Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Top Ten Tuesday

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

This week's theme:  Most Anticipated Releases for the Second Half of 2020.

This was an easy list to compile. There are a lot of books coming out this year that I'm looking forward to reading. Here are the ones I'm anticipating most:

Coming in July:

The Lost and Found Bookshop 
by Susan Wiggs

Outsider by Linda Castillo

Hidden Creed
by Alx Kava

Coming in August:

Brass Carriages and Glass Hearts
by Nancy Campbell Allen

Shadows of the Dead
by Spencer Kope

Coming in September:

Hanging Falls
by Margaret Mizushima

Murder at Queen's Landing
by Andrea Penrose

Coming in October:

Nothing Short of Wondrous by Regina Scott

Coming in December:

Cold Wind
by Paige Shelton

Forged (Alex Verus #11)
by Benedict Jacka

Happy Reading!

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Urban fantasy fun....

Title & Author:  The Veil (Devil's Isle #1) by Chloe Neill

Genre:  Urban fantasy

Setting:  New Orleans, after the Paranormal War.

"On an equally sweltering day in October seven years ago, the veil--the barrier that separated humans from a world of magic we hadn't even known existed--was shattered by the Paranormals who'd lived in what we now called the Beyond. They wanted our world, and they didn't have a problem eradicating us in the process. They spilled through the fracture, bringing death and destruction--and changing everything: Magic was now real and measurable and a scientific fact."

The main character:  Claire Connolly--24, proprietor of the Royal Mercantile Store, a redhead, and a Sensitive.
"I'd moved it with my mind, with the telekinetic magic I wasn't supposed to have. At least, not unless I wanted a lifetime prison sentence .... Magic wasn't a problem for Paras .... but Sensitives couldn't process magic that way. Instead, we just kept absorbing more and more magic, until we lost ourselves completely. Until we became wraiths, pale and dangerous shadows of the humans we'd once been."
The complication:  Liam Quinn, the Cajun bounty  hunter who hunts down wraiths...and Sensitives. Only when he learns the truth about Claire, he doesn't turn her in; he offers to help her learn to control her magic instead.
"I found it suddenly so odd that I hadn't even known this man existed a few hours ago. A wraith attack, his intervention, a Containment interview, a trip into Devil's Isle, and everything that had gone on there. We'd gone from strangers to strange allies."
My thoughts:  Neill's built a grant fantasy world centered around New Orleans. I liked the paranormal war background and all it entails. Neill's characters are also a lot of fun.  I liked how brave and determined Claire is; she and Liam make a great team. I also really liked Liam's paranormal friends. And the supernatural suspense? It's very entertaining. Wraith attacks are increasing. Sensitives are disappearing. There's mystery and magic... and a bit of mayhem, too. What's not to like? I'll definitely be reading the next book in this series.

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Haiku reviews...

Two Girls Down by Louisa Luna

Alice Vega and Max Caplan
break all the rules to find
two missing sisters.

Mystery .... 304 pages .... 4.5/5 stars.
(I love these two characters!)

Cottage at the Beach by Lee Tobin McClain

She teaches troubled teens.
He's an injured cop on leave.
Neither are looking for love.
(It happens anyway.)

Contemporary romance .... 346 pages .... 3.5/5 stars.

Dog Driven by Terry Lynn Johnson

Eight sled dogs. A girl
who's going blind. And two hundred
miles of snow and ice.

YA Adventure .... 223 pages .... 4/5 stars.

A Most Inconvenient Marriage by Regina Jennings

Abigail thought she married
dying soldier Jeb Calhoun...But
the real Jeb is still alive.
Now what?

Historical romance (set at the end of the Civil War) .... 324 pages .... 4/5 stars.
(Such a cute story.)

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Happy 10th!

Top Ten Tuesday turns 10 today! This fun weekly meme was started by The Broke and the Bookish and is now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.

Every week there's a new top ten theme that revolves around books in some way. But this week, instead of revisiting a previous top ten post, or choosing a past topic I skipped like was suggested, I decided to go with my favorite Top Ten Tuesday posts instead.

Here they are...10 past Top Ten Tuesday posts that I had the most fun putting together:

(I think everyone enjoyed doing this one!)

If you want to know more about who I am as a reader, check out any or all of these posts.

Happy Reading!

Saturday, June 20, 2020

A Novel in Pictures...

The War Bride's Scrapbook by Caroline Preston

Lila Jerome, a Southern girl from Charlottesville, Virginia, meets Perry Weld, an army engineer who hopes to be an architect one day, on Nov. 5, 1942. They get married on Nov. 20 and Perry ships out on Nov. 26 leaving his lovely war bride behind. This scrapbook chronicles their brief courtship, their years apart during the war, and what happens after. It's a collage of words and art, telling Lila's and Perry's story through pictures, sketches, letters, journal entries, postcards and some fascinating World War II memorabilia. I found all the historical details very fun and interesting.

