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2023 Bookish Books Reading Challenge

My Progress:

23 / 30 books. 77% done!

20 Books of Summer 2023

My Progress:

17 / 20 books. 85% done!

2023 Literary Escapes Challenge

- Alabama (2)
- Alaska (1)
- Arizona (1)
- Arkansas
- California (12)
- Colorado (1)
- Connecticut (3)
- Delaware (1)
- Florida (1)
- Georgia (1)
- Hawaii (1)
- Idaho (1)
- Illinois
- Indiana (1)
- Iowa (1)
- Kansas (1)
- Kentucky (1)
- Louisiana (1)
- Maine (3)
- Maryland (2)
- Massachusetts (3)
- Michigan (2)
- Minnesota (1)
- Mississippi (1)
- Missouri (1)
- Montana (1)
- Nebraska (1)
- Nevada
- New Hampshire (1)
- New Jersey
- New Mexico (1)
- New York (11)
- North Carolina (4)
- North Dakota (1)
- Ohio (3)
- Oklahoma
- Oregon
- Pennsylvania (1)
- Rhode Island (1)
- South Carolina (1)
- South Dakota
- Tennessee (1)
- Texas (4)
- Utah (1)
- Vermont (3)
- Virginia
- Washington (3)
- West Virginia (1)
- Wisconsin (2)
- Wyoming
- Washington, D.C.* (1)


- Australia (3)
- Canada (7)
- Chile (1)
- England (20)
- France (2)
- Ireland (2)
-Italy (1)
- Scotland (2)
- South Korea (1)
- Sweden (1)
- The Netherlands (2)
-Vietnam (1)

My Progress:

42 / 51 states. 82% done!

2023 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

My Progress:

25 / 25 books. 100% done!

2023 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge

48 / 50 books. 96% done!

Booklist Queen's 2023 Reading Challenge

My Progress:

49 / 52 books. 94% done!

2023 52 Club Reading Challenge

My Progress:

46 / 52 books. 88% done!

2023 Build Your Library Reading Challenge

My Progress:

34 / 40 books. 85% done!

2023 Pioneer Book Reading Challenge

29 / 40 books. 73% done!

2023 Craving for Cozies Reading Challenge

My Progress:

13 / 25 books. 52% done!

2023 Medical Examiner's Mystery Reading Challenge

Book Bingo Reading Challenge

20 / 25 books. 80% done!

2023 Pick Your Poison Reading Challenge

My Progress:

87 / 109 books. 80% done!

Children's Book Reading Challenge...For Adults!

Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Top Ten Tuesday: Let's Get the Fall Reading Party Started, Or, My Fall TBR List (Part Two)

I always love it when we do seasonal book lists for TTT, so I'm excited for today's topic—Top Ten Books On My Fall TBR List. I was so eager for it, in fact, that I started it last week, posting the first part of my list here. (Or just scroll down since I only seem to be able to manage one post a week these days!) Today, you get the second half of my list of books I still need to read to fulfill prompts for my 2023 reading challenges. I can't wait to see what you all will be reading this Fall!

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the lovely Jana over at That Artsy Reader Girl. Click on over there and give her some love, won't you? While you're there, add a link to your own TTT list of Fall reads so I can check it out.

Top Ten Books On My Fall TBR List (Part Two) 

1. Scene of the Climb by Kate Dyer-Seeley—This cozy mystery is set in the beautiful Columbia River Gorge, a lush scenic area in Oregon and Washington. It's a region I know well since that's where I grew up. I've been meaning to read this series opener for awhile now since (1) I enjoy a good cozy, (2) it's by one of my favorite cozy writers (Kate Dyer-Seeley is Ellie Alexander's real name), and (3) it's set in a place I love. 

The story revolves around an out-of-work journalist who bluffs her way into writing for an extreme sports magazine (even though she's anything but athletic). Pretending to be a seasoned mountain climber for a story is difficult enough, but when the reporter witnesses a suspicious death, she finds herself impersonating Nancy Drew as well.

2. Legends & Lattes by Travis Baldree—Even though this is not at all the type of book I usually read, it is so universally loved that not reading it is giving me a serious case of FOMO! For the few of you who haven't read it, it's about an orc who's tired of doing battle for her daily bread. She decides to retire her sword and open the first coffee shop ever seen in her city (where, by the way, no one even knows what coffee is). Abundant obstacles stand in the way of her business plan's success, but that doesn't stop her from working tirelessly to make her dreams come true. 

