Tuesday, January 30, 2024

Absolutely Not in Love by Jenny Proctor


First line: 
Hockey has a very distinct smell.
The players:  Gracie Mitchell, cellist and music teacher; Felix Jameson, hockey goalie.

The plot:  Gracie has one rule: she doesn't date hockey players. Especially not her sexy neighbor, Felix. But Felix doesn't just live and breathe hockey. He loves classical music (especially when Gracie practices her cello), and books, and he's falling fast for Gracie. When an unexpected flood in Gracie's apartment has her moving into Felix's guest room for a few weeks, being in such close quarters with him has Gracie rethinking her no-hockey-players rule. 

My thoughts:  Jenny Proctor's romances sparkle. She knows how to create very likable characters, and she always inserts fun banter into her stories. Gracie is smart and spunky and a talented musician; Felix is thoughtful and kind, a bit of an introvert, and very good at hockey. And the two of them together? So cute! I loved their text exchanges, and I thought Felix's romantic gestures were so sweet. The hockey parts were fun, too. This book just made me happy. And for that, I gave it 5 stars.

 Happy Reading!

Saturday, January 27, 2024

Haiku reviews...


The Other Side of Lost by Jessi Kirby

Tired of faking life,
Mari quits all social media
to hike the John Muir trail.

YA fiction .... 307 pages .... 5/5 stars.
(I loved Mari's journey of self-healing as much as her hiking adventure

The Grumpy Side of Paradise by Brittany Larsen 

Eve's in Paradise to
rehab a house, not find love.
Then she meets Adam.

Sweet romantic comedy .... 306 pates .... 4/5 stars.
(Fun small town, grumpy vs. sunshine romance.)

Fairest of Heart by Karen Witemeyer

Seven old cowboys.
One Texas Ranger. And fair
Penelope Snow.

Historical romance .... 345 pages .... 4/5 stars.
(Cute retelling of Snow White set in Texas, 1892.)

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Sinister Graves by Marcie R. Rendon

The plot:  Minnesota, 1970s. When the body of a young Ojibwe woman is found in the flood waters of the Red River Valley, Sheriff Wheaton calls in his young protege, Renee "Cash" Blackbear to help identify her. Cash's investigation leads her to the White Earth Reservation, the place where she was born, and where she should have grown up except that she was put into foster care when she was young instead. When another young Ojibwe woman is found dead, the only connection Cash can find between them is Pastor Steene and his wife, Lillian, and their unconventional church. And when she visits the church, she sees a dark ghostly shadow outside, something the Ojibwe call a Jiibay. And she knows that there's something not quite right about the place. 

My thoughts:  What makes you want to keep reading a particular series? I look for interesting settings and time periods, intriguing plots, but most of all, I look for real, personable, flawed, layered and likable characters that I can root for. Cash Blackbear is one of those characters. At just 19, she's tough and smart. She's in college but she mostly chooses classes where attendance isn't mandatory because she knows she can not show up and still ace the papers and tests. She earns her money driving farm trucks and playing pool. She's very guarded and struggles to connect with people. And she has a sixth sense when it comes to helping Sheriff Wheaton--an ability to see things that others don't. 

In this book, she's starting to open up with other people, even though it leaves her feeling vulnerable and scared. I liked that she's growing as a person. And I like her toughness and independence, though she does have one reckless TSTL moment in her investigation into Pastor Steene's church that made me shake my head. She does redeem herself a little by being resourceful enough to extricate herself though. I liked her for that, too. I think this third Cash Blackbear mystery just might be my favorite. And as a bonus, I'm now all caught up with this series. 

Happy Reading!

Sunday, January 21, 2024

January's bookish art...

The Bookworm, 1920
Mary Evans Picture Library

"I guess there are never enough books."
--John Steinbeck

Thursday, January 18, 2024

An Inheritance of Magic by Benedict Jacka

5 reasons to read this book:

1. It's a unique urban fantasy novel set in London...

2. ...with an instantly likable and magically talented main character.
"My name is Stephen Oakwood, and I'm twenty years old. I was raised by my dad, grew up and went to school here in Plaistow, and...I used to have a pretty normal life. That all changed a few months before my eighteenth birthday, when my dad disappeared."

