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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

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Top Ten Tuesday: Baby, You're So Classic...


How would you define a classic? A dusty tome no one ever reads written by some old white guy everyone has forgotten? A long, boring tale that's more symbolism than story? I've defined classics that way before! It's true I'm not a huge fan of "real" literature or even literary fiction. While I appreciate beautiful writing, no matter how long ago it was penned, that's not enough to get me to read a book. Nope, I want the whole shebang: intriguing characters, a compelling plot, skilled prose, and that something special that makes a book stand out from its peers. To me, a classic has all of these elements. It also has a sense of timelessness that makes it relatable to people in any era. Most importantly, it's a book that people actually want to read, not one that has to be forced upon them. 

Today's TTT topic asks which books written in the 21st Century we think are destined to become classics. Since most of the titles that came to my mind for this prompt are a *teensy* bit older than that, I'm going to do just a wee twist on the topic and go with books with classic potential that were written in my lifetime. Since I was born back in the Dark Ages (1975), this should give me plenty of books to choose from.

First, though, be sure to click on over to That Artsy Reader Girl and give our hostess, Jana, some love. If you're in a listy kind of mood today, join in the TTT fun. It's a great way to discover new blogs, drop in on old favorites, and find even more books for your toppling TBR pile.

Top Ten Books Written in My Lifetime That Are Destined to Become Classics

Children's/YA:


1. The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling (published between 1997 and 2007)—These children's fantasy books are already classics and no wonder—they're utterly charming.


2. The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins (original trilogy published between 2008 and 2010)—Although dystopian books existed before anyone ever heard the name Katniss Everdeen, I feel like this is the series that really made the genre popular. Copycats are still being published constantly, but nothing can really compare to this very original series.


3. The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak (2005)—Poll any group of World War II fiction lovers and this beloved book will come up. It's unique, moving, and enduring.


4. The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate (2012)—I'm not big on stories told from animal viewpoints, but this lovely novel is a big exception. It's touching and beautiful. I adore it.


5. The Giver by Lois Lowry (1993)—Another much loved book, this one has a simplicity to it that makes readers ask themselves big questions. It's thought-provoking and unique.

Adult:


1. The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah (2015)—This gorgeous novel is another big favorite among lovers of World War II fiction. It would definitely have a place on my list of Top Ten Favorite Novels of All Time (a list I've never actually made, but which I totally should).


2. The Inspector Armand Gamache mystery series by Louise Penny (2005)—This is my favorite crime series ever written. Not only does it feature a quaint little village, but it's a place that is teeming with life and color. The characters are memorable, the mysteries are intriguing, and the books are all suffused with a quiet wisdom that makes them irresistible.


3. The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown (2013)This is the only book on this list that I haven't read, but it's absolutely on my TBR list. Whenever I see lists of favorite non-fiction narratives, this one is on there. If it's this popular now, chances are it will continue to be a winner.


4. The Help by Kathryn Stockett (2009)—I realize this well-loved Southern story has some issues. I still love it, though, as it makes me laugh, cry, cheer, and think. 


5. The Shining by Stephen King (1977)—Published when I was just a toddler, this horror novel is King at his most iconic. I'll never see twin girls or read "murder" in the same way again!

There you have it, ten books penned in my lifetime that I think are on course to become classics. What do you think of my choices? Which titles did you pick for you list? 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, March 28, 2022

The Long Weekend: Even My Least Favorite Gilly Macmillan Thriller Holds Me Spellbound

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

 As long-time friends from boarding school, Paul, Mark, Toby, Rob, and Edie have enjoyed getting together over the years along with their spouses. When an available weekend provides the perfect opportunity for another reunion, the group pounces on the chance to reconnect. Dark Fell Barn is ideal for the event. The guesthouse's remote Northumbria location makes it as off-the-grid as the couples are likely to get. With no distractions or cell phone signals, the friends will have plenty of time to bond once again.

Jayne Pavey, Ruth Land, and Emily Ramsay drive to Northumbria together. Their husbands, all of whom have been delayed for various reasons, will be joining them that evening. Already a bit tense without the mens' long friendship to bind them, the trio is disturbed to realize just how isolated Dark Fell Barn really is. When they find a note waiting for them, informing them that one of their husbands is about to be murdered, they fly into a frenzy. Is it some kind of terrible practical joke? Edie, who declined the weekend getaway in the wake of her own husband's death, was known as a prankster in school. Could her grief be causing her to lash out at one of them? As the women frantically attempt to get ahold of their spouses, new surprises add to their growing terror. With a vicious storm breaking over the moors, the woman are trapped with a slew of horrifying questions: What is really going on here? Who would play such a sordid trick on the group? Why would anyone do something so completely cruel? And how are they going to escape with worsening weather and no way to call for help?