PopSugar Reading Challenge—A Book Written During NaNoWriMo AND the Craving For Cozies Reading Challenge (Is Legends & Lattes a cozy mystery? Someone said it was...)

3. Famous in a Small Town by Viola Shipman—Eighty-year-old Mary Jackson has run the Very Cherry General Store in quaint Good Hart, Michigan, for most of her life. As the last of the Jackson women, she's afraid she might have to do the unthinkable and turn the place over to (gulp!) a man. Then, Becky Thatcher comes to town. Becky never expected to start over at age 40, but it's beginning to look as if fate has other plans for her...

The Pick Your Poison Reading Challenge—A Book By An Author Using a Pseudonym of the Opposite Gender

4. The Honey Bus: A Memoir of Loss, Courage and a Girl Saved by Bees by Meredith May—This non-fiction title is about a girl who is left lonely and adrift by a chaotic home life. She is taken in by her grandfather, an eccentric beekeeper, who helps her find herself and her "people" by teaching her the art of beekeeping and honey-making.

The Pick Your Poison Reading Challenge—A Memoir or Biography About Someone With an Unusual Hobby

5. A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Mass—High fantasy is not a genre you see featured much here at BBB because it's just not my thing. One great feature of reading challenges is that they force me out of my reading comfort zones. So, I'm going to finally read a Maas book. She's such a popular author that it will be fun for me to give her a go. I think. 

Wait! Does Legends & Lattes count as a high fantasy? I'm a little confused by what is and what is not a high fantasy...anyone know??

Anyway, this popular novel is the first in a YA romantasy series about a huntress who is dragged into the vicious faerie underworld after killing a wolf in the woods. As she comes to know the beast who has captured her, she realizes that neither he nor his world is quite what they seem. Something is not quite right in faerie land and she might be the only one who can save it...

The 52 Club Reading Challenge—High Fantasy AND the Pick Your Poison Reading Challenge—A Book About Fairies 

6. Off the Grid by Tess Sharpe—This middle-grade adventure is the first installment in a series starring Maisie Lockwood, a young character from the Jurassic Park movies. I'm not sure what the plot of this novel is, but I know it's exciting and features dinosaurs. Again, not my usual thing, but it fulfills several of my reading challenge prompts, so I'm in.

PopSugar Reading Challenge—A Book Based on a Popular Movie AND the Pick Your Poison Reading Challenge—A Book With Dinosaurs in It 

7. Solito by Javier Zamora—I've been meaning to read this immigration memoir ever since it came out last year. It's the author's story about the harrowing 3,000-mile journey he made from his small hometown in El Salvador through Guatemala and Mexico, into the United States where he planned to reunite with the parents he hardly remembered. Traveling with a group of strangers with only a paid coyote to guide them, the 9-year-old experienced every kind of terror on his long, perilous journey.

8. Hour Glass by Michelle Rene—This western is set in the lawless town of Deadwood, South Dakota, where two orphaned children find a collection of colorful individuals who unexpectedly become family.

Literary Escapes Reading Challenge—South Dakota AND the Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

9. All the Small Poems and Fourteen More by Valerie Worth—Poetry is another genre I tend to avoid. In general, I find poems too abstract and confusing to really enjoy. I figure poetry written for children should be short and easy to understand, right?

10. The Sewing Machine by Natalie Fergie—This is a novel about family secrets. It's told over several generations, all of which are connected through an heirloom sewing machine. 

The Pick Your Poison Reading Challenge—A Book With the Word "Machine" or "Mechanic" in the Title AND the Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

There you go, ten more books on my Fall TBR list. It's an eclectic list for me! What do you think? Have you read any of these? Which titles are you planning to read during 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. I also reply to comments left here.

Happy TTT!

Tuesday, September 12, 2023

Top Ten Tuesday: Let's Get the Fall Reading Party Started! Or My Fall TBR List, Part One

It's TTT time and once again we've got a great topic—Top Ten Favorite Character Relationships—that I'm just not feeling. Since next week is all about our Fall TBR lists, I'm going to get that party started early with part one of my list. It's hard to believe, but we only have 110 days left in 2023 (not counting today). That's a little over three months to cram in all the reading I still want to accomplish this year. I've read 141 books so far, so I should have no trouble hitting my yearly goal of 200. I'm also doing well on all of my reading challenges, so I'm hoping to complete them by December 31 as well. To that end, the majority of the books on my Fall TBR are titles that I'm reading for reading challenges. 

