Sunday, April 30, 2023

The In and Out Book Tag...

This is a book tag I saw on both Fanda's Classiclit blog and Cath's Read-warbler blog, and I thought it looked like fun. Have you done this tag? If not, would you be In or Out on these:

Reading the Last Page First:  OUT
(Though I do admit when I'm not enjoying a book, 
I sometimes flip to the end to see if it's worth finishing.)

Enemies to Lovers:  IN
(This is always a fun romance trope.)

Dream Sequences:  OUT
(I just don't enjoy them.)

Love Triangles:  OUT!
(I find them frustrating and not at all fun; they make me want to shake the girl and say: Make Up Your Mind Already!) 

Cracked Spines:  IN-ish?
(I'm NOT advocating cracking the spine of a fact, I try very hard not to do that with my paperbacks...but if it happens, it's not going to keep me from enjoying the book.)

Back to My Small Town:  IN
(Small town settings are some of my favorites, especially in a romance.)

No Paragraph Breaks: OUT!
(That's just annoying.)

Multi-generational Sagas:  OUT
(They're long and I usually don't enjoy them. Of course, there's always exceptions.)

Monsters are Regular People: IN
(I love fun supernatural and paranormal elements in books.)

Re-reading: IN
(Though I haven't had much time lately to reread any of my books; library books keep getting in the way.)

Artificial Intelligence: IN
(I love a good science fiction novel.)

Drop Caps: IN
(They're fine, but I really don't care either way.) 

Happy Endings: IN!
(Of course!)

Plot Points that Only Converge at the End: IN
(Isn't that the point of reading?)

Detailed Fantasy Systems: IN
(I grew up reading a lot of fantasy, and while I don't read it as much these days, I still love it.)

Classic Fantasy Races:  IN
(I also played a little D&D growing up, and always wanted to be an Elf.)

Unreliable Narrators:  OUT
(I feel like this trend has been way overdone lately, and I'm a little tired of it.)

Evil Protagonists: OUT
(Isn't 'evil protagonist' an oxymoron? I want to like the main character, not hate them.)

The Chosen One:  IN
(Like Buffy? I'm in as long as the chosen one isn't whiny about it.)

When the Protagonist Dies:  OUT!!
(Even if it's for a "good reason" literary-wise, I don't like it...and usually end up hating the book when it happens.)

Really Long Chapters: OUT-ish
(I don't love them, but if the book is well-written, I tend not to notice.)

French Flaps: IN? 
(I'm not even sure what these are.)

Deckled Edges:  ??
(Again, I don't really care.)

Signed Copies by the Author: IN
(Especially if you get to meet the author and have them sign the book for you; 
though I'm certainly not paying more for a book just because it's signed.)

Dog-earing Pages:  OUT
(Can I just say bookmarks!)

Chapter Titles Instead of Numbers: IN
(Especially when they're humorous!)

Happy Reading!

Thursday, April 27, 2023

The Quarry Girls by Jess Lourey

 "That summer, the summer of '77, everything had edges. Our laughter, the sideways glances we gave and got. Even the air was blade-sharp. I figured it was because we were growing up. The law might not recognize it, but fifteen's a girl and sixteen a woman, and you get no map from one land to the next. ... But it turns out the sharpness wasn't because we were growing up. Or it wasn't only that. I know, because three of us didn't get to grow up."

 The plot:  Heather, Brenda, and Maureen are best friends. They're even in a band together. But their friendship is beginning to fray because Maureen is keeping secrets. When Heather and Brenda chance upon one of them, it's so shocking they vow they'll never tell what they saw. Then Maureen disappears, the second girl in Pantown to disappear in a week. Only no one seems to be looking for either Maureen or Beth. And while Heather and Brenda didn't really know Beth, they're sure Maureen didn't run away. When Heather starts investigating on her own, she uncovers more secrets than she ever knew existed about the men in Pantown. Including the sheriff and her very own father. Even the boys she's known her whole life can no longer be trusted.  

