Monday, April 22, 2019

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Gabriel Haberlin's life is already pretty great, but when he gets a shiny new bicycle for his 12th birthday it gets even better.  He's taking his present for a spin around little Birdsong, South Carolina, when he comes face-to-face (tire-to-tire?) with the town's worst driver.  Just as Gabriel starts to fret that his 12th birthday will be his last, someone rushes in front of the speeding car and pushes Gabriel out of the way.  The stranger, a black man named Meriwether Hunter, not only saves Gabriel's life but he also fixes up his mangled bicycle so it looks as good as new. 

Wanting to repay Meriwether's kindness, Gabriel talks his father into hiring the fix-it man to work at his auto shop.  Not everyone in the segregated town is happy with that hiring decision, but Gabriel is thrilled with the opportunity to get to know Meriwether better.  When he finds out the black man's intriguing secret, Gabriel becomes even more fascinated with his new pal.  If more people knew about Meriwether's war service and heroism, surely they would treat him better.  But, even in small, safe Birdsong secrets and forbidden friendships are dangerous things, things that will open Gabriel's eyes in ways they've never been opened before ...

The Unsung Hero of Birdsong, USA, by Brenda Woods is a touching, thought-provoking novel about growing up and facing the sometimes ugly truths that can exist in even the most placid of places.  It's a story about finding hidden depths, both in yourself and other people.  The tale, which features an interesting historical setting, likable characters, and tight prose, also teaches many valuable lessons about friendship, family, and forming one's own opinions in spite of what anyone else might think.  It's an enjoyable and important book that's easy to read, but difficult to forget.  

(Readalikes:  Reminds me a bit of Jericho Walls by Kristi Collier)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for violence and disturbing subject matter

To the FTC, with love:  I bought a copy of The Unsung Hero of Birdsong, USA, from Amazon with a portion of the millions I make from my lucrative career as a book blogger.  Ha ha.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Sluggish "Thriller" Not Really ... Thrilling

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Biologist Marian Engström has always been better with animals than humans, so it's no surprise when she finds her life's calling as a dog handler.  During training, she falls in love with charismatic Tate Mathias, who regals her with tales of his many adventures.  While he's not one to settle down, Marian hopes the two of them will have a bright, happy future together.  That dream shatters when 35-year-old Tate dies after being savagely mauled by a bear while on a job in Washington State.  

Stricken with grief, Marian ruminates on all her interactions with Tate, only now freeing some of the misgivings she had about her enigmatic boyfriend.  One of his stories, very vividly told, had him heroically discovering the body of a murdered woman.  With more killings happening since that one, Marian can't help but wonder, did Tate have more to do with the victim than just discovering her corpse?  Enlisting the help of a retired forensic profiler/psychologist, Marian vows to figure out just who Tate Mathias really was.  Was he simply an adventurer who enjoyed exaggerating his exploits for entertainment value?  Or was he a compulsive liar turned serial killer?  She will not rest until she knows the truth.

Although The Last Woman in the Forest by Diane Les Becquets is billed as a mystery/thriller, it really ... isn't.  It's more of a literary suspense novel, just without a whole lot of suspense.  The story unfolds very slowly, weighted down by lengthy descriptions of nature and dog handling.  It's a character-driven novel for sure; the plot only really only gets "thrilling" toward the end.  As you can imagine, this makes for a sluggish read that gets dull at times.  Overall, I found the book compelling enough to finish, but also easy to put down.  For all these reasons, The Last Woman in the Forest turned out to be just an okay read for me.  

(Readalikes:  Hm, I can't think of anything.  Can you?)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for language (a few F-bombs, plus milder expletives), violence, sexual content, and disturbing subject matter

To the FTC, with love:  I received an e-ARC of The Last Woman in the Forest from the generous folks at Penguin Random House via those at NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  Thank you!

Thursday, April 18, 2019

An Artless Demise Newest Installment in an Intriguing Historical Mystery Series

Back in 2017, Lark mentioned her love of the Lady Darby mystery series by Anna Lee Huber.  She always gives out great recommendations, so I immediately bought a copy of The Anatomist's Wife, the series opener.  I enjoyed the book immensely and proceeded to read Mortal Arts.  Although I've got copies of the next five books in the series, I have not had a chance to read them yet.  So, unfortunately, I can't post a review of the newest Lady Darby novel, An Artless Demise, as I was supposed to do today.  Instead, I'm going to hit you with a spotlight and encourage you to give this fun series a go.  If you like historical mysteries that are well-written, not too graphic, set in intriguing locales, and peopled by likable, interesting characters, this series is right up your alley.  Give it a try.  You will not be disappointed.

