Wednesday, June 28, 2023

Summer Reading by Jenn McKinlay


The Setting: Martha's Vineyard

The Characters:
  • Samantha Gale -- 28, a talented chef and spunky extrovert with mad skills both in the kitchen and coping with her dyslexia who wants to write a cookbook someday.
  • Tyler Gale -- 14, Samantha's smart half-brother who is into robotics, prefers plain food, and barely knows his sister.
  • Bennett Reynolds -- the hot interim library director; he's quiet, in his 30s, loves books, and is trying to discover the identity of his father.

What I Loved:  Sam and Ben are such opposites, and that's what made their conversations and interactions so engaging. I loved how Sam let herself be vulnerable and honest with Ben, and how he encouraged her and read out loud to her on his lunch hours. Their romance was very sweet and swoony.

I also really liked watching Sam and Tyler build a brother/sister relationship over the summer. They had some fun banter and humorous interactions throughout the novel. It added another charming layer to his novel that I appreciated.

And the fact that so much of this summer romance deals with books and reading makes it a perfect one for Susan's Bookish Books Reading Challenge.

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, June 27, 2023

Top Ten Tuesday

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

This week's theme?

Most Anticipated Books Releasing During the Second Half of 2023.

1. An Evil Heart by Linda Castillo
(July 11th)

2. Trail of the Lost by Andrea Lankford
(Aug. 22nd)

3. Hemlock Island by Kelley Armstrong
(Sept. 12th)

4. Holly by Stephen King
(Sept. 5th)

5. An Inheritance of Magic by Benedict Jacka
(Oct. 10th)

6. The Rosewood Hunt by Mackenzie Reed
(Oct. 31st)

7. Check & Mate by Ali Hazelwood
(Nov. 7th)

8. Never Wager With a Wallflower by Virginia Heath
(Nov. 7th)

9. That Others May Live by Sara Driscoll
(Nov. 28th)

10. Raiders of the Lost Heart by Jo Segura
(Dec. 5th)

Happy Reading!

Saturday, June 24, 2023

Haiku Reviews...


A Thousand Miles by Bridget Morrissey

Can a road trip fix
ten years of silence and hurt?
Ben and Dee find out.

Romantic comedy .... 332 pages .... 4/5 stars.
(Forced proximity, second chance at love, and a stray cat named Abe. I really liked this one!)

The Only Game in Town by Lacie Waldon

Ten million dollars.
Jess and Carter compete for the prize...
on opposing teams.

Romantic comedy .... 394 pages .... 4.5/5 stars.
(Loved the small town setting, the crazy contests, and Carter's and Jess's sweet romance.)

Falling For You by Barb Curtis

Yoga teacher inherits
house. Hires single dad to
fix it up. Finds love.

Contemporary romance .... 332 pages .... 4/5 stars.
(Rob and Faith may be opposites, but they're also perfect for one another. This is a very cute and clean romance.)

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, June 21, 2023

The Trailwalker by J.L. Bryan


The plot:  Paranormal investigator, Ellie Jordan, and her partner, Stacey, have been hired by Josh and Allison Conner to investigate the old summer camp they just purchased and hope to reopen soon. The camp has a lot of history, not all of it good. Allison is convinced the rustic lodge and cabins are haunted. Josh isn't so sure. But there's a cold mist in the attic, ghostly footsteps at night, something haunting the lake, and an old burial mound near the camp. Ellie and Stacey have their work cut out for them. First, they need to find out who or what is haunting the place, and then figure out how to lay it to rest.  

My thoughts: I love books with a summer camp setting. And a camp that's haunted, too? Even better! This is the thirteenth Ellie Jordan novel that I've read and it's another fun one in this ghost-hunting series. It reads fast. The mystery surrounding the summer camp is interesting. And there's lots of ghostly activity and good supernatural suspense. And the ending is awesome. (Just wait 'til you meet the Trailwalker!) That's what I love most about these books; they all have good endings. They've also got humor, and I really like the main characters. This one can be read as a standalone, although I do recommend checking out the first one, Ellie Jordan, Ghost Trapper, just because it's so good.

Happy Reading!

Sunday, June 18, 2023

Quick book recommendations...

Blind Descent by Nevada Barr

Warning: Must love reading about caves and caving.

To help rescue a friend, Anna Pigeon must descend into the challenging Lechuguilla cave system located near Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico. Even though she's clautrophobic. And not a caver. But she has confidence in the group of experienced cavers she's with...until one of them dies. And Anna starts to suspect that it wasn't an accident, but murder. I have to admit, it was the cave setting that made me want to read this one, and I was not disappointed. Barr immerses the reader in the labrythine darkness of Lechuguilla Cave. And I loved it!

