Thursday, September 28, 2023

Play Dead by Angela Marsons

 "Kim knew she would do what she always did. Throw herself into the next case that landed on her desk."

This well-written British crime thriller takes place in the Black Country in the West Midlands of England at the Westerley body farm. D.I. Kim Stone is called to the site when the fresh body of a young woman is discovered. Then a second body is found, and Kim suspects they have a serial killer on their hands.

This is the fourth book in Marsons' D.I. Kim Stone series. And while I haven't read any of the previous novels, I was able to jump into this one without feeling lost. It was clear there were details about Kim Stone's life that I didn't know, but that only made me want to go back and read the previous books in this series. Because despite Kim's brusqueness and lack of ability to play nice with others, I liked her. Her job is pretty much her life, though she does have a cute dog named Barney; and with every case her focus is on getting justice. She's not a warm and fuzzy person, but she's a good detective. And the mystery she's trying to solve in this one is interesting and unexpected. I guess I have another series to add to my TBR list, because I'd like to see what happens next in Kim's life. But first I want to check out the three previous novels which all sound as good as this one.

Happy Reading!

Friday, September 22, 2023

Haiku Reviews...


The Drowning Girls by Lisa Regan

When one of their own
goes missing, Detective Quinn
and her team fear the worst.

Mystery .... 343 pages .... 3.5/5 stars.
(13 books in and I'm still really enjoying this series!)

The Seven Year Slip by Ashley Poston

Her past. His future. 
Seven years apart. One chance
to find lasting love.

Romance .... 326 pages .... 4.5/5 stars.
(This is a moving and magical read! I loved Iwan and Clementine.)

Play For Me by Libby Hubscher

Sophie and Jonas:
sports trainer vs. pianist.
Is love their music?

Romance .... 334 pages .... 4/5 stars.
(She's optimistic and feisty; he's handsome and grumpy. Opposites attract in this cute romance.)

Just Don't Fall by Emma St. Clair

Can she fake date her
hockey-playing childhood crush
without losing her heart? 

Romantic comedy .... 308 pages .... 5/5 stars.
(Humorous banter, sunshine and a grump, and a long overdue first kiss. I loved this one!)

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Top Ten Tuesday

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

This week's theme:  Books on my Fall 2023 To-Read List.

This was an easy list to compile except for one thing...keeping it to just 10 books. Because there are a lot of books I'm hoping to read before the end of the year. Here are some of them:

Bookshop Cinderella by Laura Lee Guhrke

Gallows Hill by Darcy Coates

What the Hex by Jessica Clare

The Dark by Emma Haughton

With Love, From Cold World by Alicia Thompson

Girl, 11 by Amy Suiter Clarke

The Man Trapped by Shadows by Pete Zacharias

Finlay Donovan is Killing it by Elle Cosimano

North of Nowhere by Allison Brennan

Fairest of Heart by Karen Witemeyer

The Last Cold Place by Naira de Gracia

Home At Night by Paula Munier

How many is that? Probably more than 10. Oh, well. This list could easily have been much, much longer. But it's a lovely problem to have...too many books I want to read. 

Happy Reading!

Saturday, September 16, 2023

Trail of the Lost by Andrea Lankford

 Three hikers  gone missing on the Pacific Crest Trail: Chris Sylvia in 2015; Kirk Fowler in 2016; and David O'Sullivan in 2017.

Two women determined to find them:  Andrea Lankford and Cathy Tarr.

And their families who never gave up hope. 

I have always wanted to hike the Appalachian Trail. I even sent away for maps of it once. But I'm not good with dirt and bugs, sunburn and sweat, camping out for days at a time, or sleeping on the ground. So I'll probably never hike it from start to finish. (Though I do still harbor hope that I might manage to hike parts of it someday.) But I absolutely love reading about those who do set out on these long trails. I've read several accounts of thru-hikers who have hiked the Appalachian Trail, and the Pacific Crest Trail. And I'm always amazed by their exuberance, optimism and tenacity. 

