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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!
Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Top Ten Tuesday: Hot Temps, Cool New Books


So, it's summer and it is HOT.  Not just in Arizona for once, but everywhere.  How are you all doing?  Are you dying?  Are you lucky enough to have air conditioning or a pool or at least access to some cool water somewhere to keep you from melting?  I hope you're all doing okay.  I'm keeping cool with a/c and swimming while praying for rain to soak the drought- and wildfire-plagued American Southwest.  

I'm heading to Utah this week to celebrate the Fourth of July with my husband's side of the family.  I won't be back for next week's Top Ten Tuesday, so let me wish you an early Happy Fourth as well as a Happy TTT for July 6th.  Despite all of the problems and division that exist in the U.S. right now, I love my country and am grateful for the freedoms I enjoy here.  My ancestors came to this country centuries ago in search of religious freedom, better opportunities, fertile land, and the chance to pursue a grand new life.  I'm proud to be a descendant of these hopeful, hard-working immigrants.  My family's sacrifices, including military service in nearly every war, made it possible for me to be living the American Dream now.  For all that and more, I'm very grateful.  Happy Birthday, America!  Whatever you're doing to celebrate, have a safe, happy Fourth of July.

Enough chit chat, on to the books!  I feel like I've talked about nothing else lately but upcoming books that I'm excited to read.  Luckily, there are lots of them because today's TTT topic is:  Most Anticipated Releases for the Second Half of 2021.  Since I've already chatted about those I'm most excited about, I'm going to highlight some lesser-known titles that may not be widely known.  Do you have new releases you want to talk about?  Join the TTT fun by clicking on over to That Artsy Reader Girl for all the details.

(More) Top Ten Most Anticipated Releases for the Second Half of 2021 


1.  Saving Mrs. Roosevelt by Candice Sue Patterson (available December 1, 2021)—Honestly, I've been sort of avoiding World War II books lately.  Still, it's a topic I'll always be interested in reading about.  This novel, about a woman who joins a special branch of the Coast Guard for single women and ends up helping to protect the First Lady from a nefarious plot against her, sounds compelling. 


2.  Orphans of the Storm by Celia Imrie (available December 14, 2021)—No matter how many Titanic books I read, I'll always want more!  The subject is just endlessly fascinating.  This novel concerns two women with big secrets whose lives will change forever because of the tragedy.


3.  Her Perfect Life by Hank Philippi Ryan (available September 14, 2021)—Television reporter Lily Atwood has such an enviable existence that her fans have gifted her with the hashtag #PerfectLily.  Her flawless image depends on concealing the devastating secret that only she knows.  When the anonymous source that feeds her tips hints that she knows what Lily's hiding, it turns Lily's perfect world completely upside-down.  She'll do anything to keep her secret hidden.  Anything.


4.  A View Most Glorious by Regina Scott (available October 5, 2021)Lark highly recommends Scott's American Wonders series and I agree.  I'm halfway through the first installment, A Distance Too Grand, which I'm really enjoying.  I've got the second volume ready to go on my Kindle, so I'll be more than ready for this third book when it comes out in October.


5.  Where I Left Her by Amber Garza (available August 24, 2021)—This domestic drama has a simple, but chilling premise.  A mother drops her teenage daughter off for a sleepover with a friend whose parents she's never met before.  When Mom returns the next day, an elderly couple answers the door, insisting there are no teenage girls at their house and never have been.  Where are the girls?  As the frantic mom searches for her missing daughter, she uncovers a trail of lies left in the teenager's wake...Wow, I can't wait for this one!


6.  The Man Who Died Twice by Richard Osman (available September 28, 2021)—After enjoying The Thursday Murder Club, I'm excited for this sequel which has the retirement home gang solving more murders.  


7.  My Sweet Girl by Amanda Jayatissa (available September 14, 2021)—Ever since her adoption from a Sri Lankan orphanage, Paloma has led a very privileged life.  When she's cut off from her parents, however, she decides to sublet a room in her apartment in order to make money.  Arun, a recent immigrant from India, moves in.  He discovers a devastating secret about Paloma, but before she has a chance to confront him, she finds his dead body in the complex swimming pool.  When the police arrive, the body is gone, along with all evidence that Arun ever existed.  Is Paloma going crazy?  What is happening and does it tie back to her past in Sri Lanka?


