Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Haiku Reviews...

 

Yours Truly by Abby Jimenez


He's an introvert.
She doesn't trust men. Can these
two doctors find love?


Romance ... 387 pages .... 4.5/5 stars.
(There's so much to love about this one! And kind, quiet Jacob with his social anxiety tops the list.)




The Price You Pay (Peter Ash #8) by Nick Petrie


When Lewis's past
comes back to haunt him he turns
to Peter for help.


Action/Thriller .... 416 pages .... 4/5 stars.
(Action-packed, edge-of-your-seat thriller with lots of bad guys. But don't worry...the good guys win.)





Lost Girls by Angela Marsons


Two kidnapped girls. One
chance to bring them both home. Can
Kim Stone find them in time?


Mystery .... 431 pates .... 4/5 stars.
(Excellent investigative mystery with D.I. Stone and her team--set in England's Black Country.)



Happy Reading!


 

Sunday, April 21, 2024

Some very sad news...

I learned yesterday that my sweet blogging friend and reading buddy, Melody Lee, passed away suddenly last month from a brain aneurysm. She was such a kindhearted, funny, and caring person. We started commenting on each other's blogs back in 2016, then did our first buddy read a year later. Over the last seven years we read 34 books together. And we had our next buddy read scheduled for next month. She was a dear friend, and I will miss her so much. Please keep her family in your hearts and prayers. 




Friday, April 19, 2024

A Groom of One's Own by Emma St. Clair

 

From the blurb: 
"He always dreamed of getting married--but for love, not to avoid deportation. Eli Hopkins has it all--almost. A hockey career with the wildly popular Appies. Teammates who are like brothers. The only thing he's missing is someone to share it all with. Oh--and correctly filed visa paperwork. Due to administrative error, Eli is about to lose everything. Unless he can find someone to marry him in the next thirty days. And he might have the perfect woman in mind. The only problem? He'd like to marry her for real, not simply for legal purposes. Now Eli faces the challenge of winning over a wife who thinks the marriage is in name only..."

What I loved about this book:
  • Sweet, swoony and clean romance
  • Handsome and outgoing hockey player
  • Shy and sometimes awkward heroine
  • Scene-stealing shelter dog named Doris
  • Super loyal and supportive teammates
  • Heartfelt kisses
  • Humorous situations (like pajama bowling!)
  • A very public proposal
  • And their promise to be "awkward together"
Rating:  ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Eli and Bailey made me happy. They're such a cute couple. I loved how Eli fell so hard for her and tried to always put her feelings first. And I loved their happy ending. Emma St. Clair has become one of my favorite authors. 

Happy Reading!


Other hockey romances with the Appies that I loved: 

Tuesday, April 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 supposed to be CHARACTERS I'D LIKE TO GO ON VACATION WITH. But I couldn't come up with anything creative or clever for that one. So I changed it up a little. Here's my list of 10 Vacations I'd Love to Take (and the book I'd bring along to read while on them).




1. I'd really love to go to Easter Island one day and see the Moai statues there. You have to fly there from Chile, so, of course, I'd also want to spend an extra week exploring parts of that country. And the perfect book to bring along on this trip:  The Moai Murders by Lyn Hamilton. 







2.  Death Valley is another place I'd really like to visit someday--see those rocks that seemingly move by themselves. I've heard it's very beautiful there. And the book I would take with me:  Wanderer of the Wasteland by Zane Grey.  (Because it's set in Death Valley, of course.) 






3.  There are some cool Dude Ranches in Wyoming and Colorado that have Girls' Only weeks where I could spend a week with my two sisters and cute niece just hanging out and riding horses. I would totally love to do that!  And of course, the perfect book to take along would be a cowboy romance like The Rough Rider by Maisey Yates.






4. I've never been to Yosemite National Park but I'd love to take a trip up there, stopping to see the Redwoods along the way.  And I would definitely bring along Trapped in Yosemite by Dana Mentink as my vacation read. 








