Thursday, October 31, 2019

107. Force of Nature by Jane Harper

#2 Aaron Falk/ Australia
listened on Audible, which I own
narrated  by Stephen Shanahan
Unabridged audio (9:03)
2018 Flatiron Books
326 pgs.
Adult Mystery
Finished 10/31/2019
Goodreads rating: 3.83 - 54,666 ratings
My rating:  3.5
Setting: Wilderness, Australia

First line/s:  "Later, the four remaining women could only agree on two things.  One:  No one saw the bushland swallow up Alice Russell.  And two:  Alice had a mean streak so mean it could cut you."

My comments:  In this second of the Aaron Falk series, we find him hunting information on a missing woman in the tangled mysterious almost unknown forests of Australia, a woman who was separated from her group at a corporate retreat.  The story flip-flops back-and-forth between the rescue attempt and a detailed account of what happened to the five women, until both stories join together at the end of the book  Interesting, but a little overly long.  The setting was its own character, I always like that in a story.

Goodreads synopsis:  Five women reluctantly pick up their backpacks and start walking along a muddy track.
          Only four come out on the other side.
          The hike through the rugged Giralang Ranges is meant to take the office colleagues out of their air-conditioned comfort zone and encourage teamwork and resilience. At least, that's what the corporate retreat website advertises.
          Federal Police investigator Aaron Falk has a keen interest in the whereabouts of the missing hiker, Alice Russell. Because Alice knew secrets, about the company she worked for and the people she worked with.
          The four returning women tell Falk a tale of fear, violence and fractured trust during their days in the remote Australian bushland. And as Falk delves into the disappearance of Alice, he begins to suspect some dangers ran far deeper than anyone knew.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Picture Book - Our Eight Nights of Hanukkah by Michael J. Rosen

Illustrated by DyAnne DiSalvo-Ryan
2000, Holiday House
Seems to be out-of-print
32 pgs.
Goodreads rating:  3.92 - 25 ratings
My rating:  5
Endpapers: azure

1st line/s:  "The very first night of Hanukkah, we polish the silver menorah that was my great-grandma's.  She brought it from Russia maybe a hundred years ago!  It's the oldest thing in the house, I think.  We all say the prayers together as we light the shammash -- that's the tallest candle -- and touch it to the first night's candle."

My comments:  A child tells of his family's traditional "doings" on each of the eight nights of Hanukkah.  Not only does it include all sorts of Hanukkah traditions, it includes how they celebrate with theiri non-Jewish friends so that Christmas is not ignored, but included slightly in three different places in this excellent story.  A bit long for 3-year-olds, but great for 4 and up.

Goodreads:   For Jewish families around the world, the eight nights of Hanukkah are unlike any others. For this family each night is an occasion to share cherished traditions such as lighting the menorah with family and friends. It's also a time to have fun dancing at the temple's big Hanukkah party, playing with dreidels and chocolate coins, and eating delicious latkes. This joyful celebration of Hanukkah miracles, great and small, presents a heartwarming picture of one family's festivities from the first night of the Festival of Lights to the last.

Picture Book - Pippa's Passover Plate by Vivian Kirkfield

Illustrated by Jill Weber
2019, Holiday House
HC $17.99
32 pgs.
Goodreads rating:  4.26 - 87 ratings
My rating:  3
Endpapers:  simple line drawings of Passover and Jewish-related items (red on peach)

1st line/s:  'Hurry, scurry, Pippa Mouse, .
washing, scrubbing, cleaning house.
Passover starts at six tonight,
Seder meal by candlelight."

My comments:  The story is cute, rhyming, and fun!  But other than cleaning the house and talking about the Seder plate in general, the book tells nothing more of Passover.  It's written for very young kids, but even for Jewish kids, there's not very much about Passover or even why you'd need a seder plate.  And I have one huge unsolved question - how did the Seder plate get in the water?
     I also love the alliteration of the book title!

Goodreads:   An irresistibly adorable mouse tries to find her Passover plate before sundown when the Seder begins in this colorful Jewish holiday story.
          An enchanting mouse scours her cozy, miniature home for her Passover Seder plate with no luck. Sundown is near and the Passover celebration will begin soon. Pippa Mouse must venture out and be brave to ask a cat, a snake, and an owl for help. To her surprise not only are the animals helpful in tracing her plate to the pond, they become her Passover Seder guests. A spread at the end of the book shows the Passover plate with its six essential symbolic items: zeroah (a roasted bone), beitzah, (an egg), maror and charoset (bitter herbs), chazeret (mortar or paste), and karpas (a spring vegetable). 

