Thursday, June 30, 2022

A Happy Catastrophe by Maddie Dawson

Marnie MacGraw is a bit of a matchmaker--she believes in love and sees sparkles in the air when she meets two people who are meant to be together. Of course, she's already found her match. She loves Patrick--even though they are complete opposites--and she wants to have a baby with him. But she also knows she needs to be ready to accept whatever the universe brings her way.

Patrick Delaney is an introvert. He used to be a up-and-coming sculptor, but then a fire ruined his hands, scarred his face, and killed his girlfriend. That was seven years ago, but he thinks about it everyday. And even though he loves Marnie, he guards his heart from loving her too much because he can't risk the pain of losing her. And he thinks he's too empty inside to ever be anyone's father. 
Then along comes Fritzie. She's eight. She loves doing cartwheels and asking too many questions. And she's Patrick's daughter. A daughter he never knew he had. And she's about to change Marnie's and Patrick's life forever. 

My thoughts: I enjoyed everything about this book. It alternates between Marnie's and Patrick's POV, which worked well because the two of them are so different and I liked being able to see the same situation from both of their perspectives. I thought Patrick's struggle to get over his grief and guilt, figure out how to be a dad to an extroverted eight-year-old, and embrace the chaotic joy of having Marnie in his life was both heartbreaking and heartwarming. His and Marnie's relationship is messy, diverting, funny, flawed, hopeful and full of heart. I was rooting for them to make things work because I liked them so much. For me, A Happy Catastrophe turned out to be a sweet and charming romance. 

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Summer TBR List...

Top Ten Tuesday is a fun weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. Every week there's a different theme. This week's theme?

Books on my Summer 2022 To-Read List:

The Wedding Plot by Paula Munier

Love on the Brain by Ali Hazelwood

The Hidden One by Linda Castillo

The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman

Mulberry Hollow by Denise Hunter

The Bodyguard by Katherine Center

My Killer Vacation by Tessa Bailey

The Dark by Sharon Bolton

Sleeper 13 by Rob Sinclair

Turn to Me by Becky Wade

Winter's Mourn by Mary Stone

Pay Dirt Road by Samantha Jayne Allen

I like to read a mix of mystery & suspense and fun romance in the summer.
What about you? What's on your summer reading list?

Happy Reading!

Saturday, June 25, 2022

Primordial by David Wood and Alan Baxter

"Something terrible lives beneath the dark waters of Lake Kaarme, and it's hungry."

 Isn't that a great cover? I couldn't resist checking this one out. And Primordial turned out to be an entertaining summer read. Marine biologist Sam Aston has been hired by billionaire Ellis Holloway to search for a reported monster living in Lake Kaarme in Finland. The locals there tell lots of stories about this deadly predator, but Sam is skeptical. He's not excited about TV host Jo Slater and her film crew joining them, or filming him, but he needs the money Holloway has promised to pay him. And Jo turns out to be an unexpected ally when things on their expedition start to go wrong. And they do go wrong!

This book is what I like to call a good popcorn read. You know going in that lots of people are going to get chomped and only a few will survive, but that's what makes these books fun. There's not a ton of character development, but I thought Sam and Jo were both very likable. Holloway, on the other hand, was not only obsessive and crazy, but monstrous, too. (There's one scene in the book with some sheep that still makes me cringe.) The locals are hiding some dark secrets, too. This book is fast-paced, and there are some very intense underwater scenes. And the prehistoric lake monster is not only relentless, but vicious. If you like these kinds of books, then this is a good one. 

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Road Trip!

I'm taking off on a very short road trip up through Wyoming for the next few days, so I'll be away from my blog. I'm going with my sister and her husband and my nephew. We plan on visiting a few fun sites, like Independence Rock:

 And Devil's Tower:

We also want to check out the Bighorn Medicine Wheel in Lovell:

And Martin's Cove:

And my nephew wants to tour the old Frontier Prison in Rawlins which is supposed to be haunted:

It'll be a short trip, but it should be fun. 

Enjoy the rest of your week!

Sunday, June 19, 2022

Haiku Reviews...


Abby Cooper, Psychic Eye by Victoria Laurie

A blind date with a 
cute cop leads to Abby's help
on his next murder case.

Mystery .... 295 pages .... 4.5/5 stars.
(This is a fun one! I really liked both Abby and Det. Dutch Rivers.)

A Wagon Train Weekend by Stephenia H. McGee

Can a trip back in time
save Seth and Collette's relationship?
They're about to find out.

Romance ....214 pages .... 4/5 stars.
(A sweet, lighthearted, just-for-fun romance set both in the present and in 1857. Thanks, Ashley, for recommending it!)

