Friday, January 29, 2021

One Thousand White Women by Jim Fergus

This is a historical fiction novel set in the American West in the 1870s. It is the story of May Dodd, a well-bred young lady who agrees to become one of a thousand Cheyenne brides in order to escape the asylum where her father placed her when she fell in love with an unsuitable man. 
"But now that we have actually embarked upon this journey, our future is so uncertain, and so unknown, it is impossible not to have misgivings. How ironic that in order to escape the lunatic asylum I have had to embark upon the most insane undertaking of my life."
"I am rather accustomed to doing the unconventional, the unpopular... Frankly, from the way I have been treated by the so-called 'civilized' people in my life, I rather look forward to residency among the savages."
"As I look around the circle of this tipi, even the chokingly close walls of my old room at the asylum suddenly seem in memory to be somehow comforting, familiar...a square, solid room with four walls... but, no, these thoughts I banish. I live in a new world, on a new earth, among new people. Courage!"
Jim Fergus does an excellent job of immersing the reader in the past, detailing that time period, and the Cheyenne people and their way of life, and their continuing conflict with the American government despite their white wives. But it's the women who are at the heart of this novel. It's told through the journals and letters of May Dodd, a very independent and memorable character. My one complaint is that sometimes her letters overlap with her journal entries and end up repeating the same information. But that's a small thing. Overall, this book is both a compelling and very heartbreaking read. I'm grateful to Sam at Book Chase who first introduced me to Fergus's trilogy. 

Happy Reading!

Similar read:
Ride the Wind by Lucia St. Clair Robson (which is based on the true story of Cynthia Ann Parker and her life with the Comanche)


Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Top Ten Tuesday

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

This week's theme:  New-to-me Authors I read in 2020.

But I wasn't really feeling that one because I read a lot of new authors last year, and how do you pick just ten? So, I tweaked it a bit. 

Here are 7 New-to-me Authors that I really want to read in 2021:

John Connolly

Michael Connolly

Louise Penny

Kerry Wilkinson

Martha Wells

Allison Brennan

Jim Fergus

What new authors are you looking forward to reading this year?

Happy Reading!

Saturday, January 23, 2021

In the Waning Light by Loreth Anne White

The story: Twenty years ago, Meg Brogan's older sister, Sherry, was raped and murdered. Meg herself nearly died that same night. When she woke from her coma she couldn't remember what she'd seen or what really happened to Sherry. Now, a successful true crime writer, Meg's returned to Shelter Bay, Oregon, to investigate her sister's murder. But no one in town wants her to rake up the past. And as Meg digs deeper, she begins to realize everyone around her is keeping secrets or telling lies about what happened that night. But she refuses to give up. Even when it puts her own life in danger. 

My thoughts:  Loreth Anne White knows how to write a compelling and suspenseful mystery. And Meg makes for a memorable character; she's stubborn, and feisty, and a little fragile at times as she struggles to retrieve her own uncertain memories of that awful day. My other two favorite characters were Blake Sutton, Meg's high school sweetheart whom she hasn't seen since she was eighteen, and his young son, Noah. Blake's keeping his own secrets about that day, which only added to the tension between them. The one thing I didn't love was reading all the snippets and excerpts from The Stranger Among Us, the book Meg is writing about her sister. I didn't feel like it added anything to the story. But the rest of the book is really good. So even though this is not my favorite Loreth Anne White novel, I still liked it a lot. 

Happy Reading!

Other books by Loreth Anne White that I've read:

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Haiku reviews...


The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton

Eight days. Eight lives to
inhabit. Eight chances to 
find a murderer.

Mystery .... 430 pages .... 5/5 stars.
(Compelling and unique way to tell a story!)

The Match by Sarah Adams

Evie and her service
dog are just what single dad
Jake and his daughter need.

Romantic comedy .... 268 pages .... 4/5 stars.
(Loved the humor and heart in this one!)

Have Brides, Will Travel by William W. Johnstone 

It's an easy job: escort
five mail-order brides to Silverhill.
But what's there will surprise them all.

Western .... 299 pages .... 3.5/5 stars.
(Bo and Scratch, the two lead cowboys, totally made me laugh.)

Happy Reading!

Sunday, January 17, 2021

January's bookish art...

Pablo Picasso -- Woman With a Book 

"Books are the great loves of my life.
They make me laugh and weep and question and reflect on things.
They allow me to escape from myself.
They've changed me."
--Gael Faye

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Six Wakes by Mur Lafferty

 Suspense. Murder. Science fiction. Mystery.

There's a lot to like about this interstellar mystery. It's unique. It's well-written and it reads fast. It has six interesting characters and an intriguing premise. And it's set in space. But I have to admit, I'm finding it a little hard to summarize. So I'm going to cheat and quote from the blurb on Goodreads instead.

"A space adventure set on a lone ship where the clones of a murdered crew must find their murderer -- before they kill again.

It was not common to awaken in a cloning vat streaked with drying blood. At least, Maria Arena had never experienced it. She had no memory of how she died. That was also new; before, when she had awakened as a new clone, her first memory was of how she died.

Maria's vat was in the front of six vats, each one holding the clone of a crew member of the starship Dormire... And Maria wasn't the only one to die recently."

Because the ship's AI memory logs have been wiped, and none of the six cloned crew members have retained any recent memories, you don't know who to trust. Any one of them could have committed the murders and sabotaged the ship's computer. There's the captain, the pilot, the doctor, the tech guy, the security guy, and Maria, jill-of-all-trades. Each has a criminal past and each knows their own piece of the puzzle. But none feel they can trust any of the others. 