My thoughts:  Wow! Talk about a riveting read. This novel is part coming-of-age, part psychological thriller, and I could not put it down. Lourey does an excellent job of capturing that 1970s setting, along with creating an undercurrent of danger directed at these young women. After a few mediocre books in a row, it was a relief to read something so well-written and well-plotted. I loved it! This is one of the best books I've read this year. And I will definitely be checking out more by this author. 

Happy Reading! 

Wednesday, April 26, 2023

Celebrating Shakespeare...

While no one knows William Shakespeare's exact birthdate, we do know he was baptized on 26 April 1564, which makes this a day worth celebrating. So here's to the bard and all his wonderful words! 

My parents took me to the Shakespearan Festival in Cedar City, Utah to see my first Shakespeare plays when I was eight. We saw A Midsummer Night's Dream and Twelfth Night that summer, and they both made me laugh. I've loved Shakespeare ever since. And while I haven't seen all of his plays performed live on stage...yet...I have read them all. There are so many amazing quotes in all of them, but I can't possibly post them all. So here's just one of my favorites:

Happy Reading!

P.S. And if you want to watch a very funny filmed version of Much Ado About Nothing, check out the one Joss Whedon did with his friends. They filmed it at his house! And it's hilarious.


Sunday, April 23, 2023

The Bookshop of Secrets by Mollie Rushmeyer

How it begins:  "Only the sharp clang of a bell above the door and lopsided towers of books greeted Hope Sparrow as she entered Dusty Jackets bookshop. She breathed in their ancient paper dust, their gentle decay. Between pages like these, she'd always found her refuge. Her Lucy Maud, Jane, the sisters Brontë, dear Louisa--all whispered the words she'd pored over in the dead of night and now fortified her strength for what she hoped was the last leg in a long journey."

The plot in brief:  Hope's come to Wanishin Falls, Minnesota, in search of several books her mom left to her. They're her only family legacy, and they just might be the key to finding a rumored family treasure. And Hope could really use a little extra money right now, both to help her leave her traumatic past behind, and to make her dream of owning her own food truck come true. 

The owners of Dusty Jackets, Mags and Ulysses Barrick, offer to help her search for her mother's books if she'll work in their bookstore for a few months in return. Their handsome grandson, Ronan, is willing to help, too. But Hope isn't big on trust, and would rather not get too close to anyone in Wanishin Falls. Only the people around her are too kind and generous to just give up on her. 

My thoughts:  There's a lot to like about this one: a charming small town setting, a dusty old bookshop, family secrets and a lost treasure. And I liked Ronan and Hope. But there are several side characters and small side stories that never felt fully developed, and that sometimes detracted from the main plotline. And when you combine Hope's complicated past with Ronan's complicated past along with their families's history there's almost too much going on; I felt like it forced the author to do more telling than showing, which slowed the pacing and kept the characters at a distance. And I really wish that the mystery itself, and Hope's and Ronan's search for the treasure, had unfolded a little faster. While the overall story has heartwarming and uplifting moments, for me this ended up only being a 3-star read. 

Happy Reading!

P.S. This book counts towards Susan's Bookish Books Reading Challenge.

Friday, April 21, 2023

A Venom Dark and Sweet by Judy I. Lin

Brief summary:  The Banished Prince has seized the throne forcing the Imperial Princess Zhen to flee the capital along with her bodyguard, Ruyi, and Ning, who's been falsely accused of poisoning the emperor. Along with Ning's little sister, Shu, these four young women travel the length of the realm in search of some allies to help restore the princess to her throne.

Back in the capital, Kang watches his father and Chancellor Zhou take control, acting with merciless cruelty to anyone who stands in their way. Kang doesn't agree with his father's tactics, but he doesn't know how to oppose both him and the chancellor. To make matters worse, a shadowy serpent with ancient and evil magic has been loosed. And the serpent wants to consume all the inhabitants of Daxi.

My thoughts:  Melody and I both loved A Magic Steeped in Poison, so we were very excited to read this sequel to it, but this book is sadly not nearly as good as the first one. There's a lot of watching, waiting, and traveling in the first half of the book without much action or anything else to move the plot forward. I found all the court politics and the long descriptions of all the different places pretty boring. Ning and Kang don't even meet up again until 180 pages into the story. Their interactions and all of Ning's tea magic was what I enjoyed most about the first book, but there's just not enough of that in this one. 

