Thursday, July 30, 2020

Bookshelf envy...

How are these for some beautiful reading spaces?
I'd love to have a room like either of these in my house!

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a fun weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week's theme was a Freebie! Sounds easy, right? But it actually took me awhile to figure out what I wanted to do this week. Here's what I finally decided on:

Seven Series I'm Seriously Behind In:
(Because I couldn't come up with ten.)

1. Jefferson Bass's Body Farm Series. 
There are 10 books in this series and I'm only on #3:

2. Richard Montanari's Jessica Balzano & Kevin Byrne Series.
There are 9 books in this series and once again I'm on #3 (sensing a pattern here?):

3. Elly Griffiths Ruth Galloway Series.
There are 12 books in this series and I'm on #5, 
although I think I somehow skipped reading #3.

4. Elly Griffiths Stephens & Mephisto mysteries.
There are only 5 books in this series so far, and I'm on #3.

5. Genevieve Cogman's Invisible Library Series.
There are now 7 books in this series and sadly, I'm only on #2.

6. Kevin Hearne's Iron Druid Chronicles.
There are 9 books in this series and I'm on #2. 
(But in my defense, I just started reading this series in March.)

7. Kelley Armstrong's Rockton Series.
There are 5 books in this series, with another coming out next year...
....and I still need to read #1.

So, there you have it. The seven series I'm the most behind in reading.
Luckily, there are an equal number of series where I'm actually all caught up. 
Like Briggs' Mercy Thompson series, Jacka's Alex Verus series, Thompson's Gaslight mysteries, Harris's Sebastian St. Cyr mysteries, Huber's Lady Darby series, and Castillo's Kate Burkholder mysteries. And I'm only one book behind in Bradley's Flavia de Luce series. So all is not lost.

What series do you love? Any of these?
Happy Reading!

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Vanishing Girls by Lisa Regan

Detective Josie Quinn's life is a complete mess:  she's been suspended from the police force for using excessive force, her husband, who's also on Denton's police force, cheated on her but won't sign their divorce papers, her new boyfriend wants to marry her, a TV reporter won't stop hounding her, and she doesn't know what to do with all the free time she's got on her hands.

What she really wants to do is help find Isabelle Coleman, a teen who's gone missing. When another girl who's been missing for over a year unexpectedly turns up, Josie thinks the two cases are connected. But she's been forbidden from investigating either one. Only it's not in her nature to just stand by and watch, even if getting involved means jeopardizing her career. Or even her life. Because there's something going on in Denton, something dark and dangerous.

My thoughts:
There's a lot to like about this one: a well-developed, complicated main character, good pacing, unexpected twists and turns, a chilling mystery, and a suspenseful ending. This is the first book in Regan's Detective Josie Quinn mystery series, and it's an excellent read. I really enjoyed it. And I'm looking forward to reading the other books that follow. Here's hoping they're all as good as this one.

Happy Reading!

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Need a laugh?

(This Adrian Raeside cartoon is great, isn't it?)

These made me laugh, too.

Have an awesome day!
(Despite everything that's going on in the world.)

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Haiku Reviews...

Good Girls Lie by J.T. Ellison 

The Goode School--an elite
boarding school for girls--and for
secrets, lies and murder.

Psychological thriller .... 458 pages .... 4/5 stars.
(Loved every crazy twist and turn. Want to know more? Check out Ethan's review; it's what made me want to read this one.)

The Sight (Devil's Isle #2) by Chloe Neill

A dangerous cult  targets
those with magic in Devil's Isle;
Claire and Liam fight back.

Urban fantasy .... 330 pages .... 4.5/5 stars.
(Even better than The Veil, the first book in this series.)

The Man in the Brown Suit by Agatha Christie

Stolen diamonds. Murder.
An amateur sleuth named Anne.
One fun adventure.

Mystery .... 288 pages .... 4/5 stars.
(This standalone mystery does not disappoint.)

Well Met by Jen DeLuca

A wench, a pirate, and 
a Renaissance Faire. But will
their summer romance last?

Contemporary romance .... 316 pages .... 4.5/5 stars.
(So cute and fun. I loved this one!)

