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2022 Literary Escapes Challenge

- Alabama (1)
- Alaska (1)
- Arizona (1)
- Arkansas
- California (5)
- Colorado (3)
- Connecticut (1)
- Delaware
- Florida (1)
- Georgia (2)
- Hawaii (1)
- Idaho
- Illinois (2)
- Indiana (1)
- Iowa (1)
- Kansas
- Kentucky
- Louisiana (1)
- Maine (1)
- Maryland (2)
- Massachusetts (5)
- Michigan (2)
- Minnesota (1)
- Mississippi (1)
- Missouri
- Montana
- Nebraska (1)
- Nevada
- New Hampshire (1)
- New Jersey (1)
- New Mexico (1)
- New York (9)
- North Carolina (4)
- North Dakota
- Ohio (1)
- Oklahoma
- Oregon (1)
- Pennsylvania (2)
- Rhode Island (1)
- South Carolina
- South Dakota (1)
- Tennessee (1)
- Texas (2)
- Utah (2)
- Vermont (3)
- Virginia (1)
- Washington (4)
- West Virginia
- Wisconsin (1)
- Wyoming (1)
- Washington, D.C.* (1)

International:

Antarctica (1)
Australia (2)
Egypt (2)
England (16)
France (1)
Greece (1)
Ireland (2)
Italy (1)
Malaysia (1)
Nepal (1)
Poland (1)
Portugal (1)
Romania (1)
Scotland (3)
Sweden (1)
Wales (1)

My Progress:


38 / 51 states. 75% done!

2022 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

My Progress:


19 / 50 books. 38% done!

2022 Craving for Cozies Reading Challenge

My Progress:


20 / 25 books. 80% done!

2022 Cloak and Dagger Reading Challenge

My Progress:


65 / 53 books. 123% done!

Booklist Queen's 2022 Reading Challenge

My Progress:


43 / 52 books. 83% done!

Aussie Author Reading Challenge 2022


1 / 24 books. 4% done!

2022 Nonfiction Reader Challenge


3 / 20 books. 15% done!

2022 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge

My Progress:


36 / 50 books. 72% done!

The 52 Book Club's Reading Challenge 2022

The 52 Book Club's Reading Challenge 2022

My Progress:


39 / 52 books. 75% done!

2022 Build Your Library Reading Challenge

My Progress:


38 / 40 books. 95% done!

2022 Support Book Bloggers Challenge

2022 Medical Examiner's Mystery Reading Challenge

Thursday, February 24, 2022

Middle-Grade Alcott Biography Intimate and Fascinating

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

I've long been a fan of Little Women, but I'd never known much about its author's personal life except that she was raised by an eccentric father. So, when Candlewick Press offered me a lovely copy of Scribbles, Sorrows, and Russet Leather Boots: The Life of Louisa May Alcott by Liz Rosenberg to review, I jumped at the chance. With its charming middle-grade cover (illustrated by Diana Sudyka, who's best known for her work on the Mysterious Benedict Society books), I figured it would offer a good overview of Alcott's life, written at a level appropriate for children (the book's target audience is readers aged 10-14). I was right about the overview. Rosenberg offers a sweeping, but intimate look at Alcott's experiences as a daughter, a sister, an author, a breadwinner, a Civil War nurse, a suffragette, and more. It focuses, naturally, on her growth as a writer and her path to publication, citing the desperation Louisa felt to earn money for her family, which never had any. Rosenberg also talks about Alcott's most famous novel, Little Women, and how the story echoes the author's own experiences while also presenting a very idealized portrait of the Alcotts' lives.

It's evident from Little Women and other of her stories that Louisa was well acquainted with soldiering through hard times. In fact, because of her father's many oddities, her childhood and young adult years were marked by abject poverty, constant instability, and parental indifference, even neglect. Because she alone seemed to feel the weight of providing financially for her family, Louisa worked feverishly, using almost every penny she made to pay her parents' debts and support her sisters. She also dealt with wild mood swings, described as "high spirits and low moods" (107). Louisa apparently also felt that she, herself, was not worthy of much expenditure, so she sacrificed many of her own wants, needs, and longings in order to fund the lives of those she loved. All of this means that much of the material in Scribbles, Sorrows, and Russet Leather Boots is bleak and dark. Rosenberg doesn't shy away from or gloss over these elements, making the book feel like it's most suited to an older audience, despite its juvenile appearance. The author doesn't talk down to her audience (although certain information is repeated more than necessary), which is admirable, but it is also worth noting that this particular biography might be a bit much for younger middle-grade readers. Still, the text is very readable. At 405 pages, it's a hefty tome, but it's engaging enough to make for a rather fast read overall. 

