Monday, March 29, 2021

Recent reads I loved, but didn't review...

So, I got the idea for this post of 'Favorite Non-review Books' from Rachel over at Waves of Fiction who did it first, and I just want to thank her for letting me steal her idea. Anyway, here are three books I recently read that I really did love, but that I didn't review... because I'm lazy like that sometimes. I do highly recommend all three of these books!

Home Before Dark by Riley Sager is a suspenseful mystery with a hint of the supernatural in it. I love books with haunted houses in them, and I thoroughly enjoyed this one. So many other bloggers have read and reviewed it though, I didn't feel like I needed to. But do read it if you haven't!

Red-Tails in Love by Marie Winn is an awesome nonfiction read, especially if you're into birds and birding like I am. Who knew there were so many interesting species of birds inhabiting Central Park? And the story of the red-tailed hawks? So unforgettable!

96 Miles by J.L. Esplin is one of those survival stories I love to read. In this one, two brothers are without power, and without food or water. In order to survive, they'll have to trek 96 miles across the Nevada desert. It's a middle grade fiction book that readers of all ages can enjoy.

Happy Reading!

Friday, March 26, 2021

In Morocco by Edith Wharton

 "To step on board a steamer in a Spanish port, and three hours later to land in a country without a guide-book, is a sensation to rouse the hunger of the repletest sight-seer."

In September 1917, Edith Wharton traveled to Morocco. She spent a month there, making her way from Fez to Marrakech in a French military motorcar. She described the cities, detailed the architecture, reported on the ceremonies she viewed, and even included a brief sketch of Morocco's history. It's obvious she did her homework before embarking on this trip; she knew the names of key historical figures, the dates, and the important events in their lives. 
"To see Morocco during the war was therefore to see it in the last phase of its curiously abrupt transition from remoteness and danger to security and accessibility; at a moment when its aspect and its customs were still almost unaffected by European influences, and when the 'Christian' might taste the transient joy of wandering unmolested in cities of ancient mystery and hostility."
This is not an exciting or fast read. Though Wharton chronicles her trip by describing each city and place she visited with exacting detail, she's barely in the book herself. You get no sense of her, or of the people she travelled with, or met. The most exciting thing that happens is a sudden dust storm in Marrakech. Their visit to the Sultan's harem was interesting, too. But mostly this book left me wishing she'd written a fictionalized account of her trip to Morocco instead. That's a book I would love to read! Sadly, I did not love this travelogue. 

Wharton's fine writing does shine through in places however, like in these gems:
"If one loses one's way in Morocco, civilization vanishes as though it were a magic carpet rolled up by a Djinn."

"How can it seem other than a dream? Who can have conceived, in the heart of a savage Saharan camp, the serenity of this hidden place?"

I've owned this book for well over a decade, and now that I've read it, I'm glad I can finally take it off my TBR shelf where it's been gathering dust. I also get to count it as my Travel or Adventure Classic for Karen's Back to the Classics Challenge. So that's good, too.

Happy Reading!



Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Funny Book Titles

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

This week's theme?  Funny book titles.

Here are my top ten:

How Nancy Drew Saved My Life
by Lauren Baratz-Logsted

How to Be a (Bad) Birdwatcher
by Simon Barnes

Does My Head Look Big in This?
by Randa Abdel-Fattah

Scooby Apocalypse
by Keith Giffen, J.M. DeMatteis, Howard Porter

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
by Philip K. Dick

Dating Big Bird
by Laura Zigman

Nerd in Shining Armor
by Vicki Lewis Thompson

You're Never Weird on the Internet (almost)
by Felicia Day

It Happened One Doomsday
by Laurence MacNaughton

My Life as a Potato
by Arianne Costner

Happy Reading!

Saturday, March 20, 2021

A fairy tale retelling...

 "It was a beast, and yet not a beast. A man, yet not a man. It stood tall on two legs and was clothed in a long coat and boots. It's intelligent eyes were of a tigerish glowing amber, set in a hairy face like a bear's; it had a tawny mane like a lion's, while its open mouth displayed teeth as white and sharp as a wolf's. I knew at once what it was though I'd never before heard of one that could take such a mingled form. Abartyen."

