What Are We Reading and Reviewing in January 2021?

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What Are We Reading and Reviewing in January 2021?

Dic 22, 2020, 5:46pm

Tell us your reading plans for January. Stay warm!

Editado: Ene 30, 1:06pm

Carol's Reads For January
📌 - ★
📌Creatures of Passage - Morowa Yejide - 3★ (Early Reviewer - Jan)
📌Bottom Feeder Matt Cole - 4.5★
📌A Discovery of Witches – Deborah Harkness -3★
📌Norwegian by Night – Derek Miller - 5★
📌A Grave Mistake – Stella Cameron - 3★
📌Hidden Secrets - Cait London - 3★
📌The Murder Game – Beverly Barton - 4.5★
📌What Memories Remain Cait London -1★
📌The Cabin Carla Neggers - 5★
📌Hard Line Pamela Clare - 3.5★ (Pick A Winner)
📌Sold On A Monday – Kristina McMorris - 5★
📌The Wives – Tarryn Fisher - 1★
📌Dead Anyway - Chris Knopf - 5★
📌Don't Look- Alexander Ivy -4.5★
📌Status Update – Annabeth Albert- 4.5★
📌Suspicious Behavior – L.A. Witt - 4.5★
📌Find Them Dead - Peter James - 4★
📌Part & Parcel - Abigail Roux - 5★
📌Shuggie Bain – Douglas Stuart - 5★
📌Riven - Roan Parrish - 5★
📌Rend - Roan Parrish 5★
📌Long Shadows - Kate Sherwood -3★
📌In The Middle of Somewhere - Roan Parrish - 5★
📌Out of Nowhere - Roan Parrish -5★
📌The Time Traveler's Wife - Audrey Niffennegger -5★
📌Where We Left Off - Roan Parrish -4.5★
📌Prelude: Blue Notes - Shira Anthony - 4.5★
📌The Moxie - Dawn Fitzpatrick -4★
📌Fool Moon - Jim Butcher -4.5★
📌There Was A Crooked Man, He Flipped A Crooked House - David Erik Nelson - 5★
📌Ancient Enemy - Mark Lukens - 5★
📌Barrel Proof - Layla Reyne - 5★
📌Before She Knew Him - Peter Swanson - 4★

Dic 27, 2020, 6:37pm

>2 Carol420: I had planned to read A Discovery of Witches this month but then the holidays and finishing other books got in the way. I'm planning to read it in January and I'm really interested in your thoughts on it. It seems to be a popular one with this group of LT friends.

Ene 1, 8:59am

Find Them Dead - Peter James – (England)
Roy Grace series Book # 16
A Brighton crime overlord is on trial for conspiracy to murder, following the death of a rival crime family boss. As the jury files into court, one person sits in the public gallery secretly filming them. Later, a computer-savvy colleague produces the names, ages, and addresses of each of the 12 jurors. The accused’s henchmen need to influence two of them—a jury can convict if directed on a 10-2 majority verdict but no less. But which two? One emerges as the front runner: Sarah Hope, Foreman of the jury. Her daughter is backpacking in a remote area of Ecuador. Sarah gets sent a series of aerial photos of her daughter, along with with the coordinates of her position, and a stark message. A second juror, an outwardly respectable lawyer, is photographed in a dominatrix dungeon. If he doesn't want the photographs made public, all he has to do is ensure the accused walks free. When Roy Grace is called in to investigate a murder that has links to the accused and the trial, he finds the reach and power of the accuseds tentacles go higher than he had ever imagined.

I have never given a Peter James Book anything less than 5 stars throughout the entire series...until now. He has been one of my favorite authors and Roy Grace has been one of my favorite series for a very, very long time. This one is different…not bad…just different as it doesn’t feature so much on Roy Grace but more on his co-workers that constant readers will recognize. If you are reader that will read out of order without feeling the need to slash your wrists…this one will be fine to read as a standalone…if you are looking for razor blades at the mere thought…put the book down and start with book #1. This was not my favorite of the series. The trail was interesting but it was repetitive and way to much narration. I think the biggest thing that lowered my rating was how much I missed Roy Grace having a bigger presence in the story. Hopefully maybe he’s working on how to get rid of his obnoxious, spoiled, ungrateful kid, Bruno. He should have been killed off with his mother.

Editado: Ene 1, 2:46pm

I am starting out with a pair of short story collections one by Roald Dahl called Skin And Other Stories and The Best of Richard Matheson by Richard Matheson.

Ene 1, 3:22pm

>3 threadnsong: That’s one I own and keep meaning to read.

Editado: Ene 1, 4:26pm

In The Middle of Somewhere - Roan Parrish (Michigan)
Middle of Somewhere series Book #1

When Daniel Mulligan & Rex Veil first meet, their chemistry is explosive, but Rex fears Daniel will be another in a long line of people to leave him, and Daniel has learned that letting anyone in can be a fatal weakness. Just as they begin to break down the walls keeping them apart, Daniel is called home to Philadelphia, where he discovers a secret that changes the way he understands everything.

Is Roan Parrish even capable of writing a bad or even mediocre book? So far nothing that I have read by her has indicated that such a thing is even a possibility. Anyone that is not homophobic and is looking for some really over the top romances should give her books a try. In a small town in northern Michigan we meet Daniel Mulligan who is a tough, inked-up guy with a sharp tongue on the outside, but it’s only a cover for his insecurities brought on by a lifetime of not fitting in, particularly with his family. Daniel has three tough “manly” older brothers and a father that… while not exactly ashamed of him…never took the time or the effort to see how special his youngest son actually was. When Daniel lands a job as an English professor in a rural town in northern Michigan, a place where everyone knows everyone else…he feels that it’s just another place where he’ll be an outsider. An accident that stranded Daniel in the middle of what he thought of as nowhere …introduces him to Rex Vale, a strapping flannel-clad man with a kind demeanor who took Daniel’s breath away. When their paths cross again, their chemistry is explosive…but in order for them to have a future they both must learn to trust. I can’t say enough good things about this authors writing. It is beautifully phrased and can readily bring tears or laughter to the reader. The quality of the storytelling is right up there among the best I’ve read. It’s charming, delightful and just plain fun. Oh…the small town just outside of Travers City, Michigan where the story takes place…is as real as it gets. (Book contain explicit sex)

Editado: Ene 17, 6:43am

My provisional list for January.

✔️1. Dead Wrong by Noelle Nolten
2. Dead Perfect by Noelle Nolten.
✔️3. The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson🎧
👉4. The Fine Art of Invisible Detection by Robert Goddard
✔️ 5. Nevernight by Jay Kristoff 🎧
✔️ 6. The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman
7. The City We Became by N K Jemisin
✔️8. Emergency Skin by N K Jemisin 🎧
9. The Fifth Season by N K Jemisin
10. The Obelisk Gate by N K Jemisin🎧
11. The Stone Sky by N K Jemisin 🎧
✔️12. The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman🎧
13. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho 🎧
14. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
15. Red House by Joss Stirling
16. Deadly Cry by Angela Marsons
17. The Birthday Weekend by Lesley Sanderson
👉18. An Enquiry into Love and Death by Simone St James 🎧
19. The Quartet Murders by J. R Ellis
✔️ 20. Sleep Tight by Rachel Abbott
👉21. The Evening and the Morning by Ken Follett

Ene 2, 10:33am

Bottom Feeder - Matt Cole – (Pennsylvania)
4.5 ★
Deena Hopping, a Pennsylvanian divorcee, finally has a home again, a rental, but it's new and she is rebuilding her life. Yet there is something about the basement that troubles her besides the fact that her landlord lives in the basement. When women begin to disappear she suspects her landlord. Researching the history of the town, she learns that there were many mysterious disappearances throughout its history. When the police finally put an end to her landlord's reign of terror, she thinks all is well. But the real horror is hidden deeper in the earth, below the basement, a being of evil that will destroy the entire town if that's what it takes to feed its appetite.

This was a very weird, very creepy story…enough so that it just may have earned a future read from me. Great story for Halloween. Even the cover is chill producing to say nothing of the basement that got plenty of visits by the heroine and others unlucky enough to take the trip downstairs. I can’t remember when I have read details so vivid that you could almost smell and feel all the odors and slime described. This will certainly appeal to any horror story fan…and whatever you do…DON’T go down to the basement!!!

Ene 2, 5:14pm

>3 threadnsong: I started it yesterday, Andrew, and love the descriptions of the Bodleian library. I associate it with the works of J.R.R. Tolkien that are housed there, and the trip I took to NYC in the spring of 2019 to see the exhibit of his works. The things we take for granted, like bopping off to take a trip.

I also received two books as gifts, both of which are part of a series: Children of God by Maria Doria Russell and The Mirror and the Light by Hillary Mantel. Which means that I need to re-read the series to enjoy the new books as their authors intended. My dilemma is which series to read first!

Anyone want to throw out a suggestion??

Oh, and I also received The Alchemist, too, Andrew.

Ene 3, 2:23pm

A Discovery of Witches – Deborah Harkness – (England)
Diana, a witch who avoids using magic, is studying alchemical history when she finds an old book covered in magic; she returns the book to the library archives, but witches, vampires, and daemons are all hunting it, some bringing danger for Diana, and others -- especially ancient vampire Matthew -- providing protection and love.

The book focused way too much on the romance angle when there was so many other interesting concepts that would have added so much more to the story...but that is just my opinion...remember that I am a person that likes very few romance stories. Instead of more interesting concepts we get Diana...who it seems along with being a witch with powers that she is just starting to understand and learn to use, seems to also be a damsel that stays in constant, almost agonizing distress and totally needs a man to save her. Really??? Just use those budding powers and turn the guy into a frog and save yourself! Several of her aunts try to help but it seems the only person she believes can actually help her and who she puts her entire trust in…is a vampire…a guy she just met and feels she is "madly" in love with. I just found the entire storyline to be frustrating and the character of Diana “out to lunch” most of time. Anyone that is really into romances and doesn’t require any character to be anything but a damsel in distress…will more than likely really like this book. 3 stars because on some basic level it did have promise.

