Thursday, March 31, 2022



Recently finished reading:
Dark Horse by Gregg Hurwitz. This is the seventh Orphan X novel, and conflicted and complicated Evan Smoak continues to be one of my most favorite characters. These books have lots of action, violence, and suspense, but also a lot of heart. They are very compelling reads, and I love them. If you haven't tried them, be sure to start with the first one, Orphan X.

I'm heading to the library tomorrow, but I'm limiting myself to only checking out four books at the most, because I'm determined to tackle some of my own books this month. I've got a stack piling up in my room that I really need and want to read. I'm hoping to start with these five books from my TBR pile:
Miss Betsy Thoughtless by Eliza Haywood (my next classic read)
Hope's Highest Mountain by Misty M. Beller
Called Into Action by Paris Wynters
Home With the Dead by PJ Dziekan
Dark Magic by Adam Wright
Of course, now that I've written this I'll probably have five library holds come in all at once. That's usually what happens when I make plans to focus on my own books. It's my own bookish luck. 🙃

How about those gas prices?  I just spent $4.37/gallon to fill up my car this week. Fun times! What's gas running where you live?  

A favorite quote to end on:

Happy Reading!

Monday, March 28, 2022

A Flicker in the Dark by Stacy Willingham

 "...monsters don't hide in the woods; they aren't shadows in the trees or invisible things lurking in darkened corners. No, the real monsters move in plain sight. I was twelve years old when those shadows started to form a shape, a face ... When I began to realize that maybe the monsters lived among us. And there was one monster in particular,  I learned to fear above all the rest."


Chloe Davis is a medical psychologist with her own practice. She lives in Baton Rouge and is engaged to Daniel Briggs who seems like the perfect guy. She has one older brother, Cooper, who is very protective of her. And twenty years ago, her father was arrested in connection with six teenage girls who went missing the summer she turned twelve. When he confessed to killing all six, Chloe Davis's entire life changed. She still struggles with what happened in the past. It doesn't help that reporters like Aaron Jansen keep calling her about it. When two local teenage girls go missing in Baton Rouge, it feels eerily reminiscent to those other girls twenty years ago. And Chloe starts to question everything and everyone around her.

My thoughts:  I would describe this psychological thriller as intense and twisty. It's also hard to put down; I read it in a weekend. Chloe is guarded and struggles with anxiety, often self-medicating, which means she doesn't always make the best decisions. But I still liked her. I also appreciated the fast pacing of this book and the way Willingham weaves in Chloe's past memories with the present. And I thought the last twist at the end was a good one. Stacy Willingham is an author I would happily try again.

Happy Reading!

Thursday, March 24, 2022

Six Crimson Cranes by Elizabeth Lim

The Emperor's daughter.
Forbidden magic.
A shape-shifting dragon.
A curse.
Six brothers enchanted as cranes.
And a small paper bird.

I love a good fairy tale retelling, and Elizabeth Lim's own magical version of Grimm's The Six Swans is a fun one. It centers around Princess Shiori, the emperor's youngest child and only daughter. She's betrothed to Lord Bushian's son, Takkan, although it's a marriage she's not excited about. She has another secret: she can do magic. She brought a small paper bird that she calls Kiki to life. But if anyone finds out, she'll be exiled. Because magic in the kingdom of Kiata is forbidden.

This story also has the requisite evil stepmother. Raikama is a sorceress in her own right, beautiful and powerful. And cruel. When Shiori discovers her secret, Raikama transforms her six brothers into cranes, curses Shiori to silence, then disguises her and hides her away on a far Northern Island. Shiori can't tell anyone who she is, and she doesn't know how to break her stepmother's enchantment and free her brothers. But she's not about to give up.

Besides her paper bird, Shiori has the help of a mercurial dragon named Seryu who can transform himself into a human boy. He has a penchant for rice cakes and might be the only one who can help Shiori learn to control her magic in order to break her stepmother's curse...if he ever shows up!  

I'm glad Melody @ Melody's Reading Corner suggested we read this book for our next buddy read. It's an enchanting YA fantasy and I enjoyed it. Shiori and her little paper bird, Kiki, are spunky and captivating characters; I liked both them and all six of Shiori's brothers, though the brothers aren't in most of the book. I also ended up really liking Takkan; he befriends Shiori when he doesn't know who she really is, and offers her protection and help. I wish the dragon, Seryu, had been in it more, but this magical adventure is really Shiori's story. I look forward to reading the sequel, The Dragon's Promise, which comes out this August. Maybe Seryu will be in that one more.

Happy Reading!

P.S. Be sure to check out Melody's review and her questions for me about this fun read:

Melody's questions:
1. What do you think are the strengths and weaknesses of Shiori?
I think Shiori's weaknesses at the beginning of the novel were her impulsiveness, stubbornness and how argumentative she could be. Also, she was kind of judgmental when it came to Takkan, even though she'd never really met him. But she grew up over the course of the novel, and learned to be more thoughtful and less self-absorbed. I loved how determined she was...her stubbornness came to be a strength for her when she was trying to break the curse. And I loved how she cared about the other people around her, and how she never gave up. I also loved that she made such good fish soup. 