Trail of the Lost is an equally compelling account, but it's a sad one, too. Tarr and Lankford do everything they can to find the PCT missing: track down and interview other hikers, retrace the hikers' last known steps, organize search parties (lots of search parties!), hire drone operators to fly over the area, follow every lead and clue, and share in the parents' heartache and grief. Not just for a month or two. But for years. But sometimes the lost are never found. 

Lankford's writing is vivid and well-researched; she paints quite a picture of what it's like to hike the Pacific Crest Trail. And she meets a lot of very interesting people along the way. Trail of the Lost is an engrossing and memorable book. I'd give it 4.5/5 stars.

Happy Reading!

Similar--and equally good--read:

Tuesday, September 12, 2023

Two favorite mystery series...


An Evil Heart by Linda Castillo

This is the fifteenth book in Castillo's Kate Burkholder series. Kate is the sheriff in Painter's Mill, Ohio, a town that straddles two worlds: English and Amish. Kate straddles these two communities herself, having been raised Amish. (Why she left the faith is covered in the first book, Sworn in Silence.) That tension and contrast between her past and present, and between the Amish and English in town, is what I love most about this series. There's also a dark edge to these mysteries that make them very compelling reads. This latest is no exception. 

A Fatal Illusion by Anna Lee Huber

This is another of my favorite mystery series. It's set in England and Scotland in the 1830s. I always find the historical part interesting, but it's the relationship between the two main characters, Lady Kiera Darby and Sebastian Gage, that I really love. They're a very engaging couple (even though Gage suspected Kiera of murder in the first book, The Anatomist's Wife), and their investigative skills really complement each other. It's best to read this series in order...and it's definitely one worth checking out. 

Happy Reading!

Saturday, September 9, 2023

The Library by Bella Osborne


The Library is the story of an unexpected friendship between two very different people. Tom is a lonely teen who feels invisible. His mum is dead and his dad is an alcoholic. Tom struggles to talk to people, especially girls. Then he gets the idea that maybe reading a few romances will help him with that. So he heads to the small village library. And there he meets Maggie. She's a pensioner in her 70s, and she loves to talk to people. But living alone on her small farm gets lonely. Her Saturday trips to the library for her book club is the highlight of her week. And when she starts to talk about books and life with Tom, she realizes, "She'd found a kindred spirit in the most unlikely place and she was going to hang onto him as if her life depended on it."

This is such a delightful read! I loved Tom and Maggie, and how Maggie becomes the family Tom needed so much. His surreptitious reading of romances made me laugh, while his struggles with his dad felt heartbreakingly real and so poignant. This book definitely has all the feels. Maggie's rallying the community to save their library from being shut down did feel very familiar and predictable, but everything else about this book was so good, I didn't mind the lack of surprises at the end. This is another 4-star read for Susan's Bookish Books Reading Challenge.

Happy Reading!

Similar books (that I also loved):

Thursday, September 7, 2023

September's Bookish Art...

Ulisse Caputo -- Young Woman Reading at an Open Window

"All good stories travel from the outside in."
--Amal El-Mohtar, This is How You Lose the Time War

Monday, September 4, 2023

Drowning by T.J. Newman

    Will stared at the water-filled cabin, wondering two things. What happened... ...What now?
    The plane had been sinking. Everyone had thought this was it, they were done for. Then the water had stopped rising and no one had known what to think. Then out of nowhere--BAM--the plane had slammed into something. It was loud. Violent. Everyone thought, This is the end.
    But as the seconds ticked on, they realized the plane was still sealed and the air pocket was still intact. Somehow, they were still alive.

When Flight 1421 crashes into the Pacific Ocean six minutes after takeoff, Will Kent and his eleven-year-old daughter, Shannon, end up trapped in the sinking plane two hundred feet below the surface with ten other passengers. Their hope of rescue lies with the Coast Guard, the Navy, and with Will's ex-wife, Chris, a professional diver and deep sea welder. 