Before I give you the plot summary, be warned that there is a spoiler in the first line.  It's a fairly obvious one, but one all the same.  Just so you know.

An Artless Demise: 

Lady Darby returns to London with her new husband, Sebastian Gage, but newlywed bliss won't last for long when her past comes back to haunt her in the latest exciting installment in this national bestselling series.

November 1831. After fleeing London in infamy more than two years prior, Lady Kiera Darby's return to the city is anything but mundane, though not for the reasons she expected. A gang of body snatchers is arrested on suspicion of imitating the notorious misdeeds of Edinburgh criminals, Burke and Hare—killing people from the streets and selling their bodies to medical schools. Then Kiera's past—a past she thought she'd finally made peace with—rises up to haunt her. 

All of London is horrified by the evidence that "burkers" are, indeed, at work in their city. The terrified populace hovers on a knife's edge, ready to take their enmity out on any likely suspect. And when Kiera receives a letter of blackmail, threatening to divulge details about her late anatomist husband's involvement with the body snatchers and wrongfully implicate her, she begins to apprehend just how precarious her situation is. Not only for herself, but also her new husband and investigative partner, Sebastian Gage, and their unborn child. 

Meanwhile, the young scion of a noble family has been found murdered a block from his home, and the man's family wants Kiera and Gage to investigate. Is it a failed attempt by the London burkers, having left the body behind, or the crime of someone much closer to home? Someone who stalks the privileged, using the uproar over the burkers to cover his own dark deeds?

Purchase your copy of An Artless Demise here or wherever books are sold:

Barnes & Noble

Have any of you read the Lady Darby series?  What do you think?

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

A Cozy Mystery Featuring a Genealogist Uncovering Long-Buried Secrets? Count Me In!

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Lucy Lancaster loves her job as a professional genealogist.  Not only does digging into people's family histories keep her research skills sharp, but it also keeps her in tacos.  Especially when she's working for wealthy people like her newest client, Gus Holloran.  The Austin billionaire wants to know the real cause of his great-great grandfather's untimely death back in 1849.  He offers Lucy a large sum to solve the mystery.  Which she does.  Kind of.  She knows Great-Great Grandpa Halloran was murdered by someone with the initials "C.A."; however, she's got two suspects who could fit the bill.  When Lucy accidentally announces the identity of the murderer without having absolute proof, she sets more dastardly deeds in motion.  Soon, she's running from a killer who will do anything to keep the secrets of the past hidden away forever.  

Although I managed to keep the plot summary of Murder Once Removed—a debut novel and the first in the Ancestry Investigations mystery series by S.C. Perkins—to one paragraph, the story actually gets fairly complicated and confusing.  I found myself lost on more than one occasion just trying to keep track of who was who and what was what.  It's a wordy, overwritten tome as well, which drove me a little nuts, truth be told.  That being said, though, I enjoyed the book's fun Southern setting, quirky cast, and genealogy theme.  Although I saw a few of the tale's twists coming, I didn't guess the killer until the very end.  Overall, then, I enjoyed Murder Once Removed and will give the next installment a try.  I'm banking on the series getting better as it goes along.

(Readalikes:  Um, nothing's coming to mind.  You?)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for brief, mild language (no F-bombs), violence, and mild innuendo

To the FTC, with love:  I received an ARC of Murder Once Removed from the generous folks at St. Martin's Press in exchange for an honest review.  Thank you!

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Hopeful MG Novel Provides Boost for Kids With Messy Life Situations

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Everything in Kate Mitchell's life falls apart when her dad, who's suffering from severe depression, moves out.  The 11-year-old hasn't heard from him in months.  Before he took off, the family loved to make music together—Kate would sing while she and her father both played the guitar and her mother tickled the ivories.  Now, the music is gone.  Although Kate has tried to sing and strum, she just can't.  Not anymore.  