Personally, I found this book fascinating. Also, sad and depressing. I came away from the book with new knowledge about Louisa May Alcott and with a fresh appreciation for her literary genius as well as the many ways in which she embraced duty, generosity, humility, and perserverance throughout her life. Because Rosenberg quotes Alcott's more reknown biographers continually throughout Scribbles, Sorrows, and Russet Leather Boots, this book does sometimes feel more like a brief compendium than its own, in-depth study (which makes sense given its audience and purpose), so I will definitely be searching out more original sources for continuing my reading on this beloved author. As an overall summary of her life, though, this one works quite well. 

(Readalikes: Little Women and other work by Louisa May Alcott)

Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for some difficult subject matter that is most suited to readers over 13

To the FTC, with love: I received a finished copy of Scribbles, Sorrows, and Russet Leather Boots from the generous folks at Candlewick Press in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Top Ten Tuesday: Up-and-Comers I'm Looking Forward to Reading


Today's TTT prompt—Top Ten Dynamic Duos—should be a simple one. Pairings like Frodo and Samwise Gamgee or Sherlock and Holmes come immediately to mind. I figured such well-known duos would be on everyone's lists, though. I didn't want to do the same ole, same ole, but I honestly couldn't think of a creative spin for this one. I got up way too early after this morning after having a nightmare about rushing to board an international flight only to realize I didn't have my passport, so yeah, I think my brain is just mush right now! In an effort to give my poor, tired mind a rest, I'm going to go with an easy TTT topic of my own devising: Top Ten Upcoming New Releases I Want to Read. Although I've already read a number of 2022 up-and-comers, there are a bunch more I'm excited about, so here goes.

Before we get to that, though, be sure to hop on over to That Artsy Reader Girl and give our hostess some love. If you're feeling listy today, join in the TTT fun. It's always a good time.

Top Ten Upcoming New Releases I Want to Read  
in order of publication date  


1. This Might Hurt by Stephanie Wrobel (out today)—Although Darling Rose Gold was a very meh read for me, I'm still interested in reading this one, Wrobel's sophomore effort. Here's the story: Natalie's worried about her sister, Kit, who hied off to a remote island to join a 6-month program designed to help her become her "Maximized Self." Natalie hasn't heard from Kit since. When Natalie receives a sinister email from the program's leader threatening to reveal a secret Natalie has been keeping from her sister, Natalie heads to the island to rescue her sibling. Turns out, that's a whole lot easier said than done. 


2. Under Lock and Skeleton Key by Gigi Pandian (coming March 15, 2022)—A family-run business, Secret Staircase Construction specializes in building hidden rooms and secret passageways for private clients. Tempest Raj never intended to be part of the business, but when her life implodes, she has little choice. While on a job, Tempest discovers the dead body of her former stage double inside a wall that was supposedly sealed 100 years ago. Frightened that she was the actual intended victim, she sets out to find a killer. The first installment in a new mystery series, this one sounds like a lot of fun!


3. The Tsarina's Daughter by Ellen Alpsten (coming March 15, 2022)—The daughter of Peter the Great and his wife, Catherine, Tsarevna Elizabeth is beautiful and privileged. When her fortunes turn, however, she finds herself in a desperate fight for survival. Will she live to take the throne? Or will she suffer the same fate as her murdered brother?


4. Take My Hand by Dolen Perkins-Valdez (coming April 12, 2022)—In 1973 Alabama, a young Black nurse sets out to change the world, or at least to make a difference in her local African-American community. Tasked with distributing birth control to impoverished women, Civil's shocked to discover that her first clients are only 11 and 13. Desperate to give the children choice and freedom, she takes the girls under her wing. Then, the unthinkable happens, changing all of their lives forever...


5. Queen of the Tiles by Hannah Alkaf (coming April 19, 2022)—Set in Malaysia, this YA mystery revolves around a cutthroat Scrabble competition. Najwa Bakri has entered the competition for the first time since her best friend, Trina Low, died. Now that Trina's dead, the top spot is open and everyone wants it. Things get complicated when Trina's inactive Instagram is suddenly resurrected, spewing cryptic posts and messages. What is going on? What really happened to Trina? I love Scrabble almost as much as I love mysteries, so I'm all in for this novel. Sounds exciting.


