Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Two books I recently read and loved...

Here are two more of my favorite reads this past month that I'm not going to review, but am going to recommend. (With thanks again to Rachel @ Waves of Fiction for the idea.) 

Prodigal Son is Gregg Hurwitz's latest Orphan X novel. It's the 6th book in this series, which makes it tricky to review without accidentally spoiling things that happen in previous books. Just know that Evan Smoak is one of my all-time favorite characters, and I absolutely LOVE this series. All six books. They're awesome. My review of his first three books can be found here and here.

The Breaker is the latest book in Nick Petrie's Peter Ash Series. It is also book #6. I love this series, and this character, too. Every time I finish one, I can't wait for the next one to come out. If you want to read my review of the first book in this series, check it out here. 

So there you go, two more books I loved and highly recommend.
Happy Reading!

Sunday, April 25, 2021

Without Mercy by Jefferson Bass

 In explaining my fascination with forensic cases, and especially my ability to stomach gruesome details such as dismemberment, I often told students and police this: "I don't see a murder as a death; I see it as a puzzle. If I have the skills to solve that puzzle and bring someone to justice, I've done a good job."

Dr. Bill Brockton is a forensic anthropologist and the head of the Body Farm in Knoxville, Tennessee. When skeletal remains are found in the woods near a ghost town in Cook County, Bill is the one they call. The case is a disturbing one. It appears the male victim was chained to a tree for almost six weeks before dying. It's hard for Bill to determine more than the sex of the victim because not only is the skull missing, but most of the other bones are, too. And his graduate assistant, Miranda Lovelady, has just finished her dissertation and is now applying for jobs elsewhere, which doesn't make him happy either. But things get much worse when Nick Satterfield, a sadistic serial killer, escapes from prison. He wants revenge, not just on Bill, but on everyone Bill holds dear.

I've read the first six books in this series and have enjoyed each and every one. (This one is #10.) I find Bill Brockton to be an engaging and likable narrator, and all the forensic science fascinating. The case involving the skeletal remains in this book is both interesting and sad. Then there's the threat of the serial killer, which heightens the tension and makes the ending very suspenseful. I liked this one a lot. In fact, Without Mercy feels like the perfect way to wrap up this entertaining series. 

Happy Reading!

Other Bill Brockton books I've reviewed:

Thursday, April 22, 2021

April's bookish art...

Jean George Ferry -- Two Woman Reading in an Interior

" whatever you read. Enrich your life with books of any type.
If you aren't enjoying a book, try another---life is too short."
--Jenny Colgan

Monday, April 19, 2021

Haiku Reviews...


Notorious by Allison Brennan

An old friend's murder
haunts Max; she comes home to hunt
down the truth at last.

Mystery ....326 pages ....4.5/5 stars.
(Intrepid crime reporter Max Revere is a new favorite character!)

Happy Singles Day by Ann Marie Walker

Who needs a man? Paige
is happy being single....until
she meets single dad Lucas.

Romantic Comedy .... 292 pages .... 3.5/5 stars.
(A cute, light-hearted romance...with puppies!)

Cut Off by Adrianne Finlay

When a reality
game show goes wrong, four teens try
to find their way home.

YA Adventure/Science Fiction .... 371 pages .... 3/5 stars.
(Liked the survival parts; didn't love the technological twist at the end.)

Happy Reading!

Saturday, April 17, 2021

A bookish poem...

I love this poem by Julia Donaldson, and since April is National Poetry Month, I thought it was the perfect time to share it:

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

The Big Finish by Brooke Fossey

From the blurb:
"Meet Duffy, an old curmudgeon who lives in an assisted living home.

Meet Josie, a desperate young woman who climbs through his window.

Together, they’re going to learn it’s never too late—or too early—to change your ways.

For Duffy Sinclair, life boils down to one simple thing: maintaining his residence at the idyllic Centennial Assisted Living. Without it, he’s destined for the roach-infested nursing home down the road—and after wasting the first eighty-eight years of his life, he refuses to waste away for the rest. So, he keeps his shenanigans to the bare minimum with the help of his straight-laced best friend and roommate, Carl Upton.

But when Carl’s granddaughter Josie climbs through their bedroom window with booze on her breath and a black eye, Duffy’s faced with trouble that’s sticking around and hard to hide—from Centennial’s management and Josie’s toxic boyfriend. Before he knows it, he’s running a covert operation that includes hitchhiking and barhopping.

He might as well write himself a one-way ticket to the nursing home…or the morgue. Yet Duffy’s all in. Because thanks to an unlikely friendship that becomes fast family—his life doesn’t boil down the same anymore. Not when he finally has a chance to leave a legacy."

My thoughts:
I loved everything about this book: the humor, the writing, the characters, and the heart. Duffy Sinclair is one of the most likable curmudgeons ever written. And he's such an engaging narrator! His views of life in an assisted living home (don't call it a nursing home!) made me smile...and hope I never end up in one myself. He handles all the "joys" of old age--like when his water spills at dinner and he unsuccessfully tries to convince everyone he didn't just pee his pants--with sarcasm and snark. And a very big heart. The way he's willing to risk everything in order to help Josie get back on her feet only made me like him more. This funny yet poignant book is definitely one of my favorite reads so far this year.

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Top Ten Tuesday

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

This week's theme: Book Titles that sound like they could be Crayola Crayon Colors. 