What an adrenalin rush! This was one propulsive page-turning thriller. The premise of being trapped in a submerged airplane is a scary one. And Newman's past experience as a flight attendant shines through, giving this book a level of authenticity that makes it even more suspenseful. I liked almost all of the characters, from the older couple celebrating their sixtieth anniversary, to the woman who wears her life preserver all the time because she doesn't know how to swim. But I especially loved the relationship between Will and his young daughter, and his wife's fierce determination to save them both. I also appreciated getting to see this disaster from both the passengers' and the rescuer's POVs. Drowning was the last book I read in August, and a perfect way to end my summer reading.

Happy Reading!

Friday, September 1, 2023

September Randomness

Favorite quote from a recent read:
"(In life) everything involves your head and your heart. What you should do and what you want to do. Sometimes they are aligned. Often they are not. To live with your heart means that when there are choices to be made, you make the one that thrills your heart, not placates your mind."
--The Comeback by Lily Chu   

(I need to do a better job of living with my heart!  💗)

And because I enjoyed reading The Comeback so much, I had to check out Chu's first book The Stand-In, which I ended up loving just as much, if not more. These are two very fun romances, each set in Toronto, Canada, each with strong Asian characters, and each with lots of humor and, of course, happy endings. I can't wait to check out Chu's next book.   

Here are the books I just checked out of the library that I'm planning to read in September:
(Of course, this list doesn't include the many other books I have on hold right now, books that could come in at any time, which would then completely change all my reading plans.)

The Library by Bella Osborne
The Blackout Book Club by Amy Lynn Green
The 22 Murders of Madison May by Max Berry
Girl Gone Missing by Marcie Rendon
The Soulmate Equation by Christina Lauren
Ruby Spencer's Whiskey Year by Rochelle Bilow
Play For Me by Libby Hubscher
The Drowning Girls by Lisa Regan
Play Dead by Angela Marsons
Accidentally Famous by Marissa Clarke

I just started watching the first season of Dark Winds. And I'm really enjoying it. Tony Hillerman's novels have long been favorites of mine, and I'm finding this series equally compelling. Plus, I love that Monument Valley and Canyon de Chelly scenery!

Lastly, two quotes that seemed perfect for September:

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Two quick recommendations...


The Lady and the Lionheart by Joanne Bischof

It was the 1890s circus setting that first made me want to read this one, because I've always been drawn to circus/carnival stories. And this one did not disappoint. I loved Charlie Lionheart, the lion tamer, and his faith, and the sacrifices he made to keep his little niece safe. And I loved watching Ella's cautious friendship with him grow into something deeper. This is a heartwarming and sweet romance. (Thank you, Ashley, for recommending this one!)

The Other Bennet Sister by Janice Hadlow

First lines:  "It is a sad fact of life that if a young woman is unlucky enough to come into the world without expectations, she had better do all she can to ensure she is born beautiful. To be poor and handsome is misfortune enough; but to be penniless and plain is a hard fate indeed."

Who knew Mary Bennet could be so interesting? She's one of Jane Austen's duller, less memorable characters, but Hadlow has done an excellent job of turning her into a very sympathetic heroine of her own story. (Thank you, Cath, for your review, which made me want to read this one in the first place.)

Happy Reading! 

Tuesday, August 29, 2023

Top Ten Tuesday

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

This week's theme:  WATER.

I had fun with this one. See if you can guess my watery theme. 

Ingo by Helen Dunmore

The Tail of Emily Windsnap by Liz Kessler

Goddess of the Sea by P.C. Cast

Of Poseidon by Anna Banks

Lost Voices by Sarah Porter

Deep Blue by Jennifer Donnelly

Between the Sea and Sky by Jaclyn Dolamore

Wake by Amanda Hocking

Fish Out of Water by Mary Janice Davidson

The Last Mermaid by Shana Abe

Happy Reading!