Ene 3, 9:59pm

The Lady in Medieval England, 1000-1500 / Peter Coss
2.5 stars

This is a nonfiction history of “ladies” in medieval England. Ladies - not just meaning women - but upper class nobility “ladies”. It covered things like inheritance, heraldry (coats of arms, usually from the father or husband, used in women’s seals), kidnapping (aka “ravishing”!), marriage, romance…

Too academic for my liking. There were some interesting nuggets, but also a lot of big words, long paragraphs, and quotes in Middle English. When I’m bored by a book, I don’t put it down, but I tend to skim. I definitely skimmed (or just skipped) anything in Middle English, and a bit more. Otherwise, bits and pieces caught my attention, but not enough to even say it was “ok” (in my rating system). The interesting bits gave it the .5 stars above not liking it, as a whole.

Ene 4, 11:01am

The Twenty-One Balloons – William Pène du Bois
Audiobook performed by John McDonough

This is a classic of children’s literature, for which du Bois was awarded the Newbery Medal. It’s a fantastical adventure story featuring Professor William Waterman Sherman, who leaves San Francisco on Aug 15, 1883, in a balloon, with the intention of going across the Pacific Ocean and enjoying some solitude. Three weeks later he’s picked up in the Atlantic Ocean clinging to wreckage. Once rescued he insists on being transported to San Francisco where he will tell his tale – once and only once – to the Western American Explorer’s Club.

What a fun story! Professor Sherman, despite his apparent forethought and preparation for any eventuality, still manages to run afoul of several unanticipated problems … from seagulls to sharks to volcanoes. His time spent on Krakatoa is extraordinary and hard to believe; even in his telling of it, Professor Sherman seems amazed and incredulous.

The illustrations (also by du Bois) help by providing a visual representation to go along with some of the detailed descriptions of the various inventions. I think parents and teachers would have a great time allowing children to explore their imaginations, while explaining the realities of science. But I WOULD like that bed with endless clean sheets! (And having already cut and polished diamonds handily about would be pretty nice as well…)

John McDonough does a marvelous job of reading the audio version. His dramatic performance lends a sense of awe, amazement, excitement, and danger as the scenes require.

Ene 4, 11:52am

Norwegian By Night - Derek Miller – (Norway)
Sheldon Horowitz—widowed, impatient, impertinent—has grudgingly agreed to leave New York and move in with his granddaughter, Rhea, and her new husband, Lars, in Norway—a country of blue and ice with one thousand Jews, not one of them a former Marine sniper in the Korean War turned watch repairman. Not until now, anyway. Home alone one morning… Sheldon witnesses a dispute between the woman who lives upstairs and an aggressive stranger. When events turn dire, Sheldon seizes and shields the neighbor’s young son from the violence, and they flee the scene. As Sheldon and the boy look for a safe haven in an alien world, past and present weave together, forcing them ever forward to a wrenching moment of truth.

The story is an intriguing offering that blended a mix of cultures and presented an interesting insight into life. Even though the beginning was rather slow…I’m glad that I kept reading. I really liked how the author led up to the search for Sheldon and the boy using the old man's long-buried military skills in the emergency situation. The character of Shelton takes some getting use to as the reader needs to be aware that he has “shifts” in his thinking that while making him an interesting and true to life character…it also makes him difficult with his bouts with dementia,…fantasy… hallucinations…and recall. The author does a fantastic job of writing a story that is, by turns funny…heartbreaking...and suspenseful.

Ene 4, 4:45pm

Sold On A Monday - Krista McMorris – (Pennsylvania)
The sign is a last resort. It sits on a farmhouse porch in 1931, but could be found anywhere in an era of breadlines, bank runs and broken dreams. It could have been written by any mother facing impossible choices. For struggling reporter Ellis Reed, the gut-wrenching scene evokes memories of his family's dark past. He snaps a photograph of the children, not meant for publication. But when it leads to his big break, the consequences are more devastating than he ever imagined.
Inspired by an actual newspaper photograph that stunned the nation”

The book tells a vivid and heart breaking story that is set against the harsh landscape of the Great Depression. First we learn of the photo and then the story unfolds into something so much deeper. The sign is a last resort. It sits on a farmhouse porch in 1931…but it could have been found anywhere in an era of breadlines…bank runs… and broken people with broken dreams. It could have been written by any mother facing impossible choices. For struggling reporter Ellis Reed, the gut-wrenching scene evokes memories of his family's dark past. He snaps a photograph of the children…never meaning it for publication. But when it leads to his big break, the consequences are more devastating than he ever imagined. They say “A picture is worth a thousand words” but maybe the truth of the story behind the picture is worth a thousand or so more.

Actual photograph that appeared on the porch and inspired this book.

Ene 5, 8:38am

Hidden Secrets - Cait London – (Washington)
Like everyone else in the small village of Godfrey, Washington, Marlo Malone's peaceful existence was shattered by terrible events that rocked the community: a brutal, unsolved murder... a series of fatal accidents... and the strange disappearance of a young boy from the car crash that killed his parents. But unlike everyone else, Marlo can't shake the sickening intuition that these incidents are connected... and that the men in her life are somehow involved. Her careful, considerate boyfriend Keith is holding dark secrets. Spence, the missing boy's charismatic uncle, is angry and tormented, and capable of anything. And a terrifying premonition is warning Marlo that unless she can uncover the truth, something horrible is about to happen...again.

A damsels in distress...steamy love scenes… murder & mayhem… a twist of the paranormal….what more could you ask for? The book also has more than a few unpredictable surprises. I can’t imagine why the book received such low ratings but I guess we can’t all like the same things and our expectations are sometimes vastly different. I will admit that the plot is slow starting, but about halfway through the book it picks up speed and from there on the story line never slows down until the final altercation. The key characters…. especially the lead couple… also take their time fleshing out that nicely provides the reader to gain insight deep into the minds of Spence and Marlo. Well worth 3 stars.

Ene 5, 9:17am

The Best of Richard Matheson
Richard Matheson
5/5 stars
This is a collection of Matheson's short stories, a few of them I recognized as being made into TV episodes and films. Matheson's imagination never disappoints as you wonder where this story is going to end up, from the church organ who doesn't want to be replaced and the man who woke up only speaking French which he never studied in his life. Highly recommended!

Ene 5, 9:49am

The Growing Season – Sarah Frey

The subtitle is all the synopsis you need: How I built a New Life – and Saved an American Farm.

Frey’s memoir begins with her childhood on the family farm in southern Illinois. The youngest of her father’s and mother’s combined 21 children, she was far from the pampered “baby” of the family. Yes, her four older brothers doted on her and protected her, but they also challenged her to go hunting and fishing with them, and to do the heavy chores required to keep the family’s farm running. Still, her father’s con-man mentality and “big dreams” kept the family in precarious financial shape. Like her older brothers, Frey could hardly wait to escape “the Hill” and lead a normal life.

But when she was walking the last horse off the property and facing a foreclosure auction, she found she just couldn’t let the land go. So, she decided she would buy the farm and make it into a viable business. Today Frey Farms is a thriving multi-million dollar a year agribusiness. And some of the deals she has negotiated have become case studies used by the Harvard Business School.

In many ways, this reminded me of Tara Westover’s Educated. But where Westover’s father and brothers were abusive, Frey was surrounded by love and support. Frey’s parents valued education and insisted that all their children attend school AND do well in their studies. Her upbringing gave her confidence in her ability to do anything if she put her mind to it and put in the work. She also was a keen observer and determined not to make the mistakes her father made.

I found her story interesting but somewhat repetitive. Still, on my next trip to the grocery store, I’ll be checking the pumpkins and melons to see if they have the Frey Farms sticker!

Ene 5, 9:52am

>14 Carol420: Carol, Norwegian By Night deserves more attention! It's a marvelous debut. I've got his second book, American by Day on my tbr.

Ene 6, 9:29am

>19 BookConcierge: I'll have to check out the second one. Norwegian By Night was much more than expected it to be. I really got into the characters.

Ene 6, 9:30am

The Murder Game - Beverly Barton – (Alabama)
Griffin Powell series Book #8
New Game – The game is simple--he is the Hunter. They are the Prey. He gives them a chance to escape. To run…To hide…. To out smart him. But eventually, he catches them. And that's when the game gets really terrifying. . . New Rules - Private investigator Griffin Powell and FBI agent Nicole Baxter know a lot about serial killers--they took one down together. But this new killer is as sadistic as they've ever seen. He likes his little games, and he especially likes forcing Nic and Griff to play along. Every unsolvable clue, every posed victim, every taunting phone call--it's all part of his twisted, elaborate plan. And then the Hunter calls, wanting to know if they're really ready to play. . . But Winner Still Kills All. . .There's a new game now, and it's much more deadly than the first. A brutal psychopath needs a worthy adversary. He won't stop until he can hunt the most precious prey of all--Nicole. And with his partner in a killer's sights, Griff is playing for the biggest stakes of his life.

I read this book back in 2016 so this is a reread of one of my favorite mystery writers. This is what I wrote in that first review. “Grif has some secrets in his past, and he shares them with Nicole as they get closer, and she shares some secrets as well about her father and her dead husband. It turns out Grif and Nicole have a lot in common. They share more than an obsessive passion to stop this killer before he kills again. If you like a good thriller, that isn't gory, (okay, maybe a little, tiny bit), you need to read this book.” 5 years down the road hasn’t changed my mind about the book or the author The main characters are still well-mannered and full of Southern charm… not counting the killer of course. Barton has created a cast of supportive and capable individuals who we would be glad to have fighting on our side…any day.

Ene 6, 7:49pm

Simon the Fiddler – Paulette Jiles
Digital audiobook performed by Grover Gardner

Simon Boudlin made a brief first appearance in Jiles’ The News Of the World. In this work, he is the focus of the story. Set in Texas at the end of the Civil War and the beginning of the reconstruction period, Jiles follows Simon and his band of iterant musicians as they try to stay alive and out of trouble, and as Simon tries to win the heart of Doris, an indentured immigrant Irish lass, who works as governess for the family of a Union officer.

I love the way Jiles crafts these stories. While the plot focuses on the characters and their reactions to events happening around them, the atmosphere is enhanced by her descriptions of the landscape, the food, and culture of the times.

Simon is a marvelous character. Intelligent, quick witted, resourceful, determined and head-over-heels in love with the charming Doris. Their path is not an easy one and there were times when I feared for their safety and, even, their lives. Still, I was cheering him on in his quest to win her heart and establish their future success.

