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2021 Literary Escapes Challenge

- Alabama
- Alaska
- Arizona (1)
- Arkansas
- California (4)
- Colorado (1)
- Connecticut (1)
- Delaware
- Florida
- Georgia
- Hawaii (1)
- Idaho
- Illinois (4)
- Indiana
- Iowa
- Kansas
- Kentucky (1)
- Louisiana (1)
- Maine
- Maryland (1)
- Massachusetts (1)
- Michigan (1)
- Minnesota (1)
- Mississippi
- Missouri
- Montana
- Nebraska (1)
- Nevada (1)
- New Hampshire (1)
- New Jersey (1)
- New Mexico
- New York (3)
- North Carolina (1)
- North Dakota
- Ohio (6)
- Oklahoma
- Oregon
- Pennsylvania (1)
- Rhode Island (1)
- South Carolina (1)
- South Dakota
- Tennessee
- Texas (1)
- Utah (1)
- Vermont (2)
- Virginia (3)
- Washington (2)
- West Virginia
- Wisconsin
- Wyoming (1)
- *Washington, D.C.

Australia (2)
Canada (3)
England (6)
France (1)
Ireland (1)
Switzerland (1)
The Philippines (1)
Wales (1)

My Progress:

28 / 51 states. 55% done!

2021 Fall Into Reading Challenge

My Progress:

0 / 24 books. 0% done!

2021 Children's Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

2021 Children's Historical Fiction Reading Challenge
(Hosted by Yours Truly!)

My Progress:

6 / 25 books. 24% done!

2021 Popsugar Reading Challenge

My Progress:

32 / 50 books. 64% done!

Booklist Queen's 2021 Reading Challenge

My Progress:

35 / 52 books. 67% done!

2021 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

2021 Craving for Cozies Reading Challenge

The 52 Club's 2021 Reading Challenge

My Progress:

39 / 52 books. 75% done!
Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Top Ten Tuesday: My Fall TBR List, Part Two


Even though there's nary a nip in the arid desert air here in Arizona, I'm more than ready for some cozy Fall reading.  So ready, in fact, that I already posted part one of this list last week.  Naturally, I always have more books in the queue, so I'm going to share ten more today that I'm hoping to read before 2021 comes to an end.

If you want to share your Fall TBR list (please do—I'm always looking for recs!), click on over to That Artsy Reader Girl to find out how to join in the TTT fun.

Top Ten Books On My Fall TBR List, Part Two

1.  Willodeen by Katherine Applegate—I'm a big Applegate fan, so I've been excited about this one, her newest.  It's about a lonely girl who's more comfortable with animals than humans.  When a handmade gift brings unexpected magic into her life, it changes everything for her and the precarious world in which she lives.  I'm about halfway through this short novel and I'm very much enjoying it.  No surprise there.  

2.  The Haunting Season by various authors—I just got a copy of this collection of spooky short stories by a variety of popular YA writers from the good folks at Pegasus Books.  This ghostly volume is going to make for great Halloween reading!  

3.  God Spare the Girls by Kelsey McKinney—This coming-of-age novel is about two sisters raised in a strict religious community headed up by their father.  When they discover that he's been lying to them, it breaks their world apart.  The sisters flee, but they will soon have to make a choice between family loyalty and forging their own paths.

4.  Across the Desert by Dusti Bowling (available October 12, 2021)—Bowling is a local author whose MG books I've been enjoying lately.  I just got approved for an e-ARC of this one, a survival story in which one girl sets out across the treacherous desert to rescue another, whose ultralight airplane has crashed.

5.  A View Most Glorious by Regina Scott (available October 5, 2021)—I discovered Scott's American Wonders series this year and am really loving it.  This third installment concerns a young woman who longs to do something more with her life than just marry well.  When her suffragette group suggests she climb Mt. Rainier to bring attention to their cause, she agrees to the difficult task despite having no mountaineering experience.  Will she succeed?  What will she gain in the process?  With a handsome mountain guide by her side, it's pretty much a given that she'll lose her heart...

6.  The Last House on the Street by Diane Chamberlain (available January 11, 2022)—I've got an e-ARC of this novel, the newest from an author I've liked in the past.  It's a dual-timeline story about a white woman in 1965 who defies her family's wishes by volunteering to help register Black voters and another woman, in 2010, who learns surprising secrets about the history her new neighborhood, which rumor says is haunted.

7.  The Saint of Lost Things by Christopher Castellani—Delaware is one of the last two states I need to complete the 2021 Literary Escapes Challenge.  This novel takes place in the state in 1953.  It's about the triumphs and sorrows of a vibrant Italian-American community.

