Saturday, January 29, 2022

A bookish update...

I'm currently finishing up two books set during WWII:  The Kitchen Front by Jennifer Ryan and Jacob the Liar by Jurek Becker. They're both excellent reads, and I like each of them for different reasons. I meant to finish at least one of them earlier this week so I could post about it today, but that obviously didn't happen. Life got unexpectedly busy. Which means I have no review for you today. But I do recommend both of these books if you're looking for an interesting WWII read. 

Jacob the Liar especially has a different take on things; it's set in a Jewish ghetto in Poland. And The Kitchen Front, set in England, centers around four women and a cooking contest. I'm hoping to finish both of these books this weekend because I have a new stack of library books that I just checked out of the library yesterday waiting to be read:

The Precipice by Paul Doiron
Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew Sullivan
Picnic at Hanging Rock by Joan Weigell Lindsay
The Runaway by Nick Petrie
Brass Carriages and Glass Hearts by Nancy Campbell Allen
Echoes of the Dead by Spencer Kope
The Winter Girls by Roger Stelljes

I know I said I wanted to read more books from off my own shelves this year, but library books keep coming due, and I keep putting more on hold. It's a bookish addiction. Hopefully I can work a few of my own books into the mix in February. That's the plan anyway. Wish me luck! Until then, here's something funny to make you laugh:

(Thank you, John Atkinson!)

Have a great weekend...and Happy Reading!

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Two worth reading...


Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

I never fully comprehended just how oppressive Apartheid was until I read this book. Trevor Noah really opened my eyes. His book is smart and insightful, honest and compelling. And I came away from it admiring both him and his fearless and amazing mother. Here's one of my favorite quotes from this book:

"We tell people to follow their dreams, but you can only dream of what you can imagine, and, depending on where you come from, your imagination can be quite limited....My mother showed me what was possible. My mom raised me as if there were no limitations on where I could go or what I could do."

Who Says I Can't? by Coach Rob Mendez

Instead of focusing on the things in life he can't do because he was born without arms or legs, Rob Mendez chooses to focus on all the things he can do. It's a powerful message. I loved his honesty in this book, and his confidence, humor and positivity, too. Here's one of my favorite quotes:

"When an opportunity presents itself, you should be eager to seize it. That means not only recognizing the opportunity for what it is but also being willing to risk failure or embarrassment or any number of other negative outcomes."

These are two great nonfiction reads and I recommend them both.
Happy Reading!

Sunday, January 23, 2022

Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line by Deepa Anappara

From the blurb:
"Through market lanes crammed with too many people, dogs, and rickshaws, past stalls that smell of cardamom and sizzling oil, below a smoggy sky that doesn't let through a single blade of sunlight, and all the way at the end of the Purple metro line lies a jumble of tin-roofed homes where nine-year-old Jai lives with his family. From his doorway he can spot the glittering lights of the city's fancy high-rises, and though his mother works as a maid in one, to him they seem a thousand miles away.

"When a classmate goes missing, Jai decides to use the crime-solving skills he has picked up from TV to find him and asks Pari and Faiz to be his assistants. Together they draw up lists of people to interview and places to visit. But what begins as a game turns sinister as other children start disappearing from their neighborhood. Jai, Pari, and Faiz have to confront terrified parents, an indifferent police force, and rumors of soul-snatching djinns. As the disappearances edge ever closer to home, the lives of Jai and his friends will never be the same again."

My thoughts:
I love when a book immerses you in another place and culture, and this book definitely does that. I loved all the Hindi words like bhoot, hatta-katta, and theek-thaak that peppers Anappara's prose. And her vivid descriptions of the people and the slums where Jai and his friends live and work and play really pulled me into the story. Their poverty was both eye-opening, and heart-breaking. And nine-year-old Jai, and his earnest but naive investigation into his friends' disappearances, tugged at my heart, as did the little stray dog, Samosa, he finds along the way. This is a story of children--children struggling to go to school who dream of a different life but are unlikely to get it, street children, children from poor but loving families, and children from not-so-loving families, Hindu children, and Muslim children. Anappara does a good job of capturing all their stories. There are even protective ghosts watching over the basti. I liked their stories, too. Though in the end, they didn't do a very good job of protecting any of the children.

This book is funny, moving, poignant, compelling, sad, deftly told, and utterly unforgettable. I loved it, even though there were many times it made me want to cry. It's not always an easy story to read, but I'm so glad I did. I'm especially glad I got to read it with Melody! Be sure to check out her review. 

Happy Reading!

Melody's questions to me...and my answers:
1. What struck you most about this story?
I think the plight of children in India is what struck me the most; the author said she drew from her own experiences living in India and interviewing children to write this book, and what struck her about all their stories was their humor and cheerfulness and resilience in the face of extreme poverty and tough life situations. 