The supporting cast is equally memorable. Damon Lessing, whom Simon meets when they are conscripted into the Army and assigned to the “band,” is a piper. Patrick O’Hehir is the drummer boy who is the youngest among them. And Doroteo Navarro, a Tejano guitar player, who has some experience as a fisherman and is therefore invaluable to at least one leg of their journey. Together they form a good team, supporting one another and surviving a number of altercations and dangers.

Jiles manages to put me right into the heart of this landscape and time in history. Of course, I’m sure it helps that this is the territory in which I grew up, and I’m very familiar with many of the locations she uses, but I think her writing makes the images equally vivid for those who have never experienced this landscape.

Grover Gardner does a fantastic job of voicing the audio book. I felt as if I were listening to an old-timer recall adventures of his youth. His somewhat gravelly voice is that of an older character, but he was still believable, even when interpreting the female characters.

Ene 6, 9:49pm

Barometer Rising / Hugh MacLennan
3.25 stars

It’s 1917 in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Penny (a woman working at the shipyard – very unusual for the time)’s love (and cousin) has been at war and he’s missing. They all think he’s dead. So, when Angus (much older than Penny) asks her to marry him, she accepts. Only days later, the Halifax Harbour goes up in an explosion.

The book only follows just over one week. It took longer than I liked to get to the explosion. Leading up to it wasn’t nearly as interesting as the explosion itself and the aftermath, but not long after, it concluded mostly with their regular lives again. If there had been more focus on the disaster, I would have enjoyed it more, I’m sure. There was an afterword by another “classic” Canadian author, Alistair Macleod – one of those that analyzes the book; one of the ones that should never be an introduction but often is (because it gives away the story)! Luckily, it was an afterword.

Ene 7, 8:35am

A Grave Mistake - Stella Cameron - (Louisiana)
Dead: one ordinary man. Just the latest in a string of losers in the wrong place at the worst time. Not the kind of case to yank New Orleans homicide detective Guy Gautreaux back from his leave of absence in Toussaint, Louisiana. There's someone in Toussaint Guy will do anything to protect. Jilly Gable is desperate to find the love of the family who abandoned her as a child. And when the wife of a powerful New Orleans antiques dealer and loan shark sweeps into town claiming to be her mother, Jilly is all too willing to love and forget. Slowly and methodically, evil closes in on Jilly, and only the truth—and Guy—can save her. Connecting the dots between the Big Easy and Toussaint all but cinches his case, but Jilly and Guy are still in danger. They have only each other for protection.

Perhaps it was just me, but I found the characters of Guy and Jilly…boring. Guy spent the majority of the story complaining that he always said the wrong thing. I didn’t see that anything he said throughout he book…was anything that anyone could construe as “wrong”…and he constantly worried that Jilly was upset or angry with him. I did enjoy the setting of the story and the descriptions of the Louisiana bayou and the mystery aspect was good and well carried through. I was slightly disappointed in the ending. I would rate it a little below average but certainly not a terrible read.

Ene 7, 1:34pm

The Lilies of the Field
William Edmund Barrett
4/5 stars
A sweet novel about a young African American, Homer Smith, who on his travels ends up working for a convent of nuns and helps them build a church. This was made into a film with Sidney Poiter and I thought the film was very faithful to the book.

Ene 7, 10:02pm

The Crossing Places / Elly Griffiths
3 stars

Archaeologist Ruth is called in to help identify the bones of a child found. That is - how long have the bones been there? It is determined the bones have been there for a very long time, much longer than the police feared, thinking it might be Lucy, a little girl who had disappeared ten years earlier. Ruth then goes on to help the police with their investigation.

I listened to the audio. It was ok. I missed a lot of it at the start, as the audio just wasn’t holding my attention. It picked up part-way through and I was more interested, but I still missed a few things. I really didn’t like two particular characters, but it might have – in part – been due to the voices/accents by the narrator. Those accents (and/or the voices for them) really annoyed me! When they revealed who the killer was, I couldn’t even figure out who that was! Not sure when he was mentioned earlier in the book, but I obviously missed it. There was something else from the end I wanted to mention that wasn’t a spoiler, but I’ve already forgotten what it was. I don’t plan to continue the series.

Ene 8, 10:05am

Shuggie Bain - Douglas Stuart – (Scotland)
Shuggie Bain is the unforgettable story of young Hugh “Shuggie” Bain, a sweet and lonely boy who spends his 1980s childhood in run-down public housing in Glasgow, Scotland. Thatcher’s policies have put husbands and sons out of work, and the city’s notorious drugs epidemic is waiting in the wings. Shuggie’s, mother Agnes, walks a wayward path: she is Shuggie’s guiding light but a burden for him and his siblings. She dreams of a house with its own front door while she flicks through the pages of the Freemans catalogue, ordering a little happiness on credit, anything to brighten up her grey life. Married to a philandering taxi-driver husband, Agnes keeps her pride by looking good—her beehive, make-up, and pearly-white false teeth offer a glamorous image of a Glaswegian Elizabeth Taylor. But under the surface, Agnes finds increasing solace in drink, and she drains away the lion’s share of each week’s benefits—all the family has to live on—on cans of extra-strong lager hidden in handbags and poured into tea mugs. Agnes’s older children find their own ways to get a safe distance from their mother, abandoning Shuggie to care for her as she swings between alcoholic binges and sobriety. Shuggie is meanwhile struggling to somehow become the normal boy he desperately longs to be, but everyone has realized that he is “no right,” a boy with a secret that all but him can see. Agnes is supportive of her son, but her addiction has the power to eclipse everyone close to her—even her beloved Shuggie.

The description pretty much sets the page for the reader. The mother is a walking accident looking for somewhere to happen…or perhaps a junkyard because she has already “happened”. It’s without a doubt the most intense and excruciating book that I have ever read…but just impossible to stop. It also creates an amazingly intimate… compassionate… and heart wrenching portrait of addiction, courage and yes…love… even though pain is what the reader feels literally blazing from the pages. You will either love the book or hate the book…no one can feel indifferent to it. One thing I can almost guarantee …no matter how you feel about the writing…the subject or the characters… you will never forget Shuggie Bain.

Ene 8, 12:08pm

Skin and Other Stories
Roald Dahl
4/5 stars
Dahl has a vivid imagination and does not disappoint in this collection of odd short stories. One of my favorites was Skin, a tale about a man whose back was tattooed by a famous artist and the lengths people will go to have it. I enjoyed it.

Ene 8, 10:26pm

New Boy / Tracy Chevalier
4 stars

This is a retelling of Othello. A YA version with kids in grade 6 in the 1970s. Osei is the new boy at school, and he’s black. He almost immediately has a connection with the popular blonde girl, Dee. But others aren’t impressed with that, particularly the feared Ian, the class/school bully. Ian decides to get some revenge on the new boy.

I’ve never read Othello, so I didn’t know how this was going to turn out. As awful as the racism and bullying was from the kids, I was shocked at it from the teachers! Although I really enjoyed the book (and hated Ian!), I was surprised at the abrupt ending. I didn’t like the end. Often that brings down my rating, but I decided to leave it as I thought all the way through, as I was reading. Although disappointed with the end, overall, I really enjoyed it.

Ene 8, 10:39pm

Ashfall– Mike Mullin

From the book jacket: Many visitors to Yellowstone National Park don’t realize that the boiling hot springs and spraying geysers are caused by an underlying supervolcano, so large that the caldera can only be seen by plane or satellite. And by some scientific measurements, it could be overdue for an eruption. For Alex, being alone for the weekend means freedom from his parents and the chance to play computer games and hang out with his friends without hassle from his mother. Then the supervolcano erupts, plunging his hometown into a nightmare of darkness, ash, and violence. Alex begins a harrowing trek, searching for his family.

My reactions:
As post-apocalyptic novels go, I found this one is pretty interesting, engaging and compelling. I was quickly drawn in by Alex and his situation. Harrowing is certainly the right word for Alex’s journey in search of his family. But he’s smart, resilient, and trained in taekwondo. He also happens on a few people who will help him. He is, after all, only fifteen (“almost sixteen” he reminds us). First, his neighbors who take him in when his house is hit by a large piece of molten rock, and later by townsfolk and strangers who agree to share their own meager supplies in return for his labor.

Make no mistake, however, the journey is difficult in the extreme, and he runs into many dangerous people, including some who one would think would be helpful. Fortunately, at a critical point he comes across Darla Edmunds and her mother, who are managing (just) on their farm, thanks in part to Darla’s gift for mechanical invention.

Darla and Alex make a great team. Where one is weak, the other is strong. Where one is rash, the other is deliberate and cool under pressure. More importantly, they are fiercely loyal to one another.

Although this ends in a sort of cliff-hanger (it’s the first in a series), I forgive Mullin for that. Mostly because I want more of Darla. She is one strong female lead!

Ene 9, 1:54pm

>30 BookConcierge: Oh, I think this is a BB for me!

Editado: Ene 9, 2:31pm

Riven – Roan Parrish – (New York)
Riven series Book #1
Theo Decker might be the lead singer of Riven, but he hates being a rock star. The paparazzi, the endless tours, being recognized everywhere he goes—it all makes him squirm. The only thing he doesn’t hate is the music. Feeling an audience’s energy as they lose themselves in Riven’s music is a rush unlike anything else . . . until he meets Caleb Blake Whitman. Caleb is rough and damaged, yet his fingers on his guitar are pure poetry….and his hands on Theo? They’re all he can think about. But Caleb’s no groupie—and one night with him won’t be enough. Just when Caleb is accepting his new life as a loner, Theo Decker slinks into it and turns his world upside-down. Theo’s sexy and brilliant and addictively vulnerable, and all Caleb wants is another hit... and then another. That’s how he knows Theo’s trouble. Caleb can’t even handle performing these days. How the hell is he going to survive an affair with a tabloid superstar? But after Caleb sees the man behind the rock star, he begins to wonder if Theo might be his chance at a future he thought he’d lost forever.