8.  Yours Cheerfully by A.J. Pearce (available August 10, 2021)Dear Mrs. Bird is a rarity: a funny novel about World War II.  I enjoyed it immensely and am excited for this sequel, which concerns the challenges faced by female war workers. 


9.  Death at Greenway by Lori Rader-Day (available October 12, 2021)—I've enjoyed Rader-Day's thrillers, so I'm looking forward to this one, her first historical.  Another World War II novel, this one focuses on a disgraced nurse whose only chance at redemption is helping to care for British children who have been evacuated to Greenway, Agatha Christie's summer home.  Between the strange house, a mysterious co-worker, and rising war tensions, the last thing the nurse needs is a murdered corpse on her doorstep, but that's just what she's got.  Who killed the victim?  And why?  She needs to find answers in order to protect the children and herself.


10.  The Hidden Child by Louise Fein (available October 19, 2021)—Another historical, this one takes place in 1929 and revolves around Eleanor, a woman whose husband is heavily involved in the eugenics movement.  When their young daughter is diagnosed with a shameful disease—epilepsy—the couple vows to tell no one.  Then, Eleanor discovers the secrets her husband has been keeping, secrets that throw everything she thought she knew about him and his work into question.      

There you go, ten more upcoming releases I'm excited to read.  What do you think of my choices?  Which up-and-comers are you chomping at the bit to get your hands on?  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, June 28, 2021

What Is...A Wonderful Memoir By the One and Only Alex Trebek

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

The death of Alex Trebek—long-time host of the trivia game show Jeopardy!—saddened all of his fans, including me.  I'm not the kind of person who cares much about celebrity gossip or Hollywood tell-alls, but I have wanted to read Trebek's memoir, The Answer Is..., ever since I first heard about it.  Since I'm always looking for entertaining audiobooks, I decided to listen to this one.  I'm glad I did, as it made me smile to listen to Trebek's antics told in his own voice, which is so familiar and soothing.  While the majority of the book is narrated by Ken Jennings, Jeopardy! champion and Trebek's successor on the show, I most enjoyed the portions voiced by Trebek himself.

Because Trebek has always projected such a serious, straight-laced persona on television and because he was dying as he wrote The Answer Is..., I expected the book to be a somber text full of deep, philosophical reflections on life and death.  It's not.  With an "It's all good" vibe throughout, the memoir is actually quite light and funny.  Told in short vignettes taken from Trebek's career and personal life, it's a fast read (or listen, in my case) full of humor and simple, down-home wisdom like these nuggets:
  • If you're not ten minutes early, you're late.
  • If it's a good idea, it doesn't matter if it came from the CEO of a company or the guy who mops the floors.
  • You're never as important as you think you are—just ask the queen!
  • A good education and a kind heart will serve you well throughout your life.
  • Always give back, even if your contribution is small.  (Note:  Trebek was a philanthropist who contributed to many charities.  All profits from the sale of The Answer Is..., in fact, will go to charity.)
Like Trebek himself, his book is charming, entertaining, and uplifting.  Although it's lightly peppered with F-bombs (Surprise!  Trebek had a bit of a potty mouth), it's a mostly clean read that exudes the television host's "warm bath outlook on life."  Hearing the author talk about his impending death gives The Answer Is... a poignant aspect as well.  Although I did shed a tear or two, mostly I smiled and laughed my way through this enjoyable listen.  If you're a Jeopardy! fan (or even if you're not), I highly recommend this book, especially in audio format.

(Readalikes:  I'm not a celebrity memoir person, so I'm not sure what to compare this one to.  Suggestions?)

Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for language (a handful of F-bombs, plus milder expletives)

To the FTC, with love:  Another library fine find

Friday, June 25, 2021

The Mid-Year Book Freak-Out Tag—2021 Version


I saw this tag on Nicole's blog, BookWyrm Knits, and thought it looked like a fun way to assess where I am in my reading now that we're just about halfway through 2021.  I'm not sure who originally created this tag—if it was you or you know who it was, please let me know so I can give credit where credit is due.  At any rate, here's how Nicole did it, so I'm going to follow her format:

Total Books Read in 2021 So Far

98

My goal is to read 200 books this year, so I'm right on track.  Goodreads says I'm two books ahead of schedule.  Go, me!

Best Book You Read in 2021 So Far


I'm going to go with The Girls in the Stilt House by Kelly Mustain.  It's a historical novel about two young women living on the Natchez Trace in Mississippi.  Their hardscrabble lives entwine because of a murder, which creates an unlikely bond between them.  The setting and characters in this book are so well drawn that I found myself really sinking into the story and caring deeply about what happened to the two main characters.  This assured debut was an A read for me, one of only a few books I've truly loved this year.

Best Sequel You've Read in 2021 So Far


I love reading series!  I'm always in the middle of a bunch of them, so I've read a number of sequels this year.  I think my favorite so far is The Nature of the Beast by Louise Penny.  The 11th book in the Chief Inspector Armand Gamache series, it's a mystery about a shocking discovery searchers find in the woods while looking for a missing boy.  

New Release(s) You Haven't Read But Want To  

I've talked a lot about new releases this year in my Top Ten Tuesday posts.  You can check out this list, this one, and this one to see which I've been most excited about.  I'll be listing even more new releases I want to read in my next TTT post, so look for that next week.  In the meantime, here are the top three 2021 releases from the first half of the year that I haven't read yet but am looking forward to:


The Removed by Brandon Hobson—This already-released novel focuses on a Cherokee family and the 15-year-old tragedy that still haunts them.  


Survive the Night by Riley Sager (available June 29, 2021)—The wait is almost over for this one, Sager's newest thriller.  It's about a ride share gone horribly wrong.


Eat Your Heart Out by Kelly DeVos (available June 29, 2021)—I'm not huge on zombie novels, but this YA one just sounds like tons of fun.  It's about a weight loss camp that is overrun by the creatures and the intrepid campers who must stop them.

Most Anticipated Release(s) for the Second Half of the Year

This is actually the exact topic for next week's Top Ten Tuesday post.  Here are the top three I'm most excited about, although I've already read one of them.


Bluebird by Sharon Cameron (available October 5, 2021)—I loved this exciting WWII novel about a young woman who holds the key to a devastating secret, one that many people would kill to have.  I can't wait for Bluebird to finally be out in the world.  It's an excellent read!


Apples Never Fall by Liane Moriarty (September 14, 2021)—Lots of readers are chomping at the bit for this new release.  It's about a group of siblings who are dealing with the disappearance of their mother, possibly at the hands of their father.


Rock Paper Scissors by Alice Feeney (available September 7, 2021)—This domestic thriller revolves around a couple celebrating their tenth wedding anniversary who win a weekend away in Scotland.  The troubled union needs some TLC, but the getaway is not all it seems...

Biggest Disappointment


After Alice Fell by Kim Taylor Blakemore—I was really looking forward to this historical novel about a woman who is trying to get to the bottom of her sister's mysterious death at an insane asylum.  The premise promised great things.  Unfortunately, the story moves at a glacial pace and the characters are off-putting and unlikable.

Biggest Surprise


The Captive Kingdom by Jennifer A. Nielsen—I binge-read this middle-grade series because the latest book in the series was nominated in an awards competition I was helping to judge.  While The False Prince was a decent read, the next two books really dragged for me.  Needless to say, I really wasn't looking forward to reading the newest installment.  To my great surprise and delight, The Captive Kingdom was a rollicking adventure story that breathed new life into the series.  I ended up enjoying it very much.

Favorite New Author




I've read a lot of new authors this year, so this is a toughie.  Because I've now read and enjoyed two books by both of these ladies, assuring that they are not one-hit wonders, I'm going to go with Sarah Stewart Taylor and Tessa Wegert.  Both write twisty, atmospheric police procedurals.