Saturday, August 26, 2023

The Happy Life of Isadora Bentley by Courtney Walsh

 "The best portion of your life will be the small, nameless moments you spend smiling with someone who matters to you."  --Ritu Ghatourey

Things to know about Isadora:
  • She's super smart.
  • She works as a university researcher.
  • She's also an introvert...and a bit socially awkward.
  • Her last boyfriend broke her trust...and her heart.
  • She doesn't have many friends.
  • She's lonely.
  • And she just turned 30.

A random magazine article titled "Thirty-One Ways to Be Happy" inspires Isadora to conduct her own personal research project and try out each item on the list to see if they really result in that promised happiness. She's sure she'll end up disproving the entire article, justifying her own unhappiness. And at first, nothing she tries makes her feel any different. Especially not those yoga classes! But then some new people enter life, including her 10-year-old neighbor, Delilah, and Cal, the new (and handsome!) psychology professor at work. As her experiment continues, her quiet, lonely life starts to change for the better. Is it possible the magazine article was right and she's found happiness after all?

I loved this book! Isadora's journey of self-discovery was both poignant and humorous. There were times her past heartaches and self-doubt made me cry. But the way her boisterous neighbor barged into her life totally made me laugh. And Cal's cute flirting, kind compassion, and unwavering support of Isadora made me like him so much. This is a very charming and heartwarming romance! ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, August 23, 2023

The One by John Marrs


Do you believe in soulmates? That there's one perfect person out there just for you? In The One, finding your soulmate is not only possible, but easy. All you have to do is take a simple DNA test and then wait to be matched. But for Mandy, Jade, Christopher, Nick, and Ellie, getting matched with their soulmates may bring instant attraction, but there's no guarantee it will lead to true love or a happy ending. For any of them.

My thoughts: This novel is both entertaining and engrossing. Told through five POVs, the chapters are very short, which made this book read very fast. And I quickly got drawn in to each of these characters' journeys to connect with their soulmates. They're all very different, though in the very beginning it was a bit of a struggle to keep them all straight. But then the plot picks up and secrets start being revealed. And all the unexpected twists along the way are so good! None of these characters' stories played out like I thought they would. And that's what made this book so fun. But it makes it hard to talk a lot about the plot, because I don't want to give anything away. It's best to go in not knowing too much so you can just enjoy the ride. Which I did. ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Melody and I read this one together, so be sure to check out her review, and her questions to me below. 

Happy Reading!

Melody's question to me...and my answers:
1) Do you think this Matched DNA concept has any similarity to "love at first sight"? After all, some people do find an instant attraction to someone whom they haven't met. Do you believe in love at first sight? 

I kind of do believe in love at first sight...that unexpected spark of recognition and attraction you sometimes feel when you first meet someone. (I've even felt it once.) But I also believe that feeling doesn't mean it's going to turn out to be a forever kind of love; it might, but it might not. I think real, lasting love requires more commitment and work than just one glance. 

2) Which couple's story did you enjoy reading the most? Do you think their life would be any different if they've not been matched? 

I think Nick's story ended up being my favorite because his match with Alex was so completely unexpected for both of them. And their relationship NEVER would have happened if they hadn't been DNA matched like they were. I also liked Jade's story a lot, and how she and her match both tried to put someone else's happiness above their own. I was glad she got her happy ending with her match at the end. 

Tuesday, August 22, 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 FREEBIE.

So, I decided to go with Paranormal Cozies because I've never done a list with any of these books before. I've read the first three series, but none of the others.

Any book in Kristen Painter's Nocturne Falls series...
(except maybe don't start with the first one; it's my least favorite.)

Annable Chase's Spellbound Series ... another fun one!

Abby Cooper, Psychic Eye by Victoria Laurie

It Takes A Witch by Heather Blake

A Charmed Death by Madelyn Alt

Deeply, Desperately by Heather Webber

Southern Spirits by Angie Fox

Poison, My Pretty by Amity Allen

Spells and Shelves by Elle Adams

Any Witch Way You Can by Amands Lee

Pumpkin Pies & Potions by Polly Holmes

Happy Reading!