Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Top Ten Tuesday

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

This week's theme is a School Freebie. So I went with ten books I really enjoyed reading that have a school setting. Here they are:

Prep School Confidential by Kara Thomas

Good Girls Lie by J.T. Ellison

I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You by Ally Carter

School Spirits by Rachel Hawkins

Gentlemen & Players by Joanne Harris 

The Lake of Dead Languages by Carol Goodman

The Great Brain at the Academy by John D. Fitzgerald

Under Locker and Key by Allison K. Hymas

The Semester of Our Discontent by Cynthia Kuhn

The Faculty Club by Danny Tobey

Honorable mention:
The Trouble With Angels 
(My favorite Haley Mills movie)

Happy Reading!

Sunday, August 28, 2022

Another classic...

One of the categories in Karen's Back to the Classics Challenge this year is a "Classic Short Story Collection." I chose Stephen Crane's Maggie: A Girl of the Streets and Other Tales of New York. Maggie was first published in 1893, and at 83 pages it's more like a novella than a true short story, but there are also eleven of Crane's other short stories in this collection (though I have to say many felt more like observations of city life in the 1890s than like well-plotted stories). Crane does write very detailed and descriptive scenes of New York life, but I didn't find any of these short stories very memorable or entertaining; in fact, I didn't really like any of them, and I absolutely hated his story titled "A Dark-Brown Dog". 

As for Maggie: A Girl of the Streets, there's definitely more story in this one, but it's a sad one. It centers around Maggie, a pretty young girl living in the Bowery with her brother, Jimmie, and their alcoholic mother. She's drawn to Pete, a friend of her brother's, who takes her to restaurants and plays, and treats her well. But when she leaves the chaos of her own home to move in with him, she's immediately condemned by every one who knows her, especially her mother and brother. And when Pete's attention is drawn back to an old flame, Maggie has no one to turn to and nowhere to go.

Crane highlights the poverty, hard life and hypocrisy of the inhabitants of the Bowery. He also writes every conversation between the characters in very heavy dialect. It made reading the story a bit of a slog. So I didn't love this one either. But that's how it goes sometimes. At least it's another classic read and checked off my list.

Happy Reading!

Thursday, August 25, 2022

A Supernatural Mystery...

Title & Author:  Friend of the Devil by Stephen Lloyd

Setting:  Danforth Putnam, an elite boarding school located on a private island off the coast of New England.

Main characters:  Sam, an insurance investigator and former marine who's tough, perceptive, sarcastic, haunted, and funny; and Harriet, a teen reporter with epilepsy who's determined, smart, and spunky, Sam's looking into the theft of a rare book, and Harriet's investigating an incident of bullying when their paths intersect. Dark and strange things at Danforth Putnam surprise them both.

My thoughts:  This book is a fun combination of mystery, detective fiction and supernatural horror. There's good suspense and lots of humorous moments, and it reads fast. I loved Sam's snarkiness and Harriet's stubborn fearlessness. And there's a very explosive demonic twist at the end that I was NOT expecting. But I thought it was a good one. I ended up really liking this book. It's an entertaining summer read. 

Happy Reading!


Monday, August 22, 2022

August's Haiku Reviews...

Turn to Me by Becky Wade

A deathbed promise
and a treasure hunt bring Luke
and Finley together.

Christian romance .... 404 pages .... 3.5/5 stars.
(I loved Luke, but Finley kind of bugged me. Still, the treasure hunt left for her by her father was fun.)

A Tailor-Made Bride by Karen Witemeyer

J.T.'s life changes forever
when a pretty new dressmaker
arrives in Coventry, Texas.

Historical romance .... 348 pages .... 4/5 stars.
(A sweet love story with sparks and spunk.)

Dead Against Her by Melinda Leigh

Threats against Bree and
a double homicide puts
everyone on edge.

Mystery .... 292 pages .... 4.5/5 stars.
(Another excellent mystery with Sheriff Bree Taggert and Matt Flynn.)

Happy Reading!


Friday, August 19, 2022

Same Time, Same Place by David m. Barnett

Daisy is the night security guard at the Manchester Museum of Social History. She's rigid and guarded, doesn't relate well to others, and likes to follow the rules and stick to her routine. She and her sister live with their mother, who is dying from cancer, so that they can take care of her. And because of a childhood trauma, Daisy doesn't believe she deserves happiness in her life. 

Nate works the day shift at the same museum. He's garrulous and friendly and likes to joke around with Daisy in the fifteen minutes their shifts overlap, but his life is far from perfect. He's divorced, and while he's determined not to be like his own abusive and alcoholic father, he's struggling to connect with Ben, his ten-year-old son.

My thoughts: I really liked both of these characters! They're so different but both a bit broken, and the way their lives intersect throughout this book made me smile. A small mystery involving some missing items at the museum brings them together resulting in some humorous and heartwarming interactions. I loved how they found hope and happiness together. This is an entertaining and fun story, and Daisy's and Nate's quiet romance is sweetly captivating. 

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

August's Bookish Art...

Robert Emil Stubner -- Summer Afternoon

"A book was a powerful thing. It could take her away from all 
her incessant worries for whole minutes at a time."
--Susan Wiggs, The Lost and Found Bookshop

Sunday, August 14, 2022

House Made of Dawn by N. Scott Momaday

This Pulitzer Prize-winning novel was first published in 1968. It's centered around Abel, a young Native American who returns to New Mexico from serving in the war in 1945. But he is no longer the young man he once was. 
"Abel walked into the canyon. His return to town had been a failure, for all his looking forward. He had tried in the days that followed to speak to his grandfather, but he could not say the things he wanted; he had tried to pray, to sing, to enter into the old rhythm of the tongue, but he was no longer attuned to it."
Things get worse. In 1952 he ends up in Los Angeles, just out of prison, still lost, and still drinking too much. 

