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2024 Bookish Books Reading Challenge (Hosted by Yours Truly)

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My Progress:

12 / 30 books. 40% done!

2024 Literary Escapes Challenge

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

- Australia (1)
- Canada (1)
- England (10)
- France (1)
- Indonesia (1)
- Ireland (4)
- Italy (1)
- Scotland (2)
- The Netherlands (1)

My Progress:

28 / 51 states. 55% done!

2024 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

My Progress:

23 / 50 books. 46% done!

2024 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge

23 / 50 books. 46% done!

Booklist Queen's 2024 Reading Challenge

My Progress:

48 / 50 books. 96% done!

2024 52 Club Reading Challenge

My Progress:

40 / 52 books. 77% done!

2024 Build Your Library Reading Challenge

My Progress:

27 / 40 books. 68% done!

2024 Pioneer Book Reading Challenge

15 / 40 books. 38% done!

2024 Craving for Cozies Reading Challenge

My Progress:

10 / 25 books. 40% done!

2024 Medical Examiner's Mystery Reading Challenge

2024 Mystery Marathon Reading Challenge

My Progress

12 / 26.2 miles. 46% done!

Mount TBR Reading Challenge

My Progress

26 / 100 books. 26% done!

2024 Pick Your Poison Reading Challenge

My Progress:

64 / 104 books. 62% done!

Around the Year in 52 Books Reading Challenge

My Progress

43 / 52 books. 83% done!

Disney Animated Movies Reading Challenge

My Progress

69 / 165 books. 42% done!
Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Top Ten Tuesday: Hot Summer, Cool Library Holds

Happy Tuesday, everyone. How's your summer shaping up so far? Not surprisingly, given that I live in the Phoenix area, mine is scorching hot! The high today was 111. Ugh. I've mostly spent the day inside with the air conditioner on high. Our backyard swimming pool has become a very popular place for family, neighbors, and friends. I'll definitely be taking a dip before the day's over. I hope you are staying cool while enjoying your summer activities. 

This week's TTT prompt is a popular, bi-annual one that I always skip: Top Ten Bookish Wishes. Basically, you're supposed to post a list of books on your Amazon wishlist and then, as people hop around to different blogs, they can grant your bookish wishes by purchasing them for you.  I already own more books than I can read in two lifetimes and, even if I didn't, I can't imagine asking my readers/blog friends to buy me books, so...time to go rogue. My creative juices aren't flowing very well today (dried up by the heat, no doubt), but I have some evergreen topics that I pull out for weeks like this. In anticipation of Cybils judging to come (fingers crossed that I get to be a middle grade fiction judge again) and the need to fulfill certain prompts for reading challenges, these are the ten books I have on hold at the library right now. Except for #1 and #11, I'm planning to pick them up this afternoon.

As always, Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the lovely Jana over at That Artsy Reader Girl.

Top Ten Eleven Books I Have On Hold at the Library Right Now

1. Middle of the Night by Riley Sager (available June 18, 2024)—I'm #31 on the waitlist for Sager's newest, so hopefully, it won't be too long before I have it in my hot little hands. 

The story concerns a man named Ethan Marsh who reluctantly returns to his quaint hometown to find the truth about the long-ago disappearance of his best friend. The boy vanished while he and Ethan were sleeping in a tent pitched in one of their backyards and has never been found. What happened to Billy? What sinister secrets lie beneath their idyllic neighborhood's pristine lawns and gentle facade?

2. Light and Air by Mindy Nichols Wendell—When Halle and her mother both contract tuberculosis in 1935, they are sent to a remote hospital in upstate New York to be quarantined with others like them. Although she is cut off from the rest of the world, Halle is surprised to find friendship, healing, and strength in her isolated existence. When her mother takes a turn for the worse, however, the young TB patient worries if either one of them have a future at all, let alone one outside the walls of the hospital. 

3. Anywhere You Run by Wanda M. Morris—In Jim Crow Mississippi, three men are savagely murdered after trying to help Black people register to vote. In the wake of the incident, a young Black woman is attacked. She fights back, killing the man who tried to hurt her. Knowing there's no way she'll be dealt a fair hand in Mississippi, she flees to Georgia to hide. Back in their hometown, the woman's older sister is also in dire straits. She takes to the road as well. As both sisters struggle to find safety, a man is secretly tracking them. What will happen when he catches up?

4. Deep Water by Jamie Sumer—This middle-grade verse novel centers on a young girl who is grieving the recent death of her mother. In an attempt to soothe her troubled soul, she decides to enter a 12-mile swimming race in Lake Tahoe. If she comes in first, she'll be the youngest person ever to win the competition. When she starts to struggle in the water, she'll have to call on every ounce of strength and fortitude she has in order to finish the race, let alone win it. 