At least Kate has her BFF to help her through.  Now that Sofia is hanging out with another girl, though, Kate feels more alone than ever before.  Add to that the fact that her paternal grandma, whose dementia is getting worse every day, has moved in with Kate and her mom, and her life feels like it's spiraling way, way out of control.  When her grandma tries to help by spilling the secret of everyday magic, Kate is skeptical.  As she puts the principles into practice, however, amazing things do start to happen.  Can Kate hocus pocus her life back together?  Can she bring her dad and Sofia back?  Anything is possible with a sprinkle of everyday magic, right?  
The Three Rules of Everyday Magic, a debut novel by Amanda Rawson Hill, is a sweet, hopeful story about forgiveness, kindness, and finding one's inner strength.  The tale doesn't come to a neat, tidy end (spoiler alert!), which helps the book stay authentic.  Still, it's an empowering novel that will give children with difficult challenges and messy life situations a bit of a lift.  While its plot seems a little meandering and unfocused, overall I enjoyed The Three Rules of Everyday Magic.

(Readalikes:  Reminds me of lots of novels, but no specific titles are coming to mind.  Help!)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for difficult subject matter (parental abandonment, depression, etc.)

To the FTC, with love:  I received an e-copy of The Three Rules of Everyday Magic from the generous folks at Boyds Mills Press via those on The Whitney Awards Committee to facilitate contest judging.  Thank you!

Monday, April 15, 2019

Atmospheric, Affecting YA Novel Teaches Powerful Lessons About Fitting In and Standing Out

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Atlanta, Georgia, feels as foreign as the moon for Upper East Side native Ruth Robb.  At first, the 16-year-old can't help comparing everything about her new home to New York City, where her family was complete and happy.  Living in her grandparents' guesthouse in the sweltering South sans her beloved father, whose sudden death has left her numb with grief, will never feel right.  Still, Ruth finds that she desperately wants to fit in with the "pastel posse," a group of wealthy debutantes whose lives revolve around weekly etiquette lessons, shopping for the perfect tea dress, and vying for the honor of being crowned Magnolia Queen.  Ruth's mother and older sister eschew such frivolous frippery; is it so wrong that Ruth longs for that life with every beat of her shallow little heart?

It's 1958 and one thing stands in the way of Ruth "passing" as a member of this exclusive club—she's Jewish.  Keeping her secret under wraps becomes more and more difficult as Ruth's eyes are slowly opened to the ugliness that lurks beneath the pastel posse's genteel veneer, a snake in the magnolia bushes that mirrors the tension simmering all over the South.  With increasing demonstrations of discrimination, hate, and violence against Negroes, Jews, and other minorities happening all around her, Ruth finds herself caught between two worlds.  When push comes to shove, which one will she choose?

In the Neighborhood of True by Susan Kaplan Carlton is an atmospheric, affecting YA novel that teaches some effective lessons about the dangers of conformity, the necessity of compassion, and the power of crusading for what is right.  With plenty of fascinating historical details, the setting comes to vivid life, helping the reader really feel the tension, hypocrisy, and confusion reigning in Ruth's world.  The characters are complex, the plot engaging, and the prose skilled.  I whipped through this engrossing novel in a matter of hours, eager to know what was going to happen next.  Not only is the story absorbing, but it's also relevant and thought-provoking.  I enjoyed it.

(Readalikes:  No specific titles are coming to mind.  You?)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for language (no F-bombs), violence, depictions of underage drinking, and sexual content

To the FTC, with love:  I received an e-ARC of In the Neighborhood of True from the generous folks at Algonquin Books in exchange for an honest review.  Thank you!

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

West Point Friendship Novel Gives Broader Perspective of Females in the Military

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It's the Fall of 2000 and three female basketball players are looking forward to a bright future at the United States Military Academy at West Point.  Dani McNalley, a dynamo on the court and in the classroom, takes college by storm, easily breaking any stereotypes her classmates might have about an African-American woman's right to be at the prestigious institution.  Hannah Speer's gentler nature threatens to fold under the pressure of homework, sports practice, and military drills.  With God by her side, however, she knows that nothing is impossible.  An unbeatable athlete at her high school, Avery Adams is finding herself to be a small fish in a big pond.  Sure, she can attract a male (or ten) without the tiniest effort, but can she prove her real worth, on the court and off?  As the trio deals with a demanding coach, exhausting physical and mental strain, as well as the added stress of being female on a mostly-male campus, they come to rely heavily on each other.  They know the unbreakable bond they formed at West Point will be the one thing that sustains them through everything that comes next.