5. For me, no vacation list is complete without Paris! It's such a beautiful and fun city. I've been there once, but I'd love to go back, revisit my favorite museums, buy some yummy crepes from the street vendors, stroll along the Seine and read a good book or two. Like The Paris Deception by Bryn Turnbull.




6.
Who doesn't want to go to Hay-On-Wye--that town full of bookstores in Wales--at least once in their life? I'd love to spend an entire month in England exploring all those castles in Wales, visiting all the Jane Austen sights from Lyme Regis to Bath, checking out Highgate Cemetery in London, and dropping down to Cornwall to explore the towns and beaches there. And Sixpence House by Paul Collins would be a great book to bring along. (Though if I were gone for a month I'd have to bring a lot more books with me than just one!) 




7.  Venice, Florence, and Verona, Italy are all places I've always wanted to travel to...All of Italy really. And I've read A LOT of books set there, so it was a bit of a challenge to find a new book that I would want to take with me. I finally settled on John Berendt's The City of Falling Angels.






8. I am a birder and I love to go birdwatching. And ever since 2011 I've kept a life list of all the different birds I've seen. (It's currently at 207.) And I've always wanted to go birding in Texas because they get so many migrating birds and birds that don't come to Utah. I'd especially love to go to High Island during peak spring migration. And I can't think of a better book to bring with me on this trip than Chasing Birds Across Texas by Mark T. Adams.





9. A tour of Morocco is another trip I'd love to take someday. There are so many cool sights to see in that country: from the marketplace maze in the heart of Marrakech, to the ancient Roman ruins at Volubilis, to the city of Tangiers, not to mention Fez and Casablanca. I'd love to see it all! And In Arabian Nights by Tahir Shah would be the perfect bookish companion.  






10.  And just for laughs, I've always wanted to check out Roswell, New Mexico. They have a UFO festival in the summer that I think would be a blast. And while I'm down that way, I'd also stop by Santa Fe, and then make a side trip back to Chaco Canyon, which is one of my all-time favorite places. And The Road to Roswell by Connie Willis seems like the perfect book for this trip. 






So there you have it... 10 vacations I'd love to take someday. 
Happy traveling..and happy reading along the way!




Saturday, April 13, 2024

An unplanned bookish chain...

 


I started off last week reading How to Dance by Jason B. Dutton. It's an imperfect but sweet romance. I really loved Nick Freeman; he's a math teacher, star of Friday night Karaoke, and all-around good guy. He also has cerebral palsy, needing a walker to help him stand, balance and walk. His character was so well developed. Probably because the author himself has cerebral palsy. His counterpart, Hayley Burke, is a graceful and lovely dancer with her own insecurities and struggles. I enjoyed seeing Nick and Hayley learn to dance with each other. 

After finishing How to Dance I started reading the American Mystery Classic Waltz Into Darkness by Cornell Woolrich, never even noticing the dance/waltz connection between the two titles until my mom remarked on it. (She always asks me about the books I'm reading.) But I thought it was a fun coincidence. 

What I loved most about this classic mystery is Woolrich's prose. There's brevity and poetry in his style of writing. Like when Louis Durand reads a telling letter about his new bride, Woolrich writes, "If dried ink on paper can be said to scream, it screamed up at him." 

This noir mystery is a haunting tale of doomed love with a beautiful woman and her web of lies and a man desperate for love at the center of it. It took a turn halfway through that I was not expecting, and I while I didn't love the second half as much as the first half, I did like this one overall and would definitely read this author again. 

Then, to finish off this unplanned chain of books, I went from reading Waltz Into Darkness to Some Choose Darkness by Charlie Donlea. That both titles have darkness in them was another nice coincidence.

This is a compelling psychological thriller. A little complicated and dark at the beginning, but very suspenseful at the end, even though I did guess two of the twists. I especially liked Rory Moore; she's a forensic reconstructionist, "her DNA programmed to see things others missed, to connect dots that looked scattered and incongruent to everyone else. Rory's uncanny mind would piece together bits of a puzzle everyone else's had deemed unsolvable until she had reconstructed the crime in its entirety." She's one of those characters you don't soon forget, and I look forward to reading Donlea's next book with her in it. 

