Saturday, July 30, 2022

A birding update...

 Some of you may know that I like to go birding. I've been doing it for several years now; I even have a small orange notebook where I track all the different birds I've seen. It's my birding life list, and this summer I added 3 more birds to it, bringing my 'grand' total up to 207. What new birds did I see?

A Blue Grosbeak...

and an Osprey...

and a House Wren.

(And while I didn't take any of these lovely photographs, I did see all these lovely birds.)
Happy Birding!

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

From the B Shelf...

 Author: Juliet Blackwell
Title:  Hexes and Hemlines

First lines:  "It didn't take a witch to figure out something was very, very wrong on the thirteenth floor of the Doppler Building. ... I took a deep breath and concentrated on not losing my lunch. Most days I deal in vintage clothing, not corpses. I may be a natural-born witch, but I'm no more comfortable around violent death than any other mortal merchant on Haight Street."

Hexes and Hemlines is a fun mix of witchcraft and murder mystery. Lily Ivory, who owns a vintage clothing shop called Aunt Cora's Closet, gets called in to consult on the murder of a man named Malachi Zazi, mostly because he's found surrounded by several symbols of bad luck. The detective on the case knows she's a witch and hopes she can explain what all those symbols might mean. But the more questions Lily asks, the more people keep telling her to back off--from Aiden, the powerful witch who's been training her, to Bronwyn, her close work friend, as well as another witch named Doura who threatens Lily if she doesn't leave well enough alone.

Lily leads a complicated life, and as I read this mystery I found myself wishing several times that I'd read the previous two books in this series first. It would have helped me sort out her various acquaintances and tangled relationships. But my library didn't have any copies of those books sitting on the B shelf. Only this one. And Blackwell did a pretty good job of catching me up on Lily's life. 

I thought the magic and witchcraft in this book was a lot of fun. And Lily's familiar, Oscar, made me smile. He's a goblin who pretends to be a pot-bellied pig when regular humans are around. But I felt the mystery itself got a little lost in the confusion of all the different characters. Still, I liked it. And I wouldn't mind trying another book in this paranormal mystery series at some point. 

Happy Reading!

Sunday, July 24, 2022

Haiku reviews...

Lone Jack Trail by Owen Laukkanen

Wanted for murder, 
Burke must find the real killer
to clear his own name.

Mystery .... 322 pages .... 4.5/5 stars.
(This one was just as good as the first one, Deception Cove.)

A Perilous Perspective by Anna Lee Huber

Some art forgeries. 
Secrets from the past. And two 
new murders to solve. 

Historical mystery .... 387 pages .... 5/5 stars.
(I loved this latest Lady Darby mystery; Kiera and Gage have become such favorite characters.)

Compared by Kortney Keisel

Widowed father meets
son's second grade teacher; fun
romance ensues.

Romantic comedy .... 296 pages .... 4/5 stars.
(Sweet and cute; I especially liked Tyler and his son, Krew.)

Happy Reading!

Thursday, July 21, 2022

Winter's Mourn by Mary Stone

When Winter Black was thirteen, her parents were killed by a serial killer known as The Preacher, and her six-year-old brother was taken. The severe head injury she received that night gave her some unexplainable talents--like remembering every detail of a crime scene, or knowing where a suspect will attack next, or where a body is buried. She calls these abilities her 'hunches' and tries not to tell anyone about them, though she does let fellow FBI Agent Noah Dalton in on her secret, mostly because they've been partnered up on a case that's brought her back to Harrisonburg, Virginia, the town where she grew up and where her parents died. It's a lot for Winter to deal with, but she's determined to do her job...and to track down The Preacher, too. 

The case Winter and Noah are investigating in this first book is a sad one involving the buried remains of children who were born with severe physical defects and then later murdered. They died years ago, which means finding any witnesses or evidence is challenging. But Winter suspects their deaths have something to do with the religious cult that used to live on a nearby farm. Proving it is another matter. Luckily, Winter as the help of her strange psychic gift, and the unwavering support of her partner. 

