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2024 Bookish Books Reading Challenge (Hosted by Yours Truly)

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My Progress:

11 / 30 books. 37% done!

2024 Literary Escapes Challenge

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

- Australia (1)
- Canada (1)
- England (8)
- France (1)
- Indonesia (1)
- Ireland (2)
- Italy (1)
- Scotland (2)
- The Netherlands (1)

My Progress:

23 / 51 states. 45% done!

2024 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

My Progress:

16 / 50 books. 32% done!

2024 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge

21 / 50 books. 42% done!

Booklist Queen's 2024 Reading Challenge

My Progress:

43 / 50 books. 86% done!

2024 52 Club Reading Challenge

My Progress:

38 / 52 books. 73% done!

2024 Build Your Library Reading Challenge

My Progress:

25 / 40 books. 63% done!

2024 Pioneer Book Reading Challenge

15 / 40 books. 38% done!

2024 Craving for Cozies Reading Challenge

My Progress:

9 / 25 books. 36% done!

2024 Medical Examiner's Mystery Reading Challenge

2024 Mystery Marathon Reading Challenge

My Progress

6 / 26.2 miles (second lap). 23% done!

Mount TBR Reading Challenge

My Progress

21 / 100 books. 21% done!

2024 Pick Your Poison Reading Challenge

My Progress:

58 / 104 books. 56% done!

Around the Year in 52 Books Reading Challenge

My Progress

42 / 52 books. 81% done!

Disney Animated Movies Reading Challenge

My Progress

59 / 165 books. 36% done!
Saturday, April 30, 2022

Newest "Beervaria" Cozy Not Quite As Charming As the Others

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

(Note: Although this review will not contain spoilers for The Cure for What Ales You, it may inadvertently spoil plot surprises from earlier Sloan Krause mysteries. As always, I recommend reading books in a series in order.)

Beer enthusiasts flock to charming Leavenworth, Washington, every year to enjoy the town's lively Maifest celebration. Craft brewers Sloan Krause and Garrett Strong are excited to debut their new line of drinks at the festival. They're looking forward to a fun, profitable weekend. 

Sloan's plans are derailed when she spots a familiar face amongst all the tourists. Marianne is the woman who could hold all the answers to Sloan's many questions about her mysterious past. Sloan needs to talk to her, but Marianne seems to be avoiding her. Why? When a local housekeeper is murdered and Marianne becomes the police's prime suspect, the brewer is even more confused. Why is Marianne in town? Does she hold the answers Sloan has been seeking for so long? 

When Marianne warns Sloan that her family is in danger, Sloan goes on high alert. To protect those she loves and figure out the mystery of her past, she must use her detective skills once more to find a killer. Marianne can't be the murderer—or can she?

It's always fun to drop in on Sloan and the gang in lovely Leavenworth. The characters in this series are warm and likable, the setting is vibrant and atmospheric, and the plots are engaging and enjoyable. While the newest installment (#5), The Cure For What Ales You, isn't my favorite, it's still an entertaining read. Unlike its predecessors, this novel focuses a lot on Sloan's mysterious past, which adds a little something new to the story. The plot gets a bit melodramatic and far-fetched (not an uncommon occurrence in a cozy), true, but there was enough substance in the novel to keep me turning pages. I enjoy Alexander's light, fun cozies, so I'll keep reading this series even if this particular installment didn't enchant me quite as much as the others.