Sunday, October 27, 2019

106. Summer Frost by Blake Crouch

listened on Audible
narrated  by Rosa Salazar
Unabridged audio (2:19)
2019, Amazon Original Stories
75 pgs.
Adult SciFi
Finished 10/27/2019
Goodreads rating: 4.10 - 4795 ratings
My rating:  1
Setting: Dystopian San Francisco

First line/s:  "I watched her steal the Maserati twenty minutes ago in broad daylight from the Fairmont Hotel."

My comments:   This was a short story from a collection of six, and I didn't really like it.  Maybe because it was so short it didn't flesh out the plot enough, so I didn't follow some of it.  Oh well, this is an author I really enjoy and this won't put me off for another.  Maybe I'll try listening again when I'm in a different mood?

Goodreads synopsis:  A video game developer becomes obsessed with a willful character in her new project, in a mind-bending exploration of what it means to be human by the New York Times bestselling author of Recursion.
          Maxine was made to do one thing: die. Except the minor non-player character in the world Riley is building makes her own impossible decision—veering wildly off course and exploring the boundaries of the map. When the curious Riley extracts her code for closer examination, an emotional relationship develops between them. Soon Riley has all new plans for her spontaneous AI, including bringing Max into the real world. But what if Max has real-world plans of her own?
          Blake Crouch’s Summer Frost is part of Forward, a collection of six stories of the near and far future from out-of-this-world authors. Each piece can be read or listened to in a single thought-provoking sitting.

105. The Time Collector by Gwendolyn Womack

read on my iPhone/ have on Kindle
2019, Picador
352 pgs.
Adult Time Traveling Mystery
Finished 10/27/2019
Goodreads rating: 3.97 - 553 ratings
My rating:  2
Setting:  New Orleans and all over the world

First line/s:  "Roan took off his gloves like a man about to duel."

My comments:  Nope.  Didn't do it for me at all.  Too forced and stilted?  Thought the story sticks with me....

Goodreads synopsis:  Travel through time with the touch of a hand.
          Roan West was born with an extraordinary gift: he can perceive the past of any object he touches. A highly skilled pyschometrist, he uses his talents to find and sell valuable antiques, but his quiet life in New Orleans is about to change. Stuart, a fellow pyschometrist and Roan’s close friend, has used his own abilities to unearth several out-of-place-artifacts or “ooparts”—like a ring that once belonged to the seventeenth-century mathematician and philosopher RenĂ© Descartes, but was found buried in prehistoric bedrock.
          The relics challenge recorded history, but soon after the discovery, Stuart disappears, making him one of several psychometrists who have recently died or vanished without a trace. When Roan comes across a viral video of a young woman who has discovered a priceless pocket watch just by “sensing” it, he knows he has to warn her—but will Melicent Tilpin listen? And can Roan find Stuart before it’s too late?
           The quest for answers will lead Roan and Melicent around the world—before it brings them closer to each other and a startling truth—in the latest romantic thriller from Gwendolyn Womack, the bestselling, PRISM Award-winning author of The Memory Painter and The Fortune Teller.

Friday, October 25, 2019

Picture Book - Ode to an Onion: Pablo Neruda and his Muse by Alexandria Giardino

Illustrated by Felicita Sala
2018 Cameron Kids, Petaluma, CA
HC $17.95
32 pgs.
Goodreads rating:  4.27 - 128 ratings
My rating:  5 Love, love, love...
Endpapers: Thick ONION SKIN!

1st line/s:  "Pablo was hard at work, writing a long, sad poem.  His pen whirled.  the pages piled high."

My comments: Within this very cool picture book is the story of a friendship/relationship, how to begin thinking about a poem, and beautiful words.  It ends with Neruda's actual "ode to the Onon" (in both English and Spanish!) and a paragraph about Pablo and Matilde's relationship.  Outstanding biography!

Goodreads: A poetic, beautifully illustrated picture book inspired by Ode to the Onion by Chilean poet Pablo Neruda (1904–1973).  Pablo has a lunch date with his friend Matilde, who shows the moody poet her garden. Where Pablo sees conflict and sadness, Matilde sees love and hope. The story is less a biography of Neruda and his muse, Matilde Urrutia (1912–1985), and more a simple ode to a vegetable that is humble and luminous, dark and light, gloomy and glad, full of grief and full of joy—just like life.
A Junior Library Guild Selection.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

104. Beyond the Night by Joss Ware and Colleen Gleason

listened to Audible via CHIRP
narrated  by Sebastian Fields
Unabridged audio (10:34)
2000, Harper Collins
357 pgs.
Adult Dystopia/Romance
Finished 10/24/2019
Goodreads rating: 3.60 - 1588 ratings
My rating:  1.5
Setting:  Future Las Vegas

First line/s:  " 'She went after them!" Elliot Drake exclaimed as he jumped over a half wall to join two of his four companions."