As adulthood creeps in, with jobs, deployments, and relationships getting in the way, the three struggle to stay close.  When tragedy strikes, however, they must come together to lift up one of their own.  Will the strength of their friendship carry them through or will their sorrow and grief tear them even further apart?

Since most of what I hear about West Point and women in the military concerns sexual harassment, I was interested to get a broader perspective through Claire Gibson's debut novel, Beyond the Point.  Although the author did not attend the college, she lived at West Point for a number of years while her father was on its faculty.  She also interviewed dozens of female soldiers about their experiences in order to get an authentic insider's view.  The result is a novel that pays powerful tribute to these brave, determined women who fight prejudice, ridicule, and sexism in order to graduate from military academies and serve their country.  It also riffs on themes like friendship, family, and faith.  Although I didn't feel super connected to any of the women at the core of this novel, I still found their various stories intriguing enough that I read all 490 pages of Beyond the Point without becoming bored.  In the end, I didn't love the novel, but overall, I liked it and felt like it was a valuable read.

(Readalikes:  Hm, nothing is coming to mind.  You?)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for language, violence, and sexual content

To the FTC, with love:  I received a finished copy of Beyond the Point from the generous folks at HarperCollins via those at TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.  Thank you!


Want more opinions on Beyond the Point?  Follow along on the book's blog tour by clicking the links below:

Instagram Features

Tuesday, April 2nd: Instagram: @oddandbookish
Tuesday, April 2nd: Instagram: @simplykelina
Wednesday, April 3rd: Instagram: @giuliland
Wednesday, April 3rd: Instagram: @shelovesthepages
Friday, April 5th: Instagram: @readwithkat
Saturday, April 6th: Instagram: @jessicamap
Sunday, April 7th: Instagram: @basicbsguide
Monday, April 8th: Instagram: @writersdream
TBD: Thursday, April 4th: Instagram: @jennblogsbooks

Review Stops

Tuesday, April 2nd: Peppermint PhD
Thursday, April 4th: Broken Teepee
Monday, April 8th: Jessicamap Reviews
Tuesday, April 9th: Iwriteinbooks’s blog
Wednesday, April 10th: Bloggin’ ‘Bout Books
Thursday, April 11th: From the TBR Pile
Thursday, April 11th: What Is That Book About
Monday, April 15th: Literary Quicksand
Tuesday, April 16th: Diary of a Stay at Home Mom
Wednesday, April 17th: Kahakai Kitchen
Thursday, April 18th: Comfy Reading

Tuesday, April 09, 2019

Shivery Psychological Thriller Boasts Gothic Setting and "I See Dead People" Vibe

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Mattie Lane loves volunteering with Sanctuary, a non-profit group which acts as a sort of Underground Railroad for women and children in need.  The 59-year-old retired social worker has been working with the organization long enough to know its rules and protocols.  Still, when she's sent to the bus station in the middle of the night to pick up a frightened woman and child, Mattie can't bear to send them on.  Instead, Mattie breaks Sanctuary's rules and brings the pair home with her to her big, lonely house in the woods.  What she can't quite admit, even to herself, is that the 10-year-old boy, Oren, reminds her of her little brother, who died more than 30 years ago.  She can't help feeling protective, especially since something about the woman's story doesn't quite add up. 

As a winter storm bears down on upstate New York, the three hunker down in Mattie's dilapidated home.  Almost immediately, strange things begin to happen, things that have a still grief-stricken Mattie wondering if she's going crazy.  Mattie knows Alice and Oren are hiding secrets, but is it possible something otherworldly is going on?  Mattie's got her own secrets to spill—can she and her two visitors learn to trust each other enough to let them out?  With the blizzard worsening around them and danger literally banging on the door, they will have to rely on each other to make it through the night alive.

I'm a fan of Carol Goodman's eerie psychological thrillers, especially the ones with Gothic overtones and a splash of the supernatural thrown in for good measure.  The Night Visitors certainly fits the bill. The story is compelling, the plot exciting, and the characters sympathetic. Featuring a creepy old house, an isolating blizzard, and an "I see dead people" vibe, it's a shivery tale that kept me slightly off-kilter throughout. Although I saw some of the plot twists coming, I didn't see all of them, which kept the novel interesting. This isn't my favorite Goodman book, but it's a good one from an author who never fails to pull me into her stories and keep me hooked.