This book that may not be for everyone. Not even die hard romance lovers as it involves a same sex couple. I don't want anyone to be surprised or offended when finding this out. I did find it was good to know that you didn't have to be a fan of the rock scene or 17 years old, to appreciate or understand the music. These people genuinely loved their music and treated it as a part of their very hearts and souls.. What is beautiful foremost about this book is the way the author…Roan Parrish…writes about the music and the guys that play it. If music could morph into a solid material it would literally roll off the pages when she describes it. Not all of the story can be described as "beautiful'...But it is hopeful. Throughout the novel, we get to watch these messy, broken men find pieces of themselves they didn’t even recognize were even missing…and we see them become stronger individuals. Parrish also did an incredible job with Caleb’s addictions and accurately depicting the ways addictions can rule a life, even when sobriety is achieved. They’re always around the corner waiting. Caleb’s struggles to resist were both heartwarming and heartbreaking at the same time…but with Theo he had a second chance. I love the last paragraph and line that described them listening to the song that Theo wrote for Caleb. “The song that gathered inside me, that I had held inside all these months…the song that told him all the things he already knew, but in the language we both felt deeper than words.”

Ene 10, 9:19am

The Cabin - Carla Neggers – (New York/Texas)
Carriage House Series Book #3
Texas Ranger Jack Galway knows that his wife Susanna loves him, so when their marriage hits a rough patch, he supports her decision to take their two teenaged daughters to Boston for a break. But when a few weeks turns into several months, Jack heads to Boston to get his family back. Packing up the girls and her grandmother, Susanna heads to her cabin in the Adirondacks, trying to escape her fears, her secrets and even the man she loves. Little does she know she’s being followed, not just by her husband but by a murderer, Ex-convict Alice Parker left a mess back in Texas, and she’ll never forgive Jack Galway for killing her dream of becoming a Texas Ranger herself. Obsessed with revenge, she’s got her sights set on Jack’s family. Trapped in the mountains, Jack and Susanna must find strength in each other if they hope to keep their family together and escape the cabin alive.

The thing that I have enjoyed about this series is that we don’t lose track of the characters. They move from book to book just into different situations. Nice when you meet and like the “group” that they are there the next time you “visit”. You also know who the “baddie” are but it doesn’t take anything away from the mystery and intrigue. Anyone that is tired of the women characters taking a back seat and having to depend on the “big strong manly man” to make every decision and save them…will really like what this author does with that. Good read all the way around

Ene 10, 10:43am

>26 LibraryCin: That’s a shame as it is a great series.

Ene 10, 11:01am

>11 Carol420: That’s disappointing.

Ene 10, 4:52pm

An Available Man / Hilma Wolitzer
3.5 stars

Edward has recently (within the past 2(?) years) lost his wife, Bee. Bee was his soulmate, though they met and married later in life. Edward is still only 63 (I think). He and his adult stepchildren are close, and those stepchildren decide to move things along by creating and publishing an ad for him on a dating site(?) (or was it a personal ad?). Luckily, they do tell him before he starts to receive replies. He reluctantly tries a few dates.

This was good, although I wasn’t sure I was going to like where it was headed for a while. Luckily, it turned out ok in the end. I also liked Edward’s relationships with his stepkids and his mother-in-law.

Editado: Ene 11, 1:29pm

Suspicious Behavior L.A. Witt
Bad Behavior Series Book #2 (Massachusetts)
Detective Darren Corliss is hanging by a thread. In between recovering from a near-fatal wound and returning to work at a hostile precinct, he’s struggling to help care for his ailing brother. His partner and boyfriend, Detective Andreas Ruffner, wants to help, but doesn’t know how. With a family crisis of his own brewing, Andreas is spread almost as thin as Darren. For cops, though, life takes a backseat to the job. When a stack of unsolved homicides drops into their laps, Andreas and Darren think they’re unrelated cold cases. But when a connection surfaces, they find themselves on the tail of a prolific serial killer who’s about to strike again. Except they’ve got nothing. No leads. No suspects…just a pile of circumstantial evidence and a whole lot of hunches. Time is running out to stop the next murder—and to pull themselves back from their breaking points.

I really like this author’s writing style and love the characters of Andreas and Darren. Andreas didn’t want a partner…not one of the romantic type or the workplace kin. He said he didn’t need one, and then along came Darren who refused to let Andreas’ bad attitude deter him from anything. These two are now at the top of my favorite couples list. I can’t wait to read more about them. I just wish that L.A. Witt’s series were longer. We just get to know the characters and she’s off on another series with a new couple for us to meet. Of course we learn to love them too but we miss the ones that we just met that are like old friends.

Ene 12, 2:14pm

What Memories Remain - Cait London – (Michigan)
Cyd can't find peace, even in the small, quiet community of Fairy Cove. Behind a facade of cool, carefree strength, she hides fears that have plagued her since childhood. Nightmares still terrify her, but if she unwraps the truth, will she be able to face it? Two people cannot allow her to keep the past buried forever. One is Ewan Lochlain, a custom boat builder fascinated by the secretive, statuesque beauty, once his childhood friend. Ewan is back in town now and dedicated to unraveling the mystery of his own parents' deaths -- a puzzle that's somehow linked to Cyd's dark, lost memories and to a small town's shocking history.
The other is the faceless predator who is determined to make an entire community pay for its sins. Now people are dying in Fairy Cove, and someone is stalking Cyd

This is the second book by this author that I have read this month. The first one had some flaws that were slightly irritating, but I felt the author did a good enough job to give it 3 stars. That having been said…You have heard the old saying “Don’t judge a book by its cover”??? Well it must also apply to “choosing” a book. I saw the cover and it said “take me home”…I did. Now like a scruffy stray dog…it sits on the shelf and growls at me because I could not find one single redeeming thing about this book and I totally hate it when that happens. I’m going to see if I can pass it off to my library and hope they don’t cancel my card. The writing was terrible…misspelled words… and punctuations that were either an endangered or a completely extinct species. This probably was not the authors fault…but the dialog between the characters was in danger of adding new and unwanted words to the English language. The dialog was boring….uneven, and jagged. Maybe the “memories that remain’ of this book…just plain...shouldn’t.

Ene 12, 10:36pm

A Fine and Private Place
Peter S. Beagle
4/5 stars
This story revolves around Jonathon Rebeck, former druggist, who came to the cemetery 19 years ago and never left. Rebeck talks to the dead people who appear to him and tries to avoid the cemetery workers so he won’t get kicked out. All this changes when the spirits of two dead people appear to Rebeck. Laura and Michael both died separately but met and fell in love in the cemetery. When circumstances appear that cause Michael to have to be removed from the cemetery, Jonathon and his new friend, Mrs. Klapper conspire to find a way to keep the dead lovers together. I thought it was a most charming story. 1960

Ene 13, 12:48pm

The Wives - Tarryn Fisher
Thursday’s husband, Seth, has two other wives. She’s never met them, and she doesn’t know anything about them. She agreed to this unusual arrangement because she’s so crazy about him. But one day, she finds something. Something that tells a very different- and horrifying- story about the man she married. What follows is one of the most twisted, shocking thrillers you’ll ever read.

Thursday is desperately in need of having her head examined. She let this creep have not one but TWO…count them…other wives????? She did it because she “SO CRAZY ABOUT HIM!” I think she was just crazy. You have to keep reading because you just have to see what other stupid, irrational act she will enact next. Believe me…she doesn’t disappoint, There must be a padded cell somewhere for her and “God’s gift to women”. Oh…She is “Thursday”, and the other two wives are “Monday” and “Tuesday” because those are the days they get the “pleasure” of being with him. I wonder what he does the other days.

Ene 14, 10:34am

Hard Line - Pamela Clare – (Antarctica)
Cobra Elite series Book #5
As temperatures drop to one hundred below, the heat between Thor and Samantha flares out of control. But a killer is lurking on station, someone with an agenda that threatens not only the lives of every person there, but also global peace. It will take all of Thor’s skill and strength to stop the murderous traitor—and keep himself and the woman he loves alive.

The two main characters and the romance parts were very well done…but not overdone. Both Samantha and Thor were good together and their actions were believable. Being set on a distant, cold outpost in Antarctica there wasn’t many places for the killer to hide so the choices were narrowed down fairly quickly. The elements that make for an emotional well told story are here…friendship, love, hate, sorrow, comradeship, and as always, those sudden touches of humor.

Ene 14, 10:54pm

The Tattooed Witch / Susan MacGregor
3.75 stars

Miriam’s father is a doctor. They are in a room with important priests (as a 17-year old woman, she shouldn’t be there) and the young handsome priest is dying. Miriam’s father is trying to help when the Grand Inquisitor comes in, insists the young priest needs his last rites and forces him to drink wine – wine with extra powder in it. The young priest convulses and dies. As Miriam and her father try to leave, the Grand Inquisitor accuses them of murder and locks them up. Miriam has to find a way out and she won’t leave her father behind.

That is pretty much the first chapter. I don’t want to go into too much more, as I don’t want to give anything away, but part-way through we meet another character, Joachin, who lost both parents when he was 9- and 11-years old. Joachin is looking for a priest with a scar – a scar Joachin gave him when that priest murdered Joachin’s mother. Joachin plans to kill the priest with the scar.

When Joachin was introduced, initially I wasn’t as interested in his storyline (nor the storyline of another group of people introduced a bit later), until things (and characters) started to come together. The book really picked up in the last ¼ of the book, and though I didn’t increase my rating up to 4 stars (that’s what I’d rate the last bit of the book), I pulled up my rating just that extra bit above 3.5 stars (good). This is a trilogy, so not everything was tied up at the end, as it will continue, and I will continue with the next book, as well.

Ene 15, 9:09am

Rend – Roan Parrish – (New York)
Riven series Book #2
Matt Argento knows what it feels like to be alone. After a childhood of abandonment, he never imagined someone might love him—much less someone like Rhys Nyland, who has the voice of an angel, the looks of a god, and the worship of his fans. Matt and Rhys come from different worlds, but when they meet, their chemistry is incendiary. Their romance is unexpected, intense, and forever—at least, that’s what their vows promise. Suddenly, Matt finds himself living a life he never thought possible: safe and secure in the arms of a man who feels like home. But when Rhys leaves to go on tour for his new album, Matt finds himself haunted by the ghosts of his past. When Rhys returns, he finds Matt twisted by doubt. But Rhys loves Matt fiercely, and he’ll go to hell and back to triumph over Matt’s fears. After secrets are revealed and desires are confessed, Rhys and Matt must learn to trust each other if they’re going to make it. That means they have to fall in love all over again—and this time, it really will be forever.