6. Hide by Kiersten White (coming May 24, 2022)—YA novelist White makes her adult debut with this tantalizing thriller. It centers around a competition that places 14 contestants in an abandoned amusement park for a week. If you can hide well enough not to get caught, you win a huge sum of money. Mack is a hiding expert, but when her opponents start disappearing one-by-one, she realizes there's a lot more to this competition than meets the eye.


7. The Wedding Dress Sewing Circle by Jennifer Ryan (coming May 31, 2022)—I adore Ryan's World War II novels, so I'm excited for her newest. Like her other books, this one is about women on the homefront coming together to support and strengthen each other in tough times.


8. The House Across the Lake by Riley Sager (coming June 21, 2022)—I'm a fan of Sager's creepy stories, so I always look forward to a new book from him. This one is a Rear Window-ish tale about Casey Fletcher, a woman whose guilty pleasure is spying on the glamorous couple who live across the lake. When one of the perfect pair mysteriously disappears, Casey's determined to find out what happened to her.


9. The It Girl by Ruth Ware (coming July 12, 2022)—Ware is another thriller writer whose books I'm always excited to read. Her newest concerns a tight group of friends whose lives were upended when one of their number was killed. When new evidence about the murder comes to light years later, it throws their lives and friendships into a tailspin once again. 


10. These Fleeting Shadows by Kate Alice Marshall (coming August 9, 2022)—This spooky YA novel is being billed as The Haunting of Hill House meets Knives Out. Um...yes, please! The story is about a Helen, a teen girl who is shocked to inherit her family's hulking ancestral home, even though she and her mother have been estranged from their kin for as long Helen can remember. Her grandfather's will stipulates that Helen will only receive the inheritance if she lives in the home for a year. Harrowstone Hall has haunted Helen's nightmares all her life. Can she really live there for a full year?

There you go, ten upcoming releases I'm looking forward to reading. Have you read any of them? What did you think? Which 2022 books are you most excited about? 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!  

Saturday, February 19, 2022

Upbeat MG Novel Entertaining and Empowering

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Ashley Simon-Hockheimer loves reporting the news. She's been on her school's news crew since she was in second grade. Now that she's in sixth, she should be the undisputed star of The News at Nine. If it weren't for that unfortunate decision to film a teacher doing something embarrassing, she would be the lead anchor, not cringe-y Harry E. Levin. Ugh. 

Tired of watching from the sidelines, Ash and two of her friends decide to create their own show, The Underground News. They don't have a fancy sponsor to gift them sophisticated equipment like the school does, but that doesn't mean they can't make a quality program that will attract lots of viewers. All they need to make their little homemade show go viral is a big, juicy story...

When the girls stumble across a story that could have a potentially huge impact on their school and community, they can't wait to break it. While they race to verify their information, they have to contend with dodgy sources, friendship drama, and fending off Harry, who's about to steal their scoop for himself. Who will break the story first? Will Ashley finally get the chance to shine as lead anchor? Or will her nemesis steal her glory once again?

Elissa Brent Weissman's The Length of a String was one of my favorite reads of 2021. I wanted to read more from her, so I picked up The Renegade Reporters since it looked like a fun book. It is both of those things; it's also a timely story about the hot-button issue of online privacy. The novel looks at the pros and cons of tracking people's movements online, providing a perfect springboard for thoughtful discussion in a classroom or at home. It also shows the benefits of teamwork, learning from one's mistakes, and using your voice for good. While it does get a little far-fetched, overall The Renegade Reporters is a warm, upbeat read that is entertaining and empowering. I enjoyed it.

Note: I listened to this book on audio, an experience I highly recommend. The narrator, Keylor Leigh, does an excellent job. Her voice is smooth and easy on the ear. I'll definitely look for more books with her as the reader.

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

Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


To the FTC, with love: Another library fine find

Thursday, February 17, 2022

A War Novel That's Heartwarming and Uplifting? Yes, Please!

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

As World War II rages on, life in the English countryside has been irrevocably changed. Threatening planes streak through the sky, devastating telegrams keep arriving on doorsteps, and home cooks scrabble to put together decent meals from the meager pickings they can forage from the forest and village. While residents strive to keep their chins up, it's getting more and more difficult by the day. 