Newest Favorite Character


Hmmm...the only one that is really coming to mind is Laurent Lepage, the 9-year-old boy who goes missing in The Nature of the Beast by Louise Penny.  He's an imaginative, boy-who-cries-wolf kind of child, one whom no one takes seriously.  It's only when it's too late that his neighbors realize just how important he really was to their community.  Unfortunately, Laurent will not be a recurring character.

Book(s) That Made You Happy

I've tried to read happier books this year since I tend to gravitate toward darker, more serious reads.  Two of these are classics that I've read several times but decided to revisit in 2021.  The other is a celebrity memoir that just made me smile.  I listened to all of them on audio and the delightful narrations definitely added to the pleasurable reading/listening experience.


Little Women by Louisa May Alcott


Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery


The Answer Is... by Alex Trebek

Book(s) That Made You Cry

Interestingly, all the audiobooks above have sad parts that made me a little teary.

Favorite Review You Have Written This Year


Uhhh...I don't really have favorite reviews.  According to Blogger stats, my review of A Distant Grave by Sarah Stewart Taylor has been my most popular review this year.

Most Beautiful Book You Have Gotten This Year


I don't really read graphic novels or other illustrated books.  As far as cover art goes, though, I think The Firekeeper's Daughter by Angeline Boulley stands out since it's so unique and eye-catching.  I enjoyed the story as well.

What Books Do You Need to Read By Year's End?

I don't need to read anything, although I do want to read 102 more books to meet my goal for the year.  As far as a reading plan goes, I don't really have one.  I'm just choosing whatever looks good and keeping my fingers crossed that they pan out (a method that sometimes works and sometimes doesn't).  I also need to catch up on writing reviews since I'm woefully behind.  Since I've been rocking my reading challenges this year, I really want to make sure I finish all of them.

---

I'm not into tagging people, but if you want to do this one, please do!  I'd love to read your answers.  How are you doing on your 2021 reading so far?  What reading/blogging goals would you like to accomplish before 2022?   

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Top Ten Tuesday: Just Because It's Your Birthday Doesn't Mean I'm Going to Read the Books You Recommend!


Today's Top Ten Tuesday prompt is kind of a strange one.  In honor of her birthday (Happy birthday, Jana!), our TTT host is playing book wish fairy.  Here's her explanation of Top Ten Birthday Wishes:  My birthday is today, so celebrate with me by granting the wishes of your friends! This is a popular thing to do on Twitter, but today we’re blog hopping. List the top 10 books you’d love to own and include a link to a wishlist so that people can grant your wish. Make sure you link your wishlist to your mailing address [here’s how to do it on Amazon] or include the email address associated with your ereader so people know how to get the book to you. After you post, jump around the Linky and grant a wish or two if you’d like. Don’t feel obligated to send anything!  I'm not much for Twitter, so I've never heard of this phenomenon.  If I were rich enough, I would absolutely grant everyone's bookish wishes.  Unfortunately, I haven't won the lottery recently (or ever since I don't gamble), so I'm going to ignore today's prompt.  I am going to sort of stick with the birthday theme, though.  How's that?  Rogue, but not too rogue! 

Once upon a TTT, someone (I wish I could remember who, but I can't—if it was you, please let me know so I can give credit where credit is due!) made a list of the top ten books her husband had recommended to her that she'd never read.  Since my husband's birthday was on Saturday, I thought it would be fun to use this as my list topic today. 
 
My husband and I will have been married for 24 years in August.  We were attracted to each other because we have a lot in common.  We were reared in similar environments with similar values.  We like (mostly) the same types of music.  We both enjoy traveling, learning, eating, talking, researching family history (we are 8th cousins once removed, after all), etc.  People even say we look alike!  When it comes to our reading preferences, though?  We're miles apart.  He prefers non-fiction, whether it's the newspaper, online articles, a biography, or some deep, philosophical tome.  When he does reach for fiction, it's almost always sci-fi or something highly satiric or allegorical, all of which I usually avoid.  Because of this great divide in our reading tastes, I rarely take his recommendations, poor guy.  To be fair, he doesn't take mine either, so I guess we're square.  At any rate, I decided to create a list of the top books he's recommended to me in recent years that I still have not read (and, honestly, probably never will).
  