(Readalikes:  Other books by Carol Goodman)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for language, violence, and disturbing subject matter

To the FTC, with love:  I received an e-ARC of The Night Visitors from the generous folks at HarperCollins via those at Edelweiss.  Thank you!

Monday, April 08, 2019

Fourth Installment in Delightful Victorian Mystery Series My Favorite So Far

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Note:  While this review will not contain spoilers for A Dangerous Collaboration, it may inadvertently reveal plot surprises from earlier Veronica Speedwell mysteries.  As always, I recommend reading books in a series in order.

With her increasingly complicated feelings for Revelstoke "Stoker" Templeton-Vane clouding her normally rational judgment, Veronica Speedwell feels the need for some time away from the close quarters she and Stoker share as they work together in London.  When Stoker's older brother, Tiberius, offers the lepidopterist an opportunity to travel to a remote island to study an almost extinct butterfly, she jumps at the chance.  Even if it means posing as Tiberius' fiancée for a two-week house party.  It's worth it to collect larvae for her vivarium—and get an up-close look at a regal Cornish castle that boasts its very own ghost.

Before long, it becomes apparent that their host, Malcolm Romilly, has ulterior motives for gathering guests to his home.  Everyone in attendance, save Veronica, is connected to Rosamund, Malcolm's bride, who disappeared on their wedding day three years ago.  Still tormented by grief, Malcolm is determined to find out what happened to his wife once and for all.  He enlists the help of all present to solve the mystery, even though all but Veronica are suspects. 

The shadowy castle, always the center of superstition and fairy tales, is the perfect setting for an intriguing ghost hunt.  Veronica will do anything to help the grieving groom end his torment, even putting her life on the line to discover Rosamund's fate.  As she fends off the attention of two ardent men, sorts idle village gossip from crucial clues, and scours the mysterious castle for answers, Veronica creeps ever closer to becoming the next victim of a cold-blooded murderer who will not hesitate to kill again.

The Veronica Speedwell mystery series by Deanna Raybourn is one of the most delightful I've ever read, so it's no surprise that I loved A Dangerous Collaboration.  In fact, I think this fourth installment is my favorite.  It's clever, it's fun, it's twisty, and it's entertaining.  Veronica is, as always, a refreshingly forthright narrator.  She's also a smart, spunky heroine who's brave, loyal, and compassionate.  With its Gothic setting, ghostly happenings, and a surprise guest who keeps Veronica on her toes, this novel is simply a whole lot of fun.  I adored it.

(Readalikes:  Other books in the Veronica Speedwell series, including A Curious Beginning, A Perilous Undertaking, and A Treacherous Curse.  Also reminds me a little of the Amelia Peabody series by Elizabeth Peters)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for brief, mild language (no F-bombs), violence, and sexual innuendo

To the FTC, with love:  I received an ARC of A Dangerous Collaboration from the generous folks at Penguin Random House in exchange for an honest review.  Thank you!

Saturday, April 06, 2019

African-American Pioneer Novel Grim and Affecting

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When Rachel—a maid in the Chicago household of a wealthy African-American widow— meets her boss's handsome son, she loses her heart completely.  And possibly her mind.  Rachel will follow the charismatic Isaac DuPree wherever he goes.  When he informs her that he will be moving to the Badlands, where land is practically free for the taking, she agrees to wed him in order to double the amount of property he'll be able to own.  Rachel knows Isaac's passion is for land, not her, and that their marriage is one of convenience only, but she's determined to show him he's chosen the right bride.  As they work the unyielding earth together, raise children in a squalid dugout, and try to eke out a life in a brutal, unwelcoming place where only the most stubborn folks survive, Rachel does her part without complaint.  When the worst comes to pass, however, she must decide what's best for her and her children.  Isaac will never leave the homestead, no matter how bad things get.  Can Rachel find the strength to do what needs to be done?  Or will she lose everything—and everyone—she's ever loved to the unforgiving land and her husband's even more relentless pride?

