Tuesday, December 29, 2020

My Favorite Reads of 2020!

So every December, I always do a list of the books I loved reading most that year. This year, my favorites post happens to coincide with That Artsy Reader Girl's Top Ten Tuesday theme which is also on favorite books read in 2020. I thought it was a nice bit of bookish serendipity. Only I'm listing more than ten books. (Drum roll please!) Here they are... the books I loved most this year:


(I actually read and loved all five of Hurwitz's Orphan X books this year.)



💗 Lost Creed and Desperate Creed by Alex Kava






(I read and loved her entire Devil's Isle Trilogy this year.)



(I also loved the first Peter Ash novel, The Drifter
and the third book in the series, Light It Up.)









💗 Mark of the Raven by Morgan L. Busse
(I didn't review this book, but I read the entire Ravenwood Saga and loved it!)










(I loved the entire Robin Hood: Demon's Bane Trilogy!)









I could probably keep going...but you get the point. 
I read a lot of really good books this year. I hope you did, too. 

Here's to even more good reading in 2021!


Saturday, December 26, 2020

Find Me by Anne Frasier

 

"You couldn't expect a psychopath to play by the rules. Psychopaths made the rules, or at least that's what they thought."
"Reni still had mixed feelings about becoming involved in the case, but she didn't think she could sit home wondering what was going on and whether her father had or hadn't played a part in it. She needed answers. Answers probably wouldn't relieve her guilt and suffering, but being instrumental in giving victims' families closure would get her some points, at least in her own mind. Still, she was sure she would go to her grave feeling complicit. And that was okay. She was complicit."

Reni Fisher is the daughter of Benjamin Wayne Fisher, the Inland Empire Killer. When she was five, he used her to lure in the young women he killed. She hasn't seen or spoken to him since he was arrested over thirty years ago. Now he wants to see her again. In return, he's promised to tell the police where in the Mojave Desert he buried the bodies of his victims, something homicide detective Daniel Ellis wants more than anything else. Because his mother disappeared over thirty years ago, and he thinks she might have been one of Fisher's victims.

Reni's memories of those years with her father are a bit hazy, and she's not sure she wants to revisit the past that still haunts her. Then she and Daniel find a newly murdered body out in the Mojave, and she can't help but wonder if it's somehow connected to her father. And that question leads Daniel and Reni on a chilling search for the truth.

Find Me by Anne Frasier is a gripping psychological thriller. Reni is both fragile and strong. I liked how Frasier weaves her childhood memories in with their present investigation. Daniel has his own past memories to contend with. I liked him, and Reni, too. They're both interesting and well-developed characters. I hope Frasier writes more books about them. And the mystery? I liked the way it builds over the course of the book to a very suspenseful ending. And that last twist? It's a good one.

Happy Reading!

 

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Merry Christmas!

May your Christmas be filled with family and friends,
and may the New Year bring you every joy and happiness!
(And lots of good books!)

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Happy Trail by Daisy Prescott...

 

JAY:  "I'm a national park ranger, not some Prince Charming, who swoops in on his noble steed to save the princess and falls in love at first sight. Rescuing a damsel in distress is something best left to fairy tales."

DAISY:  "For his thirtieth birthday, my boyfriend Tye decided to hike the Appalachian Trail. For the record, that's over two thousand miles. He promised it would be an 'epic adventure.' I said yes. Love makes us do crazy things."


THE PLOT IN BRIEF:  When an early snowstorm sweeps through the Great Smoky Mountains, Jay and Olive take shelter in a small moonshiner cabin to wait out the storm. It's Jay's job to protect the thru-hikers. And Olive? She broke up with her boyfriend back in the Berkshires and is now hiking alone. They're both a bit prickly, and neither are looking for love, but they can't deny the attraction they feel for each other. And there's nothing to do at the cabin but talk and get to know each other better. There's a definite spark between them, but then the snow clears and they have to return to the real world.

WHAT I LIKED:  I've always loved books where people get snowed in; I just can't resist them. And I've always wanted to hike the Appalachian Trail, so that was another draw. Plus, Jay's an ornithologist and Olive's become an enthusiastic birder, so that was fun, too. I enjoyed Jay's and Olive's humorous banter and sarcastic digs. And I liked that they were both characters with layers. And the romance? I liked that a lot, too. This was a fun read, and I look forward to reading Prescott's next book.

