Saturday, July 29, 2023

Quick book recommendations...

A Novel Proposal by Denise Hunter

Sadie writes Westerns, but her publisher wants her to write a romance this time instead because her Westerns aren't selling. Only Sadie doesn't know anything about writing a romance; she's never even been in love. When she's offered a beach house on Tucker Island where she can write for the summer, she agrees to give it a try. And her broodingly handsome neighbor, Sam Ford, turns out to be great inspiration for her new novel...and maybe for her own love life.

This is a cute and clean romance. There's also a bit of  mystery in it surrounding a lost engagement ring that Sadie discovers hidden in a book in her Little Free Library. I liked how Sadie and Sam work together to track down the ring's owner. I also really liked how the author includes a romance novel writing tip at the start of each chapter. 

The Kaiju Preservation Society by John Scalzi

This is another humorous and entertaining science fiction book from Scalzi. I really liked his main character, Jamie Gray, and couldn't help but laugh at how he ended up with his manual labor job with KPS:  "I lift things." The other characters are equally fun. Plus, there are Kaiju! And the author's note at the end of the book about how Scalzi came to write this one was as entertaining as the book. I'd give this summer popcorn read 4 stars!

Happy Reading!


Wednesday, July 26, 2023

Lone Women by Victor Lavalle


The plot in brief:
Adelaide Henry has a secret--a dark family secret she keeps locked in a large steamer trunk. If it gets out, people will die. Like her parents. Which is why she had to leave California. She heads to Big Sandy, Montana not only because it is far away and no one knows her there, but because in 1915, Montana is one of the only places that will give land to a single woman to homestead. Even to a black woman like Adelaide. 

My thoughts:
I don't know why, but I thought this book was going to be a darker, supernatural horror story. It's not. There is a supernatural element in it, but it's more about Adelaide and other lone women like her trying to make a life for themselves in the American West than anything else. And I was underwhelmed by what emerged from the locked steamer trunk. But maybe that's because Lavalle wasn't going for eerie and atmospheric with his writing; his prose is strong, but more straightforward. He does an excellent job of capturing the time period and depicting the setting and the lives of Adelaide and the other women. And the story is interesting. I was just hoping for suspenseful and chilling. So I didn't end up loving this one, but I would still recommend it. 

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, July 25, 2023

Book Title Challenge

I saw this bookish tag back in June on Fanda's Classiclit Blog (she'd seen it somewhere else), and it looked like fun, so I decided to do it, too. 


The Rule of Four by Ian Caldwell and Dustin Thomason. Set at Princeton University, two students are trying to decipher a mysterious ancient text called the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili. I loved the literary mystery in this one; there's also murder and suspense. A gripping read. 


Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn.  A delightfully quirky epistolary novel set on the imaginary Island of Nollop where the use of certain letters has been banned. I adore this book!


Almayer Station by Sean Danker. This science fiction novel has been sitting on my TBR shelf for over a year now. I bought it because I absolutely love Danker's Admiral novels. 


The Locusts Have No King by Dawn Powell. In this underrated classic, Powell spotlights New York's literary scene with her satirical wit. There's also a love story at the heart of this one. I like most of Powell's novels, but this is my favorite. 


My Name is Red by Orhan Pamuk.  "A transporting tale of love, art, mystery and murder set amid the splendor and religious intrigue of sixteenth-century Istanbul." A 5-star favorite of mine. 


Graveminder by Melissa Marr.  The dead can return in Claysville if their graves are not properly minded. And now that her grandmother is dead, it's Rebekkah's job to see that doesn't happen. I love the atmosphere and supernatural suspense in this one. 

TAG! You're IT if you want to play along.
Happy Reading!

Saturday, July 22, 2023

Haiku Reviews...

The Edge of Life by Lena Gibson

In a world that may be
ending, Kat and Ryan face
danger...and find love.

End-of-the-world Romance .... 285 pages .... 4.5/5 stars.
(Gotta love an apocalyptic road trip that includes action, suspense, humor and a sizzling romance.)

The Magnolia Sisters by Michelle Major

When her birth father
dies, Avery gains half a town,
and two new sisters.
(The hot fireman next door is a bonus.)

Romance .... 330 pages .... 4/5 stars.
(I really enjoyed Avery's neighbor, Grayson and his 5-year-old daughter, Violet, and the banter between him, Avery, and Avery's two sisters.)

Love Songs Suck by Becky Monson

Finn's hit song thrusts Lou
into the spotlight--the one place
she NEVER wanted to be.

