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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 (4)
- North Dakota
- Ohio (1)
- Oklahoma (1)
- Oregon (2)
- Pennsylvania
- Rhode Island (1)
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- Tennessee (1)
- Texas (3)
- 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

23 / 100 books. 23% 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

61 / 165 books. 37% done!
Wednesday, July 26, 2023

Looking for the Perfect Summer Read? The Summer's One #MustReadBook 2023 Collaboration's Got You Covered!

Apparently this extreme summer heat is frying my brain more than I thought it was because I totally forgot to post about Summer's One #MustReadBook 2023. This is a fun annual compilation hosted by Carol over at Reading Ladies Book Club in which she asks a bunch of book bloggers what one book they would recommend for great summer reading. This is the second year I've participated in the event and I just love it!

Curious to see which books I recommended this year and last? Use the links below to check out the posts. I guarantee you'll find some tantalizing titles to add to your summer TBR list.

Summer's One "Must Read" Book, 2023

Summer's One "Must Read" Book, 2022

Summer's One "Must Read" Book, 2021

Summer's One "Must Read" Book, 2020

Summer's One "Must Read" Book, 2019


Tuesday, July 25, 2023

Top Ten Tuesday: The Mid Year Book Freak Out Tag

Even though I try to keep my Top Ten Tuesday (hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl) posts positive, I'm going to start this one by complaining about the heat because, WOW! Here in the Phoenix area, we're heading into the twelfth day in a row of temperatures above 115 degrees. Yes, really. It's awful. The air conditioning in my house is having trouble keeping up and the water in my backyard swimming pool is as warm as a bath. Ugh. With all the extreme heat warnings being sounded, it's clearly safest for me to stay home ( with a/c blasting and ceiling fans whirling) and read. Fine by me! I hope your local weather is less extreme than mine and that you're staying safe and cool this summer.

Like I mentioned, I'm going to give today's TTT prompt a wide berth since it feels too negative to me. (It even comes with a warning not to book bash!) The official topic is: Top Ten Most Recent Books I Did Not Finish (Feel free to tell us why if you want, but if you do, please be nice to the authors and don't tag them when you mention your post on social media!) Not every book is going to work for every reader, obviously, and that's okay. When I DNF one, it's usually because it has one or more of the following issues: a boring plot, characters I don't care about, clunky writing, or content that is too graphic/crude for me. 

In searching for an alternate list topic today, I decided to go with one I've seen lots of other book bloggers doing in recent weeks: The Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag. I'm not sure with whom this meme originated (Anyone know?), but it's a fun way to look back at what you've read so far this year and what you still hope to accomplish before the year ends. 

Out of the 103 books I've read this year, here are...

1. The Best Book You've Read So Far in 2023:

I'd say it's a toss-up between these two. 

2. The Best Sequel of 2023 So Far?

I've binged a bunch of Kelley Armstrong's books this year (six and counting), but The Poisoner's Ring is the one that stands out in this category. Armstrong's Rip Through Time series is just incredibly fun so far.

3. The New Release You Haven't Read Yet But Want To:

4. The Most Anticipated Release for the Second Half of 2023:

I'm reading this one right now and really enjoying it. It comes out on November 7.

5. Biggest Disappointment?

I usually really enjoy Megan Miranda's thrillers, but this one was a slog and peopled with characters I didn't care about to boot.

6. Biggest Surprise?

I don't read a lot of contemporary general fiction, but someone suggested this one for book club. I thought it might be a little silly, but it was actually quite charming. Also, funny, uplifting, and insightful. I enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would.

7. Favorite New Author (Debut or New to You):

I really enjoyed Daisy Darker by Alice Feeney, so I'll definitely be checking out her other books.

8. Newest Fictional Crush?

Book boyfriends are not my thing, but my favorite fictional couple these days is Detective Casey Duncan and her common law husband, Sheriff Eric Dalton. They're the stars of the Rockton series by Kelley Armstrong. I started the books a few years ago, but I finished the series this year so I'm counting it here.

9. Newest Favorite Character(s):

Enola Holmes, Sherlock's crime-solving younger sister, is pretty delightful!

10. Book That Made You Cry?

What Stands in a Storm by Kim Cross is about a series of vicious tornadoes that wreaked havoc on Alabama and Mississippi in 2011. While the book describes a lot of horrifying situations, it also focuses on how people came together in the aftermath to help one another search for missing loved ones, mourn the dead, clean up devastated communities, and heal from trauma the storms wrought. Those stories definitely had me choking up.