Scarlet in the Snow by Sophie Masson has all the classic elements of Beauty and the Beast (which has always been one of my favorite fairy tales): a man who's now a beast, a magical curse, an evil sorcerer, and a spunky heroine who has no idea what story she's just stumbled into. 
"I was merely a pawn in a plan whose outline I couldn't yet glimpse. I had no magical powers, no special distinction, no great beauty or extreme cleverness. I was an ordinary girl with a small talent in storytelling, that was all. And how could that help me now?"
For Natasha, it's not just about escaping Ivan, the abartyen, or his enchanted castle. It's not even about befriending him. Or falling in love. It's about breaking his curse, and then still having to rescue him from the evil sorcerer who's got him imprisoned somewhere. That quest leads her to Old Bony, the witch of the forest, and then to the city of Champaine where she must search out Ivan's true identity, even though she doesn't know anyone there, or speak the language. Oh, and she has to figure out who the sorcerer really is, too. Good thing she doesn't give up easily...and that she has a little magical help along the way.

This is definitely Natasha's story, not the beast's. He's relegated to the background for most of the book, but Natasha is such an independent and enchanting heroine I didn't mind. And her adventure to find and rescue Ivan is both entertaining and fun. I love a book with a good happy ending as much as I love a good fairy tale retelling, too. Masson's book is both.

Happy Reading!

Similar reads:

The Beast's Heart
by Leife Shallcross
Hunted by Meagan Spooner

Beauty by Robin McKinley

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

March's bookish art...

Albert Bartholome -- Woman Lying Reading a Book, 1883

"Whenever I see someone reading a book, especially if it is someone I don't expect, I feel civilization has become a little safer."
--Matt Haig

Sunday, March 14, 2021

Every Waking Hour by Joanna Schaffhausen

As a teenager, Ellery Hathaway was abducted by notorious serial killer Francis Coben. She barely survived. Now she's a detective in Boston, still slightly broken and fragile, and still on probation with the department. She's also sort of seeing Reed Markham, the FBI agent who found and rescued her all those years ago. Not that she's great at relationships. She and Reed are on a picnic with his seven-year-old daughter, Tula, when a twelve-year-old girl goes missing from that same Boston park. But was Chloe Lockhart abducted? Or did she run away on her own? The discovery that Chloe's older half-brother, Trevor, was murdered before she was ever born certainly complicates things. Is her disappearance somehow connected to his death? Reed joins Ellery's investigation as they hurry to hunt down the truth and find Chloe before it's too late.

This is the fourth book Joanna Schaffhausen has written about Ellery Hathaway and Reed Markham. And while her mysteries are always well-plotted and compelling, it's her characters that I love. This case is especially hard for Ellery because of her own traumatic past--a past that complicates every aspect of her life. Including her feelings for Reed. And loving Ellery definitely complicates Reed's life. But they make a great team when they're working together to solve a case.

I thought Every Waking Hour was an amazing psychological thriller! And with that ending, I hope Schaffhausen hurries up and writes the next book in this series ASAP. 

Happy Reading!

The other books in this series (which I also loved):
#2 - No Mercy

Thursday, March 11, 2021

One year ago...

It was one year ago this month that coronavirus took over the world and changed life as we know it. Of course, the virus had been spreading for several months prior, but it was on March 11, 2020 that the WHO declared COVID-19 a global pandemic. That same day, two Utah Jazz players tested positive for the virus and the NBA abruptly suspended their season. Then the dominoes really began to fall:  libraries in Utah closed overnight; our governor put all public schools on a two-week 'soft closure' that ended up lasting for the rest of the school year; church services were suspended; 'non-essential' businesses closed; countries around the world went on lockdown; the Tokyo Summer Games were postponed until 2021. Even the Scripps National Spelling Bee was cancelled. 

Talk about March madness!

