Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Haiku reviews...


A Dark Lure by Loreth Anne White

Twelve years ago he
took her. Then hunted her. She survived.
Now he's back to finish the game.

Psychological thriller .... 408 pages .... 5/5 stars.
(Dark, compelling & suspenseful, with likable characters and amazing writing.)

Elementary Romantic Calculus by Susannah Nix

Teaching math at Bowman
isn't Mia's dream, but Texas
goat farmer Josh just might be.

Contemporary romance .... 316 pages .... 4/5 stars.
(So fun! This one made me smile.)

Tell Me by Anne Frasier

A hiker's death goes 
viral. Three more are missing.
Murder? Or a hoax?

Psychological thriller .... 266 pages .... 4/5 stars.
(Excellent sequel to Find Me. Detective Daniel Ellis and Reni Fisher, daughter of the Inland Empire serial killer, are two favorite characters.)

Happy Reading!

Sunday, October 17, 2021

October's Bookish Art...

Ada Thilen -- Reading

"An hour spent reading is one stolen from paradise."
--Thomas Wharton

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Clowns vs. Spiders by Jeff Strand


"People just don't like clowns. ... If you went around and did a survey and asked a hundred random people if they thought clowns were funny or scary, ninety-eight of them would say scary. That's the way of the world now. ... I'm not renewing any of your contracts. You can still be clowns, but not at my circus."
After eighteen years entertaining people, Jaunty, Guffaw, Wagon, Bluehead and Reginald just got fired. Middle-aged, and with no other skills but clowning, Jaunty and the others are forced to take jobs at the Mountain of Terror haunted house in Mount Tulip, Virginia, as scary clowns in the Scary Clown Room. But scaring children is not why Jaunty or the others became clowns (though Bluehead seems to be exceptionally good at it). But just as Jaunty is having a crisis of conscience, the haunted house and the entire town of Mount Tulip are overrun by thousands of very big spiders. Jaunty is horrified. The only thing he wants to do is jump in the car and drive away. But there are innocent people that need saving. Besides...

"Clowns didn't run."

I couldn't resist this book, even though both clowns and spiders freak me out. And if you don't take this one too seriously, it's a very fun read. The clowns made me laugh and shake my head in equal measure. Jaunty was my favorite. Whenever the clowns draw imaginary straws to see who has to go and do the scary thing, Jaunty somehow always ends up with the short straw. And he always goes. The neverending swarm of very large spiders on the other hand was very creepy. I was definitely rooting for the clowns, though when it comes to saving the world, or any one in it, they're more like buffoons. But they try hard. And they never give up.

"It was time for clowns versus spiders, and the spiders were toast."

Happy Reading!

Monday, October 11, 2021

The Whispering Dead by Darcy Coates...

 "Keira cracked her eyes open. Rain fell through tree branches and pinged off her flushed skin, washing tracks of blood away from her cheek. ... She probed for memories but came up empty. Her name was Keira. She'd woken in a forest of some kind coated in mud, sore, and soaking wet. That was the extent of her knowledge."

Not only is Keira suffering from amnesia, she has some bad guys after her, too. She just doesn't know who or why. They chase her through the forest, but she manages to evade them and find refuge at the parsonage in Blightly. The pastor, John Adage, kindly lets her stay in the groundskeeper's cottage at the edge of the graveyard. Keira likes the isolation... until she sees her first ghost. It's the ghost of a young woman who seems to want something from her. But what? 

Keira soon has some real company at her small cottage. A black stray cat who loves to laze by her fire adopts her. And Adage introduces her to Mason, a medical student with chocolate brown hair, who sees to her wounds. Then there's the crazy conspiracy girl, Zoe, who works at the local grocery store. Zoe quickly adopts her, too. But none of her new friends can help her figure out her past, or how to help the ghost in the graveyard. 

This is the first book in Darcy Coates's Gravekeeper series. It's a fun introduction to Keira and her newfound friends. I loved Mason, Zoe, and Darcy's cute cat, Daisy. And while Keira manages to figure out the mystery surrounding the ghost, her own past remains a giant question mark. I guess those answers will come in a later book. Overall, I thought this book was very entertaining. There's some suspenseful moments along the way, but nothing too scary. I actually liked all the ghosts Keira comes in contact with; some of the humans she meets were definitely more creepy. And the ending made me smile. I'm looking forward to reading the next book, The Ravenous Dead, which is supposed to come out next March. Until then...

Happy Reading!

Saturday, October 9, 2021

Two funny things...

