Wednesday, September 28, 2022

City Folk and Country Folk by Sofia Khvoshchinskaya

Summary from Goodreads:  "An unsung gem of nineteenth-century Russian literature, City Folk and Country Folk is a gentle yet devastating satire of Russia's aristocratic and pseudo-intellectual elites in the 1860s. Translated into English for the first time, the novel weaves an engaging tale of manipulation, infatuation, and female assertiveness that takes place one year after the liberation of the empire's serfs. Sofia Khvoshchinskaya centers her story on a commonsense, hardworking noblewoman, Nastasya Ivanovna Chulkova, and her self-assured daughter, Olenka, living on their small rural estate. Seventeen-year-old Olenka, who is unimpressed by class, ultimately helps her mother overcome a sense of duty to her "betters" and leads the two to triumph over their urbanite guests' financial, amorous, and matrimonial machinations."

My thoughts:  I first learned about this book from Kathy @ Reading Matters. (And if you want to read a really good review of this book, click on the link and read hers!) And I want to thank Kathy for bringing this Russian novel to my attention, because I quite enjoyed it. While not a lot happens plotwise, the interactions between Nastasya and Olenka and their two uninvited summer guests over the course of the novel are humorous. Nastasya is a bit silly, and worries way too much about offending her guests. Olenka, on the other hand, isn't at all cowed by the guests' station or status in society. 
"All of this was quite amusing to Olenka, who assumed that the present situation would not drag on forever and, most likely, would soon come to an end, but for Nastasya Ivanova there was nothing funny about it."

I liked Olenka's youthful candor and outspokenness and the way she makes her mother stand up to their guests at the end. I also thought Khvoshchinskaya did an excellent job contrasting the aristocratic pretentions and quirks of the two Muscovites against their more provincial hosts, while poking gentle fun at each one. Seligman Favorov's translation of this satirical novel is well done and very readable. All in all, this is an amusing novel and I'm glad I read it. Even better? It counts as my "Classic in Translation" for Karen's Back to the Classics Challenge. Only two more classics to go this year and I'll have finished all twelve categories!

Happy Reading!

Sunday, September 25, 2022

Haiku reviews...

The Wedding Plot by Paula Munier 
(Mercy & Elvis Mystery #4)

A wedding. A missing
man. A murdered stranger. Lies,
secrets... and family.

Mystery .... 340 pages .... 4/5 stars.
(I love Mercy and Troy and their dogs Elvis and Susie Bear!)

Breathless by Amy McCulloch

Climb a mountain, get
the interview. Then murder
changes the story.

Adventure/mystery .... 343 pages .... 3/5 stars.
(I wanted to like this one more than I did.)

The Bodyguard by Katherine Center

Her job: protect him.
Being his fake girlfriend and
falling in love? Bonus!

Contemporary romance .... 302 pages .... 5/5 stars.
(So funny and sweet; I loved everything about this one!)

Happy Reading!

Thursday, September 22, 2022

Every Last Fear by Alex Finlay

First line:  They found the bodies on a Tuesday.

From the blurb:  After a late night of partying, NYU student Matt Pine returns to his dorm room to devastating news: nearly his entire family—his mom, his dad, his little brother and sister—have been found dead from an apparent gas leak while vacationing in Mexico. The local police claim it was an accident, but the FBI and State Department seem far less certain.

The tragedy makes headlines everywhere because this isn’t the first time the Pine family has been thrust into the media spotlight. Matt’s older brother, Danny—currently serving a life sentence for the murder of his teenage girlfriend Charlotte—was the subject of a viral true crime documentary suggesting that Danny was wrongfully convicted. Though the country has rallied behind Danny, Matt holds a secret about his brother that he’s never told anyone: the night Charlotte was killed Matt saw something that makes him believe his brother is guilty of the crime.

My thoughts:  This mystery is told through multiple points-of-view that alternate between the past (before Matt's family died) and the present. And though it's well-written, I would have preferred sticking with Matt's POV in the present for more of the book rather than having all those flashbacks interrupting the flow of the narrative. But it's the past narratives with Matt's dad, mom and younger sister, Maggie, that dominate the story. And while all the POVs and layers from the past are interesting, I didn't find them particularly suspenseful. 