(Readalikes: Reminds me of other books in the Sloan Krause series [Death On Tap; The Pint of No Return; Beyond a Reasonable Stout; and Without a Brew] as well as cozy series by Amanda Flower, Vivien Chien, Kylie Logan, etc.)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for brief, mild language (no F-bombs); violence; and mild sexual content (in the form of sexual harrassment)

To the FTC, with love: Another library fine find

Thursday, April 28, 2022

Despite Explosive Subject Matter, The Atomic City Girls is a Slow, Lackluster Slog

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

After her fiancé is killed in the war, 18-year-old June Walker is at loose ends. Wanting to do her bit to help her country, she joins her older sister in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, where a crowd of young women are descending to work at mysterious jobs they're not allowed to talk about. The bustling town—which has suddenly sprung up out of nowhere—is dominated by secrecy and security. Inside its borders, though, Oak Ridge is lively with people bustling in and out of factories, canteens, bowling alleys, movie theaters, and dance halls. June's job as an operator of a big, boring machine is mind-numbingly dull, but her life is more meaningful now than it's ever been. Even though she's not allowed to ask questions about what she's actually doing, she's convinced her role in Oak Ridge—not just as a worker but also as a morale booster for all the young men stationed there—is important.  

Dr. Sam Cantor, a 30-year-old engineer from New York, is charmed by June's country girl naiveté. Sam is one of the few people in Oak Ridge who knows what The Manhattan Project is. As his frowned-upon relationship with the younger woman blooms, it becomes increasingly difficult to keep the secrets he's promised to protect from leakng out. 

Cici Roberts, June's bombshell roommate, is disgusted by the growing closeness between June and Sam, even though she spends her every waking hour trying to snag a rich husband for herself. Desperate to pass as a sophisticated socialite instead of what she truly is, Cici will do anything to keep her own secrets hidden.

Joe Brewer knows that he and his fellow Negro workers are not treated the same as their white counterparts in Oak Ridge. Still, he needs his wages to send back to his wife and children in Alabama. That requires working hard and keeping his head down, keeping far away from the trouble that's brewing in the colored quarters.  

When Hiroshima is bombed and the shocking truth about the true purpose of Oak Ridge is revealed, everyone in the secret city will be left to grapple with their own morality in the wake of the horrifying destruction they've helped to bring about. The lives of June, Sam, Cici, and Joe will be forever changed because of it. 

I've never read anything about The Manhattan Project, so I thought The Atomic City Girls by Janet Beard would be an interesting read. And it is, at least in the sense that it gives readers an idea of what Oak Ridge, Tennessee, was and what living there must have been like. Enhanced with historical photographs from the the city's heyday, the book's setting definitely comes alive. Beyond that, though, it is...not exciting. The novel has no plot, which makes it an episodic slog that meanders here and there without really going anywhere. Although I like that the author uses different focus characters to show different aspects of life in Oak Ridge, the four Beard has created are either bland or downright unpalatable. June and Joe fall into the first category, with Sam and Cici in the other. June and Joe are both sympathetic and kind, but they're cardboard cutouts with no real personality or depth. Sam is a broody jerk who takes advantage of a vulnerable young woman for his own lustful desires. Cici is a self-centered snob who only cares about tricking a wealthy man into taking care of her. Ugh. I was rooting for June and Joe (even though neither felt at all real to me), but I despised both Sam and Cici. Beard's simplistic, lackluster prose does not help matters, combining with the novel's other problems to make it even less appealing. Considering all this, you may be asking, "So, why on earth did you keep reading The Atomic City Girls?" Honestly, I'm not sure. It fulfilled a few reading challenge prompts and it's a fast, mindless read. In the end, though, I found it almost wholly unsatisfying. It's boring, depressing, and just meh all around. 

(Readalikes: I've heard that The Girls of Atomic City: The Untold Story of the Women Who Helped Win World War II by Denise Kiernan is a much better book on the same subject.)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

 or possibly R
for language (no F-bombs), violence, and sexual content

To the FTC, with love: I bought a copy of The Atomic City Girls with a portion of the millions I make from my lucrative career as a book blogger. Ha ha. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Top Ten Tuesday: Book-Covered Books, Part 2

Today's Top Ten Tuesday prompt is easy and fun. Perfect! It's all about book covers with X on them—"X" can be a person, a place, a color, an animal, a particular font, a scene, whatever. I'm sure I won't be the only one who chooses books for my X. What can I say? It's one of my favorite things to see on a cover! I love this theme so much that I actually used it for a list back in January 2020. Luckily, there are lots of bookish covers out there, so I used ten different ones this time around. 

