Saturday, March 18, 2023

By the Book by Jasmine Guillory

 

I've always loved retellings of Beauty and the Beast, and By the Book is a captivating take on a favorite trope. It has humor, romance, and two very appealing characters. 

Isabelle Marlowe is an over-worked, under-appreciated assistant at Tale as Old as Time, a publishing company in New York; but she has dreams of becoming an editor and maybe even a published author someday.

Beau Towers is the son of two celebrities and a former teen hearthrob known for his bad behavior; he's supposed to be writing a tell-all memoir, only for the past year he's pretty much become a recluse. 

Isabelle's boss is sure Beau is never going to finish his memoir; Isabelle has her doubts, too, but she impulsively volunteers to go to Santa Barbara to talk to him in person. And at first, Beau is brusque and rude....but mostly he doesn't have a clue where or how to begin writing his book. Luckily, Isabelle is persistent and refuses to give up. She convinces him to let her help and as Beau starts to write his story, a friendship develops between them that slowly grows into something more. 

My thoughts: I liked how Isabelle's and Beau's relationship developed and deepened so naturally over the course of the novel. Their misunderstandings and angry accusations were resolved with apologies and honest, heartfelt conversations, which I also appreciated. And I thoroughly enjoyed their witty banter, Isabelle's surfing lessons from Beau, and their shared love of snacks. I also loved all their bookish interactions as Beau struggles with his writing and Isabelle helps him work on his book. And their closed-door romance? Very sweet and swoony. I'd definitely give this one 4 stars. 

Happy Reading!

P.S. This is also another good one for Susan's Bookish Books Reading Challenge.

Thursday, March 16, 2023

March's Bookish Art...

 
Henri Lebasque -- Woman Reading

"Never put off till tomorrow the book you can read today."
--Holbrook Jackson

Monday, March 13, 2023

The Bookworm Tag

 

Rules:
Answer the questions
Make new questions
Tag people

I was tagged by Kami at Kami's Library Thoughts.

1. What was the last book you read?

Eclipse the Moon by Jessie Mihalik.

2. Did you like it?

I loved it! It's space opera at its best with engaging characters, lots of action and a fun and steamy romance. 

3. Who is your favorite author?

This is tricky because there are SO many authors that I love. If I had to pick just one....Jane Austen? Or maybe Katie Ruggle. Or Barbara Michaels! Nope. I can't do it. I don't have just one favorite author. I have many. 

4. What book do you wish had a sequel? 

I wish there was a sequel to Patricia A. McKillip's Riddle-Master trilogy! It's one of my all-time favorite series, and I'd love to know the rest of Morgan's and Raederle's story. 

5. What is your favorite movie adaptation?

I love the adaptation they did of Anne of Green Gables with Megan Follows & Colleen Dewhurst.


6. What is your favorite place to read?

I like to curl up in the corner of my couch because it's by a window and I love sitting in the sunshine, plus it's very comfy. Reading on a beach in Maui is really good, too! 

7. What book do you wish was required reading in school?

A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park. Salva Dut's story is so amazing, and he's such an inspirational character. Everyone should read this book. 

8. What is your quirkiest reading habit?

I don't know that I have one...maybe that I don't lend out my books to ANYONE except for a few family members who I know will take good care of my books, and who will return them.

9. What do you use as a bookmark?

Anything I can find...movie ticket stub, receipts, playing cards, scrap of paper.

10. Besides reading, what other hobbies do you have?

Writing. Birdwatching. And I just started taking some jewelry-making classes which have been a lot of fun. 

If you want to play along, consider yourself tagged! Here are my ten questions for you:
1. Who taught you to read?
2. What's your favorite childhood book?
3. If you could switch places with any fictional character, who would you choose?
4. If you could meet a favorite author, alive or dead, who would it be?
5. What are you reading right now?
6. What's your go-to genre?
7. What premises or plots do you find irresistible?
8. What's your least favorite trope?
9. What's the last book you DNFed?
10. Are you addicted to Wordle? (Or to any online game?)





Friday, March 10, 2023

Quick Book Recommendation...

 

Day Zero by C. Robert Cargill

I read so many positive reviews of this book when it came out in 2021, I knew I would probably like it, too. It just took me awhile to get around to reading it. (Surprise, surprise.) And I didn't just like it; I loved it! It's a very compelling and original take on a future robot apocalypse. And I adored Pounce, the tiger nannybot wired to protect his young charge, Ezra, no matter what. He's such an irresistible and likable narrator. The book made me laugh and cry. I'd give it 5 stars.

Happy Reading!




Similar read (which I also gave 5 stars!): 




Tuesday, March 7, 2023

The Last Orphan by Gregg Hurwitz

 
Who is Evan Smoak?
"To say the least, his childhood had been rough-and-tumble. Pinballed through a series of foster homes, he'd been ripped out of any semblance of ordinary life at the age of twelve to be trained covertly as an assassin. ... Orphans were trained for solo operations--no peers, no support, no back-up. Were it not for Jack Johns, Evan's handler and father figure, the Program would likely have been successful in extinguishing his humanity. The hard part wasn't turning him into a killer; the hard part was keeping him human. Integrating those two opposing drives had been the great challenge of Evan's life.

"After a decade spent committing unsanctioned hits around the globe, Evan had gone AWOL from the Program. Since then he'd committed himself to staying off the radar while using his skills to help others who were just as powerless as he'd been as a young boy--pro bono missions he conducted as the Nowhere Man." 

