Saturday, December 9, 2017

December's bookish art...

Jessie Marion King -- The Magic Grammar
"And she read! ... not because someone advised her to, 
not even for self betterment, 
not so as to acquire more interesting conversation, 
but out of passion."
-- James J. Healey

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

A bookish journey to Budapest...

Title: Katalin Street
Author:  Magda Szabo
Summary:  In prewar Budapest, the Elekes, Held and Biro families live side by side on gracious Katalin Street, their lives closely intertwined, their four children inseparable. Then, in 1944, during the German occupation, all their hopes and dreams for the future are shattered. Lives are lost. And those who survive are forever changed. They are haunted, not only by their own guilt and sorrow, but by their longing to return to their former lives on Katalin Street.

Adjectives that describe this novel:  introspective, poignant, and bleak

Favorite quotes from Katalin Street:
There were several ornaments and objects from her former home too, but none of them conjured up the magic he had been hoping for. Iren's new abode had turned out to be nothing like the one in Katalin Street, and even here he was haunted by the sense of being somewhere else. The marriage to Iren had showed him that she yearned and pined for Katalin Street just as much as he did, that she had not found it, and neither had her parents, who were locked in the same hopeless quest to recover it ... This tyranny of somewhere else was a cruel one. It stopped Balint from seeing both the reality that existed and what he would have liked that reality to be.
The people who were with me on that day were imprinted on my memory--some of them permanently, some for many years afterward--exactly as they were at the time...
It was the first time in my life that I had an inkling that the dead are not dead but continue living in this world, in one form or another, indestructibly...
It is not only facts that are irreversible, our past reactions and feelings are too. One can neither relive them not alter them.
This isn't exactly a happy read, but it is an interesting and thoughtful one. (It's also not very long.) I  like reading about Europe, and World War II, and the time period following it during the Soviet occupation; I think it's important for all of us to know and remember what those times were like for the people who had to endure them. So even though this novel is a little depressing and sad...

Happy Reading!

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Wrapping up The Backlist Reader Challenge...

So the whole point of this challenge (hosted by Lark at The Bookwyrm's Hoard) was to finally read some of those older books that have been piling up on your TBR pile and TBR list. Which made it a great challenge for me 'cause I've got a pile of books in my room waiting to be read and an even longer TBR list of book titles I've been meaning to read for years. The best part of this challenge is that I got to set my own goals for it. So last January, I picked ten books from my TBR list that I wanted to read in 2017.

How did I do?

I read 8/10! And six of those were books from off my own TBR shelf. So not too bad. Here are the books I read:

Thanks, Lark, for hosting this challenge! I had a lot of fun...and I read some books this year that I probably wouldn't have read otherwise. 

My favorite of the eight:  The Radleys followed closely by Dance Night and Wash This Blood Clean From My Hand.
My least favorite:  We Hear the Dead

Happy Reading!

P.S. I should probably repeat this challenge again next year because I have a new stack of books piling up in my room and even more books I want to read on my TBR list. It's a neverending bookish mountain that I seem to be climbing. 

Thursday, November 30, 2017

A little YA fun...

They are the lost causes:  Sandra, Gabby, Justin, Z, and Andrew. Five teens struggling with drug addiction, OCD, anger issues, depression and hypochondria; five teens who everyone has given up on. Which makes them the perfect subjects to assist the FBI in tracking down a killer, all with a little help from a secret serum that unlocks an untapped psychic ability in each of them. Suddenly, Sandra can see ghosts, Gabby has visions of the past, Justin can move objects with his mind, Z can hear the thoughts of others, and Andrew 's brain can process information like some kind of genius. Which only leaves two questions:  Can they trust these newfound gifts?  And what isn't the FBI telling them?