And some of the most important plot points concerning the serpent and the magical relics needed to defeat him weren't even mentioned until the very end. This book just wasn't as well-plotted as the first. I still liked Ning and Kang, and I thought several other characters were fun. And the ending was more exciting than the beginning. But overall, I was pretty disappointed with this one. To see what Melody thought, be sure to check out her review.

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, April 18, 2023

Top Ten Tuesday...

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

This week's theme is a little different. It's a Non-book us all a chance to share something about ourselves besides the books we love to read. 

Here are 10 Random Non-bookish Facts About Me (that may or may not be very interesting). 

1. I'm very organized...except for the top of my desk which is a paper-strewn mess.

2. I love exploring old cemeteries.

3. I can recite the alphabet backwards.

4. My ancestors came to America from England, Scotland, Wales, Denmark and Prussia.

5. For excercise, I like to walk, do yoga and pilates, and hike.

6. I've spotted 207 different species of birds so far; and I'd really love to see a snowy owl someday.

7. My sister and I are working on another Kindle Vella story. (It's a Christmas romance set in Grayhaven with one or two ghosts in it.)

8. So Help Me Todd is my favorite TV show.

9. I've ridden elephants in Thailand, fed the monkeys in Bali, and gone hot air ballooning over Karnak Temple in Egypt.

10. Donuts are my downfall.

Happy TTT...and Happy Reading! 

Saturday, April 15, 2023

Haiku Reviews...


Pride & Puppies by Lizzie Shane

George loves Charlotte! But 
she's sworn off men and sees him
only as a friend.

Romantic comedy .... 352 pages .... 3.5/5 stars.
(Charlotte was little frustrating at times, but I totally loved George!)

Authentically, Izzy by Pepper Basham

Dating app matches
long distance bookworms. Can they
find love through letters? 

Romantic comedy .... 409 pages .... 4/5 stars.
(An engaging epistolary romance with lots of bookish references and humor.)

Whispers of You by Catherine Cowles

Their past kept him away, 
but Holt's back, hoping to prove
to Wren his love is true.

Romance .... 319 pages .... 4.5/5 stars.
(I loved Holt and Wren! There's a mystery & suspense in this one, too.)

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, April 12, 2023

Starflight by Melissa Landers

A job and a new life await Solara Brooks on Vega, a newly terra-formed planet in the lawless outer realm. But first she has to get there. Which means indenturing herself in exchange for her passage. Too bad the only taker is Doran Spaulding, the handsome, entitled heir to the galaxy's largest fuel corporation...and the guy who made her life hell in school. 

When Doran threatens to renege on their deal and leave her stranded on some outpost, she stuns him, kidnaps him, and uses his money to gain passage on a rundown spaceship called the Banshee. This time he's her servant. 

Their journey gets even more complicated when Doran is framed and suddenly finds himself the galaxy's most wanted felon, while space pirates try to force Solara into an unwanted marriage for her mechanical skills. Solara and Doran must rely on each other, and on the eccentric crew of the Banshee, if they ever hope to win their freedom.

My thoughts:  Starflight is a rollicking YA science fiction adventure with lots of action and humor. There's an excellent twist towards the end, too. I had so much fun reading this one! It doesn't feel like a YA book full of teen angst and drama. The world-building is great and the characters are well-drawn. I really enjoyed how Solara and Doran start off as enemies, always sniping at each other, then gradually come to trust one another as friends...and more. Their relationship, and wanting to know what will happen between their two shipmates, Cassia and Kane, has me eager to read the sequel. 

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, April 11, 2023

Top Ten Tuesday...

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

This week's theme: Covers With Animals On Them (or Titles With Animals in Them).

I went with BIRDS on the cover. 

The first five books on this list I've both read and really liked. The last five I haven't read yet, but want to. 