I liked this mystery a lot. Winter's an interesting character, and I look forward to reading more about her and her unusual gift. I hope Noah's in the next book, too; he's good with Winter, he's cute, and his Texas drawl is endearing. And the ongoing threat of the Preacher that's hanging over Winter makes for some good added suspense. This book was published in 2019, but Stone has already written nine more books about FBI Agent Winter Black. Talk about starting out behind in a series! At least my library has all of them, so that's good. If they read as fast as this one did, I just might have a chance of catching up. 

Happy Reading!


Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Top Ten Tuesday...

Top Ten Tuesday is a fun weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.
This week's theme was a FREEBIE.

After only a little bit of time and thought, I decided to go with Books with July in the Title (mostly because it was easy to find ten of them): 

Murder in July by Barbara Hambly

Girls of July by Alex Finn

The July Girls by Phoebe Locke 

4th of July by James Patterson

The Fifth of July by Kelly Simmons

The First of July by Elizabeth Speller

Fourth of July Creek by Smith Henderson 

Mr. July by Jax Hart

July, July by Tim O'Brien

The Color of Water in July by Nora Carroll

Happy Reading!

Saturday, July 16, 2022

Hide by Kiersten White

 Fourteen competitors.
Seven days.
An abandoned amusement park.
A sinister game of hide-and-seek.
And a horrific secret.

This is another one of those summer popcorn reads that's not exactly literary or deep, but is fun. Fourteen strangers, all in their 20s, are pitted against one another in a contest, each hoping to win $50,000. But this game isn't about taking the others out, it's all about hiding from the seekers in the ruins of Asterion's old amusement park. And I have to say, the park was my favorite part--very creepy and labyrinthine! Each day, two competitors go missing. And though their disappearances aren't described, it wasn't exactly hard to guess that the mysterious 'seeker' hunting them down was something supernatural. 

I thought White did a good job of distinguishing all fourteen competitors from each other, giving me both characters to root for, and to hate, but there wasn't time for a lot of character development and some characters that I would have liked to know more about didn't get much time or attention. Still, I did have my three favorites. And I thought the dark secret behind the contest and the amusement park and the unnatural creature was a good one. Although it does get more told to the reader than shown. Hide isn't what I would call a super scary or suspenseful novel, but it is fast-paced and entertaining. I'd give it 3.5 stars. 

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, July 13, 2022

The Paris Apartment by Lucy Foley

The plot:  Running from her not-so-great life in London, Jess heads to Paris to crash with her half-brother, Ben, for awhile. He's not happy about it, but he texts her his address and assures her he'll be there to let her in. Only when she arrives, Ben is gone and things don't feel right in his apartment. Jess questions the other six residents living in the building, but they're not very helpful. They all have secrets of their own; and one of those secrets might be the reason Ben is missing. Because he was investigating something, or someone, connected with that apartment building.

My thoughts:  Foley has written another novel full of surprises and suspense. While Jess is the main narrator, Foley also includes the POVs of some of the other building residents:  Sophie, 50+, posh, and living in the Penthouse; Mimi, 19, and more odd than edgy; Nick, a university friend of Ben's; and the old Concierge who watches all the residents and their doings from her rooms off the courtyard. Then there's Antoine, the alcoholic on the first floor, and sexy Camille, Mimi's roommate. None of them are very likable or felt very trustworthy. But the shift in POVs throughout kept the chapters short and the story line moving at a fast clip. Jess is a bit messed up, but I liked her pluck and determination to find out what happened to Ben, even if some of her actions felt a bit reckless at times. And the mystery? I thought the big secret, while not supernatural or super shocking, was plausible and fit the story. And I really liked how Foley brought all the pieces of it and the various POVs together. Plus, there's a really good and unexpected twist at the end that I loved. 

This was another fun buddy read with Melody @ Melody's Reading Corner. Be sure to check out her review, too.

Happy Reading!

Similar reads:


Tuesday, July 12, 2022

Top Ten Tuesday...