THE ONE THING I DIDN'T LOVE:  It's written in present tense, which is NOT my favorite, but Prescott did it so well I ended up not minding it at all.

HAPPY READING!


Friday, December 18, 2020

Haiku Reviews...

 

Safe by S.K. Barnett


Missing for twelve years, 
Jenny's come home. Safe at last!
Or is it all lies?


Psychological thriller .... 319 pages .... 3.5/5 stars.






Murder at Queen's Landing by Andrea Penrose


Murder. Missing friends. Math.
It's another mystery for
Wrexford and Charlotte.


Historical fiction/mystery .... 360 pages .... 4/5 stars.
(I love this series!)





In the Dark by Loreth Anne White


Eight guests haunted by
past lies are now hunted in a
twisted game of death.


Psychological thriller .... 399 pages .... 4.5/5 stars.




Happy Reading!



Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Mystery in White by J. Jefferson Farjeon

 "Our train got snowed up and I and some others tried to walk across country to another station, Hemmersby, but the snow was so bad that we got lost, and then I fainted like a fool, twisting my foot, and a young man carried me to the house where we now are and may have to stay till the snow stops if it ever will. It's funny because although no one is here the tea was laid and the fires going....Of course, it's a funny situation."

 

Heavy snowfall forces seven strangers to seek shelter in a deserted country house. Only, one of the seven might be a murderer. And there's something strange, almost eerie, about the portrait over the mantel as well as the house. One man, who claims to be psychic, says it's haunted. And where are the house's inhabitants? It's a mystery. Outside it just keeps snowing and snowing. And did I mention it's Christmas Eve?

My thoughts:  I always enjoy reading these British Library Crime Classics! There's an old-fashioned charm about them that I really like. They're not usually super suspenseful, but there's always a puzzle to be solved and some thoughtful sleuthing to be done. I appreciate the 1930s dialogue. And the plucky characters, too. They're never perfect reads, but they're always good fun. I enjoyed this one a lot.

Happy Reading!

Other British Library Crime Classics:


Sunday, December 13, 2020

A little Christmas humor...


(This one's for you, Sam!)


Be sure to check out John Atkinson's cartoons. They're awesome!
And have a great day.


Thursday, December 10, 2020

Vicious Spirits by Kat Cho

 

From the blurb:  "Eighteen-year-old Lee Somin's heart is breaking. Her friends are grieving: Jihoon the loss of his beloved grandmother, and Miyoung the loss of her mother and her fox bead--her immortal gumiho soul. Somin, who is no stranger to loss, wants to help them pick up the pieces and move on with their lives, but neither seems to want her help. As Jihoon and Miyoung become more distant, Somin finds unexpected comfort in Junu, everyone's not-so-favorite dokkaebi. 

"But before Somin and Junu can discover what's truly between them, the group of friends discovers the supernatural world isn't quite done with them. Somin is seeing ghosts on the streets of Seoul, and Junu is visited by a reaper from his past. Turns out, Miyoung's lost fox bead has caused a tear between the world of the living and the world of the dead. The only way to repair the rift is to find Miyoung's bead or for Miyoung to pay with her life."

My thoughts:  Melody and I read Kat Cho's first book, Wicked Fox, last year and we both really enjoyed it, especially Jihoon and Miyoung and all the Korean mythology surrounding them. So when Vicious Spirits came out this year we knew we wanted to read it together. And it's such a great sequel! I still love Jihoon and Miyoung, but I really enjoyed getting to know Somin and Junu better. Somin is rebellious and feisty and very protective of her friends. Her verbal sparring matches with Junu made me smile. And Junu's history as a dokkaebi, or goblin, adds such an interesting layer to the story. When someone from his past returns to threaten him and his three friends...that's when the supernatural suspense really begins to build. Kudos to Kat Cho for writing such an entertaining and fun duology. And thanks, Melody, for suggesting we read these books in the first place. I'm very glad we did. Be sure to check out Melody's review of this one.

And happy reading!

