Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Bookish memories...

This week's theme for TOP TEN TUESDAY, which is a fun weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, is about favorite bookish memories. As a lifelong reader, I have many. So it was kind of hard to choose which ones to highlight here. But I settled on these five: 

Author Jane Yolen

1.  Having lunch with Jane Yolen! I was attending a writer's conference in Chautauqua, and she was one of the speakers, and I got to eat lunch with her the next day. She's very personable and down-to-earth, and she tells some great stories. 

2.  Getting to visit the bookstore Shakespeare & Company when I was in Paris years ago. It was awesome! Both because it's a great bookstore, and because it's in Paris.

3. Meeting Nobel Prize Winner Kip Thorne 3½ years ago, and getting him to sign my copy of his book, Black Holes & Time Warps. It's an incredibly interesting book, and a bookish moment I will never forget.

4.  Reading Agatha Christie's Death on the Nile while I was actually in Egypt sailing down the Nile from Aswan to Luxor. It was an amazing trip, and made me love the book even more!

The Nile ... as seen from our boat. 

5. Learning to read with this old copy of Fun With Dick and Jane with my Dad the summer before I started to school. (He was a schoolteacher, so he always had the summers off.) Thanks for teaching me to read, Dad...and for so much more!!!

Happy Reading!

Saturday, November 27, 2021

The Taking of Jemima Boone...

History is messy because people are flawed. Even the best of intentions can lead to bad decisions. And it's easy to look back at past events and criticize those involved. But sometimes past heroes really were heroic. Daniel Boone and his daughter, Jemima, are two such people. And they certainly lived through some interesting times.

Frontier life in Kentucky during the Revolutionary War brought Boone and his family into conflict with both the Shawnee and the British. On July 14, 1776, Jemima and two of her friends were captured by a Cherokee-Shawnee raiding party; against all odds, Daniel Boone and his posse brought them back. Hardship, survival and adventure seemed to be the theme of their lives. Daniel was an expert woodsman with a larger-than-life presence. His daughter, Jemima, shared his courage, loyalty, and indomitable spirit. I've always admired them both. It's why I checked this book out.

And I enjoyed reading Matthew Pearl's The Taking of Jemima Boone. He details their life in Boonesboro, Jemima's kidnapping and all its ramifications, the other Colonial settlers in Boonesboro, and their interactions with the Native American tribes living in Kentucky at that time. Some of the intricate political interactions and intrigues got a little too detailed for my liking, but I appreciate Matthew Pearl's in-depth research and how he tried to present a fair and accurate picture of both Daniel Boone and his daughter. This book is a very interesting read, and I quite liked it.

Happy Reading!

Thursday, November 25, 2021

Happy Thanksgiving!


May your day be filled with family, friends, good food, love and laughter.
And may you find many things in your life to be thankful for!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 22, 2021

Haiku reviews...


You Belong Here Now by Dianna Rostad

Three New York orphans 
find a new home and family
on a Montana ranch.

Historical fiction .... 339 pages .... 3/5 stars.
(An uneven read for me; while I liked the three orphans, I found parts of the plot too unbelievable and over-the-top.)

Striking Range (Timber Creek K-9 Mystery, #7) by Margaret Mizushima

Murder, deadly drugs,
and a missing baby alarm
Mattie and Cole.

Mystery .... 275 pages .... 4/5 stars.
(Another good one in this series. Mattie's K-9 partner, Robo, is so great; plus, there are puppies!)

Not You Again by Terri Osburn

Five days. Four blind dates. 
Three disasters. And one
second chance at love.

Contemporary romance .... 239 pages .... 3.5/5 stars.
(The only problem with this humorous romance is that it's too short, which made the ending feel rushed; I wanted more of Jacob's and Becca's story.)

Happy Reading!

Friday, November 19, 2021

My last classic of 2021...


Pinocchio, by Carlo Collodi, was first published in 1881. Collodi (whose real name was Carlo Lorenzini) never married or had children. He lived in Florence, Italy. He decided to write for children "because adults are too hard to please!" Pinocchio was his first children's book. And it counts as my 19th Century Classic for Karen's Back to the Classics Challenge.  (Sorry, Anthony Trollope! I'll have to tackle Can You Forgive Her? next year.)

After reading this one, I have to say, I like Disney's version better. It's cuter, and Pinocchio is more likable, and there are fun songs to sing! 

In the book, Pinocchio is impetuous, selfish, prone to temper tantrums, thoughtless, gullible and easily swayed. He never listens to the good advice he's given; but he always follows the bad influences he meets. In chapter 4, he even throws a wooden mallet at the book's version of Jiminy Cricket, killing him. Boy was that a surprise! Pinocchio makes mistake after mistake. Sometimes he feels bad and promises to do better, but his promises never seem to last. And he has one misadventure after another. It's not until after he rescues Gepetto from the gigantic shark that swallowed him, and then works selflessly to nurse him back to health, that Pinocchio changes for the better and finally becomes a real boy. 

So, I didn't love this one. But it was interesting to see how it compares to the Disney version. And, as my twelfth classic of 2021, it completes my Back to the Classics Reading Challenge for this year. So, yay! I'm proud I actually managed to finish all twelve categories this time around. 

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Top Ten Tuesday

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

This week's theme is Books to Read if You Loved  _________, and you're supposed to fill in the blank with whatever you want. This took some thought. I finally settled on Books to Read if You Loved Jurassic Park, mostly because I love books with dinosaurs on the cover. So here are ten covers I love:

Oops...I think I just did eleven. Oh, well. They're all fun dinosaur covers.
The only one of these I've actually read is The Dinosaur Four, but the rest look equally good. 
I'd check them out. 