That's it for my mid-year reading assessment. How would you answer these questions? 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, July 18, 2023

Top Ten Tuesday: One-Word Wonders

Today's TTT prompt is nice and simple: Top Ten Books With One-Word Titles. Judging from most of the titles on my TBR list, I prefer mine longer, but there just happen to be exactly ten novels the list that fit the prompt. Huzzah! 

As always, Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the lovely Jana over at That Artsy Reader Girl. Click on over there and give her some love.

Top Ten Books With One-Word Titles On My TBR List

1. Above by Isla Morley—Like Emma Donoghue's Room, Above concerns a woman who must raise a baby in captivity. How does a mother protect and nurture her child in a world that is isolated and dangerous?

2. Artifice by Sharon Cameron—This YA novel is about a young Dutch woman who watches with horror as the Nazis buy up and steal her country's artistic treasures. Desperate for money to help the Resistance smuggle Jewish babies out of Amsterdam, she begins selling forgeries to the Nazis. It's a dangerous game, one that could end in her death.

3. Dust by Dusti Bowling—Plagued by asthma, Avalyn has been breathing easier since her family moved to a town with clean air. Then, a new boy moves in. Dirty and withdrawn, he's an instant target for bullies. Avalyn wants to befriend him, but she has trouble breathing around him, especially as his emotions seem to trigger swirling dust storms. Who is this boy, really? How can Avalyn help him? If she can't, will she ever be able to breathe freely again? 

4. Goldilocks by Laura Lam—With the Earth dying around them, humans must head for space if they have any chance of surviving. An all-female spaceship crew is ready and willing to colonize a planet in the Goldilocks Zone. If only they were the officially sanctioned team. When push comes to shove, they do what they have to and steal the ship. Almost immediately, things start to go wrong. How can the team save the world when they can't even trust each other?

5. Hester by Laurie Lico Albanese—This buzzy novel reimagines the life of the woman who inspired Nathaniel Hawthorne's famous heroine, Hester Prynne. When Isobel Gamble's husband leaves her in America with little hope of returning, the seamstress finds herself stranded and penniless in a strange new land. Nathaniel Hawthorne befriends her and the two grow close...and that's about all the plot summary offers in the way of story hints!

6. Homecoming by Kate Morton—An Australian journalist living in London returns to her homeland to be at the bedside of her ailing grandmother. While the elderly woman is in the the hospital, her granddaughter examines her attic, finding shocking information on an old unsolved murder. It's clear her family was involved in some way, but how? And why? The journalist is determined to find out.

7. Killingly by Katharine Beutner—Based on a real-life missing persons case that has never been solved, this historical mystery concerns a strange, quiet student who goes missing from Mount Holyoke College in the late 1800s. Her tight-lipped best friend might know more than she's saying. What secrets is she keeping? What really happened to Bertha Mellish?

8. Remembrance by Rita Woods—Juggling multiple timelines, this historical novel explores themes of slavery, racism, freedom, and hope.

9. Sheerwater by Leah Swann—As Ava drives toward her new home with her two young sons in the backseat, she's shocked to witness the crash of a small plane. She runs to help. When she returns to her vehicle, her children have vanished. Where are Ava's sons? How will she get them back?

10. Unmissing by Minka Kent—Merritt Coletto's idyllic life with her husband shatters forever one night when his ex-wife comes knocking on their door. She's been missing, presumed dead, for a decade. Shocked by her tale of abduction and terror, they bring her into their home. The longer she stays, though, the more suspicious Merritt becomes. Is Lydia telling the truth about where she's been for the last ten years? And what does she really want from her ex-husband and his new wife? 

There you go, ten books with one-word titles that are on my TBR list. Have you read any of them? What did you think? What are your favorite books with one-word titles? 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, July 17, 2023

Newest Miranda Thriller Not Very...Thrilling

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Ten years ago, two vans full of high school students ran off the road in the middle of a raging storm, plunging down a ravine into a swiftly-moving river. In the chaos, eight students managed to scrabble to safety. Ten of their classmates and two of their teachers did not. Wracked with guilt not just for surviving when so many others didn't, but also for some of the questionable actions they took that fateful night, The Eight reunite every year to mourn, to commiserate, and to ensure that their vow to never speak of what really happened that night remains unbroken.