The Personal History of Rachel DuPree by Ann Weisgarber is a grim, affecting novel that pays tribute to the pioneering spirit that led to the settling of the American West.  The novel shines a special spotlight on the unique experiences of African-American pioneers, who faced prejudice and racism along with all the other hardships that came with colonizing the frontier.  Rachel is the embodiment of those tough, resourceful female settlers who had to use all their courage, ingenuity, and resilience to survive in a harsh, inhospitable landscape.  Her determination and desperation come through loud and clear, making her story intimate, gripping, and memorable.  Despite its bleakness, I enjoyed this evocative historical novel.

(Readalikes:  Reminds me of the Little House on the Prairie books by Laura Ingalls Wilder, These Is My Words by Nancy E. Turner, and Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for brief, mild language (no F-bombs), violence, blood/gore, and disturbing subject matter

To the FTC, with love:  Another library fine find

Friday, April 05, 2019

China-Infused Cozy an Entertaining Delight

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Lana Lee is a spunky, independent woman whose career goals do not include waitressing at Ho-Lee Noodle House, her family's Chinese restaurant.  A dramatic walkout at her last job, however, leaves her little choice.  Now she's taking orders, bussing tables, and trying to ignore her mother's constant needling about finding Lana a husband.  

Lana's got enough problems without becoming a suspect in a murder investigation, but that's what happens after she delivers a takeout order for the restaurant's too-busy chef.  Everyone at Ho-Lee knew about Thomas Feng's shellfish allergy—so how did the property manager end up eating a shrimp dumpling that left him dead?  Now, the whole restaurant staff, as well as the other proprietors in the Asian Village strip mall Feng owned, are under suspicion for offing their landlord.  Motives abound, but who actually did the dirty deed?  In order to clear her name, Lana launches her own investigation, despite being warned off by the handsome detective who's in charge of the case.  Can she identify the killer before she finds herself in the slammer?  Or, worse, in the morgue?

I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with cozy mysteries.  They appeal because they're light and clean, without all the grimness and gore that can be difficult to stomach in heavier mysteries/thrillers.  However, they're too often poorly written, with cliché characters, predictable plots, and improbable, unrealistic situations.  So, I'm picky about which ones I read.  When someone (Katherine, probably) mentioned the Noodle Shop Mystery series by Vivien Chien, I decided to give it a go.  And, guess what?  I enjoyed Death by Dumpling, the series opener, quite a lot!  It's a fun, easy read featuring a unique setting, likable characters, and an engaging plot.  The mystery is pretty straightforward, but I didn't get it all figured out until the end of the story.  Overall, then, I found Death By Dumpling an enjoyable, entertaining read.  Immediately after finishing it, I checked the next book out from the library so I could continue with this delightful series.

(Readalikes:  Reminds me of cozy mysteries by Ellie Alexander, Lena Gregory, Hannah Fluke, etc.)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for brief, mild language (no F-bombs) and some violence

To the FTC, with love:  Another library fine find

Thursday, April 04, 2019

Hey, Look, It's a Major Award!

Back in the early days of book blogging, awards were a huge thing.  So big that people got really tired of accepting them, tagging other bloggers, and feeling obligated to pass them on.  That led to "award-free" blogs and the near extinction of blogging awards.  Imagine my surprise, then, when I learned that Stephanie over at She's Probably at the Library had given me an award!  I'm so honored.  Thanks, Stephanie!

I know a lot of bloggers are bugged by these awards, so I'm not going to tag anyone.  The rules of the award are listed below in case you want to pass it on.  I'm not going to do that, but I am going to list 15 blogs that I enjoy reading.  Keep in mind that I read hundreds of book blogs, so this list will obviously not include all my favorite book bloggers.  Do give the ones I list a look-see, though.  They're all excellent blogs by enthusiastic readers who will definitely help you add books to your TBR mountain chain!

  • Thank the blogger that nominated you.
  • Write a post to show your award.
  • Give a brief story of how your blog started.
  • Give two pieces of advice to new bloggers.
  • Select 15 other bloggers you want to give this award to.
  • Comment on each blog and let them know you have nominated them and provide the link to the post you created.
HOW IT ALL STARTED:  Back in 2006, in the heyday of blogging, I decided a blog would be the perfect platform to use for an online reading journal.  I was proud of my innovation and cleverness—surely no one had yet thought of using a blog for this nerdy purpose!  When I discovered that there was, in fact, a whole book blogging community out there, my mind was blown.  Here was my tribe, just waiting for me to discover it!  I started visiting other blogs, receiving review requests from authors and publishers, joining community events and just having a blast.  Thirteen years later, I'm still having a great time with this book blogging gig.  It's a fun hobby through which I have met some wonderful people (online and off), discovered amazing books, and had opportunities and experiences I never could have imagined before.