Melody @ Melody's Reading Corner and I read this one together and it was fun trying to figure out what really happened to Charlotte and to Matt's family with her. Not that we had a lot of clues to go on. It's not until the very end that all the pieces of this mystery get put together and the truth is revealed. And I have to admit, I was a little underwhelmed by the supposed twist at the end. Every Last Fear is well-plotted, the writing is good, and I did like it, but it just wasn't quite as thrilling as I hoped it would be. For me, it's a solid 3-star read. Be sure to check out Melody's review to see her opinion of this one! And thanks again, Melody, for reading this one with me. It was fun. 

Happy Reading!

Melody's questions for me:
1. There's a combination of suspense, conspiracies, and family drama in this book. What did you enjoy most about the story?  I enjoyed all the action scenes in the present with Matt the most. He's a great character, and he's the reason I wanted to keep reading. I just wanted more of his story! 

2. Who was your favorite and least favorite member of the Pine family (and why)?
Besides Matt, my favorite character was his younger sister, Maggie. She was spunky, and a good detective, and so smart; all of which made her death even more sad. And I didn't like Evan Pine, Matt's father very much; he was so consumed with saving Danny all those years that the rest of his family suffered because of it, especially Matt.

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Top Ten Tuesday

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

This week's theme is supposed to be Books on My Fall 2022 To-Read List, but I'm going rogue and doing Books with September in the Title  instead.

September by Rosamunde Pilcher

September 17 by Amanda West Lewis

The September Society by Charles Finch

The September Sisters by Jillian Cantor

The Last September by Nina de Gramont

The Fourteenth of September by Rita Dragonette

The Fortnight in September by R.C. Sherriff

The Septembers of Shiraz by Dalia Sofer

The September Girls by Maureen Lee


77 Days in September by Ray Gorham

Happy Reading!


Saturday, September 17, 2022

Buried in a Good Book by Tamara Berry

First line:  "There are at least three dead bodies in there."

Plot:  Tess Harrow is a bestselling mystery writer. She's also recently divorced and behind on her next book. In need of a change of scenery, she brings her 14-year-old daughter, Gertie, to her late grandfather's rustic cabin in Winthrop, a small town in the forested mountains of Eastern Washington. And while there's no WI-FI or running water at the cabin, there is a Bigfoot sighting. And a murder! Curious about what's going on--and needing inspiration for her next novel--Tess can't help but get involved in the investigation, much to the chagrin and irritation of the local sheriff, Victor Boyd. 

My thoughts:  There is so much to love about this book! Tess is funny; she's always coming up with plots and ideas for her next book which totally made me laugh. And I loved her relationship with her sarcastic teen-age daughter. Sheriff Boyd is great, too. His exasperation with Tess, and his wry comments about all the ways she gets police work wrong in her novels, were also humorous. I hope they get together in a future book. As for the mystery itself, I thought it was pretty entertaining. Tess spouts some wild theories about the murder along the way, but some of her crazy ideas actually turn out to be right. This is a delightful read. I loved the characters and really enjoyed the humor. It's a good first book in a new series by Tamara Berry.

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

A few non-reviews...

Do you ever have days where you just don't feel like reviewing the last book you read? Even when it was good? Because some days I'm really tired and I don't feel like trying to figure out how to summarize a story, or find the right words to describe what I liked or didn't like about a book. Some days I just want to post a picture of the cover and say, "I read this one; it was good" and call it a day. So that's what I'm going to do with these three recent reads. (And I'll try and get my reviewing mojo back by my next post.)

Tahoe Deathfall is the first book in Borg's series about private investigator Owen McKenna. It's a fun mystery set in Tahoe that I really enjoyed. I will be reading more books in this series. 

The Littlest Library by Poppy Alexander is a cute story set in a quaint English village; it reminded me a lot of Rosamunde Pilcher's books, though not as good. I wanted there to be more when it came to Jess and Aidan's friendship/romance.

Yes & I Love You
is another captivating and swoony (and very steamy!) romance by Roni Loren. I LOVED Hollyn and Jasper and their humorous and sweet 'improv dating'!

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Top Ten Tuesday

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

This week's meme is Books with Geographical Terms in the Title. For the books on my list, I went with some favorite reads. Here they are:

1. Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami

2. The White Forest by Adam McOmber

3. The Reef by Edith Wharton

4. The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley

5. Dream Lake by Lisa Kleypas

6. On the Island by Tracy Garvis Graves

7. Small Country by Gael Faye

8. Cold Heart Creek by Lisa Regan

9. The Precipice by Paul Doiron

10. In the Woods by Tana French

Happy Reading!