Romantic comedy .... 344 pages .... 5/5 stars.
(So cute! I loved their late-night texts, Lou's attempts to hide from the paparazzi, and their fake dating scheme to keep Finn's fans from hating her.)

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, July 19, 2023

Mickey 7 by Edward Ashton

"This is gonna be my stupidest death ever."

Mickey Barnes is an Expendable, the person who's given any and every hazardous assignment on Niflheim--a new colony on a nearly uninhabitable ice world--so that the other, more mission critical colonists don't have to risk their lives. When he falls into an ice crevasse, his friend decides it's easier to declare him dead than try and rescue him, because he knows the colony will just bring him back as Mickey 8. Only Mickey 7 doesn't die. And now there are two of him. Which is a very big problem. 

"I've died six times in the past eight years. You'd think I'd be used to it by now, wouldn't you? ... If I die now, though, there won't be another me coming out of the tank. The other me is already here, and despite all appearances, Eight is most definitely not a continuation of me. Honestly, he doesn't even seem to like me very much."

It's easy to like Mickey 7. He's a flawed, funny, and wryly self-deprecating narrator. He enjoys reading the histories of other failed colonies and is in a relationship with Nasha, a fierce combat pilot. And despite his job as an Expendable, he really doesn't want to die again. I was definitely rooting for him to figure out a solution to his problem. I also really like that colonizing-another-world trope in science fiction, and this new planet they're trying to colonize has some pretty unique aliens they call creepers on it, which added some nice tension. There's also a bit of a mystery in this one involving the death of Mickey 6. Because of all of Mickey's introspection and past memories of his other deaths, this isn't quite as action-packed or as fast-paced as I thought it would be going in, but it's still very interesting and entertaining. And the ending is great! I'd give it 4 stars.

Happy Reading! 

Similar read:

Tuesday, July 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 supposed to be BOOKS WITH ONE-WORD TITLES. But when I looked for one-word titles on my TBR list, I only found five. So I switched it to Books with One in the Title instead, because I found twelve of those. Here's my list:

The One by John Marrs

The Plus One by Mazey Eddings

The Only One Left by Riley Sager

One Last Kill by Robert Dugoni

One Kick by Chelsea Cain

One Last Chance by Kat Martin

The Last One by Will Dean

One Monsoon in Mumbai by Anitha Perinchery

One Year Home by Marie Force

One Day by Gene Weingarten

Believe No One by A.D. Garrett

One by One by Sarah Cain

Happy Reading!

Saturday, July 15, 2023

July's Bookish Art...

Otto Vautier -- Young Woman Reading in the Garden

"Reading is escape, and the opposite of escape; it's a way to make contact with reality after a day of making things up, and it's a way of making contact with someone else's imagination after a day that's all too real. ... Reading is bliss."
--Nora Ephron 

Wednesday, July 12, 2023

The Lonely Hearts Book Club by Lucy Gilmore

From the blurb:
"Sloane Parker lives a small, contained life as a librarian in her small, contained town. She never thinks of herself as lonely...but still she looks forward to that time every day when old curmudgeon Arthur McLachlan comes to browse the shelves and cheerfully insult her. Their sparring is such a highlight of Sloane's day that when Arthur doesn't show up one morning, she's instantly concerned. And then another day passes, and another.

"Anxious, Sloane tracks the old man down only to discover him all but bedridden...and desperately struggling to hide how happy he is to see her. Wanting to bring more cheer into Arthur's gloomy life, Sloane creates an impromptu book club. Slowly, the lonely misfits of their sleepy town begin to find each other, and in their book club, find the joy of unlikely friendship. Because as it turns out, everyone has a special book in their heart—and a reason to get lost (and eventually found) within the pages."

My thoughts:
This book is aptly named. The five members of Sloane's and Arthur's book club are all experiencing loneliness in their lives, although most would never admit it out loud. As they share books and food together they find more than friendship, they find family. And that's what I loved so much about this one. All their awkward interactions, humorous banter, personal struggles, and honest caring about Arthur and each other, tugged at my heart. The books they read together, and the importance each of the novels plays in each character's life, made me love this book even more. It's a poignant, captivating and heart-warming novel. And another one for Susan's Bookish Books Reading Challenge.   ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, July 11, 2023

Amigurumi animals...

So, I checked Funny Amigurumi by Emilie Penou out of the library last month because I wanted to try crocheting some of these cute animals. I managed to make two of them before I had to return the book to the library. They're not perfect by any means, but I think they turned out pretty well, especially considering it was my first attempt at crocheting either a bunny or an owl. (Although I never did figure out how to make the owl's feet.) 