This YA novel requires a little upfront suspension of disbelief in order to truly enjoy it. But if you can get past the absurdness of the FBI having an ESP-inducing serum that only works on teens and that they would recruit a bunch of misfit delinquents to help them solve one of their cases...this ends up being a very entertaining read. In The Lost Causes, authors Jessica Koosed Etting and Alyssa Embree Schwartz have created five quirky characters that are genuinely likeable. Seeing them bond as friends as well as try to solve the FBI's case on their own were some of my favorite parts. I also enjoyed the bits with them trying to figure out their new psychic abilities. I cared less about the whole FBI investigation, especially at the beginning of the book, but even that got more interesting and more suspenseful as the story went along. There was even a good twist at the end that made the initial premise more believable. All in all, I thought this was a fun read. And if the authors ever decide to write a sequel, I will be checking it out.

Happy Reading!

Monday, November 27, 2017

The Silent Girls by Eric Rickstad

  • Mandy Wilks, sixteen and missing
  • Frank Rath, current PI and former police detective with a teen-age daughter of his own.
  • Sonja Test, Canaan's "forensics team-of-one", mother & marathoner
  • Harland Grout, detective on the Canaan police force
  • Ned Preacher, the man who murdered Rath's sister and who's up for parole...and out for revenge
Where:  Rural Vermont

What:  Girls are going missing without a trace; beautiful Mandy Wilks is just the latest victim. And no one knows why...or who is taking them. But Rath is determined to find a connection and figure out the truth, while keeping his own daughter, Rachel, safe.
"Wherever there were girls, some would go missing, plucked like errant threads from the fabric of  everyday life and cast into a lurid nightmare of someone else's making. Movies created suspense out of a 'forty-eight-hour window' cops had to find a girl alive, as if kidnapped girls had a 'kill-by" date. The colder reality remained:  A girl gone missing against her will, nine times out of ten, was dead within three hours."
The Verdict:  I didn't love this book, but I did like it enough to want to read the sequel, and not just because of the cliffhanger ending in this one. Rath is a flawed, but dogged detective; I liked him more as the novel went on, but I think Sonja was my favorite character. I like the way she and Rath work together. Too bad she wasn't in this book more. The mystery surrounding Mandy's and the other girls' disappearances was good:  interesting and intense, but not necessarily mind-blowing. I'm hoping the next one, The Name of Dead Girls, is better. That's why I'm off to put it on hold.

Happy Reading!

Friday, November 24, 2017

My non-fiction reads of 2017:

The ones about famous people, past and present:

And the not-so-famous people who have important stories to tell:

Then there's the scary scenarios:

The one I just finished reading:

And the one I'm currently reading:

What non-fiction book do you think I should read next?

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

The Silent Land by Graham Joyce

"If there are few moments in life that come as clear and as pure as ice, when the mountain breathed back at her, Zoe knew she had trapped one such moment and it could never be taken away.  Everywhere was snow and silence. Snow and silence; the complete arrest of life; a rehearsal for and a pre-echo of death."

Zoe and her husband, Jake, are skiing in the French Pyrenees when they are caught in an avalanche. Zoe is buried in snow, struggling to dig herself out. Then, like a miracle, Jake finds her. Together they make their way down the mountain. Only when they get to their hotel no one is there. The nearby town is deserted, too. Zoe and Jake can't figure out where all the other people went, or why. And every time they try to leave to get help, they find themselves right back where they started. Still, it's not too bad having this winter wonderland all to themselves. And they still have each other. But all is not right. Especially when Jake guesses the truth about their situation; something Zoe doesn't want to believe.

This novel by Graham Joyce ended up being a completely different kind of story than I was expecting. (Though I did guess the truth about Zoe's and Jake's situation before they did.) The Silent Land is not quite a supernatural fantasy, mystery or horror story, although it does have elements of all three. And it's that intriguing mix of elements, combined with a more introspective look at death and life and love, that makes this book such an interesting read. I wish I could tell you more, but I don't want to give anything away.  This is the kind of book every reader should discover for herself. I can't guarantee you'll like it, though I did, but I can say that it is one of those thoughtful books that will linger in your mind when you're done.