Before we get to that, though, be sure to click on over to That Artsy Reader Girl and give our Top Ten Tuesday hostess with the mostest, Jana, some love!

Top Ten Books On My Fall TBR List (Part One)

1. Girlchild by Tupelo Hassman—This YA novel tells the story of Rory Hendrix, a smart, savvy girl who's desperate to prove she's not the future-less trailer trash everyone thinks she is. Told through a series of social workers' reports, arrest records, diary entries, letters, etc., it's an original coming-of-age story.

2. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid—When reclusive Evelyn Hugo, an aging Hollywood actress, finally decides to tell her life story to the press, she chooses an obscure reporter named Monique Grant. A shocked Monique listens in fascination as Evelyn reveals her incredible tale, one that—shockingly—intersects with Monique's own.

3. War Girls by Tochi Onyebuchi—Set in 2172 Nigeria, this YA novel features two sisters who are determined to fight for their future on a climate-changed, war-ravaged, abandoned-for-space Earth. 

The Pick Your Poison Reading Challenge—A Book with a Robot, Cyborg, or AI Character AND the Build Your Library Reading Challenge—A Book About a Futuristic Society

4. Last Call at the Nightingale by Katherine Schellman—The first installment in a historical mystery series, this novel features a Prohibition-era seamstress who's desperate to escape her tedious, poverty-stricken life. She finds freedom and escape at a secret dance hall where anything goes. When she discovers a dead body behind the club, she becomes embroiled in a dangerous murder investigation.

The 52 Club Reading Challenge—Takes Place During the Roaring Twenties AND the Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

5. Sun Storm by Asa Larsson—This is the first book in a Swedish mystery series starring Stockholm lawyer Rebecka Martinsson. Our heroine returns to her hometown in spite of the disgrace she suffered there years before. Only an emergency would take her back and that's exactly what this is: her friend's brother has been viciously murdered. Rebecka will stop at nothing to find his killer.

Pick Your Poison Reading Challenge—A "Noir" Book AND the 52 Club Reading Challenge—Nordic Noir

6. The Matzah Ball by Jean Meltzer—Rachel Rubenstein-Goldblatt is a good Jewish girl. She's also secretly a best-selling author of Christmas romances. She just can't get enough of the Christian holiday with all of its magic and merriment. Hanukkah pales in comparison. When Rachel's editor insists she write a "diverse" holiday story, she turns to an upcoming Hanukkah celebration for inspiration. Working with her archenemy isn't part of the plan. Neither is falling for him...

7. Before I Called You Mine by Nicole Deese—Tired of trying to find The One so she can start a family, first grade teacher Lauren Bailey decides to pursue international adoption on her own. The adoption agency requires her to remain single for the time being, which becomes a challenge when Lauren finds herself falling for a charming substitute teacher. Does she have to sacrifice one thing her heart desires in order to get another? Or can she figure out a way to get everything she wants?

8. 1984 by George Orwell—This classic sci-fi novel features a young man who works for the Ministry of Truth in a dystopian London. When Julia and O'Brien come into his life unexpectedly, his existence is transformed forever. 

Booklist Queen Reading ChallengeFamous Author You've Avoided AND Build Your Library Reading ChallengeA Book That Is Classic Science Fiction AND Pick Your Poison Reading ChallengeAn Author You Have Always Wanted to Read

9. River Sing Me Home by Eleanor Shearer—Set in Barbados in 1834, this novel is about a enslaved woman who learns that in spite of a government act declaring an end to slavery, her "owner" refuses to let any of his slaves go. She runs, driven to find her five children, all of whom have been sold by the plantation owner. No matter what she finds, she can't rest until she knows what has happened to her beloved offspring.

10. Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly—This popular non-fiction title tells the fascinating story of the African-American female mathematicians who played a crucial role in America's space program by working as "human computers" at NASA. These brilliant, intrepid women were invaluable assets in spite of all the prejudice they faced because of both their ethnicity and their gender.