The second book in the Riven series works through several different aspects of trauma and looks at how one’s past can shape their future. I read more than 300 books a year on a regular basis. Some make me think about things I wouldn’t normally think about…some make me laugh…Some make me mark places to reread for one reason or another…but I have read very few authors that have the ability to make me cry. Roan Parrish did. Her pages describing Matt roaming the streets and trying to escape his memories of his terrible childhood and his lost, empty felling while his husband, Rhys, was on tour while at the same time trying so hard to keep Rhy’s from knowing how utterly undone he was without him…completely wrecked me. You just have to love these two guys and you want so much happiness for them. Matt is “severely damaged” from his years in foster care but it is such an incredible experience watching him learn to trust as he loses more and more of his doubts and fears with Rhys and finally trusts him enough to tell him of his terrible childhood. Theo and Caleb from the first book make several appearances as just good close and supportive friends. Overall, I really enjoyed the book although I did wish we would have stayed longer with Rhys and Matt. I have never felt the things that I felt while reading this story. I don't know if in this day and age I have to say it but I don't want anyone to be offended...so...be aware that the characters are same sex and some scenes are explicit.

Ene 16, 9:49am

Creatures of Passage - Morowa Yejide – (Washington D.C)
Nephthys Kinwell is a taxi driver of sorts in Washington, DC, ferrying passengers in a 1967 Plymouth Belvedere with a ghost in the trunk. Endless rides and alcohol help her manage her grief over the death of her twin brother, Osiris, who was murdered and dumped in the Anacostia River. Unknown to Nephthys when the novel opens in 1977…her estranged great-nephew, ten-year-old Dash, is finding himself drawn to the banks of that very same river. It is there that Dash—reeling from having witnessed an act of molestation at his school, but still questioning what and who he saw—has charmed conversations with a mysterious figure he calls the “River Man.” When Dash arrives unexpectedly at Nephthys’s door bearing a cryptic note about his unusual conversations with the River Man, Nephthys must face what frightens her most.

This book is skillfully written but sometimes takes off on whirlwind journeys that make it difficult to understand exactly what the author is actually trying to express. I have never before read anything by this author, but I do find that she is very good at bringing together a story that is both frightening as well as almost playful. The sum total is an unforgettable blurring of reality and genres. From the haunted Plymouth automobile to the mysteries in the fog in this alternate America and hidden Washington, DC filled with otherworldly landscapes… flawed super-humans…and reluctant ghosts, you will find that no matter what your feelings are about the content… you will know that you have never read anything quiet like it. That having been said...I believe it will take an audience with more Si-Fi tastes rather than supernatural preferences to really give it the appreciation that it deserves.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Akashic Books in exchange for an honest opinion. The views expressed by this reviewer are entirely my own.

Ene 16, 3:55pm

Pistols For Two
Georgette Heyer
3/5 stars
Author Heyer is known for her historical romance novels and mysteries. This book contains several of her historical romance short stories and has a couple of excerpts from 2 of her novels. This is definitely for romance fans. I read some of her novels years ago and it was fun to re-visit her writings and to read her short stories.

Ene 17, 8:49am

Long Shadows – Kate Sherwood –(Montana)
Common Law series Book #1
LA cop Jericho Crewe got the hell out of Mosely, Montana, when he was seventeen. Fifteen years later, he’s back, and everything is just as messed up as when he left. He planned a quick visit to deal with his injured father, but of course things are never that simple. Family complications… police complications… social complication…and, as always, Wade Granger complications. Jericho and Wade had been so close, once upon a time. First as friends, then more than just friends… and then, after Jericho’s escape, nothing for over 10 years. Wade’s magnetism hasn’t been lessened by a decade and a half apart; even when Jericho learns that Wade is the prime suspect in the death of Jericho’s father, the old connection still sparks.

This was described as a romantic suspense novel. However there is much more suspense than there is romance. I’m almost of the mind that this is a book was only meant to build the plot line and to provide background for the characters when the series is continued. It wasn’t advertised as "suspense” especially, but that type storyline drove the plot from the beginning to the end. Of course there was tension between Jerricho and Wade… but nothing happened…literally…and that was rather suspicious considering the history these two characters had to one another while growing up. I wonder how long Jerricho's resolve that he is supposed to “uphold the law” and Wade is on the “other side of the law”, will actually last. Things will be s much more interesting when they both give a little. The bad guy becomes obvious at some point but the how’s and why’s take longer to put together, as does Jerricho and Wades acceptance and acknowledgement of any resuming any kind of a relationship…friendship or romantic. I will go with book 2 in the series but I hope these two can come to some kind of mutual understanding.

Ene 17, 3:52pm

The Guest List / Lucy Foley
4.5 stars

Jules and Will have planned their wedding on a deserted (except for the newly created wedding “pavilion”) island in Ireland. The wedding party is expected to arrive the day before and spend two nights there, while the rest of the guests will arrive the day of. A bad storm is coming the night of the wedding. And things go horribly wrong…

It’s told from different points of view, but at the start of each chapter, we are given the name of that character’s POV for that chapter, as well as who they are. Some of them include Jules, the bride; Hannah, the plus one (her husband Charlie, is Jules’ best friend); Aoife, the wedding planner; Johnno, the best man (and long-time best friend of Will’s from way back in boarding school); Olivia, the bridesmaid (and Jules’ much younger sister).

The atmosphere is done so well – this deserted, dangerous, boggy island with a storm coming. The opening chapter starts with things going wrong during the wedding, then backs up to everything leading up to what happened at the wedding. Parts were creepy, and I was kept wanting to read. There were not very many likeable characters in this book, but there were a couple. No surprise here, but everyone had secrets.

Ene 17, 4:19pm

Shadowland / Alyson Noel
3 stars

I don’t want to give too much of a summary, so as to not give away the first two books in this “The Immortals” series. This won’t give away anything of the first two books: Ever is drawn to her new (very young) boss at her new job in a mystical bookstore. But she is still so in love with her soulmate.

I listened to the audio of this one. I wasn’t that excited about it. I did lose focus more often that I’d like. It did get better at the very end and I was paying better attention. Rating it “ok”, but overall, I don’t think it’s enough for me to continue the series.

Ene 17, 4:34pm

The Secrets of Lost Cats: One Woman, Twenty Posters, and a New Understanding of Love
Dr. Nancy Davidson
3.5/5 stars
Nancy Davidson explores the unusual topic of missing cats and the posters that people make when their cats go missing. Her exploration of this topic came up when her own orange tabby went missing. She made posters to help find him and discovered a myriad of other missing cat posters in her area. She has a degree in clinical psychology and wanted to know the stories of the people who lost their cats. So whenever she found a lost cat poster, she would try to contact the owners. Some were open to her and some were not. This was such an interesting and usual topic that I sped through this book!

Ene 17, 6:39pm

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
3 1/2 ***

Deep in the heart of Oxford's Bodleian Library, scholar Diana Bishop requests a manuscript called Ashmole 782 in the course of her research Coming from an old and distinguished lineage of witches, Diana senses that the ancient book might be bound up with magic--but she herself wants nothing to do with sorcery; and after making a few notes on its curious images, she banishes it quickly back to the stacks. But what she doesn't know is that the old alchemical text has been lost for centuries, and its sudden appearance has set a fantastical underworld stirring.

And from this thread, >3 threadnsong: and >11 Carol420:.

I had no idea what to expect from this book, even what its plot was, when I put it on my list to read at the end of last year (began it this year instead). There were parts where I decided I had wasted my money, especially as what had been the fascinating descriptions of Oxford's Bodleian library became way more detailed and less and less plot. The action went from "Diana is researching these cool alchemical texts" and instead became "Diana is being watched by this group in this area, then that group in that area." Also, the only witches in this book are those who are descended from other witches, not humans interested in the neo-pagan religion. It was like the adulthood of Harry Potter's world: creatures vs. humans.

Still, I'm reading a book about witches who can start fires with their fingertips, vampires, and daemons. Somehow, it just seemed best to suspend disbelief (or maybe discontent?) and just get caught up in the story. And Harkness shows her stuff in the different periods in history and the world-building and weaves them together well.

Once the inclusion of Matthew Clairmont as a main character comes into the story, the storytelling strengthens and we are dealing less with Diana Bishop's personal angst and more with a real plotline. It is heavy on the romance side of things but Harkness also decides that in her world, pretty much anything can happen. And it does. Diana's avoidance of her magical abilities becomes a frustrating, repetitive bit of angst, lending only a little bit of insight into the origin of witches. In fact, both the vampire origins and histories as well as the explanations of the daemons are much better prepared than those of the witches. Maybe the latter will be explained better in her later books? Or maybe Harkness is making a point about earlier times?

I'll eventually pick up the second and third in this series, maybe from the library, just to see how everything works out.

Ene 18, 10:14am

Prelude: Blue Notes - Shira Anthony
Blue Notes series Book #2
World-renowned conductor David Somers never wanted the investment firm he inherited from his domineering grandfather. He only wanted to be a composer. But no matter how he struggles, David can’t translate the music in his head into notes on paper.
When a guest violinist at the Chicago Symphony falls ill, David meets Alex Bishop, a last-minute substitute. Alex’s fame and outrageous tattoos fail to move David. Then Alex puts bow to string, and David hears the brilliance of Alex’s soul. David has sworn off relationships, believing he will eventually drive away those he loves, or that he'll lose them as he lost his wife and parents. But Alex is outgoing, relaxed, and congenial—everything David is not—and soon makes dents in the armor around David's heart. David’s fragile ego, worn away by years of his grandfather’s disdain, makes losing control difficult. When David’s structured world comes crashing down, his fledgling relationship with Alex is the first casualty. Still, David hears Alex’s music, haunting and beautiful. David wants to love Alex, but first he must find the strength to acknowledge himself.

This is a sweet and a bit bitter-sweet story. David is brilliant and a somewhat of a mess. Alex is amazing and has overcome so much and on his way to the top of the music field. The story isn’t perfect but then neither are the men. There are some coincidences that are a little hard to buy and David is too brooding and uncertain at times…actually I wanted to shake him most of the time. Alex is just too good to be true. Putting all that aside this series is a lot of fun to read and the characters are worth caring about.