As pandemic life became our new reality, I started sewing masks for me and my family and we all hunkered down in our homes. Trips to the grocery store became stressful games of grocery roulette--what will, or won't, be on the shelves this week? Eggs, but no bread. Yogurt or yeast? Go fish! And, as I'm sure you all remember, toilet paper got very scarce. (Although I'm still not quite sure why.) And suddenly the majority of life moved online.

I'm sure you have as many vivid memories of everything that happened last March as I do. I just wish I had an equal number of insightful life lessons that I've learned from living through a pandemic. But I don't. Unless you count these:
  • Reading about a worldwide pandemic is much more fun that living through one!
  • Stay positive--nothing bad lasts forever. (It just feels like it does.)
  • Forget yourself and do something for someone else. A little kindness goes a long way.
  • Gratitude is key!
  • And always have an extra pack of toilet paper on hand just in case.

What life lessons have you learned from living through a global pandemic this past year? 
I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Monday, March 8, 2021

Haiku Reviews...

 I love all the books in Kelley Armstrong's Rockton series, but these last three are by far my favorites.

Watcher in the Woods (#4) by Kelley Armstrong

Casey's sister and a 
U.S. Marshall's murder complicate
life in Rockton.

Mystery/Suspense .... 356 pages .... 4.5/5 stars.

Alone in the Wild (#5) by Kelley Armstrong

Casey and Eric
find a baby in the woods.
But can they find her parents?

Mystery/Suspense .... 356 pages .... 5/5 stars.

A Stranger in Town (#6) by Kelley Armstrong

Dead tourists. Attacks 
by Hostiles. The Council.
Rockton's fate is at stake.

Mystery/Suspense .... 356 pages .... 4/5 stars.

Happy Reading!

Friday, March 5, 2021

A K-9 Mystery...

FBI agents Meg Jennings and Brian Foster and their dogs, Hawk and Lacey, have been sent to Blue Ridge, Georgia to track down an elusive killer who's been shooting people with a compound bow and arrow. All the murder victims seem to be connected to a proposed dam being built in the area; the resulting reservoir would wipe out several homes and farms. It's also being built on land claimed by the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. Which leaves plenty of suspects for the FBI to investigate.

What I love about Sara Driscoll's FBI K-9 novels is the relationship between Meg and her dog, Hawk, and how she and Hawk use their unique skill set to track down the truth. Leave No Trace is the fifth book in this series, and it's another solid and entertaining mystery. There's good suspense. And Driscoll includes a lot of history about Georgia and the Cherokee in this one, which I found both interesting and sad. Meg's relationship with her firefighter boyfriend, Todd Webb, also deepens in this one, which made me happy. I like the two of them together. And the dogs? They're as awesome as ever. If you're into K-9 mysteries, this is a very good series to check out!

Happy Reading!

Other fun K-9 reads:

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Top Ten Tuesday

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

This week's theme: Characters whose job I wish I had. (But I also included book titles that mention jobs that sound like fun.) Here's my list:

The Lucky Dog Matchmaking Service by Beth Kendrick
(Matching up dogs and people? Sounds like fun to me.)

The Ghost of Blackwood Hall by Carolyn Keene
(It's Nancy Drew! I've always wanted to be her.)

Who Wants to Marry a Cowboy? by Abigail Sharpe 
(Okay, I know this isn't an actual job, but it should be!)

The Little Bookshop on the Seine by Rebecca Raisin
(Books. Paris. Sounds like the perfect job to me!)

Fallout (Lois Lane #1) by Gwenda Bond
(It's Lois Lane! Need I say more?)

Girl on a Wire by Gwenda Bond
(Because once upon a time I dreamed of joining a circus.)

The Lighthouse Keeper by Cynthia Ellingsen
(I've always wanted to live in a lighthouse!)

A Mile in my Flip-Flops by Melody Carson
(Because flipping houses in books always seems to work out for the heroine more ways than one.)

Girl With a Camera by Carolyn Meyer
(This would be such a cool career; I've always loved photography!)

Happy Reading!