Things perk up for four women when they learn a popular BBC radio program will be hosting a cooking contest in their area. The winner will be rewarded with a coveted spot as The Kitchen Front's first female co-host. Snagging first place will be life-changing. For Audrey Landon, a grieving war widow with three young sons, it would mean keeping a roof over her children's heads (however leaky it may be). Lady Gwendoline Strickland doesn't need the prize money, but she would love to laud a victory over her sister, who was always their mother's favorite. A young kitchen maid, Nell Brown dreams of being free from working for a family she despises. Zelda Dupont, a trained restaurant chef, craves the validation winning would give her in a competitive profession that's filled with condescending men. With each member of the quartet fiercely determined to come out on top, the contest quickly becomes a tense affair that some of them would do anything (even cheat) to win. Audrey, Gwendoline, Nell, and Zelda all have struggles and secrets the others don't know about. As their defenses are slowly chipped away and a fragile friendship forms between them, the contest starts to become something wholly different. Which one of them will emerge victorious? And how will the experience change all of their lives?

War books cannot usually be described as uplifting or heartwarming and, yet, that is exactly how I would characterize The Kitchen Front by Jennifer Ryan. The story also features heartache, sorrow, and struggle, but overall, it's about unity, friendship, and the power of a loving support network in helping one learn to stand on her own two feet. Audrey, Gwendoline, Nell, and Zelda are all likable characters, whose challenges make them sympathetic and relatable. Although their story has a predictable end, I didn't care a smidge. I enjoyed every word of this charming, empowering novel. Because it highlights recipes for delicacies like The Ministry of Food's Sheep's Head Roll and Zelda's Raised Spam and Game Pie, The Kitchen Front—unlike most novels I read that are centered around food—did not make me salivate. It did, however, give me new appreciation for WWII cooks who had to use their own resourcefulness and ingenuity just to turn their meager rations into something at all edible! 

(Readalikes: Reminds me of other books by Jennifer Ryan)

Grade:

If this were a movie, it would be rated:

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

To the FTC, with love: I bought a copy of The Kitchen Front from Changing Hands Bookstore with a portion of the millions I make from my lucrative career as a book blogger. Ha ha.

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Top Ten Tuesday: One-Word Wonders


Today's TTT topic is an interesting one: Top Ten Books That Are Too Good To Review Properly (I Have No Words!). Usually, I have the opposite problem—too many words. The reviews I tend to choke on are for classic books that have been critiqued so many times there's literally nothing new to say about them. Since I don't read that kind very often, I'm going to have to spin the prompt today. 

How about a game? Let's see if it's even possible for me to be succinct when writing about books. You up for it? Okay, here's how it's going to go. I'm going to describe the last ten books I've read in just one word. Stop laughing! I can do this. I think. To make it even more challenging, I will try to avoid the adjectives I tend to most overuse in my reviews: engrossing, fascinating, compelling, heart-warming, enjoyable, tense, fun, depressing, entertaining, and taut (my husband always makes fun of me when I describe books as "taut psychological thrillers"). I'm not even going to include a plot summary, although I will link the titles to Goodreads. Will I emerge victorious? Let's see... 

But first, be sure to hop over to That Artsy Reader Girl and give our hostess some love. If you're feeling listy today, join in the TTT fun!

The Last Ten Books I Read Reviewed In Just One Word
(from most recent to least)


1. I Must Betray You by Ruta Sepetys

Powerful

---

2. Tips for Magicians by Celesta Rimington

Triumphant

---

3. Madam by Phoebe Wynne

Disturbing

---

4. Drawn by the Current by Jocelyn Green

Haunting

---

5. A Murder for the Books by Victoria Gilbert

Predictable

---

6. Scribbles, Sorrows, and Russet Leather Boots by Liz Rosenberg

Heart-wrenching 

(Is a hyphenated word cheating??)

---

7. The Cure For What Ales You by Ellie Alexander

Melodramatic

---

8. The Ice House by Monica Sherwood

Underwhelming

---

9. Endurance by Alfred Lansing

Awe-inspiring

---

10. Hot and Sour Suspects by Vivien Chien

Amusing

---

Phew! That wasn't actually as hard as I thought it would be, but it wasn't easy either. I think I'll stick with my usual style from now on. Have you read any of these books? How would YOU describe them in one word? What books have you read that are too good to review? 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!

