Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Top Ten Tuesday

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

This week's theme:  Favorite Book Quotes.

I've actually done several posts with favorite quotes, so the only challenge this time around was choosing quotes I hadn't posted yet. Luckily, I keep a notebook of really good quotes.

Here are ten of them that I really love:

"...bookshops are magic, and books are the road maps by which misfits find each other." 
--Wendy Welch, The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap

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

"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, Kafaka on the Shore

"Olive had a fear of everything, but her greatest fear was of being afraid."
--Henry James, The Bostonians

"I'm reminded that God often leads us down paths that seem unsafe and uncertain, but if we could see the path as He sees it, we would surely choose that same trial every time."
--Stephen Kirkpatrick, Lost in the Amazon

"If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours. If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them."
--Henry David Thoreau, Walden

"One can't pray for different musical notes. One can only ask to play as well as possible the notes one is given."
--Peter Hoeg, The Quiet Girl

"I have an idea that the only thing which makes it possible to regard this world we live in without disgust is the beauty which now and then men create out of chaos. The pictures they paint, the music they compose, the books they write, and the lives they lead. Of all these the richest in beauty is the beautiful life. That is the perfect work of art."
--W. Somerset Maugham, The Painted Veil

"Happiness is like the ocean. Sometimes swelling, sometimes retreating. Constantly shifting. Sudden swells are what made it all so fun."
--Erica Spindler, In Silence

"There is no habit more valuable than that of dropping into a bookstore occasionally to look round--to look both inward and outward."
--Christopher Morley, The Haunted Bookshop

Happy Reading!

Friday, September 25, 2020

The Drifter by Nicholas Petrie...

8 Things to know about Peter Ash:

  • "Peter was lean and rangy, muscle and bone, nothing extra."
  • "He had the thoughtful eyes of a werewolf a week before the change."
  • "He'd fought two wars over eight years, with more deployments than he cared to remember."
  • "But he liked fixing old houses. He'd done it with his dad in Northern Wisconsin. ... The job today was simple, a battle he could win using only his mind, his muscles, and a few basic tools. He could get lost in the challenge and let the war years fade."
  • Peter is suffering from a unique form of PTSD. "He called it the white static. His very own war souvenir." It makes it impossible for him to stay inside for very long. So for the past year he's lived outside, wandering the North Cascades, hiking, camping, breathing, and hoping the static will go away.
  • When he learns that his friend and fellow marine, Jimmy Johnson, has just committed suicide, Peter knows he has to come down from the mountain to do what he can to help out Jimmy's widow and their two little boys. 
  • Somehow Peter ends up with the meanest, ugliest, and smelliest dog he's ever seen...because he can't make himself take it to the pound.
  • When he fixes Dinah Johnson's front porch (for free), he finds a bag filled with money and plastic explosives. And Peter knows he has to find out how it got there, and who wants it back, before Dinah and her boys get hurt.

Action. Mystery. A totally likable character. And a dog! This book has it all. And it reads fast. I really liked this one. Can't wait to read the next book in the series.

Happy Reading!

Monday, September 21, 2020

Haiku Reviews....

The Devil's Bones (#3) by Jefferson Bass

How do bodies burn?
Bill's investigating when an
old enemy returns.

Mystery .... 309 pages .... 4/5 stars.

The Haunting of Henderson Close by Catherine Cavendish

Ghosts, time slips, ancient
evil loosed -- strange things are afoot
in this old Edinburgh close.

Supernatural/horror .... 229 pages .... 3/5 stars.

Things You Save in a Fire by Katherine Center 

Firefighting is her 
first and only love .... until
she meets the Rookie.

Contemporary romance .... 310 pages .... 4.5/5 stars.
(Even better than Center's Happiness for Beginners.)

The Werewolf Dates the Deputy by Kristen Painter

Jenna and Titus
must fight off a love spell and
a wraith--what a week!

Supernatural romance .... 325 pages .... 4/5 stars.
(The relationship between these two characters and their humorous exchanges totally made me smile!)

Happy Reading!

Friday, September 18, 2020

Fantasy Fun...

"The prophecies all indicate that the time of darkness .... when Evil will walk free on the earth, roaming where it will and killing whomever it wishes .... will take root on  the day the king sets sail, abandoning his people to their fate."