Happy Reading!

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Last Christmas in Paris...

My dear Tom,
    ...How strange that we have known each other for so many years and know so many little things about each other, and yet only in these past months, since writing to you, do I feel that I've really begun to know you at all. Letters make one uncommonly honest, don't you think? I've told you things in words that I would have been far too shy or distracted to tell you in person. I wonder if I will have anything to say to you at all when we see each other in the flesh again. Will it be soon? ...
With much love,

I love epistolary novels! This one is set during World War! Evie's and Tom's exchange of letters tell the story of the war--both on the front lines and back home in England.  It's also a story of friendship, courage, death and loss, endurance, and love. I wish people still wrote letters like this! It's such a great novel. I loved it as much as The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. And I was sad when it ended. Everyone needs to read this book! You'll be glad you did.

(Oh, and I have to thank Nadia for recommending this book. It was her rave review that made me put this book on hold at the library in the first place.) 

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

A bookish update...

Recently finished reading:

Looking forward to eating all my favorite Thanksgiving dishes next week:
Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, shrimp salad, raspberry and lemon cream cheese jello, homemade rolls, and of course, pumpkin pie!

Bought myself an early Christmas gift:

(It's the best calendar; I buy one every year!)

Recently checked out of the library:
Omega Days by John Campbell
The Lost Causes by Jessica Etting
The Silent Girls by Eric Rickstad
Third Grave Dead Ahead by Darynda Jones
The Sparrow Sisters by Ellen Herrick
Lamb to the Slaughter by Karen Ann Hopkins

Up next:

(#6 in her Cal Leandros series.)

Happy Reading!

Sunday, November 12, 2017

November's Bookish Art...

Harold Knight -- The Reader
"She had no interest in people who could be summed up in a single sentence."
--Kim Fay, Map of Lost Memories

Thursday, November 9, 2017

From the J Shelf...

Author: Darynda Jones
Title:  Second Grave on the Left

There was a whole row of books by Darynda Jones on the shelf at the library and the titles sounded fun, so I thought I'd give one a try. Of course, my library didn't have a copy of the first one in the series, so I had to start with the second book instead.

Meet Charlotte Davidson, or Charley for short:  private investigator, police consultant, and grim reaper. She sees and talks to ghosts when she's not helping them crossover; she's also a portal into heaven for the demons who are apparently after her. Not that she's ever seen a demon. Unless you count Reyes "Rey'aziel" Farrow who happens to be the Son of Satan. He left hell and was born on earth in order to protect Charley, but that doesn't make him any less dangerous. And now there are demons after him. And if Charley doesn't find him soon he might just let his corporeal body die and become the next Anti-Christ. Oh, and she has another case to solve, too. This one involving a missing woman named Mimi whose case is more complicated than it first appeared and might just include murder.

This wasn't a bad read. The whole thing with Charley being a grim reaper was the best part in my opinion. I liked the connection she has with different ghosts, and the bits of back story of what it was like for her growing up as the grim reaper. The mystery involving Mimi was mildly interesting, but the majority of the book focused on Charley's search for Reyes and their relationship--parts of which I liked, parts of which I didn't. And sometimes I felt like Jones was trying too hard to be funny. (Or to make Charley be funny.) But I'd definitely be willing to read a few more of these books just to see what happens to Charley and Reyes next. 

Happy Reading!

Monday, November 6, 2017

I want this!

Only I want a better cushion on that seat and LOTS more pillows to lean up against. Other than that, it's perfect. Especially with all those great trees out the window. I think I'd hang a birdfeeder there so I could watch the birds in between books. Ahh...that would be the life!

Happy Reading (and Dreaming)!

P.S. Trish over at Desktop Retreat posted this lovely bookish nook a few weeks ago. I wouldn't mind have this one either.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Giving up!