I love these kinds of novels; they're so whimsical and creative. Preston's previous novel in pictures, The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt is one of my all-time favorite books. This one is very similar artistically, though the story itself, of course, is different. I liked both Lila and Perry, and their whirlwind marriage, and their experiences through the war, but I thought the way Preston ended this one was pretty depressing, so I didn't love that part of it. Still, I'm very glad I read it. 

Other artistic novels I love:

The Tattoed Map by Barbara Hodson

The Griffin & Sabine books by Nick Bantock

And, of course, The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt

All of these books are worth checking out.

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

June's Bookish Art...

Robert James Gordon -- Woman Reading

"In books, she could be anybody she wanted."
--Donato Carrisi

Sunday, June 14, 2020

No Man's Land by Sara Driscoll

 Urbexing:  Urban exploration, usually of abandoned or nearly inaccessible man-made structures.

From the blurb:
"For Meg Jennings and her K-9 companion, Hawk, exploring the ruins of a deserted building is an exciting way to sharpen their skills without the life-or-death stakes they face as part of the FBI's Human Scent Evidence Team. But deep in the echoing rooms of an abandoned asylum, Hawk finds the body of an elderly woman. The victim couldn't have made her way into the derelict building on her own. Before forty-eight hours pass, Meg learns of more cases of elders found dead in neglected urban structures.

There's not enough evidence to link the deaths--yet. But Meg scents a pattern, and when she gets word of another senior gone missing, she and Hawk don't hesitate. Meg is sure a murderer is hunting the elderly, and she can prove it if she can just find a connection. It will take the expert coordination of her whole team, along with help from Clay McCord and Todd Webb, to uncover the means, let alone a motive. And to stop someone who has operated in the dark for so long, Meg will need to risk more than she has to give . . ."

My thoughts:
This is a fun series that just keeps getting better with each book. My favorite parts, of course, are all the ones involving Meg's dog, Hawk, and his work as an FBI search-and-rescue dog. In this one, he and Meg have to search several old and abandoned buildings, which made for some very interesting and suspenseful settings. I also loved how the author included urbexing terms and definitions at the beginning of every chapter. Who knew urbexing was even a thing?

The mystery in this one is unique and compelling. I really enjoyed watching Meg and the others figure it out.

And those interesting friends and co-workers of Meg's? They're one more reason I keep reading this series. I like how Meg's sister, Cara, and Clay McCord, a Washington reporter, add insight (and some mad research skills) in helping Meg solve her cases. And I really like Meg's interactions with Todd Webb, her fire-fighter boyfriend. They make a good team. And it's because of these relationships, and how they grow and change over time, that it's best to read this series in order, starting with the first book, Lone Wolf.

Happy Reading!

Thursday, June 11, 2020

The End of Temperance Dare by Wendy Webb

"I have left a puzzle for you to solve, Eleanor Harper. You, the would-be sleuth. You, of the curious mind. I know you will latch on to it, just as you latched on to the murders of my father and sister all those years ago. I trust you'll be more successful this time. You see, that's why I chose you and brought you to Cliffside. Only you can work out all of the mysteries that are swirling through these halls....my nightmare is over. Yours, however is just beginning."

Brief summary of the plot:
Situated on the shore of Lake Superior, Cliffside Manor was built in 1925 as a TB sanatorium. Decades later, Chester Dare turned it into an exclusive retreat for writers and artists. Penelope Dare, his daughter, has just hired Eleanor Harper to be Cliffside's new director. Eleanor, who spent 20 years as a crime journalist, is looking forward to her new job in this peaceful haven. But all is not as it seems at Cliffside. First, there's an unexpected death. And Eleanor keeps waking up in the middle of the night to the sound of children laughing, only there aren't any children there. Then the five guests--a photographer, a landscape artist, a poet and two writers--all seem to have a connection to Cliffside's past. Why did Penelope bring them all here? And what's the mystery that Eleanor is supposed to solve? And does it have anything to do with the ghostly children haunting the manor?

My thoughts:
This is a very entertaining read. It combines the enigmatic mystery surrounding the Dare family with the history of Cliffside Manor as a sanatorium and a haunting supernatural twist. There's an eerie atmosphere at Cliffside throughout the book that I liked, but the most suspenseful ghostly activity doesn't happen until the last third of the novel. It's the same with Eleanor's attempts to solve the mystery of Cliffside. I felt like she didn't make any real progress until the other guests arrived. Although, to be fair, she doesn't have a lot of clues to go on at first, and none of the servants are exactly forthcoming with their secrets. And the ghostly secrets of Cliffside are as plentiful as they are unexpected. I guessed a few of them, but most I did NOT see coming. Which made for a compelling, if fantastic, ending. I would have liked a few more clues along the way to how this one was going to end because I felt like it came out of nowhere. But it was suspenseful. One other thing bugged me at the end, but to talk about it is to spoil one of the big reveals, so I'll just say this wasn't a perfect read, but I still liked it. What made it even better was reading it with Melody! Be sure to check out her review to see what she liked...and didn't like about this one.