Don't you love these? The oddly informed crows are my personal favorite.
Both cartoons come from John Atkinson whose work ALWAYS makes me laugh.
Be sure to check out his website: Wrong Hands. Or buy his book Abridged Classics which is awesomely funny and bookishly clever. 

Happy Reading!

Thursday, October 7, 2021

Some ghostly reads for October...

I love a good ghost story. Especially when it's set in an old house that's haunted. And Sarah Rayne has written several quietly suspenseful ghost stories in her Nell West and Michael Flint Haunted House Series. There are six books in this series:  Property of a Lady, The Sin Eater, The Silence, The Whispering, Deadlight Hall, and The Bell Tower. It's hard to pick a favorite because they're all really good, but I recommend starting with one of the first ones.  

Another fun series is J.L. Bryan's Ellie Jordan series. She and her colleagues kick ghosts out of haunted places by finding and trapping them. What I like about this series is that the characters are funny, the books are suspenseful, and the endings are always satisfying. I think there are sixteen books in this series. I haven't read them all yet, but I've loved all the ones that I have read. It's best to start with the first book: Ellie Jordan, Ghost Trapper. But Cold ShadowsMaze of Souls, and The Crawling Darkness are also really good. 

And if you're into ghost stories that have a more classic feel to them, you can't go wrong with either Susan Hill's The Woman in Black or Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House. They've made movies of both of these books, but even if you've seen the movies, I still recommend reading the books, because the books are better.

So if you're looking for some fun ghostly reads this October, these are some to try. 
I list more ghostly books I've read and enjoyed under my Ghostly Reads tab at the top.

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Top Ten Tuesday

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

This week's theme:  Bookish Pet Peeves.

Here are some of no particular order.

πŸ‘Ž Overuse of the word smirk in romance and YA novels. Especially when the author uses it wrong. Smirk is neither cute nor flirty. It's an irritatingly smug or condescending smile; a sneer or a snigger. And when it's used ten or more times in the same book it drives me crazy!

πŸ‘Ž Love triangles. Enough said.

πŸ‘Ž When authors write dialogue without using quotation marks. What's up with that? Who decided that was a good idea? It's annoying enough to make me want to DNF the book. (Inane or badly written  dialogue bugs me, too.) 

πŸ‘Ž Stupid heroines! It drives me crazy when an otherwise intelligent character does something stupid like wander into an abandoned warehouse at night looking for a murderer without telling anyone where she's going. Honest mistakes are one thing; blatant stupidity is another. 

πŸ‘Ž Manufactured conflict. Like when the two main characters in a romance novel end up in a long drawn out fight or angsty separation that goes on for pages and pages over some silly misunderstanding that could have been resolved with a simple 30 second conversation. 

πŸ‘Ž Cliffhanger endings! Especially when the next book hasn't even been written yet.

πŸ‘Ž An unsatisfying ending to what was an otherwise awesome trilogy. 
(Yes, I'm talking to you Suzanne Collins!) 

πŸ‘Ž And don't get me started on people who borrow books but never return them!

There's my short list of bookish pet peeves. Can't wait to hear some of yours.
Happy Reading!

Sunday, October 3, 2021

Deception Cove by Owen Laukkanen

Mason Burke has spent the last fifteen years in prison. The one good thing he did is rehabilitate and train a rescue dog named Lucy. Now he's out and he just wants to know if Lucy is okay. When he learns she's going to be put down because she bit a sheriff's deputy, he heads to Deception Cove, Washington, to try and save her.

Jess Winslow is a young widow and former marine suffering from PTSD. Lucy is her dog. When she's confronted by Deputy Kirby Harwood, who wants something her deceased husband apparently stole, Lucy defends her. Now Harwood has her dog and is threatening to have her killed if Jess doesn't find the thing he wants. But with Mason's help, Jess is determined to get Lucy back.

Ethan @ A Book a Week reviewed this book in August. He wrote that "Owen Laukkanen tells a stirring story of loyalty and redemption in the form of a page-turning thriller," and I couldn't agree more. This book is such a great read! In many ways it reminded me of The Drifter by Nicholas Petrie, another favorite book of mine. I loved Mason; he went to prison at 18 and is now trying to figure out how to be an adult and a good man on the outside. Jess is another great character. I loved how she and Mason team up to save their dog and fight the bad guys. Deception Cove has action and suspense. And lots of heart. It's compelling and well-written, and my favorite Owen Laukkanen novel so far. Thanks, Ethan, for recommending it!

Happy Reading!

Other Owen Laukkanen novels I've enjoyed:  The Watcher in the Wall and The Wild.