First of all you should know that I'm a huge fan of reading bingo:  I love finding books that fit each category, and filling in each and every square. And for the past couple of years Stacey at Unruly Reader has created a super fun book bingo card. And I've always gone for blackout. Until this year. With six categories left to fill on my card, I'm officially giving up. No book bingo blackout for me in 2017. I know there's still time before the end of the year, and that I could probably push and get it done, but frankly, I'm running out of steam. And there are other books I'd rather read more.

Here's the card I started off with:

And the books I read that fill the 19 categories I did manage to complete:

POP PSYCHOLOGY:  Aim True by Kathryn Budig
OUTLAW:  Surviving Home by A. American
DOOM AND GLOOM:  Lights Out by Ted Koppel
A BOOK I OWN:  Dance Night by Dawn Powell
WHERE I GREW UP:  Stolen Innocence by Elissa Wall
CREATIVITY: Good Mail Day: A Primer For Making Eye-Popping Postal Art 
by Jennie Hinchcliff and Carolee G. Wheeler
GUILTY PLEASURE: The Care and Feeding of Stray Vampires by Molly Harper
OCCUPATIONAL HAZARDS: The Semester of Our Discontent by Cynthia Kuhn
AUTHOR'S NAME BEGINS WITH M: Arrowood by Laura McHugh
BEST IN CLASS: Lost by Michael Robotham
THE OUTDOORS: My Last Continent by Midge Raymond
HOT: The Definition of Wind by Ellen Block

And here are the six categories that will remain unread by me this year:
(Even though I own Russell Mean's autobiography Where White Men Fear To Tread, 
which has been sitting on my shelf for years and years waiting to be read.)
(Even though I found and bought a copy of Marilynne Robinson's Lila at a library 
book sale just for this bingo category; it now sits in my room also waiting to be read.)
(I never had a book in mind for this category.)
(This category should've been an easy one for me seeing how much I love 
Haruki Murakami and other Japanese writers, but...)
(This also sounds deceptively easy...but every book I attempted to read 
that fit the category ended up being too bad to finish. So...)
(Didn't even try!)

There you have it. My 2017 reading bingo journey. I did enjoy the books I read. And I had fun! And that's all that matters, right? Maybe next year I'll try for blackout again. Until then...

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

One from my TBR shelf...

Title:  The Prisoner of Heaven
Author:  Carlos Ruiz Zafon
First line:  This year at Christmas time, every morning dawned laced with frost under leaden skies ... Very few stopped to gaze at the shop windows of Sempere & Sons; fewer still ventured inside to ask for that lost book that had been waiting for them all their lives...
Setting:  Barcelona in the 1940s and 1950s.

Why I purchased this book in the first place:  Because I loved The Shadow of the Wind and The Angel's Game, Zafon's two previous novels.

Why I've put off reading it for four long years:  I think part of me was afraid it wouldn't live up to expectations, but mostly I didn't read it because I really wanted to reread his other books in this "trilogy" first. Only I never managed to, even though I do own both. But, thanks to Lark at The Bookwyrm's Hoard and her awesome Backlist Reader Challenge, I finally managed to read The Prisoner of Heaven and check it off my TBR list.

Thoughts:  Zafon's writing is amazing. He always manages to craft memorable and unique characters that you can't help but care about as he takes you on a journey back in time to a more dangerous and uncertain Barcelona under Franco's dictatorship. I wish I could give you a succinct and thoughtful summary of this novel, but I tried...and failed. Nothing I wrote did it justice. So all I'm going to say is that The Prisoner of Heaven did not disappoint and I'm very glad I finally read it. Though I do kind of wish I'd reread his other two books first. But maybe I'll reread them next. Because all of Zafon's books are worth revisiting. This one included...even though of the three I think it's the weakest.

Happy Reading!

Saturday, October 28, 2017

It's a Wonder!

