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My Progress:

12 / 30 books. 40% done!

2024 Literary Escapes Challenge

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

- Australia (1)
- Canada (1)
- England (10)
- France (1)
- Indonesia (1)
- Ireland (4)
- Italy (1)
- Scotland (2)
- The Netherlands (1)

My Progress:

28 / 51 states. 55% done!

2024 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

My Progress:

23 / 50 books. 46% done!

2024 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge

23 / 50 books. 46% done!

Booklist Queen's 2024 Reading Challenge

My Progress:

48 / 50 books. 96% done!

2024 52 Club Reading Challenge

My Progress:

40 / 52 books. 77% done!

2024 Build Your Library Reading Challenge

My Progress:

27 / 40 books. 68% done!

2024 Pioneer Book Reading Challenge

15 / 40 books. 38% done!

2024 Craving for Cozies Reading Challenge

My Progress:

10 / 25 books. 40% done!

2024 Medical Examiner's Mystery Reading Challenge

2024 Mystery Marathon Reading Challenge

My Progress

12 / 26.2 miles. 46% done!

Mount TBR Reading Challenge

My Progress

26 / 100 books. 26% done!

2024 Pick Your Poison Reading Challenge

My Progress:

64 / 104 books. 62% done!

Around the Year in 52 Books Reading Challenge

My Progress

43 / 52 books. 83% done!

Disney Animated Movies Reading Challenge

My Progress

69 / 165 books. 42% done!
Friday, May 31, 2019

Epic Novel About Korea's Female Free-Divers Expansive, But Intimate

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

The Korean island of Jeju boasts an abundance of three things: wind, stones, and women.  In its matrifocal society, women known as haenyeo plunge into the sea—as they have for centuries—probing its depths in search of treasures like abalone, urchins, and octopus.  These delicacies are sold at market, making money for the women, their families, and the community.  Spots on the island's various all-female diving collectives are coveted, the honor passed down from mother to daughter.  It's a risky, all-consuming line of work.  While the women engage in hundreds of dangerous free dives over their lifetimes, their men stay behind to look after their homes and children.  Husbands may be given an allowance by their wives, but it's the latter that does all the bread-winning. 

Kim Young-Sook cannot wait to follow in her mother's footsteps and become part of the Hado collective, of which her mother is the leader.  She and her best friend, Han Mi-ja, are thrilled to become "baby divers" when they turn 15.  Being inducted into this exclusive community of women means inclusion, acceptance, and belonging.  Under the warm tutelage of the older women, Young-Sook and Mi-ja learn the fine arts of diving, collecting, and surviving in dangerous waters.  As the girls become proficient divers, even traveling to different countries to take lucrative diving jobs, they become closer than ever before.  But, as they grow up, their very different lives become even more divergent, until their paths no longer cross at all.  By the time they are wives and mothers, the estranged friends are doing all they can to survive the growing violence on their island as well as the more intimate concerns of poverty, abuse, child care, increasing restrictions on diving, and the clash between tradition and modernity that will change their island irrevocably.  The friendship that could sustain—and save—them both is tenuous, but is it truly gone forever?   

The Island of Sea Women, an epic novel by Lisa See, explores the friendship between two remarkable women over the course of several momentous decades.  Rich with detail about Jeju, the haenyeo, and Korea's tumultuous history, the novel is expansive and intimate at the same time.  The culture it explores is fascinating, the story it tells heartbreaking, but empowering.  Although The Island of Sea Women isn't a quick read, it's beautiful, absorbing, and unforgettable.  I loved it.

If you're interested in learning more about the haenyeo (a tradition/culture that still exists today, although the divers are now mostly old women), there are several videos you can watch on YouTube.  The one below gives a quick peek at what the divers do, but there are others that explore the culture in more depth.  

(Readalikes:  I haven't read much about Korea at all, let alone about the haenyeo, so I'm not sure what to compare this book to.  Suggestions?)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for violence, blood/gore, mild sexual content, and disturbing subject matter

To the FTC, with love:  I bought a copy of The Island of Sea Women from Amazon with a portion of the millions I make from my lucrative career as a book blogger.  Ha ha.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Appealing Setting and Punny Title Not Enough to Save This Cliché Cozy

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

When Angie Turner inherits her grandmother's farm in little River Vista, Idaho, she sees it as the perfect opportunity to start over.  An executive chef, she decides to open a farm-to-table restaurant with the help of her best friend, Felicia Williams.  With the County Seat scheduled to open in a few weeks, the two women are scrambling to hire staff, convince local farmers to sell them produce and dairy, and make sure the restaurant's opening runs smoothly.  