So that's what I've been reading...my unexpected and unplanned chain of books. All different; all enjoyable. 
Happy Reading!


Wednesday, April 10, 2024

April's Bookish Art...

 
Edouard Gelhay - Elegant Women in a Library


"Always be reading. 
Go to the library.
There's magic in being surrounded by books."
--Austin Kleon



Sunday, April 7, 2024

Just a Regular Boy by Catherine Ryan Hyde

 

First line: 
Remy Blake was five years old when his father drove him away from Pocatello for the last time. 

The plot:  Raised in isolation by his survivalist father in the far northern woods of Idaho, Remy learns to hunt and fish, but not how to live in the real world. He's taught to fear it instead. Then his father dies, leaving him all alone in the wilderness. Only eight, Remy struggles to survive, but the threat of starvation finally forces him to seek out the nearest town for food. When authorities finally find him, he's badly injured, traumatized, half-starved, and mute. That's when Anne and her husband, Chris, enter the picture. They've already adopted two children. But Anne is determined to give Remy a safe home, too. No matter how difficult the next part of his journey may be. 

My thoughts:  My heart went out to Remy. He's one tough little boy. His narrative was my favorite part of this book. All of his struggles, both survial-wise and emotional, were so gripping.  His story alternates with Anne's narrative. Her struggles to be a good wife and mom weren't quite as compelling, but I still liked her, especially all her interactions with Remy, as she tried to help him work through his past traumas and validate his feelings. This book is both heartbreaking and heartwarming. And it raises some interesting questions about fear and how people choose to respond to it. All in all, this turned out to be a 4-star read for me. 

Happy Reading!

Similar read:

Thursday, April 4, 2024

How to Walk Away by Katherine Center

 


Plot summary:  Margaret Jacobsen's life feels perfect. She has her MBA and the promise of a dream job. And her handsome boyfriend just proposed. Everything is falling into place. But then, on Valentine's Day, the unexpected happens and Margaret's life is changed forever, her future that seemed so bright suddenly gone. And everyone keeps telling her to be positive and smile...except for her physical therapist who barely talks to her; instead, he pushes her to try harder everyday. And her fiance? When he's not drunk he tells her he still loves her, but he never comes to visit her. Instead, it's her sister that shows up, the sister she's been estranged from for the past three years. Margaret's journey is one of pain and grief....and hope. And she learns some important truths along the way:
  • Needing to find reasons to live had forced me to build a life worth living.
  • The greater our capacity for sorrow becomes, the greater our capacity for joy.
  • You have to live the life you have.
  • When you don't know what to do for yourself, do something for somebody else.
  • There are all kinds of happy endings. 

My thoughts:  This is one of those books that once I started reading it I couldn't put it down! Margaret's such a relatable character. Everything about her accident and recovery felt so real; I understood her moments of depression, cheered her resilience and moments of anger, and cried with her, too. And I loved her happy ending. Her sister, Kit, made me laugh; and I really liked Ian, her physical therapist. This book is so much more than a simple romance. It's amazing. And I loved it!

Happy Reading!


Other favorite Katherine Center books:


Monday, April 1, 2024

Randomness....

I won another Goodreads giveaway! This time I got a free copy of The Stars Turned Inside Out by Nova Jacobs. It's a mystery that takes place in Geneva, Switzerland at CERN's Large Hadron Collider. I'm looking forward to reading it. 



What's your Goodreads 'Want to Read' number? At the beginning of the year mine was nearing 470 and I could see 500 rapidly approaching. And for me, that number is just too high. But for every book I read off my list, I seem to add 2 more...which doesn't feel like progress. So after some very focused reading and a lot of weeding, I managed to get the number down to 397. (Though it'll probably be back up over 400 before the end of the week.) And I'm not sure what to do about it. Because all the books on my list are ones I still want to read, but 400 titles still feels like way too many. How many book titles do you have on your 'Want to Read' list? And what do you do when it gets too high? I could use some advice.