Happy Reading!

Saturday, November 13, 2021

Right Behind Her by Melinda Leigh

When Sheriff Bree Tagger was eight years old, her father killed her mother, then shot himself. Now, twenty-seven years later, the bones of two more murdered people have been found on her family's farm in Grey's Hollow in upstate New York. Did her father kill them, too? Or was it someone else? As Bree and Matt Flynn investigate, threats are made against her and her family. But Bree is determined to find out the truth, even if that truth hits close to home.

My thoughts:  I love this series! Right Behind Her is the fourth book about Bree Taggert and Matt Flynn. They're such likable characters. I love seeing how their relationship has developed and grown with each book. And I really liked the mystery in this one, too, especially how it tied into Bree's past. You find out a lot more about her unhappy childhood in this one. I also enjoy watching Bree and her deputies investigate a case. That small town setting is always fun. And Matt's police dog, Brody, plays an important role in this one, too, which I also loved. All in all, this is a very entertaining mystery series, and I highly recommend it.

Happy Reading!

Also see my review of: See Her Die (#2)

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Survive the Night by Riley Sager

Two months ago, Charlie's roommate, Maddy, was murdered by the Campus Killer. Charlie's been a mess ever since. And now she feels an overwhelming need to leave school and go home. ASAP. So she accepts a ride from Josh, a guy she meets at the campus ride board. He says he's headed to Ohio, too. And even though her boyfriend, Robbie, said he would drive her home that weekend, Charlie can't wait. So she gets in the car with a stranger. But they're only an hour into their drive when Charlie catches Josh in a lie. And she starts to wonder if Josh might actually be the Campus Killer. Only Charlie has hallucinations, movies that she sees in her head, and she's just gone off her meds. So are her fears about Josh true? Or are they the product of her own anxious imagination?

This book is billed as a thrilling cat-and-mouse game. I found it mostly frustrating. You spend the majority of the book inside Charlie's head, with all her self-doubts, her fears, and her 'mind movies'. Not only is she an unreliable narrator, but she's an incredible indecisive one, too. And because you only see Josh through her eyes, it's hard to know what to believe about him, or what game he's playing, if any. Is he a killer? Or is she just crazy?

After awhile, I found it hard to care. Mostly because I couldn't find anything to like about Charlie. Or Josh. And the plot just kept getting more absurd and implausible. Then, Sager throws in one last twist at the end that I just couldn't buy into; it was one twist too many and felt like an unfair, last minute surprise.

Needless to say, Survive the Night ended up being a very disappointing read for me. Which is sad because I've enjoyed reading all of Riley Sager's other books. But I guess they can't all be 4-star reads. Still, I did get to read this one with Melody, which is always fun. Be sure to check out her rant, I mean her review, of this one for another opinion. 

Happy Reading!

Other books by Riley Sager that I liked better than this one:

Sunday, November 7, 2021

November's bookish art...

Jacques-Emile Blanche -- Portrait of Lucie Reading

"I wanted to lose myself in happy memories, to be inhabited by gentle novels, to live deep inside books."
--Gael Faye

Thursday, November 4, 2021

A Classic Play...


Who is Cyrano de Bergerac:
My nose is enormous...I carry it with pride, because a big nose is a sign of affability, kindness, courtesy, wit, generosity, and courage.

With whom I'm in love? Come now, think a moment: this nose of mine, which precedes me by a quarter of an hour wherever I go, forbids me to dream of being loved by even an ugly woman. You ask me whom I love? The answer should be clear to you! Whom else would I love but the most beautiful woman in the world?

Cyrano loves Roxane, but he knows she could never love someone as ugly as him. Christian de Neuvillette, on the other hand, is more than handsome enough for a woman like Roxane, only he is tongue-tied and dull-witted whenever he's around her. So Cyrano decides to pen the words for him to say to woo the lovely lady, words that come from Cyrano's own heart. 
Together, we can win her heart! ... Shall we complete each other? We'll walk together: you in the light, I in the shadows. I'll make you eloquent, you'll make me handsome.

The story of Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmond Rostand, with the love triangle between Cyrano, Christian, and Roxane, is one I've long been familiar with, but I'd never read or seen the actual play. Then, last year, Sam @ Book Chase read and reviewed it, and put it on my radar. So when I saw that I needed to read a Classic Play for Karen's Back to the Classics Challenge, I knew immediately that I wanted to read this one. And it's a fun read; it has lots of wit and action and is very entertaining, though it also made me cry at the end. Cyrano is quite the memorable character. He writes poetry, fights, and gives no quarter to anyone. But it's his own words that describe him best:
I prefer to lead a different kind of life. I sing, dream, laugh, and go where I please, alone and free. My eyes see clearly and my voice is strong. I'm quarrelsome or benign as it suits my pleasure, always ready to fight a duel or write a poem at the drop of a hat. ... I may not cut a stylish figure, but I hold my soul erect. I wear my deeds as ribbons, my wit is sharper than the finest mustache, and when I walk among men I make truths ring like spurs.

I ended up really liking this play. And someday, I hope to see it performed onstage.  

Happy Reading!


Wednesday, November 3, 2021

A Recent Read...


John Connolly's Every Dead Thing is a complicated and darkly compelling thriller. And too long for me to even attempt to summarize it here. (Plus, I'm lazy.) But I loved Charlie "Bird" Parker and his criminally-inclined friends, Angel and Louis, and I can't wait to read the next book in this series. Just be warned, parts of this book are very dark and not for the faint of heart. But if you like Gregg Hurwitz's Orphan X series with Evan Smoak, or Nicholas Petrie's The Drifter with Peter Ash, then you'll probably like this one, too. I did! 

Happy Reading!