I've read all of Gilly Macmillan's spooky thrillers, which never fail to suck me in and hold me spellbound. While The Long Weekend (available March 29, 2022)—the author's newest—is probably my least favorite of hers, it still kept me buzzing through the pages, eager to see what was going to happen next. Its creepy, atmospheric vibe and tense, taut storytelling ensured I wouldn't be able to look away. That being said, the friends at the center of the story are not super likable. While some are more appealing than others, overall, they're just not a very charming bunch. As is quite usual in these kinds of novels, where dark secrets and jealousies are being revealed, the story is depressing and sad. Although there's a twist I expected but didn't actually see coming, I did have the killer pegged before their identity was revealed. All in all, then, I didn't end up loving The Long Weekend, although it did keep me reading pretty intensely. Macmillan has that effect on me, no matter what she writes! Still, I definitely wanted a bit more from her latest.

(Readalikes: Reminds me of other books by Gilly Macmillan as well as those by Ruth Ware, Lucy Foley, and Paula Hawkins)

Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


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

To the FTC, with love: I received an e-ARC of The Long Weekend from the generous folks at HarperCollins via those at Edelweiss Plus in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!
Friday, March 25, 2022

Sepetys' Newest A Powerful, Propulsive Cautionary Tale

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

After more than two decades under the totalitarian rule of President Nicolae Ceausescu, Romania is coming apart at the seams. In financial ruin, the country is beset by shortages of food, medicine, water, and other necessities, making daily life for the average citizen exceptionally bleak. To make matters worse, Ceausescu's spies are always watching. They turn desperate people into informers, turning neighbor against neighbor, causing widespread fear and paranoia. With the government controlling Romania's media and news outlets, the truth of its plight is kept hidden.

Cristian Florescu, a 17-year-old student, just wants to live a normal life. He longs to spend his days peacefully penning poetry and wooing his pretty neighbor. Instead, he worries about his frail grandfather, who's growing increasingly ill without access to the cancer treatments he needs. When the secret police nab Cristian for a minor infraction, they force him to become their spy. In return, he will not be imprisoned and his beloved grandpa will receive care. Cristian has little choice but to comply. Or does he? Can he use his unique position to fight for the freedom of his people? Is it worth it if it costs him everything—and everyone—he loves?

Ruta Sepetys is one of my favorite authors of historical fiction for teens. Her newest novel, I Must Betray You, is just another excellent example of why I love her work so much. The book is illuminating, for one, bringing attention to a forgotten piece of world history. I knew nothing of Romania's struggles under communist rule. Sepetys' careful research, which involved talking to Romanians who lived through the events recounted in the book, brings the situation to life in a way that is atmospheric, tense, grim, and heartbreakingly intimate. Her prose echoes the novel's setting and subject matter, with a starkness that helps the reader really feel the characters' anxiety, paranoia, helplessness, and desperation. Short chapters keep the pacing on target, adding suspense to an already compelling tale. Despite all the bleakness, the novel does end on a hopeful note. Although it's an unhappy story with a realistically messy ending, I Must Betray You is a riveting, moving book and a powerful cautionary tale about the horror that results when a country is governed by a greedy, hateful megalomaniac. This is an incredible work of historical fiction and Sepetys at her very best (although it's actually not my favorite of her novels). I can't encourage you enough to read it.  

(Readalikes: Reminds me of books about life in Nazi Germany as well as in communist countries like North Korea)

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

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Top Ten Tuesday: A World War II TBR List


As much as I love descriptive words, I'm just not feeling the TTT topic du jour—Top Ten Books With An Adjective in the Title. Instead, I'm going to swerve way off today's path and talk about something totally different. In sorting through all the many books on my shelves, trying to decide which to keep and which to donate in anticipation of my upcoming move, I've realized that I have quite a lot of books on one particular subject. Because of the state of the world in recent years, I've actually kind of avoided reading about it, so now I have quite the stockpile of books to read about...drumroll, please...World War II! Surprised? I doubt it. BBB regulars know I'm fascinated by this historical period. So, today, I'm going to list ten-ish (although I probably could have done 30) books about World War II that I want to read sometime soon.

If you're feeling list-y today, join in the TTT fun. Click on over to That Artsy Reader Girl for all the details.