Thursday, September 30, 2021

The Stranger Times by C.K. McDonnell

 "Publication seeks desperate human being with capability to form sentences using the English language. No imbeciles, optimists, or Simons need apply."

The plot:  Hannah Willis is desperate. She's newly divorced, broke, and has no job experience or real job skills. Still, she's not sure she's desperate enough to join the staff of The Stranger Times. The newspaper reports on the bizarre, the weird, and the unbelievable. Even stepping inside the office, which is housed in an old church, feels like stepping into a looney bin. When Hannah arrives for her job interview, Reggie, a reporter on the paranormal, is on the roof, threatening to jump, and Bancroft, the paper's bombastic and often drunk editor, is threatening to shoot him. 

The other employees of The Stranger Times include Ox Chen, the paper's avowed ufologist, Stella, a snarky green-haired teen who was caught breaking into the church and now works there in penance, and Grace, the office manager. They're an odd bunch, and not always welcoming, but Hannah really needs this job. 

Things get even more surreal when several unexplainable incidents around Manchester make Hannah and the others start to wonder if some of the fantastic stories The Stranger Times prints each week might actually be true.

My thoughts:  This is one crazy fun book! It combines dark humor, dark magic and a mystery compelling enough to get even Bancroft out of his office and onto the streets of Manchester to investigate. I thought the bad guy was very unpleasant and creepy, but I grew to really like Hannah and all the other oddball and quirky characters working at The Stranger Times. Their humorous interactions made me laugh and kept me reading late into the night. I thoroughly enjoyed this one, and I'm so glad McDonnell is writing a sequel. And I really want to thank Verushka for reviewing this book on her blog POP.EDIT.LIT; it was her review that made me want to read this one in the first place. 

Happy Reading!

Similar Read:  Ghosts of Gotham

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Top Ten Tuesday

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

This week's theme is a freebie! So I decided to give some review posts from 2013, my first year of blogging, a little extra love. Because not many people knew of or visited my blog back then. But I read a lot of really good books that year! Here are ten of my favorite books from 2013, with links to my original posts...check them out:

(Magic and mystery on Roanoke Island.)

(After ten years living in the woods with their drug-addicted mother, Carey and her little sister have just been brought back home. But can Carey adjust to normal life? This one's so good it made me cry.)

(An entertaining travel memoir to some of the most polluted places on earth.)

(Fun steampunk mystery with Mina Holmes and Evangeline Stoker.)

(Witty life lessons learned from reading Jane Austen's books.
I include my own 5 Jane Austen lessons in this post.)

(This is the book that made me a fan of Peter Hoeg for life.)

(Seven high school students trapped by a blizzard struggle to survive.)

(Four characters from Morocco trying to find a new life in Spain.)

(Fun mystery set in the 1920s involving a Vaudeville performer and a missing heiress.)

(Awesome ghost story and still my favorite St. James novel.)

Happy Reading!

Saturday, September 25, 2021

Miss Pym Disposes by Josephine Tey

 "Miss Pym stopped breathing and stared in unbelieving fascination. No really, did any college, however physical and hearty, begin the day at half-past five! Anything was possible, of course, in a community which had use for neither bedside table nor bedside lamps, but--half-past five!"
Miss Lucy Pym, bestselling author of a book on psychology, has come to Leys Physical Training College in England to give a guest lecture. She doesn't intend to stay long, but the fresh-faced vitality and enthusiasm of the girls intrigues her. And when the seniors invite her to Sunday tea, she agrees to stay a little longer, thinking to enjoy their wholesome society.
"But I remind you that it is their last term, this. And so everything is e-norrrmously exaggerated. Everyone is just the least little bit insane. If a student is frightened by nature, then she is a thousand times more frightened this term. ... It is not a normal life they lead. You cannot expect them to be normal."
And when a terrible accident happens at the college, Miss Pym finds herself in a terrible dilemma -- does she reveal to the headmistress her suspicions that it wasn't an accident after all, or does she keep them to herself?

The mystery part of this novel only comes into play the last sixty pages. The majority of the book concerns Miss Pym's interactions with the staff and the senior girls at the college, and her observations of their fears, hopes, and jealousies. Good thing I like that private college setting! And Lucy Pym? She's delightful. There is an old-fashioned feel to this one, which makes sense since it was published in 1947, but I didn't mind that either. It's an introspective novel, with more personal interactions than any real action, but it does have a nice twist at the end. This is the first Josephine Tey book that I've read (which makes it perfect to fill my Classic by a New-To-You Author in Karen's Back to the Classics Challenge), but it won't be my last.

Happy Reading!