That time has come. King Richard, along with many of his noblemen, has sailed for the Holy Land leaving his brother, Prince John, to reign in his absence. John's cruelty and greed is quickly made evident to the people. What is less apparent at first is the unspeakable evil that he's brought with him to England. No one's sure how to fight this spreading dark magic, but the prophecies give one glimmer of hope.
"A man will rise and accept the mantle of leadership, to fight a war while the infirm can only watch .... (a man) of Sherwood."

I don't read as much fantasy these days as I used to, but every once in awhile I get in the mood for an epic read with magic and swords (or a bow and arrow in this case), good vs. evil, and an unexpected (and often reluctant) hero. Mark of the Black Arrow, the first book in the Robin Hood: Demon's Bane trilogy by Debbie Viguie and James R. Tuck is a fun retelling of Robin Hood but with a supernatural twist. I liked it a lot. Especially the characters. As the king's niece, Marian is determined to stop Prince John despite the vulnerability of her own position in his court. She forms a small rebellion with Will Scarlet, Alan-a-Dale, Little John and Friar Tuck. But what they really need is a hero to lead them. Only the Hood is just an old legend. And Robin Longstride? He's young and stubborn and hot-tempered, and more at home hunting in Sherwood Forest than he is at his own home. He's also just the man they need if they have any hope of defeating Prince John and the very evil (and not-quite-human) Sheriff of Nottingham.

Talk about a good first book in this fantasy series! I really liked Robin, Marian and Will. And I can't wait to read the next two books. Here's hoping my library gets them in soon.

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a fun weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. Each week has a different theme.

This week's theme:  Cover Freebie!

I decided just to have fun with this one; I haven't read any of these books, but I do love their covers. And can you believe how similar they are? I was having so much fun, I couldn't stop at just ten.

1. Resistance by J.L. Knight

2. Graceling by Kristin Cashore

3. Empire of Sand by Tasha Suri

4. Malice by John Gwynne

5. Seeker by Arwen Elys Dayton

6. The Steel Remains by Richard Morgan

7. Legacy of Kings by Eleanor Herman 

8. The Lords of the Wind by C.J. Adrien

9. The Warrior Heir by Cinda Williams Chima

10. Priest of Bones by Peter McLean

11. Markswoman by Rati Mehrotra

12.  Sword of Ruyn by R.G. Long

13. The Legend of Avondel by Bella Dawn

Happy Reading!

Saturday, September 12, 2020

A haunting read...

 "He'd thought Rookward would be a sanctuary, their safe shelter to keep the hungry tiger out. But it had become a cage instead."

 Guy's life isn't going well. Not only has he lost his fiancee and his job, he's had to move back in with his mother. So when he finds the deed to Rookward House in his mother's attic, he has a glimmer of hope. If he can fix it up and sell it, he might have enough money to make a fresh start somewhere else. But while Rookward House has been abandoned for fifty years, it's not exactly empty. Doors open and shut; Guy hears footsteps and the crackle of a baby monitor; he even sees the face of a woman with long, dark hair. Either he's losing his mind, or there's a malevolent spirit haunting Rookward House.
"His mind unravelled as it fought to make sense of what he'd seen. ... This house is messing with my mind. He'd never been a jumpy sort of person, but he guessed the isolation and claustrophobic spaces were making him see things that didn't exist."
 The Haunting of Rookward House by Darcy Coates is an entertaining ghost story, but then I always like a book with a haunted house in it. Guy's a likable protagonist, and the back story of Rookward House is suitably creepy. I liked the way the truth about it unfolded bit by bit. Most of the intense ghostly action doesn't take place until the second half of the book, but then...it's page-turning, chilling and scary fun. Talk about a creepy psycho ghost! Overall, this one's a good, quick read that's perfect for this time of year.

Happy Reading!

Other haunting reads by Darcy Coates:

Thursday, September 10, 2020

September's Bookish Art...

Hubert Salentin -- Reading after the day's work, 1875

"Reading gives us someplace to go 
when we have to stay where we are."
--Mason Cooley

Monday, September 7, 2020

I love Agatha Christie!

