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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.

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:


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!
Saturday, October 31, 2020

Domestic Drama Dissatisfying and Weird

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Marie Langham has always been jealous of her best friend's perfect life.  Nina Beaufort has it all—a doting husband, two beautiful children, and a lovely home.  When Nina dies of cancer, Marie is devastated to lose her only real friend.  The only thing she can do for her now is keep her promise to make sure Nina's children are looked after.  Marie's only too happy to step into the role she's been secretly coveting for years.  Before long, she's moved into Nina's home, ostensibly to assist Nina's husband.  Her secret mission is to seduce him and convince him to marry her, thereby cementing her place in the household.  

The more time Marie spends in Nina's home, the more she comes to realize that Nina's life was far from perfect.  In fact, the dead woman was keeping some shocking secrets.  When the past comes calling, Marie finds herself caught in the middle.  Is the life she always envied really the one she wants?  

Domestic dramas mixed with mystery, suspense, and some psychological thrills are a dime a dozen these days.  Some are twisty, adrenaline-fueled page turners, others are ... not.  Unfortunately, The Last Wife by Karen Hamilton falls into the latter category.  First of all, it's more domestic drama than anything else, which perhaps explains why it's so straightforward and predictable.  Second, it's populated with a cast of selfish, manipulative, unlikable characters, the worst of whom is our "heroine."  Third, the plot is just weird.  The characters' choices are often illogical and the story gets more absurd as it goes.  So, why did I bother finishing this odd, depressing novel?  Honestly, I don't know!  Apparently, I was invested enough that I wanted to find out how the tale wrapped up.  I can't say this book was at all enjoyable, though.  For me, it was a strange, eye roll-worthy, dissatisfying read that I probably should have DNF'd right from the start.  Lesson learned.

(Readalikes:  Um, no specific titles are coming to mind.  You?)

Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for language (a few F-bombs, plus milder expletives), violence, references to illegal drug use, and disturbing subject matter

To the FTC, with love:  I received an e-ARC of The Perfect Wife from the generous folks at Graydon House (a division of HarperCollins) via those at NetGalley.  Thank you!

Friday, October 30, 2020

LOST Meets Stranger Things? Does YA sci-fi/horror novel deliver?

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Tasia "Sia" Gianopoulos has spent so much time in the water over the last 17 years of her life that it seems she was born with gills.  These days, she's diving not just for fun but because, with her dad in prison, she and her mom desperately need the money.  Their charter scuba diving business allows them to do what they love and pay the bills.  

Leading diving expeditions to shipwrecks in the Florida Keys is second nature to Sia, but she has an odd, unsettling feeling about visiting the U.S.S. Andrew.  Something about the trip just feels off.  When one of the divers die, the whole group desperately tries to get back to land.  An attack by a horrifying sea monster leaves divers dead, the Gianopoulos' boats in ruins, and four kids stranded on a remote island.  With a thick jungle at their backs and a sea of deadly water in front, there is no escape route.  As the days wear on with no rescue in sight, Sia, her younger brother, and two kids who are virtually strangers to them must learn how to survive on an island where nothing is as it seems.  Can they learn its strange ways?  Can they defeat the sea monster that guards the terrifying secret that may be their only way home?  

When a book is described as LOST meets Stranger Things, it leads the reader to expect a certain level of greatness.  Did Fractured Tide, a debut YA sci fi/horror novel by Leslie Lutz, deliver?  I'm not sure it's possible to totally meet the expectations of such an illustrious billing, but the book offers a story that is tense, tightly-plotted, and exciting.  Told through letters Sia writes to her father, the tale has an intimate feel that just adds to the plot's intensity.  With the urgency of LOST and the eeriness of Stranger Things, it uses classic sci fi/horror elements to keep the reader on the edge of their seat while they burn through the pages to see what happens next.  Entertaining and satisfying, Fractured Tide is simply a good read.  Despite some violence and gore, it's also a mostly clean read that I can hand to my 15-year-old LOST lover without reservation.  I love that.