Wonder Woman was a big part of my childhood:  from Saturday morning cartoons every week where I got to see her battle the bad guys on Super Friends and fly her invisible plane, to reruns of Linda Carter as Diana Prince with her bullet-stopping bracelets and golden lasso. I also really liked Gal Gadot's interpretation of this iconic figure in the movie that came out this past summer. So, when Melody suggested that we read Wonder Woman: Warbringer together as our next buddy read, I thought it was a great idea. (Be sure to check out Melody's review, too.)
In this YA novel by Leigh Bardugo, Diana is young and untested and can't help questioning whether she even deserves to be called an Amazon. When she spots a wrecked ship just beyond the boundary of Themyscira, she feels driven to rescue the only survivor, a modern-day teenager from New York City. But in bringing Alia Keralis to shore, Diana brings the taint of the mortal world to Themyscira. One by one, her friends start to fall sick and earthquakes begin to shake the island. To complicate matters, Diana discovers that Alia is a Warbringer, a descendant of Helen of Troy and an unwitting catalyst for war and destruction. If Diana saves her, she risks the fate of the world. But she just can't stand by and watch Alia die either.
"Hippolyta could claim that Diana was an Amazon, but before everything else, Diana was her daughter, too precious, too breakable to risk. And that was how the other Amazons would always see her:  not as a true sister, but as their queen's child. She would forever be an outsider...But if she made things right, if she got Alia to the spring it wouldn't just be a mission; it would be a quest, a hero's journey, like those set before champions in times of old. The line of Warbringers would be broken. Alia would live, war would be prevented, and Diana would have proven herself....To stop the cycle of Warbringers? To prevent not just one war but countless future wars? That was a deed worthy of an Amazon."
So, after devouring this book, I'm an even bigger fan of Diana Prince. I love that she's courageous and undaunted even when the odds are stacked against her. I love that she believes in truth and justice. That she tries. That she never gives up. And that she stands up for what she believes is right. I love her hope and her spirit. To me, that's the essence of Wonder Woman. And Bardugo captures it perfectly in this book.

Wonder Woman: Warbringer is an exciting and entertaining adventure. There's cool Greek mythology, suspense and action, great fight scenes, and lots of humorous moments, too. I loved Diana's experiences in NYC and her interactions with Alia. (And with Alia's older, bossy brother, Jason!) In fact, I can't think of anything I didn't like about this book. (Thanks again, Melody!) It's a fun and exciting read...especially if you've always been a fan of Wonder Woman, like me.

Happy Reading!

Melody's questions to me after finishing this book:
     Q.  Which story setting and/or adventures do you prefer? Is it Themyscira or New York City?
     A.  I'm a little torn because I love the idea of Themyscira (and wouldn't mind visiting such an awesome island!), but Diana's introduction to the modern world and her subsequent adventures in NYC were so fun they're by far my favorite.

     Q. Among all the supporting characters, who do you like best? Why?
     A. Alia's best friend, Nim, is probably my favorite supporting character because of her style and cool fashion sense, but even  more importantly because of her loyalty to Alia and her courage when everything starts to go wrong.

     Q. Finally, what do you think of our young Diana before and after she was "battle-tested"?
     A. I loved Diana and the way she faced each and every trial in this book. She willingly risked her life to save others, and even risked ever returning to Themyscira. And I admire that about her. And while she's definitely wiser at the end of this novel, with new self-confidence in her own strengths and abilities and a better understanding of her own destiny, I think at her core she's still very much the same person she always was:  Wonder Woman.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

"In dreamful Autumn..."

The colorful view from my library just two weeks ago.
Have I got a room with a view, or what?
by Ernest Dowson

Pale amber sunlight falls across
The reddening October trees,
That hardly sway before a breeze
As soft as summer:  summer's loss
Seems little, dear! on days like these. 

Let misty autumn be our part!
The twilight of the year is sweet:
Where shadow and the darkness meet
Our love, a twilight of the heart
Eludes a little time's deceit.

Are we not better and at home
In dreamful Autumn, we who deem
No harvest joy is worth a dream?
A little while and night shall come,
A little while, then, let us dream.