Happy Reading!

Thursday, July 16, 2020

The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James

There's something not quite right about the Sun Down Motel. And it's not just because people have died there. Viv Delaney is sure that it's haunted. She's the night clerk at the motel and she keeps a notebook of the happenings and hauntings that go on there. But when she learns about Betty, Cathy and Victoria--three young women who were all murdered in Fell, New York, within the last four years--she begins investigating their deaths. Because she thinks they're connected. And she thinks she knows how. Only no one believes her. And then, on November 29, 1982, she disappears.

Thirty-five years later Carly Kirk comes to Fell to solve the mystery of Viv Delaney's disappearance--Viv is the aunt she never got a chance to meet. She follows Viv's tracks, even taking a job as the night clerk at the Sun Down. And that's when strange things start to happen: unexplained noises and smells, motel doors opening for no reason, and the appearance of a woman in a floral dress who isn't real. Soon, Carly is investigating more than just her missing aunt. She has some handsome help, too. Nick Harkness is staying at the motel...and he's seen the ghosts, too.

My thoughts:
A great combination of mystery and ghost story, The Sun Down Motel is one of those dual timeline novels that alternates between Viv's POV in 1982 and Carly's in 2017. I found both characters likable and engaging in their own ways, and I quickly got drawn into both of their stories. What I didn't love at first was jumping back and forth between the two narratives and having to remember where I last left Viv or Carly, and what suspenseful thing had just happened to each of them. Happily, St. James's writing pulled me back in every time. And the two story lines soon paralleled each other in a way that kept the suspense building. There's some great supernatural action throughout. I also liked the way Viv and Carly were able to solve the mysteries in their own respective timelines. I ended up really loving this one. But then, I've loved most of Simone St. James books. She's become one of my favorite authors. What made this one even better? Reading it with Melody! Be sure to check out her review to see what she thought of it.

Happy Reading!

Melody's questions to me about this book:

Q. What did you think about the dual timeline between Viv and Carly? In what ways are Viv and Carly similar and different from each other?
A. I thought the dual timelines worked well in this book; I liked how Carly's story often echoed Viv's, and how the ghosts and the same people showed up in both timelines. As for how they're similar, Carly and Viv are both inquisitive and surprisingly fearless. Viv felt like more of a loner than Carly; Carly a bit more naive. I did think Viv was the better detective. She also had an intensity about her that Carly lacked. But I liked them both.

Q. So we know going in this was a ghost story and a haunted motel. Have you ever encountered anything strange or scary while staying in a hotel? If not, is there any other strange experiences that you can share with us?
A. Although I've stayed in some sketchy motels over the years, none of them have been scary, or have felt haunted in anyway. I did feel an eerie vibe when I was visiting Chaco Canyon, especially when the wind blew, that made me think the ruins there could definitely be haunted by the spirits of the past. But mostly my life has been ghost free.

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a fun weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week's theme is supposed to be Books That Make Me Smile. Only I couldn't narrow my list down to just ten. So, I decided to tweak the theme a bit and make it a little more general.

Here are 10 random things in life that ALWAYS make me smile:

The ones with happy endings, humorous dialogue, suspense, fun adventures, romance, smart-ass characters, a little snark, a lot of fun, magic, twists and turns, thrills and chills, mystery, ghosts, even a bit of sadness. Because ALL kinds of books make me smile. (Which is why I couldn't come up with a list of ten for this post.)

(No explanation needed.)

(The one food item I can never resist or turn down. Good thing I don't live close to a Krispy Kreme!)

Funny this one:

(And the scene that ALWAYS makes me smile:  "Run to water, men!")

(Just look at that face!)

The beach on Napili Bay...
(My favorite place on planet Earth.)

A John Atkinson cartoon:

Blogging friends.

Buddy reads.

And comments on my blog.

What makes you smile these days?

Saturday, July 11, 2020


Devolution: A Firsthand Account of the Rainier Sasquatch Massacre by Max Brooks. 

Eleven people live in Greenloop, a high-tech eco-community surrounded by untouched wilderness, but still offering all the conveniences of the modern world, including weekly drone deliveries. It's idyllic and safe. Until the volcanic eruption of Mt. Rainier cuts them off from the rest of the world, leaving them with no internet, no phones, no deliveries, and no way out.
"It's great to live free of the other sheep until you hear the wolves howl."