Angie manages to persuade crotchety "Old Man" Moss to sell her his famous goat cheese, a real triumph.  The next thing she knows, however, the man's body is found at the bottom of a treacherous cliff.  Not only does Angie end up tending one of the deceased's lively goats, but she also can't help channeling her inner Nancy Drew to figure out the truth behind the elderly man's suspicious death.  As she comes closer and closer to solving the case, Angie's life becomes more and more dangerous.  Can she find the killer before the killer finds her?  

As much as I love the title and setting of Who Moved My Goat Cheese?, the first installment in Lynn Cahoon's Farm-to-Fork mystery series, the story just didn't work very well for me.  The characters are cliché and not well developed.  Angie Turner, for example, is as generic as her name implies.  Because neither she nor her love interest is round enough to feel real, their sparkless romance falls flat.  The mystery at the book's center isn't very mysterious and the big finale just feels ... anticlimactic.  While I appreciate this cozy for being light, fun, and clean, it didn't engage me enough to make me want to move on with the series.  Oh well.

(Readalikes:  Reminds me of the All-Day Breakfast Cafe series by Lena Gregory)   


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for mild violence and mild sexual innuendo

To the FTC, with love:  I bought a copy of Who Moved My Goat Cheese? from Amazon with a portion of the millions I make from my lucrative career as a book blogger.  Ha ha.
Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday: A Decade of Favorites

This week's TTT topic is a fun one: Favorite Books Released in the Last Ten Years (one book per year).  Since I keep lists of all the books I read each year, with asterisks denoting my favorites, I'm going to use those lists to put my own spin on the topic.  Instead of chatting about my favorite books released in a certain year, I'm going to talk about the best ones I read each year, regardless of when they were published.  That should be a little easier than Googling "Best Novels of 20--"! 

Before I do that, I want to encourage you to join in the TTT fun.  It's a good time and a great way to spread some love across the book blogosphere, find new blogs to love, and add intriguing-looking titles to your TBR pile.  What's not to love?  All you have to do is click over to That Artsy Reader Girl, read a few instructions, make your own list, and share it with the world.  Easy cheesy.

Okay, here we go with my Top Ten Favorite Books Read Over the Last Ten Years:


The Help (2009) by Kathryn Stockett—Like scores of other readers, I loved this revealing novel about a Southern socialite who decides to write a tell-all book about what it's like for the black women working for white society women in the 1960s South.  It's a warm, funny, poignant novel that makes for a wonderful read.  I adored the movie as well, which is odd since I don't usually like book-to-film adaptations.


This is the year I discovered Kimberley Griffiths Little, a talented writer who has since become a personal friend.  Back in 2010, she was writing MG novels only.  These days, she pens books for children, young adults, and adults. 

I read and loved two of her books in 2010—The Healing Spell, which came out that year, and an ARC of Circle of Secrets, which was published in 2011.  Both are atmospheric stories set in the Louisiana bayou that concern family, friendship, and finding one's place in the world.


I found another talented MG author in 2011:  Cynthia Lord.  I read both Rules (2006) and Touch Blue (2010) this year.  Rules is a sweet novel about a 12-year-old girl who's frustrated with her autistic brother and the way his condition seems to overwhelm her life and that of her family.  Touch Blue concerns an island in Maine where the state is planning to shut down the local school, forcing the island children to go to the mainland to get an education.  In an effort to save the school by increasing enrollment, island families take in foster kids.  Tess's family takes on a 13-year-old boy whose presence in their lives could be either a blessing or a curse.  I enjoyed both books and have continued to read every book Lord writes. 


Cinder (2012) by Marissa Meyer—Sci-fi isn't really my jam, so it took me a while to actually pick up my ARC of Cinder.  When I did, I was surprised to find myself totally drawn into this YA story about a cyborg Cinderella.  It's a fun, inventive novel, which I enjoyed very much.  I've since read—and loved—the whole series, which is exciting, engrossing, clean, and entertaining.