Don't forget to click on over to That Artsy Reader Girl and give our hostess, Jana, some love. If you're in a list-making mood today, be sure to join in the TTT fun.

Top Ten Books With Books On the Cover

I haven't read most of these, I just enjoy their cover art. My reviews are linked to the titles of the two I have read.

1. The Woman in the Library by Sulari Gentill—I'm reading this mystery right now. It has a fun story-within-a-story format that I'm really digging.

3. Aria's Travelling Book Shop by Rebecca Raisin

4. The Library by Sarah Stewart

5. Prose and Cons by Amanda Flower

6. The Librarian by Christy Sloat 

8. Murder in the First Edition by Lauren Elliot

9. The Personal Librarian by Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray

10. The Librarian of Crooked Lane by C.J. Archer

There you have it, ten bookish covers that I love. What do you think? Have you read any of these? Which cover is your favorite? 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, April 21, 2022

Forgotten American Maritime Disaster Brought to Vivid, Moving Life in New Historical Novel

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

As a treat for their employees—many of whom were immigrants with little money for frivolities—Chicago's Western Electric Company planned an elaborate lake excursion to take place on July 24, 1915. Four passenger steamers were chartered to carry people down the Chicago River from Cicero, Illinois, to Michigan City, Indiana, where the company would provide an afternoon of food and fun. Invitees were bubbling over with excitement about the prospect of enjoying a day off picknicking with their families. The festival-like atmosphere soon turned to horror, however, when the overpacked S.S. Eastland began listing to port. In less than 15 minutes, the vessel rolled, trapping hundreds of people inside the doomed ship. Although the boat was still attached to the dock, resting in shallow water, and was equipped with plenty of lifeboats, 848 passengers and crew members died in the disaster.

Drawn by the Current, the final novel in Jocelyn Green's Windy City Saga trilogy, revolves around this forgotten tragedy. Our (fictional) heroine is Olive Pierce, a 29-year-old insurance agent, who is excited when she unexpectedly receives two tickets to attend the outing. She and her best friend, Claire Sterling, board the S.S. Eastland looking forward to a lovely day. When the boat rolls, chaos ensues, and it's only belatedly that Olive realizes Claire is not among the survivors. To assuage the grief and horror resulting from her experience on the Eastland, the insurance agent throws herself into her work, battling red tape to help those affected by the disaster. When she encounters resistance to her efforts, Olive enlists the help of a handsome newspaper photographer. As the two work together, secrets are revealed that could put everything Olive's working for at risk. Can she find justice for those who deserve it most? Will she ever be able to put her own nightmares behind her?

I've enjoyed all the books in the Windy City Saga, but Drawn By the Current is my favorite. Why? For starters, the story revolves around a historical event I had never heard of, which made the story extra interesting for me. Green brings all the emotions that surrounded the S.S. Eastland disaster to vivid life, capturing the excitement of the boarding passengers as well as the horror, fear, and sorrow that soon followed. It's easy to FEEL it all thanks to Green's skilled storytelling. Then there are the warm, sympathetic characters. Olive, especially, is an admirable heroine. She's compassionate, determined, selfless, and ambitious. Rooting for her and her friends is a no-brainer. Plot-wise, Drawn By the Current offers a compelling story that offers a little bit of everything—mystery, romance, action, and suspense. It kept me thoroughly engrossed throughout. Also, although this is a Christian novel, it never gets preachy or heavy-handed. The book deals with several tough issues, but it remains hopeful and uplifting throughout. All of these elements combined beautifully for me, making Drawn By the Current a gripping, moving read. Bonus: it's clean, faith-promoting, and well-written. What more could I want? 