Top Ten World War II Books I Want to Read  
- in no particular order -


1. The Warsaw Orphan by Kelly Rimmer—Although Elzbieta Rabinek is careful to keep her true identity hidden, she's still wary of the German soldiers who have taken over her hometown. As their vengeance against her Jewish neighbors heightens, she watches with increasing fear and anger. When she befriends a nurse living in her building, Elzbieta's careful existence quickly turns into one ripe with danger and risk. Is saving the lives of Jewish children worth losing her own?

Rimmer's The Things We Cannot Say, which is set in the same year (1942) as The Warsaw Orphan but takes place in Russia, is also one I want to read.


2. Sisters of Night and Fog by Erika Robuck—This novel tells the tale of two women from different circumstances, both of whom have risked everything to work against the Nazi regime, whose stories converge in the Ravensbrück concentration camp.

Robuck's The Invisible Woman also sounds intriguing.


3. The Winter Guest by Pam Jenoff—Helena and Ruth are sisters in war-torn Poland. As they struggle to care for their three younger sisters, they make a decision that puts all of their lives in danger. While helping a wounded American paratrooper is the right thing to do, it has dangerous unforeseen consequences for all of them.

I've read and loved a couple of Jenoff's World War II novels, but there are still a bunch on her backlist that I want to read.


4. Miss Graham's Cold War Cookbook by Celia Rees—Now that World War II has finally ended, Britain has created the Control Commission for Germany. The organization hires British civilians to help rebuild the country and investigate war crimes. Bored with her provincial life, Edith Graham applies for a job with the commission, but soon finds herself acting as a spy for the Secret Service. While she's found the excitement she's been missing, it may just cost her her life.


5. The Bookseller's Secret by Michelle Gable—Based on the wartime experiences of real-life literary icon Nancy Mitford, this novel concerns a woman adrift who eagerly takes on the challenge of running a London bookstore while its owner is away. 


6. 81 Days Below Zero: The Incredible Survival Story of a World War II Pilot in Alaska's Frozen Wilderness by Brian Murphy—I always enjoy survival stories and this one sounds especially intriguing. It tells the true story of a routine flight gone horribly wrong. When their plane crashes, four Army aviators are killed, while one—a man from Philadelphia with no wilderness experience—is left alone in the freezing Yukon to wait for rescue. Or death.


7. The Night Train to Berlin by Melanie Hudson—As war rages all around them, Alex and Eliza meet by chance. The RAF pilot turned war correspondent and the war artist make a solemn vow to meet in Berlin once peace has finally been declared. Will their newly found love triumph in a time when nothing at all is certain?

Hudson's The Last Letter From Juliet, about a female World War II pilot, is also on my TBR list.


8. Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave—Although I'm not a fan of love triangles, this epic wartime romance sounds compelling. It features three people whose lives converge in an extraordinary time. As the war rages on, they'll experience friendship, love, devastation, sorrow, and triumph. 


9. The London House by Katherine Reay—Caroline Payne is shocked when a historian friend uncovers a scandalous secret about her British great-aunt. Can the woman really have betrayed her family and her country by running to Germany to marry her Nazi lover? Caroline can't believe it. Desperate to clear her great-aunt's name, Caroline travels to her family's ancestral home in London to learn the truth.


10. The Betrayal of Anne Frank: A Cold Case Investigation by Rosemary Sullivan—Everyone knows the tragic story of Anne Frank and her family, but one question about their fate has never been answered: Who betrayed their whereabouts to the Nazis? Retired FBI agent Vincent Pankoke became obsessed with finding the answer. With the use of new technology, Pankoke and his team of cold case investigators pored over numerous documents and conducted scores of interviews, all of which led them to a shocking conclusion.

I eat up World War II books, but I know not everyone loves them for various and sundry reasons. What's your take? Do you love them? Loathe them? Which are your favorites? Have you read any of the ones I mentioned? What did you think? 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!

Friday, March 18, 2022

Cheese-Themed Cozy Gouda Been Better

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Cheesemonger Willa Bauer is in desperate need of a new start. Yarrow Glen—a picturesque little town in California's Sonoma Valley—seems like the perfect place for the 33-year-old to begin anew. It's beautiful, serene, and appealing to tourists with money to spend. Willa hopes they will be just as enchanted as she is by her new cheese shop, Curds & Whey. A positive review from Guy Lippinger, the local restaurant critic, will help immensely. If only she can impress the hard-to-please foodie.