How the Light Gets In (2013) by Louise Penny—Apparently, I didn't post my "Books Read" list for this year, so I had to Google books that came out in 2013.  I've enjoyed every book in Penny's Inspector Gamache series and How the Light Gets In, which I read in 2017, is still my favorite.  It's tense and exciting, but also tender and funny.


Apparently, this was the year I discovered Kate Morton, who quickly became one of my favorite authors.  I read four of her books, all the ones she had published to that point, in 2014:  The House at Riverton (2008), The Forgotten Garden (2009), The Distant Hours (2010), and The Secret Keeper (2012).  Although I enjoyed them all, The Secret Keeper was my favorite.  All of them are atmospheric, engrossing tales about families and secrets.


Salt to the Sea (2016) by Ruta Sepetys—I didn't love Sepetys' Between Shades of Gray (2011), but I really enjoyed Out of the Easy (2013).  Apparently, I received an ARC of Salt to the Sea because I read the book in 2015, before it came out.  This WWII novel is vivid, heartbreaking, and moving.  I loved it.


Little Black Lies (2015) by Sharon Bolton—This mystery/thriller about a string of children who go missing from a small, safe community on the Falkland Islands and the people desperate to find them, is my favorite of Bolton's books.  It kept me guessing until the very last sentence.  Literally.


The Disappearances (2017) by Emily Bain Murphy—It's hard to explain the plot of this unique novel.  The cover makes it look like a horror novel, but it's not.  Suffice it to say, I adored the story.  I've heard rumors that the author FINALLY has a new book coming out in 2020 and I cannot wait.  After The Disappearances, I want to read everything Murphy writes!


The Solace of Water (2018) by Elizabeth Byler Younts—Younts was raised Amish and while she has since left the religion, she remains close to the Amish community and her family members who still reside there.  This familiarity with their religion/culture gives Younts an insider's view that informs her fiction.  I've read a couple of Younts' books and The Solace of Water, a novel about two very different women (one is a black preacher's wife, the other a white Amish woman) who form an unlikely friendship in the 1950s South, is my favorite.  It's a powerful, touching novel which I loved.


I've read a couple books so far this year that I've marked as favorites, but the one that stands out most is The Island of Sea Women (2019) by Lisa See.  I've read and enjoyed several books by See, but this one gleams even among them.  It tells the story of a real group of women in South Korea who have been going into the sea for generations to harvest seafood that they sell to support their families.  The women are the breadwinners, leaving their husbands behind to rear the children.  It's a sweeping, epic novel that stretches across several decades, focusing especially on the WWII years.  Warm, intriguing, and memorable, it's a fantastic read that I highly recommend.

So, there you go, some favorites that I've read over the past decade.  Which titles did you choose for each year?  I'd truly love to know.  Leave a comment on this post and I will gladly return the favor on your blog.

Happy TTT!
Monday, May 27, 2019

Intriguing Crime Series Offers More to Be Explored

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

When Dr. Emma Sweeney happens across the dead body of a university student while crossing campus after hours, she calls the first person who comes to mind—her boyfriend, Detective Sergeant Cormac Reilly.  As persona non grata at the Galway police station, Cormac never would have been assigned to the apparent hit-and-run.  Especially considering his relationship with the star witness.  Things get even dicier when a student i.d. in the deceased's pocket identifies the victim as Carline Darcy, granddaughter of the billionaire owner of Darcy Therapeutics, the company which funds Emma's research.  Suddenly, the "accident" is looking a lot like murder, with Emma quickly becoming the biggest suspect.  And, somehow, Cormac is the one in charge of the investigation.

With the case getting increasingly complicated, Cormac is torn between his loyalty to his girlfriend and the evidence mounting against her.  Determined to solve a murder and finally prove himself to his colleagues at the same time, Cormac will have to risk everything he has, both personal and professional, to find the truth.