  • Be yourself!  Write the things you want to write, when you want to write them, and how you want to write them.  Don't take blogging too seriously.  Have fun with it.  Infuse your blog with your unique personality—that's what will make it stand out.
  • Engage with the book blogging community.  The best thing about book blogging, IMHO, is communing with like-minded people about our favorite thing—books.  Find blogs you love and visit them often.  Make thoughtful comments.  Join in with memes, reading challenges, scavenger hunts, and other events.  It's the best way to promote your blog in a non-obnoxious way, spread the love to other blogs, support authors and bloggers, and find great new books to read.

I've been reading book blogs every day for years.  Some of my favorites have fallen by the wayside over the years, but here are 12 I have been loving for at least a year and 4 (bonus!) I have discovered only recently.  Give them all a visit, wontcha?

Annette's Book Spot—Annette is a high school librarian who always has great YA recommendations.

Bibliophile by the Sea—Diane has been reviewing books since 2008.  She always has great recs.  She also has cute cats :)

Book Haven—I love Greg's insightful reviews and thoughtful comments.  He reviews a variety of genres, but primarily sci fi/fantasy.

Grab a Book From Our Stack—Gerard and Karen are a husband and wife reviewing team.  I love it when they both review the same book.  It's fun to compare/contrast their opinions.

I Wish I Lived in a Library—Katherine and I have a lot of interests in common, both bookish and non, so it's not surprising that I always find new books to love on her blog.

It's All About Books—I've had the pleasure of meeting Suey in real life and she's a wonderful person as well as a fun blogger.  She reviews books, movies, TV shows, and Korean entertainment.

Kay's Reading Life—Kay's my go-to girl for all things mystery/thriller.  If that's your genre, check her out! 

Lark Writes—Lark reviews a variety of genres and has a lot of fun elements on her blog.  I especially love when she posts bookish art, reading quotes, and her awesome haiku reviews.

Library of Clean Reads—Laura reviews everything from picture books to adult non-fiction.  The books she talks about are free from profanity, sex scenes, disturbing subject matter, etc.

Rebel Mommy Book Blog—Grace reviews mostly contemporary books and women's fiction.  She's a frequent commenter on my blog and someone whose blog I thoroughly enjoy visiting.

The Perpetual Page Turner—Jamie's blog has a lot of great features.  I especially love her lists of book deals and upcoming books she's looking forward to.

We Live and Breathe Books—Sam and her co-bloggers review a lot of YA and contemporary books.  I always find great books I haven't heard about yet from them.


Carla Loves to Read—I discovered Carla's blog through Top Ten Tuesday.  We have similar reading interests, so I like to keep up with what she's reading.

Helen's Book Blog—Helen and I also have similar reading tastes, so I like to see what she's got on her stack.  She's also a great commenter on my blog!

She's Probably at the Library—I already mentioned Stephanie, who gave me this award.  She reads a lot of interesting books and writes thorough reviews that always make me want to give the book she's reviewing a try, even if it's not my usual genre!

Wishful Endings—This is more of a re-discovery since I'm pretty sure I used to be a more frequent visitor to this blog.  At any rate, Tressa reviews mostly YA, sweet romance, and Christian/LDS fiction.  


If you'd like to pass on this award to bloggers you love, consider yourself tagged!

Tuesday, April 02, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday: They Get Me Every Time

Do you ever find yourself reading the same genre with the same premise/themes over and over and over again?  Do you ever wonder why you like what you like?  I do, too, which is why today's Top Ten Tuesday topic is so fascinating to me:  Top Ten Things That Make Me Immediately Want to Read a Book.  Besides wanting to read new books by favorite authors, there are certain fictional topics and themes that get me every time.  I've actually done this topic a couple times over the years so you can check out this April 2013 post and this one from April 2017 if you're interested in seeing how little my reading preferences have changed!