A decade later, Cassidy Bent has had enough of wallowing in the past. The 28-year-old has a job she loves, a great new boyfriend, and a future that looks brighter than it ever has. After deleting the numbers of the other survivors, she has no intention of traveling to the Outer Banks for their annual reunion. Then, she receives devastating news: one of The Eight is dead. Not only that, but someone is talking to the press about the accident, hinting about dark deeds. With no other choice, Cassidy rushes to the North Carolina coast to meet up with the other survivors.

The Eight's reunions have always been melancholy; this one's turning downright sinister. Not only does Cassidy find a dead man's phone on the beach, but she also receives notes warning her to leave while she still can. And then there's the distinct feeling that someone is watching all of them...Who is targeting The Eight? Which of them is talking to reporters? What will happen when the truth about the accident gets out? With another vicious storm bearing down on the survivors, who will make it out alive this time?

I've read and enjoyed all of Megan Miranda's adult thrillers, so I always get excited when I hear she has a new book coming out. The premise of The Only Survivors sounded right up my alley, too. (In fact, it fits perfectly with the theme of my last Top Ten Tuesday list.) Unfortunately, Miranda's newest is just not up to her usual standards. To begin with, it's boring. Although the story toggles between past and present, hinting at sketchy decisions made ten years ago to ramp up the suspense, not a lot happens in the present, making the tale feel quite dull. In addition, Cassidy and her friends aren't the most charming bunch. They're not exactly unlikable, but they're not all that appealing either. I didn't feel connected to any of them. Also, the identity of the "bad guy" tormenting the survivors isn't much of a surprise. Although The Only Survivors kept me engaged enough that I finished it, I considered DNF'ing it a few times. I'm not sure why I bothered finishing it, honestly, because the ending wasn't any more satisfying for me than the rest of the book. Bummer.

(Readalikes: Reminds me of other books by Miranda as well as those by Carol Goodman, Riley Sager and Gilly Macmillan)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for strong language, violence, blood/gore, and disturbing subject matter

To the FTC, with love: Another library fine find

Saturday, July 15, 2023

The Bookish Books Reading Challenge: July Book Ideas and Link-Up (A Little Late!)


Happy July, everyone! It's the middle of the month somehow and I'm just now getting around to posting this monthly update. So sorry. Between traveling for the Fourth, having oral surgery, and trying not to melt in record breaking heat, I've been a little busy, I guess. 

I managed to read two bookish books in June:

I re-read The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson for book club. I loved it the first time I read it a few years ago and loved it again the second time. It was a hit with everyone in my book club, too. If you haven't read it, do. It's a lovely novel that emphasizes the power of reading, among other inmportant themes.

Although I was a rabid Little House on the Prairie fan as a kid, I didn't know much about the life of its author outside of the autobiographical elements in her books. Prairie Fires by Caroline Fraser talks all about Laura Ingalls Wilder's life as a woman, a pioneer, an author, and a mother. I found it very interesting. 

July is turning out to be a good month for me and bookish books. I started the month with this one:

Translated from Spanish, I Lived On Butterfly Hill by Marjorie Agosín is about a young girl living in Chile during a time of political upheaval. When her parents come under suspicion from the dictatorial government, they are forced into hiding and she is sent to live with an aunt in the U.S. Throughout the ordeal, the girl finds comfort in words and books. 

I'm reading this gem right now:

When a beloved but reclusive children's author who hasn't published in years suddenly announces a by-invitation-only competition that will reward one lucky winner with an unimaginably lucrative prize, Lucy Hart is stunned to find herself one of the competitors. The 26-year-old is desperate to adopt a vulnerable young boy who's floundering in foster care, but she doesn't have the money to provide the stable home he needs. Winning the author's contest could change both of their lives forever. What will she find when she sets foot on magical, mysterious Clock Island?

I'm loving everything about The Wishing Game by Meg Shaffer, from the gorgeous cover to the warm, likable characters to the intriguing plot. It's engaging and fun so far.

The audiobook I'm listening to right now also has some bookish themes:

Daisy Darker by Alice Feeney is a thriller about an estranged family who gathers at their grandmother's isolated manor for her 80th birthday. Nana is a beloved children's author and illustrator who's made a tidy fortune that all of her descendants want a (large) piece of. When she dies suspiciously, each of the party attendees becomes a suspect. Who killed Nana and why? And who's next on the killer's hit list?

What bookish books did you read in June? Which are you planning to get to 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!

Tuesday, July 11, 2023

Top Ten Tuesday: Reunited and It Feels So...Murderous?