Momaday's writing is very descriptive and poetic, though not always straightforward. There are jumps in time and narrative voice that I found confusing in places; there's also a dream-like, surreal quality to his slowly unfolding narrative that I didn't love. It made it hard to connect to Abel. In fact, over half of the novel isn't even told from his point of view. The author gives the reader glimpses from his past, and one memory from his time in the war, and a few scenes with him in Los Angeles, but the biggest part of his story is related by his roommate, Ben. It's a unique way to tell a story but one that didn't quite work for me. 

Abel's story is very sad, and I had a lot of sympathy for him. And I thought this novel was interesting. But I didn't love it. Still, I'm not sorry I read it. Especially because it counts as my "Classic by a BIPOC Author" for Karen's Back to the Classics Challenge. 

Happy Reading!

For a much better review of this book, check out Kathy's at Reading Matters; she's the one who first made me aware of this classic novel. 


Thursday, August 11, 2022

A fun romantic adventure...

 Something Wilder by Christina Lauren

3 Things I loved about this book:
💗 It's set in Canyonlands, Utah --which made it very easy for me (being from Utah) to visualize the awesome scenery the characters were riding and hiking through.

💗 There's a treasure hunt! I loved how Lily and Leo pieced together the clues and figured out the secret codes left by Duke Wilder as they searched for Butch Cassidy's legendary lost treasure.

💗 Lily Wilder and Leo Grady. I loved how these two characters came back together after being apart for the last ten years, and how they had several honest and heartfelt conversations in order to work through their past heartbreak. Their chemistry and steamy romance was pretty great, too.

With plenty of action, humor, friendship, mystery, heart and romance, this was a captivating and fun book.

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, August 9, 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 "Hilarious Book Titles" but I honestly couldn't come up with any, so I'm going rogue instead. 

Here's my list of Ten Books with August in the Title:

The Girls of August by Anne Rivers Siddons 

Snow in August by Pete Hamill

Light in August by William Faulkner

August Isle by Ali Standish

August Heat by Andrea Camilleri

The Dry Grass of August by Anna Jean Mayhew

One August Night by Victoria Hislop

The Guns of August by Barbara Tuchman

Dark August by Katie Tallo

August by Callan Wink

Happy Reading! 

Saturday, August 6, 2022

A Knife in the Fog by Bradley Harper

From the blurb:  "Physician Arthur Conan Doyle is invited to take a break from his practice to assist London police in tracking down Jack the Ripper. Doyle agrees, with the stipulation his old professor of surgery, Dr. Joseph Bell––Doyle’s inspiration for Sherlock Holmes––agrees to work with him. Soon the two are joined by Margaret Harkness, an author who knows how to use a Derringer as well as she knows the dank alleys and courtyards of the East End where she resides. Pursuing leads through London and Whitechapel becomes infinitely more dangerous for the trio when the hunters become the hunted in this adventurous debut novel and series starter."

My thoughts:  I've always been drawn to novels about Jack the Ripper, and this one is exceptional. I loved the voice Harper creates for Arthur Conan Doyle as he narrates his adventures on the streets of Whitechapel with Professor Bell and Margaret Harkness. Margaret is an equally great character: independent, capable, and fierce. (And apparently a real person, too.) I enjoyed how the author weaves these historical figures into the infamous murder investigation of Jack the Ripper and his victims. This novel is atmospheric and well-plotted. Harper's attention to historical detail really brings London's East End to life. His writing is amazing, and this novel is suspenseful, unexpected, riveting and fun. For me, this was a 5-star read. 

Happy Reading!

Thursday, August 4, 2022

Need a laugh?


(Because John Atkinson at Wrong Hands always makes me laugh!)

Happy Reading!

Monday, August 1, 2022

Sleeper 13 by Rob Sinclair

When Aydin Torkal was nine, his father took him to Afghanistan to be trained to fight the infidels. At the Farm, he and fourteen other young boys were taught to kill. They called him Talatashar, number thirteen.

Now grown, Aydin has been stationed in Paris, one of thirteen militants about to pull off a series of deadly attacks across Europe. He doesn't know all the details; he doesn't even know where his other twelve brothers have been sent. Then his sister, Nilay, who's been searching for him for years, is killed in Syria, and Ayden knows that it had to have been one of his brothers who was order to kill her because she was getting too close to the truth. So he leaves Paris to go in search of the man who murdered his sister.
"...all of the others, they were out there, and Aydin was damn certain they all wanted him dead. They would come for him .... again and again to kill him .... and they would harm anyone who got in their way. If he ran he had no chance. What he needed was to fight back. It was time to use his hatred. It was time to become the hunter."

The other main character in this novel is Rachel Cox, a British SIS agent in MI5. She's been hunting for any information on the thirteen militants for years, but she can't find any real proof of their existence until Aydin, or Talatashar, breaks ranks. His defection just might lead her team to the other twelve in time to stop the deadly attacks. If she can get to him before his brothers do.

Sleeper 13 is an entertaining read with lots of action and suspense. It has a similar vibe to the Jason Bourne movies and the Orphan X books (although it's not quite as good). I liked how strong and determined Rachel was, even when she didn't get any support from her superiors. And Aydin? He's a conflicted yet ultimately sympathetic character. I liked him, too. All in all, this was a fun read. I look forward to checking out the next book in this series.  

Happy reading!