Friday, October 7, 2022

Got Ghosts?

 "I hadn't come all this way to run from whatever might be haunting this house. Protecting the living against the evil and restless dead, that's my calling, my only real purpose in life. My intuition, unscientific as it was, told me there was something here, something that might be endangering both of them ... and I wasn't going to abandon them."

The Necromancer's Library by J.L. Bryan is the twelfth Ellie Jordan, Ghost Trapper novel. These books are very fun ghost stories with good scares, lots of humor, a very likable heroine, and some very creepy haunted houses. I love them. 

In this one, Ellie and her ghost-hunting partner, Stacey, have been hired by two sisters to investigate a haunting at an isolated antebellum home in rural Georgia. It's more library than house, with walls of overflowing bookshelves in every room. They once belonged to Professor Marconi and include medieval occult manuscripts along with books on conjuring spirits, contacting ghosts, and raising the dead. Marconi died mysteriously a few months ago. Is he the one haunting the mansion? Or is the spirit something darker and more demonic? Ellie is determined to find out. 

A house full of arcane and esoteric books is the perfect setting for a haunting. And some very scary things take place in this old house. I loved the mystery and suspense. Stacey's boyfriend, Jake, who is a CPA and reluctant psychic, comes for a weekend to help them out with their case; he always makes me laugh. And that ghostly ending? It's a good one! This book is a perfect read for October. But then, any of J.L. Bryan's books are. 

Happy Reading! 


Other J.L. Bryan ghost stories I've reviewed:

Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Top Ten Tuesday


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

This week's theme is supposed to be favorite bookstores, or bookstores you'd love to visit. But I don't really have a favorite bookstore any more. So I went a little rogue and decided to do Favorite Bookshop Books instead. 

Here they are:


How to Find Love in a Bookshop by Veronica Henry




The Lost For Words Bookshop by Stephanie Butland




The Lost and Found Bookshop by Susan Wiggs




The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman




The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan




The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald




The Last Bookshop in London by Madeline Martin


 

The English Bookshop by Janis Wildy




The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap by Wendy Welch




The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop by Lewis Buzbee



Happy Reading!

Saturday, October 1, 2022

It's October!

 


I love this time of year: the cooler weather, the colorful autumn leaves, pumpkins, even watching scary movies. It's also the time of year that I find myself in the mood for a good ghost story. Or any supernatural, spooky, or suspenseful book really. So, when I was at the library yesterday, here's what I checked out to read this month:

The Gates by John Connolly
Opium and Absinthe by Lydia Kang
Death and the Conjuror by Tom Mead
The Listening House by Mabel Seeley
Dark August by Katie Tallo
The Haunted Air by Paul F. Wilson
Fire Burn and Cauldron Bubble by H.P. Mallory
Curse the Day by Annabel Chase


I recently watched this fabulous movie about Marcel Marceau and the French Resistance during WWII: 

It's such a moving story! I didn't even know Marcel Marceau was Jewish. Or that he played a role in saving so many Jewish children. I highly recommend this movie!   


My sister and I started writing a ghost story last month on Kindle Vella and so far we've published the first four episodes.  Are any of you familiar with Kindle Vella? It's a site with serialized stories in every possible genre, and it's a lot of fun. The first three episodes of every Kindle Vella story are free to read. After that you have to buy tokens, but Kindle Vella gives first time users 200 free tokens, and if you want to buy 200 more tokens, it only costs about $1.99. (One token equals about 100 words, so most episodes would be between 10-20 tokens to read.) Anyway...if you want to check out our ghost story, here's the link: Ghosts of Grayhaven. We'll be posting a new episode every week through the end of the year. Plus, there's a dog! Be sure to give us a thumbs up if you like it. 👍


And here's one of my favorite John Atkinson cartoons...a very fitting one for this time of year:



Enjoy...and Happy Reading!