At first, they're biggest worry is food. And getting along with each other. But the biggest threat to their survival is something they don't even know exists, something savage and predatory...and headed their way. Something that just might make them turn savage themselves.
"...maybe there was some latent gene that woke up in those creatures when they stumbled across Greenloop and found themselves facing a herd of cornered, isolated Homo sapiens. Maybe some instinct told them it was time to swap evolution for devolution, reach back to who they were to reclaim what was theirs."
My thoughts:
This book is so good! I love it's epistolary style. The majority of the narrative is told in the form of Kate Hollands' journal. (She's one of the inhabitants of Greenloop.) Her journal entries are interspersed with interviews with her brother, Frank, who's still looking for her, and with Senior Ranger Josephine Schell, who found Kate's journal in the wreckage of Greenloop after the massacre.

Kate makes for a great narrator, describing her arrival at Greenloop with her husband, Dan, the beauty of their surroundings, their wacky neighbors, and all the strange and horrifying things that happen next. It's entertaining and compelling. And at the end, very suspenseful. Plus, there's bigfoot! I was hooked from the first page. And that ending! Max Brooks did it again. Devolution is one of my favorite reads this year, and will most likely make my Top Ten list of  books read in 2020.

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

July's bookish art...

Childe Hassam -- Summer Sunlight

"Keep reading. It's one of the most marvelous
adventures that anyone can have."
--Lloyd Alexander

Sunday, July 5, 2020

Flesh and Bone by Jefferson Bass

From the blurb:

"Anthropologist Dr. Bill Brockton founded Tennessee's world-famous Body Farm—a small piece of land where corpses are left to decay in order to gain important forensic information. Now, in the wake of a shocking crime in nearby Chattanooga, he's called upon by Jess Carter — the rising star of the state's medical examiners — to help her unravel a murderous puzzle. But after re-creating the death scene at the Body Farm, Brockton discovers his career, reputation, and life are in dire jeopardy when a second, unexplained corpse appears in the grisly setting.

Accused of a horrific crime — transformed overnight from a respected professor to a hated and feared pariah — Bill Brockton will need every ounce of his formidable forensic skills to escape the ingeniously woven net that's tightening around him... and to prove the seemingly impossible: his own innocence."

What I love about this series:

The effortless authenticity of the forensic science, the crime scenes, the characters and the murder investigations. All the little details really. And it's because one of the co-authors, Dr. Bill Bass, is a world-renowned forensic anthropologist who founded the Body Farm in Tennessee, and who really knows his stuff. And that comes through in these books...but in a way that's easy, effortless, incredibly interesting,  not too gory, and very compelling.  

I read Carved in Bone, the first book in this series, a year and a half ago, and thoroughly enjoyed it. I honestly don't know why it took me so long to get around to reading this next book, but Flesh and Bone is a terrific read, too. Dr. Bill Brockton is an easy character to like--smart, funny, a bit sarcastic, and so human. I like his friends, and the other secondary characters, too. And even though there's a lot of forensic science in these books, the story (and the suspense) never bogs down. At least it didn't for me. I definitely won't be waiting another year and a half to read the next book in this entertaining mystery series.

Happy Reading!

Friday, July 3, 2020

Another happy birding moment...

So, last month some friends and I went birding in an area of west Salt Lake where we'd never gone birding before (wearing our masks and keeping our distance from each other); we wanted to check out some ponds we'd heard about that are situated between a shooting range and a dump. Not a lot of people were out there, but we did see some great birds: avocets, cormorants, a few grebes, and of course, the ubiquitous Canada goose. But it was while we were watching a great blue heron hunting in an empty stretch of fields just west of the ponds that the happy birding moment happened. We saw this guy in a bush near the road:

It's a loggerhead shrike. Isn't it cool? I've always wanted to see one, but I never had...until that day. We watched it hop from bush to bush for quite awhile as it searched for food. I love its dark mask. It's bird #203 for me! And that's my latest happy birding moment!