5. Billie Starr's Book of Sorries by Deborah E. Kennedy—One of my IRL friends recommended this novel to me. It's about a single mother whose poor decision making has led to a chaotic life for her and her daughter. Now facing foreclosure on her house, the woman accepts a lucrative proposal. It doesn't take long for things to go awry. As she deals with her newest sticky situation, she finally begins to realize how life could be, if only she would learn to trust herself and take firm control of her own trajectory.

6. Trouble at the Tangerine by Gillian McDunn—Simon is tired of constantly being on the move. Unlike his adventure-seeking family, he wants to put down roots in a forever home. When a troubling theft occurs in his new apartment building, Simon worries the incident will be enough to get his family moving again. Determined to solve the mystery and keep his family in their new home, he sets out to do some sleuthing. Whodunit? 

7. With Prejudice by Robin Peguero—I need to read a legal thriller for a reading challenge and this one sounds intriguing. Twelve jurors from varying walks of life come together to decide the fate of Gabriel Soto, a young man accused of killing kind, free-spirited Melina Mora. The evidence is complicated, the jurors are flummoxed, and everyone has their own agenda. What will these everyday people decide as they face one of the most important decisions of their lives?

8. The First State of Being by Erin Entrada Kelly—With the Y2K crisis causing widespread panic, 12-year-old Michael Rosario is obsessing over two things: stockpiling supplies and wooing his crush, Gibby. When awkward Michael meets cool, confident Ridge—the first-ever time traveler—he gets a glimpse of what his future could look like. Ridge has a book that explains how to make it happen and Michael has to get it. No matter the consequences. How far will he go to get what he wants?

9. I Know Who You Are: How an Amateur DNA Sleuth Unmasked the Golden State Killer and Changed Crime Fighting Forever by Barbara Rae-Venter—Everyone seems to be obsessed with true crime these days. I value my sleep and my sanity, so I tend to avoid the genre altogether. I am, however, fascinated with the implications of DNA testing for genealogical purposes and beyond, so I'm all in for this book. Fingers crossed it isn't too disturbing!

10. The Luminous Life of Lucy Landry by Anna Rose Johnson—The titular heroine of this middle-grade historical novel is a French-Ojibwe girl who has just been orphaned by her sailor father's death at sea. With no one to care for her, she becomes the foster child of a mysterious Anishinaabe family of lighthouse keepers who care for a lighthouse in the middle of Lake Michigan. Although Lucy struggles with grief and fitting in, she's excited that she now lives very near the shipwreck (and treasure!) her dad spent his life looking for. If she can find what he always dreamed of unearthing, it will be sort of like having him back. When Lucy's future at the lighthouse becomes endangered, she grows even more determined to find the sunken treasure.

11. Darling Girls by Sally Hepworth—This thriller has been getting all kinds of buzz and it fits one of my reading challenge prompts for a book with "darling" in the title. Win-win. It's about three women who grew up together in a foster home with Miss Fairchild at the helm. Although it looked idyllic from the outside, their foster mother had strict rules and an unpredictable, no-nonsense approach to parenting. The trio escaped as soon as they could and have never looked back. When a dead body is found under the home where the girls lived, they reluctantly return to their hometown. Are they witnesses or suspects? I'm #11 on the waitlist for this one, so we'll see how long it takes to get it.

There you go, eleven books I have on hold at the library right now. Have you read any of them? What did you think? Are you a library user? What are the last books you put on hold? I'd love to know. Leave me a comment on this post and I will gladly return the favor on your blog.

Happy TTT!

Wednesday, June 05, 2024

Mormon Mentions: Dusti Bowling

If you haven't got a clue what a Mormon Mention is, allow me to explain: When I see a reference to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (known more commonly as the Mormons) in a book which was not written by a member of the church, I post it here. With commentary from Yours Truly. I'm no theologian, but I try to explain doctrinal issues as well as debunk myths and clear up misconceptions. Speaking of, I should probably make this crystal clear:  I do not have horns. I do not belong to a cult. My dad only has one wife. As does my husband. And, yes, people really have asked me all of those questions. Just FYI: mainstream Mormons haven't practiced polygamy for more than 120 years.

Everybody got that? Great. Let's move on ...

In Dust by Dusti Bowling, the main character and her friends have this conversation about a video one of them watched:

"What was it about?" I asked.
Nan and I looked at each other. "Mormon what?" she asked.
"Not Mormon." Dillon huffed. "Mormyridae."
I repeated the word. "Mormyridae. Mormyridae. How do you spell it?"
"Good spelling word," I said. 
"That's not why I thought you'd be interested."
"Well, what is it?"
"They're fish that produce electricity," he explained. "Also called elephant fish."

(Pages 177-78)

There's not much to say about this passage. It just made me chuckle!

Bowling's Newest Gut-Wrenching, But Hopeful

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Although Avalyn has severe asthma, the exuberant 12-year-old doesn't let it get in her way. Moving to an Arizona mountain town with clear, dry air has helped immensely. She suffers, but not nearly as much as she once did. She focuses, instead, on hanging out with her band of misfit friends, reading her beloved X-men comics, and ignoring the bullies at school as best she can. When a new boy moves to town, she senses he might be a perfect fit for her friend group of nerdy outcasts. The problem is that Adam constantly rebuffs her attempts. He insists on being a loner—a secretive, moody, intriguing loner. Avalyn longs to crack his shell. Underneath the tough exterior, she sees glimpses of a cool kid who wants to belong as much as she does.

