Thursday, April 28, 2022

From my TBR shelf...

Title & Author:  Locked In by Kerry Wilkinson
Genre: Mystery/Police Procedural
Setting: Manchester, England

Why I bought it:  I first heard about Kerry Wilkinson's books on Jenclair's blog, A Garden Carried in the Pocket. And they sounded really good to me, only my library didn't own any of them. So, I decided to buy this first one to try. (I won't tell you how long it's been sitting on my shelf since then, but it's been longer than a year!)

A brief summary:  DS Jessica Daniel has just been assigned her first murder case. A woman was found strangled in her bedroom, only all the windows and doors in her house were locked. So how did the killer get in and back out? The police have no clues to follow. And then they're called to another murder. This victim was also strangled, with all their doors and windows locked, too. And Jessica and the other detectives on the case fear they just may have a serial killer on their hands. 

My thoughts:  I like these kinds of British mysteries. Jessica Daniel and the other detectives she works with are interesting characters; I especially liked her irritated interactions with persistent reporter Garry Ashford. And the mystery itself is well-plotted. I enjoyed seeing how the investigation unfolded, although there was one twist at the end that I'm still trying to decide whether or not I liked. But I'd definitely read this author and this series again.

Happy Reading!

P.S. This book also counts towards the Backlist Reader Challenge hosted by the Bookwyrm's Hoard.

Monday, April 25, 2022

The Music of Bees by Eileen Garvin...

The 3 main characters:

Jake Stevenson
sports the tallest mohawk in Hood River County. He's also a talented trumpet player. And he's a paraplegic. One year ago, just before he graduated from high school, he cracked his back in a stupid accident and now he's confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life. Now everything is messed up and he feels like he's "just killing time in the jail that was his life. This life (that) had replaced the life he was supposed to have--one of music and promise, the other life that now felt like something he had imagined."

Alice Holtzman is forty-four years old. She's a beekeeper, and still grieving the death of her husband. And recently she's been struggling with panic attacks. She tries not to let anyone see that she "was made of a million tiny broken pieces held together by cookies, solitary driving, and the sheer determination not to go crazy in public."

Then there's Harry Stokes, twenty-four, balding, and riddled with a paralyzing social anxiety. He struggles to talk to people, to find a job, to make decisions. He's good at writing lists, but his lists never seem to help him figure out life.

The rest of it:

These three characters are an unlikely trio of misfits that somehow form a family, first as Alice teaches Jake all about her bees, and then when they draw Harry out of his shell. They work together, and help each other; and when Alice's bees are threatened, they join with the community to try and save them. In the process, they find friendship, hope, newfound peace, and joy. 

What can I say? I loved this book. I loved all the quirky characters, and the bees, and the happy ending. The Music of Bees is poignant, touching, uplifting, and heartwarming. And I definitely recommend it. 

Happy Reading!

Friday, April 22, 2022

Haiku Reviews...

Find Her Alive by Lisa Regan
(Detective Josie Quinn #8)

Josie's twin thinks she
can track down a serial killer;
But he finds her first.

Mystery .... 327 pages .... 4/5 stars.
(Another good one in this series!)

Lucky Leap Day by Ann Marie Walker

Married on Leap Day
in Ireland -- Can these two strangers
 find love in L.A.?

Contemporary romance .... 287 pages ....4/5 stars.
(I loved Finn Maguire!)

Last Seen Alive by Joanna Schaffhausen
(Ellery Hathaway #5)

To solve a murder,
Ellery must confront the man
who tried to kill her.

Thriller/suspense .... 305 pages .... 5/5 stars.
(Ellery Hathaway and Reed Markham are back in another twisty page-turner.)

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

From my TBR shelf...

Home With the Dead by PJ Dziekan

I like zombie apocalypse books, and I bought this one after reading Dziekan's first book, Walking With the Dead. It continues the story of Sarah and Mick, Ryan and Becca and the others. Zombies are still a threat, but so are other humans. And finding enough food and other needed supplies in order to stay alive is becoming a problem. To add to their worries, Sarah just found out she's pregnant.