Happy Reading!

Melody's questions to me...and my answers:

1. What do you think of Eleanor and what do you like and/or dislike about her?
For the most part, I liked Eleanor, although I felt she was a little slow to accept the idea that Cliffside might me haunted. And for being a crime journalist, I felt like she kept stopping her investigation into Cliffside's mystery too soon...although I guess the reason for that gets explained at the end. One thing I didn't like is how she was instantly attracted to two of the men she meets at Cliffside, that bugged me. But I liked how she didn't panic or faint at the scary parts. And I liked her interactions with the servants and other guests. Overall, she made a good narrator.

2. In your opinion, what are the attractions of this story? 
The Gothic atmosphere surrounding Cliffside; it's such a cool old manor! And the fact that you know something eerie and creepy is going on there right from the beginning, even though you have no idea what exactly it is. And I always like stories with ghosts, and that have a supernatural twist to the mystery, so that was good, too.

Thanks for another fun buddy read, Melody!

Friday, June 5, 2020

A fun beach read...

Here's the thing about writing Happily Ever Afters: it helps if you believe in them.
Here's the thing about me: I did until the day of my father's funeral.

At 29, January Andrews has already written four romantic novels; her fifth is due at the end of the summer, but she's finding it hard to believe in love ever since she found out her parents' happy marriage wasn't as perfect as she once thought. Being at her father's beach house--the one she didn't even know he owned--isn't helping. Especially when she discovers that Augustus Everett, her old college writing nemesis, is living next door. Gus writes serious 'literary' fiction and has always scorned the happy endings in her stories. Only it turns out he's suffering from a bout of writer's block, too. So they make a deal:  January will try her hand at writing something more serious while Gus pens something romantic and happy. Whoever gets their novel published at the end of the summer will be declared the winner. But spending the summer together just might bring them something even better than winning the bet. It just might bring them love.

Things I loved about this novel:

πŸ’š January and Gus are well-developed, three-dimensional characters, not just predictable cliches.

πŸ’™ Their humorous banter.

πŸ’œTheir romantic writing field trips...and the funny mishaps that occur along the way.

πŸ’š Their honest and heartfelt conversations.

πŸ’™ How the awkwardness of their past relationship changes and deepens into friendship and then love over the course of the novel.

πŸ’œ The happy ending. (Of course!)

Things I didn't love:

πŸ˜• Umm...I can't really think of anything.

To Sum Up:
Beach Read by Emily Henry was the perfect summer read for me. It's entertaining. And it never made me roll my eyes in frustration at the characters... or at the bumps in their relationship. It's well-written. It's romantic. And it made me smile. As a fun summer beach read, I'd give this one 4.5/5 stars (even though the beach is hardly ever mentioned). 

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Top Ten Tuesday....

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

This week's theme:  Books that give off Summer Vibes.

Which made me stop and think about what says "SUMMER" to me. Here's what I came up with:

The Ocean:

by Peter Benchley

The Blue 
by Lucy Clarke

Beach Cottage:

Cottage at the Beach
by Lee Tobin McClain

The Summer Cottage
by Viola Shipman

Road Trip!

Helen & Troy's Epic Road Quest by A. Lee Martinez

Summer Camp:

Lumberjanes: Pungeon Master
by Noelle Stevenson and Grace Ellis
Illus. by Brooke A. Allen

Be Prepared
by Vera Brosgol

Amusement Parks!
(Even haunted ones.)

by Jeff Strand and James A. Moore

by Robin Parrish

Island life:

Fun Outdoor Adventure:

by Katherine Center

by Melinda Braun

(I picked these two because of their beautiful summery covers.)

Lakeshire Park
by Megan Walker

by Leah Garriott

Lazy days and childhood games:

Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury

Happy Reading!

Monday, June 1, 2020

Bookish happiness....

I have library books again! After being closed for 75 days, the Salt Lake County library system finally decided to give curbside checkouts a try. The process felt a little overly complicated at first, but it ended up working pretty well. And I have new books to read. So I'm happy! What did I check out?

The End of Temperance Dare by Wendy Webb
Two Girls Down by Louisa Luna
The Way of the Brave by Susan May Warren
A Most Inconvenient Marriage by Regina Jennings
Fast Cakes: Easy Bakes in Minutes by Mary Berry
The War Bride's Scrapbook by Caroline Preston
Hidden by Rebecca Zanetti
Dead Girls by Abigail Tarttelin
Collateral Damage by Lynette Eason
Cottage at the Beach by Lee Tobin McClain
The Man in the Brown Suit by Agatha Christie
The Veil by Chloe Neil

I know. I went a little overboard. (Okay, a lot overboard!) I'm sure I'm going to have to renew at least half of these in order to get them all read before they're due back. But that's what a pandemic and being library-deprived for so long does to me. And I love knowing that I have plenty of books to read...you know, just in case my library ends up unexpectedly closing again. Here's hoping all the libraries everywhere reopen soon.

Happy Reading!