Tuesday, February 08, 2022

Top Ten Tuesday: All You Need Is Love (and a Mystery and Some Action/Adventure and a Ghost Story and...)


Since Valentine's Day is on Monday, today's Top Ten Tuesday prompt is, not surprisingly, a love freebie. My mind always blanks on freebies and I'm especially stumped on this one because I'm just not much for romance. In fiction, anyway (in real life, I've been married to my college sweetheart for 24 years). I mean, I don't mind a love story; I just don't want it to be the only story in a book, you know? Still, there are a few romance novels I've seen around lately that I wouldn't mind reading. What do the books on this list have in common? They're light, sweet, and funny (at least as far as I can tell—if I'm wrong, let me know, please). Swoony, without being smutty (I hope). I'm a right prude, so I don't want anything more than that, thank you very much!

If you want to join in the TTT fun, click on over to That Artsy Reader Girl for all the details.

Top Ten Romance Novels I Might Actually Read


1. The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood—This love-in-the-lab rom com sounds super fun (even though I'm not a fan of fake dating tropes). It's gotten lots of rave reviews all over the book blogosphere. Plus, just look at that cover. It's adorable!


2. Eight Perfect Hours by Lia Louis—Two strangers trapped in a snowstorm together fall in love in this "heartwarming" novel. This one got a lot of buzz around the holidays. Sounds like a fun Christmas read for the end of the year.


3. What You Wish For by Katherine Center—I've enjoyed several of Center's novels, so I'm definitely up for this one. Set in a school, it's about an unrequited romance between a librarian and her new principal that gets a second chance to blossom.


4. So Not My Thing by Melanie Jacobson—Jacobson's sweet, sassy romances are always entertaining. Her newest is the first in a duology set in the author's native Louisiana. It's an enemies-to-lovers story about a pop star and the woman whose most humiliating moment was plastered all over the Internet because of him.


5. Hope Between the Pages by Pepper Basham—This historical novel features a woman who helps run her family's 100-year-old bookshop in Asheville, North Carolina. When she discovers an old, forgotten love letter in the store's attic, it sets her off on a treasure hunt that just might end with a romance of her own.


6. A Reluctant Bride by Jody Hedlund—I've enjoyed other books by Hedlund, so I might be up for this one. It's the first in a series about a group of British women who board a bride ship bound for British Columbia in the 1860s in search of escape, improved circumstances, missing family members, and—oh, yeah—love.


7. An Impossible Imposter by Deanna Raybourn—Okay, this one is a bit of a cheat since it's more mystery than romance. It does, however, feature one of my favorite literary couples, so there ya go...This is the seventh installment in the Veronica Speedwell series, which is tons of fun. In this newest outing, Veronica and Stoker are tasked with deciding if a man with amnesia is really a client's long-lost brother.


8. The Happy Camper by Melody Carlson—I'm not someone who enjoys camping (although sleeping in an RV is infinitely more appealing than braving a tent), but this love story about a woman whose camper makeover mirrors the transformation of her life, looks like a cute, happy read.


9. Otherwise Engaged by Joanna Barker—I loved Barker's debut Regency romance, so I'm definitely up for more. This one features a spunky woman who saves a child's life, thus attracting the attention of her handsome older brother. As the two fall for each other, she must tell him the unfortunate truth—she's already engaged to marry another man. 


10. A Lady's Formula for Love by Elizabeth Everett—The plot summary of this historical romance is giving me Deanna Raybourn vibes (see #7). It's about a brilliant female scientist in Victorian England who is on a secret mission for the Crown. She's assigned a bodyguard, who turns her head more than she'd like.

There you have it, ten romance novels I might actually read. Might. We'll see. Are you a romance novel lover or hater? Which are your favorites? Based on the list above, what titles would you recommend to me? I'd truly love to know. Leave me a comment on this post and I'll gladly return the favor on your blog.

Happy TTT!  

Monday, February 07, 2022

Dual-Timeline Family Secrets Novel Not As Compelling As It Sounds

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Inara Erickson has always done what's expected of her in order to please her father, an intimidating and successful Seattle businessman. Now that she's out of grad school, though, Inara's not feeling very keen on starting the job she's been offered with Starbucks, especially once she learns the offer is at least partially due to her dad's influence. Instead, she wants to turn the dilapidated house she's just inherited from her aunt into a boutique hotel. It might be crazy, but she knows that with a little remodeling (okay, a lot of remodeling), she can create a calming place of retreat on beautiful Orcas Island. All Inara needs is someone who believes in her ability to make it all come true (preferably someone with a lot of cash to invest in a new hotel). 