My "glad" things for March: 
  • Found an almost new copy of Nora Goes Off Script at the library book sale for only 10 cents! (This made me so happy because it's a book I really love.)
  • Woke up to the cheerful "chirr-up, chirr-up" of robins outside my window...a sure sign it's finally spring.
  • Celebrated Pi day with a yummy piece of Edwards' Chocolate Creme Pie.
  • Got to see the new Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire movie over the weekend and it totally made me laugh. I especially loved all the little Stay Puft marshmallow guys.
  • Best of all, my spring break starts today...I have one long, lovely week off to read, relax and have some fun. 




Friday, March 29, 2024

A Bookish Trio...

 

Deaf Utopia by Nyle DiMarco

Nyle DiMarco is a proud Deaf man. He is so eloquent and passionate about the Deaf world, it's culture and history, and the richness, beauty and expressiveness of ASL. It's such a fascinating language! I took a class in it once and loved how you can say so much with just one sign. I also loved reading Nyle's story. He chronicles his growing up years and later experiences with honesty and humor. And I really admire his mother for her strength and determined activism. She's a remarkable woman. And Deaf Utopia is an amazing book.  ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐






Give Me A Sign by Anna Sortino

Lilah doesn't feel "deaf enough" to identify as Deaf--she isn't even fluent in ASL--but her hearing loss means she doesn't fit in the hearing world either; she always feels like "the odd one out, the one who always has to explain or adjust." Except when she's at Gray Wolf, a summer camp for the deaf and blind. And this year, she's not just a camper, she's a junior counselor. Sortino, who is deaf herself, has written a sweet coming-of-age story that explores the complexity and richness of being Deaf. It's a very engaging YA novel.   ⭐⭐⭐⭐






True Biz by Sara Novic

Immersive and impressive! I got caught up in the lives of Charlie (a deaf teenager with hearing parents; she has a cochlear implant that doesn't work very well and still hasn't learned ASL), and February (a CODA who's fluent in ASL and is headmistress of the River Valley School for the Deaf in Ohio). This book deals with the importance of ASL, Deaf schools, the tug-of-war between the hearing and Deaf, cochlear implants, and Deaf culture. I couldn't put it down; though I did think the ending was a little abrupt.  ⭐⭐⭐⭐




Happy Reading! 

Tuesday, March 26, 2024

What's up?

This post is supposed to be a review. At least that's how I planned it out in my head at the beginning of the month. But as you can see, I have no review to post today. The last book I finished was Dread Journey by Dorothy B. Hughes, which I loved, but I decided to write a haiku review for that one because it was easier.

I also recently finished The Love Plot by Samantha Young which is a sweet and steamy grumpy vs. sunshine fake-dating romance that I liked. So why didn't I review that one? *shrugs*  I guess I'm not feeling too motivated to write these days. But I am reading. 

Right now I'm in the middle of three books:  True Biz, Emily Wilde's Encyclopaedia of Faeries, and The Wind in the Willows. They're each unique and entertaining in their own way, and I'm enjoying all of them. Hopefully, I should have some short reviews ready to go for my next post. Until then...


Happy Reading!




Friday, March 22, 2024

Haiku reviews...

 
Fish Out of Water by Katie Ruggle


City girl blackmails
grumpy hermit to help her 
track down her sister.


Romance .... 311 pages .... 3/5 stars.
(Some plotting inconsistencies; and while I liked Dahlia and Winston, their relationship felt like a total repeat of Ruggle's characters George and Ellie from Gone Too Deep.)





Lone Wolf by Gregg Hurwitz


Evan Smoak's mission:
find a lost dog...and track a killer
before she kills him.


Thriller .... 383 pages .... 5/5 stars.
(Evan Smoak, otherwise known as Orphan X and The Nowhere Man, is still one of my all-time favorite characters. Another action-packed and suspenseful read.)