(Readalikes:  Reminds me of When We Were Lost by Kevin Wignall)

Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

  

(possibly PG-13—for violence, blood/gore, and scenes of peril)

To the FTC, with love:  Another library fine find

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Not Exactly an Edge-of-Your-Seat Thriller, Eight Perfect Murders Still Compelling

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

A decade ago, when he started working at Old Devils bookstore in Boston, Malcolm Kershaw published a blog post listing the most unsolvable murders appearing in classic mystery novels.  No one read it.  At least that's what Malcolm thought.  Now, ten years later, a string of murders has been committed and FBI agent Gwen Mulvey thinks the killer is using his list as a guide map.  

When Gwen asks for Malcolm's help, he hesitates.  Truth is, he knew one of the victims.  If he tells Gwen, suspicion might land on him, which is the last thing he wants considering all the secrets he's keeping ...

I don't want to say too much about the plot of Eight Perfect Murders by Peter Swanson.  The less you know going into it, the better.  Despite its appearances, the novel features a slow-burn kind of story that becomes more engrossing as it goes.  Malcolm is not a super likable character, although he is a sympathetic one.  I related to his love of books and mysteries, even though his constant references to genre classics made me feel woefully under-read!  While I had my suspicions about certain members of the story's cast, Eight Perfect Murders did keep me guessing, which kept me reading even though it's not exactly an edge-of-your-seat thriller.  While I didn't love this book, I did appreciate its original premise, its twists and turns, and the fact that I was still thinking about the story days after I finished it.

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

Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


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

To the FTC, with love:  Another library fine find

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Top Ten Tuesday: Chills and Thrills on My TBR List


With Halloween at the end of this week, it's no surprise that today's Top Ten Tuesday topic is a holiday freebie.  I don't know how you feel about Halloween, but it's not my favorite.  Although I'm all about candy (as long as it's chocolate), I've never been a fan of dressing up.  Just not my thing.  Ghost stories have always thrilled me, although truth be told, I'm a pretty big wimp when it comes to scary things!  In the past, my husband and I have spent Halloween evening sitting in our driveway handing out candy and visiting with neighbors while we supervised our kids' trick-or-treating efforts.  Now that our youngest is a month away from her 12th birthday, she's decided she wants to trick-or-treat with her friends in their neighborhood without any parents tagging along.  Fine by me.  Way I figure it, these unwanted parents will stick a bowl of candy on our porch, turn off the lights, and stay inside with popcorn and a scary-ish movie.  We'll see.  What about you?  Any big plans for Halloween?

Back in high school, I spent many nights hiding under my covers with a flashlight and a chilling horror novel.  The older I've gotten, though, the wussier I've become.  I still love me a shivery ghost story or a haunting Gothic thriller, as long as it's not too terrifying.  For my TTT list, I decided to highlight some of the creepy novels from 2020 and 2021 that are on my TBR list.  These are sure to give me a good fright!

Before we get to that, though, I want to give a shout out to our lovely host, Jana.  Click on over to That Artsy Reader Girl to give her blog some love and find out more about Top Ten Tuesday.

Top Ten Creepy 2020-2021 Books on My TBR List  


1.  The Haunting of Brynn Wilder by Wendy Webb—In search of a life reset, the titular character checks into a boardinghouse on the shores of Lake Superior for the summer.  There she finds camaraderie with a group of similarly lost souls.  Her peace is short-lived—soon she's hearing voices, being plagued by nightmares, and wondering what's inside the mysterious room at the end of the hall ...


2.  The Whispering House by Elizabeth Brooks—Haunted by the recent suicide of her sister, Freya Lyell decides to visit the place of her death.  When she enters mysterious Byrne Hall, she sees a portrait of her sister hanging on the wall.  Freya's never seen the picture and she knows her sister has never been to the house.  What is her sister's likeness doing in a house she's never been to?  What do its owners know about her death?  What dark secrets is the house hiding?


3.  The Shadow in the Glass by J.J.A. Harwood (coming March 18, 2021)—In this dark Cinderella retelling, a miserable maid finds her only solace in the bewitching library inside her stepfather's home.  One night as she's lost in her world of books, her fairy godmother appears to grant her seven wishes.  Each comes with a price—how much is Ella willing to risk for a magical respite from her many troubles?