Melody's questions:
Q. The mythological characters in this book are said to be immortal even though they can be killed through other means. Based on your opinions formed from this book, do you think it is a good thing to be immortal? 
A. None of the immortal characters in this book--Junu, the gumiho, the reaper--seem very happy with their immortality. The weight of all those years, and all the things they'd done in the past that they now regret, makes me think immortality is not all it's cracked up to be. It was the human characters in this book who seemed the most content with their lives.

Q. Which book of this duology is your favorite and why?
A. That's a hard question to answer, because I liked both books a lot. The first book is more about Jihoon and Miyoung, two characters I really love. And this one focuses more on Somin and Junu. I guess if I had to pick I'd say Vicious Spirits, but only because the ending of Wicked Fox leaves you hanging just a bit, and this book wraps everything up so happily. 

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Top Ten Tuesday

 

Top Ten Tuesday is a fun weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl

This week's theme is all about fun holiday/seasonal books, whether they have to do with winter, or Christmas, or snow. 

I didn't really have a plan for this one...I just found ten covers that I thought were fun. Here they are:


Blizzard by John Rocco




The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder




The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey




In A Holidaze by Christina Lauren




Magic Under the Mistletoe by Lucy Coleman




Her Christmas Cowboy by Jessica Clare




Snowbound by Kim Golden




The Christmas Wish List by Heidi Swain




The Illustrated History of the Snowman by Bob Eckstein




Mystery at the Ski Jump by Carolyn Keene




Happy Reading!

Saturday, December 5, 2020

A Christmas Romance...

 

Title & Author: 
A Christmas Bride by Jo Ann Ferguson
Genre:  Regency Romance
First line:  "All we need to do is find you a fiancee by tomorrow."

Plot summary:  All Timothy Crawford's grandfather wants for his 70th birthday is to meet his grandson's fiancee, Serenity Adams. The only problem is that she doesn't exist; Timothy made her up. He's on his way to York to tell Lord Brookindale the truth when he happens upon an overturned carriage with an injured young woman inside who looks remarkably like his imaginary Serenity. She appears to be an abigail, but she doesn't remember her name, or who she works for, or where she's from. When Timothy's cousin explains Timothy's situation to her, she agrees to pretend to be his fiancee over Christmas. In return, he promises to help her figure out who she really is.

My thoughts:  Sweet and frothy are two words that perfectly describe this novel. And I don't mean that in a bad way. Serenity seems to fit right in with Timothy's family, and he quickly finds himself falling in love with her. But he also doesn't want to take advantage of her situation. Besides their romance, there's the intrigue surrounding Serenity's accident and true identity. Though that mystery is NOT the main focus of the story, it does add a little twist at the end. Ferguson also throws in a lot of time period slang throughout the book, words like betwattle and skimble-skamble. I felt it was a little overdone at times, but it was a small thing and easily overlooked. For the most part, this is a completely predictable bit of light-hearted fluff. But it's also a fun read. And knowing a happy ending is coming isn't a bad thing when it comes to a Christmas romance.

Happy Reading!


Similar reads:

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

December's bookish art...

William M. Hay -- A Funny Story, 1868

"Books are the quietest and most constant of friends,
they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors,
and the most patient of teachers."
--Charles William Eliot

Monday, November 30, 2020

My library book addiction...

Hi. My name is Lark and I'm a library book-a-holic.

I didn't use to be one. Before the pandemic I went to the library on a regular basis, but I never felt a need to check out extra books "just in case". And I'd wait until my books were due (and all read) before going back to check out more. But then the pandemic hit last March, and my library closed unexpectedly, and I suddenly couldn't get any library books at all. For 75 days. It was terrible. 

I think it did something to my psyche. Because now, even though my library has reopened, and library books are readily available once more, I find myself checking out more books than I can possibly read. Take last week:  I already had five unread library books at home, but I still stopped at the library on my way back from work to pick up a few more. And that's not all. I've got several more books on hold that will probably come in sometime next week. How will I ever read them all? I don't know. But I think a part of me wants to be sure I'll have enough books to read over Christmas break. Which is still weeks away, I know, but still...