My comments:  I don't understand why they would put such a misleading cover on this book.  I think it would encourage many people who would enjoy the story NOT to read it.  I totally look forward to good character development in a story, and this really didn't have much of that.  It is the basis for a really good dystopian adventure, but it's too much telling and very little showing.  Even the parts that are supposed to be steamy aren't very steamy, IMO.  All in all, a very disappointing book.  The story outline is excellent, but it's written very badly.

Goodreads synopsis:  A man with no future . . .
          When Dr. Elliott Drake wakes from a mysterious fifty-year sleep, the world as he knew it is gone. Cities are now desolate, and civilization is controlled by deadly immortals. Stranger still is Elliott's extraordinary new "gift"--he has the power to heal, but it comes with fatal consequences.
          A woman with a past . . .
          Jade barely escaped the immortals and is now hell-bent on revenge. She trusts no one . . . until Elliott. His piercing gaze and tempting touch shatter her defenses, but the handsome doctor seems to have dangerous secrets of his own. Is it safe to trust him with her heart?
If they are to survive in this dark new world, Jade and Elliott must work together to fight the forces that take them beyond danger.
           Beyond desire.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

103. In Plain Sight by Linda Castillo

#10.5 Kate Burkholder, Ohio Amish Country Chief of Police
listened on my iPhone - own on Audible
narrated  by Kathleen McInerney
Unabridged audio (1:51)
2019 Minotaur Books
67 pgs.
Adult Murder Mystery in a series - short story
Finished 10/22/19
Goodreads rating: 4.01 - 954 ratings
My rating: 3.5
Setting: contemporary Painters Mill, Ohio

First line/s: "Darkness pressed down on him with an almost physical force."

My comments:
A straight-forward, simple-to-solve short story /novella set in familiar Kate Burkholder territory in Amish Country/Painters Mill, Ohio.  In this one it's nice to discover that the victim, for once, doesn't die, despite horrific injuries.  In this one, an Englisher high schooler and an Amish boy on rumspringa are dating.

Goodreads synopsis:  From Linda Castillo, the New York Times bestselling author of A Gathering of Secrets, comes a new Kate Burkholder short mystery, In Plain Sight: a story of star-crossed love and murder in Amish country.
          Seventeen year old Amish boy, Noah Kline, is struck by a car as he walks alongside a dark country road late one night in Painters Mill. Seriously injured, he lapses into a coma. Initially, Chief of Police Kate Burkholder believes it’s a straightforward hit and run, a driver that panicked and fled. But evidence soon emerges that the incident wasn’t accidental at all--and Kate uncovers a story of teenage passion and jealousy that may have led to attempted murder.

Saturday, October 19, 2019

102. Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman

#2 Arc of a Scythe
listened on my iPhone, purchased on Audible
narrated by Greg Tremblay
Unabridged audio (13:02)
2018 Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
513 pgs.
YA Dystopia/Fantasy
Finished 10/19/2019
Goodreads rating: 4.52 - 42,389 ratings
My rating: 5

First line/s:  "How fortunate I am among the sentient to know my purpose.  I serve human kind.  I am the child who has become the parent.  The creations that aspires towards creator."

My comments:  In the year after Citra and Rowan become scythes, Rowan is on the run, killing scythes that are not doing their gleaning fairly, and Citra has created her own way to compassionately do her job.  There's a new protagonist, Grayson, who is a particularly good person and we hear a lot from the Thunderhead, the artificial intelligence that runs everything and everyone on the planet except for the scythes.  In the ultimate battle between good and bad we have to wait for the final chapter knowing that the bad are on the winning side.  What a tense, thrilling journey is this book!  Glad I don't have to wait too long for the final installment.

Goodreads synopsis:  Rowan has gone rogue, and has taken it upon himself to put the Scythedom through a trial by fire. Literally. In the year since Winter Conclave, he has gone off-grid, and has been striking out against corrupt scythes—not only in MidMerica, but across the entire continent. He is a dark folk hero now—“Scythe Lucifer”—a vigilante taking down corrupt scythes in flames.
          Citra, now a junior scythe under Scythe Curie, sees the corruption and wants to help change it from the inside out, but is thwarted at every turn, and threatened by the “new order” scythes. Realizing she cannot do this alone—or even with the help of Scythe Curie and Faraday, she does the unthinkable, and risks being “deadish” so she can communicate with the Thunderhead—the only being on earth wise enough to solve the dire problems of a perfect world. But will it help solve those problems, or simply watch as perfection goes into decline?