Blind Descent: The Quest to Discover the Deepest Place on Earth by James M. Tabor is an engrossing nonfiction story of caves and cave exploration that I also loved and recommend. 

Uncharted by Adriana Anders

Action. Wilderness survival. Suspense. Sizzling romance.

Leo heads into the Alaskan wilderness to evacuate a man she believes to be Campbell Turner; instead, her plane gets shot down and Elias Thorne ends up rescuing her. Now they're on the run. If they want to survive, they'll have to learn to trust each other. I always love a book with a remote wilderness setting. And I loved Elias, too. He's a man keeping a dangerous secret who's lived on his own for over a decade; his struggle to open up to Leo tugged at my heart. I loved his dog, Bo, too. And Leo's a great heroine--smart, tough and resourceful.   4.5/5 stars.

Happy Reading!

Thursday, June 15, 2023

Lunar Love by Lauren Kung Jessen


"In my almost eight years of matchmaking, there's one thing I know to be true: love is like the moon. ...Both the moon and love are romantic and enchanting, can be moody and mysterious, possess dark sides, and have gravitational pulls on us that we just can't control. ...As a matchmaker at Lunar Love, my family's Chinese Zodiac matchmaking business, it's my duty to keep clients and their relationships rotating on their axes and revolving in orbit. I make thoughtful and personalized matches based on people's compatible animal sign traits."

Olivia Huang Christenson has just taken over her grandmother's matchmaking business. And she's determined to keep Lunar Love a success. But her job just got harder because Bennett O'Brien is launching ZodiaCupid, a new App that matches users based on their Chinese Zodiac animal signs, which puts his App in direct competition with Lunar Love. Olivia finds Bennett and his approach to matchmaking infuriating; she's also attracted to him. Too bad their Zodiac signs aren't compatible. Because while Bennett believes that opposites can make a good match, Olivia does not. 

My thoughts:  Melody and I chose this book for our buddy read this month because I think we were both in the mood for something light-hearted. And Lunar Love is a cute and clean, if completely predictable, romance. I thought Olivia was a little uptight and inflexible at times, but I liked when she relaxed and let herself enjoy Bennett's company. They were an appealing and fun couple. I also really liked Olivia's interactions with her grandmother. And all the parts concerning the Chinese Zodiac were fascinating. I'm glad I got to read this one with Melody. Be sure to check out her review.

Happy Reading!

My Chinese Zodiac animal: DOG. 
Some personality traits of a person born in the Year of the Dog: honest, friendly, loyal, smart, straightforward, strong sense of responsibility, kind, cautious, doesn't trust easily, stubborn, not good at social activities, outwardly calm, but worried and anxious inside, hard working, understanding, and considerate of others. 
Do I relate to any of these? Yes, I do. In fact, I relate to most of these traits. How about you? Which Chinese Zodiac animal are you? 

Tuesday, June 13, 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 supposed to be Bookish Wishes, but I've decided to go rogue and do BOOKISH BOOKS I WANT TO READ THIS YEAR instead. These are the eleven books I'm hoping to read for Susan's Bookish Books Reading Challenge, but I need to decide which ones to prioritize, and would love to know if any aren't worth my time. Got any thoughts on any of these Bookish Books? Have you read any of them? Should I keep them on my TBR list? 

1. The Reading List by Sara Nisha Adams

2. The Library by Bella Osborne

3. The Lonely Hearts Book Club by Lucy Gilmore

4. The Bookshop of Second Chances by Jackie Fraser

5. The Little Wartime Library by Kate Thompson

6. The Blackout Book Club by Amy Lynn Green

7. Days at the Morisaki Bookshop by Satoshi Yagisawa

8. The Jane Austen Project by Kathleen A. Flynn

9. What You Are Looking For is in the Library 
by Michiko Aoyama

10.  Nevermore Bookstore by Kerrigan Byrne and Cynthia St. Aubin

11. The Air Raid Book Club by Annie Lyons

I'd love to know your thoughts on any and all of these bookish books!
Happy Reading! 

Saturday, June 10, 2023

The Hard Parts by Oksana Masters

From the blurb:
"Oksana Masters was born in Ukraine—in the shadow of Chernobyl—seemingly with the world against her. She was born with one kidney, a partial stomach, six toes on each foot, webbed fingers, no right bicep, and no thumbs. Her left leg was six inches shorter than her right, and she was missing both tibias.

"Relinquished to the orphanage system by birth parents daunted by the staggering cost of what would be their child’s medical care, Oksana encountered numerous abuses, some horrifying. Salvation came at age seven when Gay Masters waged a two-year war against stubborn adoption authorities to rescue Oksana from her circumstances.