This novel is action-packed and edge-of-your-seat suspenseful. Sarah, as the leader of their group, is strong, independent, stubborn, and tough. I like her a lot; and I love her relationship with Mick. There's a lot of language and zombie gore in this one, but there's also friendship, family, loyalty, survival, and hope. If you like a good zombie read, this is an entertaining one. (Though you should probably read Walking With the Dead first.)

Happy Reading!

Sunday, April 17, 2022

April's Bookish Art...

Adolphe Alexandre Lesrel -- Captivated

"A book is like a trapdoor that leads to a secret attic:
You can open it and go inside. And your world is different."
--Antonio Iturbe, The Library of Auschwitz

Thursday, April 14, 2022

Walden on Wheels by Ken Ilgunas

 "Behind a vandweller's decision to move into what is often a cramped, smelly, heatless, air-conditioning less vehicle--there is always a story....a vandweller doesn't become a vandweller simply by purchasing a van. Rather, some personal change or transformation must first occur. The answer to the question about why I lived in a van is this book, which means that the following story isn't so much about a van but about student debt, and wilderness, and all the people and places and journeys that have made me the person I am today...."

How would I describe this memoir? It's honest, humorous, enlightening and entertaining. And it's about more than Ken Ilgunas trying to get out of debt or live in a van; it's a chronicle of his own journey to personal freedom and a better, more satisfying life. And I enjoyed every page of it. He meets a lot of interesting people and has many memorable moments in his quest to become debt free. I loved his Alaskan adventures and his experiences hitchhiking across America on his way back home. And all the living-in-a-van parts are especially funny. This is a great book. Here's just one of the quotes from it that I loved:
"Sometimes it's not until you see your shackles that you see your dreams. The soul must first be caged before it can be set free. For all the trouble it had put me through, I had the debt to thank for that. Still though, now that I was out of debt, I couldn't stop dreaming about what I could finally do. This sense of hope and anticipation that I felt made living a delight. This was freedom, I thought. Freedom didn't have to be about tramping around or having adventures:  freedom was simply being able to entertain the prospect of changing your circumstances."

Happy Reading!


Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Top Ten Tuesday...

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

This week's theme? Authors I Haven't Read, But Want To.

Only instead of doing ten, I decided to go with just my top five. Here they are:

1. Ann Cleeves

2. Thomas Perry

3. Craig Johnson 

4. Robert Dugoni

5. Ragnar Jonasson

Then there are the new-to-me authors that I said I wanted to read last year, that I still haven't read, but hope to someday soon. Authors like: Louise Penny, Martha Wells, Marc Cameron and Christina Lauren. So many new authors to try! It's a nice problem to have.  😎

Happy Reading!

Saturday, April 9, 2022

From my TBR shelf...


Title & Author: 
Dark Magic by Adam Wright
Genre:  Urban Fantasy
Setting:  Dearmont, Maine

Plot Summary:  Alec Harbinger is a preternatural investigator; he looks into cases with a supernatural twist, like when the dead start rising from their graves. He's new to Maine, so when Sheriff Cantrell requests his help on a three-year-old case of a missing woman, he doesn't feel he can refuse. Even though he's already working for the sheriff's daughter.
"This was going to be a nightmare. I would be working with Cantrell on the Deirdre Summers case while also investigating the death of his wife without his knowledge. I wanted to say no and send him on his way but what choice did I have? If I declined the case, he was going to start getting pissy about last night's zombie attack and I'd probably end up in jail."
Why I bought it:  I read and enjoyed the first two books in this series, Lost Soul and Buried Memory, and wanted to know what happened to Alec next.

My thoughts:  This series may not be as well-crafted or as deeply layered as Jim Butcher's Dresden Files or Benedict Jacka's Alex Verus series, but it's still a lot of fun! I really like Alec and his British assistant, Felicity. And there's always lots of crazy magic and fast-paced suspense in these books, too. I'm sure I'll be buying several more books in this entertaining series in the future. 