4.  Don't Tell a Soul by Kirsten Miller (coming January 26, 2021)—I read Rebecca earlier this year and was seriously underwhelmed, but this modern-day YA version still sounds compelling.  It concerns Bram, a young woman who goes to live with her grieving uncle in an effort to escape her old life.  The old mansion he's renovating is seriously creepy and the town he lives in is filled with suspicious, unwelcoming people who tell chilling tales about missing girls associated with her uncle's manor house.  Is the place haunted?  Should Bram be wary of her strange uncle?


5.  The Nesting by C.J. Cooke—Set in Norway, this Gothic thriller sounds absolutely terrifying!  It concerns a nanny who takes a job watching two young children while their father finishes building his dream home on an isolated fjord near a deep, looming forest.  When strange things start happening in the house, the nanny begins to suspect that the kids' dead mother might not be as dead as they all supposed ...


6.  Girls of Brackenhill by Kate Moretti—When her aunt dies in a car accident, a woman travels to the Catskills to help the woman's dying husband.  Being there brings back haunting memories of a troubling disappearance sixteen years ago.  As the woman digs into the past, disturbing family secrets start coming to light.


7.  The Lost Village by Camilla Sten (coming March 23, 2021)—People have been mysteriously vanishing from an old mining town for years.  Alice, a documentary filmmaker, is obsessed with the place and wants to make a movie about it.  When she takes a crew to the village, strange things start to occur.  Can they figure out what happened to all the missing townspeople before they become the next ones to vanish without a trace?  


8.  It Will Just Be Us by Jo Kaplan—A crumbling mansion on the edge of a swamp, Sam Wakefield's ancestral home is a decaying pile built by her mad ancestors.  Already full of ghosts, the house shifts when Sam's pregnant sister moves in.  A new ghost haunts the mansion's corridors.  What does it want?  And why is it leading Sam toward a mysterious forgotten room?  Actually, this one might be a little too creepy for me ...


9.  The Ancestor by Danielle Trussoni—When Alberta Monte receives a letter informing her that she's inherited not just a title but also a castle in Italy, she's skeptical but curious.  She'll take any chance to learn more about her mysterious family.  Soon, she discovers that her ancestry is much darker than she ever imagined.


10.  The Initial Insult by Mindy McGinnis (coming February 3, 2021)—I enjoy McGinnis' dark YA novels, so I'm excited for her newest.  The first in a planned duology, it concerns Tress Montor, a teen whose whole life changed when her parents disappeared while taking her best friend home one night.  Desperate for answers, Tress uses a raucous Halloween costume party as a cover for forcing her former bestie to come clean about what really happened that night.  Sounds intriguing!

Spooky books aren't on the menu for me this Halloween since I'm deep into middle-grade reading for the Cybils Awards, but I'm hoping to get to these chilling reads at some soonish point.  Have you read any of them?  What did you think?  Are you reading anything creepy this Halloween?  I'd truly love to know.  Leave me a comment on this post and I will gladly return the favor on yours. 

Happy TTT!   

Monday, October 26, 2020

Creepy Psychological Thriller Another Riveting Read from Macmillan

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Shy, awkward Lucy Harper has always relied on her imaginary friend, Eliza Grey, to comfort her in times of distress.  When her 3-year-old brother disappeared decades ago after sneaking out of the house to follow Lucy on a midnight adventure, Eliza was there to calm her troubled mind.  Instead of fading away as her creator aged, Eliza grew larger than life until Lucy hardly knew where Eliza ended and she began.  When Lucy sold her first mystery novel featuring Eliza as a tough-talking police detective, Eliza became a beloved star.  Four books later, the author is only just beginning to realize how thoroughly Eliza has taken over her life, both professionally and personally.

When Lucy decides to take a break from her pretend friend, penning a new book that does not feature the popular character, it does not go over well—not with her publisher and not with Dan, her unpublished husband who's always been jealous of his wife's success.  When Dan vanishes one night under strange circumstances, the police question Lucy, clearly suspicious.  Lucy's sure—pretty sure—she had nothing to do with his disappearance, but lately, with Eliza taking up all her head space and her memories straying more and more often to her brother, who has never been found, Lucy's not really sure of anything.  Did she hurt her husband?  What really happened when her younger sibling went missing all those years ago?  Lucy's mind has always been a place where fact and fantasy collide.  What is truth and what is not?  What did Lucy do?