Guy's surprise visit to the cheese shop turns into a very public, very embarrassing disaster. Things quickly go from bad to worst when the critic is found dead, a Curds & Whey knife embedded in his neck. Willa is shocked not just by the killing but by the fact that she is now the prime suspect in his murder. Guy was not a popular man, but who hated him enough to end his life? Willa is determined to find out before the new life she's worked so hard to create for herself crumbles like an aged asiago. Can she track down the killer before she, herself, becomes the next victim? 

A cheese-themed cozy mystery sounded fun, so I delved into Cheddar Off Dead (available March 29, 2022), a debut novel by Korina Moss, with hopeful expectations. With its punny title and cheery cover art, I definitely found the book's packaging appealing. As for content, like most cozies, this series opener is a light, clean, easy read that's entertaining even if it's not realistic or believable. The characters are likable for the most part, although none of them stand out as really unique or memorable. Willa is so-so as a leading lady. She's agreeable enough, although she doesn't have much of a personality and she's very fickle when it comes to men (all of whom are instantly smitten with her, naturally). I didn't love her, but I didn't hate her. As far as the mystery goes, I saw the killer coming from fairly early on. There's enough going on in the story that their identity isn't complete obvious, which made the plot compelling enough to keep me reading. Moss' prose is pretty ho-hum, although the story has some clever lines here and there that made me smile. All considered, I found Cheddar Off Dead to be an okay read. Will I continue with the series? I'm undecided at this point. I think it has potential, so I'll probably give the second book a shot. We'll see.

(Readalikes: Reminds me of other food-themed cozies, like those by Ellie Alexander, Vivien Chien, Amanda Flower, etc.)

Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for brief, mild language (no F-bombs), violence, and scenes of peril

To the FTC, with love: I received an ARC of Cheddar Off Dead from the generous folks at St. Martin's Press in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Top Ten Tuesday: Spring Forward and Read!


I'm a little late to the TTT party today, but never fear—I have a good, bookish reason for my tardiness. I mentioned that I'm going to be downsizing from my 5,000-square foot home into one that is half the size in the next few months (after our renters move out and we do some remodeling). Since I will no longer have the room to store all my many, many books, I need to get rid of about 75% of my collection. I was planning to organize a book sale with the proceeds going to charity since the majority of the volumes I need to unload are ones I got for free from authors and publishers. Then, I received an email announcing that a local high school would be holding a book sale this week to benefit their English Department. Huzzah! I contacted the ladies in charge, who generously came to my house and hauled away this mountain of books for their sale:



Although this represents only about 1/3 of the books I need to unload, it feels good to send even this many on their way to new homes. They will definitely get more love out in the world than they will gathering dust in my guest room closet. Bonus: guests can now open the closet door without risking death by book avalanche! Win-win.

Now that that's out of the way we can get down to business. The TTT topic du jour is: Top Ten Books on My Spring TBR List. I love these seasonal TBR lists because it's always fun to see what everyone is looking forward to reading and to get ideas of what I might want to check out. Since I'm a mood reader, I never really stick to these, but I still enjoy thinking about what I might read. I'm also going to *try* to feature books I haven't talked about yet. We'll see how that goes...

As always, be sure to click on over to That Artsy Reader Girl and give our hostess, Jana, some love. While you're there, why don't you join in the fun? TTT really is a good ole time.

Top Ten Books on My Spring TBR List
- in no particular order -


1. Ancestor Trouble: A Reckoning and a Reconciliation by Maud Newton (available March 29, 2022)—You all know by now that I'm a genealogy buff who lives for combing through census records, DNA matches, and old newspapers in search of forgotten family stories. It shouldn't surprise you, then, that I love books like this one, which is about the author's search for the truth behind her ancestors' colorful, controversial lives. Sounds like a great read!


2. Séances are for Suckers by Tamara Berry—Speaking of dead people...I'm all in for this cozy mystery series featuring a woman who pretends to hunt ghosts in order to pay the bills. I enjoyed Buried in a Good Book (available May 24, 2022), Berry's newest, so much that I want to read more from her. 


3. The Worst Hard Time by Timothy Egan—As I was clearing off my bookshelves for the upcoming sale, I found my copy of this National Book Award winner that I've been meaning to read for years. Ever since I read The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah, I've been eager to read more about the Dust Bowl and the brave souls who lived through it. This promises to be a fascinating read.