(Readalikes: Reminds me a lot of Surviving Savannah by Patti Callahan as well as the previous Windy City Saga books, Veiled in Smoke and Shadows of the White City)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for violence and scenes of peril

To the FTC, with love:  I received an e-ARC of Drawn By the Current from the generous folks at Bethany House via those at NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Top Ten Tuesday: Still-to-Read Stories From Some of My Favorite Authors

Today's dreamy TTT topic is a fun one—Top Ten Bookish Items I'd Love to Own—but I'm still going rogue. I enjoy fun booky items as much as the next bibliophile (I have a couple bookstore t-shirts, several punny mugs, reading wall art, etc.), but with my upcoming move, I'm focusing on purging my junk, not accumulating more! So, I'm going to go with a throwback prompt that Nicole used for her list a few weeks ago: Top Ten Books I Still Need to Read By Some of My Favorite Authors. I've been ruminating on the subject ever since reading Nicole's list. 

Before we get to that, though, be sure to click on over to That Artsy Reader Girl. While you're giving Jana some love, why don't you join in the TTT fun? It's a great excuse to drop in on your favorite book blogs, discover fabulous new ones, and, of course, add books to your TBR mountain chain. What's not to love?

Top Ten Books I Still Need to Read By Some of My Favorite Authors
*All book data is from Fantastic Fiction. Book counts include novellas, but not titles published under authors' psuedonyms.

1. Ellie Alexander (cozy mysteries)

Number of books published*: 22
Number of books I've read: 6
What I still need to read: I'm caught up with the Sloan Krause series, but I've only read the first book in the Bakeshop Mystery series. I need to read more of those, plus Left Coast Literary, the series opener in a new bookish series.

2. Elizabeth C. Bunce (children's fiction, young adult fantasy, children's historical mysteries)

Number of books published: 7 (including In Myrtle Peril, which comes out in October)
Number of books I've read: 3
What I still need to read: I adore Bunce's Myrtle Hardcastle mystery series, so I'm all caught up in that one. I'm not really interested in her StarCrossed duology, but I do want to read A Curse As Dark As Gold, her 2008 debut.

3. Amanda Flower (cozy and historical mysteries)

Number of books published: 36 (including four that come out later this year)
Number of books I've read: 7
What I still need to read: I love Flower's Amish Candy Shop Mystery series and am just about caught up in it. I read Farm to Trouble, the first in a new series, earlier this year and found it rather meh. I doubt I'll continue with that one. Since I enjoy her other Amish mysteries so much, next on my list is Flower's Amish Matchmaker Mystery series.

4. Melanie Jacobson (rom-coms for adults and teens)

Number of books published: 21+ (including several co-authored novels)
Number of books I've read: 9
What I still need to read: I'm especially excited for Jacobson's Love in New Orleans trilogy. Jacobson is a native of Baton Rouge and her love for the area really shines through in her stories set in NOLA.

5. Peter May (adult mysteries/crime fiction)

Number of books published: 28
Number of books read: 7
What I still need to read: I enjoyed May's Lewis Trilogy as well as several of his standalone novels. Next up for me is the Enzo McLeod books and then the Yan & Campbell series.

6. Susan Meissner (adult historical fiction and mysteries)

Number of books published: 25 (including three that were co-authored with Mindy Starns Clark and When We Had Wings, which comes out in October)
Number of books read: 8
What I still need to read: I've read all the books but one that Meissner has published since 2011. I need to go back and read her earlier work.

7. Jennifer Ryan (adult World War II fiction)

Number of books published: 4 (including The Wedding Dress Circle, which comes out in May)
Number of books read: 2
What I still need to read: Ryan's newest as well as her debut, The Chillbury Ladies' Choir. I have copies of both. 