When Inara discovers a scrap of intricately-embrodiered silk hidden inside a forgotten cubbyhole at her aunt's house, she's puzzled. The fabric appears to be of Chinese origin. Inara's family has lived on Orcas Island for generations and she's never known any Asian people to reside there. How did the scrap come to be there? And why was it hidden away? Sensing an unsolved mystery, Inara begins looking into the history of the house and discovers the heartbreaking story of a young 19th Century Chinese-American woman who swam for her life in order to reach safety, only to find an uncertain future on Orcas Island. Inara feels that something awful must have happened to Lu Mei Lien, but what? And what role did her ancestors play in the woman's disappearance?

I'm always up for a novel that takes me back in time to explore intriguing historical moments, tantalizing family secrets, and the truth lurking beneath placid surfaces. If the story utilizes an always-compelling dual timeline format? All the better! The Girl Who Wrote in Silk by Kelli Estes offers all of these elements, so I was eager to dive into the tale. While the San Juan Islands setting is atmospheric, the characters in this novel aren't nearly as vivid or colorful. They're sympathetic and likable enough that I cared what happened to them, but none of them are the kind of story people I think about after I close the book. The plot is compelling enough that I kept reading (listening, actually), but I never felt so engrossed that I couldn't have walked away from the story. Estes' prose also feels uneven, with patches of melodrama that made me roll my eyes. On the whole, then, I didn't end up loving this novel. I liked it well enough to finish it, though, and that's saying something.

Note: I listened to this book on audio. The narrator, Emily Woo Zeller, is okay. Her voices annoyed me at times, but overall, she's fine. 

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

Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


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

To the FTC, with love: Another library fine find

Saturday, February 05, 2022

Ghost Ship: An Intriguing Account of An Unsolved Maritime Mystery

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Back in November, I published a Top Ten Tuesday post about my macabre love for stories about maritime disasters. Lark recommended Ghost Ship: The Mysterious True Story of the Mary Celeste and Her Missing Crew by Brian Hicks as one I might enjoy. Lark never steers me wrong, so I eagerly sought out a copy of the book. I'd heard of the Mary Celeste, vaguely, but really didn't know her story, which goes a little something like this:

Originally named Amazon, the Mary Celeste was a 100-foot long brigantine built in Nova Scotia in 1860-61. "A simple but handsome sailing ship" (19), she was designed to carry cargo and be manned by a small crew. Some believe the craft was cursed from the start as she seemed to have more than the usual number of mishaps over the course of her lifetime. Bedeviled or not, the ship became widely known in 1872. Rechristened as Mary Celeste in 1869, it was chartered in 1870 by a German businessman to carry 1700 barrels of industrial alcohol from New York City to Genoa, Italy. Captain Benjamin Briggs, who would be at the helm, brought his wife and their 2-year-old daughter along on the journey. Seven crewmen were also aboard when the craft left New York Harbor on November 5. About a month later, the ship was spotted floating aimlessly in the middle of the North Atlantic by the crew of the Dei Gratia. No one was steering the craft. Nor was anyone on board. Such "ghost ships" were seen fairly frequently on the high seas for a variety of reasons. What made this one different was that no one who had been on board was ever heard from again. A variety of strange things—like the fact that all of the men's foul weather gear, which would have been worn if they abandoned ship in a vicious storm, was still on the Mary Celeste—gave rise to theories of every kind. Had there been a mutiny on board? Did pirates descend on the ship, killing everyone in sight? Was it all an elaborate insurance scam? Could it have been aliens? Sea monsters? A Bermuda Triangle-ish disappearance? What really occurred to those ten doomed souls?

Ghost Ship is a fascinating book about an intriguing unsolved mystery. Hicks offers a compelling, well-researched account of the incident, including both the known facts and the fictions that grew out of the strange tale. His emphasis on the ship's captain and his seafaring family makes the story especially intimate and personal. I also thought the sections about how the tale of the Mary Celeste changed over the years and became part of supernatural/Bermuda Triangle/alien lore were especially interesting. Because of all these elements and more, I found Ghost Ship to be an engrossing, well-told tale that kept me eagerly turning pages. 