While I didn't enjoy the second installment in Dervla McTiernan's Cormac Reilly series quite as much as the first, I still really liked The Scholar.  Like its predecessor, the novel is a compelling, exciting page-turner that I had a hard time putting down.  I especially like the characters McTiernan has created, all of whom are realistically complicated and flawed.  Although the story people in this series have already come alive enough for me to care about what happens to them, I still feel like each of them has hidden depths to be explored.  That's one of the reasons I'm so excited to see where this series goes.  McTiernan has impressed me so far.  I'm a big Cormac Reilly fan; I can't wait to see what happens to him next!

(Readalikes:  The Ruin by Dervla McTiernan; also reminds me of crime novels by Tana French, Sharon Bolton, and Jane Casey)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for strong language, violence, blood/gore, and disturbing subject matter

To the FTC, with love:  I received an e-ARC of The Scholar from the generous folks at Penguin via those at Edelweiss.  Thank you!
Thursday, May 23, 2019

Historical Insane Asylum Novel Heartbreaking, But Hopeful

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

As the daughter of a wealthy San Francisco businessman, Charlotte Smith knows exactly what's expected of her.  She's to conduct herself as a refined young lady ought, marry the man her parents select, and hold her tongue should she have any complaints.  Charlotte's prepared to follow the predictable course set out for her life—until her beloved older sister is sent away.  Phoebe might be a little different, but Charlotte knows she doesn't belong at Goldengrove, "a Progressive Home for the Curable Insane."  Determined to rescue Phoebe, Charlotte schemes to get herself sent to Goldengrove.  Shocked by the deplorable conditions at the hospital and the horrifying treatments forced on the patients, she vows to get both herself and her sister out.  But that's not nearly as simple as it may seem ...

Both heartbreaking and hopeful, Woman 99 by Greer Macallister shines a harsh light on the misunderstanding and mistreatment that characterized mental health "care" in the late 19th Century.  Depictions of life inside Goldengrove are graphic enough to make a point, but not so explicit as to elicit more than a PG-13 rating.  Still, this is an eye-opening, thought-provoking novel.  It's peopled with a host of "inconvenient" women who are brave, loyal, and compassionate.  While I liked the premise of Woman 99 and its cast, I didn't end up loving the book.  Macallister's prose is clunky, more tell than show, and the story wraps up in a way that feels convenient and inauthentic.  Overall, then, I didn't adore this one like I thought I would.  It's still an engaging read, just not as satisfying as it could have been.

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


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for language (no F-bombs), violence, and disturbing subject matter

To the FTC, with love:  Another library fine find
Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday: Hands-On Reading

Welcome to another edition of my favorite bookish meme!  I love Top Ten Tuesday, even if today's topic—Books That I Refuse to Let Anyone Touch (too special/valuable/fragile/etc.)—doesn't really apply to me.  I'm not interested enough to collect rare books, not sentimental enough to keep nostalgic reads (at least not old, fragile copies), and not cautious enough not to let family and friends borrow my books.  So, yeah, for this topic?  I got nothing.  Instead, I'm going to spin it a little and list the Top Ten Books I'm Hoping to Touch This Summer (or, My Summer TBR List).  This will actually be the subject of the TTT list on June 25, but since I'm constantly biting off more than I can chew (er, read), I will no doubt be able to come up with another, entirely different list in a month.  No problem.

Before we get to that, though, I want to encourage you to join in the TTT fun.  It's a simple way to spread the love around the book blogosphere while adding to both your blogroll and your TBR pile mountain mountain chain at the same time.  Just click on over to That Artsy Reader Girl, read a couple instructions, make your own list, and voilá!  You're in.

Top Ten Books I'm Hoping to Touch This Summer (or My Summer TBR List, Part I)

1.  The County of Ross:  A History of Ross County, Ohio, from the Earliest Days, with Special Chapters on the Bench and Bar, Medical Profession, Educational Development, Industry and Agriculture, and Biographical Sketches by Henry Holcomb Bennett—Since February, I've been working hard to fulfill the first requirement in the process of becoming an accredited genealogist through ICAPGen.  It involves writing a lengthy research report on four generations of a family who lived continuously in the part of the world in which you are seeking to specialize.  For me, that's the Great Lakes region, where most of my ancestors settled after immigrating to the U.S. from England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland.  The specific family I'm researching has lived in Ross County, Ohio, for generations.  Thus, I'm reading this 785-page gem, which was published in 1902.  It's more scintillating than I thought it would be.  I actually stayed up until midnight the other night reading it!  #genealogynerd

That being said, The County of Ross is hardly the kind of page-turner that I'm going to be reading cover-to-cover just as fast as I can.  I'll be reading chapters in between other books (probably mystery/suspense novels that I will want to consume at warp speed) so it will likely take me all summer to finish this hefty tome.  I've got time since my report isn't due until August ... 