Devoted by Dean Koontz

A boy who can't speak.
A dog who can hear his thoughts.
Evil that must be stopped.

Suspense .... 369 pages .... 3/5 stars.
(Koontz's Watchers, which is also about a really smart dog, is a much better book.)

To Win Her Heart by Karen Witemeyer

Books brought them together,
but secrets from Levi's past
just might tear them apart.

Romance .... 347 pages .... 5/5 stars.
(A librarian and a blacksmith falling in were right, Cindy, this was a good one!)

Happy Reading!

Thursday, June 16, 2022

Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy

This is the seventh novel by Thomas Hardy that I've read. If you've seen the movie, then you know that the two main characters are Bathsheba Everdene and Gabriel Oaks. Of the two, I thought Gabriel was the easiest to like. He's a simple, hardworking, unpretentious farmer when he first meets and proposes marriage to Bathsheba. But then his fortunes change, as do hers, and she ends up owning her uncle's large farm while Gabriel ends up working for her as her shepherd. There is no guile in Gabriel. He's solid and and steady and honest, though not exciting or handsome enough to tempt Bathsheba.

As for Bathsheba, she's a more complicated character. She's young and pretty and a little vain. She's also independent, spirited, and determined to hold her own in what is essentially a man's world. I admired her daring in deciding to run her uncle's farm on her own, but her youthful vanity made her do things at times that I didn't love, like when she sends an anonymous valentine to the handsome bachelor Farmer Boldwood to tease him just because he had the temerity not to notice her at the market-house. I guess there's nothing that draws a woman's attention like a man's indifference, at least in Thomas Hardy's world. Of course, when Boldwood then falls feverishly in love with her and asks her to marry him, Bathsheba finds she must refuse him because she does not love him back.

Sergeant Troy finishes the triangle of suitors encircling Bathsheba. He's handsome and charming and full of flattery. "He was perfectly truthful towards men, but to women lied like a Cretan." He also has another girl he's in love with, but he can't seem to stay away from beautiful Bathsheba. And Bathsheba, unable to resist his attentions, finds herself foolishly falling in love for the very first time. More drama then ensues. 

Almost all of the Thomas Hardy novels I've read seem to have a tragic ending, but while many tragic events do occur in this novel, there's actually a happy ending for both Bathsheba Everdene and Gabriel Oaks. Which made me like this one even more. Hardy's descriptive powers are also on full display in this novel. I like the way he writes, but sometimes his descriptions do slow down the narrative. Still, I'm very glad I finally read this one. Far From the Madding Crowd was first published in 1874 and counts as my 19th Century Classic for Karen's Back to the Classics Challenge.

Happy Reading!

Other Hardy novels I've reviewed on my blog:

My three favorite Hardy novels:


Tuesday, June 14, 2022

June's Bookish Art...

Mary Cassatt -- Woman Reading in a Garden, 1880

"Reading forces you to be quiet in a world that no longer makes place for that."
--John Green

Saturday, June 11, 2022

White Out by Ragnar Jonasson

 "It was a sight Asta Karadottir would never forget, even though she had only been a child when she saw it--or maybe for that very reason. She had been in her room in the attic when it happened...But what she saw--the terrible event she witnessed--would never leave her. She had never told a soul about it. And now she had returned after a long exile."
The plot:  

When Asta is found dead at the bottom of the cliffs below the Kalfshamarsvik lighthouse on the northern coast of Iceland, Ari Thor Arason is called in to help his former boss, Tomas, investigate. Ari Thor brings his girlfriend, Kristin, along because it's almost Christmas Eve and she's eight months pregnant. Not many people live at Kalfshamarsvik, which narrows their list of suspects to just four people. It should be an easy investigation, until someone else ends up dead. 

Kalfshamarsvik Lighthouse in Iceland

My thoughts:

The Icelandic setting in White Out is so alluring! And I thought Asta's story, and Ari Thor's investigation into her death, was very compelling. It's fast-paced and there are several good twists. If I had to describe this mystery in one word it would be riveting. And even though I haven't read any of Jonasson's other books, and this is the fifth book in the Dark Iceland series, I never felt lost. Ari Thor is a great character. I look forward to checking out Jonasson's other books. 

Happy Reading!

Another excellent Icelandic mystery:  My Soul to Take by Yrsa Sigurdardottir

Wednesday, June 8, 2022

The English Bookshop by Janis Wildy

The plot:  Five years ago, Lucy made a promise to her dying stepfather that she would keep the family business going. But Wellslept Mattress is losing money. And her brother, Aaron, and her mother both want to sell. Only Lucy can't give up on that promise she made. Then she gets a letter from England that offers her some hope. It seems her biological father, Brian Baslow, recently died and left one-third of his business and property to her in his will. If she can convince the other two heirs to sell, she just might get the money she needs to save Wellslept. Only Baslow's Bookshop is charming as is the small English village of Wakeby where its located. And everyone in Wakeby is so welcoming and kind. And she likes Sam Burke, the single (and handsome!) manager of the bookstore. And she doesn't like Brian's wife's, Maura's, plan to sell the bookstore to greedy developers. But she really needs the money! What's a girl to do?   

