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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 (4)
- 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 (3)
- West Virginia
- Wisconsin
- Wyoming (1)
- *Washington, D.C.

International:
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:


33 / 50 books. 66% 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!
Friday, December 30, 2016

The Trespasser Another Engrossing Thriller in a Series That Never Disappoints

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Antoinette Conway has finally reached her goal of being on the illustrious Dublin Murder Squad.  But after two years on the job, the 32-year-old detective still doesn't feel like part of the team.  As the only female member, she always seems to be the target of practical jokes, cruel taunts, and sexist sneering.  Antoinette has a tough shell, but after everything she's been through, it's starting to crack.

Used to receiving the worst cases, Antoinette and her partner—the affable Steve Moran—see their newest assignment as another hum drum domestic dispute.  Aislinn Murray, a pretty receptionist, has been found dead in her immaculate home, her body cooling next to a romantic table setting for two.  Her boyfriend, an intense bookstore owner, seems the obvious killer.  But, as Conway and Moran soon discover, there is much more to the story than meets the eye.  For one thing, Antoinette recognizes Aislinn.  She can't quite put her finger on it, but the detective knows the victim.  If only she could remember how ...

As the investigation goes deeper, Antoinette is feeling increasingly paranoid.  Her "partners" on the squad are trying to get rid of her, even Steve—her only ally—seems to be turning on her, and she's noticed a shadowy presence lurking outside her house.  Can Antoinette figure out what happened to Antoinette before she, herself, becomes a victim?  Who is Aislinn and why was she killed?  The faster Antoinette finds out, the safer she'll be.

I've enjoyed every book in Tana French's Dublin Murder Squad series.  Each stars a different detective on the Squad, some of who are more intriguing than others.  Antoinette, star of French's newest novel, The Trespasser, is interesting enough.  Tough and brave, she's easy to cheer on and admire.  Like all French's books, The Trespasser boasts a twisty, compelling plot that's guaranteed to keep readers whipping through pages way past bedtime.  Although this isn't my favorite of the series, I enjoyed it.  I could have done without all the profanity, but I endure it because I'm such a big French fan.  If she writes it, I'll read it.  

(Readalikes: Other books in the series including In the Woods; The Likeness; Faithful Place; Broken Harbor; and The Secret Place)

Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for strong language, violence, blood/gore, sexual content, and depictions of illegal drug use

To the FTC, with love:  I received an e-ARC of The Trespasser from the generous folks at Viking (an imprint of Penguin Random House) via those at Edelweiss.  Thank you!

Sprinkles of Magical Realism Make MG Coming-of-Age Story Unique

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

The last place 12-year-old Carol wants to spend her summer vacation is on an isolated sheep ranch in the New Mexico desert.  While her friends are lounging by the pool, she'll be sweating to death as she helps care for an elderly stranger with dementia.  Yes, Serge is her grandfather, but it's not like she's ever met him before.  Unfortunately, there's nothing she can do to change her pathetic situation—her stressed-out parents need Carol's help to clean up and sell the ranch so they can move Grandpa Serge into a care home.  

Carol doesn't take most of what Serge says seriously.  His mind is going, right?  So, why does it sting so much when he admonishes her not to spit on her Mexican heritage?  And why do his crazy stories about a healing tree and magic bees strike such a chord with her?  Grandpa Serge has no idea what he's talking about.  Or does he?  

As Carol learns to appreciate the things that matter most, she'll come to some surprising conclusions about herself, her family, and a desolate ranch that's filled with more possibility than she ever could have imagined. 

Hour of the Bees, a debut novel by Lindsay Eager, tells a compelling coming-of-age story about roots, relationships, and redemption.  Its blend of magical realism and plain ole realism makes it unique.  Carol's voice seems authentically twelve, in all of its whiny/whimsical glory.  The tale does get preachy and overly sentimental, especially toward the end.  It also has a very far-fetched finale that kind of soured the story for me.  Overall, though, Hour of the Bees makes for an enjoyable read with some important messages.  Be warned, though:  the heavy subject matter might be a tad much for more sensitive middle grade readers.


Grade: 


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for scary scenes/scenes of peril

To the FTC, with love:  I received a finished copy of Hour of the Bees from the generous folks at Candlewick Press.  Thank you!

Moriarty's Newest Disappointingly Charmless

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Isn't it strange how—sometimes—the smallest, most insignificant decision in the world can change everything about your world?  This is the idea at the center of Truly Madly Guilty, a new domestic drama by popular Australian author Liane Moriarty.  And it's an intriguing one, for sure.  The novel lacks a lot of the charm of her previous books, yes, but it's still a compelling tale about the tiny, obscure moments in which life changes irrevocably.

Truly Madly Guilty is about three couples living in Sydney, Australia.  Erika and Oliver are both serious, orderly accountants.  Infertility has left them childless; Oliver, in particular, longs for a biological son or daughter.  Sam and Clementine Hart have two children, both of whom keep them extremely busy.  A freelance cellist, Clementine is flighty and scattered, as different from Erika as she could be.  Vid and Tiffany—along with their larger-than-life personalities and their 10-year-old daughter, Dakota—live next door to Erika and Oliver.  When the colorful couple invites Erika and Oliver over for a barbecue, and Erika invites Sam and Clementine, things take an unexpected turn.  The events of the evening will leave all three couples questioning everything they know about themselves—and each other.

After reading Big Little Lies and several other novels by Liane Moriarty, I've become a big fan.  I love the author's sharp observations about love, friendship, marriage, family, and human nature in general.  Her stories are warm and funny, but also thoughtful and complex.  So, yeah, I get excited when Moriarty publishes a new book.  Unfortunately, I found Truly Madly Guilty disappointing.  Connecting with the characters—especially the women, who all seemed selfish and cold—was difficult for me.  The overall story didn't grab my attention like Moriarty's others; it felt lacking somehow.  It does have excellent pacing, however.  The back-and-forth-in-time narration generates suspense, which just continues to build until the finale finally reveals all.  Although I didn't care much about the characters in Truly Madly Guilty, I definitely wanted to know what the heck happened at the ill-fated barbecue.  In the end, though, I found Moriarty's newest disappointing.  I wanted to love it as much as I have her previous novels, but ... I didn't.  Bummer.

(Readalikes:  Reminds me of other novels by Liane Moriarty, including Big Little Lies; The Husband's Secret; and What Alice Forgot)

Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for language, sexual content, violence, and disturbing subject matter

To the FTC, with love:  I bought a copy of Truly Madly Guilty from Amazon with a portion of the millions I make from my lucrative career as a book blogger.  Ha ha.
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The Gold in These Hills by Joanne Bischof

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Glass Houses by Louise Penny



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