2. Do you wish there's a sequel to this book? Why or why not?
I would LOVE it if the author wrote a sequel about Jai and his friends. I'd love to know what happens to him next and what he becomes. But anything she writes next I will be reading. 

Thursday, January 20, 2022

Haiku Reviews...


Cold Heart Creek (Detective Josie Quinn #7) by Lisa Regan

Two campers dead, one gone.
A missing woman found. And a cult
at the center of it all.

Mystery .... 332 pages .... 4/5 stars.
(Another good one in this series!)

A View Most Glorious by Regina Scott

Votes for women. Work. 
Climbing Mt. Rainier. That's what
Cora wants, NOT marriage.

Historical fiction .... 358 pages .... 3.5/5 stars.
(Not quite as good as Scott's previous two novels, A Distance Too Grand and Nothing Short of Wondrous, but I did really like Nathan Hardee, Cora's mountaineering guide.)

Shadows of the Dead by Spencer Kope

One woman saved with
seven more to find, and a
killer to be caught.

Mystery .... 372 pages .... 4.5/5 stars.
(Magnus 'Steps' Craig, with his special tracking ability, is a very fun and interesting character. This third book in the series is as good as the first, Collecting the Dead.)

Happy Reading!

Monday, January 17, 2022

Friday, January 14, 2022

Old Bones by Preston & Child

Historian Clive Benton has just found the long-lost diary of Tamzene Donner. In it he discovers clues and a hand drawn map to the lost Third Camp of the Donner Party. Excited to dig up the truth about the strange and horrific things that happened there, he enlists archaeologist Nora Kelly and her team to help him find and excavate the site. 

Meanwhile, back in New Mexico, rookie FBI agent Corrie Swanson has been assigned to a grave-robbing case. Someone dug up the grave of a woman who died back in the Civil War and stole her skull. But why?

The way these two seemingly unconnected story lines intersect is a crazy fun ride. But then Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child always write a compelling story. And there's usually a touch of supernatural horror in their books which I love, although there's not much of that in this particular book. Both Nora Kelly and Corrie Swanson are recurring characters (and two of my favorites), but you don't need to have read any of their earlier books in order to enjoy this one.

I always find it interesting to read about the Donner Party, and Preston & Child's lost Third Camp, high up in an isolated canyon in the Sierra Nevadas, made for an eerie and atmospheric setting. And I liked the various plot twists and turns, although a few of them did feel a little predictable. I would have loved it if there had been more of a supernatural element in this one, but Old Bones is still a suspenseful and entertaining read; I'd give it 4 stars.

Happy Reading!

Thursday, January 13, 2022

2022 Back to the Classics Challenge...


I'm very happy that Karen @ Books and Chocolate is hosting this reading challenge again this year. I've participated in it three times before and it's always fun. And I already have a list of classic novels that I want to read this year. I just have to figure out which book will fit in which category. Karen has come up with twelve great categories--some are the same as last year's challenge, and some are new:

A 19th Century Classic
A 20th Century Classic
A Classic by a Woman Author
A Classic in translation
A Classic by a BIPOC Author
Mystery/Detective/Crime Classic
A Classic Short Story Collection
Pre-1800 Classic
A Nonfiction Classic
A Classic that's been on your TBR list the longest
A Classic set in a place you'd like to visit
Wild Card Classic

Aren't they fun categories? The two hardest for me will be finding a classic that's set in a place I'd like to visit, and making myself finally read one of the two Pre-1800 classics I have sitting on my shelves. I don't know if I'll manage to finish all twelve categories this year, but I'm going to try. And if I only get six books read, that's okay, too.  If you want to join in and read some classics this year, you can find all the rules and sign up for this challenge here: Back to the Classics 2022.

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, January 11, 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 Most Recent Additions to My Book Collection. But I decided to tweak it and do Ten Books from my TBR Shelf that I'm Planning on Reading this Year instead. 

1. This Poison Will Remain by Fred Vargas

2. Called Into Action by Paris Wynters

3. Locked In by Kerry Wilkinson

4. Hope's Highest Mountain by Misty M. Beller

5. Sons of Evagard by Sean Danker

6. Breakdown by Bruno Miller

7. Dark Magic by Adam Wright

8. Home With the Dead by P.J. Dziekan

9. The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

10. Deadly Engagement by Lucinda Brant

Happy Reading!

Saturday, January 8, 2022

A bookish book...

My Live With Bob:  Flawed Heroine Keeps Book of Books, Plot Ensues by Pamela Paul

For twenty-eight years Paul has kept track of the books she's read in a notebook she named Bob. Those books track the different stages of her life from high school and college, to living abroad, different jobs, marriage, divorce, children. All of it. Books and reading helped shape her life; in turn, her life experiences influenced the books she chose to read. As a lifelong reader myself, I related.