They say admitting you have a problem is the first step, but I don't think I'll stop checking out too many library books any time soon. It's a harmless addiction. And I've never even come close to maxing out the 50 item limit on my library card. So that's good. Besides, it makes me happy knowing I have lots of books on hand to read "just in case". Maybe when the pandemic finally ends I'll try to cut back on my library usage, but until then....

Happy Reading!

Friday, November 27, 2020

Peril At End House by Agatha Christie

 "Ah! but he made a grave mistake, that would-be murderer, when he shot at his victim within a dozen yards of Hercule Poirot! For him, it is indeed la mauvaise chance. But you see now why we must make our entry into End House and get in touch with Mademoiselle Nick? Three near escapes from death in three days. That is what she said. We must act quickly, Hastings. The peril is very close at hand."

 Brief summary:  Claiming to be retired, Poirot is vacationing in Cornwall with Capt. Hastings when a stray bullet lands at his feet. It seems the bullet was aimed at Nick Buckley, a pretty young lady who lives at End House. Poirot quickly determines to find the person trying to kill her. But he soon finds it is easier to solve a murder than to prevent one. Especially when he has a list of ten possible subjects and no clear motive for why anyone would want to kill Nick.

My thoughts:  This is another entertaining mystery from Agatha Christie. It was fun seeing Poirot a bit flummoxed throughout this one. Of course, he figures it out in the end, but he has to work for it. The solution surprised me a bit, but then I hardly ever figure out the real culprit in any of Christie's novels. I have a lot of fun reading them though, especially when Poirot is on the case. He always makes me laugh. All in all, this is exactly the kind of mystery that makes me glad Agatha Christie was so prolific. 

Happy Reading!

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Happy Thanksgiving!

 



Despite the crappiness that has been 2020, there are still a lot of things to be thankful for....like family, a warm home, friends, good books to read, blogging buddies, freedom, faith and prayer, garbage trucks that come and take your garbage away every week, beautiful mountains, blue skies and sunshine even when it's cold outside, food to eat, cute birds at the bird feeder, and a loving Savior in Jesus Christ.
 
What are the things you're grateful for this year?




Monday, November 23, 2020

A fun K-9 mystery...

 
Officer Mattie Cobb and her K-9 partner, Robo, are back in Margaret Mizushima's sixth book, Hanging Falls, and Mattie has a lot on her plate in this one. On a routine hike, Mattie and Robo find the dead body of a young man caught in the fast flowing waters near Hanging Falls. It's easy to see that his death wasn't an accident. But who murdered him? Someone from Timber Creek? Or someone from the strange religious sect that he belonged to? Mattie is determined to find the truth. But murder isn't her only concern. She's also about to meet her long-lost sister and grandmother; she's nervous and excited, but mostly she hopes they can shed some light on what might have happened to her mother all those years ago. Then there's her relationship with local veterinarian Cole Walker and his two daughters. But they're a happy complication in her life.

My thoughts:  Robo, Mattie's smart and well-trained German Shepherd, is still my favorite part of these books. He's so awesome and has so much personality; I love him! I also really enjoy Maggie's and Cole's continuing relationship, as well as Cole's struggle to be a good dad to his two daughters. The two are both such likable characters. And I thought the mystery in this one was interesting and entertaining. But the side story with Maggie and her family felt a little thin, almost like an afterthought. It needed to be more fleshed out in my opinion. This is still a really fun read. I just wanted more of it. 

Happy Reading!


Other Margaret Mizushima books I've read:


Sunday, November 22, 2020

Now these made me laugh!

 


You can find this one at Signals.com.

I also really liked this other tee shirt they sell:


For some reason this one really made me laugh!

Have a great day!

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Haiku Reviews...

 


Burning Bright (Peter Ash Novel #2) by Nick Petrie


She's smart. She's tough. And 
she's in trouble. Luckily,
Peter's there to help.


Action/Thriller .... 416 pages .... 5/5 stars.
(Even better than The Drifter, the first book in this series.)





Hidden Creed (#6) by Alex Kava 


Ryder and Grace find
several shallow graves in the 
woods; danger follows.


K-9 Mystery .... 332 pages .... 4.5/5 stars.
(Still loving this series!)