Gilly Macmillan is one of my favorite writers of psychological suspense and her newest, To Tell You the Truth, does not disappoint.  Its premise seems a bit far-fetched, but it offers a unique and intriguing setup to a story that's full of didn't-see-that-coming twists.  A creepy, atmospheric vibe runs through the novel, adding another unsettling layer to the narrative.  Lucy is an undeniably odd duck but she still makes for a sympathetic and compelling heroine.  All of these elements in addition to a fast-paced, surprising plot combine to create a riveting, edge-of-your-seat read.  I ripped through this one while sitting at the DMV with my 15-year-old son for three hours and it definitely made the wait more tolerable.  I don't know if To Tell You the Truth is my favorite Macmillan yarn, but it's a thrilling read that I very much enjoyed.

(Readalikes:  Reminds me of other Macmillan novels as well as those by Mindy Mejia, Megan Miranda, and Lisa Jewell)

Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


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

To the FTC, with love:  I received an e-ARC of To Tell You the Truth from the generous folks at HarperCollins via those at Edelweiss+.  Thank you!

Saturday, October 24, 2020

Necessary Lies Heartbreaking But Hopeful

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Twenty-two years old and newly married, adventurous Jane Forrester is ready to set the world on fire.  Although her straight-laced husband would prefer she spend her days sipping iced tea at the country club with the other wives in their circle, Jane is anxious to begin her career as a social worker with the Department of Public Welfare.  She can't wait to play Superwoman to Raleigh's most pitiable citizens.  

When Jane begins making house calls in poor, rural Grace County, she's shocked to see her charges living in absolute squalor, the likes of which she has never experienced in her privileged life.  Her heart especially aches for 15-year-old Ivy Hart, an epileptic orphan who labors tirelessly on a tobacco farm just to keep a roof over her family's heads.  As caretaker of her ill grandmother, her sister with special needs, and her sister's toddler, Ivy's barely got enough strength to make it through the day.  When it's suggested that Ivy might be a prime candidate for North Carolina's eugenics program, Jane's torn.  While it's obvious the young woman can't handle one more stressor, "voluntary" sterilization seems extreme, even for a penniless child with no future.  The more time Jane spends with the Harts, the more she longs to ease Ivy's burdens.  When dark secrets start to surface, she must decide just how far she's willing to go—how much she's prepared to risk—to give Ivy the chance she deserves.

Until I picked up Necessary Lies by Diane Chamberlain, I had never heard of North Carolina's eugenics program, which operated between the 1930s and 1970s.  While the aim of the initiative was to sterilize only the mentally-challenged inmates of public institutions, it was more widely applied, leading to the sterilization of over 7500 people.  Many of the operations were coerced and performed on impoverished Black women.  Chamberlain brings the issue to vivid, heartbreaking life in Necessary Lies, an emotionally-charged historical novel that definitely hit me right in the feels.  The women at its center—Jane and Ivy—are both sympathetic characters who are so well-drawn they feel real.  My heart ached for them both.  Their stories are compelling and riveting, which made for a novel that is as gut-wrenching as it is engrossing and thought-provoking.  Although Necessary Lies tells a grim story, in the end it's a hopeful novel.  The tale moved me with its complex characters, intriguing conflict, and powerful storytelling.  I haven't been able to stop thinking about this book, which I enjoyed very much.

(Readalikes:  I haven't read The First Lie by Diane Chamberlain yet, but it's a novella that tells Ivy's story.)

Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for brief, mild language (no F-bombs), violence, mild sexual content, and disturbing subject matter

To the FTC, with love:  Another library fine find

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Lois Lowry's Newest Her Most Personal and Impactful Book Yet

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

As the daughter of an Army dentist, beloved author Lois Lowry spent her childhood in locations all over the world.  When Pearl Harbor was attacked on December 7, 1941, she was a 4-year-old living in Honolulu.  Only a few years after the bombing of Hiroshima in 1945, her family moved to Tokyo, Japan.  Although Lowry knew she had been living in close proximity to the locations where two major historical events occurred, it wasn't until much later that she realized just how impactful they had been on her.  While rewatching a home movie of herself as a young child playing on a beach in Hawaii around 1939 or 1940, she noticed for the first time the ghostly image of a ship on the horizon in the background.  An acquaintance made the startling announcement that it was, in fact, the USS Arizona.  The image of the doomed vessel haunted Lowry, inspiring her to write On the Horizon.  Written in verse, her newest discusses both bombings, interspersing her own memories with the stories of other real people—both American and Japanese—whose lives were changed by what happened at Pearl Harbor and Hiroshima.

Aimed at young children, On the Horizon is presented in a clear, easy-to-read format.  Don't let its surface simplicity fool you, however, because this small book is hugely impactful.  War is an impossible subject to understand, even for adults, and reading about it can be difficult.  On the Horizon is no exception.  Lowry's verses humanize the suffering experienced at Pearl Harbor and Hiroshima, creating an emotional reading experience that is heart-wrenching and profound.  I've read hundreds of books about World War II; On the Horizon may be the one that has touched me most deeply.  It takes just minutes to read this incredible book, but its impact will linger long, long after you finish it.  The devastating effects of war should never be forgotten—Lowry guarantees they won't be with her most personal and affecting World War II book to date.  

(Readalikes:  Reminds me of other children's books about World War II, although no specific titles are coming to mind.  You?)

Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for violence and disturbing subject matter

To the FTC, with love:  Another library fine find

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Buzzy YA Murder Mystery An Entertaining Romp

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

When you want to be an investigative reporter and a murder happens practically in your own backyard, looking into the crime is pretty much a no-brainer.  That's what 17-year-old Pippa Fitz-Amobi thinks anyway.  She needs a kick-butt subject for her senior school project, so she decides to dig into the mystery that has haunted her town for the last five years.  It's not that she expects to solve the case, it's just that she doesn't quite believe the police's conclusions.  If she can cast enough doubt on them, maybe the authorities will reopen the case and search harder for the truth that Pippa knows is out there. 

Pretty and popular, Andie Bell was the same age as Pippa when she disappeared five years ago.  Although her body has never been found, Andie's boyfriend, 18-year-old Sal Singh, became the number one suspect in her supposed murder.  His suicide soon after proved his guilt.  Case closed.  The thing is, Pippa knew Sal and she would swear on her life that he was a good guy, incapable of harming anyone.  His younger brother, Ravi, agrees.  The duo is determined to prove Sal's innocence. 

It soon becomes apparent that someone is not happy with two kids sticking their noses where they don't belong.  And that someone will do anything to keep Pippa and Ravi from looking too closely at Andie's disappearance.  Who is that desperate?  And why?  What really happened to Andie Bell?  Can two high schoolers solve the baffling case or will they be the next to vanish under suspicious circumstances?

A Good Girl's Guide to Murder, a debut YA novel by Holly Jackson, received all kinds of excited buzz when it came out earlier this year.  Well deserved?  I think so, although not every reviewer agrees with me (naturally).  For me, it was a well-written, engaging, and thoroughly enjoyable read.  While the novel isn't edge-of-your-seat exciting, it moved along at a steady enough pace for me, even surprising me with a few twists I didn't see coming.  Pippa's a fun heroine who's nerdy-cool as well as loyal and determined.  I dug her and Ravi, individually and as a team.  Characters I like + an intriguing plot + skilled writing = a winning combination in my book.  A Good Girl's Guide to Murder was an enjoyable romp for me and I'm excited for its sequel—Good Girl, Bad Blood—which comes out in March 2021. 