4. Morning Sun in Wuhan by Ying Chang Compestine (available November 8, 2022)—This MG novel doesn't come out until Fall, but I'm hoping to get an early copy from NetGalley. Written by a woman who grew up in Wuhan, the story is about a 13-year-old girl whose life changes when COVID breaks out in her hometown. 


5. The House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune—How have I not read this book yet? I've had a copy ever since it came out. I think it's about time I actually read it!


6. Circus of Wonders by Elizabeth Macneal—Covered in birthmarks, young Nell is sold to the circus where she becomes a headlining act. As she deals with the narcissistic circus owner, falls in love with his kind brother, and learns to stand on her own two feet, she transforms from a shy, unloved child into a woman who knows her own worth and power.


7. A Lullaby For Witches by Hester Fox—I enjoy Fox's spooky books and this one, her newest, sounds like a compelling read. It's about a woman who starts working at the old Harlowe House and becomes obsessed with knowing more about the "witch" who once lived there.


8. Research Like a Pro With DNA by Diana Elder and Nicole Dyer—Diana and Nicole have been friends and mentors as I continue my journey down the road to becoming an accredited genealogist (COVID has turned it into a much longer process than expected). I'm eager to dip into their newest book since I have lots to learn about DNA and how to use it effectively in my family history research.


9. The Secret, Book, & Scone Society by Ellery Adams—I'm listening to this book, the first installment in a well-loved cozy mystery series set in a town full of healing magic. It's entertaining.


10. The Spanish Daughter by Lorena Hughes—Remember last TTT when I talked about one of my favorite tropes, the surprise inheritance? This one fits that bill. It concerns a woman who learns that she has inherited her father's chocolate estate in Ecuador. Through a series of unfortunate events, she is forced to don men's clothing and impersonate her dead husband while trying to solve a mystery, get to the bottom of family secrets, and navigate a new romance. 

There you have it, ten books I'm hoping to get to this Spring. Have you read any of them? What did you think? What's on your TBR list this season? 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!

Thursday, March 10, 2022

Newest St. James Supernatural Thriller An Engrossing Read

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Forty years ago, two murders rocked the small town of Claire Lake, Oregon. Similarities between the double killings proved the same person was responsibile for both. Although she was later acquitted, 23-year-old Beth Greer was accused of the crimes. Wealthy and eccentric, she was convicted in the court of public opinion, prompting her to retreat from society. Still haunted by the whole experience, Beth is finally ready to talk about the murders, which have never been solved.

Shea Collins is shocked when the infamous Beth Greer, who has stayed out of the spotlight for four decades, agrees to be interviewed for her true crime podcast. As she makes regular visits to the elderly woman in her home, Shea becomes mesmerized by Beth and freaked out by the strange things that happen in her house. Suspecting the place is just as haunted as its owner, she finds that—despite her reservations—she can't stay away. The more she learns, however, the more unsettled Shea becomes. Is she being lured in by a clever, manipulative murderer? Or is something even more sinister going on here?

I can always count on Simone St. James to spin me a shivery, suspenseful yarn. Her newest, The Book of Cold Cases (available March 15) is certainly that. It's atmsopheric, it's creepy, and it's engrossing. The characters are likable; I definitely cared about what was going to happen to them. Although this novel kept me turning pages, it's true I was a tad underwhelmed by it. I kept waiting for a big twist or at least some wild plot turns to shock and surprise me and that didn't really ever happen. In spite of this, I still enjoyed The Book of Cold Cases. I just wanted more from it.

(Readalikes: Reminds me of other Gothic/supernatural thrillers by Simone St. James as well as those by Carol Goodman, Riley Sager, and Emily Carpenter)

Grade:

If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for language, violence, and blood/gore

To the FTC, with love: I received an e-ARC of The Book of Cold Cases from the generous folks at Penguin via those at NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!

Tuesday, March 08, 2022

Top Ten Tuesday: Surprise! You've Just Inherited a Mansion/Castle/Jewel/Shop/Cabin!


Today's TTT topic—Top Ten Books With My Favorite Trope/Theme—is a fun one, which should have prompted all kinds of ideas to bloom in my brain. Problem is, I've been blogging and TTT-ing for so long that I feel like I've talked about every single one of my favorite story subjects a bajillion times over! So, forgive me if this is a repeat, but I decided to go with one of my all-time favorite tropes—the surprise inheritance. Tons of books feature this tantalizing premise, where some down-on-their-luck MC gets the shock of their lives when they discover a random relative they never knew existed left them something incredible in their wills. Generally, it's a rotting pile mouldering away somewhere on a broody British seashore, but I've also read about estates in exotic lands, forgotten shops and theaters, mysterious momentoes, even—as you will see—a famous jewel. All of these unexpected gifts lead our intrepid MCs to make surprising discoveries about their pasts, their families, and themselves. Along the way, they also usually find friendship, healing, and love. It's an appealing, imagination-fueling trope that never fails to captures me with its many intriguing possibilities.