You're supposed to give a description of what color each title would be, but I decided to just put each title in its own illustrative color. Here's my list:

Foxglove Summer
by Ben Aaronvitch

Cold Wind
by Paige Shelton

Aurora Rising
by Amie Kaufman

A Sparkle of Silver
by Liz Johnson

Deep Dark
by Laura Griffin

Cretaceous Dawn
by L.M. Graziano

After Sundown
by Linda Howard

Wide Sargasso Sea
by Jean Rhys

Barefoot Beach
by Debbie Mason

The Beast's Heart
by Leife Shallcross

Happy Reading!

Saturday, April 10, 2021

Another classic...

I became acquainted with D.E. Stevenson a few years ago when I first read Miss Buncle's Book, a novel I absolutely love. So when I saw that my library had a copy of The Young Clementina, I knew I wanted to read it as my Classic by a Woman Author for this year's Back to the Classics Challenge. It was first published in 1938. And I'm very glad they republished it in 2013 because it's a charming novel.

Only it's not young Clementina's story. It's the story of Charlotte Dean, a country parson's daughter, and her younger sister, Kitty, and Garth Wisdon, the handsome and serious boy from the manor house on the hill. It's a story of love lost...and found again, of lies and betrayal, of quiet resignation, of family and friendship, forgiveness and hope, and second chances. 

I wasn't sure about this book when I first started reading it, but I ended up loving it. Unassuming and candid Char is someone I think I could be friends with; her story drew me in and kept me happily reading until the end. I know I haven't given you a full picture of what this novel is about, but what makes this book so good is the way the story unfolds on its own, revealing its hidden treasures one by one. And I didn't want to spoil that for anyone. Just know that The Young Clementina is well-written, and worth reading. And the ending brought happy tears to my eyes.

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

A fun cozy mystery...

Title & Author:  Mayhem at the Orient Express by Kylie Logan

Setting: South Bass Island (a small island twelve miles off the southern shore of Lake Erie)

First lines: If it weren't for Jerry Garcia peeing on my pansies, I never would have joined the League of Literary Ladies. No, not that Jerry Garcia! Jerry Garcia, Chandra Morrisey's cat.

The plot in brief:  Bea Cartwright and her two bickering neighbors, Kate and Chandra, can't seem to get along. Fed up with their arguing, the island's court magistrate sentences all three of them to join the library's book discussion group for one year. They reluctantly choose Murder on the Orient Express as their first book. When the owner of Orient Express, their favorite restaurant on the island, is murdered, they decide to emulate Hercule Poirot and investigate. Before they get very far, a sudden snowstorm knocks out power across the island, stranding everyone on the island, including the murderer. And all the main suspects are staying right there at Bea's bed and breakfast. 

My thoughts:  The humor, the combination of quirky island characters, and that snowy island setting are what I enjoyed most about this cozy mystery. Bea, Kate, Chandra, and Luella, the fourth member of their book club, aren't the best of investigators, but they did make me smile. And I liked the references to Agatha Christie's Murder on the Orient Express and the unexpected twist at the end of the book. I actually don't read a lot of cozies, but I thought this one was a lot of fun.

Happy Reading!

Sunday, April 4, 2021

Happy Birthday!

Today is my dad's birthday. He passed away three years ago, but we still celebrate his birthday every year. Among my dad's many talents and interests was his love of reading. He read many different kinds of books: biographies and histories, westerns, mysteries, science fiction, and even the occasional romance. He and my mom are the reason I love to read so much. Books have always been a large part of my life because of them. So, in honor of my dad's birthday, and his love of reading (which he passed on to me), I thought I'd honor these twelve authors who were also born in April, and wish them all a Happy Birthday.

Anne McCaffrey (1st)

Hans Christian Andersen (2nd)

Washington Irving (3rd)

Maya Angelou (4th)

Anthony Horowitz (5th)

Vince Flynn (6th)

Beverly Cleary (12th)

Jon Cryer (16th)

Isak Dinesen (17th)

Nick Hornby (17th)

Sue Grafton (24th)

Andre Agassi (29th)

Happy Birthday, Dad ... and Happy Reading!

Thursday, April 1, 2021

The Cold Vanish: Seeking the Missing in North America's Wildlands

"The not-knowing. That's the mental and emotional cancer.
.... The not-knowing is mad-making."

No one knows how many people go missing in North America's National Parks or other wilderness areas every year. There's no list or database. But  I bet the number is higher than anyone thinks. After all, there's a lot of forest and wilderness in America. Over 800 million acres. Even in Utah, where I live, hikers, campers and hunters go missing every year in our mountains. Most are found. But not all. Some just vanish.

In early April 2017, Jacob Gray's bicycle and  gear were found near the Sol Duc River in Olympic National Park in Washington. There was no sign of Jacob. In The Cold Vanish, Jon Billman chronicles the search for Jacob over the following weeks and months. He also writes about other cold vanishings across North America and what makes the searches for these missing people so difficult. And so puzzling. Some of these mysteries have sad endings, but many are never solved. 

I found this book fascinating. Jon Billman is a gifted writer and natural storyteller. And the stories of all the missing are sometimes heartbreaking, often mystifying, and always compelling. If I decide to do a list of my favorite nonfiction reads of 2021, this book will definitely be near the top.

Happy Reading!