Friday, May 29, 2020

Desperate Creed by Alex Kava

Frankie Russo is on the phone with her co-worker when he's murdered. Now the men who killed him are after her. Afraid for her life, she starts driving to Florida where her friend Hannah lives and works with Ryder Creed and all his search dogs. She's going to need both theirs and FBI Agent Maggie O'Dell's help to deal with the situation she is in. But a slew of tornadoes are raging across the Southern states, making Frankie's cross-country trek even more dangerous. It also means Ryder and Jason and their K9 partners are heading into the storm's path to search for any survivors, while Ryder's vulnerable sister, Brodie, waits for them at home.

"Creed let his eyes wander out the window. Blue skies, not a hint of the storms predicted for later in the day. He realized that was sort of how Brodie was. ... There seemed to be an internal storm still brewing beneath her surface, though she pretended everything was blue skies. He knew that PTSD worked differently in everyone. He had dealt with his own on his own terms. But he also knew that it could sneak up on you when you least expected it. When you thought you'd put it behind you. Just when you felt safe and secure."

MY THOUGHTS:  This is another good one from Alex Kava--compelling and well-written. And Ryder Creed is still one of my favorite characters. In this one, he's trying to help his sister recover from her past (which is explained in Kava's previous novel Lost Creed), figure out his relationship with Maggie, and deal with the aftermath of several tornadoes alongside his best scent dog, Grace--tornadoes that put both Frankie and Maggie in jeopardy. I love all the dogs in these books. And I really like Ryder's sister, Brodie, who is both fragile and tough. And that tornado action? Crazy and scary! Desperate Creed is a great combination of mystery, suspense, and survival. I'd give it 4.5/5 stars.

Happy Reading!

P.S. Be sure to begin the Creed adventure with the first book in this series:  Breaking Creed.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

For laughs...

Here's your John Atkinson fix for the week:

Isn't it great?
Be sure to check out his website for more laughs.

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Top Ten Tuesday

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

This week's theme:  Opening lines.

I considered finding ten classic openers for this post. Or ten fabulous beginnings from some of my favorite books. But that seemed like a lot of work. So I took the easy way out and went with the opening lines from eight recent reads and two books that are sitting on my TBR pile instead. Would any of them make you want to keep reading?

1. You know in the movies when someone says "You can't fire me, I quit!"
....maybe don't do that in real life.  
--Vivien Chien

2. The good thing about being suddenly overcome with fresh terror is that you forget everything else you were afraid of. 
--Paige Shelton

3. Sarah missed the end of the world because of the flu.
--P.J. Dziekan

4. The librarian and her mule spotted it at the same time. 
--Kim Michele Richardson

5. If my sister Alma had lived, I should never have begun the seances. 
--John Harwood

6. When Thomas Wolfe said you can't go home again, 
Cat Latimer wondered if he knew he was full of crap. 
-- Lynn Cahoon

7. There are many perks to living for twenty-one centuries, and foremost among them is bearing witness to the rare birth of genius. 
-- Kevin Hearne

8. Ethan Kaille eased his knife from the leather sheath on his belt as he approached Griffin's wharf, the words of a warding spell on his lips. 
--D.B. Jackson

9. It was three minutes past midnight, and the dead wouldn't leave me alone.
-- Suzanne Harper

10. The Nazi officers are dressed in black. They look at death with the indifference of a gravedigger. 
--Antonio Iturbe

Happy Reading!

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Haiku Reviews...

Hounded by Kevin Hearne

An angry Celtic God
wants Atticus dead; the druid
has other ideas.

Urban fantasy .... 289 pages .... 4.5/5 stars.
(Another fun read from my TBR shelf.)

The Captain's Wallflower by Audrey Harrison

One wallflower plus
a blind naval captain and
a dog equals love.

Regency Romance .... 174 pages .... 4/5 stars.
(I bought this one a couple of years ago.)

Jungle by Yossi Ghinsberg

His Amazon trek
becomes a test of survival when
he's separated from his friends.

Nonfiction/ Travel memoir .... 322 pages .... 3.5/5 stars.

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Still reading from my own shelves....

Title & Author:  Walking With the Dead by P.J. Dziekan

Why I bought it:  I was in the mood for a zombie apocalypse book sometime last year, and my library didn't have this one, so I bought it. (And then ended up not reading it until now.)

First line:  Sarah missed the end of the world because of the flu.

The plot in brief:  A bunch of strangers band together in order to survive the swarms of the undead:  college student, Sarah, brothers Ryan and Mick, Becca, and six-year-old Elizabeth.

My thoughts:  This is a pretty decent zombie read. It's a little predictable. And there are a few flaws here and there, but overall I thought it was entertaining and fun. Some of the flaws? The dialogue felt a little stilted in a few places, but just at the beginning. And Ryan, Becca and Sarah all overreacted at times in ways that didn't feel authentic (which a little more initial character development would have easily solved). And towards the end of the book the band of survivors just happen to find an undisturbed food distribution center with boxes and boxes of food...which felt a little too convenient, if you know what I mean. Oh, and there are too many f-bombs in the first chapter. But there are good things, too. The prose reads well. The characters grow and get more likable over the course of the book. It's fast-paced and never bogs down. I liked Mick right from the start. I also liked the way the characters worked together to survive, and how each one had their own strengths and weaknesses. Plus, there are zombies. All in all, I ended up liking this one enough to want to buy the sequel, Home With the Dead, sometime in the near future. Although my library MIGHT open up for curbside checkouts next week, so I might not need to keep buying new books. (Fingers crossed!)

My rating:  3.5/5 stars.

Happy Reading!

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Supernatural suspense...