2.  The Good Neighbor by Maxwell King—I bought this Fred Rogers biography after seeing the excellent documentary Won't You Be My Neighbor? in the movie theater.  I found the film so inspiring that I wanted to learn more about this iconic figure whose t.v. show was a daily part of my early childhood.

3.  Educated by Tara Westover—This memoir about a woman's unconventional childhood and education has gotten all kinds of buzz since it was published.  It's been sitting on my physical TBR pile for months and I still haven't gotten to it.  Soon, I will. 

4.  Because of the Rabbit by Cynthia Lord—I love Lord's poignant children's books, so I'm excited to read her newest.  This slim novel is about a girl who's going to public school for the first time after being homeschooled and the rescue rabbit who helps her cope with all the challenges she's facing.  Sounds sweet.

5.  Amina's Voice by Hena Khan—I found this MG novel, which I've heard good things about, while browsing at the library yesterday.  The story revolves around a Pakistani-American Muslim girl and her struggles with friendship, culture clashes, etc. 

6.  After the Lights Go Out by Lili Wilkinson—This Australian post-apocalyptic novel sounds intriguing.  This is one I'd really like to get my hands on, but I can't find it anywhere, even though it was published last year.  It's not available at my local libraries and it's not for sale on Amazon.  Anyone know how to get a hold of this elusive volume without traveling to Australia?

7.  Natalie Tan's Book of Luck and Fortune by Roselle Lim—I'm reading this one for a blog tour and it looks really fun.  It's about a chef who wants to revitalize the Chinatown restaurant she inherits from her estranged mother.

8.  The Spies of Shilling Lane by Jennifer Ryan (available June 4, 2019)—I pre-ordered this WWII novel, which concerns a disgraced divorceé who travels to London to reunite with her estranged daughter.  When she discovers that, in the chaos of war, her daughter has gone missing, she launches her own investigation to find her vanished child.

9.  Her Daughter's Mother by Daniela Petrova (available June 18, 2019)—An expectant mother who becomes an unwitting stalker of the "anonymous" egg donor responsible for her pregnancy is the star of this forthcoming thriller.  When the donor disappears, the woman launches her own investigation to find out what happened to the woman to whom she owes so much.

10.  My Sister's Grave by Robert Dugoni—I came across an intriguing-looking series by Dugoni while perusing the mystery/thriller section of the library yesterday.  My library didn't have the first installment, My Sister's Grave, so I requested it from another branch.  It's about a homicide detective who's determined to solve her sister's disappearance and alleged murder.  

What do you think of my summer reading list?  Have you read any of these titles?  What books are on your summer TBR?  If you did today's topic, which books do you refuse to let anyone touch?  I'd truly love to know.  Leave a comment on this post and I will happily return the favor on your post (please make sure to leave the URL so I can find you).

Happy TTT!    
Monday, May 20, 2019

Warm, Engaging MG Novel Has Feel and Appeal of Timeless Classic

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Billie O'Brien has a busy summer ahead of her.  Not only will the 12-year-old be harvesting her bees' honey to sell in town, but she's also got to check her fishing traps, help her friend scoop llama poop (lots of llama poop), assist her dad with cheese making, and—most importantly—grow the biggest, best pumpkin she can so she can beat the socks off her former BFF in the pumpkin race that happens every fall on Madeline Island.  Sam Harrington cheated her out of her win last year and she can't forgive him for that.  The only way to get her revenge is to skunk him fair and square this year.

Of course, things aren't going to go smoothly when you've got cucumber beetles gorging on your pumpkins, an ex-BFF sabotaging your growing efforts, storms churning up your favorite fishing spot, and a mysterious stranger whose sudden appearance throws your family into a confusing whirl.  Can Billie survive a summer full of unpleasant surprises?  Can she beat Sam in the race?  As Billie stumbles through three months of hard work, stinging disappointment, trying challenges, and unexpected revelations, she will learn some valuable lessons about family, friendship, and, forgiveness.