"Hercule Poirot was silent for a minute and a half. Did he wish to embroil himself in the troubles of Miss Lemon's sister and the passions and grievances of a polyglot hostel? But it was very annoying and inconvenient to have Miss Lemon making mistakes in typing his letters. He told himself that if he were to embroil himself in the matter, that would be the reason. He did not admit to himself that he had been rather bored of late and that the very triviality of the business attracted him."

In Agatha Christie's Hickory Dickory Dock, Hercule Poirot agrees to investigate a series of small thefts and mean-spirited pranks at a student hostel where the sister of his secretary works and boards. It's an odd list of incidents: missing lightbulbs, a stolen ring, a slashed rucksack, minor objects taken, ink spilled on a homework assignment, etc. What's really puzzling is that not all of these separate incidents feel like they're related. But Poirot sees patterns no one else does. Only just as he thinks he has a handle on the minor thefts, there's a murder. And the case gets even more complicated.

This is a well-written and entertaining mystery that does not disappoint. And after reading Eight Perfect Murders, I was totally in the mood for a mystery like this. Poirot is always a favorite. And I really enjoyed the mix of students living at the hostel with all their quirks and eccentricities. Of course, it kept me guessing, as all Christie mysteries do, but all the pieces came together at the end thanks to Poirot's genius and persistence. I liked this one a lot!

Happy Reading!

Saturday, September 5, 2020

Three things to make you smile...

(Because, really, does anybody truly know how to drive these things??)

(Haven't we all had days that felt like this??) 

Keep smiling!
And happy reading.

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

A bookish thriller...

Malcolm Kershaw owns The Old Devils Bookstore, a bookstore in Boston specializing in mysteries, even though he no longer likes to read mysteries. These days he prefers history and poetry. Not that he tells his customers that. Or Agent Mulvey, the FBI agent who enlists his help looking into a string of murders tied to a list he once wrote: a list of eight perfect murders drawn from eight classic mysteries that includes Strangers on a Train, The A.B.C. Murders, and Deathtrap.  Malcolm's not a murder suspect, yet, but he does have some terrible secrets he wants to keep hidden. And if these murders are truly tied to that list he wrote, then the killer might be targeting Malcolm next.

There's a lot to like about Peter Swanson's Eight Perfect Murders. The mystery itself is clever, with good suspense and some unexpected twists along the way. And it revolves around books, something I always like. I'd read several of the mystery novels mentioned in this one, which made it even more fun. There's an awesome bookstore cat named Nero. And Malcolm is a likable narrator and, with all his flaws, felt very human. I knew he was hiding something, but I wasn't sure what. It made me not quite trust him, and the reveal at the end left me feeling a little cold, but I still really liked this one. In fact, I thought it was as enjoyable as the Agatha Christie mysteries it references.

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Top Ten Tuesday

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

This week's theme: Books That Make Me Hungry.

So, here are my choices...10 books that look and sound good enough to read:

1. One S'more Summer by Beth Merlin

2. The Coincidence of Coconut Cake by Amy E. Reichart

3. Vanity Fare by Megan Caldwell

4. Artichoke's Heart by Suzanne Supplee

5. The Mango Season by Amulya Malladi

6. Delicious by Adrianne Lee

7. Devil's Food Cake by Josi S. Kilpack

8. Blackberry Wine by Joanne Harris

9. The Cupcake Queen by Heather Hepler

10. Cure for the Common Breakup by Beth Kendrick

(I tried not to make them all cakes on the cover, but it was tricky.)
Happy eating...and reading!

Saturday, August 29, 2020

After Sundown...

"And so it began, not with thunderous noise, or drama, or a cataclysmic collapse, but with silence."

Ex-military, Ben Jernigan likes living alone atop Cove Mountain. With a security system, solar panels, and a large supply of food, he doesn't need anyone, and he's prepared for just about anything. Including a catastrophic solar storm that knocks out the power not just across the United States, but across the world. What he's not prepared for is his feelings for Sela Gordon, the shy convenience store owner he can't help warning about the impending CME. As Sela struggles to get her aunt, niece, and their neighbors to pull together to survive this unexpected natural disaster, Ben can't help but get involved. Because for him, Sela is worth the fight.