Avalyn's never told anyone, but she's got a superpower of her own. She's always been able to sense people's emotions and Adam's are...intense. Whenever he gets angry or upset, his feelings stir up whirling dust storms, the kind that fill her lungs with grit, making it difficult for her to catch a breath. What is the cause of Adam's distress? Why is he so withdrawn? The more Avalyn learns about Adam, the more concerned she grows. What is he hiding and how can she help her new potential friend if she can't even breathe around him?

Dusti Bowling is one of my auto-read authors for middle-grade books. Her novels are warm, engaging, hopeful, and heart-full. Dust, her newest, is no exception. It's her most poignant, dealing as it does with some heavy subjects. Still, it's a beautiful, uplifting read about the importance of standing up for yourself and others.

Avalyn is a sympathetic character, of course. In addition to dealing with a debilitating health condition and other allergies that make her feel like she can never fit in, she's also the target of a group of school bullies that are unrelenting in their torture of her. The wholesome, supportive friendship that exists between her and her two best friends (also bullied outcasts) is the best part of the story. I also like that Avalyn has parents who are compassionate and involved. You also can't help but sympathize with poor Adam in his awful situation. The deep pain that all these kids feel from being ostracized and mocked is palpable, hopefully so much so that it influences young readers to make an effort to be kinder and more inclusive, both at school and in their broader communities.

Bowling makes a strong point about not just standing up to bullying and abuse, but also telling a trusted adult when something harmful is happening. It's only when Avalyn does both that she's able to create even a small amount of change. (Content warning: While Adam's situation is never described in detail, it's hinted at pretty heavily and there's one gut-wrenching scene where it is exposed in a way that, while not exactly graphic, is difficult. Hopefully, most kids won't understand enough to fill in the gaps since they, thankfully, have never been in such situations, but those who do get what's going on only too well may find it traumatizing. Caution should be used when recommending Dust to these readers.) 

Magical realism can be a hard sell for me, but I have to say it worked well in Dust. Even if that element isn't wholly convincing in the story, it adds to the tale by giving it more power and depth. It also brings something unique to a familiar plot.

While Dust isn't my favorite of Bowling's books (that would be Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus), I do think it's her best. The story is heart-wrenching, powerful, and important. It's one that affected me viscerally (especially the scene mentioned above), staying in my thoughts even now, months after I read it. I highly recommend all of Bowling's novels, but this one is especially affecting.

(Readalikes: Reminds me of other middle grade novels by Dusti Bowling)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for violence and difficult subject matter (physical/sexual abuse of a child, bullying, etc.)

To the FTC, with love: Another library fine find

Sunday, June 02, 2024

The Bookish Books Reading Challenge: June Book Ideas and Link-Up for Reviews

I'm late for another of my monthly posts for the Bookish Books Reading ChallengeBookish Books Reading Challenge. Is anyone surprised? I also only managed to read one bookish book in May. I shouldn't have any trouble meeting my goal of reading 30+ of them before the end of the year, but my progress has definitely been slow...and we won't even talk about how many reviews I haven't written. Yikes!

In May, I read this Beauty and the Beast retelling, which I enjoyed:

Beauty Reborn by Elizabeth Lowham sticks fairly close to the Disney version of the fairy tale, which makes it a tad basic. Still, it's a well-written retelling with more depth than you might think. (Content warning: there is some sexual assault, but it is handled thoughtfully, showing both devastation and hope, and never getting graphic.) On the bright side is the Beast's magical library, where he and Beauty spend many days in peaceful companionship. She's as big of a book nerd as Disney's Belle, so that's fun.

In June, I will be concentrating on completing books off of my lists for the 20 Books of Summer Reading Challenge and the summer reading challenge hosted by The Lit Homebody. I only have a few bookish books on my anticipated reading lists and I'm pretty sure I've mentioned them all on here already, so I'm just going to post the covers this time around. We'll see if I actually get to any of them in June.

The Underground Library by Jennifer Ryan

Why We Read: On Bookworms, Libraries, and Just One More Page Before Lights Out by Shannon Reed

I've been hearing good things from other book bloggers about the Wartime Book Club books by Lesley EamesLesley Eames. It's described as a heartwarming series about women coming together during World War II. I'm hoping to start the series sometime this summer.

How about you? What bookish books are you planning to read in June? How are you doing on your goal for the challenge?

If you are participating in the 2024 Bookish Books Reading Challenge, please use the widget below to link-up your June reviews. If you're not signed up for the challenge yet, what are you waiting for? Click here to join the party.

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Tress of the Emerald Sea by Brandon Sanderson


The Silent Sister by Diane Chamberlain

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