Still Life With Crows by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

The Bell at Sealey Head by Patricia A. McKillip

See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt

Bird Cottage by Eva Meijer

The Lost Spells by Robert Macfarlane

The World That We Knew by Alice Hoffman

The Foreshadowing by Marcus Sedgwick

Knight Owl by Christopher Denise

Happy Reading!

Saturday, April 8, 2023

A Fire in the Night by Christoper Swann

The plot:  Only in his 40s, Nick Anthony is a retired professor of medieval history, a former marine, and a widower. Since his wife's death, he's retreated to an isolated cabin in the North Carolina mountains. And he just wants to be left alone. Then a sixteen-year-old girl turns up on his front porch, and he learns that she's his niece, Annalise; her parents are dead; and the men that murdered them are now after her. It's up to Nick not only to keep her safe, but to figure out the truth behind his brother's death. Good thing there's more to Nick Anthony than meets the eye.

My thoughts:  This character-driven novel is both riveting and immersive. I was immediately drawn to Nick Anthony, both for his love for and grief over his wife, Ellie, and for his stumbling but well-meaning and honest attempts to be a good uncle to Annalise. I liked their hesitant relationship with all its ups and downs, and I loved the unexpected secret from Nick's past and the way he goes after the bad guys. There's good action and suspense in this mystery. It reads very fast and it's so well-written!  ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Happy Reading!

Thursday, April 6, 2023

April's Bookish Art...

Lars Jorde -- Woman in front of the window

"We lose ourselves in books; 
we find ourselves there, too."

Monday, April 3, 2023

Quick book recommendations...

The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches by Sangu Mandanna

Mika Moon is a witch. And while she loves her ability to do magic, she hates having to keep it secret from everyone around her. Mika is also an orphan (as all witches are). She doesn't have a home of her own, or any family. But when she's invited to Nowhere House to teach three young witches how to control their magic, she finds both. And with Jamie, the scowling and distrustful yet handsome librarian, she might have also found love. This book is enchantting, uplifting and magical. I loved it.

Off the Map by Trish Doller

I loved Doller's Float Plan and this latest book by her is almost as good. Carla is on her way to Ireland for Anna's wedding; Eamon, as best man, is tasked with picking her up at the airport. Their chemistry is immediate and off the charts. And their drive to Tralee brings several unexpected detours along the way, and a chance at love for both of them. I really liked Carla and Eamon; their relationship is full of humor, brutal honesty, amusing banter, and steamy sex. This is another captivating romance from Trish Doller. 

Happy Reading!

Saturday, April 1, 2023


I'm so glad it's April!  
March was not my favorite month. Several unexpected and stressful things occured, including a very frustrating (and expensive!) plumbing issue with our sewer line that took forever to get fixed. (Our front landscaping will never be the same.) So, I'm very glad to be heading into April, mostly because I get all of next week off from work for spring break. And boy do I need it! (I'd love a break from all the snow and cold temps we've been getting here in Utah for the entire month of March, but I'll settle for a week off from work.) I've got plans to sleep in, do some birdwatching, go out to lunch with my sisters, play some board games, visit my Dad's grave on his birthday, do a little springcleaning, and read LOTS of books! 

Speaking of books, I recently finished reading this one:

Opposites attract in Storing Up Trouble by Jen Turano. It's a charming romance with comical mishaps, a spunky heroine, and an appealing hero who's very smart when it comes to math and science, but who's very obtuse when it comes to women. I enjoyed this one. 

Here are the library books I just checked out of the library:

A Venom Dark and Sweet by Judy I. Lin (my next buddy read with Melody.)
Starflight by Melissa Landers
Vanishing Hour by Laura Griffin
Quiet Neighbors by Catriona McPherson
The Bookshop of Secrets by Mollie Rushmeyer
A Fire in the Night by Christopher Swann
Pride & Puppies by Lizzie Shane 
Authentically Izzy by Pepper D. Basham
Nora Goes Off Script by Annabel Monaghan
Kit McBride Gets A Wife by Amy Barry
Whispers of You by Catherine Cowles
The Sweetheart Fix by Miranda Liasson

And I love this "Advice from Sasquatch" magnet:
(Which you can buy here along with many other fun advice magnets.)

Happy Reading!