8.  The Black God's Drums by P. Djèlí Clark—I chose this Alex Award-winning novel to fulfill the "Afrofuturist Book" prompt for the 2021 PopSugar Reading Challenge.  It takes place in an alternate New Orleans and stars a young woman who earns a coveted place on an airship by giving the captain sensitive information.  She soon finds herself on a dangerous mission, where her secret magic might just help her save the world as she knows it.

9.  Unmissing by Minka Kent (available February 15, 2022)— This thriller revolves around a couple who is creating a lovely life together.  When a late-night knock on their door reveals the husband's first wife, who has been missing and presumed dead for ten years, they're both shocked.  The couple takes in the woman, but something about her story just doesn't add up.  What really happened to her?

10.  The Warsaw Orphan by Kelly Rimmer—I haven't read a lot of World War II stories this year, but this is one I do want to get to soon.  It tells the inspired-by-a-true-story tale of a Polish woman who risks everything to help smuggle Jewish children out of the Warsaw ghetto.

There you go, ten more books I'm hoping to read before the year is out.  What do you think of my selections?  Have you read any of them?  What are your most anticipated reads for Fall?  I'd truly love to know.  Leave me a comment on this post and I will gladly return the favor on your blog.

Happy TTT!   

Monday, September 20, 2021

Gritty, Atmospheric Thriller a Gripping Read

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Ten years ago, a beautiful 19-year-old cheerleader went missing from a small Texas town.  Her disappearance still haunts the place and the people who vowed to find Trumanell "True" Branson, but couldn't.  Although he has been cleared by the authorities, many believe True's younger brother, Wyatt, killed her.  Especially after a new documentary focuses the spotlight on him once more.  His standing in the town becomes even more precarious when a young girl is seen at his home.  The recluse claims he found the mute, abused child on the side of the road.  Is Wyatt, a presumed murderer, really being a Good Samaritan?  Or does he have more sinister plans for the mysterious girl he calls Angel?  Who is she, anyway?  Where did she come from?  And, most importantly, who hurt her?

Odette Tucker—daughter of the town's beloved police chief, now a cop in her own right—feels an immediate kinship with Angel.  She doesn't want to believe that Wyatt, her high school boyfriend, could hurt anyone, but it's her duty to protect her town.  As she investigates one lost girl in the present, her thoughts turn constantly to True.  What really happened to Odette's old friend?  Can the two cases possibly be connected?  The more Odette digs, the more dangerous her investigation becomes.  Will she be the next woman to disappear from a town steeped in secrets?

Tense, atmospheric mysteries are my jam, so I was all in for this gritty thriller.  We Are All the Same in the Dark by Julia Heaberlin stars a brave police officer with a tough exterior, a titanium leg, and a soft, loyal heart.  Odette has her flaws, but all in all, she's a likable, root-worthy heroine.  The supporting cast members (with a few exceptions, most notably Maggie and crew) are less affable, but still intriguing in their contrasting complexity.  An atmospheric Texas setting provides a vivid backdrop to the story, with some small-town politics thrown in for added tension and drama.  Plot-wise, the tale is gripping, with plenty of conflict to keep it interesting.  I saw the killer coming, yes, but not their motive.  There were a few other twists along the way, including a unique story shift that really caught me by surprise.  While I'm still not sure I liked the jarring swerve, it definitely added an intriguing layer to the story.  While We Are All the Same in the Dark is a raw, depressing tale, it's a mostly satisfying one that kept me burning through its pages, eager to know what was going to happen next.  This is the first book I've read by Heaberlin, but believe you me, I'll be checking out her others.

(Readalikes:  Reminds me of other small-town-big-secrets thrillers, but no specific titles are coming to mind.  You?)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for language, violence, depictions of illegal drug use (marijuana), mild sexual content, and disturbing subject matter

To the FTC, with love:  I received an e-ARC of We Are All the Same in the Dark from the generous folks at Penguin Random House via those at NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  Thank you!

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Gothic-y Mystery a Compelling Read

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

I'm perpetually behind on reviews and this one is a good example.  I read The Daughters of Foxcote Manor (also called The Glass House) by Eve Chase way back in April.  While I enjoyed it, I really can't remember much about it.  So, I'm going to cheat and use the official blurb:

Outside a remote manor house in an idyllic wood, a baby girl is found.

The Harrington family takes her in and disbelief quickly turns to joy. They're grieving a terrible tragedy of their own and the beautiful baby fills them with hope, lighting up the house's dark, dusty corners. Desperate not to lose her to the authorities, they keep her secret, suspended in a blissful summer world where normal rules of behaviour - and the law - don't seem to apply.

But within days a body will lie dead in the grounds. And their dreams of a perfect family will shatter like glass.

Years later, the truth will need to be put back together again, piece by piece . . .

From the author of Black Rabbit Hall, The Glass House is a emotional, thrilling book about family secrets and belonging - and how we find ourselves when we are most lost. 