Beyond the pearled horizons lie
Winter and night:  awaiting these
We garner this poor hour of ease,
Until love turn from us and die
Beneath the drear November trees.

Bells Canyon
"I'm so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers."
--L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

Aren't these mountains in autumn simply amazing?
I love all the colors of autumn, especially on the mountains where I live, 
and like Anne, I'm very glad I live in a world where there are Octobers!!

Happy Reading!

Sunday, October 22, 2017

A haunting tale...

"I was the daughter of a Spiritualist medium lately from Cheapside. I was used to simple rules:  Don't get caught."
 Violet Willoughby has helped her mother perform too many fake seances to believe in ghosts. So when she catches a glimpse of a drowned girl at Lord Jasper's country estate, she doesn't know what to think. She only knows she can't tell her mother. But she has to tell someone. Because the ghost girl didn't just drown--she was murdered. And she's not the only ghost Violet's seeing. There's one other small matter haunting Violet:  one of Lord Jasper's guests just might be the ghost girl's murderer. And it's up to Violet to figure out who and why. That's if she can ever get this particular ghost to talk to her...and all the others to leave her alone!
"I felt as if I'd dipped a toe in a narrow river only to find myself swept out to sea. Something else was happening here, but I didn't know what it was. Only that the undercurrents were strong, dangerous. A person could drown in this particular sea."
Haunting Violet by Alyxandra Harvey is an entertaining YA Victorian Gothic that leans more towards interesting mystery than suspenseful ghost story, although Violet's encounters with the ghost of the drowned girl do get a little tense and scary at times. I liked Violet's spunk, especially when she and her society friend, Elizabeth, decide to do some sleuthing on their own. I also liked Violet's childhood friend, Colin, who's always there when she needs him most. The two of them are great characters. And Haunting Violet is a well-written and engaging ghostly mystery. I liked it a lot.

Happy Reading!

Thursday, October 19, 2017

October's bookish art...

Gustav Adolph Hennig -- Girl Reading, 1828

Anyone who says they have only one life to live
must not know how to read a book.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Agnes Grey

"How delightful it would be to be a governess! To go out into the world; to enter upon a new life; to act for myself; to exercise my unused faculties; to try my unknown powers; to earn my own maintenance, and something to comfort and help my father, mother and sister, besides exonerating them from the provision of my food and clothing; to show papa what his little Agnes could do; to convince mamma and Mary that I was not quite the helpless, thoughtless being they supposed. And then, how charming to be intrusted with the care and education of children!"
But the realities of being a governess soon dispel all of Agnes's hopes and bright optimism. Because the children don't mind, and their parents aren't supportive or welcoming, and she doesn't fit with the family and their friends, or with the servants.
"My task of instruction and surveillance, instead of becoming easier as my charges and I got better accustomed to each other, became more arduous as their characters unfolded. The name of governess, I soon found, was a mere mockery as applied to me..."
And that's just the beginning! After her first disastrous position, Agnes goes to work for the Murray family as their governess and her story really begins. Not that her job there is a shining success. (She's a little too passive to ever be that.) But she bravely endures the trials of genteel poverty and the struggles and frustrations of governessing and finds her own happiness in the end.

Agnes Grey reads like a first novel:  it doesn't have the depth of Jane Eyre; it's not as well-crafted as The Tenant of Wildfell Hall; and it's a little lacking in plot. But for all its weaknesses, it has its own merits. And I liked it. Anne Bronte shows from personal experience what it's like to be a governess in less than ideal circumstances. (And her language and vocabulary--wow!) Agnes's real struggles with her "little tormentors" and "the vexatious propensities of my pupils" made me laugh in sympathy. Although at times I found myself wishing she'd grow a spine and be just a little more assertive and confident. But Bronte had other designs for her character. This will never be my favorite Bronte novel, but I'm very glad I read it. It made me wish that Anne hadn't died so young. Think of what she could have written if she'd lived longer!