Cycle of the Werewolf by Stephen King



Each month a full moon.
Each month a new attack. Man
or wolf? No one knows.


Horror .... 127 pages .... 3.5/5 stars.




Happy Reading!




Monday, November 16, 2020

Shane by Jack Schaefer

 



3 Quotes from the book:
"He rode into our valley in the summer of '89. ... He was clean-shaven and his face was lean and hard and burned from high forehead to firm, tapering chin. His eyes seemed hooded in the shadow of the hat's brim. He came closer, and I could see that this was because the brows were drawn in a frown of fixed and habitual alertness. Beneath them the eyes were endlessly searching from side to side and forward, missing nothing. ... He rode easily, relaxed in the saddle...yet even in this easiness was a suggestion of tension. It was the easiness of a coiled spring, of a trap set."   
"Only he was not a farmer and never really could be. ... There were times when he would stop and look off at the mountains and then down at himself and any tool he happened to have in his hands as if in wry amusement at what he was doing. You had no impression that he thought himself too good for the work or did not like it. He was just different. He was shaped in some firm forging of past circumstances for other things."

"Those were beautiful fall days, clear and stirring, with the coolness in the air just enough to set one atingling, not yet mounting to the bitter cold that soon would come sweeping down out of the mountains. It did not seem possible that in such a harvest season, giving a lift to the spirit to match the well-being of the body, violence could flare so suddenly and swiftly."


My thoughts:  So, I have a bookish confession to make:  I knew there was a movie called Shane (even though I've never seen it), but I never knew there was a book. Not until I read Sam's review over at Book Chase two months ago. What he said about this book made me want to read it right away. And now I'm not sure I ever want to see the movie because I loved the book so much. It's a more quiet and thoughtful western than most I've read. And there's a poetic quality to Schaefer's writing that I really enjoyed. And Shane? I liked him right from the start. And the young boy who narrates the story is so great. In fact, I liked everything about this one. So, thanks, Sam, for recommending this book! It's a new favorite, and one I think I now want to own.  

Happy Reading! 

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Funny ... or sad. You decide.

 



(You can find this tee at Hottrendshirts.)

Can 2020 please be over now? 'Cause I've had enough. 

Thursday, November 12, 2020

A desperate plea for help...


 The Unanswered Letter by Faris Cassell



From the blurb:

Dear Madam — You are surely informed about the situation of all Jews in Central Europe and this letter will not astonish you.

In August 1939, just days before World War II broke out in Europe, a Jewish man in Vienna named Alfred Berger mailed a desperate letter to a stranger in America who shared his last name.

By pure chance I got your address . . . I beg you instantly to send for me and my wife...

Decades later, journalist Faris Cassell stumbled upon the stunning letter and became determined to uncover the story behind it. How did the American Bergers respond? Did Alfred and his family escape Nazi Germany? Over a decade-long investigation in which she traveled thousands of miles, explored archives and offices in Austria, Belarus, Czech Republic, and Israel, interviewed descendants, and found letters, photos, and sketches made by family members during the Holocaust, Cassell wrote the devastating true story of The Unanswered Letter.

My thoughts:

I loved this book so much! It's poignant and heartbreaking, thoughtful, gripping, unforgettable and beautifully written. Once I started, I didn't want to stop. No matter how many books I read about the victims or the survivors of the Holocaust, their stories always get to me. This one is no different. The history of the Berger family made me smile...and cry. And Faris Cassell is such a good writer! I was drawn to her own part in this story as well.
"Alfred and Hedwig Berger had been ordinary people, like most of humanity--like me. They were important because they were human. ... This dramatic letter had drawn me irresistibly and haunted me with questions that reverberated through my life. I hoped to understand, at least a little, how divisions that separate people could grow to Holocaust dimensions."

This is a such a compelling story. In a lot of ways, it reminded me of another favorite nonfiction read: The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million by Daniel Mendelsohn. Both are amazing books and well worth reading!


Happy Reading!



Monday, November 9, 2020

November's bookish art...

Franz Xaver Winterhalter -- Countess Alexander Nikolaevitch Lamsdorff


"Books were her salvation. They were her lifeline;
the pages as essential to her as breathing."
--Simone St. James