Before we get to that, though, be sure to click on over to That Artsy Reader Girl to wish Jana a happy birthday and to join in the TTT fun.

Top Ten Books My Husband Has Recommended to Me That I Will Probably Never Read


1.  The Martian by Andy WeirAs much as I enjoyed the movie version, this novel is such a snooze fest that I couldn't get past the first few chapters.  Way too many details for me.  


2.  The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis—This is one of my husband's very favorite books.  It's a religious allegory about a bus ride that goes from heaven to hell.  When the hubs tried getting me to listen to The Great Divorce on audio during a car trip, I promptly fell asleep.  I did enjoy the on-stage production we watched of it, but I'll likely never actually read the book.  Sorry, honey!


3.  Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl—I have considered reading this classic philosophical text by a survivor of the Nazi concentration camps, but I've never gotten around to it.


4.  2001: A Space Odyssey and sequels by Arthur C. Clarke—Space + allegory?  Hard pass.


5.  The Gift of the Devil by Emily Ayars Smith—A very wise friend of ours just published this book about her experiences with life, God, and Satan.  My husband is probably the book's biggest fan and has bought multiple copies to share with others.  I probably won't read this one only because, as a general book reviewing rule, I don't read books written by people I know.  Too awkward.

6.  Greenlights by Matthew McCounaughey—I'm not sure I've ever witnessed my husband enjoying a memoir as much as he did this one.  He says the book is irreverent, but hysterical.  I do like McCounaughey, so maybe I'll get around to this one eventually.  Who knows?


7.  Anything by Terryl and/or Fiona Givens—Terryl Givens is a professor of literature and religion who writes deep, intellectual books about spirituality, Mormonism, Christianity, and other topics.  His wife is an equally knowledgeable teacher and scholar.  My husband is a huge fan of them both (he and Terryl are also distant cousins).  I'm sure they're both awesome, but reading their writing makes my head hurt.  If I have to re-read a sentence ten times to understand it, I'm out.  I'll just get the highlights from my husband, thank you very much. 


8.  Healing Your Family History by Rebecca Linder Hintze—We have numerous copies of this slim book laying around the house, but I've never actually picked one up and read it.  I don't know why since I'm very interested in family dynamics and family history.  This one is about patterns that develop in families and how to get rid of the harmful ones.  My husband has found it very helpful and always recommends it to people.  I honestly have no idea why I haven't read it yet.


9.  Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card—I have a love/hate relationship with Card's books.  This one falls in the latter category.  I've tried to read it several times and I just can't get past the first chapter or two.  It doesn't resonate with me at all.


10.  Muddy by Dean Hughes—I've actually read a number of books by Hughes, who writes historical fiction for both teens and adults.  He mostly focuses on the history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  His newest series, which starts with Muddy, is based on the experiences of early members of the Church who were called by Brigham Young to settle the Muddy River Valley (what is now Nevada), among whom were some of my husband's ancestors.  Polygamy was practiced in the Church at this time and the series focuses largely on the challenges and difficulties that arose from the practice.  Like many members whose families have long been associated with the Church, my husband and I both have polygamists in our family lines.  His were excellent at the practice, having many wives and numerous children.  Mine were more like polygamy dropouts.  Only a couple of them engaged in the practice and none of them had more than two wives at a time.  In fact, my great-great-grandpa only lasted for a year or so as a polygamist before he had an argument with Brigham Young that resulted in him leaving the Church, abandoning one of his wives, and high-tailing it out of Utah, never to return!  Anyway, my husband enjoyed Muddy quite a lot.  He says it's interesting and entertaining.  I'm sure he's right, but honestly, I don't want to read about plural marriage.  Like my ancestors, I just don't have the stomach for it!