Happy Reading!

Friday, October 13, 2017

Fourth book in a favorite series...

Title & Author:  The Dire King by William Ritter
First lines:  To say that the house at 926 Augur Lane was not yet back to normal would be to grossly misrepresent the nature of the house at 926 Augur Lane. At its best, the peculiar property was an abode of the abnormal and a sanctuary for the strange.

My thoughts:  This latest book in the Jackaby series picks up where Ghostly Echoes leaves off. Jackaby and Abigail Rook are once again facing off against the forces of evil in order to prevent an all-out war between the fae and mankind; as always, Jenny the Ghost and Charlie Cane, police detective and shapeshifter extraordinaire are there fighting alongside them. They are ALL such great characters; I really love them. And this book? The Dire King is another fun supernatural adventure full of magical creatures of every kind--I especially liked the one known as the twain. And there's a twist at the end I wasn't expecting! Just be sure to read the other books in this series first, or nothing is going to make sense. And the others are definitely worth reading!

The other books in the series:
     #1 - Jackaby
     #2 - Beastly Bones
     #3 - Ghostly Echoes

So check them out!
And....happy reading!

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Picture this!

"If someone asked you to paint a snowman. you would probably start with three white circles stacked one upon another. Then you would add black dots for eyes, an orange triangle for a nose, and a black dotted smile. But if Picasso painted a snowman...."

This is my new favorite picture book! (And not just because it's written by my sister and illustrated by my brother-in-law.) I love it because it's all about art and some of my favorite artists and the snowmen they might have drawn from Monet to Seurat, Dali and Klimt, Grant Wood, Van Gogh and O'Keefe. It's clever and whimsical and fun. And the illustrations are amazing! Plus, I was there at the Picasso Museum in Paris with my sister, Amy, when she first came up with the idea. You can check out some of the paintings for it at Greg's blog. Or, even better,  just buy a copy for yourself!

Lichtenstein's Snowman by Greg Newbold

Happy Reading!

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Ghost Song by Sarah Rayne

Despite its title, this novel is more historical mystery than haunting ghost story. I was hoping for an eerie haunted house full of ghostly secrets; what I got was an intriguing mystery centered around the Tarleton Theatre, an old music hall in London that has been closed up and off-limits since 1914. Asked to provide a survey of the old theatre, Robert Fallon discovers a bricked-up sealed vault beneath the stage; fellow researcher, Hilary Bryant, who is very interested in Tarleton's past, unearths stories of the Tarleton ghost and of Toby Chance, a legendary performer and songwriter at the Tarleton who vanished without a trace also in 1914.
Hilary said, "You know, Robert, anyone listening to some of the things we've said tonight might almost believe we really do think the Tarleton's haunted. I don't mean just enjoying the atmosphere and the echoes--I mean really haunted."
"I do think it's haunted," said Robert. "So do you. All old buildings are haunted, to some extent anyway. I don't know what we encountered tonight, but whatever it was, I don't think that what's sealed beneath that stage is a ghost."
There are multiple story lines in this novel:  Toby's and his mother's, both performers at the Tarleton back in the day, Robert's and Hilary's own modern-day encounters, along with some long-buried secrets, unexpected political intrigue, murder and revenge, and, of course, the mystery surrounding the Tarleton ghost. I got caught up in each part of this mystery, eager to see how they all came together in the final chapters. There was only one story line, Shona's, that seemed completely superfluous and unnecessary. Luckily, Rayne is such a talented writer I never felt my interest or attention wane. So even though this wasn't the ghost story I was hoping for, I ended up really enjoying this well-written and intriguing mystery. (It also counts as another TBR book checked off my list for Lark's Backlist Reader Challenge.)

Happy Reading!

One of Rayne's more ghostly mysteries:
       The Silence

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

How to Find Love in a Bookshop...