Build Your Library Reading Challenge—About BIPOC in Science AND Pick Your Poison Reading Challenge—A Book About Rocket Science

There you go, ten books I'm planning to read this Fall. What are you planning to read in the next few months? If you did today's topic, what are some of your favorite fictional relationships? 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, September 05, 2023

Top Ten Tuesday: Fall 2023 Mystery/Thriller Novels I Want to Read

Today's TTT prompt—Top Ten Books That Defied My Expectations (books you thought you wouldn't like but ended up loving, books you thought you'd love but didn't, etc.)— is a good one, but I'm just not feeling it. Even though it's early September and it's still a million degrees outside, I'm gearing up for some cozy Fall reading. To me, that means mysteries, mysteries, and more mysteries! Yes, I read this genre throughout the year, but it just seems especially suited for the cozy/spooky season. Maybe that's why there are so many intriguing-sounding ones still to be published this year. I'm going to highlight ten up-and-coming mystery/thrillers that I want to read.

First, though, be sure to click on over to That Artsy Reader Girl and give our host, Jana, some love. If you want to join in the TTT fun (and you do!), all the details are there.

Top Ten Fall 2023 Mystery/Thriller Novels I Want to Read

1. The Darkness Surrounds Us by Gail Lukasik (releases today!)—With the Spanish flu wreaking havoc on her Chicago home, nurse Nellie Lester needs to get out of town. She takes a job at a crumbling mansion on an isolated island in Michigan, hoping for a new start and to find answers to her mother's mysterious past. Not only does the place feel haunted by her mother's presence, but the discovery of the previous nurse's dead body proves there's something very sinister going on. Can Nellie figure out the island's deadly secrets before it's too late?

2. The Wings of Poppy Pendleton by Melanie Dobson (available September 19)—During a Gilded Age party at her family's castle in New York's Thousand Islands area, a young girl goes missing while her father lies dead in the smoking room. Seventy-five years later, a mysterious girl arrives on the island, prompting the owner of the island to look into the old mystery. What really happened to Poppy Pendleton?

3. Death and the Sisters by Heather Redmond (available September 26)—This opener begins a new historical mystery series starring a teenaged Mary Shelley, her stepsister, and Mary's future husband, Percy Bysshe Shelley. When Mary discovers a man—who happens to be Percy's classmate and rival— dead in her home after a party, she and her cohorts use their collective smarts to solve the murder. 

4. The Leftover Woman by Jean Kwok (available October 10)—Because of China's One Child Policy, Jasmine Yang's infant daughter was snatched away from her. Now in New York City without a penny to her name and on the run from her controlling husband, Jasmine is on a desperate hunt to find her stolen child. A wealthy publishing executive, Rebecca Whitney has the perfect life—including an adopted Chinese daughter. When the lives of these two very different women collide, it causes both to question everything they both know about identity, motherhood, and the true meaning of family.

5. What We Kept to Ourselves by Nancy Jooyoun Kim (available October 10)—A year later, the Kim Family is still baffled and devastated by their matriarch's mysterious disappearance. When they find the dead body of a stranger in their backyard, they're even more shocked, especially since he's carrying a letter addressed to the missing woman. Who is the unknown man? And what does he have to do with Sunny Kim? Where is Sunny and why did she vanish?

6. Murder by Degrees by Ritu Mukerji (available October 17)—It's 1875 and Lydia Weston is a professor and anatomist at the Woman's Medical College of Pennsylvania. When the body of a dead chambermaid is found in a Philadelphia river, a supposed suicide, Lydia becomes suspicious. Following clues on the corpse and in the dead woman's diary, she sets out to discover how the young woman really died.  

7. People to Follow by Olivia Worley (available October 31)—"In Real Life" is a hot new reality show that takes ten well-known teen influencers to a Caribbean island where they will completely unplug for three weeks of televised, non-filtered living. When the production crew fails to show and one of the influencers dies violently, the remaining nine find themselves stranded in a remote paradise with a killer. 

8. Last Night at the Hollywood Canteen by Sarah James (available November 7)—The Hollywood Canteen, a club for servicemen staffed by volunteers who are also Tinseltown stars, is the place to be in 1943. Aspiring playwright Annie Laurence hopes to make enough of a splash there to get the murder mystery film she's written produced. When a hated film critic is killed at the Canteen, Annie joins a group of amateur sleuths to figure out who murdered her.