Saturday, September 10, 2022

Dumb Witness by Agatha Christie

 "The dog hunts rabbits. Hercule Poirot hunts murderers. We have here a murderer--a murderer whose crime failed, yes, perhaps, but nevertheless a murderer. And I, my friend, am going into the burrow after him--or her as the case may be."

Emily Arundell's nieces and nephew want her money. After a suspicious fall down her stairs, she begins to suspect that one of them is willing to kill her for it. So, she writes a letter to Hercule Poirot requesting his help. Only he doesn't get the letter until 2 months later, and by that time, Emily is dead. Her doctor claims it was from natural causes, but Poirot and his friend, Capt. Hastings, head to Market Basing to investigate her death for themselves. 

I've been reading my way through Agatha Christie's mysteries these past few years, but this is the first one that I've read in 2022. And I thoroughly enjoyed it. But then I'm always entertained by how Hercule Poirot digs into a murder investigation. He's such a fun character! I do have to say, however, that my favorite character in this particular book was Bob, Emily Arundell's wirehaired terrier. The way he likes to play ball from the top of the stairs made me smile. Capt. Hastings is a good foil for Poirot as well. And the mystery itself kept me guessing as Poirot's suspicions moved from one character to another. Any one of them could have done it. I enjoyed seeing how Poirot figured out the truth at the end. If you like Agatha Christie, this mystery is an engaging one.

Happy Reading!

Friday, September 9, 2022

New favorite quote:

I saw this quote the other day on a sign in someone's front yard, and I loved it so much I looked it up online and found this version of it:

Says it all, doesn't it? 

Wednesday, September 7, 2022

September's Bookish Art...

Albert Anker 

"No entertainment is so cheap as reading, nor any pleasure so lasting."
--Mary Wortley Montagu

Sunday, September 4, 2022

Some science fiction fun...

Title & Author:  Wreckers by George Ellis

First line:  "I might not be the smartest guy in the galaxy, but I do know my way around the place. I also know my way around every kind of space ship in it."

Main character:  Denver Boyd is 19 and the captain of his own souped-up spaceship (which used to belong to his uncle); his 'crew' consists of a one-eyed cat named Pirate and Gary, the ship's annoying AI navigator. He's a talented mechanic, awful with a gun but good with his fists, likes beer and junk food, and is clever, sarcastic and funny.  

My thoughts:  This character-driven novel is a very entertaining and humorous science fiction adventure. Ellis's writing and voice is so good. And all the pop culture references in it made me laugh. Denver Boyd is a great character; I liked him immediately. As a wrecker, he mostly repairs and tows other spaceships for money, until he tangles first with the Federation and then with the Tracers' piratical leader. Now he's on the hunt for his missing brother while half the galaxy is hunting for him. I loved the action and humor in this book, as well as the other quirky characters Denver meets along the way. At just 287 pages, this one reads fast. It's very fun, and I really hope the author writes a sequel to it soon. 

Happy Reading!


Thursday, September 1, 2022


In bookish 'news:' I recently won a copy of Charlaine Harris's An Easy Death from Goodreads. It looks like a fun read:

It's hard to believe it's September! Especially because we're experiencing record-setting temperatures here in Utah this week. Five days above 101, with more to come. I'm so sick of the heat. I'd really like some cool fall temperatures right about now. 

My 2022 Reading Challenges update:  I'm doing really well on this year's Back to the Classics Challenge; I've already finished nine of the twelve categories and only have three more to go. But I'm totally tanking the Backlist Reader Challenge. Originally, my goal was to read 20 books from off my own shelves, but so far I've only read seven...and I've only blogged about three. I meant to focus on my own books in July, but then I checked out a bunch of library books I wanted to read more instead. So I'm thinking I probably won't reach my goal in this reading challenge this year. Which isn't surprising. I usually lose steam on reading challenges about halfway through the year. In the future I need to remember that one reading challenge per year is my limit.  

Really enjoyed this DVD (she's invisible, but he can see her):

Books recently checked out of the library:
City Folk & Country Folk by Sofia Khvoshchinskaya
Every Last Fear by Alex Finlay 
The Wedding Plot by Paula Munier
Buried in a Good Book by Tamara Berry
Burning Bright by Melissa McShane
How the Penguins Saved Veronica by Hazel Prior
Tahoe Deathfall by Todd Borg
Belle: An Amish Retelling of Beauty and the Beast by Sarah Price

Love this quote and this magnet! 
(Which I bought while on vacation in Montana back in June.)

Happy Reading!