What this book offers:  heartwarming, memorable, and sometimes quirky characters, a quaint English town full of charm, friendship and romance, and the best bookshop in the world. I wish Nightingale Books really existed; I'd go every week! Needless to say, I loved this book. Veronica Henry's story is  enchanting, her prose poetic. And her characters, especially Julius and Emilia Nightingale, will forever be favorites. This book reminded me in many ways of my favorite Rosamunde Pilcher reads. But if that's not enough to make you want to read this book, check out these three quotes:

  • Her father was still here, thought Emilia, in the thousands of pages. Millions--there must be so many millions--of words. All those words, and the pleasure they had provided for people over the years:  escape, entertainment, education...He had changed minds. He had changed lives. It was up to her to carry on his work, so he could live on, she swore to herself.
  • Books, after all, were her escape from the horror she had been through. At night she could curl up with Ruth Rendell or Nancy Mitford, and the stress melted away, and for a couple of hours she could be somewhere else.  Reading gave her comfort.
  • She knew, from all the books she had ever read, that life was complicated, that love sprang from nowhere sometimes, and that forbidden love wasn't always something to be ashamed of.
Happy Reading!

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Sunday, October 1, 2017

Bookish randomness...

Richard Montanari's second novel, The Skin Gods, does not disappoint. This page-turning thriller is as layered and suspenseful as The Rosary Girls. I really like Kevin Byrne and Jessica Balzano, his two main homicide detectives, and I can't wait to read the rest of this series. (Luckily for me, there are at least six more books to go!)

Check out these clever and fun grammatical tees. The autocorrect one totally made me laugh. You can find them all at Cents of Style.

Recently checked out of the library:
The Shining by Stephen King ('cause it's that time of year!)
Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte
They Came To Baghdad by Agatha Christie
A Kiss Before Doomsday by Laurence MacNaughton
Haunting Violet by Alyxandra Harvey ('cause ghost stories also go with October!)
Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco

Am also in the mood for:

Because I like these classic monster movies, especially the black-and-white ones starring Bela Lugosi, Lon Chaney, and Boris Karloff.  What about you? Got any favorite monster movies that I should add to my October monster movie viewing? 

Happy Reading...and October!

Thursday, September 28, 2017

We Hear the Dead...

Maggie:  I began the deception when I was too young to know right from wrong. No one suspected us of any trick, because we were such young children. We were led on by my sister purposely and by my mother unintentionally. Only with the passing of time did I come to understand the consequences of my actions.

Kate:  Maggie has a different understanding of all the events that have happened since that night in Hydesville long ago. To her the spirits were always a game. For my sister Leah they were a means to an end. For my mother, a miracle. And for me they were my life's calling. I have no regrets.

So begins Dianne K. Salerni's fictionalized account of the Fox sisters and the Spiritualist movement they spawned with their spirit rappings and messages from the dead. It was in a small house in Hydesville, New York, where these first ghostly encounters happened, but Maggie's and Kate's notoriety quickly spread. Their older sister Leah soon had them performing to much wider audiences, traveling from New York to Philadelphia and back. It seemed nearly everyone at that time was interested in the afterlife and in communicating with the dead. So much so some were even willing to pay for the privilege.

This is such an interesting time period in American history and Salerni does a good job of portraying the Fox sisters and relating the facts of their stories.  But I have to say, this one was a bit of a slog for me. Maggie is the main narrator, but it's like she's relating things that happened to her in the past. And maybe that's why this novel lost some of its immediacy. I actually preferred Kate's chapters, but they were few and far between.  It's not a bad read. And I did learn a lot about the Fox sisters and their lives that I didn't know before. Another bonus? This is one of the books that I chose to read for Lark's 2017 Backlist Reader Challenge because it's been on my TBR list for years. So, despite it being a a slow read, I managed to finish it! I just wish it had been a little more compelling...or 100 pages shorter.

Happy Reading!

P.S. I did really enjoy Salerni's other novel, The Caged Graves, which is more of a gothic mystery and would be a perfect October read.