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, April 6, 2022

The History of Miss Betsy Thoughtless by Eliza Haywood


What can I say about Betsy Thoughtless? She is a gentleman's daughter with two older brothers; she's also an orphan living with one of her trustees, Mr. Goodman, and his wife, Lady Mellasin, and her daughter, Flora. Betsy is pretty and vivacious and comfortably well-off. She's also proud and disdains being told what to do. By anyone. Many handsome young men vie for her attention, both honorable gentlemen and entitled scoundrels. And she enjoys the power her youth and beauty gives her over all of them, playing them off one another for her own amusement. 
"She played with her lovers, as she did with her monkey; but expected more obedience from them."
While not deliberately cruel, she is young, impulsive, self-absorbed and thoughtless. And very definitely NOT ready to marry. This book is a chronicle of her innocent indiscretions and frivolous follies. It's full of little dramas and small tragedies, from duels and assignations, to jealous friends, secrets and lies, and even several attempts at sexual assault. And Miss Betsy Thoughtless is at the center of them all. 
"She had a great deal of wit, but was too volative for reflection; and as a ship without sufficient ballast is tossed about at the pleasure of every wind that blows, so was she hurried through the ocean of life, just as each predominant passion directed."
This book is 600 pages long, which means I'm not even going to attempt to describe all that happens in it to Betsy. I will say that I found it very readable despite its length. Although I thought the plot, what there was of it, did get a little tedious after awhile. I probably would have liked it more if it had been edited down by 300 pages. And I wish I could say I liked Betsy for her spunk and independent spirit, but mostly I found her constant need to be amused at the expense of her gentleman callers, her thoughtless imprudence, and stubborn refusal to listen to the advice of Mr. Goodman or either of her two brothers when it came to her behavior, both tiresome and frustrating.  One thing I did love was all the crazy words like eclaircissement and raillery used throughout. But best of all? This is a book that has been sitting on my shelf gathering dust for years, and I finally get to check it off my TBR list! And since it was first published in 1751, this book also counts as my Pre-1800 Classic for Karen's Back to the Classics Reading Challenge. So, that's a double win! 

Happy Reading!

Similar, but better, reads:

Tuesday, April 5, 2022

Top Ten Tuesday...

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

This week's theme is a Freebie--which is always fun, but can be a bit challenging, too, at least for me, because I always seem to have a hard time deciding what to do. So what did I finally come up with?

Here's my top ten list of Pride & Prejudice Retellings.  I read and really enjoyed the first five books, and the last five books are ones I hope to read soon. 

1. Chaos Comes to Longbourn by Victoria Kincaid

2. Disenchanted by Kara Pleasants

3. Heartstone by Elle Katherine White

4. Speechless by Jessie Lewis

5. Dangerous Magic by Monica Fairview

6. Pirates and Prejudice by Kara Louise

7. Blinded by Prejudice by KaraLynne Mackrory

8. Haunting Mr. Darcy by KaraLynne Mackrory

9. Unwilling by Elizabeth Adams

10. So Material a Change by Amy D'Orazio

Honorable Mention:  Pride & Prejudice & Zombies
(The movie version; I've never read the book.)

What's your favorite Pride and Prejudice retelling or variation?
If you have one, please let me know!

Happy Reading!

Saturday, April 2, 2022

The Book Charmer by Karen Hawkins...

First line:  On the Saturday after her seventh birthday, a book spoke to Sarah May Dove. 

Plot summary:  The small town of Dove Pond is in financial trouble. Businesses are closing, people are leaving. But Sarah Dove, Dove Pond's librarian, has hopes that things are about to change. Because Grace Wheeler has just moved to Dove Pond with her eight-year-old niece, Daisy, and her former foster mother, Mama G, who's struggling with Alzheimer's. For Grace it's a temporary move, but the books are whispering to Sarah that Grace is just what Dove Pond needs. She might be just what Sarah's gruff neighbor and best friend, Travis, needs, too.

My thoughts:  Like its title suggests, this book is a charming and heartwarming read. The town of Dove Pond is full of quirky, fun characters--I mean, who could resist a character that can speak to books, or a library full of books that know just who needs to read them but won't always say why? Grace is another easy-to-like character. I had a lot of sympathy for her as she struggled to deal with her grief over her sister's death, and be a good mom to her niece. And I loved her relationship with Mama G! And I loved how the entire town of Dove Pond turned out to help them when they needed it. Her reluctant friendship with Travis also made me smile.  There's a bit of magical realism in this one, too, which just added to the enchantment. Family and friendship, humor and heart...this book has it all. 

Happy Reading!