8. Riley Sager (adult thrillers and horror)

Number of books published: 6 (including The House Across the Lake, which comes out in June) 
Number of books read: 4
What I still need to read: Other than Sager's upcoming thriller, the only one I haven't read is Final Girls. I've heard from a number of people that it's their least favorite book of his, so I've been hesitating on it. When I was sorting through all my books, I found a copy of Final Girls I had totally forgotten about; now, I have no excuses so I'll read it sometime soon-ish.

9. Sarah Stewart Taylor (adult mysteries/crime fiction)

Number of books published: 8 (including The Drowning Sea, which comes out in June)
Number of books read: 2
What I still need to read: I've been loving Taylor's Maggie D'Arcy series, so I'm eager to try her Sweeney St. George mysteries. Unfortunately, I've been having a hard time finding them at my library. I might have to bite the bullet and buy the whole dang series!

10. Jacqueline Woodson (children's and YA fiction, poetry, literary fiction, picture books, etc.)

Number of books published: 35+
Number of books read: 6
What I still need to read: Woodson is so prolific that it's hard to keep up with her. I need to read her newest novels first, then work my way back.

There you go, a whole bunch of books I still need to read by some of my favorite authors. Have you read any of them? Which authors' work do you need to catch up on? What bookish items are you coveting these days? 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, April 18, 2022

Backman's Newest A Delightful Surprise

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Despite the ongoing popularity of Fredrik Backman's novels, I actually had little desire to read them. Nothing about their titles, cover art, or plot summaries really appeal to me. I likely would never have given them a chance at all if someone in my book club hadn't suggested Anxious People for our first read of 2022. As I waded into the story, my fears were confirmed. Backman's unique style was not for me! It seemed weird, over-the-top, and just...silly. To make matters worse, the story appeared to be about something that never actually happened to a group of snarky, annoying people. I don't think I even made it through the first chapter before I closed the book and set it aside. Because it was for book club, though, I decided to give it another shot. Once I really tuned in to Backman's rhythm, the story started to flow and I began to enjoy it, especially as I came to understand what it was really about. 

Here's the surface story: 

In a "not particularly large town" in Sweden, a group of strangers attends an open house for a modest apartment that is newly on the market. The showing is interrupted when an inept bank robber who has just failed to carry off a planned heist bursts through the door and takes the would-be buyers hostage. As the nervous bank robber tries to decide what to do next, the strangers—who include a heavily pregnant young lady and an 87-year-old woman—grapple with the unexpected turn of events. All of them are concealing their own worries, hopes, and hurts, each of which will come to light as the situation barrels toward its surprising conclusion.

Here's what it's really about:

Anxious People is a cleverly-told tale with lots of wisdom to share about life, love, human nature, and the ways in which all of us touch the lives of others. Although these interactions can seem completely inconsequential, it's often these exact meetings that can impact our lives forever. That interconnectedness that we all need and crave (even if we don't know we do) can be the very thing that saves us in the end. 

This novel turned out to be not at all what I expected—and I mean that in the best way possible. I didn't expect to enjoy Anxious People, but I did. Although its humor feels forced at times, there were other places in which it made me laugh out loud with genuine mirth. The characters charmed me and, absurd as the situation at the center of the novel becomes, the unfolding action kept me engaged. While I saw at least one of the big plot twists coming, another one took me completely, delightedly, by surprise. I can't say I abxolutely loved Backman's newest, but in the end, I found it entertaining, heartfelt, and life-affirming. The ladies in my book club who had read the author before all agreed that A Man Called Ove is a better book. Another friend of mine says Anxious People is her least favorite of Backman's novels. Her advice? "Read another, ASAP!" I think I shall do just that.

(Readalikes: I don't know what to compare Anxious People to. You?)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

To the FTC, with love: Another library fine find

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Top Ten Tuesday: My Soon-to-Be No-Longer-New-to-Me Author List

As much as I love re-exploring my favorite authors every time they come out with a new book, I also really enjoy discovering new writers. I don't know what percent of my reading every year comes from new-to-me authors, but it's high—maybe 70% or more? Even still, there are a bunch of authors I have been meaning to try and just haven't gotten around to yet, so today's TTT prompt is perfect: Top Ten Authors I Haven't Read, But Want To. The idea came from the lovely Deanna over at A Novel Glimpse. If you're a big romance reader, you're definitely going to want to visit her blog. 

