Friday, October 30, 2020

Science, history, and mystery!


On February 17, 1864, the HL Hunley became "the first successful submarine to sink an enemy ship" when it set off a large bomb that destroyed the USS Housatonic. Then the sub disappeared. For over a hundred years, no one knew what really happened to the Hunley. Then, in 1995, Clive Cussler announced that he and NUMA had found it. But it wasn't until 2000 that the Hunley was finally raised.
"All eight men inside were found resting at their battle stations. None showed any signs of skeletal trauma. None appeared to have made any attempt to escape the vessel. ... It looked as if all eight men simply sat back, relaxed, and died."

It was another mystery. One that Rachel Lance, a biomedical engineer and blast injury specialist, was determined to solve. She was a grad student at Duke at the time and thought the Hunley might make a good research paper. In the Waves: My Quest to Solve the Mystery of a Civil War Submarine is her account of the Hunley and how she figured out what really happened to it all those years ago.

"If people near a bomb die, I always suspect the bomb first."

Lance combines her own personal fascination with the Civil War vessel, with well-researched historic accounts of it, along with the modern-day science and technology she used to prove her hypothesis. And she certainly did her research! There were times the narrative bogged down a bit with all the technical details, but overall this book is a well-written and oddly compelling read. And I learned a lot about black powder, shock waves, and certain historic figures like Horace Hunley, one of the men involved in the funding and building of the submarine, who actually died on one of its test runs. This ended up being a very interesting book.

Happy Reading!


Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Top Ten Tuesday!


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

This week's theme was a Halloween Freebie. And since I've already done Halloween-inspired posts on my favorite Halloween movies, classic monster movies, and my top 5 classic monster books, I thought I'd go with 10 book covers that have that Ghostly/Gothic vibe I love so much instead. Here they are:

1. A Murder in Time by Julie McElwain

2. Dark Desires by Eve Silver

3. The Creeping by Alexandra Sirowy

4. The Stone Child by Dan Poblocki

5. Ruined by Paula Morris

6. The Restorer by Amanda Stevens

7. The Haunting of Beacon Hill by Ambrose Ibsen

8. The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff

9.  Cauldstane by Linda Gillard

10. Sleepy Hollow by Dax Varley

Happy Reading!

Saturday, October 24, 2020

Another buddy read...

 The Boy From the Woods by Harlan Coben

Here's the part of the blurb that made me want to read this one:

"The man known as Wilde is a mystery to everyone, including himself. Decades ago, he was found as a boy living feral in the woods, with no memory of his past. After the police concluded an exhaustive hunt for the child's family, which was never found, he was turned over to the foster system.

"Now, thirty years later, Wilde still doesn't know where he comes from, and he's back living in the woods on the outskirts of town, content to be an outcast, comfortable only outdoors, preferably alone, and with few deep connections to other people.

"When a local girl goes missing, famous TV lawyer Hester Crimstein--with whom Wilde shares a tragic connection--asks him to use his unique skills to help find her."

Sounds good, right?

I loved Wilde; he's such a great character with his mysterious past and unique skillset. Hester, too, is feisty and fun. And I found myself wanting to stand up for Naomi, the missing girl, or have her stand up for herself. So many great characters in this book....there just wasn't enough of them. I wanted more. More about Wilde. More bits with Naomi. I wanted the story to just be about them.

But it's not.

Naomi appears at the beginning, and again at the end, but the majority of this book revolves around the wealthy Maynard family and their son, Crash, along with Wilde's investigation into Naomi's disappearance, some political intrigue involving yet another character who has his own secrets from the past, and there's also a whole thing about the negative influence of social media on society, and a murder, too. Then at the end, there are two twists I wasn't expecting, one of which shouldn't have been such a complete surprise to the reader. 

It's not that this book isn't good. It's entertaining, and it reads fast. It just wasn't the story I thought it was going to be...or the story I wanted to read. I still liked it. Just not as much as I hoped I would. At least I got to read this one with Melody. That's always fun. Be sure to check out Melody's review to see what she thought of this one!

Happy Reading!

Melody's questions to me...and my answers:
1. Wilde and Hester may be the lead characters in this story but are there any other characters that you wish you could learn more about? Who are they?
I really wanted to know to know more about Naomi. And also Crash. They were in the story, but were never given enough time or attention. I also wanted to know more about Wilde and get the rest of his story, too. Hopefully Coben will write another book about him.

2. What is most appealing to you about this story? The multi-layered plot or the characters? Why?
Definitely the characters! I didn't love all the elements of this particular plot. And for me, characters are always the most important part of any story.  

Monday, October 19, 2020

Haiku Reviews...


Outsider (Kate Burkholder #12) by Linda Castillo

An old friend of Kate's
brings trouble to Painters Mill--
now they're all in danger.

Mystery .... 309 pages .... 4/5 stars.
(This series is still going strong.)

The Tourist Attraction by Sarah Morgenthaler

doesn't stop him from falling 
in love with her.

Contemporary romance .... 409 pages .... 3.5/5 stars.
(For a real review of this one, check out Barb's review @ Booker T's Farm.)

Sleeping Murder by Agatha Christie

Miss Marple warned them:
Let sleeping murder lie. Too bad
they didn't listen.

Mystery .... 237 pages .... 4.5/5 stars.
(Helen's review @ She Reads Novels is what made me want to read this one.)

Happy Reading!

Friday, October 16, 2020

Don't go into the woods!

Going on a hike!!
Ashlough Forest, one of the most beautiful places on earth!
Look out for some photos when I get back...