There you are, ten books my husband has recommended to me that I probably won't ever read.  What do you think of his choices?  Have you read any of these?  What books has your spouse/significant other recommended to you that you have totally ignored?  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!             

Friday, June 18, 2021

Second Installment in U.S./Irish Mystery Series Just As Compelling As First

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Note:  While this review will not contain spoilers for A Distant Grave, it may inadvertently reveal plot surprises from its predecessor, The Mountains Wild.  As always, I recommend reading books in a series in order.

When a Dublin man is found murdered on a Long Island beach, Detective Maggie D'Arcy is called upon to help with the investigation.  Although her colleagues believe Gabriel Treacy was robbed and killed by a local gang, likely at random, Maggie's not so sure.  The old scars on the dead man's back say there's more to Gabriel's story than meets the eye.  What was he doing in New York?  Who made sure he'd never return to Ireland?  And why?  

Maggie is just about to leave for Ireland anyway, already having planned to travel there with her teenage daughter, who is still reeling after her father's suicide.  Anxious to see her boyfriend, Trinity professor Connor Kearney; let their children get to know each other; and help Lilly heal away from the place where her father died, Maggie decides to combine work with pleasure.  Flying off during an intense police investigation doesn't sit well with Maggie's superiors, but she knows she's the best person to look into Gabriel's death in his home country.  Working with her Garda friends is sure to produce some answers in what is becoming an increasingly puzzling case.  When another murder ups the ante, Maggie finds herself back in New York working frantically to solve the crime before she, too, ends up dead.

I'm always thrilled when I find a new crime series to love.  The Mountains Wild, the first book in the Maggie D'Arcy series by Sarah Stewart Taylor, pulled me in with its enticing blend of atmospheric setting, likable characters, and intriguing plot.  A Distant Grave (available June 22, 2021), the second installment, offers the same in another story that is just as engrossing, just as exciting as the first.  It's finely crafted, skillfully told, and wholly enjoyable.  Needless to say, I'm anxious for the next volume.  And the next and the next...

(Readalikes:  Reminds me of the Maeve Kerrigan series by Jane Casey and of Tana French's Dublin Murder Squad novels)

Grade:


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 an e-ARC of A Distant Grave from the generous folks at St. Martin's Press via those at NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  Thank you!

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Top Ten Tuesday: If You Can't Stand the Heat, Get Out of the (Arizona) Kitchen


I always look forward to creating and reading seasonal TBR lists, so I'm excited for today's Top Ten Tuesday prompt: Top Ten Books On My Summer To-Read List.  You know I'm all about the reading part.  Summer, though?  Not a fan.  I'm especially unenthusiastic right now since I just got back from a long weekend in the Columbia River Gorge, a beautiful national scenic area in Washington and Oregon, where it was cool and drizzly with lows in the 50's and highs in the 70's.  Landing in Arizona, where it was 112 degrees at 7 p.m., was a very rude awakening for me.  I grew up in the Gorge.  Why did I ever leave?  Oh, the things we do for love!  

Although I reveled in the lovely Gorge weather, I was really there to celebrate my parents' 50th wedding anniversary.  Since COVID pretty much nixed our plans for a blow-out party with lots of family and friends, my siblings and I decided to surprise Mom and Dad instead.  Five of their seven children were able to be there.  Although my youngest brother accidentally spilled the beans a little bit, we still pulled off a great surprise.  I was hiding at the top of my parents' long driveway when my oldest sibling approached them in the backyard and I heard my mom's astonished gasp clear from where I was standing.  It was awesome!  I think this picture of me and my dad (taken by Renée Alumbaugh) says everything about how the weekend went:


(Since someone is bound to ask, the device on my arm is an Omnipod insulin pump.  You may also sometimes spy my Dexcom G6 Continuous Glucose Monitor [CGM] in pictures of me, since I wear both on the backs of my arms.  Although Type 1 diabetes is a horrendous, not-fun-at-all disease, these devices are literally life-changing for diabetics.)