My thoughts:  There are so many things to love about this book! There's a bookshop, and a dog named Barley. Wakeby is a quaint village full of genuine people who quickly befriend Lucy because of who her father was. I liked them, and I liked Lucy and sympathized with her as she struggled to deal with the death of a father she never really knew while trying to figure out how to save her family business back home in Seattle without destroying his bookshop. And I really liked her relationship with Sam. Theirs is a cute romance. Is this book predictable? Yes. Did I mind? No. I just enjoyed the happy ending. 

Happy Reading!


Tuesday, June 7, 2022

Top Ten Tuesday...

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

This week's theme:  Books With a Unit of Time in the Title (minutes, hours, days, months, years, etc.)

For my unit of time I decided to go with the month of June. 

June 29, 1999 by David Wiesener

A Day in June by Marisa Labozzetta

It Started in June by Susan Kietzman

The June Boys by Court Stevens

A June of Ordinary Murders by Conor Brady

To the End of June by Cris Beam

The Sixteenth of June by Maya Lang

Seven Days in June by Tia Williams

June But by Chris Fabry

On Juneteenth by Annette Gordon-Reed

Happy Reading!

Saturday, June 4, 2022

Good Girl, Bad Girl by Michael Robotham

 Michael Robotham is one of my favorite authors. I absolutely love his Joe O'Loughlin series. So when he came out with a new series in 2019 centered around a new main character, I was excited to give it a try. Three years later, I finally got around to it. 

Cyrus Haven is a forensic psychologist living in Nottingham. He's been asked to evaluate a teen-age patient named Evie Cormac. Evie has a complicated past. She was discovered hiding in a secret room in the home of a man who had been tortured and murdered; half-starved, she wouldn't tell anyone her real name or age. Now, six years later, she's petitioning the court to be released from Langford Hall, a high-security children's home. Cyrus finds her to be manipulative, clever, guarded, fatalistic, defiant, and utterly fascinating. But he doesn't think she's ready to face the real world on her own.

He's also been asked to help investigate the shocking murder of a local high-school figure skater, Jodie Sheehan. She's talented, pretty and popular, but she had secrets she was hiding from everyone around her. Cyrus believes one of those secrets got her killed, but proving it is another matter. Then Evie unexpectedly stumbles onto another of Jodie's secrets, and things get even more interesting and intense.

What can I say about this book? The plot is engrossing, the characters captivating. I liked Cyrus Haven immediately, and feisty Evie quickly won me over as well. And the mystery involving Jodie's murder was equally compelling. This thriller is the perfect summer read. I'd give it 5 stars. I can't wait to check out the next book in this series. 

Happy Reading!

Another favorite Robotham read:  Say You're Sorry

Wednesday, June 1, 2022



Recently won this book from Goodreads: 
Eddy Johnson, Book Dealer by John Wiley. And I really enjoyed reading it! With a nod to classic noir fiction, this book is both clever and fast-paced fun. It's set in Austin, Texas, in the 1980s. Local book dealer, Eddy Johnson, is personable, quick-thinking, and resourceful. And lucky! I liked him from page one. And I loved the crazy world of book dealers, collectors, mobsters, blackmail and shady deals that Wiley creates in this entertaining mystery. This was a 4-star read for me. And I hope that Wiley writes many more books about Eddy Johnson! 

Classic I hope to read in June:  Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy

Other books I just checked out of the library:
     Devoted by Dean R. Koontz
     Lone Jack Trail by Owen Laukkanen
     A Happy Catastrophe by Maggie Dawson
     Whiteout by Ragnar Jonasson
     The Highland Fling by Meghan Quinn 
     The English Bookshop by Janis Wildy
     Good Girl, Bad Girl by Michael Robotham
     To Win Her Heart by Karen Witemeyer
     Horseman: a tale of Sleepy Hollow by Christina Henry
     Primordial by David Wood

A favorite game of mine:  Star Realms 

This game is both easy to learn and very fun to play. There's even a cooperative game-playing option if you want to work together as a team. My nephew, Daniel, taught me how to play it, and I immediately loved it. If you're looking for a new game this summer to play as a family, I recommend this one.

And one last quote now that it's June and summer has begun:

Happy Summer...and Happy Reading!