(Readalikes:  Reminds me of other YA murder mysteries, including One of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus and This is Our Story by Ashley Elston

Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for language, violence, depictions of underage drinking, and disturbing subject matter

To the FTC, with love:  Another library fine find

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Top Ten Tuesday: RECreational Readng



Some Top Ten Tuesday topics are really tough for my aging memory to handle!  Today's is one of them.  We're supposed to list the Top Ten Most Recent Books I've Read Because Someone Recommended Them Here's the thing—most of the books I read have been recommended to me by someone somewhere.  Can I remember those details?  No, no I cannot.  I need to be better about recording where recs come from.  After all, there's no better feeling for a book reviewer or a reader in general than knowing someone has enjoyed a book you recommended to them.  In order not to overtax my elderly brain, I'm going to tweak the topic just a little and chat about my top ten go-to places for reading suggestions.

Want to join in the TTT fun?  Of course you do!  Hop on over to That Artsy Reader Girl for all the details.

My Top Ten Go-To Places for Book Recommendations 


1.  Book Blogs—No surprise here!  I read tons of book blogs and am always on the lookout for new ones to enjoy.  Book bloggers are the best with reading recs.  With all the blogs on my roll, I'm guaranteed to find a variety of recommended reads.  Hands down, this is my number one source for 
recs.


2.  BookPage—This is a great monthly magazine that my library offers for free.  It has reviews, author interviews, giveaways, and more.  If your library does not provide copies, you can have BookPage delivered to your home for $30 a year.


3.  Bookmarks Magazine—If you like a meatier book magazine, you can't go wrong with this one.  It also features reviews, author interviews, and giveaways—it just offers more of them in a glossier format.  You can buy issues (they come out every two months) at your local Barnes & Noble or subscribe for $34.95/year.


4.  Goodreads—It's no secret that I adore this most popular of bookish sites.  I love that I can keep track of what my friends are reading, see their reviews, and get recommendations straight from them.  Goodreads also has a "Recommendations" feature (under the "Browse" tab) which suggests books you might like based on your shelves.  The more you rate the books you read, the better it works.  When you review a book on Goodreads, there is now an option where you can record who recommended the book to you.  Note to self:  Use this feature!


5.  Book Riot—I don't know about you, but I'm on a lot of bookish mailing lists.  I tend to ignore most of these emails, but I look forward to the ones from Book Riot.  They're fun and informative.  My favorite are their book lists, which have titles like "5 Books Where Women Take Charge" and "Prank Your Significant Other in 7 Fun Romance Books."  Check it out for lists, reviews, book buying deals, and more.


6.  The Library—Because of dang COVID-19, I haven't done any physical browsing of the library shelves for quite some time.  Back in the olden days, however, I enjoyed roaming the aisles to find great new books.  My library always had fun seasonal/themed displays, fliers with themed book lists, recommended books on display, even a short-lived blog.  Although I still browse the library's online catalog, it's just not the same as looking in person!


7.  Bookstores—I visited my local Barnes & Noble last week, which marks the first time since COVID started that I've been inside a physical bookstore.  Whether it's a chain like B&N, a local indie, or just a small section of a larger store like Costco, I dig browsing for books.  I love checking out displays at bookstores, overhearing readers discussing their picks, and even getting recs from random shoppers (which has happened to me numerous times, both at B&N and Changing Hands).  


8.  Family and Friends—My book addiction is no secret.  Maybe it's my READ3R license plate or the book that is always in my hand or the fact that there are more tomes in my home than in a lot of bookstores ... whatever clue gives it away, my bibliophilia is widely known.  Friends and family members are always recommending books to me.


9.  Review Requests—Most book bloggers get tons of queries in their inboxes every day asking them to check out an author/publisher/publicist's latest and greatest.  Although I decline a lot more of these than I used to, this is still a big source of reading recommendations and material for me.



10.  NetGalley and Edelweiss+—Both of these sites, which offer e-ARCs to professional readers, are like literary blackholes.  I can—and often do—spend hours scouring through their many offerings.  My feedback ratio on NetGalley currently sits at a shameful 2% because the site makes me so click-happy that I request a lot more books on there than I actually get read.  Oops.

There you go, ten places I turn to when I'm looking for a new book to read.  How about you?  Who or what are your go-to sources?  Where do you go for awesome reading recs?  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, October 19, 2020

MG Deafness Novel Illuminating and Compelling

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

"Deafness is not an affliction.  The only thing it stops me from doing is hearing" (95).