Only Eileen Hershberger never returns from her hike. And when someone finally finds her camera, it's miles downriver. The police in Helmer think she's probably dead. But her brother, Chris, and his friends are headed to Ashlough Forest to search for her. Because they spotted something strange in three of her photos; something tall, and clawed, and terrifying. And if she's still alive, then she's in real trouble, and they're determined to find her. Or at least find out what happened to her. What they don't know is that while they're hunting for Eileen, something else is hunting them.

My thoughts:  This is a well-written, fast and fun read. I didn't think it was super scary, but the suspense definitely builds as the creature in the woods circles ever closer to Chris and his friends. And there are some very tense moments along the way. I appreciated that Chris and his friends weren't stupidly reckless in their efforts to find Eileen. Even when things go wrong--and things do go terribly wrong--they try to hold it together, and I liked that about them. The other side of the story revolves around Detective Carla Delago and her suspicions that there's more to Eileen's disappearance than just one missing hiker. That part of the story wasn't quite as gripping, but it was still good. And there are two unexpected twists at the end. All in all, this was an entertaining read. Even though it makes me determined to never go hiking in the woods alone again!

Happy Reading!


Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Top Ten Tuesday


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

This week's theme:  Super Long Book Titles.

The first one on my list is the longest with 19 words, and the only one I haven't read. The other titles range from 7-10 words and are all from books I've actually read. Here they are:

And To My Nephew Albert I Leave the Island 
What I Won Off Fatty Hagan in a Poker Game 
by David Forrest.

I'd Tell You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You
by Ally Carter

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
by Robert Louis Stevenson

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
by E.L. Konigsburg

Jennifer, Hecate, Macbeth, William McKinley, and Me, Elizabeth
by E.L. Konigsburg

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie
by Alan Bradley

Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe
by Fannie Flagg

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

The Day the World Came to Town
by Jim Defede

One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish
by Dr. Seuss

Happy Reading!

Saturday, October 10, 2020

The Family Plot by Cherie Priest

 Music City Salvage has just landed the Withrow Estate; Dahlia Dutton is in charge of stripping out everything that's valuable. It's a job she does well. But there's something about this house that's different.

"She didn't want to start work on the Withrow house. This wasn't some favor she was doing for an old friend; this wasn't a restoration gig to preserve a landmark. This was a vivisection, a slow slaughter of a thing on its last legs. She loved the house, and she loved all its parts, so she hated her job, this time. She didn't want to take anything. She wanted to fix everything, but that wasn't up to her."

And what is the house feeling? Angry. Unloved. Lost. 
Or that just might be something in the house.

Then there's the cemetery plot Dahlia finds near the house. And the ghost she thought she saw: a girl in a yellow dress. The rest of her crew is seeing ghosts, too. A soldier and a little boy. And strange things are happening at night. It looks like the secrets of Withrow house are finally starting to come out.

There are some good thrills and chills in this one. And some memorable characters, too. I really liked the beginning when Dahlia and the others first arrive at the house. The big scares come in the second half of the book, along with those ghostly revelations of what happened in the past. They were good, too, if a little convoluted at times. But the epilogue bugged me. I hate when authors ruin things at the very end, because the rest of the book is an entertaining ghost story. So while I didn't end up loving this one, I did like it a lot. (And if you decide to read it...skip the epilogue!)

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

October's bookish art...

Frank Miller -- A Cozy Corner, 1884

"Books may be the only true magic."
--Alice Hoffman

Sunday, October 4, 2020

Chilling suspense...

 "This could be the work of a madman, Tana. A bizarre, ritualistic serial murderer working in remote locations and using wild animals to cover his work."

 In the Barrens, a remote wilderness area on the border of the Arctic Circle, two biology students are found dead, mauled by wolves. Or maybe by a bear. It's hard for Constable Tana Larsson, a rookie RCMP who just started working in Two Rivers, a small town in the Northwest Territories of Canada, to determine just what caused the grisly attacks. Especially when she learns there were two similar attacks four years earlier. But when she starts to investigate, no one in town seems very happy about it. Especially not Cameron "Crash" O'Halloran, a local bush pilot who she suspects of illegally flying in alcohol to Twin Rivers, among other things. For some reason Tana seems to bring out the worst in him. (Although when he finds out she's five months pregnant he suddenly gets very protective of her.) She can't trust him. She can't trust the diamond company mining diamonds in the area. And the locals keep telling her to leave it alone before she stirs up the ancient spirits that haunt the Barrens. But Tana can't let it go. No matter how dangerous it gets.

In the Barren Ground by Loreth Anne White is a chilling and suspenseful mystery. It's also a novel about imperfect and flawed characters who have made mistakes in the past and who are seeking a second chance in life. I liked both Tana and Crash. They're such a study in contrasts. Tana is young and earnest and struggling to prove herself; Crash is older, cynical, and he has his own secret agenda for being in Twin Rivers. I loved watching how their antagonistic relationship gradually changed to a partnership of cautious respect and deepening friendship. I also loved the remote setting and how it played such a significant role in this novel. And that ending! It's a good one. I'd give this book at least 4 stars.

Happy Reading!

Thursday, October 1, 2020

Bookish randomness...


I finally got around to reading City of the Lost by Kelley Armstrong, and it's as good as everyone says it is! Which means I now want to read all the other books in this series. I think there are four more of them, with another due out early next year. Isn't that typical bookish arithmetic? Cross one book off your TBR list, put five more on. No wonder I'm always falling behind!

Did you hear the sad news? No more PEEPS until next Easter. The company says it won't be producing any marshmallow treats for Halloween or Christmas this year. Just another reason 2021 can't come soon enough!

At least there are a few things out there that still make me smile.
Like this John Atkinson cartoon:

And check out these two book covers. 
Can you believe how similar they are?

It's crazy.

I wonder what the authors would think if they saw their two books side by side on the bookstore shelf.


Welcome to October!
I hope everyone is having an awesome week....
and Happy Reading!