3. There's cool magic, known as drucraft, and sigls, and wells of power. 

"Drucraft didn't make me money, and it definitely didn't make me look like a better employee. If my career was what I cared about, I might as well give it up. But I didn't want to. Ever since I'd first pestered my dad into teaching me drucraft, it had been the one big secret I'd shared with him, the one thing we'd always done together." 

4. Lots of family secrets, intrigue, humor, suspense, and action. 

5. And an endearing gray and black tabby named Hobbes. 

While this well-written and entertaining fantasy novel is entirely different from Jacka's bestselling Alex Verus series, I think I'm going to like it just as much. And that's saying a lot, because I love his Alex Verus books. But I already like Stephen Oakwood and am rooting for him and his cat, Hobbes; and the magic system Jacka's created in this book is interesting and different and fun. The only problem with it is having to wait for the next book to be released...which I hope happens sometime this year. 

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, January 16, 2024

Top Ten Tuesday...

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

This week's theme is BOOKISH GOALS FOR 2024...which I've already posted about. But, one of my bookish goals this year is to read more nonfiction. So here are 10 Nonfiction Books I Hope to Read in 2024 instead:

Deaf Utopia by Nyle DiMarco

The Next Everest by Jim Davidson

Operation Pineapple Express by Lt. Col. Scott Mann

Outlandish by Nick Hunt

Hearts of Darkness by Jana Monroe

The War Magician by David Fisher

Cobalt Red by Siddharth Kara

My Side of the River by Elizabeth Camarillo Gutierrez

Tap Code by Carlyle S. Harris

I Know Who You Are by Barbara Rae-Venter

The Last Season by Eric Blehm

Have you read any of these? Are there other awesome nonfiction books you've read that I should add to my list? Let me know! I'm always looking for good nonfiction reads. 
Happy Reading!

Friday, January 12, 2024

Mud, Rocks, Blazes by Heather "Anish" Anderson

 "I would attempt to hike the 2,189-mile-long Appalachian Trail faster than anyone else had. I would do it alone and not to prove anything to anyone this time except myself. ... There was something  I needed to learn out there on the rocky, rooty, trail."

This was the perfect book for my first nonfiction read of 2024. I've always wanted to hike the Appalachian Trail--not to try and set any kind or record, but just to see if I could do it. That kind of wilderness adventure has always appealed to me. Though it's something I probably should have attempted in my 20s. (I doubt my knees could take it now.) But I still love reading books about people who do achieve their AT dream. And this well-written memoir gives you a real taste of hiking the AT, as well as some great words of wisdom. (Anderson has also hiked the Pacific Coast Trail with the fastest known time and written a book about that adventure, too.) Here are some of my favorite quotes from this excellent memoir: 
"I had to always remind myself that everything that happened along the way was out of my control, that I could only change my reactions, and dedicate myself to putting one foot in front of the other, even when I wanted to stop."

"Pain and hardship are integral to any thru-hike, as they are to life in general. It is suffering that is a mindset. ...I decided in that moment--even if it was going to take a thousand conscious choices every day--that I would choose not to suffer. There would be no drudgery on my hike. I would move forward with passion for adventure. Just as I always had." 

"I smiled at the changes in myself. I'd learned courage. And from that courage had come confidence. And from that confidence had grown acceptance of all circumstances."

Happy Reading!

A few of my other favorite Appalachian Trail reads:
A Woman's Journey on the Appalachian Trail by Cindy Ross
A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson
Becoming Odyssa by Jennifer Pharr Davis
A Journey North by Adrienne Hall

And if you know of any other books about hiking the Appalachian Trail that you think I'd like, please let me know!  😎


Tuesday, January 9, 2024

Top Ten Tuesday

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

This week's theme is: 
Most Anticipated Books Releasing in the First Half of 2024. 

I struggled to narrow my list down to just ten, but I finally did it. Here they are:

The Price You Pay by Nick Petrie  (Feb 6th)

Lone Wolf (Orphan X, #9) by Gregg Hurwitz  (Feb 13th)

The Boy Who Cried Bear by Kelley Armstrong  (Feb 20th)

The Trail of Lost Hearts by Tracey Garvis Graves  (Mar 26th)

The Rule Book by Sarah Adams  (Apr 2nd)

Ghost Station by S.A. Barnes  (Apr 9th)

The Library of Borrowed Hearts by Lucy Gilmore  (Apr 30th)

On Her Watch by Melinda Leigh  (May 14th)

Not in Love by Ali Hazelwood  (Jun 11th)

Winter Lost by Patricia Briggs  (Jun 18th)

Happy Reading!