Before we get to that, though, be sure to jump on over to That Artsy Reader Girl and give our hostess, Jana, some love. If you're feeling listy today, join in the TTT fun!

Top Ten Surprise Inheritance Novels I've Read and Want to Read  

Seven I've read and loved:


1.  Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling—Even though this book/series is more about a surprise heritage ("You're a wizard, Harry!"), it also comes with a bank vault full of gold, which is a pretty great inheritance, I'd say. 


2.  The Imperfects by Amy Meyerson—This engrossing novel concerns a group of estranged siblings who come together for the reading of their grandmother's will. They're shocked and angry to discover the old woman has given her home to their absent, neglectful mother. Beck, always the most devoted grandchild, is completely puzzled by her inheritance: a gaudy old brooch. When a jeweler friend sees it, he is delighted to tell her that it's worth more than it seems. Like ten million dollars more. This discovery throws the family into a frantic tailspin that will reveal long-forgotten secrets, present fissures, and much more. 


3.  The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware—My favorite of Ware's thrillers, this one concerns a young woman who receives notice that she's named in the will of a wealthy woman who has just died. Obviously, they've got the wrong person, but Hal really needs the money. She's honed some pretty good BS skills from her career as a tarot reader. Can she pull off the biggest scam of her life in exchange for the largest payoff she's ever likely to get? 


4.  The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes—The first in a trilogy, this YA novel introduces Avery Grambs, a high schooler who's living in her car when she gets incredible news: she stands to inherit the entire fortune of one of the world's wealthiest men. Since she's never even heard of the guy, there's no way it can possibly be true. Except it is. All Avery has to do to get the money she desperately needs is live in the man's mansion for a year—with his very ticked off family members, each of whom is determined to make sure she doesn't receive a dime. 


5.  The Woman in the Green Dress by Tea Cooper—After a whirlwind World War II courtship with a handsome Australian soldier she hardly knows, Fleur Richards becomes a bride and a widow in short succession. His death reveals a shocking secret: Hugh was a very wealthy man and she has inherited his entire fortune. Knowing she can't possibly accept, she sets out to find his kin. In the process, she discovers that part of her inheritance is an old curiosity shop with a dark, mysterious past.


6.  The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton—Australian Cassandra Andrews is shocked when she inherits an old mansion on the Cornish coast upon her grandmother's death. How did the old woman happen to own such a grand property so far from home? And why did she never mention it? As Cassandra investigates, she learns some startling truths about her enigmatic grandparent.


7.  Buried in a Good Book by Tamara Berry (available May 24, 2022)—When mystery writer Tess Harrow decides to stay in the rustic log cabin she received upon her grandfather's death, she gets a whole lot more than she bargained for. Including a real-life murder to solve.

Three I want to read:


8.  The Inheritance by JoAnn Ross—When Jackson Swann dies, he leaves his Oregon vineyard to his three daughters, each of whom has a different mother. The trio reluctantly gather to deal with their father's last wishes and each other. Can they come together to save their dubious inheritance? Or will their already fractured family be torn even further apart?


9.  The Ancestor by Danielle Trussoni—New Yorker Alberta "Bert" Monte receives a laughable letter claiming that she has inherited not just obscene amounts of money, but also a castle in Italy and a noble title. Clearly, it's a case of mistaken identity. Still, Bert is too intrigued to pass up the opportunity to take a luxurious vacation to Italy. What she learns there about her family and its dark past will change her life forever...


10.  The Bookshop of Yesterdays by Amy Meyerson—I loved The Imperfects so much that I definitely want to read another novel by this author (unfortunately, she's only written two). This one also features an unexpected inheritance. This time, it's a bankrupt bookstore that hides a bevy of secrets and puzzles left by a woman's mysterious uncle.

There you are, ten books about surprise inheritances that I've either already enjoyed or expect I will enjoy. What do you think of this trope? Is it one of your favorites as well? Which books about surprise inheritances have caught your fancy? 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>
Farm to Trouble by Amanda Flower

Listening

<i>Listening</i>
The Lost and Found Bookshop by Susan Wiggs



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