I always enjoy reading these kinds of locked-room mysteries (or locked-ship mystery in this case), and I found Six Wakes to be both compelling and entertaining. I especially liked all the clone technology, with its complicated moral and ethical issues, and the six clones with their past lives, their memories, secrets and altered mindmaps. If you like character-driven mysteries, especially ones set in space, this is a really good one. 

Happy Reading!

Monday, January 11, 2021

Some bookish fun in 2021...

 The Unruly Reader has once again put out a fun Book Bingo card. I always love bookish bingo because I love finding books to fill the different categories, reading them, and then crossing off the matching square. Here are her categories for this year:

There's also an explanation of each book bingo category on the Unruly Reader's blog here if you want to know more about any of the categories. I think I'm most excited about the Quest, Survival and Unconventional squares myself. The Explorer and Edwardian categories could be a lot of fun, too. And what's nice about bookish bingo is that you don't have to post about the books you read if you don't want to, or link up your reviews; it's mostly just for fun. And you can go for a bingo, or for blackout, or for the four corner squares--whatever you want. So if you want to join in, just head over to Unruly Reader's blog and leave a comment on her bingo post. I don't know if I'll manage to read a book for every category this year, or if I'll even try, but just thinking about Book Bingo always makes me smile.

Happy Reading!

Friday, January 8, 2021

The Tenth Muse by Catherine Chung

"When I was a child, first discovering numbers, the secrets they yielded, the power they held, I imagined I would live my life unchecked, knocking down problem after problem that was set before me. And in the beginning, because I outstripped my classmates, my parents, and even my teachers it seemed possible that it would be so. That was pure hubris. ... Still, I never tried to hide or suppress my mind as some girls do, and thank God, because that would have been the beginning of the end."

Katherine is a math genius at a time when math is still very much a man's world. She's also half-Chinese with questions about her parentage that her father refuses to answer. And she thinks she might have found the mathematical key to solving the Reimann hypothesis. But will people believe the solution is really hers, or will they think some man helped her with it? Love, math and ambition are complicated problems for Katherine as she navigates and narrates her journey through life.

This novel is thoughtful, poignant, intelligent and beautifully written. And Katherine is a quietly compelling narrator. I admired her courage and her stubborn refusal to be viewed as less than just because she's a woman. From her third grade teacher to the college professor who claims to love her, Katherine has to battle just to have her own voice heard. It made me angry for her. (I found it a little heartbreaking, too.) Katherine's story drew me in from the very first page of this novel. (I even liked the math bits.) And though the ending left me feeling a little sad, I'm glad to count this as my first read of 2021. It's a good one.

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

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 First Half of 2021.

Here are five of mine:

1. Prodigal Son by Gregg Hurwitz
(January 26th)

2. The Breaker by Nick Petrie
(January 12th)

3. A Stranger in Town by Kelley Armstrong
(February 2nd)

4. What the Devil Knows by C.S. Harris
(April 6th)

5. A Wicked Conceit by Anna Lee Huber
(April 6th)

If you know of any other good books coming out soon that I'm missing, 
please let me know!

Happy Reading!

Sunday, January 3, 2021

Random reading fun...

When I saw this fun reading meme on Cath's blog Read-warbler last December, I knew I wanted to do it, too. It just took me a couple of weeks to get to it. The idea is to answer the following questions with titles of books you read in 2020. And it was fun to do, although a few categories were surprisingly tricky to find an appropriate book title to pair with them. 

  • Describe yourself:  The Girl Who Reads on the Metro
  • How do you feel:  Spun Out
  • Describe where you currently live:  Holding the Fort
  • If you could go any where, where would you go:  A Distance Too Grand
  • Your favorite form of transportation:  Happy Trail  (because I love to hike)
  • Your best friend is:  The Real Deal
  • You and your friends are:  Well Met (and Well Played...because we love game nights)
  • What's the weather like:  Storm Rising
  • You fear:  Thin Ice
  • What is the best advice you have to give:  Light It Up
  • Thought for the day:  All's Well That Ends Well
  • My soul's present condition:  Burning Bright
Thanks, Cath, for posting this on your blog. It was a lot of fun coming up with my own list of titles. 

Happy Reading!

Friday, January 1, 2021

Happy 2021!

 I have to say, I'm really glad 2020 is finally over with. Too bad changing the calendar doesn't change the fact that we're still in the middle of a pandemic. But at least now, with the vaccines, there's hope that the pandemic will come to an end this year. Maybe even by the summer. Wouldn't that be nice? I'd love to go on a road trip without worrying about contracting Covid. 

At the moment though I still feel like I'm living in a strange limbo of waiting. It makes it hard to set any goals, or make any plans. Usually at this time of year I have a short list of things I hope to accomplish over the next 12 months as well as a list of new things I want to try, and life feels full of possibility. But not this year. So far I haven't made any resolutions, or set any goals, and I'm not sure what I want to shoot for this year. Like I said, I think I'm mostly waiting to see how things go.

Even my reading plans feel undefined and amorphous. I have a huge TBR list of books that I want to read, but I haven't joined any reading challenges, or set any specific reading goals for 2021. I have some vague ideas about reading more nonfiction books this year, and reading (or rereading) more books from my own shelves, but nothing concrete. And I think I'm okay with that. Whatever I'm in the mood for is what I'll read next.

What about you? Got any big plans for 2021? Set any reading goals?

Whatever your hopes and dreams may be this year, 
I hope they all come true!
And I hope your year is full of good books, too.