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

City Folk and Country Folk by Sofia Khvoshchinskaya



Summary from Goodreads:  "An unsung gem of nineteenth-century Russian literature, City Folk and Country Folk is a gentle yet devastating satire of Russia's aristocratic and pseudo-intellectual elites in the 1860s. Translated into English for the first time, the novel weaves an engaging tale of manipulation, infatuation, and female assertiveness that takes place one year after the liberation of the empire's serfs. Sofia Khvoshchinskaya centers her story on a commonsense, hardworking noblewoman, Nastasya Ivanovna Chulkova, and her self-assured daughter, Olenka, living on their small rural estate. Seventeen-year-old Olenka, who is unimpressed by class, ultimately helps her mother overcome a sense of duty to her "betters" and leads the two to triumph over their urbanite guests' financial, amorous, and matrimonial machinations."

My thoughts:  I first learned about this book from Kathy @ Reading Matters. (And if you want to read a really good review of this book, click on the link and read hers!) And I want to thank Kathy for bringing this Russian novel to my attention, because I quite enjoyed it. While not a lot happens plotwise, the interactions between Nastasya and Olenka and their two uninvited summer guests over the course of the novel are humorous. Nastasya is a bit silly, and worries way too much about offending her guests. Olenka, on the other hand, isn't at all cowed by the guests' station or status in society. 
"All of this was quite amusing to Olenka, who assumed that the present situation would not drag on forever and, most likely, would soon come to an end, but for Nastasya Ivanova there was nothing funny about it."

I liked Olenka's youthful candor and outspokenness and the way she makes her mother stand up to their guests at the end. I also thought Khvoshchinskaya did an excellent job contrasting the aristocratic pretentions and quirks of the two Muscovites against their more provincial hosts, while poking gentle fun at each one. Seligman Favorov's translation of this satirical novel is well done and very readable. All in all, this is an amusing novel and I'm glad I read it. Even better? It counts as my "Classic in Translation" for Karen's Back to the Classics Challenge. Only two more classics to go this year and I'll have finished all twelve categories!

Happy Reading!





Sunday, September 25, 2022

Haiku reviews...


The Wedding Plot by Paula Munier 
(Mercy & Elvis Mystery #4)

A wedding. A missing
man. A murdered stranger. Lies,
secrets... and family.


Mystery .... 340 pages .... 4/5 stars.
(I love Mercy and Troy and their dogs Elvis and Susie Bear!)





Breathless by Amy McCulloch


Climb a mountain, get
the interview. Then murder
changes the story.


Adventure/mystery .... 343 pages .... 3/5 stars.
(I wanted to like this one more than I did.)





The Bodyguard by Katherine Center


Her job: protect him.
Being his fake girlfriend and
falling in love? Bonus!


Contemporary romance .... 302 pages .... 5/5 stars.
(So funny and sweet; I loved everything about this one!)



Happy Reading!






Thursday, September 22, 2022

Every Last Fear by Alex Finlay


First line:  They found the bodies on a Tuesday.

From the blurb:  After a late night of partying, NYU student Matt Pine returns to his dorm room to devastating news: nearly his entire family—his mom, his dad, his little brother and sister—have been found dead from an apparent gas leak while vacationing in Mexico. The local police claim it was an accident, but the FBI and State Department seem far less certain.

The tragedy makes headlines everywhere because this isn’t the first time the Pine family has been thrust into the media spotlight. Matt’s older brother, Danny—currently serving a life sentence for the murder of his teenage girlfriend Charlotte—was the subject of a viral true crime documentary suggesting that Danny was wrongfully convicted. Though the country has rallied behind Danny, Matt holds a secret about his brother that he’s never told anyone: the night Charlotte was killed Matt saw something that makes him believe his brother is guilty of the crime.

My thoughts:  This mystery is told through multiple points-of-view that alternate between the past (before Matt's family died) and the present. And though it's well-written, I would have preferred sticking with Matt's POV in the present for more of the book rather than having all those flashbacks interrupting the flow of the narrative. But it's the past narratives with Matt's dad, mom and younger sister, Maggie, that dominate the story. And while all the POVs and layers from the past are interesting, I didn't find them particularly suspenseful. 