Don't forget to give Jana, our TTT hostest with the mostest, some love as well. While you're at That Artsy Reader Girl, why don't you join in the TTT fun? It's a good time, I promise!

Top Ten Authors I Haven't Read Yet, But Want To

For this list, I'm going to focus on authors who've written more than one book. I included covers for the book of theirs I'm most excited to read. 

Historical Fiction

1. Kate Quinn—Quinn has written a number of historical novels, the most recent of which focus on World War II. Her books have gotten lots of buzz and praise, so I'm interested to see what I think. I picked up The Diamond Eye at my local indie last week. Hopefully, I'll get to it soon.

2. Beatriz Williams—Williams writes historicals on her own and as part of a collaborative author trio. I've read a couple of the latter, but none of the former.  


3. Sulari Gentill—Gentill is an Australian author who pens contemporary and historical mysteries. I'm especially interested in her Rowland Sinclair series as well as The Woman in the Library, which comes out on June 7.

4. Elizabeth Haynes—This English author writes crime fiction and mysteries. Her books sound right up my alley!

5. Alice Feeney—I love me a tense, atmospheric thriller. Feeney's novels sound like just the ticket.


6. T.I. Lowe—I have no roots in the Southern United States, but I still love to read stories set there. Something about the sumptuous settings, slow drawls, and easy vibes really appeals to me. I'm always looking for new Southern authors to love and Lowe is one I've got my eye on.

7. Donna Everhart—Ditto for Everhart, whose Southern novels are supposed to be full of "authenticity and grit." I'm down.

8. T.J. Klune—I'm pretty sure everyone has read Klune's magical children's books by now but me. I'm going to remedy that soon, I hope!

9. Graham Norton—Thanks to clips that show up on my Facebook feed apropos of nothing, I know that Norton is an Irish actor who hosts a U.K. television show where he interviews celebrity guests. Until Cath mentioned it, I had no idea he also wrote books. He's penned memoirs, mysteries and family sagas. I'm not interested in his non-fiction, but his novels sound appealing.


10. Mary Roach—I've been meaning to read Roach's informative books for years. As we speak, Stiff is sitting on my bookshelf casting meaningful glances my way...

There you have it, ten authors I haven't read yet that I really want to try out. Have you read any of them? What do you think of their work? Who are the new-to-you writers you plan to take a look at soon(ish)? 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, April 11, 2022

Effective, But Misleading Marketing + Long, Plotless Story = Dull, Disappointing Read

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Generally, I write my own plot summaries for the books I review. I'm going to make an exception in this case, though, in order to make a point. Here's the back cover blurb for The Edge of Lost by Kristina McMorris:

    On a cold night in October 1937, searchlights cut through the darkness around Alcatraz. A prison guard’s only daughter—one of the youngest civilians who lives on the island—has gone missing. Tending the warden’s greenhouse, convicted bank robber Tommy Capello waits anxiously. Only he knows the truth about the little girl’s whereabouts, and that both of their lives depend on the search’s outcome.

    Almost two decades earlier and thousands of miles away, a young boy named Shanley Keagan ekes out a living as an aspiring vaudevillian in Dublin pubs. Talented and shrewd, Shan dreams of shedding his dingy existence and finding his real father in America. The chance finally comes to cross the Atlantic, but when tragedy strikes, Shan must summon all his ingenuity to forge a new life in a volatile and foreign world.

    Skilfully weaving these two stories, Kristina McMorris delivers a compelling novel that moves from Ireland to New York to San Francisco Bay. As her finely crafted characters discover the true nature of loyalty, sacrifice, and betrayal, they are forced to confront the lies we tell—and believe—in order to survive.