9. The Frozen River by Ariel Lawhon (available November 14)—When a man's dead body is found in the iced-over Kennebec River in 1789, the local midwife and healer is called upon to examine the corpse. A keeper of her town's secrets, Martha knows the dead man is one of the possible perpetrators of an alleged rape that happened several months ago. As both crimes are investigated, her small town is torn apart by scandal and prejudice. What will the truth do to Martha, her family, and her community?

10. The Weekend Retreat by Tara Laskowski (available December 26)—As the heirs to a copper fortune, the Van Ness siblings are constantly in the spotlight. They gather yearly at a luxury winery for the R&R they all desperately need. This year, their vacation is beset with the usual family drama as well as a torrential rainstorm and a shocking murder. Whodunit?

There you are, ten upcoming mystery/thriller novels I want to read. Which Fall releases are you excited about? If you did today's prompt, which books defied your expectations? I'd truly love to know. Leve me a comment on this post and I will gladly return the favor on your blog.

Happy TTT!

Saturday, September 02, 2023

The Bookish Books Reading Challenge: September Book Ideas and Link-Up

How is it September already? Wow, this year just continues to fly by! August was a good month for me and bookish books. I read six (my Goodreads ratings are in parentheses):

What Happened to Rachel Riley by Claire Swinarski (5 stars)
The Fiction Writer by Jillian Cantor (3 stars)
Fat Chance, Charlie Vega by Crystal Maldonado (4 stars)
The Unbearable Book Club for Unsinkable Girls by Julie Schumacher (3 stars)
The Red Blazer Girls: The Ring of Rocamadour by Michael D. Beil (4 stars)
The Bones of the Story by Carol Goodman (4 stars)

Not too shabby, overall.

I'm not sure what bookish books I'm going to try to read in September. Since there are only four months left in the year, I'm working on completing all my reading challenges. I do still need a book set in Utah, so I'll probably read at least this one in the next few weeks:

It's the story of a Salt Lake City librarian who struggled to control the tics he experienced because of Tourette Syndrome. A strongman suggested weightlifting as a way to wrangle them. The practice has since become a practical, successful way to manage his symptoms. In this memoir, Josh Hanagarne tells his own story about Tourette's, books, and more. 

Which bookish books are you planning to read this month?

For those of you who are participating in the Bookish Books Reading Challenge, here's the Mr. Linky to use for linking up July reviews. If you've not yet signed up for the challenge, what are you waiting for? Join us in this low-key challenge that celebrates a genre we all love: books about books. It will be fun, I promise!

Friday, September 01, 2023

Twenty Seventeen Books of Summer Challenge Complete!

While I've been rocking my reading challenges this year, I didn't quite complete this one, the 20 Books of Summer challenge hosted annually by Cathy over at 746 Books. To be fair, I started late. Also to be fair, I changed out several books over the course of the challenge so I could complete more of them. The rules of the challenge are very flexible, which is nice. Here's what I ended up reading:

1. Prairie Fires by Caroline Fraser—This is my current physical book. I've read about 1/3 so far. finished 06.22.23

2. In Myrtle Peril by Elizabeth C. Bunce—I'm listening to this one on audio and am about halfway done. finished 06.23.23

3. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith (re-read) - finished 07.05.23

4. A Sky Full of Song by Susan Lynn Meyer - finished 07.14.23 

5. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte (re-read) finished 07.29.23

6. Kim by Rudyard Kipling - DNF

7. I Lived on Butterfly Hill by Marjorie Agosin - finished 06.24.23

8. The One and Only Ruby by Katherine Applegate - finished 06.25.23

9. Lasagna Means I Love You by Kate O'Shaughnessy - finished 08.09.23

10. Simon Sort of Says by Erin Bow - finished 08.07.23

11. Crow Mary by Kathleen Grissom

12. O' Art of Death by Sarah Stewart Taylor - finished 08.05.23

13. A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman - finished 08.30.23

14. The Talk by Darrin Bell - finished 06.26.23

15. Monday's Not Coming by Tiffany D. Jackson

16. Death in Bloom by Jess Dylan - finished 08.05.23

17. Ellie Engle Saves Herself by Leah Johnson

18. The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown - finished 07.18.23

19. The Wishing Game by Meg Shaffer - finished 07.16.23

20. Enchanted Hill by Emily Bain Murphy - finished 07.25.23

Seventeen out of twenty isn't too bad! It felt good to cross all of these off my TBR list. I enjoyed most of them to boot. Not too shabby at all.