Melody @ Melody's Reading Corner and I read this one together and it was fun trying to figure out what really happened to Charlotte and to Matt's family with her. Not that we had a lot of clues to go on. It's not until the very end that all the pieces of this mystery get put together and the truth is revealed. And I have to admit, I was a little underwhelmed by the supposed twist at the end. Every Last Fear is well-plotted, the writing is good, and I did like it, but it just wasn't quite as thrilling as I hoped it would be. For me, it's a solid 3-star read. Be sure to check out Melody's review to see her opinion of this one! And thanks again, Melody, for reading this one with me. It was fun. 

Happy Reading!

Melody's questions for me:
1. There's a combination of suspense, conspiracies, and family drama in this book. What did you enjoy most about the story?  I enjoyed all the action scenes in the present with Matt the most. He's a great character, and he's the reason I wanted to keep reading. I just wanted more of his story! 

2. Who was your favorite and least favorite member of the Pine family (and why)?
Besides Matt, my favorite character was his younger sister, Maggie. She was spunky, and a good detective, and so smart; all of which made her death even more sad. And I didn't like Evan Pine, Matt's father very much; he was so consumed with saving Danny all those years that the rest of his family suffered because of it, especially Matt.


Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Top Ten Tuesday

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

This week's theme is supposed to be Books on My Fall 2022 To-Read List, but I'm going rogue and doing Books with September in the Title  instead.



September by Rosamunde Pilcher




September 17 by Amanda West Lewis




The September Society by Charles Finch




The September Sisters by Jillian Cantor




The Last September by Nina de Gramont




The Fourteenth of September by Rita Dragonette




The Fortnight in September by R.C. Sherriff




The Septembers of Shiraz by Dalia Sofer




The September Girls by Maureen Lee


 

77 Days in September by Ray Gorham



Happy Reading!

 

Saturday, September 17, 2022

Buried in a Good Book by Tamara Berry


First line:  "There are at least three dead bodies in there."

Plot:  Tess Harrow is a bestselling mystery writer. She's also recently divorced and behind on her next book. In need of a change of scenery, she brings her 14-year-old daughter, Gertie, to her late grandfather's rustic cabin in Winthrop, a small town in the forested mountains of Eastern Washington. And while there's no WI-FI or running water at the cabin, there is a Bigfoot sighting. And a murder! Curious about what's going on--and needing inspiration for her next novel--Tess can't help but get involved in the investigation, much to the chagrin and irritation of the local sheriff, Victor Boyd. 

My thoughts:  There is so much to love about this book! Tess is funny; she's always coming up with plots and ideas for her next book which totally made me laugh. And I loved her relationship with her sarcastic teen-age daughter. Sheriff Boyd is great, too. His exasperation with Tess, and his wry comments about all the ways she gets police work wrong in her novels, were also humorous. I hope they get together in a future book. As for the mystery itself, I thought it was pretty entertaining. Tess spouts some wild theories about the murder along the way, but some of her crazy ideas actually turn out to be right. This is a delightful read. I loved the characters and really enjoyed the humor. It's a good first book in a new series by Tamara Berry.

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

A few non-reviews...

Do you ever have days where you just don't feel like reviewing the last book you read? Even when it was good? Because some days I'm really tired and I don't feel like trying to figure out how to summarize a story, or find the right words to describe what I liked or didn't like about a book. Some days I just want to post a picture of the cover and say, "I read this one; it was good" and call it a day. So that's what I'm going to do with these three recent reads. (And I'll try and get my reviewing mojo back by my next post.)




Tahoe Deathfall is the first book in Borg's series about private investigator Owen McKenna. It's a fun mystery set in Tahoe that I really enjoyed. I will be reading more books in this series. 