Dread Journey by Dorothy B. Hughes


Not everyone will
survive this train ride from 
Hollywood to New York.


Psychological suspense .... 181 pages .... 4/5 stars.
(Loved Hughes' writing as well as the cat-and-mouse game between the passengers.)



Happy Reading!



Tuesday, March 19, 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 BOOKS ON MY SPRING TBR LIST. 

The only trouble I had this week was limiting my choices to just 10. Here they are:

The War Magician by David Fisher




Vanishing Edge by Claire Kells




Holmes on the Range by Steve Hockensmith




The Final Twist by Jeffrey Deaver




Lost Girls by Angela Marsons




My Side of the River by Elizabeth Camarillo Gutierrez




Some Choose Darkness by Charlie Donlea




Just a Regular Boy by Catherine Ryan Hyde




Now You See Us by Balli Kaur Jaswal




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




I also plan on reading books by Catherine Cowles, Katherine Center, Abby Jimenez and K.A. Tucker this spring, but I haven't quite figured out which of their books I'm going to read first. Stay tuned...

Happy Reading!

Saturday, March 16, 2024

Keeper of Enchanted Rooms by Charlie N. Holmberg

 
Setting:  Rhode Island, 1846
Main characters: 
WHIMBREL HOUSE -- Some say it's enchanted, or maybe haunted. Either way, it really doesn't seem to like Merritt. Built on Blaugdone Island in Narragansett Bay, it's been alone and uninhabited since 1737.

MERRITT FERNSBY -- Disowned by his father and burned by love, Merritt is a non-magical writer in his early 30s who has just inherited Whimbrel House. He thinks it will be a great place to write his next novel, but he doesn't know what he's in for. 

HULDA LARKIN  -- A confirmed spinster in her 30s, she has a small talent in augury, and works for the Boston Institute for the Keeping of Enchanted Rooms (BIKER) as a housekeeper. She's come to Whimbrel House to help tame it. But she wasn't expecting to find Merritt quite so charming. 

SIMON HOGWOOD -- a power-hungry necromancer who has learned how to siphon magic from other people...and from places like Whimbrel House. 

My thoughts:  This is an enchanting and fun fantasy. I love the role Whimbrel House plays in this one. From the melting furniture to the shrinking rooms, all the tricks it plays on Merritt, especially when it refuses to let him leave, are very humorous and sometimes a little frightening. I also really enjoyed Hulda's and Merritt's investigation into what, or who, is enchanting the house. They made an engaging team, even if neither one is very good at communicating their feelings. I also liked all the magic, and how Holmberg captures the time period. It's a captivating read with some good suspense at the end. ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Happy Reading! 


Wednesday, March 13, 2024

The Mystery Guest by Nita Prose

 
The plot:  Molly Gray is now the Head Maid at the Regency Grand Hotel. Her private life is going well, and she's taken the new maid, Lily under her wing. But then there's another murder at the hotel. The famous and reclusive mystery author J.D. Grimthorpe is about to make an important announcement when he drops dead on the hotel's tearoom floor. Poisoned. And of course, Lily, the maid who served him his tea quickly becomes a suspect. Molly herself is keeping a secret--she knew J.D. Grimthorpe from when she was a child and her grandmother worked as his maid. Many more secrets are going to come out before the investigation into Grimthorpe's death is through.

My thoughts:  I loved The Maid, Nita Prose's first mystery, and this sequel is almost as good. Molly is neurodivergent; she's organized and has a true eye for detail, but she often misses social cues and struggles with normal interactions with other people. I loved how we get to see moments from her childhood in this one, especially all her interactions with her grandmother. She is truly a unique character. The mystery involving Grimthorpe had some nice twists. I enjoyed following Detective Stark's and Molly's investigation, especially how at odds they are in the beginning, but how well they work together at the end. This is another well-plotted, character-driven, page-turning mystery. ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Happy Reading!


Sunday, March 10, 2024

March's bookish art...

