, May 27, 2019

From my TBR shelf...

Title & Author:  Dead Things by Stephen Blackmoore

Why I bought it:  I really like urban fantasy novels and I was intrigued by the fact that the main character in this one is a necromancer.

What you should know about Eric Carter:

  • Ghosts come to me like moths to a flame. I can see them and they can see me.
  • I'm tattooed over most of my body. Neck to wrists to ankles. Wards and sigils. Symbols in dead languages to help ward off threat, divert attention, help me focus my magic.
  • My life is a succession of rest stops and cheap hotels. Walmart fashion and estate sale finds.
  • I'm an exterminator. Ghosts, demons, gremlins. I kill for a living. That about sums it up.
My thoughts:  Fifteen years ago Eric Carter left L.A. behind; two weeks ago someone killed his sister, Lucy, bringing him back. He's determined to avenge her death no matter the cost.Then Santa Muerte shows up and everything gets a lot more complicated. Despite his anger issues and overuse of the F-word, I liked Eric Carter. I also really liked the magical world Blackmoore created. It does get fairly violent and messy at times. And I didn't love the way Blackmoore ended this one (although it does set things up for the next book in this series). Overall, I thought this one was a decent read. Plus, it counts as another TBR read for Lark's 2019 Backlist Reader Challenge

My rating:  3/5 stars.

Happy Reading!

Saturday, May 25, 2019

One more classic...

I inherited a box of Westerns from my dad last year; books written by Louis L'Amour, Dan Parkinson, Zane Grey, Elmore Kelton, and Luke Short. There's something about the honesty of these independent cowboys, with their codes of honor and their willingness to fight for what's right, that I find appealing in Western fiction. (Plus, the good guys always win!)

So, when I was looking for a book to read for my "classic from a place you've lived" for Karen's Back to the Classics Challenge, I chose Sunset Graze by Luke Short because it's set in the western United States, which is where I live, and also because I've never read a Luke Short novel before and wanted to give one a try. This one was published in 1942. It's an action-packed and entertaining read with some great characters. I really enjoyed it. Here are a few excerpts to show you what I mean:

Dave came shakily to his knees, hurriedly shucking the empties out of his gun and slipping in new cartridges from his belt. ... they were out to get him, and it was merely a matter of time. It had begun with a question asked idly at the far edge of the desert, and it had trapped him in a wagon shed on a high-country ranch, and still he did not know the answer to the question of how Tip Macy had died. The irony of it brought a cold anger to his eyes...

Beth hesitated before she said, almost defiantly, "I don't believe you shot at Ed Seegrist." She went out, and Dave put both hands on the timbers and watched her go. Afterward he turned back to his bunk and sat down, and he was smiling. He thought he understood now why Ives wanted to help Beth Hilliard. There was something so feminine and honest in the way she'd said this that Dave felt a contrary and unaccountable liking for her. He'd baited her, half in contempt, and she'd risen to this bait. But there was something so clearheaded and forthright about her that she'd ignored it and spoken the truth, though it favored him. 

Ives watched him go, and when he was gone Ives tried to recall what Dave had said that made him believe the plan was possible. He couldn't recall one concrete fact; there was nothing, except a kind of calm, dogged insistence that he could dodge a bunch of angry men under an implacable sheriff to talk with a girl who had every reason in the world to despise him.

 Happy Reading!

Similar read:
Those Jensen Boys! by William W. Johnstone

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

May's Bookish Art...

C. Coles Phillips -- The Lure of Books, 1911

"To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying
to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment."
--Ralph Waldo Emerson

Monday, May 20, 2019

Spine-tingling Suspense...

"Shadows were seeping out of the trees like spilled molasses, coiling through the grass and sweeping up their trunks. The deathly quiet was broken by the hum of incoherent murmurings. dozens of whispered voices swirled around him as the shadows continued their steady march towards the driveway and his only means of escape .... He sucked air audibly through his teeth as the shadows took on the shape and form of people, an eerie queue of obsidian men and women without faces. He was going to die."

The book:  Forest of Shadows by Hunter Shea

The setting:  a log cabin in Shida, Alaska, a remote village where the native Alaskans know more than they're willing to say.

The main characters:  JOHN BACKMAN, a widower, lottery winner, and paranormal hunter who lives to investigate strange phenomenom. JESSICA, John's precocious and fearless six-year-old daughter who's the first to see a ghost at the log cabin. EVE, John's sister-in-law, and her young son, LIAM. And JUDAS GRAVES, an outsider in Shida who loves to read, smoke pot, and who experienced the terror residing in the log cabin firsthand. He's the reason John's come to Alaska with his family. Then there's the rest of the town, who really don't want John and his family there.

The end result:  a creepy and entertaining supernatural mystery with murderous shadows, ghosts, buried secrets, suspense, evil, terror, revenge, love, sacrifice, and death.  Do I recommend it? Absolutely!

Happy Reading!

For more Hunter Shea reads and reviews, check out Barb's review of Antarctic Ice Beasts, and watch for her upcoming review of Shea's newest novel, Ghost Mine. She's also posted a great interview with Hunter Shea about his books, which everyone should go and read. And then go read a Hunter Shea book for yourself!

Like one of these:
The Dover Demon
Megalodon in Paradise
They Rise

Friday, May 17, 2019

Bookish suspense...

A Merciful Secret by Kendra Elliot is the third Mercy Kilpatrick mystery, and I think it's my favorite so far. Mercy is an FBI agent working out of Bend, Oregon. Her boyfriend, Truman Daly, is the sheriff of Eagle's Nest, the small Oregon town where Mercy grew up. And they're such a great team! I love Mercy's prepper past, and how well she and Truman work together when they're solving a case.