Thank goodness for GoodReads, where I faithfully record my impressions of a book right after I read it.  Here's what I said about this one:

The Daughters of Foxcote Manor ticks all my favorite reading boxes: Gothic vibes, family secrets, atmospheric setting, interesting characters, etc.  It's an engrossing novel with a strong sense of place, well-developed characters, and a plot that kept me turning pages.  I loved Rita, although I wasn't as enamored of Sylvie.  Still, they're both relatable, sympathetic characters whose voices kept me engaged in the story.  While I guessed some of the book's plot twists, there were others that surprised me. Overall, then, I found this novel to be a compelling, satisfying read.

(Readalikes:  Reminds me of other novels by Eve Chase, including Black Rabbit Hall and The Wilding Sisters)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for language (1 F-bomb—I think—plus milder expletives), violence, and mild sexual content

To the FTC, with love:  Another library fine find

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Top Ten Tuesday: My Fall TBR List, Part One

Since I'm not feeling very inspired by today's TTT topic—Top Ten Books With Numbers in the Titles—I'm going to skip ahead to next week's, which is all about what's on my Fall TBR list.  I'm still hoping to read at least 55 books before the year ends, so I'll give you ten potential reads this week and ten next week.  I'll miss the next two weeks after that because I'll be in...drumroll, please...Europe!  We're heading out soon for our long-awaited sightseeing/family history trip to the U.K. and France.  My ancestors emigrated from England, Wales, and Scotland in the 1800s and I, personally, have never been back.  I'm excited to be able to finally see their homelands for myself.  

If you want to join in the TTT fun (and you do!), click on over to That Artsy Reader Girl for all the details.

Top Ten Books on My Fall 2021 TBR List

1.  Survive the Night by Riley Sager—I've mentioned this one a few times already because I'm so excited to read Sager's newest thriller about a ride-share road trip gone wrong.  I'm finally at the top of the library's queue, so I should have this one in my hot little hands within the next week or so.

2.  Beyond the Mapped Stars by Rosalyn Eves—I bought a copy of this MG historical set in 1878, which is about a teen girl who's caught between the future she wants as an astronomer and the one she's expected to lead as a proper Mormon girl, soon to be married off despite her young age. 

3.  Where Echoes Lie by Shannon Schuren (available October 19, 2021)—This eerie YA thriller sounds like the perfect read for Halloween.  It's about a teenage girl who's obsessed by a local legend about a ghost bride who haunts her Kentucky town.

4.  Cackle by Rachel Harrison (available October 5, 2021)—Another fun Halloween yarn, this one concerns a woman looking for a fresh start who moves to a quaint town in upstate New York.  She's charmed by her new town, where everything is just too perfect to be real.  Her new bestie included.  It's not long before the newcomer begins to realize that something a little...otherworldly...may be going on.

5.  Bottomland by Michelle Hoover—I need a book set in Iowa for the Literary Escapes Challenge and this novel sounds intriguing.  It's about a German family in America who's been the center of anti-German sentiment following World War I.  When two of their daughters go missing one night, they fear the worst.  What happened to the girls?  Will they ever be found?

6.  Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë—This classic fits a few reading challenge prompts I need to fill, so it's a good time for a re-read.

7.  The Gold in These Hills by Joanne Bischof—This dual-timeline novel concerns Juniper Cohen, a mail-order bride who finds love with a kind man in a rough California mining town.  When he disappears, she's confused and distraught.  One hundred years later, a struggling single dad finds the letters Juniper wrote to her lost husband and becomes embroiled in their long-ago mystery.

8.  The Hawthorne Legacy by Jennifer Lynn BarnesThe Inheritance Games is a fun YA novel about an ordinary girl who learns she's in the running to inherit an immense fortune.  I've been looking forward to the sequel, which continues the story of the madcap competition that will win someone a very large amount of money.

9.  The Cure for What Ales You by Ellie Alexander (available October 5, 2021)—The Sloan Krause series is one of my favorite cozies, so I'm eagerly awaiting this fifth installment.  In this one, Sloan is still on the hunt for her birthmother.  When the woman she believes is her mother becomes a suspect in a murder, things start to get super complicated...

10.  What Beauty There Is by Cory Anderson—Idaho is another of the few states I have left in the Literary Escapes Challenge, so I'm going to give this YA book a go.  It's about two desperate teenagers on the hunt for a cache of money that will enable both to survive their bleak existences.  They're not the only ones, however, who will stop at nothing to find the stash.

There you go, a variety of novels I'm hoping to read this Fall.  Have you read any of them?  What did you think?  What are you planning to read in the next few months?  I'd truly love to know.  Leave me a comment on this post and I will gladly return the favor on your blog.

Happy TTT!  

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The Gold in These Hills by Joanne Bischof


Glass Houses by Louise Penny

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