The Pumpkin War by Cathleen Young is a warm, engaging novel that has the feel and appeal of a timeless classic.  Its bucolic rural setting offers readers a unique, insider's view of farm life while emphasizing the value of kids helping out and working diligently to achieve their goals.  While The Pumpkin War is a slim novel, it's got lots going on inside.  It tells a fun, exciting story that's also touching and real.  Readers of any age can pick this one up and enjoy.  I certainly did.

(Readalikes:  Reminds me of books by Cynthia Lord)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for scenes of peril

To the FTC, with love:  I received an ARC of The Pumpkin War from the generous folks at Penguin Random House in exchange for an honest review.  Thank you!
Friday, May 17, 2019

Alaskan Debut Novel One Strange Ride

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Tracy Petrikoff would rather be out in the thick woods surrounding her Alaskan home than anywhere else.  Especially school.  The 17-year-old can't stand being trapped inside when there is a forest to explore, food to be hunted and gathered, and training to be done for the Iditarod.  As soon as she turns 18, Tracy plans not only to enter the race but also to become a dog sled racing champion like her father.  

When strange things start happening in the forest, Tracy feels decidedly unsettled.  Then a teenage boy comes wondering out of the trees, looking for work.  Although Tracy's father hires him on the spot, Tracy can't get a handle on the odd stranger.  She becomes especially nervous as the boy worms his way into the Petrikoffs' insulated lives.  Tracy knows Jesse is hiding something, but what?  With her senses sharply honed from a lifetime of stalking animals, Tracy knows danger is near.  Is the trouble coming from without?  Or, much more likely, from within?  

It's tough to describe The Wild Inside, a debut novel by Jamey Bradbury.  On one hand, it's an atmospheric thriller which is both unique and compelling.  On the other hand, it's an odd, unsettling, often nauseating story that is sometimes so blood-soaked it made me want to vomit.  I enjoyed learning about what it takes to compete in the Iditarod and I would have found this book much more appealing had it just been a story of a plucky teenage girl determined to win the big race.  Instead, The Wild Inside takes some weird turns that left me scratching my head.  Overall, the novel is depressing, and, in the end, just felt pointless.  The plot engaged me enough that I finished the book, but man, what a strange read!  

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


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for language, violence, blood/gore, and disturbing subject matter

To the FTC, with love:  I received a finished copy of The Wild Inside from the generous folks at HarperCollins in exchange for an honest review.  Thank you!
Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Evocative Mystery/Thriller Keeps Me Riveted to the Page

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Colleen Mitchell knows she needs to let her 20-year-old son live his own life, but she can't help but question Paul's sudden decision to drop out of college and waltz off to the middle of nowhere to work on an oil rig.  Now, her worst fears have been realized.  She hasn't heard from Paul in over a month.  Not even a one-word text.  Maybe she's overreacting—probably she is—but something feels off.  No longer able to stand the anxiety of not knowing what's happened to Paul, she flies to rural North Dakota to find her son.  What she discovers is that she's right.  Her son is missing from the "man camp" where he and the other workers live.  No one knows where he's gone.  Or so they say.  

There's only one person in bleak little Lawton willing to believe that anything shady is going on and that's because her son is missing, too.  Shay Capparelli is Colleen's opposite—she's penniless but scrappy and tenacious, willing to do whatever it takes to find her own son, who's also nowhere to be found.  Just like Colleen, Shay knows there's something more to the story behind their sons' disappearances.  She's convinced the oil company is hiding something.  

The two women become unlikely allies in their plight to locate the boys they love.  As they dig deeper and deeper into the oil company's practices, Lawton's ugly underbelly and the secrets their sons kept under wraps, the duo uncovers some unsavory truths.  What really happened to Paul and Taylor?  Can their mothers solve the mystery before it's too late?