Their case this time involves a judge in Portland, and an old woman living miles away in a cabin in the woods. They have nothing in common except how they were murdered. Mercy literally gets dragged into the case by the old woman's granddaughter, Morrigan. The twist? The grandmother and her daughter, Salome, are apparently witches. Is that why they were killed? And how are they connected to the murdered judge? It's a mystery...and one Mercy and Truman are determined to solve before anyone else dies.

I love the way Elliot spins a story and how she builds suspense in her novels. And I love her characters--even the secondary ones like Mercy's blind sister, Rose, and her hipster FBI partner, Eddie. This is definitely my new favorite mystery series. Intrigued? Check out her previous books, A Merciful Death and A Merciful Truth, first. You won't be sorry.

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Haiku reviews...

In Her Sights by Katie Ruggle 

When Molly needs help,
rival bounty hunter John
comes to her rescue.

Romantic suspense .... 336 pages .... 4.5/5 stars.
(How could I resist a book about five bounty-hunting sisters? Plus, Rachel's review made it sound so good I had to check it out. I'm so glad I did.)

A Merciful Truth (Mercy Kilpatrick mystery #2) by Kendra Elliot

Arson and murder
force Truman and Mercy to
track down a killer

Great suspense/mystery .... 307 pages ... 5/5 stars.  
(I love this series!!)

Prep School Confidential by Kara Taylor

Boarding school can be murder!
Anne is determined to find
her roommate's killer.

Very entertaining YA mystery .... 310 pages .... 4/5 stars.

Happy Reading!

Saturday, May 11, 2019

From the F Shelf...

Author:  Nicci French
Title:  Blue Monday

I was scanning the F shelf at my library looking for my next Alphabet read among the Folletts and the Faulkners, but nothing really grabbed my attention until I spotted the row of Nicci French mysteries. These are books I've been aware of for years, but never read...until now. And it turned out to be another moment of library serendipity.

Blue Monday is the first book about psychotherapist Frieda Klein--an imperfect and complex character who likes to walk the streets of London alone at night, who refuses to buy a cell phone because she doesn't want people to be able to get in touch with her every hour of the day, and who doesn't like opening up to others. I liked getting to know her. And the mystery? It's a good one. It revolves around one of her clients, a missing child, and a disturbing coincidence.
"Friday," she said. ... Alan Dekker had dreamed of a son with red hair. Red-haired Matthew Faraday had vanished. Eerie, but meaningless ... She couldn't help pondering it, though.
Despite some reservations, Frieda finds herself getting involved in the police investigation, working with Detective Chief Inspector Malcolm Karlsson (who I also liked). As Frieda delves deeper into the mystery, she runs into some unexpected twists. (Though I saw a few of them coming.)

All in all, I'm glad Blue Monday was sitting on the F shelf when I was at the library, and that I finally gave this series a try. I'm looking forward to reading more books in this series.

Happy Reading!

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Gotta love a little free library!

I found this one close to my own neighborhood.
Isn't it cute?

Next time I go by I'll have to check out a book.

And maybe leave one of my own in exchange.

(Found any Little Free Libraries near you?)

Happy Reading!

Monday, May 6, 2019

Woman 99 by Greer Macallister

A Gilded Age historical fiction novel
First line:  "Goldengrove devoured my sister every time I closed my eyes."

When Charlotte's parents have her older sister, Phoebe, committed to Goldengrove Asylum, Charlotte decides to channel her inner Nellie Bly and get committed to the asylum herself in order to rescue her sister. Only she doesn't tell anyone her plans. And it only dawns on her once she's locked up in the asylum as just another anonymous indigent 'madwoman' that it might not be so easy to find Phoebe, or to get back out.
"I'd planned to find Phoebe, then inform the doctors that we were both sane, there had been a mistake, and we were leaving....I would save my sister the way she had saved me. But I could see now that what I'd imagined was only one of many, many possibilities and far from the likeliest one. Like Nellie Bly, I'd found it relatively simple to get in; how hard would it prove, I now wondered, to get out?"
I didn't like this one as much as I thought I would when I first started reading it. Probably because I found Charlotte's voice, as well as many of her actions, frustrating. She never would have succeeded in her quest to rescue her sister without the help of the other women in the asylum. I mean, who decides to get herself thrown in an asylum without a good plan of how to get back out? But maybe Macallister's main point was to show how unfairly women were treated back then, and how easy it was for the men around them to deem them mad and have them locked away for the rest of their lives. She certainly does an excellent job of portraying life in the asylum! Charlotte's personal life, and romantic drama, were less interesting to me. And I thought it all wrapped up a bit too neatly at the end. But the things that bugged me about this one might not bug you. And there were things I liked about it. So if you're interested in this time period, or in the stories of the women who were put in these asylums, definitely give it a try.

Happy Reading! 

Friday, May 3, 2019

Two worth reading...

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers

What this book offers:  Impressive galaxy-building with lots of futuristic tech, exotic alien races, and a complicated history of how they all came together. It's a well-written and entertaining space adventure, very character-driven, that revolves around a pieced-together spaceship called the Wayfarer, and her truly unique crew. Chambers went into a lot of detail about everything and everyone, and sometimes I felt like all that detail slowed the story down and made it feel a bit long. But overall, I liked this one. And I'm very interested in seeing where she takes her crew next.

Lost Girls by Merrie Destefano

What's good about this one:  It's one intense, crazy ride right from the start. Rachel goes missing for two weeks, but when she comes back, she can't remember the last year. Everything from her friends to her hair has changed, and she doesn't know why. And she doesn't know who kidnapped her, or how she got away. There are some really good plot twists in this one as Rachel uncovers the truth about her past and her new friends...ones I did not see coming. This YA mystery is suspenseful, fast-paced and fun.

Happy Reading!