Sunday, January 7, 2024

Practicing gladness...

 "Most generally there is something about everything that you can be glad about if you keep hunting long enough to find it. You see, when you're hunting for glad things, you sort of forget the other kind."   --Eleanor H. Porter, Pollyanna

Life can be pretty depressing and discouraging. It's easy to get caught up in all the negativity. There are days when I struggle to find anything to even be grateful for, which is not a happy way to live. So this year I've decided to work on having a more positive mindset. Instead of dwelling on all the negative stuff, and on everything that's going wrong, I'm going to look for the good instead, and try to be more grateful for all the small blessings in my life. So, with a nod to Pollyanna's favorite game, here are a few things I found to be glad about today.
  • I'm glad that in my job I only ever have to work M-F because that means I always have the weekends off.
  • I'm glad that Miss Scarlet and the Duke returns to PBS tonight, because it's one of my favorite shows. 
  • And I'm trying to be glad about all the snow we've gotten in the past few days because it does clean out the air, and we need a good snowpack this winter to fill up all our reservoirs. And even though I don't love winter weather, I do get to pull out my favorite sweaters when it's cold, so I'm glad about that, too.

Wishing all of you lots of joy & gladness in your own lives!

Thursday, January 4, 2024

Home at Night by Paula Munier

 "...The ghosts that stalk us are the secrets we cannot keep, the trespasses we cannot forgive, the truths we cannot bury. Grackle Tree Farm had held the poet's confidences close for decades. But after all these years of silence, now her secrets were coming to light."

 The plot:  Grackle Tree Farm has just come up for sale. Mercy Carr has loved that old Victorian manor since she was young, and she and Troy Warner need a larger house now that they're married. But when they go to check out the dilapidated house, Elvis (Mercy's Belgian Malinois) discovers a dead body in the library. The man appears to have been poisoned. In his pocket, is a letter dated 1942 from the famous poet, Euphemia Whitney-Jones, to a mysterious lover. Is it a coded letter leading to a hidden treasure? Is that what lead to the dead man's murder? Mercy and Elvis are on the case. 

My thoughts:  This is the fifth book in one of my favorite K-9 mystery series. I love Mercy and Troy and their two dogs, Elvis and Susie Bear! This one was especially fun because of the mystery's literary aspect. I enjoyed Mercy's hunt for the poet's hidden letters, all those old family secrets, and that cool Victorian manor that's rumored to be haunted. There are even Druids. And Mercy's and Troy's relationship just makes me happy. Great prose, well-layered and personable characters, awesome dogs, and a twisty murder investigation make this one a compelling and satisfying 5-star read. If you've never tried this series, I suggest you start with the first one, A Borrowing of Bones. It's excellent, too.

Happy Reading!

Monday, January 1, 2024

My bookish goals for 2024...

I've decided that I'm not going to sign up for any reading challenges this year, and I'm not making long lists of the books I want to read either. While I really enjoy participating in reading challenges, and I love making lists, this year I want to allow room in my reading for sudden changes of mood, new books, rereads, books from off my own shelves, and library serendipity. 

I also want to read more nonfiction this year. 

And there are several series that I've recently started, and newer books by favorite authors that I've neglected, that I'd love to get caught up on this year. 

And even though I love splurging on books, I'm going to try and limit my book buying to ten books or fewer this year because my bookshelves are overflowing, and I haven't read all the ones I already own.

My last bookish goal has to do with my blog. Over the years I've put a lot of pressure on myself to publish a certain number of posts each week, and to review a certain number of books each month, and I need to step back from that. Because blogging should be fun, not stressful. So this year, I'm not going to worry about how many posts I write each week, or how many books I review. And if I need to take a break once in awhile, then that's what I'm going to do. 

I'm still working on my personal goals, but I want to try and cultivate a more positive mindset this year, embrace the good things in life and not be afraid of failure, remember to breathe and be in the moment, practice having an attitude of gratitude, and seek happiness. 

Good luck with your own goals...bookish and otherwise!
And happy reading!