2. What are the things (and/or characters) that you liked most about this story?
Besides Shiori, I liked Kiki, the little paper crane she brought to life, and Takkan the most. I loved Kiki's interactions with Shiori, and her unwavering support throughout the whole book. And Takkan had so many good qualities it was easy to like him; plus, he made up stories for his little sister and for Shiori. I really liked that about him. 

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Top Ten Tuesday...

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

This week's theme: Books With an Adjective in the Title. 

I decided to go with some of my favorite picture books this week, because they tend to have the best adjectives.

The Steadfast Tin Soldier

The Twelve Dancing Princesses

Creepy Carrots

The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry and the Big Hungry Bear

The Dragon and the Nibblesome Knight

Nerdy Birdy Tweets

My Big Bad Monster

The Blue Songbird

Cyrus the Unsinkable Sea Serpent

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Happy Reading!

Saturday, March 19, 2022

Nomadland by Jessica Bruder


They are not homeless. They are nomads. Rubber tramps. Vandwellers. Workampers. They've given up rent and mortgages in order to survive on less.  They live migratory lives, following seasonal jobs while stealth camping and boondocking. They've exchanged real estate for wheel estate. And many are retirees.

This book is a fascinating look at a growing segment of the population who have given up on the traditional American dream and found a different way to live. A life on the road. A life that costs less. Many lost their homes in 2008 when the housing market crashed. Others lost their jobs and pensions because of the recession that followed. All found that minimum wage jobs and their meager social security payments did not go far enough. But they haven't given up. They're resilient, and creative, and they've championed a new nomadic way of life. 
"Being human means yearning for more than subsistence. As much as food or shelter, we require hope. And there is hope on the road. It's a by-product of forward momentum. A sense of opportunity, as wide as the country itself. A bone-deep conviction that something better will come. It's just ahead, in the next town, the next gig, the next chance encounter with a stranger."
Though this way of life is certainly not easy, there's something about becoming this type of nomad that's appealing; I like the idea of having that kind of freedom. And I wouldn't mind trying it for a month or two. But for the rest of my life? I don't think I could do it. I'd find the uncertainty, the worry over money, and the constant struggle to survive too hard. But I admire those who do succeed at it. This is an amazing read about an equally amazing and interesting bunch of people. I loved it.

Happy Reading!

Similar read that I'm thinking about checking out next:

Wednesday, March 16, 2022

The Deepest of Secrets by Kelley Armstrong

The plot:  Tucked away in the Yukon wilderness, Rockton is a town of secrets. People go there when they need to disappear from the real world. Some are victims, or witnesses; others are criminals. All have secrets they want to hide. So, when someone starts to reveal those secrets, the residents of Rockton begin to turn on each other. It's up to Detective Casey Duncan and her boyfriend, Sheriff Eric Dalton, to find the culprit before anyone else gets hurt. To make matters worse, the shadowy Council in charge of Rockton finally decides to shut the entire town down. Now what are they going to do?

My rating:  Five stars! I really love this series. Casey and Eric have been favorite characters since I read the first book, City of the Lost. They make such a great team, always supporting each other as they track down the bad guys. (And there have been some very interesting bad guys in this series!) All seven Rockton novels are suspenseful page-turners, with some unexpected turns and chilling twists along the way. It's best to read them in order. And if The Deepest of Secrets does end up being the last Rockton novel, I'll be very sad, but also satisfied with how Armstrong wrapped things up. But I really hope it's not the last one, because these books are just so good! If you haven't tried them yet, you should definitely check them out.

Happy Reading!

Want to know more? Check out my Haiku Reviews for the previous three Rockton novels. 

Sunday, March 13, 2022

Haiku Reviews...


Well Matched by Jen DeLuca

April's got big plans
and Mitch isn't part of them.
Until suddenly he is.

Contemporary romance .... 310 pages .... 4/5 stars.
(This series is so much fun!)

Applied Electromagnetism by Susannah Nix

A dreaded work trip
turns romantic when flash floods
strand Olivia and Adam.

Romantic comedy .... 244 pages .... 4.5/5 stars.
(An enemies to friends to more romance. I loved it.)

Risen (Alex Verus #12) by Benedict Jacka

Alex must battle
dark mages and powerful jinn
to try and save Anne.

Urban fantasy .... 323 pages .... 5/5 stars.
(This is the last book in this compelling magical series; I loved it as much as the first one, Fated, and all the others in between.)

Happy Reading!

Thursday, March 10, 2022

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

     "I don't know what the country's comin' to," the fat man continued. His complaint had shifted and he was no longer talking to or about the Joads. "Fifty-six cars a folks go by ever' day, folks all movin' West with kids an' househol' stuff. Where they goin'? What they gonna do?"
    "Doin' the same as us," said Tom. "Goin' someplace to live. Tryin' to get along. That's all."

That just might be the theme of this novel: regular, ordinary people doing the best they can, "tryin' to get along", in a world where the cards all seem stacked against them. Just out of prison, Tom Joad comes home to find his family driven off the land they've farmed for generations. These sharecroppers are hard workers, but what are they without their land? So, they sell everything they own and set out for California, hoping to build a better life there. But there aren't jobs for them in California, at least not ones that pay enough for them to live on; and though they scrimp and scrabble, they never seem able to get ahead. Loss and tragedy seem to be their lot in life. 