I've always been drawn to books about ordinary people who are forced to survive extraordinary events--seeing how prepared they are, how they react, what choices they make. It always makes me stop and think what I would do in a similar situation. (It also always makes me want to run to the grocery store and stock up on the essentials, like chocolate.)

After Sundown by Linda Howard and Linda Jones is the story of what happens in a small Tennessee community after several large solar flares knock out the power, not just for a day, but for over a year. Sela gets thrown into a position of leadership she really doesn't want, and Ben reluctantly gets drawn down from his mountain retreat to help her and the others out. I liked them both. Their quiet yet intense romance threads its way through all the survival action and suspense. It's not a combination that will work for everyone, but I thought it was entertaining and fun. Overall, I really liked this one.

Happy Reading!

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Random thoughts...

Poignant moment on the first day of school:  When a 5th grade teacher was directing his students to their assigned seats in the cafeteria and realized as they started eating lunch that it was the first time he'd seen any of their faces. (Masks are required in all public schools here in Utah.)

Funny moment on the second day of school:  When a cute 5th grader tried to take a bite of her sandwich only to realize she was still wearing her mask. It made all the kids around her laugh.

Scary moment of the week:  Waiting to hear whether a close co-worker's COVID test was positive or negative. (Happily, it was negative!)

Happy moment of the week:  Discovering Julian Fellowes' adaptation of Anthony Trollope's book, Dr. Thorne. I still haven't read any of Trollope's novels, but I'm loving this mini series: the characters, the costumes, the drama...it's delightful.

Enjoy your Thursday!

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

In Honor of Mother Teresa's 110th Birthday...

And because a post is never complete without at least one book in it...

Happy Reading!

Sunday, August 23, 2020

Haiku Reviews....

The Darkest Thread by Jen Blood

Jamie, her son, and their dogs
search for two missing sisters
in haunted Vermont woods.

Mystery .... 325 pages .... 3.5/5 stars.
(I'm hoping her next one is even better.)

Girls Save the World in This One by Ash Parsons

Three friends must fight
to survive when real zombies
invade ZombieCom!

YA Action/Adventure .... 425 pages .... 3.5/5 stars.
(Fun, but a little angsty at the start.)

Bent Heavens by Daniel Kraus

Was her father right?
Do aliens exist? Liv's
about to find out.

YA Science Fiction .... 291 pages .... 2.5/5 stars.
(Took a weird turn halfway through and the ending was really sad.)

The Vampire's Fake Fiancee by Kristen Painter

Sebastian and Tessa
are only pretending to be in love...
until they're not.

Supernatural Romance .... 347 pages .... 4.5/5 stars.
(Another cute one that totally made me smile.)

Happy Reading!

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Rereading Jane Austen in August...

I don't care what anyone else says, I like Fanny Price! She may not be as outspoken, confident or lively as Elizabeth Bennett or Emma Woodhouse are, but then she doesn't enjoy the same privilege of position that they do either. She's the poor relation who's treated more like a servant than a member of the family. In a lot of ways, Fanny Price is Jane Austen's version of Cinderella. She's quiet, long-suffering, generous, and kind, but most of all, she has a good heart. (Plus, she loves books--having "been a collector from the first hour of her commanding a shilling.") And that's why I like her. She's good. (A quality highly under-rated these days.)

What I noticed most as I read Mansfield Park this time around is that the book is really a study in contrasts between Mary Crawford and Fanny Price. They are such opposites. Mary is outgoing and makes conversation easily; Fanny is quiet and shy. Mary needs to be constantly active and amused; Fanny finds contentment in solitude--enjoying her books and her own thoughts. Mary is careless and never chastises her brother, Henry, for his outrageous flirtations; Fanny sees and silently condemns his dishonorable behavior. When Mary has the chance to marry for love, she refuses because Edmund's position in society isn't prominent or important enough for her. Fanny, on the other hand, has the chance to marry a man of wealth and position, but refuses because he's not a man she can love.

So who's more likeable? For me, Fanny wins hands down. And I'm glad that, like Cinderella, she gets her happily ever after in the end. Because she deserves it. So, here's to Fanny! 

Happy Reading!

P.S. And while they've yet to make a really good movie version of this particular Austen novel, this 2007 Masterpiece one wasn't too bad.