 
Hermann Jean Joseph Richir--Young Woman Reading


"You know you've read a good book when you turn to the last page and feel a little as if you have lost a friend."
--Paul Sweeney


Thursday, March 7, 2024

Two quick recommendations....

 

Network Effect by Martha Wells

Pesky emotions and even peskier humans keep troubling Murderbot. Figuring out the right thing to do all the time is hard work. Then something terrible happens to ART, the highly intelligent bot transport Murderbot calls a friend, and Murderbot must discover what happened and why...all whle trying to save ART's favorite humans. I love Murderbot! This is another thrilling and entertaining adventure with lots of humor. Murderbot's love of soap operas and all its snarky thoughts and asides makes me laugh out loud. 





The Boy Who Cried Bear by Kelley Armstrong

Casey Duncan and Eric Dalton are running Haven's Rock, a sanctuary town hidden in the vast Yukon wilderness. It's a refuge for those on the run. Like ten-year-old Max and his older brother and mother. Then Max disappears. Was it the grizzly bear he thought he saw in the woods earlier? Or a crazed wildman dressed in bear pelts? Or did someone from their own town take him? Casey and Eric won't rest until they find the truth. ... What a great book! To say I love these characters and this series would be an understatement. This is another 5-star read from Kelley Armstrong. And one of my favorites of the year.




Happy Reading!


Monday, March 4, 2024

Midnight Creed by Alex Kava

 

This is the eighth book in one of my favorite mystery series. Ryder Creed is a former marine K9 handler; now he owns and runs a dog rescue center in the Florida panhandle where he rehabilitates and trains dogs as scent and search-and-rescue dogs. His best dog is a Jack Russell terrier named Gracie. He works with Jason, another veteran, and Brodie, his sister, and lots of dogs. He and Gracie are recovering from some injuries when he gets called in to help search for a missing boy. 

Maggie O'Dell is an FBI agent working a case in Washington D.C. that involves a serial killer who's been targeting the homeless. She and Ryder have worked several cases together, and their friendship has developed and deepened over the course of the series into something more. When Maggie tracks her killer to Florida, they find their two cases intersecting. 

Alex Kava always writes an interesting and engaging mystery. She creates great suspense, but it's her characters that really elevate these books. I especially love Ryder's relationship with his dogs and how they work together to solve each case. He can't help but rescue every stray that comes along. I like the way he and Maggie work together, too. I spotted the connection with the murderer early on in this one, but it didn't stop me from enjoying this book. It's a well-written and fun ride. 

Happy Reading!

Other Ryder Creed posts:

Friday, March 1, 2024

Randomness....

 

One of my bookish goals
this year is to read more Golden Age mysteries. I have several British Library Crime Classics and Otto Penzler's Classic American Mysteries on my TBR list. I hope to read at least one a month, and I started in February with Ngaio Marsh's A Man Lay Dead. It's an entertaining mystery that takes place during a weekend party at an English country house. And it involves a Murder Game. I quite enjoyed it. This month I'll be reading Dorothy B. Hughes's Dread Journey. 




Seven other library books I'm hoping to read this month:

Deaf Utopia by Nyle DiMarco
True Biz by Sara Novic
The Mystery Guest by Nita Prose
The Murder Wheel by Tom Mead 
Wonderland Trials by Sara Ella
Emily Wilde's Encyclopaedia of Faeries by Heather Fawcett
Keeper of Enchanted Rooms by Charlie N. Holmberg

And if I'm lucky, my library hold on Hurwitz's newest, Lone Wolf, will also come in this month because I'm eager to read the latest Orphan X novel as soon as possible. 

Three things that have made me glad recently:
  • Two days off from work....which always makes me happy.
  • New episodes of Ghosts and So Help Me Todd (two of my favorite TV shows); also that new show Tracker has been really good, too. Yay for something new to watch on TV.
  • I found a great 15-minute cardio workout I can do in the morning before work that's low impact but gets the heart rate up. I've been doing it for 3 weeks now and not only is it helping me to get in better shape for summer, but I've even lost a little weight. 



Happy Reading!