These two amigurumi guys turned out to be a fun summer project. 
Next up? Either watercoloring or pottery. Stay tuned. 


Saturday, July 8, 2023

Cyclops Road by Jeff Strand

The plot in brief:  

Evan Portin's life is not going very well. His wife died two weeks ago and his boss just fired him. Then, walking through a park at night, he sees a young woman being mugged. But when he tries to help, he ends up getting mugged himself while she fights off her attackers. Her name is Harriet and she's not an ordinary young woman. She's following a prophecy: headed to Arizona in order to slay a Cyclops. Evan doesn't quite know what to think about that, but he's got some time on his hands, so he offers to drive her. And soon her quest becomes his. 

My thoughts:

Cyclops Road is unexpected, quirky and entertaining. I loved Evan's dry sense of humor and all his sarcastic comments and thoughts. The way he gets drawn into Harriet's quest despite his skepticism was pretty amusing. Along the way they team up with Seth, a D&D gamer, and Maurad the Berserker, a volatile cage fighter. Seth was an immediate favorite. There's a light-hearted sense of fun about this book that makes it a great summer read. It's very typical Jeff Strand. And it made me smile. 

Happy Reading!

Similar reads:

Helen & Troy's Epic Road Quest by A. Lee Martinez


Wednesday, July 5, 2023

The Secret Gate by Mitchell Zuckoff

Homeira Qaderi is a mother, author, celebrated activist and champion of rights for all Afghani women, and outspoken critic of the Taliban. When the United States announced their withdrawal from Afghanistan, and the Taliban regained control of Homeira's beloved country, she knew her life was now in danger. But she was determined to stay in Kabul and keep speaking out against the Taliban. Until her family finally convinced her to try and escape. 

Sam Aronson, a junior diplomat with the State Department, was on vacation when Afghanistan devolved into chaos. He quickly volunteered to help with the refugee crisis and ended up being sent to the airport in Kabul to try and vet the thousands of Afghani citizens desperate to leave their country and escape the Taliban--especially those who had done so much to help the Americans over the last twenty years. But it's all the ones he's forced to turn away that begin to give him nightmares. That's when he decides to try and bring as many people as he can through the airport's secret gate before it closes for good. Homeira Qaderi and her son are two of the people he helped save. 

My thoughts:  This incredible true story is both riveting and heartbreaking. Thinking about what happened in Afghanistan in August of 2021 still makes me angry and sad. And this book captures all of  those emotions. The masterful way that Zuckoff interweaves Homeira's and Sam's eyewitness accounts lets you see the harrowing and tragic events taking place on both sides of the gate. Sam's determination to save lives was inspiring. And Homeira's love for her country deepened my understanding of Afghanistan and it's history. For me, this was a 5-star read! 

Happy Reading!

Similar, and equally good book:

Tuesday, July 4, 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 BOOK COVERS IN THE COLORS OF MY COUNTRY'S FLAG. 

But I changed it up a little. Since today is the Fourth of July here in America, I put together a list of Ten Books that Celebrate America's History, Heroes, and Freedoms. Because I love my country. And I loved all of these books, too. 

by Richard Beeman

Lion of Liberty by Harlow Giles Unger

Sam Adams:  Pioneer in Propaganda by John Miller

Ten Tea Parties by Joseph Cummins

Henry and the Cannons by Don Brown

Hooray for Liberty, Charlie Brown by Charles M. Schulz

Happy Fourth of July!

Saturday, July 1, 2023


Latest Giveaway win from Goodreads:
(Which I found out about this week!)

And I'd just read Carole's 5-star review of this book which makes me want to read it even more. Here's hoping it comes in the mail soon.

List of library books I checked out of the library yesterday...
and my reading for the month of July:
Lone Women by Victor Lavalle
The Lonely Hearts Book Club by Lucy Gilmore
Dangerous Ground by Rachel Grant
Mickey 7 by Ashton Edward
The Island by Natasha Preston
The Kaiju Preservation Society by John Scalzi
Head Over Paws by Debbie Burns
A Novel Proposal by Denise Hunter
The Best is Yet to Come by Debbie Macomber
The Sorcerer of Pyongyang by Marcel Theroux

In other random news:

I've got a fun but busy week coming up next week with my family's annual Fourth of July Breakfast on Tuesday, play tickets to a local production of Beauty and the Beast (because my niece is playing the Wardrobe), my nephew's birthday, and a horseback trail ride scheduled for next Friday. It's summering at it's best.

Happy Reading!