I'll spill those particular beans in a minute, but first, if you want to join in the Top Ten Tuesday fun (and you really do), click on over to That Artsy Reader Girl.  Read some simple instructions, make your own list, then have a grand ole time visiting other blogs.  It's a great way to find new blogs to love, add good reads to your TBR list, and spread the book blogging love.  Plus, it's FUN.

Okay, here we go with the Top Ten Things That Make Me Immediately Want to Read a Book:

1.  Family Secrets—I'm always intrigued by the tantalizing secrets lurking in the closets of families, especially in those that seem perfect from the outside.  Note:  I enjoy this topic in fiction.  In real life, you can keep your dirty laundry to yourself.  I really don't want to know.  In novels, though, bring it on!

Favorite book(s) in the genre:  Anything by Kate Morton or Joshilyn Jackson

2.  Creepy Old Houses—There's just something about a big, mysterious abode that sets my imagination of fire.  Especially if it's perched atop a rugged cliff near the sea.  The possibilities with this theme are literally endless.  Think hidden passageways, ghosts, secret rooms, forgotten bones, concealed treasures, etc.  Show me a creepy old house on a book's cover or anywhere in its plot summary, and I'll read it.

Favorite book(s) in the genre:  Anything by Kate Morton or Carol Goodman

3.  Homesteading/Pioneers—On the flip side, I also enjoy books about pioneers who leave their creepy old houses to go West in search of land, freedom, and new starts of all kinds.  Something about a character battling inclement weather, poverty, opposing forces, etc. in order to eke out a life in a wild land appeals to me.  Must be my Mormon pioneer heritage that draws me to these kinds of stories.

Favorite book(s) in the genre:  Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder, the Gold Seer trilogy by Rae Carson, and Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson

4.  World War II—I love historical fiction and this event/time period is one I just can't stop reading about.  No matter how many WWII novels I read, I always want to pick up more.  It's an endlessly fascinating topic and time period.

Favorite book(s) in the genre:  The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah, The Diary of Anne Frank, Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blum

5.  Adoption—Adopting my daughter has been an incredible, life-altering experience.  I'll never not want to read about adoption, whether it's non-fiction guides on various aspects of the process or novels about adoptees searching for their birth families, this topic always reels me in.

Favorite book(s) in the genre:  Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery, How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr

6.  Amnesia/Traumatic Brain Injury—For some reason, I also find this topic irresistible.  From psychological thrillers to murder mysteries to domestic dramas, I love me an amnesia/TBI novel.

Favorite book(s) in the genre:  What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty, Before I Go to Sleep by S.J. Watson

7.  Survival Novels, Especially in Severe Environments of In the Wake of Some Kind of Disaster—As big a wimp as I am, it's kind of surprising that I enjoy these types of books so much, but I do.  Whether they're memoirs or novels, I dig a riveting survival story.

Favorite book(s) in the genre:  Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer, The Watch That Ends the Night by Allan Wolf, Last Survivors series by Susan Beth Pfeffer

8.  Virus/Disease Outbreaks—Again, I'm not sure why this topic intrigues me so, but it does.  I find outbreak books (both fiction and non-) both horrifying and hard to put down.

Favorite book(s) in the genre:  A Death-Struck Year by Makiia Lucier and Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson

9.  Hoarding—Having books stashed and stacked in every corner of your house doesn't count as hoarding, right?  Asking for a friend ... I'm always engrossed by books about this condition.  It's fascinating to read about the psychology behind the disease and how people cope with it.

Favorite book(s) in the genre:  Dirty Little Secrets by C.J. Omolulu

10.  Small Towns—Cue Bruce Springsteen.  I was born and raised in a beautiful little town that's not nearly as exciting as most fictional villages.  Still, I love me a small town setting, especially if it's filled with quirky characters, loving (if nosy) neighbors, and some simmering secrets that are about to be uncovered ... Be it quaint, hardscrabble, mysterious, or somewhere in between, a small town setting is always going to get me.

Favorite book(s) in the genre:  the Armand Gamache series by Louise Penny, the Virgin River series by Robyn Carr, and the Big Stone Gap series by Adriana Trigiani

So there you have it, ten themes/genres that I just can't resist.  How about you?  What topics/settings/genres pull you right in?  If you've read any great books that fit into my favorite categories, let me know.  Leave me a comment on this post and I will gladly return the favor.

Happy TTT!       
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