In Mary Lambert's community on Martha's Vineyard, 1 in 4 residents is Deaf.  Everyone—those who can hear and those who cannot—uses the town's sign language to communicate with each other.  In 1805 Chilmark, Deafness is not odd or other.  It just is.  Eleven-year-old Mary has never felt different or lesser because of her inability to hear.  Until things start to change in her world.  

When Mary's older brother dies in a tragic accident, Mary's grief is compounded by her guilt.  She knows in her broken heart that she caused his death.  Then, a scientist from Connecticut shows up in Chilmark eager to study its unique "affliction."  Although other Deaf residents are willing to be studied, Mary has no desire to become anyone's "live specimen."  When she becomes one by force, she will learn a hard lesson about how Deaf people are treated outside of Chilmark.  Can she escape back to her beloved island?  Or is Mary doomed to endure a life of servitude, humiliation, and abuse, all because she was born without being able to hear? 

Show Me a Sign, a middle-grade novel by Deaf librarian Ann Clare LeZotte, is both fascinating and eye-opening.  It's set in a real community, where during the 19th Century Deaf and hearing people intermingled every day, using their own brand of sign language to communicate.  Mary's story starts off slowly but the action soon picks up, making for an exciting and compelling tale.  Not only does the book explore what it means to be Deaf, especially in a time and place where the condition wasn't understood, but it also teaches some important lessons about ableism, racism (LeZotte draws a not-so subtle parallel between the mistreatment of the Wampanoag people and that of the Deaf), empathy, and standing up for one's self.  I don't know how appealing this one will be to young readers, but I found it engaging, illuminating, and thought-provoking.  

(Readalikes:  Reminds me of El Deafo by Cece Bell and Song for a Whale by Lynne Kelly)

Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for violence, scenes of peril, and scary situations

To the FTC, with love:  Another library fine find

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Watery Dystopian Action-Packed and Exciting

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Five hundred years ago, the Great Waves destroyed the known world, burying its gleaming cities under fathoms of water.  The rusty ruins beckon to 17-year-old orphan Tempest "Tempe" Alerin, who scavenges them every day hoping to find treasures to sell.  She's been scrimping and saving her Notes ever since her older sister, Elysea, drowned two years ago.  When she finally has enough currency, she can exchange it for a wondrous gift—scientists will bring her dead sibling back to life for 24 hours.  That's all Tempe needs.  Five years ago, Elysea caused the death of their parents.  Tempe will do anything do find out why.

Reviving the dead is a carefully-controlled process, one that goes awry right from the start.  First, Elysea claims she had nothing to do with their parents' deaths.  Then, she asserts that they may still be alive.  In addition, Elysea doesn't want to spend her 24 hours of life sitting around in a boring research facility.  When the sisters find a way to escape their confines, 19-year-old Lor Ritter—the son of the scientist who invented the revival process—is charged with bringing them back.  Or else.  What ensues is a desperate race against time with Tempe and Elysea hunting for answers, with Lor in hot pursuit.  The closer the sisters get to uncovering the secrets of their watery home, the more dangerous their quest gets.  Can they find the answers they seek?  Or will both of them die trying?  

Watery dystopian worlds always fascinate me, so the setting of The Vanishing Deep by Astrid Scholte definitely got my attention.  While not everything about the world made sense, it still created an intriguing backdrop for this exciting, action-packed ecological thriller.  I liked the characters at the story's center.  It was easy to empathize with them and root for their success.  As far as plot goes, I saw the Big Reveal coming, but there were other twists that caught me by surprise.  The ending was disappointing, which made the novel feel less than satisfying.  Overall, then, I didn't love The Vanishing Deep.  It did keep me turning pages, though, and I liked it for the most part.  

(Readalikes:  Reminds me a little of Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi)

Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for language (1 F-bomb, plus milder expletives), violence, and disturbing subject matter

To the FTC, with love:  Another library fine find

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Reading

<i>Reading</i>
The Gold in These Hills by Joanne Bischof

Listening

<i>Listening</i>
Glass Houses by Louise Penny



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