The Littlest Library by Poppy Alexander is a cute story set in a quaint English village; it reminded me a lot of Rosamunde Pilcher's books, though not as good. I wanted there to be more when it came to Jess and Aidan's friendship/romance.











Yes & I Love You
is another captivating and swoony (and very steamy!) romance by Roni Loren. I LOVED Hollyn and Jasper and their humorous and sweet 'improv dating'!






Happy Reading!


Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Top Ten Tuesday

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

This week's meme is Books with Geographical Terms in the Title. For the books on my list, I went with some favorite reads. Here they are:




1. Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami




2. The White Forest by Adam McOmber




3. The Reef by Edith Wharton




4. The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley




5. Dream Lake by Lisa Kleypas




6. On the Island by Tracy Garvis Graves





7. Small Country by Gael Faye




8. Cold Heart Creek by Lisa Regan




9. The Precipice by Paul Doiron




10. In the Woods by Tana French



Happy Reading!



 

Saturday, September 10, 2022

Dumb Witness by Agatha Christie

 "The dog hunts rabbits. Hercule Poirot hunts murderers. We have here a murderer--a murderer whose crime failed, yes, perhaps, but nevertheless a murderer. And I, my friend, am going into the burrow after him--or her as the case may be."
 

Emily Arundell's nieces and nephew want her money. After a suspicious fall down her stairs, she begins to suspect that one of them is willing to kill her for it. So, she writes a letter to Hercule Poirot requesting his help. Only he doesn't get the letter until 2 months later, and by that time, Emily is dead. Her doctor claims it was from natural causes, but Poirot and his friend, Capt. Hastings, head to Market Basing to investigate her death for themselves. 

I've been reading my way through Agatha Christie's mysteries these past few years, but this is the first one that I've read in 2022. And I thoroughly enjoyed it. But then I'm always entertained by how Hercule Poirot digs into a murder investigation. He's such a fun character! I do have to say, however, that my favorite character in this particular book was Bob, Emily Arundell's wirehaired terrier. The way he likes to play ball from the top of the stairs made me smile. Capt. Hastings is a good foil for Poirot as well. And the mystery itself kept me guessing as Poirot's suspicions moved from one character to another. Any one of them could have done it. I enjoyed seeing how Poirot figured out the truth at the end. If you like Agatha Christie, this mystery is an engaging one.

Happy Reading!


Friday, September 9, 2022

New favorite quote:

I saw this quote the other day on a sign in someone's front yard, and I loved it so much I looked it up online and found this version of it:


Says it all, doesn't it? 

Wednesday, September 7, 2022

September's Bookish Art...

 
Albert Anker 


"No entertainment is so cheap as reading, nor any pleasure so lasting."
--Mary Wortley Montagu


Sunday, September 4, 2022

Some science fiction fun...

Title & Author:  Wreckers by George Ellis

First line:  "I might not be the smartest guy in the galaxy, but I do know my way around the place. I also know my way around every kind of space ship in it."

Main character:  Denver Boyd is 19 and the captain of his own souped-up spaceship (which used to belong to his uncle); his 'crew' consists of a one-eyed cat named Pirate and Gary, the ship's annoying AI navigator. He's a talented mechanic, awful with a gun but good with his fists, likes beer and junk food, and is clever, sarcastic and funny.  

My thoughts:  This character-driven novel is a very entertaining and humorous science fiction adventure. Ellis's writing and voice is so good. And all the pop culture references in it made me laugh. Denver Boyd is a great character; I liked him immediately. As a wrecker, he mostly repairs and tows other spaceships for money, until he tangles first with the Federation and then with the Tracers' piratical leader. Now he's on the hunt for his missing brother while half the galaxy is hunting for him. I loved the action and humor in this book, as well as the other quirky characters Denver meets along the way. At just 287 pages, this one reads fast. It's very fun, and I really hope the author writes a sequel to it soon. 

Happy Reading!