That first paragraph really pops, doesn't it? It's exciting, it's intriguing, it's compelling. It's pretty much irresistible if you're a historical fiction lover who's fascinated by Alcatraz. Between that opener and the novel's glossy prison-themed cover, I didn't stand a chance. I eagerly snatched up a copy of The Edge of Lost, threw my money at the cashier, and rushed home to read. Imagine my surprise when the story turned out to have very little to do with the prison. It's only in the last 100 pages or so that Alcatraz even comes into play! Needless to say, I felt ripped off by the publisher's clever but misleading marketing tactics. Yes, the most interesting part of this novel does take place at Alcatraz, but that's only at the end and the rest of the book drags and drags without much action or plot until it finally gets there. Had I known this, I would not have bothered with this novel at all.

That being said, the book does feature a cast of warm, likable characters. None of them are super fresh or original, but they are the kind of story people to whom you want good things to happen. I became invested in Shan Keagan/Tommy Capello's plight, although my interest definitely waned the more his story went on (and on and on). After a very far-fetched finale, he does get a somewhat happy ending, although it didn't feel completely satisfying to me.

Overall, then, this book was a pretty meh read for me. Not only was I disappointed by the misleading marketing, but I also found the story overly long and mostly plotless. I did continue to read until the last page (even though I couldn't stop counting the remaining pages because the novel seemed endless), so I guess that means something. I just wish McMorris had focused on the most interesting part of the story (Alcatraz) and built a tighter, more exciting/suspenseful plot around that.

(Readalikes: If you're interested in reading more about civilian life on Alcatraz, definitely check out Gennifer Choldenko's middle-grade Al Capone series. It's excellent.)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

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

To the FTC, with love: I bought a copy of The Edge of Lost with a portion of the millions I make from my lucrative career as a book blogger. Ha ha.
Thursday, April 07, 2022

With Recent Discovery of Famous Ship, Now Is the Perfect Time to Read Alfred Lansing's Iconic Endurance

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

With the recent discovery of the Endurance—which sunk 107 years ago and currently lies remarkably well preserved at the bottom of the Weddell Sea—now is the perfect time to discuss Alfred Lansing's classic book about the ship's last journey. Published in 1959, Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage tells the whole story in captivating detail. It follows the British explorer Ernest Shackleton as he launches his Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition, which aimed to send a group of adventurers across the Antarctic continent, from west to east, on foot. He, along with 27 crewmen and 69 sled dogs, left London on 1 August 1914. They arrived on South Georgia Island a few months later. On 18 January 1915, Endurance became hopelessly mired in thick polar ice. As the vessel slowly begin to sink into the frozen depths, the men were forced to abandon ship. As their vessel disappeared, they found themselves utterly alone in "a place where no man had ever been before, nor could they conceive that any man would ever want to be again" (104).

Knowing a cache of food and supplies had been left on Paulet Island, some 346 miles away, the men had little choice but to trek off to find it. Any chance of rescue was even farther afield. The journey that ensued was a remarkable one, fraught with danger of every kind. In spite of a constant battering by severe weather, lack of adequate food, physical exhaustion, and mental fatigue, remarakably, not one of the men perished. They all lived to tell the tale—and what an amazing one it is!

Lansing describes their entire journey in vivid prose, allowing the reader to trudge in the men's footsteps, feeling the excitement of discovery as well as the misery of being constantly wet, cold, dirty, overworked, bored, and tired. Although I would have liked to know more about Shackleton himself (his childhood and personal life are almost wholly ignored in the book), I found Endurance to be a riveting account of his Antarctic expedition. It's narrative non-fiction at its best, bringing history to life in a way that is not just fascinating, but also engrossing and impactful. I couldn't stop reading this iconic book.

Readalikes: I believe this is the first non-fiction book I've read about Antarctic exploration, so I'm not sure what to compare it to. Suggestions?


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

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

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