Now that I'm back to the scorching heat, I guess it really is time to start thinking about what I want to read this summer.  I've got some library books I need to finish as well as a few new releases I'm looking forward to.  It's too hot to read by the pool (ours doesn't have much shade and I burn at the mere thought of sunshine), so I'll be enjoying these books inside under the ceiling fan with the a/c blasting.

As always, if you're interested in joining the TTT party, you can find all the details at That Artsy Reader Girl.

Top Ten Books On My Summer To-Read List


1.  The Nature of the Beast by Louise Penny—I brought this mystery on my trip as a back-up book (I never travel without one!) and it's a good thing I did since I couldn't get my stupid Kindle to connect at all.  It's the 11th book in the incomparable Armand Gamache series, which I love.  It's about a young boy who goes missing and the shocking thing that is found in the woods because of the ensuing search for him.


2.  Searcher of the Dead by Nancy Herriman—I've enjoyed a couple of Herriman's historical mysteries, so I'm interested to see how I like this series opener.  It's about a woman in Tudor England who's hiding from a killer in a bucolic little town.  When someone close to her is murdered, it appears she has been found and that she's next on someone's hit list.


3.  The Forgotten Letters of Esther Durrant by Kayte Nunn—I'm always up for a dual-timeline novel featuring old secrets and new discoveries.  This one revolves around a woman in the present who discovers a cache of love letters written during another woman's stint in a mental hospital on a remote island in the 1950's.  As she digs into the past to learn more about the letters, she finds an intriguing mystery that just might answer questions about her own family.


4.  The Hours Count by Jillian Cantor—A month or so ago, I read and enjoyed my first Cantor book.  I'm excited to try another one.  This historical concerns a neighbor of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, with whom the spies' children were left after their arrest.  Sounds interesting.


5.  Survive the Night by Riley Sager (available June 29, 2021)—I've already talked about this thriller, which is about two strangers on a road trip that goes awry.  I'm 31 of 32 on the library's waiting list, so we'll see how long it takes for me to get my hands on this one.  


6.  A Cup of Silver Linings by Karen Hawkins (available July 6, 2021)—I just received this novel from the publisher.  It's the second book in a series, so I'll have to read The Book Charmer first (I've been meaning to anyway).  This one is about three women who "embark on a reluctant but magical journey of healing, friendship, and family."  Sounds like a nice, feel-good read perfect for summer.


7.  Wish You Were Here by Jodi Picoult (available November 30, 2021)—I'm a Picoult fan, although it's been a hot minute since I read anything by her.  To be honest, her newer novels haven't been as good for me as her older ones.  However, I am intrigued by this one, her newest.  It's about a woman who's on a dream trip to the Galàpagos Islands by herself when the pandemic hits.  I've heard some people say it's too soon for them to enjoy a book like this, but I'm all in for it.


8.  The Pact by Sharon Bolton—I'm *trying* to take a break from dark thrillers, but I'm a big Bolton fan, so I probably won't be able to resist this one.  It's about a woman who agrees to take the fall for a group crime in exchange for "favors" done by each member of the group after her release from prison.  


9.  A Solitude of Wolverines by Alice Henderson—While this doesn't sound like a very summery book, it's still one I want to read soon.  The first in a series, it's about a marine biologist who is researching wolverines in Montana, a mission that angers some locals.  When she discovers a different kind of predator in the wildlife sanctuary, the authorities are strangely dismissive of her claims.  Just what
exactly has she stumbled upon?


10.  The Next Ship Home by Heather Webb (available February 8, 2022)—As you probably know, I'm very into researching family history.  While most of my ancestors came to the United States before Ellis Island opened, I'm still fascinated by the place and its role in the nation's history.  I have an e-ARC of this novel, which concerns a woman emigrating from Italy and an American woman who has just started a job at the immigration center.  Their fates entwine as they both struggle to navigate their new lives.

There you are, ten books I'm hoping to read this summer.  Have you read any of them?  Any look like novels you would enjoy as well?  What's on your list today?  I'd truly love to know.  Leave me a comment on this post and I will gladly return the favor on your blog.

Happy TTT!

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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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