I laughed when she wrote: "There was a shiftiness to kids who secreted themselves in a corner to read instead of what they should have been doing.... I did everything I could to read my way out of doing anything else. It was the one thing I was good at."

And I nodded my head in agreement when she said:  "...lending a book to an unreliable reader inevitably leads to regret. It is lovely to share books, but they need to come home. I have known people to maintain years-long grudges over unreturned books. Who can blame them?" (I admit, I still remember the name of the girl who borrowed my copy of Something Wicked This Way Comes in high school and never returned it; and I still haven't quite forgiven my uncle who lost one of the books he borrowed from me...mostly because he was so unapologetic about it.)

For the most part, I enjoyed this book. But then I do tend to like reading books about books and reading. Paul's a likable person, and her musings on reading made me smile. And I agreed with many of her sentiments, though not all of them. Some of the chapters were less interesting to me than others, but that's typical in any biography. And while this one won't make my favorites list at the end of the year, it's a solid 3-star read. Now I'm off to choose my next book. Because as Paul writes, "There (are) lots of books needing to be read."

Happy Reading!


Thursday, January 6, 2022

Signing up for this reading challenge...


So one of my reading goals this year is to read more books from off my own shelves. I have a lot of books that I bought because I was very excited to read them at the time, only then I never did. And they've been sitting on my bookshelf gathering dust ever since. And it's dumb. I own them, I should read them. (Or give them away to make room on my shelves for new books.) Which makes this the perfect reading challenge for me. 

The Backlist Reader Challenge is hosted by Lark @ The Bookwyrm's Hoard, and the goal is to read books this year that you already own and are sitting unread on your TBR shelf...or that happen to already be on your TBR order to reduce your TBR mountain to a more manageable pile. You decide the number of books you plan to read. All the rules (and there aren't many) are laid out at The Bookwyrm's Hoard. I've participated in this challenge before and it's not only easy, but it's a lot of fun.

For my reading challenge goal this year, I'm going to focus on reading the books I already own rather than choosing any books from off my 'Want to Read' list; and I already have a stack of twenty books sitting by my bed that I plan on reading...if I can figure out how to work them in around all those library books I keep checking out. I don't know that I'll review them all, but I hope to at least review the really good ones, and then discard the rest. Wish me luck!

And Happy Reading!

Monday, January 3, 2022

Dead by Dawn by Paul Doiron

From the blurb:

"Maine game warden Mike Bowditch is fighting for his life. Ambushed on a darkened winter road, he plunges his Jeep into a frozen river and must escape drowning beneath the ice. Surviving the crash is only the first challenge he faces in a nightlong battle to stay alive and one step ahead of his unknown, heavily armed pursuers. To outwit them and return to his friends and family, none of whom knows where he is, Bowditch must dissect the hours leading up to the ambush and solve two riddles: who are these people who desperately want him dead and what has he done to incur their wrath?"

My thoughts:

There's so much to like about this book: Mike's struggle to survive in the Maine woods is intense and compelling; the wintry Maine setting is as stark and beautiful as it is dangerous; the alternating chapters that detail the events leading up to Mike's ambush are interesting, as is the mystery behind everything; and I loved Mike's wild wolf/dog Shadow.  Talk about a great read!

Dead by Dawn is the 12th book in Paul Doiron's Mike Bowditch series. And even though I've never read any of his other books, Doiron is such a good writer I never once felt lost. I just got swept up in the story. The only bad thing is that I now want to read all the other books in this series, which adds eleven new books to my already lengthy TBR list. But if they're all as good as this one, then I guess that's a good problem to have. 

Happy Reading!

Saturday, January 1, 2022

Happy New Year!


Isn't that a great quote? It makes me think about what goals and dreams I'd like to accomplish in my life. I like to dream big! For instance, someday I'd love to win the lottery, buy my own beach house, adopt a rescue dog, write a book, get married, go birding on High Island during spring migration, travel to Morocco, and see the Moai on Easter Island. 

But my actual goals for 2022 are much smaller, which means they're not quite as exciting as that dream beach house or that exotic trip around the world, but they are a little more attainable. And that's the whole point of setting goals each year, isn't it? My goals for this year:

1. Be more active! 
(Try a new sport like snow-shoeing or rock climbing, hike 50+ miles this year, and just have more fun.)

2. Worry less, and learn to live more fully in the moment.

3. Read the unread books sitting on my TBR shelf before buying any more.

4. Take more photos (and try to improve my digital photography skills).

5. Eat healthier. 

6. And do at least one thing that scares me.

What about you? What goals are you setting this year? Got lots of reading lists and plans? 
Here's hoping 2022 is a good year for all of us!

Happy New Year!