Ene 18, 1:46pm

Part & Parcel – Abigail Roux – (California/Arizona/Maryland)
Sidewinder series Book #3
Nick O’Flaherty and Kelly Abbott had their happy ending in sight when a friend’s call for help almost ended with them losing it to the blade of a knife. Now, in the aftermath of near-disaster, both men are trying to heal and move on. Moving on together, though, is harder than either of them realized it would be. Kelly struggles with simply being a lover instead of the Doc, while Nick is mired in his recovery. The distance between them inches along in stilted silence. Desperately seeking solace, Nick finally gathers the courage to sort through the possessions his dear friend and fellow Sidewinder teammate Elias Sanchez left him when he died. Instead of comforting memories, Nick and Kelly find a stack of letters and strict instructions from Eli that prompts them to send out a call for assistance. With Eli’s letters in hand, Sidewinder sets out on one last mission together, seeking peace and absolution from beyond the grave—and from each other.

I have been a huge fan of Roux’s Sidewinder series since a good friend gave me the first book in the series that featured Ty and Zane. Along the way I met their friends that are featured in this one. I have to admit that I am more drawn to Ty and Zane’s dynamics and humor than Nick and Kelly’s. Still the story was intriguing as it focused on the ends that true and valued loves and friendships will go to in order to assure that it survives whatever life throws in it’s path. We see the team across time from 1999 through 2013 and get a much better understanding of the individuals and team’s relationships that define them… and best of all we get to hear it throughout from Zane who was not a member of the team in those years. I hope Abigail Roux continues this series with new views into the lives of these guys.

Ene 19, 9:02am

Dead Anyway - Chris Knopf – (Connecticut)
Imagine this: You have a nice life. You love your beautiful, successful wife. You're an easygoing guy working out of your comfortable Connecticut home. The world is an interesting, pleasant place. Then in seconds it's all gone. You're still alive, but the world thinks you're dead. And now you have to decide. Make it official, or go after the evil that took it all away from you. Arthur Cathcart, market researcher and occasional finder of missing persons, decides to live on and fight, by doing what he knows best - figuring things out, without revealing his status as a living breathing human being. Much easier said than done in a post- 9/11 world, where everything about yourself and all the tools you need to live a modern life are an open book. How do you become a different person, how do you finance an elaborate scheme without revealing yourself? How do you force a reckoning with the worst people on earth, as a dead man?

We meet Arthur who has a seemingly perfect life and then the next thing he knows he’s hiding from the bad guy that blew his world away by shooting Arthur and his wife. Arthur slowly recovers but revenge is always in the forefront in his mind. This is a new feeling and want for Arthur and he puts it to the bullet that was dug from his brain…new thought but not entirely unwelcome and so Arthur begins to use his computer skills and some new friends to set in action a plan that may just finish the job that the shooter started…but does it really matter? He knows that he’s “Dead Anyway”. I thoroughly enjoyed the intricacies of the plot. It was witty and cleverly done and kept me guessing throughout yet the resolution of the storyline was weirdly believable. Not a heavy mystery but it was fun watching Arthur work.

Ene 19, 10:47am

Daisy Jones And the Six – Taylor Jenkins Reid
Book on CD performed by a full cast.

A book within a book, that purportedly tells the story of a famous rock band of the 1970s, told in an unusual format – an “oral history” novel.

It’s a love story, a history of the 1970s rock scene, a coming of age story, and a story of how addiction steals the best parts of our lives. I really didn’t like the main characters. The format Reid chose to use – a faux oral history – had me cringing with all the back-biting and whining. One person doesn’t like another, or is jealous of another, or is mad at another … over and over again. And as for plot … it just didn’t seem to be going anywhere, or at least not anywhere I wanted to go.

And then I got to those last 20 pages and my breath was taken away. I LOVED the ending of this book! It was headed for a 2-star rating and those last twenty pages earned it an entire additional star.

I was glad I was listening to the audio because the few times I chose to read parts of the text, well, the format just didn’t quite work for me on the page. But as an audio, it was great.

The audio is performed by a full cast: Jennifer Beals, Benjamin Bratt, Ari Flakos, Judy Greer, January LaVoy, Robinne Lee, Pablo Schreiber, and Julia Whelan, with Sara Arrington, Fred Berman, Arthur Bishop, Jonathan Davis, Holter Graham, Peter Larkin, Henry Leyva, P.J. Ochlan, Robert Petkoff, Alex Jenkins Reid, Brendan Wayne, Nancy Wu, and Oliver Wyman. I have no idea who reads which part, though I’m assuming Beals voices Daisy, and Bratt voices Billy. Regardless, this was a brilliant way to perform this audiobook. I felt many times as if I were watching a documentary about the band (or at least listening to it). 4 stars for the audio performance. My only quibble is that the last track is supposedly one of the key songs, but – at least on the copy I had from the library – it was purely instrumental, with no vocals. I had hoped to hear the full song performed. The text version, on the other hand, included all the lyrics to the band’s hit album.

Ene 20, 12:12am

Good Neighbors / Sarah Langan
5 stars

The book is primarily set in 2027 (when the pertinent events happen), but it’s actually a reporter in 2042 (I believe) who is looking back on the “Murders of Maple Street”, and what led up to it. Arlo, Gertie and their kids, Julia and Larry moved to Maple Street a year earlier. They are pretty much “white trash”, but were trying to be upwardly mobile. It took a bit of time to be accepted, but after their immediate neighbour Rhea befriends Gertie, things go much smoother… until the 4th of July, when Gertie realizes everyone on the street was invited to the party except them. She’s not sure what happened for them to be excluded.

Things get more and more out of hand amongst the kids when Rhea’s daughter, Shelley, and Julia suddenly aren’t speaking (but Julia doesn’t understand why). Just before Shelley disappears into a giant sinkhole that opened up across the street, she had accused Julia’s father of something terrible. The rumors and gossip get so out of hand, and things go incredibly wrong…

This built, though part-way through I knew I would rate it quite high (was thinking 4.5 stars), but the end – I didn’t see coming! Holy crap – that mob mentality! I was angry at so many of those people! I feel like this is a slightly different take on the current thriller fad. It did remind me a bit of “Big Little Lies” with the articles and interviews (from 2042) that were interspersed, but it was still quite different from others out there (in my opinion).

Ene 20, 10:32am

Don’t Look - Alexandra Ivy – (Wisconsin)
Pike Wisconsin series Book #1
IF YOU'RE ON HIS LIST: A woman's naked body is discovered, cold and pale as the surrounding snow--except for the crimson scarf around her neck. The weeks that follow bring more victims and evidence of a terrifying pattern. The killer has a list. And every woman on it will get what she deserves... YOU'RE AS GOOD: Dr. Lynne Gale followed in her father's footsteps to become a vet in Pike, Wisconsin. For years, she's had little contact with Kir Jansen, son of the town's late sheriff. Suddenly he's back, insisting that Lynne's in danger. She can't believe anyone would target her, but someone is hunting the women of Pike, savoring every last moment. Kir hoped that his father's frantic calls about a serial killer were just an old man's delusions. But the body count doesn't lie. In this quiet town, a monster stalks and kills and soon, Lynne's will be the last name on his list.

Lynne and Kir each had a crush on the other in high school that they never acted on. Upon meeting again, their attraction is instantaneous and they had great chemistry. Their romance does move fairly quickly which is typical for romantic suspense books, so that didn't bother me. The two communicate well and the steamy scenes are well done. Overall, most readers will be happy with their romance. I will say the one area I had a few issues with was their investigation to find the killer. Neither of them have any law enforcement experience but yet they're able to quickly uncover leads while getting people to answer their questions with very little prompting. I think I would have liked it better if they had had to work a bit harder for the information they found or if one of them had a background that would make their ease of finding information more plausible. I have to say that I found it to be a really good read and I'm looking forward to seeing what the next book in the series will bring.

Editado: Ene 20, 2:05pm

Out of Nowhere - Roan Parrish – (Pennsylvania)
Middle of Somewhere Series Book #2
The only thing in Colin Mulligan’s life that makes sense is taking cars apart and putting them back together. In the auto shop where he works with his father and brothers, he tries to get through the day without having a panic attack or flying into a rage. Drinking helps. So does running and lifting weights until he can hardly stand. But none of it can change the fact that he’s gay, a secret he has kept from everyone. Rafael Guerrera has found ways to live with the past he’s ashamed of. He’s dedicated his life to social justice work and to helping youth who, like him, had very little growing up. He has no time for love. Hell, he barely has time for himself. Somehow, everything about miserable, self-destructive Colin cries out to him. But down that path lie the troubles Rafe has worked so hard to leave behind. And as their relationship intensifies, Rafe and Colin are forced to dredge up secrets that both men would prefer stay buried.

This is a continuation of the story from book 1…The Middle of somewhere only it’s told from the viewpoint of Daniel’s oldest brother, Colin who has given Daniel grief, hostility and the cold shoulder since finding him and a friend together when Daniel was 13. The scene at their fathers funeral when Daniel found Colin in a compromising position and learned the reason or the years of Colin’s hostility toward him. I liked the way that Roan Parrish didn’t just leave Colin at odds with Daniel and gave him a chance to tell his story. One of my two friends that have been together for 22 years went through something similar with his family so I am very familiar with the helplessness that this can cause. To this day his family refuses to see or speak to him and they have never acknowledged their 18 year old beautiful, sweet, intelligent grandson. The author did a beautiful job of telling the truth about the way in which social and cultural rules can destroy a human life that does not ‘fit’ into the established pattern. Thank you for Colin’s story, Ms. Parrish. My friend Conner, said I would understand why he gave me these books... and I do.

Editado: Ene 21, 2:14pm

Service With a Smile
P.G. Wodehouse
3/5 stars
This is the first Wodehouse novel I have read but it is the 5th in the series that concentrates on Uncle Fred, 5th Earl of Ickenham. He is visiting his friend Lord Emsworth who has to deal with his lost prize pig, a new secretary and a group of church lads camping on his property. This was quite a romp especially with several plot lines for a book that is only 190 pages long.