In The Last Orphan, the eighth book in this series, Evan has finally been tracked down and captured by government agents. The president promises his release IF he kills someone. But as much as Evan wants his freedom, he won't compromise his principles by killing on someone else's orders. Not ever again. He'll only do it if he determines that the killing is warranted. Which puts his life in danger. Luckily, Evan is no longer a lone assassin. He has friends. Like Tommy, his weapons expert; and Candy, an ex-Orphan who's almost as dangerous as Evan; and Joey, a sixteen-year-old computer hacker who was being trained as another Orphan when Evan's old handler helped her escape the Program. With their help, Evan can tackle anything. 

Why I love this series: 

I love Evan Smoak, and how he struggles to connect...not just with other people, but with his own emotions. I love his set of rules--the 10 commandments he lives by. I love his interactions with his neighbor, Mia, and her young son, Peter; and also his relationship with feisty, sarcastic Joey. And I love how he can take down the bad guys to protect the innocent! He's like Jason Bourne, Jack Reacher and Gabriel Allon all in one. These thrillers are very action-packed and suspenseful. Once I start one, I can't put it down. And The Last Orphan is no exception. This is one propulsive and amazing thrill ride. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐   

Happy Reading!

Similar Posts:

Sunday, March 5, 2023

Randomness

 Happy March!

For such a short month, February sure seemed long. And so cold! I'm glad it's finally March, though March is a month that desperately needs some more holidays in it. Especially if they're going to make us change our clocks again. Couldn't they at least give us an extra day off, too? I'm mostly hoping for some warmer weather and blue skies this month. What are you hoping March brings? 


For laughs:
(Thank you, John Atkinson!)



Just checked out of the library:

The Last Orphan by Gregg Hurwitz
Gallowglass by S.J. Morden
Eclipse the Moon by Jessie Mihalik
Storing Up Trouble by Jen Turano
The Last Mile by Kat Martin
The Hope of Azure Springs by Rebecca Fordham
The Measure by Nikki Erlick
The Banned Bookshop of Maggie Banks by Shauna Robinson
The Missing Treasures of Amy Ashton by Eleanor Ray
By the Book by Jasmine Guillory

(And now that I've once again checked out too many books, I'll probably have four more holds come in all at once, because that always seems to happen with my library reading. But putting holds on at the library is one of my bookish addictions. And there are books coming out that I can't wait to read...hence my too long hold list.)

Thought for the month:



Thursday, March 2, 2023

A Magic Steeped in Poison by Judy I. Lin

 shennong-shi:  masters of the ancient and magical art of tea-making.

"The true wielders of shennong magic have their unique specialties. Some brew teas for emotions--compassion, hope, love. Others are able to imbue the body with energy or encourage the drinker to remember something long thought lost. They move past the walls of the body and into the soul itself. ... The greatest shennong-shi can see the future unfolding, wavering in the steam over a well-brewed cup."
 


Plot:  A poisoned cup of tea killed Ning's mother, who was a talented shennong-shi; it also made her younger sister, Shu, dangerously ill. Ning has some of that same talent as her mother, but she is not skilled enough to heal her sister. But there's hope. If she can win the tea-making competition in the Imperial City she'll be granted a favor from the princess herself. And surely the princess will know how to save her sister.

So Ning travels to Jia to compete against dozens of other shennong-tu (apprentices). But the palace is full of lies and intrigue, and the tasks she must face are difficult. Ning feels very out of place. And there are enemies all around, some even trying to sabotage her. Luckily, she's also made a few friends, like Lian, a fellow competitor, and Bo, the young, handsome and mysterious stranger she met on her first day who has his own ties to the palace, and his own dangerous secrets. Just knowing him puts her life in danger. And she doesn't know if she can trust him, or anyone else in the palace, including the princess. She can only hope her shennong magic will be enough to show her the truth and save not only her life, but her sister's, too.

My thoughts: This is an enchanting and entertaining fantasy, and another enjoyable Buddy Read with Melody. Lin's descriptive prose really brings to life the Imperial Palace and City. And I loved the way she blends tea-making with magic. Ning is naive and sometimes rash; she's also bold and outspoken. She frustrated me at times, but overall I really liked her. And I loved watching her work her magic. The different kinds of tea and the unique spells they invoke were fascinating. Then there's Bo, whose real name is Kang; he was another favorite character. I wanted to know more about him! This novel has a lot of action, magic, intrigue and mystery, as well as several suspenseful twists along the way. My only complaint is the cliffhanger ending. (I never love those.) Luckily, the second book is already out, so Melody and I will just have to read it sooner rather than later. Be sure to check out her review of this book.

Happy Reading!

Melody's questions to me:
Q. There are a lot of elements featured in this story; e.g. the tea magic, the hieracrchy and political system within the palace, the history and cultures within the provinces of Daxi, and the various relationships amongst the characters, etc. Which of these stands out the most to you and why?
A. While I appreciated Lin's world-building, I'm always more drawn to characters and magic than to political systems or history and culture. And I found the tea magic in this book SO fascinating. That was probably my favorite thing about this book, followed closely by the characters. 

Q. Were there any favourite moments or characters you really enjoyed during your reading journey?
A. I loved the moments with Ning and Kang...when they worked some tea magic together and discovered new things about the other person, and especially when they were in the caves hiding together, and then kissed. That was a very good moment. 💗