The Missing Place by Sophie Littlefield is an evocative, compelling read that I could not put down.  With an atmospheric setting, well-drawn characters, and a twisty mystery, it kept my attention riveted to the page.  I know some reviewers felt misled by some of the story's plot turns.  Not me.  The set up kept me guessing, which is what I dig in a psychological mystery/thriller.  Despite the book's grimness, I ended up enjoying this one quite a lot.  I'll definitely be picking up more books from this intriguing author. 

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


If this were a movie, it would be rated:  

for language, violence, depictions of illegal drug use, and disturbing subject matter

To the FTC, with love:  Another library fine find
Thursday, May 09, 2019

Miranda's Newest Another Twisty, Engrossing Thriller

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

In picturesque Littleport, Maine, there are two kinds of people—wealthy summer visitors and the locals who inhabit the resort town year-round.  With the livelihood of the latter dependent on the former, there's a natural divide between the two groups.  Their members simply don't mix.  That's why Littleport resident Avery Greer was so surprised when rich, sophisticated Sadie Loman befriended her ten years ago.  Having grown closer to Sadie with every passing summer, Avery is horrified when she learns that her friend's body has washed up on the shore.  With an apparent suicide note in their possession, the cops declare that Sadie stepped off a steep cliff of her own volition.  Case closed.  Avery's not the only one who doesn't believe bold, unapologetic Sadie would take her own life; she's also not the only one some people in town consider a suspect in the woman's death.  

Sure that someone (or multiple someones) knows more than they're admitting, Avery launches her own search for the truth about Sadie's death.  The deeper she digs, the more dirt she uncovers.  It soon becomes obvious that Avery's revealing secrets someone would kill to keep buried.  Can she find out the truth before it's her dead body that washes ashore?

I'm sure you've noticed by now that I love me a tense psychological thriller, especially one that's set in a cozy little town that's hiding big, juicy secrets.  The Last House Guest (available June 18, 2019), the newest suspense novel from Megan Miranda, delivers on all fronts.  The setting is atmospheric, the plot compelling, and the mystery twisty.  Just the way I like it.  Yes, the book is depressing as all get-out, but it's also an engrossing read that kept me totally riveted.  I've enjoyed all of Miranda's books and this one is no exception.  If you're looking for an absorbing summer thriller, look no further.

(Readalikes:  Hm, I should be able to think of lots of titles, but nothing's coming to mind.  You?)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for language (a dozen or so F-bombs, plus milder expletives), violence, and disturbing subject matter

To the FTC, with love:  I received an e-ARC of The Last House Guest from the generous folks at Simon & Schuster via those at Edelweiss.  Thank you!
Tuesday, May 07, 2019

True World War II Stories Both Fascinating and Moving

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

I've read tons of World War II novels, but not too many true accounts.  So, when I heard about Jerry Borrowman's new book, Invisible Heroes of World War II, I knew I wanted to read it.  It's a slim volume and yet, the stories he recounts speak volumes about the bravery, dedication, and sacrifice exhibited by ordinary humans in an extraordinary time. 

Borrowman highlights a variety of individuals and groups who served valiantly in the war, although their contributions were not necessarily known in their day or recognized as much as they should be today.  Among these are people of various ethnicities, nationalities, cultures, and backgrounds.  Both soldiers and civilians, they were also engineers, laborers, spies, pilots, communications experts, journalists, etc. What results is a kaleidoscope of stories, all interesting in their own way.  The one I personally found most intriguing was that of Dickey Chappelle, the courageous war photographer pictured on the book's cover.  She's a fascinating woman, one whom I'd never heard of but would love to read more about.

If you're interested in learning more about some of World War II's unsung heroes, definitely pick up this intriguing book.  It's a quick read, but one that is both fascinating and moving.  I enjoyed reading these untold stories, which made me marvel once again at the remarkable ability of human beings to survive and even thrive in the face of unimaginable cruelty and unspeakable horror.  The people portrayed in Borrowman's book are truly heroes with incredible stories just waiting to be heard ...

(Readalikes:  Reminds me of Women of the Blue & Grey by Marianne Monson


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

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

To the FTC, with love:  I received an ARC of Invisible Heroes of World War II from the generous folks at Shadow Mountain in exchange for an honest review.  Thank you!
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Tress of the Emerald Sea by Brandon Sanderson


The Silent Sister by Diane Chamberlain

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