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

This week's theme:  Book Covers That Feel Like Summer. 

I, of course, immediately thought of covers with beaches on them, because THE BEACH always feels like the epitome of summer to me. Like these three lovely, summery covers:

But there are other things that scream summer to ICE CREAM...


And then there are those fun summer outdoor activities like HIKING...

and RAFTING...

and, of course, SWIMMING!

And no summer is complete without at least one ROAD TRIP read:

But my favorite SUMMER covers still have to be these:

Happy Reading!

Saturday, July 9, 2022

Another Classic...

One of the twelve categories in Karen's Back to the Classics Challenge this year is "A Classic that's Been on Your TBR List the Longest". And originally, I planned on reading Anne Radcliffe's The Romance of the Forest, a book I bought years ago but never read. I even started it, but I just couldn't do it. Even though I liked both A Sicilian Romance and The Mysteries of Udolfo, I just couldn't get into this one. The text was too dense, the prose too wordy and boring. So I decided to switch books and read The Virginian by Owen Wister instead. 

This book is one my Dad owned, and one I've long wanted to read. And I ended up really liking it. Written in 1902, It's set in Wyoming in the late 1800s. The main character is known only as the Virginian (because that's where he's from). He's described as being a tall, lean gentleman with dark hair and a way with horses. He's got a soft Southern drawl and a wicked sense of humor. He's also nomadic, single, and happy with his life. Until he meets the new young schoolteacher from Vermont, Molly Wood. Once he sees her, his whole world changes. She does not feel the same way about him, at least not at first. Molly has a proud and independent spirit, but the Virginian is persistent and hard to resist. 

I thought this novel did an excellent job of capturing the spirit of the Old West, as well as depicting life as a cow-puncher in a mostly unsettled Wyoming. It's also a novel of friendship, honor, courage, courtship, and love. I was charmed by how the Virginian borrowed books from Molly to try and better himself, and how he really liked Shakespeare and the Russian authors, but couldn't relate to the books of Jane Austen. He's a memorable and very likable character. This whole book is quite entertaining and readable....and definitely better than The Romance of the Forest. 

Happy Reading! 

Other classic westerns I've read and enjoyed:
And any book by Louis L'Amour is always fun! 

Wednesday, July 6, 2022

July's Bookish Art...

Winslow Homer -- Girl Reading 

"In each book was a possibility of joy:  a magical place to visit, 
a hero or heroine to meet, or a new friend to make."
--Janis Wildy, The English Bookshop

Sunday, July 3, 2022

Pay Dirt Road by Samantha Jayne Allen

The Plot:  Having graduated from college, Annie McIntyre is back in Garnett, Texas. She's working as a waitress and living with her cousin, Nikki, while she tries to figure out what to do with the rest of her life. She also keeps running into old boyfriends, and remembering certain incidents from her past that she'd rather forget.

Then, another waitress from work goes missing. Annie was at the same bonfire party as Victoria the last time she was seen, and now she feels guilty that she didn't offer Victoria a ride home. If she had, maybe she'd still be alive. So Annie decides to try and find out what happened to her friend, and she enlists the help of her private investigator grandfather, Leroy, even though he's supposed to be retired and isn't getting around so well any more. No one thinks their involvement in this case is a good idea, but Annie can't let it go until she knows the truth.

My thoughts:  I liked this one. Annie doesn't always make the best of decisions, and she's not the best at sleuthing out the truth yet either, but she doesn't give up, and I liked that about her. Her grandfather Leroy is one of those old guys who's feisty and humorous, but also stubborn and frustratingly terse at times. I wish more of the plot revolved around him and Annie working together to solve the mystery, but while they do go out and do some investigating together, the story focuses mostly on Annie as she tries to figure out her own life and find the truth about what happened to Victoria. The small town of Garnett also plays a big role in this mystery, the stark and sometimes gritty setting added needed depth to the mystery. I'll be interested to see what this author writes next. 

Happy Reading!