Editado: Ene 21, 4:50pm

Where We Left Off – Roan Parrish – (New York/Michigan)
Middle of Somewhere series Book #3
Leo Ware may be young, but he knows what he wants…and what he wants is Will Highland. Snarky, sophisticated, fiercely opinionated Will Highland, who burst into Leo’s unremarkable life like a supernova… and then was gone just as quickly. For the past miserable year, Leo hasn’t been able to stop thinking about the powerful connection he and Will shared. So, when Leo moves to New York for college, he sweeps back into Will’s life, hopeful that they can pick up where they left off. What begins as a unique friendship soon burns with chemistry they can’t deny… though Will certainly tries. But Leo longs for more than friendship and hot sex. A romantic to his core, Leo wants passion, love, commitment—everything Will isn’t interested in giving. Will thinks romance is a cheesy fairy tale and love is overrated. He likes his space and he’s happy with things just the way they are, thank you very much. Or is he? Because as he and Leo get more and more tangled up in each other’s lives, Will begins to act like maybe love is something he could feel after all.

I liked the book. Since one of my friends loaded me down with the giant pile of books of this genre, I have learned that I like almost anything Roan Parrish writes but… this part of the series just seemed to I be missing something, or was just be too slow getting started. It wasn't because the writing isn’t good or the story isn't good... It's actually very well written and I loved Leo from the first time we met him in the first book….but I think the two major problems was the differences between Leo and Will’s ages. It made it hard for them to really have anything in common except the obvious and Will sometimes treated Leo like a child. Will had been telling Leo from the start that he wasn’t looking for a relationship of any kind with anyone but he then kept leading him on with on again off again scenarios driving the poor boy crazy. I really felt sorry for Leo. He had had a lot of “first times” happening in his young life at this time and he didn’t need to have to deal with Will’s acceptance and then non-acceptance. Leo picked a New York college because Will lived there and he had his heart set on Will. Stay with the story… all will work out in the end and the ending is really beautiful.

Ene 22, 1:17pm

Fool Moon - Jim Butcher – (Illinois)
Dresden File series Book #2
You’d think there’d be a little more action for the only professional wizard listed in the Chicago phone book. But lately, Harry Dresden hasn’t been able to dredge up any kind of work: magical, mundane, or menial. Just when it looks like he can’t afford his next meal, a murder comes along that requires his particular brand of supernatural expertise. There’s a brutally mutilated corpse, and monstrous animal markings at the scene. Not to mention that the killing took place on the night of a full moon. Harry knows exactly where this case is headed. Take three guesses—and the first two don’t count.

It’s been more years than I care to remember since I’ve read a Jim Butcher book. Glad to have had a challenge that allowed me to remedy that. I always loved this series. It takes the best of urban fantasy… mixes it with some good old-fashioned noir mystery… tosses in a little romance and a lot of action…shake… stir and serve. It had everything that makes for a good story…mystery, crime, thrilling episodes…. horror… detectives… and paranormal. Jim Butcher blends them with humor…t even if it was a bit dry at times. I always enjoyed trying to second guess where Mr. Butcher would take us next.

Ene 23, 2:56pm

Status Update - Annabeth Albert – (Utah/Colorado)
Adrian Gottlieb is winning at life. He’s a successful video game designer with everything a man could ask for, including a warm comfy ride to Denver and a date for his sister’s wedding. But he finds himself in need of a total reboot when he’s left stranded at a snowy campground in Utah. Holiday plans?... epic fail. That is until Noah Walters offers him shelter for the night and a reluctant cross-country ride. Nothing about the ultraconservative geo- archaeologist should attract Adrian, but once he discovers Noah’s hidden love for video games, the two connect on a new level. Soon, a quiet but undeniable chemistry sparks. Something doesn’t add up, though. As the miles accumulate and time runs out, Noah must face the most difficult choice of his life. Meanwhile, Adrian must decide whether he’s ready to level up. Is their relationship status worth fighting for, or has this game ended before it’s even begun?

I’ve read a lot of this author’s books and always related well to, and liked and rooted for the characters… but this one seemed at the beginning, to be lacking something fairly important in any type of relationship…that little thing called “chemistry”. The two guys seemed to just like and respect each other… or maybe it was just that they liked each others dogs:) I can see based on Noah’s past why he reacted to Adrian the way that he did…but I found myself wanting to yell at him and hit him over the head with one of the rocks he studied. He does finally get his act together, but I thought that Noah was going to lose everything that was good in his life… which included Adrian…before he had learned to like and accept himself for who he was. This was a good read by an author that I have come to like a lot. My box of books from my friend includes several more by her I see.

Ene 24, 3:11pm

Furiously Happy / Jenny Lawson
4 stars

Blogger Jenny Lawson has a number of mental health issues, including anxiety and depression. In this, her second book, she takes a humourous look at herself and her eccentricities, mostly in the form of anecdotes.

I listened to the audio, which she narrated herself and I thought she was really good. There were lots of times when I laughed out loud. Every so often, she’d mention that because I was listening to the audio, I wouldn’t see the photo that’s in the book to go with her current story, but listeners of the audio do get a bonus chapter at the end. It included cats. Which made me happy. Well, she mentions cats at various points throughout the book, anyway. (But that’s not why I gave it 4 stars! Cats were just an added bonus.)

Ene 24, 10:30pm

Women in White Coats: How the First Women Doctors Changed the World of Medicine / Olivia Campbell
4.25 stars

This is mainly a biography of three of the first women doctors in the mid- to late-19th century, but also a history of the fight for the right of women to become doctors. Elizabeth Blackwell was the first woman in the US to earn an MD, in the mid-1800s. It took a while longer, but Lizzie Garret was the first in England. Sophia Jax-Blake was not immediately next in the UK, but she worked hard fighting for the right of women to be able to earn that designation; she did get her MD later s well, but she also helped start up two women’s medical schools – in London and Edinburgh.

Every step of the way took months and years of hard work for these women to be able to earn that MD. With the stereotypes and fears of male doctors, professors, and medical students pushing back with excuses to deny them this. Before the women’s schools were set up, these women had to take classes (many privately, and at a much higher cost), as well as find a placement for clinical practice to gain that experience; very very difficult to do when most hospitals continually turned them down. There were some male doctors (and professors) who were sympathetic and did help out as much as they could.

I’ve left out so much of the struggles! This book is nonfiction, but it reads like fiction. Very readable. Oh, the frustration, though, at the male students, doctors, and professors! They call the women “delicate” and such, but as far as I can tell, the men were the “delicate” ones with their temper tantrums (the phrase entered my head even before she used it in the book!), not able to handle that there are women just as smart and can do the job just as well as they (possibly) could (although I do wonder about some of those men!). And these men were supposed to be trusted to tend to women’s health issues!? Ugh! (Many women at the time avoided, if possible, seeing male doctors for their ailments.) Many of the women students had better grades than the men, but of course, were never really acknowledged for it.

Editado: Ene 25, 11:47am

The Moxie – Dawn Fitzgerald
Midlife changes were more than Kate had bargained for. Mental confusion, physical discomfort, and the revelation of a centuries old family secret leave Kate unnerved. Women on her mother's side of the family attained unique powers that only manifested during this time of change. Managing life with a middle aged husband, a hormonal teenage daughter and a party planning business is difficult. Add in the crazy symptoms of midlife changes, and Kate is dangling on the edge. Her mom and aunts step in to help Kate find balance with her unbalanced body and her unbalanced life. With humor, perseverance, unpredictability and zany antics, Kate rediscovers her true self.

This can only be described as a charming and fun filled book letting us see how Kate, the main character, deals with the changes occurring in her life, both physical as well as emotional. She is definitely still in love with Jeff her husband in spite of having had a few problems as all couples do as well as dealing with their teenager daughter, Ashley. Like most teenagers she drives them nuts with her rude attitude, but they are none the less, very supportive of her. Kate discovers “The Moxie” and is very disturbed by this new “thing” in her life that she now has to deal with. I found myself laughing from the very first page. I can certainly understand the frustration and aggravation that Kate was experiencing. I have been there and done that. It was good old fashion fun filed with a crazy cast of characters. Thanks to my friend, John from the Goodreads site for his recommendation of this one.

Editado: Ene 28, 6:38pm

Flash And Bones – Kathy Reichs
Digital audiobook performed by Barbara Rosenblat

Book # 14 in the very popular Temperance Brennan mystery series, featuring the forensic anthropologist who splits her time between Quebec and North Carolina. This one is firmly rooted in the USA, and begins when a 50-gal barrel is unearthed, and a hand is noted to be sticking out of the set asphalt which fills said container. This is just prior to the big NASCAR race at the Charlotte track and there’s some urgency to solve the case. Or is there? Before Dr Brennan can get the answers to the puzzle of this old corpse, the FBI swoops in, confiscates the remains and somehow makes all the records go “poof.”

Reichs is great at plotting intricate mysteries and this is no exception. There are plenty of twists and turns, old and new murders to consider, red herrings and suspects galore. Tempe is her usual self – smart, determined, able to hold her own, but also prone to walking into dangerous situations without appropriate preparation or back-up. Never fear, Reichs always provides a strong man to get Dr Brennan out of the trouble she’s gotten herself into.

Barbara Rosenblat does a fine job of narrating the audio version. She sets a good pace and has clear diction, so she’s understandable even at an increased speed.

Editado: Ene 27, 2:41pm

There Was A Crooked Man, He Flipped A Crooked House - David Erik Nelson - (Michigan)

Stop! Don't touch the fence. Don't unlock the door. And whatever you do, don't look at anything in the library —because this house keeps itself occupied.

It was...to say the least...a very interesting take on the common old “haunted house” story. I also loved that it took place in my home state of Michigan although the city was different...Detroit. The characters were unique...the house was awesome! There were plenty of chills...but not so much in the jumpy, scare you death type of horror but more in the Sci-fi kind of horror. It's a short book that surprised me at every single turn. I read a lot of this type of genre and I don't usually surprise very easily. Just when I thought I knew what happens next...I was dead... (no pun intended)... wrong! I believe being genuinely surprised by the plot is one of the greatest tribute a reader can offer an author. If you're a fan of smart, artfully written horror fiction, then There Was a Crooked Man, He Flipped a Crooked House is a must read for you.