"In America, Oksana endured years of operations that included a double leg amputation. Determined to prove herself and fueled by a drive to succeed that still smoldered from childhood, Oksana triumphed in not just one sport but four—winning against the world’s best in elite rowing, biathlon, cross-country skiing, and road cycling competitions. Now considered one of the world’s top athletes, she is the recipient of seventeen Paralympic medals, the most of any US athlete of the Winter Games, Paralympic or Olympic.

"This is Oksana’s astonishing story of journeying through a series of dark tunnels—and how, with her mother’s love, she finally found her way into the light. Her message to anyone who doesn’t fit in: you can find a place where you excel—where you have worth."

My thoughts: 
Wow! This is one of the best books I've read this year. Oksana's story is both riveting and moving. I cried for her because of all the hard things she had to endure, and I cheered all of her breakthroughs and successes. She has such tenacity and grit and determination; I really admire her fire to win and her never-give-up attitude. 
"Ugly things happened to me. They. Are. Not. Me. No matter how ugly I feel, how much I hate my body, how much I hate my memories, I'm still worthy of love. Of a good life. This is what I wish everyone who's experienced physical or emotional  trauma could grasp: You are not the product of where you came from. You are not what happened to you...there's beauty in you."
 This amazing and emotional book is truly a memoir of courage and triumph! ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, June 7, 2023

June's Bookish Art...

Albert Aublet -- Reading on the Garden Path

"Literature is the most agreeable way of ignoring life."
--Fernando Pessoa

Sunday, June 4, 2023

The Belial Library by R.D. Brady


The plot in brief:  The Shuar tribe in Ecuador are the purported guardians of an ancient treasure. Among the rumored artifacts hidden away somewhere in a secret cave is a metal library containing the legendary knowledge of Atlantis. Two archaeologists, Laney McPhearson and Jen Witt, are hoping to learn the truth about this treasure cache from their Shuar friends. But they're not the only ones seeking the treasure. And if the wrong men get their hands on those artifacts and all that ancient knowledge, it could mean the end of the world. Luckily, Laney's boyfriend, former Navy Seal Jake Rogan, and their friend, Henry Chandler, the wealthy and reclusive CEO of the Chandler Group, are determined to keep that from happening. 

My thoughts:  I bet you can guess what made me want to buy and read this one! How could I resist a story with archaeologists, gold artifacts, lost treasure, underwater caves, fallen angels, and the legend of Atlantis? And it turned out to be a fast-paced, action-filled adventure--one of those entertaining popcorn reads that's perfect for summer. I really liked all the main characters, especially Danny, the 13-year-old hacker who works with Henry. And I thought the angel mythology added a nice twist at the end. If they ever make a movie of this one, I'd totally go see it. And I think I'm going to have to buy the next book in this series to see what fun adventures are next for Laney, Jake, Jen and Henry and their friends.

Happy Reading! 

Thursday, June 1, 2023


Thoughts on it's being June:  Can you believe it's already June? I feel like this year is going by fast. But I really hope time slows down for a bit now so I can relax and enjoy the summer, and not look up and discover that it's already September. I work at an elementary school so I get time off in the summer. And while I don't have any road trips or exotic vacations planned, there are things I want to do this summer. Like take a pottery class, go horsebackriding, spend time drawing, painting and crocheting, do some birdwatching and some hiking, visit a museum or two, and hopefully go to a concert...or a play. Oh, and some family game nights are a must! I'd also like to practice being more mindful and present in the moment, and fully embrace every day. Because that was the word I chose at the beginning of the year. Embrace! So this summer I'm going to consciously embrace joy, gratitude, positivity, and hope. And hopefully let go of all the worry and stress.

I just finished reading Saving Aziz by Chad Robichaux. This incredible true story is both eye-opening and heartbreaking. It started of a little slow, but boy is it worth reading! ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Here are the books I just checked out of the library...these are my June reading plan (though things can always change with my mood ... and with more library holds unexpectedly coming in):
Lunar Love by Lauren Kung Jessen (my next buddy read with Melody)
The Hard Parts by Oksana Masters
How to Date a Superhero (And Not Die Trying) by Cristina Fernandez
The Instructor by T.R. Hendricks
The Blind Descent by Nevada Barr
Uncharted by Adriana Anders
A New Leash on Love by Debbie Burns
The Honeymoon Cottage by Lori Foster
Falling in Love on Sweetwater Lane by Belle Calhoune
The Country Guesthouse by Robyn Carr 
Crooked River by Preston & Child

 And lastly, a favorite quote about I totally agree with:

Happy Reading!