I enjoyed this fun challenge and will definitely plan to join again next year.

Tuesday, August 29, 2023

Top Ten Tuesday: Mysteries/Thrillers on My TBR With Houses and Water on Their Covers

Today's Top Ten Tuesday prompt is a simple one: Water. There are so many ways to go with this theme, but the first thing that came to mind for this mystery/thriller lover is books with pictures of houses on their covers. Have you ever noticed how many of them include water—usually crashing ocean waves—to enhance their moody, broody vibes? Not only does the inclusion of water create a sinister sense of isolation, but it also taps into the fear a lot of us have of the mysterious deep. These types of covers always send a thrilling little chill down my spine, which makes me instantly want to add the book to my TBR pile! There's just nothing like a (potentially) haunted house to pique my curiosity, whether the place is inhabited by actual ghosts or just ringing with the echoes of a secret past or whispering premonitions of an ominous future to come...

Before we get to that, though, take a minute to click on over to That Artsy Reader Girl and give some love to our fabulous TTT host, Jana. If you want to hop on the TTT party bus (and you do!), you'll find everything you need to know on her blog.

Top Ten Mystery/Thrillers on My TBR With Houses and Water on Their Covers

1. The Only One Left by Riley Sager—I'm still on the very long library waiting list for this thriller. It concerns a teenage girl who allegedly killed her parents and sister at their cliffside mansion in Maine. Now an elderly woman debilitated by a series of strokes, Leonora is finally "speaking" out about the crime by writing her story on an old typewriter. As her home health care aide reads the pages, they become increasingly alarmed. Is the old woman as innocent as she seems or is she as guilty as sin?

2. Lakeview House by Helen Phifer—In desperate need of a new start, Maddy Hart impulsively accepts a position as a live-in caretaker at an imposing house on the shore of Lake Thirlmere. She's never been there before, but something about the place feels eerily familiar. Maddy tries not to be spooked by all the creaks and strange noises she hears while she's cleaning out the house, but the more time she spends there, the more creeped out she becomes. Are the sinister stories she's been hearing about the home's last resident true? Is Maddy in some kind of danger? Isolated and alone, she fears the worst...

3. What Happened to the Bennetts by Lisa Scottoline—I've never read anything by Scottoline, but I'm intrigued by the premise of this one. Jason Bennett is a regular dad whose ordinary suburban life takes a wild, unexpected turn one night as he's driving his family home from a lacrosse game. They become victims of a violent carjacking that puts them in the center of a dangerous FBI case. Encouraged to go into witness protection, the Bennetts are thrown into an entirely new life. As their peace of mind slowly unravels, new facts in the case come to light, convincing Jason that it's up to him to get the justice his traumatized family deserves.

4. The Death of Us by Lori Rader-Day (available October 3, 2023)—Fifteen years ago, Liss Kehoe responded to a late-night knock on her door and was shocked to be handed a newborn. The baby's mother, Ashley Hay, then disappeared. Liss has raised the boy she thinks of as hers, always fearful that Ashley will return and demand her son back. When the missing woman's car is found submerged in a quarry pond on Liss' property almost two decades later, it provides more questions than answers. What really happened to Ashley? Was it suicide, an accident, or something much, much more sinister?

5. The Nesting by C.J. Cooke—Tom Faraday is an architect bent on finishing the home he's building on a fjord in Norway, even though that's where his wife took her own life. He hires Gaia to be a nanny for his two young children. Although she loves the kids, she senses that something is very off in the Faraday household. Odd things are happening, leading Gaia to believe that Mrs. Faraday's death did not come by her own hand...

6. You Never Know by Connie Briscoe—In spite of its mixed reviews, I'm curious about this thriller. It revolves around a deaf woman who is delighted when she meets the man of her dreams. Not only is he charming and successful, but Marcus is also fluent in American Sign Language. It doesn't take long, though, before he seems to become a completely different person. Some sleuthing on her part reveals that her husband's first wife is missing, presumed dead. Then, Marcus himself disappears. Who is the stranger she married, really? And where has he gone?

7. The Midnight House by Amanda Geard—This triple-timeline mystery revolves around Blackwater Hall, a graceful, secret-filled home in County Kerry, Ireland. Will a modern-day disgraced journalist be able to solve its mysteries?