In this novel, John Steinbeck skillfully depicts what life was like during the great Dust Bowl migration of the 1930s, as well as the hardships, hopes and defeats of the Joad family. At 455 pages, this isn't a fast read. But there's a rhythm to Steinbeck's prose that I really appreciate; it's almost poetic. Like in this paragraph:
"66 is the path of people in flight, refugees from dust and shrinking land, from the thunder of tractors and shrinking ownership, from the desert's slow northward invasion, from the twisting winds that howl up out of Texas, from the floods that bring no richness to the land and steal what little richness is there. From all of these the people are in flight, and they come into 66 from the tributary side roads, from the wagon tracks and the rutted country roads. 66 is the mother road, the road of flight."
Did I love this one? Not exactly. But only because the Joads' story is so sad. No matter how hard they try they never get ahead; things just keep going from bad to worse for them. And I hated the hopelessness of their journey. But I do like the way Steinbeck writes. He tells a powerful and sweeping story, and I can see why The Grapes of Wrath is considered a classic. And I'm very glad I read it. Written in 1939, this one counts as my 20th Century Classic for Karen's Back to the Classics Challenge.

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, March 8, 2022

Saturday, March 5, 2022

Lockdown on London Lane by Beth Reekles...

 Nothing tests a relationship like being quarantined together in a weeklong lockdown. That's what's happened to the residents of London Lane Apartment Building C. 

  • Isla's only been dating Danny for a month; she thinks she might be falling in love with him, but she's not ready for him to move in with her. He hasn't even seen her without her make-up on.
  • Olivia's weekend bridesmaids' party just turned into a very long week with one worried bride and  two more bridesmaids crammed into her one-room apartment. An apartment that used to be clean and quiet.
  • Zach and Serena have been together for four years, but Serena just found out that Zach likes pineapple on his pizza and it freaks her out, making her wonder what else she doesn't know about him, and if they're really meant to be together. 
  • For Imogen, her one-night stand just turned into one long awkward week with Nate. He doesn't look thrilled about it either, especially when he catches her 'borrowing' his favorite Ramones t-shirt without asking.
  • Then there's Ethan. He wishes his girlfriend, Charlotte, was in lockdown with him. But she's stuck at her parents' house. And missing her makes him realize just how much he loves her.
This book was unexpectedly romantic, funny, and entertaining. There are embarrassing moments, explosive arguments and some very honest and heartfelt conversations. Imogen and Isla and their interactions with Nate and Danny made me laugh. Seeing Serena's and Zach's relationship start to fall apart made me sad. I had a lot of sympathy for the very introverted Olivia as she tries to navigate her company. And Ethan's happy ending made me smile. I got caught up with all of these characters and their stories, and having the pandemic in the background just made it feel more real. I ended up really liking this one. 

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, March 2, 2022

Dead Silence by S.A. Barnes

 A beacon-repair crew.
A strange distress signal.
A ghost ship.
An unsolved mystery.
And unspeakable horror.

When Claire Kovalik and her crew head to the edges of the solar system to respond to a distress signal, they never dreamed they'd find the Aurora, a luxury space cruiser that disappeared more than twenty years ago. They know it's too late to rescue anyone on board, but finding this ship gives them salvage rights. And Claire could really use the money. So she and her crew decide to enter the defunct ship. But the nightmare they find goes beyond anything they could ever have imagined. Now Claire must try to keep her crew alive before they all lose their minds.

This science fiction mystery is atmospheric, sinister and suspenseful. And the abandoned ship with all her dead is truly creepy. Once I started, I couldn't stop reading it. I had to know what happened to Claire and her crew. Claire's a high-strung character with a traumatic past; she's guarded, blames herself when anything goes wrong, and she sometimes sees ghosts. Even with all of that, I liked her a lot. And I liked this book even more. It's tense. It's entertaining. It reads fast. And I'd give it at least 4 stars.

Happy Reading!

Similar read:

Tuesday, March 1, 2022

Top Ten Tuesday...

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

This week's theme is: Books I Enjoyed, but Have Never Mentioned on my Blog.  Which left me with quite a list to choose from, because while I've been reading my whole life, I've only been blogging since the end of 2012. So, I scanned my bookshelves for some favorite reads of mine that I've never posted about. Here are ten of them:

The Alliance by Gerald Lund

The Assignment by Mark Andrew Olsen

Booked To Die by John Dunning

Interred With Their Bones by Jennifer Lee Carroll

Something From the Nightside by Simon R. Green

The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins

Superpowers by David J. Schwartz

Stately Pursuits by Katie Fforde

The Flanders Panel by Arturo Perez-Reverte

The Lake of Dead Languages by Carol Goodman

When Venus Fell by Deborah Smith

Hunting Fear by Kay Hooper

Oops! I think I just did twelve books instead of ten. Oh, well. 
They're all good, and I enjoyed reading each and every one of them.

Happy Reading!