Ene 27, 11:17am

Ancient Enemy - Mark Lukens - (Colorado)

Ancient Enemy - it wants things . . . you have to give it what it wants . . .Seven hundred years ago the Anasazi people built massive cities in what is now the southwestern United States . . . and then they vanished. Stella, an archaeologist specializing in Anasazi culture, and David, a mysterious Navajo boy, are on the run from something terrifying. As they flee up into the snowy mountains of Colorado, they are carjacked by criminals escaping a botched bank robbery. Caught in a blizzard, they must take refuge in what they believe is an abandoned cabin. It's at this cabin where they will face horrors beyond their imagination.

As a fan of the strange, unexplained, and the unusual, I’ve read many stories dealing with the mysteries of the native peoples in the Four Corners region of the United States. These tales are usually about the lost Anasazi...skinwalkers... and Chaco...and of course evil spirits. What the "Ancient Enemy" actually is never really personified. It's never seen and is never given a name. It does have talents that you wouldn't want anything or anyone to process, much less use. It can animate the dead...put people into a trance when they are vulnerable...and kill at will. What this very talented author has done is create a very chilling tale of supernatural horror, with a storyline that will keep the reader riveted. His character development...both the protagonists and antagonists... is absolutely top notch. There are very few slow spots in the pace of the story and the conclusion of the novel just opened the door for a sequel. Since this book was in my box of books from my two friends and is an entirely different genre than the others I will have to buy the second book. Amazon...here I come!

Editado: Ene 27, 11:44am

Infinite Tuesday: An Autobiographical Riff
Michael Nesmith
3.5/5 stars
Probably best known to older generations as one of The Monkees, Nesmith writes about his life which included his stint on The Monkees. After the show ended, he continued to work in the TV and movie industry but he also fought to find meaning in his life. There is also a CD that has some of Nesmith’s music on it called Infinite Tuesday: Autobiographical Riffs The Music but it doesn’t come with the book.

Ene 28, 2:42pm

Barrel Proof - Layla Reyne (California)
Agents Irish and Whiskey series Book #3

FBI agents Aidan "Irish" Talley and Jameson "Whiskey" Walker can't get a moment's peace. Their hunt for the terrorist Renaud seems to be nearing an end, until a fire allows him to slip through their fingers—and puts Jamie's life in danger. When Jamie is nearly killed, Aidan learns how many forms loss can take. Aidan says I love you just moments before learning that Jamie's been keeping a devastating secret about Aidan's late husband. How quickly trust and love can go up in flames. When Aidan requests a solo undercover assignment, Jamie hopes Aidan will find a way to forgive him. But the explosions are far from over. Aidan's cover lands him in the heart of the terrorist's conspiracy, and Jamie will have to put his life, his career and his freedom on the line to save the man who has become his entire world. Partners, always is a promise he intends to keep.

I have really enjoyed this series and the characters of Aidan Tally and Jamie Walker. The series is a romance but it's also a good mystery story that continues over these 3 books. I wish Aidan didn't take everything so personally. he gets carried away sometimes blaming first himself and then sometimes Jamie for things that were beyond either of their control. The last book was a bit of a cliffhanger so I'm glad that Ms. Reyne gave Jamie and Aidan some closure and happiness. I have to give the three books in this whole series 5 stars because they are fantastic reads. Just as a sidebar: Thank you Conner and Luke...my two good friends, for the big box of books. Hope you don't want them back:)

Ene 28, 6:38pm

Under the Mercy Trees – Heather Newton

From the book jacket Thirty years ago, Martin Owenby came to New York City with dreams of becoming a writer. Now his existence revolves around cheap Scotch and weekend flings with equally damaged men. When he learns that his older brother, Leon, has gone missing, he must return to the Owenby farm in Solace Fork, North Carolina, to assist in the search. But that means facing a past filled with regrets, the family that never understood him, the girl whose heart he broke, and the best friend who has faithfully kept the home fires burning.

My reactions:
Oh, what a tangled web we weave… I’m not sure what I was thinking, even from reading the book jacket, but this was quite a bit darker than I expected. There are so many things going on, so many “secrets” (most of which are known to family and even the rest of the residents of this small town), so many betrayals. We have people consumed by alcohol (and/or drugs), mean-spirited control freaks, unfaithful spouses, guilty consciences, mental (and physical) illness and abject loneliness that comes with keeping all that bottled up. I’m exhausted by the effort required by these characters to hide so much and still co-exist in such tight quarters.

Martin is such a broken man, whose early promise has never been realized. I cannot help but think of the analogy of a basket of crabs … you don’t need a cover because if any one of the crabs tries to crawl out, the others will just drag it back into the basket. In this case it is Martin’s family situation, his loyalty to his mother, his guilt for leaving her, his shame for being who he is, a gay man in a time and place that will not tolerate such “aberration and sin.” He is so broken that he cannot even accept the love of his two loyal friends from high school – Liza and Hodge – who still love him for who he is despite his efforts to run from them.

And Martin’s sister, Ivy, is a marvelous character. Gifted (or cursed) with an ability to see and communicate with ghosts, she’s discounted by the townspeople and her family as insane and/or stupid. She is virtually invisible, mostly because no one wants to see her. As a result she’s a great observer and keeper of secrets.

As for the mystery of Martin’s missing older brother … Newton surprised me with several of the plot twists.

This is her only novel. I wish there were more for me to read.

Ene 29, 11:00pm

Akin / Emma Donoghue
3.5 stars

Noah is 79-years old and planning a trip to his home country, France – a country he had to leave at 4-years old due to the war. He has a set of photographs his mother took that had been in possession of his sister, who has since passed away, and Noah is hoping to find out more about them. A few days before the trip, he is contacted by social services. He has a great-nephew with no other family they are able to find/contact who needs a temporary guardian, as his father (Noah’s nephew) died, and his mother is in jail. Michael is 11-years old; he and Noah have never met.

It was good. Kept my interest, though it wasn’t terribly fast-moving. I sure did dislike the kid, though.

Ene 29, 11:40pm

Elevation – Stephen King
Digital audiobook read by the author

Scott Carey is losing weight, and he confides in his old friend, a retired physician about his unusual symptoms. Divorced, he’s living with just his cat. He’s started a bit of a feud with two new neighbors – Deirdre McComb and her wife Missy Donaldson – because their dogs “leave presents” on his lawn. But it seems that other people in their small town of Castle Rock, Maine, have a problem with the women because they are lesbians. When Scott overhears some derogatory remarks about the women’s new restaurant, he comes to their defense.

This was a delightful novella with an unusual plot device, but that focuses on human kindness and respect. King gives us a lesson on what it means to be a good neighbor, and how to support one another despite our differences. I like the way that they slowly come to know one another and resolve their conflicts. The ending of Scott’s tale is poignant and heartfelt.

The edition I had also included a bonus short story – “Laurie” – about a widower whose sister gives him a puppy and how he begins to slowly make his way back to the living as a result. Unlike most of King’s work, rather than set this one in Maine, it takes place in the Florida. It has nothing to do with horror or science fiction, though grief and natural predators can be horrific. It reminds me how well King writes his characters; how he reveals their strengths and flaws through their actions.

King reads the audio version himself. He’s not a trained voice artist, but he certainly knows what he wants to say, and he does a respectable job of the narration.

Editado: Ene 30, 1:02pm

Before She Knew Him - Peter Swanson

A chilling tale of a young suburban wife with a history of psychological instability whose fears about her new neighbor could lead them both to murder.

"Could her neighbor Matthew be a killer? Or is this the beginning of another psychotic episode like the one she suffered in college, when she became so consumed with a friend’s guilt that she ended up hurting someone? The more Hen, (Henrietta), observes Matthew, the more she suspects he’s planning something truly terrifying. Yet no one will believe her." This book description is what hooked me into simply having to read this book. The plot is like something straight out of a Hitchcock film. There is a twist...but you know who the killer is the second the first hint is dropped. However it doesn't spoil the story or the atmosphere that the book produces in the least. This s not your typical psychological drama. The author has done here what he has proven he could do in every book I have ever read by him... entice the reader with his characters flaws and short comings by throwing in murderers...cheaters...and liars wrapping it all up nicely in the end.

Ene 31, 5:30pm

The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell
5***** and a heart

This is my third time reading this book, and every. Time. It just gets better. When I first re-read it, I did so for another book group mention and the names and events made more sense. This time, I found myself following the characters' interactions much more and really "getting" Fr. Emilio Sandoz' search for faith, for God, as much a driving force as the voyage to the planet Rakhat.

When DH asked me what I wanted last year for Christmas, I responded with the sequel to this book, Children of God. And since I received it, I figured I'd read the first one in order to understand the new book better, and because "The Sparrow" is just one hell of a good book.

Ene 31, 10:31pm

The Drowning Kind / Jennifer McMahon
5 stars

Jax and Lexie are sisters and spent their summers growing up with their Gram, who lived in a house with a “spring” pool in the yard. The spring, for decades, was someplace where people believed there were healing powers in the water. Locals, however, also believed that if you took something from the spring, the spring demanded something back.

Jax and Lexie always knew, growing up, that their Gram’s sister, Rita drowned in that spring. But, they loved it there, anyway. As adults, Lexie was diagnosed with a mental illness, and she had bouts of mania. Jax is a social worker, but had been estranged from Lexie for about a year – for her own mental sanity, she had to stop trying to fight Lexie’s battles for her when Lexie was off her meds. When she ignores Lexie’s calls one night, Jax is devastated to learn, the next day, that Lexie has drowned in the spring. (This is not a spoiler, as it happens almost immediately in the book.)

That was the current-day (2019) storyline. There was another storyline, set in 1929, when the property Jax’s Gram lived on was once the location of a hotel, where people came to use the spring for its healing powers. Ethel and Will are a couple without kids, but they desperately want a child. They head to the hotel for a short stay, and Ethel “asks” the spring to grant her her wish… and it does.

Really really good. This is one you may not want to read by yourself, in the dark, at night. Not all of it, but there were enough parts (as I read just before bed a couple of nights!) that were creepy and chilling. The atmosphere in the book was done really well, and there are even more family issues and secrets than what I’ve mentioned here.

Feb 2, 9:33am

>74 threadnsong: Totally agree. It's a hell of a good book. I liked Children of God quite a lot as well. Looking forward to your review of that one.