Happy belated Fourth of July for those of you in the U.S.! I hope your holiday was safe, fun, and relaxing. My family and I celebrated in Utah, where we also attended a 3-day family reunion in honor of the 99th birthday of my husband's late grandmother. Such events can be wonderful opportunities to reminisce, reconnect, and even reconcile. On the flip side, they're notorious for simmering with tension, conflict, and drama. Is it any wonder novelists—especially those writing in the mystery/thriller genre—love a reunion setting? No matter how many times the trope is explored (and it seems especially popular lately), I always find it appealing. Whether it's family members brought together for a reunion, classmates reconvening to mark the passing of years, old friends celebrating a special occasion, or some altogether more sinister reason to gather, I'm here for it. Since today's Top Ten Tuesday topic is a freebie, I decided to focus my list on mysteries and thrillers on my TBR list that use a reunion of some sort as a backdrop. 

Before you scroll on, though, be sure to pop on over to That Artsy Reader Girl and give our hostess, Jana, some love!

Top Ten Mystery/Thrillers With Reunion Settings That I'm Dying to Read
- in no particular order - 

1. In My Dreams I Hold a Knife by Ashley Winstead—A college reunion turns deadly in this thriller about "six friends, one unsolved murder, and the dark secrets they've been hiding from each other—and themselves—for a decade."

Everyone In My Family Has Killed Someone by Benjamin Stevenson—I'm not entirely sure what the plot of this novel is, but I know it takes place at a family reunion at a ski resort. As the title suggests, it's about a family of killers and a fresh murder (I assume). Color me intrigued!

3. Friends Like These by Kimberly McCreight—Ten years ago, six college friends were involved in a deadly accident that almost destroyed them. Now, they've reunited for a luxurious getaway in the Catskills. It's a chance to reconnect as well as an opportunity to stage an intervention for the man who was once their charismatic leader. When one of the group dies and another goes missing, it becomes apparent that there's more going on here than meets the eye. As a local detective starts asking questions, secrets and lies come to the surface, exposing the dangerous web that tangles the friends together.

4. The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley—I didn't love Foley's The Guest List, itself a reunion novel, but I'm willing to give this book a try anyway. It concerns a group of college friends coming together for their annual getaway. As they arrive in the Scottish Highlands, a blizzard roars in, trapping them together. Tension grows, resentment simmers, secrets brew, and someone dies. Whodunit? 

5. The Girls Are All So Nice Here by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn—Ten years after she graduated from college, Ambrosia Wellington receives an invitation to a class reunion, along with a note that says: "We need to talk about what we did that night." As she receives increasingly ominous notes, it becomes obvious that someone wants to make her pay for her role in a deadly game she participated in a decade ago.

6. The Invite by A.J. McDine—A group of friends are invited to the posh country home of a charismatic woman they knew as teenagers for an exciting weekend reunion. When they arrive, their hostess is not in residence. There is, however, a corpse in the cellar. Where is Elle? Why is there a dead body in her house? What game is their enigmatic old friend playing this time?

7. What Have We Done by Alex Finlay—At Savior House, the group home that was supposed to shelter them, a trio of teenagers endured horrifying abuse, which bonded them forever. They haven't seen each other since then, but now someone is trying to kill all of them. Their forced reunion isn't want any of them want, but it might be the only thing that can save them all...

8. All the Dark Places by Terri Parlato—A birthday party brings together a group of friends for a night of celebration and fun. When it ends in the guest of honor's murder, Detective Rita Myers is called in to investigate. Everybody loved Jay Bradley. Who would want to kill him? And why?

9. The Reunion by Kit Frick—This YA thriller centers around the Merryweather family, an estranged clan who come together at a swanky Mexican beach resort for a wedding. It doesn't take long for tempers to boil, secrets to surface, and patience to snap. When a member of the family ends up dead, all the rest of them become suspects. 

10. Daisy Darker by Alice Feeney—The fragmented Darker family is brought together on a remote island to celebrate their matriarch's 80th birthday. As they're cut off from the rest of the world by the tide and a raging storm, Nana is found dead. An hour later, another family member is killed. Can the survivors figure out who is murdering their kin before all of them are picked off in a brutal game reminiscent of Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None?

There you are, ten mystery/thriller novels with reunion settings that I want to read. Have you read any of them? What did you think? What's your favorite reunion novel? What's the craziest thing you've ever witnessed at a reunion? 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 at BBB (although I'm still behind from previous weeks).

Happy TTT!

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