8. Into the Dark by Fiona Cummins—Something odd has happened at beautiful, windswept Seawings. The home's occupants—two parents and two teens—have vanished. When a friend enters, she finds a radio playing, phones charging, cars in the garage, and no one home. A sinister message scrawled on one of the bedroom walls hints that something unspeakable has happened, but what?

9. The Engagement Party by Darby Kane—Twelve years ago, a young woman went missing from her posh school and one of her classmates, a boy no one really knew, took his own life. One text indicated there was a connection between them, which closed the case for the police. Now, a group of college friends have gathered on a private island in Maine to celebrate an upcoming wedding. Someone is using the party as a chance to force out the truth about what really happened a dozen years ago. As the tension ramps up, so does a storm that will strand them all with a killer who has already gotten away with murder once.

Dirty Laundry by Disha Bose—This cover is a bit of a departure from the others, but it's got a house and water so it counts, right? The story is about a group of moms in an Irish village whose lives are shattered when one of their own is found murdered in her home. Ciara's Instagram-worthy life seemed absolutely perfect, so who could possibly have wanted her dead? A whole lot of people as it turns out...

There you are, ten mystery/thrillers I want to read that have covers featuring a house and water. Have you read any of them? What did you think? Which others can you think of that fit with the theme? I'm always looking for recs! What did you do for this watery prompt? I'd truly love to know. Leave me a comment on this post and I will gladly return the favor on your blog. I also reply to comments left here.

Happy TTT!

Thursday, August 24, 2023

Unique Amusement Park Setting + Engrossing Plot + Likable Characters = A Fun, Heartfelt Middle Grade Debut Novel

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

When 12-year-old Lauren Suszek is abandoned by her mother in an amusement park, she's not sure what to do. It's clear her mom isn't coming back and Lauren sure as heck doesn't want to go into foster care. With no other alternative, she decides to hide in the park until she can come up with a better plan. "Borrowing" a uniform and a name tag designating her as "Mouse," she sets about imitating an employee, albeit one who secretly lives inside one of the rides in Ghost Town. 

Things are going along rather swimmingly until a nosy girl starts poking around. Not only does Cat seem to know exactly who "Mouse" really is, but she's obviously determined to rat her out to the authorities. Lauren refuses to be caught. She's become an expert at hiding in plain sight. Will her camouflaging skills be enough to keep her out of trouble now, when it matters most? Or will Cat be able to trap the wily Mouse once and for all?

Have you ever thought about what it would be like to live in a busy, magical amusement park? Maura Jortner has. Her debut novel,102 Days of Lying About Lauren, was inspired by a trip she took to Disney World in which she started imagining living inside the Haunted Mansion attraction. Although the park in the book is never named, it has all the sparkly enchantment of The Happiest Place on Earth. It's a fun setting for this heartfelt story. Lauren is a sympathetic heroine, but she's likable because she's hopeful, funny, and compassionate (even though dealing with other people's emotions triggers her own anxiety). She's also a giver, appointing herself as a park janitor so that she can give back to her adopted home, instead of just taking from it. Although I would have liked more details about how she survives on a day-to-day basis, there are enough there to make her situation believable. Ish. Would a 12-year-old (even one who looks like a 16-year-old) really be able to fly under the radar for so long without attracting any attention? Who knows, but it makes for a compelling story! Speaking of, there's plenty of action in the novel, which makes it a quick, exciting read. I buzzed through it in one evening. Lest you think there's no substance in 102 Days of Lying About Lauren, let me assure you that there's plenty. Both Lauren and her best park pal, Tanner, are dealing with grief and trauma that lead to anxiety, panic attacks, and sadness. They help each other cope. In the end, as part of the book's realistic but satisfying ending, trustworthy adults also step in to aid the kids.

Despite some heavy subject matter, 102 Days of Lying About Lauren is exciting, humorous, and buoyant. Because of its unique setting, likable characters, engrossing plot, and upbeat vibe, this is a book that young readers will love. I'm hardly its target audience, but I enjoyed the book immensely.

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


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for scary situations and scenes of peril

To the FTC, with love: I bought a copy of 102 Days of Lying About Lauren with a portion of the millions I make from my lucrative career as a book blogger. Ha ha.

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