Rules For Vanishing by Kate Alice Marshall

From the blurb:  "Sara's sister disappeared one year ago--and only Sara knows where she is. Becca went to find the ghost of Lucy Gallows and is trapped on her road. ... When Sara and her skeptical friends meet in the forest to search for Becca, the mysterious road unfurls before them. All they have to do is walk down it. But the path to Lucy has its own rules. Every mistake summons new horrors. Vengeful spirits and broken, angry creatures are waiting for them to slip, and no on is guaranteed safe passage. The only certainty is this:  the road has a toll and it will be paid. "

My thoughts:  A small town legend. A missing girl. A haunted road. Eerie atmosphere. Nightmarish creatures. And documentary-style storytelling. What's not to like? This compelling story is a dark and suspenseful puzzle. And that road Sara and her friends are traveling? It's a waking nightmare. I've never read anything by Kate Alice Marshall before, but I really liked her lyrical prose and the way she chose to tell this story. This book doesn't unfold in a traditional linear way; instead, this narrative is a collection of interview clips, cell phone videos, and personal narratives pieced together in a way that builds the mystery and suspense layer by layer. And I really liked it. For me, this YA novel was fun and entertaining. And I can't wait to see what Marshall writes next. 

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Abandoned books...

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

This week's Top Ten list? The Last 10 Books You Abandoned.

But I decided to tweak it just a bit. My 10 "Abandoned" books are ones I actually still hope to read sometime in the near future. Do any look good to you?

1. Abandon by Blake Crouch

2. Sheer Abandon by Penny Vincenzi

3. Abandoned by Cody McFadyen

4. Abandon by Stephanie Dorman

5. Tears of Abandon by Oliver Phipps

6. Abandon by Carla Neggers

7. Abandoned by C.J. Petit

8. Garden of the Lost and Abandoned by Jessica Yu

9. The Abandoned Orphanage by John Carter

10. Abandoned by Allison Brennan

Happy Reading!

Saturday, May 9, 2020

May's bookish art...

Marcus C. Stone -- The Book, 1900

"...I can bear anything as long as there are books."
--Jo Walton

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

More from my TBR shelf...

Title & Author:  Beneath the Dark Ice by Greig Beck

Why I bought it:  I was throwing books into my Amazon cart last year and this was one of them. It's set in a series of caves under the ice in Antarctica--two settings I love--and I thought it looked like fun. So I bought it.

The plot in brief: When a plane crashes over Antarctica, it reveals a vast underground system of caves. The first team sent in to explore them disappears without a trace. Capt. Alex Hunter leads the second team, along with five other trained commandos, several scientists, and a fierce and fiesty petrobiologist named Aimee Weir. Alex has some very special skills that make him perfect for this kind of expedition, and he's going to need every single one of them. Because that plane that crashed? It awakened something living in the waters deep within the caves. Something ancient, and murderous, and hungry. And it's not the only thing hiding in the dark.

My thoughts:  This action-packed thriller requires a willing suspension of disbelief in order to fully enjoy it because aspects of it are a little far-fetched, but it's also a fast-paced, well-written and entertaining thrill ride. And it held my interest in these crazy coronavirus days. Plus, I really liked the main characters. (Super soldiers are kind of awesome.)  And those ancient creatures lurking in the black depths of those caves beneath the Antarctic ice? Pretty creepy and terrifying. Beck has written several other Alex Hunter novels, and I wouldn't mind reading another one, or two. Maybe the next time I'm filling  my cart with books, I'll throw another one in. Because this was a fun read. Not literary, or deep, but definitely fun.

My rating:  4/5 stars.

Happy Reading!

Monday, May 4, 2020

Got birds?

I started birding eight years ago--visiting bird refuges, going to bird festivals, taking bird walks, and keeping lists of the different birds I saw. My bird list grew over the years as I saw more and more birds, from owls to egrets to chickadees. And last month, I finally spotted my 200th bird: a blue-winged teal!

It was swimming all alone on a section of the river where I normally only see mallards, coots, and the occasional double-crested cormorant. It must have been making a short pit-stop on its yearly migration, because it was gone the next week. I call that birding serendipity. Then, on the last Saturday of April, I added another new bird to my bird list. The common loon.

Which makes my new total 201 birds. Not bad for an amateur birder. So, here's to all the amazing birds I've seen over the years, from the more common variety that visit my own backyard every year to the slightly more exotic birds that took a little bit of doing to actually see for myself. I've loved each and every one.

Happy Birding!

5 more favorites that I've seen over the years:

(Belted Kingfisher)

(Blue-footed Booby)

(Burrowing Owl)


(Vermillion Flycatcher)

Friday, May 1, 2020

From my TBR shelf...

Title & Author:  The Bachelor by Stella Gibbons

Why I bought it:  I loved Cold Comfort Farm so much I wanted to read more of Gibbons' novels. So I bought this one.

The plot in brief:  Constance Fielding and her bachelor brother, Kenneth, share a house outside of London. An elderly cousin lives with them. Their life is ordered and quiet...and a little dull. But with World War II still going on, they end up having to take in some boarders. First comes a former sweetheart of Ken's with her 26-year-old son, Richard. Then comes a young refugee named Vartouhi Annamatta. And it's Vartouhi who really livens up all their lives.

My thoughts:  This novel got off to a slow start. So slow, in fact, I almost quit reading it. But I persisted, and I'm glad I did because the novel got better, and the ending was humorous and fun. I never liked Connie; she's one of those sanctimonious and controlling characters who take all the joy out of life. Her brother, Ken, on the other hand, and the other members of the household were quite likable. But it's Vartouhi who's really one of a kind. I liked her a lot. While I didn't enjoy this one as much as I did Cold Comfort Farm, it's still a decent read.

My rating:  3/5 stars.

Happy Reading!

Another Stella Gibbons' book that I enjoyed:  Nightingale Wood