Wednesday, September 22, 2021

The Siren Saves the Billionaire by Kristen Painter

"Welcome to Nocturne Falls, the town where Halloween is celebrated 365 days a year. The tourists think it's all a show: the vampires, the werewolves, the witches, the occasional gargoyle flying through the sky. But the supernaturals populating the town know better. Living in Nocturne Falls means being yourself. Fangs and all."


I love Kristen Painter's Nocturne Falls series. There's nothing dark in these books. Each paranormal romance has fun magic, lots of humor, and a happy ending. The town is populated with a few humans and many vampires, werewolves, witches, gargoyles, Fae, and even a dragon. Undrea Seeley is a mermaid. She creates custom aquariums for people and she's just been hired to install a very large fish tank in tech billionaire Ethan Edmond's new house. 

She's attracted to Ethan right away, but that might be because of her mer-magic and an accidental kiss they share. After all, Ethan has a girlfriend (who claims to be his fiancΓ¨e), and Nina is not going to let Ethan go without a fight. She'll even use her own dark magic to keep him. But Undrea is determined to save Ethan from Nina...and protect him from her own magic, too. She'll just need a little help from Ethan's hairless cat, Bowie, and a few witch friends in order to do it. 

This entertaining paranormal romance is light-hearted, magical fun. I really liked Undrea and all her mermaid rules. Ethan and his cute cat were both great, too. And I like how the supernatural residents of Nocturne Falls always come together to help out one of their own. I think my favorite Painter novels are still The Vampire's Fake Fiancee, The Werewolf Dates the Deputy, and The Werewolf Meets His Match, but The Siren Saves the Billionaire is a very charming and enjoyable read, too. 

Happy Reading!

Sunday, September 19, 2021

Haiku reviews...


Match Made in Paradise by Barbara Dunlop

Former model +
Alaskan bush pilot =
Fun romantic adventure.

Contemporary romance .... 296 pages .... 4/5 stars.
(Gotta love an opposites attract story!)

The Book Collectors by Delphine Minoui

Trying to survive
in Syria, they find solace, hope
and sanctuary in books.

Nonfiction ....194 pages ....3.5/5 stars.
(A heartbreaking account of the siege of Daraya under Assad's brutal regime, and the young men who struggled so hard just to be free.)

Her Silent Cry by Lisa Regan

Lucy Ross, age seven, 
taken. The motive? Revenge.
Josie's on the case.

Mystery .... 340 pages .... 4/5 stars.
(This is the sixth Detective Josie Quinn mystery, and it's every bit as good as the first one, Vanishing Girls.)

Happy Reading!

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Cold Wind by Paige Shelton

Beth Rivers moved to the small village of Benedict, Alaska, because she needed a place to hide where no one would find her, especially not the man who abducted her back in St. Louis. She can't remember much about him, but she fears he's still out there, hunting for her. But she feels safe in Alaska. Gril, the sheriff there, knows her story and keeps in touch with the police in Missouri. Beth's made a few friends in town, including Orin, the librarian, and Viola, who runs the halfway house where she rents  a room. She's even got a job putting out Benedict's newspaper, Petition. And she's writing her thrillers again. 

All is good until there's a mudslide outside of town and two young girls show up on Beth's doorstep, mute and covered in mud. No one seems to know where they belong. Then the frozen body of an unknown woman is found in a trapping shed outside of town. It looks like she's been dead for awhile, and that she didn't die of natural causes. And once again Beth finds herself involved in a murder investigation. 

I really enjoyed Paige Shelton's previous novel, Thin Ice, where I was first introduced to Beth and the town of Benedict, and I thought this second book was equally good. I liked how Beth is getting to know Alaska better and how she's fitting in with everyone in town, and I thought the two young girls were cute. (I liked their father, Tex, too.) The mystery surrounding them and the murdered woman does get a bit convoluted towards the end, and I questioned the killer's motive and some of the timing of everything, but overall I thought this was an entertaining book. And I'm looking forward to reading Shelton's next book set in Benedict, Alaska, which should come out this December. If you want to try this series, I recommend reading Thin Ice first.

Happy Reading!

Coming soon:

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Top Ten Tuesday...

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

This week's theme:  Books With Numbers in the Title.

I did a similar post called Reading by the Numbers a few years ago. So, this time around, I decided to go with books with numbers in the title that I've reviewed on my blog. I'm including a link to my original post of each book, so if any of these titles make you want to know more, click on the link and check them out.

Books With Numbers in the Title:

There's a book for everyone on this list: Mystery, Suspense, End-of-the-World, Science Fiction, Action, Nonfiction, Urban Fantasy, and Romance. 

Happy Reading!