(Readalikes: I've read a lot of books about maritime disasters, but never one about a real mysterious, unsolved maritime mystery, so I'm not sure what to compare this one to. Any ideas?)

Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for violence and scenes of peril

To the FTC, with love: Another library fine find

Tuesday, February 01, 2022

Top Ten Tuesday: Real People I Want to Read More About


When I saw today's TTT prompt—Top Ten Books With Names/Character Names in the Title—I immediately thought of popular novels I haven't read yet like A Man Called Ove and Finlay Donovan Is Killing It. That was about as far as I got before my mind blanked. Then, I started thinking about all of the real people I'm interested in reading more about. I love a good memoir or biography featuring a fascinating person, so I decided to highlight nine (plus one novel) I've been wanting to read. This list could have been much, much longer, but I managed to exercise some self-restraint. You're welcome!

If you want to join in the TTT fun (and you totally do), click on over to That Artsy Reader Girl for all the details.

Top Ten Real People I Want to Read More About 

1.


Louisa May Alcott (1832-1888)—Little Women is one of my favorite books of all time. Its author lived a unqiue and interesting life. I just got Scibbles, Sorrows, and Russet Leather Boots by Liz Rosenberg from the publisher and I'm eager to read it. It's next up after I finish my current read.


2.


2.  Sarah Breedlove, aka Madam C.J. Walker (1867-1919)—The daughter of slaves, Breedlove became the first female African-American millionaire by creating a hair care formula that cured dandruff and other hygiene problems suffered at the time. The Black Rose by Tananarive Due tells her incredible story.


3.


Elizabeth Cochran, aka Nellie Bly (1864-1922)—As a journalist, Bly broke new ground with her on-the-ground investigative reporting. She's best known for her exposé of the Woman's Lunatic Asylum on Blackwell's Island in New York. While I should probably start with her own book, Ten Days in a Mad-House, as well as the numerous biographies that exist about her life, I'm also very interested in reading Maya Rodale's upcoming novel, The Mad Girls of New York, the first installment in a rollicking new series featuring the intrepid Nellie Bly.


 4.


Phil Collins (1951-living)—I'm a longtime fan of this ailing British rocker and have been meaning to read his memoir, Not Dead Yet, ever since it was published a few years ago.


5.


Harper Lee (1926-2016)—To Kill a Mockingbird is my favorite novel, hands down. Its author is another writer who lived a super interesting life. I'd like to know more about her and The Mockingbird Next Door by Lee's friend, Marja Mills, sounds like the perfect place to start.


6.


Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882)—Poetry and I really don't get along. I never understand what poets are trying to say, so trying to read their work just makes me feel dumb. One of the very few exceptions is Longfellow. Not only do his poems rhyme, but they (mostly) make sense! Because of that, he's my favorite poet, even though I've only read a fraction of his work. His life also sounds interesting, which is why I want to read Cross of Snow: A Life of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow by Nicholas A. Basbanes.


7.


Russell M. Nelson (1924-living)—This retired heart surgeon is the current prophet and president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Insights From a Prophet's Life by Sheri Dew has been sitting on my coffee table for over a year. I need to read it already!


8.


Fred Rogers (1928-2003)—This kind, gentle soul has gotten a fair amount of attention in books and films since his passing and yet, I'm always willing to hear more about him. I enjoyed The Simple Faith of Mister Rogers by Amy Hollingsworth, but I've yet to read an actual biography about him. The Good Neighbor by Maxwell King has been sitting on my bookshelf unread for too long; I'm hoping to get to it this year finally.


9.


Jimmy Stewart (1908-1997)—I've mentioned my deep love for It's a Wonderful Life before, so it's probably no surprise that Stewart is one of my favorite actors. I'd love to know more about him, so Jimmy Stewart: A Biography by Marc Eliot is on my TBR list.


10.



Laura Ingalls Wilder (1867-1957)—I was a rabid Little House on the Prairie fan as a kid. Although I've seen all the tv episodes and read all her books, I've yet to read any non-fiction about Wilder. Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder by Caroline Fraser sounds excellent.


There you go, ten real people I'd like to read more about. What do you think? Have you read any of these books? Who do you enjoy reading about? What are some good memoirs/biographies you've loved? I'd truly love to know. Leave me a comment on this post and I'll gladly return the favor on your blog.

Happy TTT! 

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Farm to Trouble by Amanda Flower

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The Lost and Found Bookshop by Susan Wiggs



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