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

101. Driven to Distraction by Lori Foster

listened to Audio, but also have on Kindle for some strange reason...
narrated  by John Lane
Unabridged audio (9:20)
2018, HQN
384 pgs.
Finished 10/16/2019
Goodreads rating:  3.95 - 1785 ratings
My rating:  1.5

First line/s:  "Mary Daniels huffed as she continued to climb the rock path on the hillside, her briefcase in hand."

My comments:  One of the most forgettable books I've ever read.  All telling, no showing.  Macho men - either goody-goody characters of badly bad, right down to the perfect pooch, who the extremely deep-voiced supposed hunk talks to using baby talk.  The narrator, a good reader, had such a deep voice that I could not alight it with the character that was drawn by the author.  For me, this book was a mess.  And the plot?   Ridiculous.

Goodreads synopsis:  When desire gets this hot, you’d better buckle up…
          Mary Daniels doesn’t let anything get in the way of her job acquiring rare artifacts for her wealthy boss. But this particular obstacle—huge, hard-muscled, unashamedly masculine—is impossible to ignore. Stuck in a cramped car with Brodie Crews for hours en route to their new assignment, Mary feels her carefully crafted persona—and her trademark self-control—is slipping, and she won’t allow it.
          Brodie can’t imagine what secret in Mary’s past has left her so buttoned-up, though he’d dearly love to find out. Maybe then she’d trust him enough to explore their explosive chemistry. But he needs this job, so he’ll play by her rules and bide his time…until an enemy determined to outwit them strikes and he needs to get close—in every way—to protect her. Otherwise they could lose much more than a precious collectible. They could lose it all.

Monday, October 14, 2019

100. Bloody Genius by John Sandford

#12 Virgil Flowers
read on my iPhone bought it on Audible
narrated  by Eric Conger
Unabridged audio (10:21)
2019, G. P. Putnam's (Penguin Audio)
384 pgs.
Adult Murder Mystery, from a series
Finished 10/14/2019
Goodreads rating:  4.33 - 6,989 ratings
My rating: 4
Setting: contemporary Minnesota state university

First line/s:  "Barthelemy Quill led his companion through the murk and up the library stairs towards his personal study carrel."

My comments:  I've got to admit that I had figured out the bad guy pretty early on, although I was surprised I did - just a little too much foreshadowing I guess.  And I'm still not happy about Frankie, don't know her at all, not enough, not for Virgil.....

Goodreads synopsis:  Virgil Flowers will have to watch his back--and his mouth--as he investigates a college culture war turned deadly in the latest thriller from #1 New York Times-bestseller John Sandford.
          At the local state university, two feuding departments have faced off on the battleground of PC culture. Each carries their views to extremes that may seem absurd, but highly educated people of sound mind and good intentions can reasonably disagree, right?
          Then someone winds up dead, and Virgil Flowers is brought in to investigate . . . and he soon comes to realize he's dealing with people who, on this one particular issue, are functionally crazy. Among this group of wildly impassioned, diametrically opposed zealots lurks a killer, and it will be up to Virgil to sort the murderer from the mere maniacs.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

99. Leave No Trace by Mindy Mejia

listened to Audio, borrowed from Bosler
narrated by Patricia Rodriguez
Unabridged audio (9:56)
2018/Atria Emily Bestler Books
352 pgs.
Adult Mystery
Finished 10/13/2019
Goodreads rating:  3.60 - 3640 ratings
My rating:  4
Setting: Contemporary Minnesota

First line/s: "By the time the boy in ward four attached me, I'd already nicknamed him "the Lost One" in my head."

My comments:  Set mostly in a mental hospital, this story is the tale of two young people and the mental legacies they receive from their parents.  As their stories begin to intermingle, my mind was in a constant state of "what would I do in this situation?"  I was quite caught up in the story. 

Goodreads synopsis:  From the author of the “compelling” (Star Tribune, Minneapolis) and critically acclaimed Everything You Want Me to Be, a riveting and suspenseful thriller about the mysterious disappearance of a boy and his stunning return ten years later.
          There is a place in Minnesota with hundreds of miles of glacial lakes and untouched forests called the Boundary Waters. Ten years ago a man and his son trekked into this wilderness and never returned.
          Search teams found their campsite ravaged by what looked like a bear. They were presumed dead until a decade later...the son appeared. Discovered while ransacking an outfitter store, he was violent and uncommunicative and sent to a psychiatric facility. Maya Stark, the assistant language therapist, is charged with making a connection with their high-profile patient. No matter how she tries, however, he refuses to answer questions about his father or the last ten years of his life
          But Maya, who was abandoned by her own mother, has secrets, too. And as she’s drawn closer to this enigmatic boy who is no longer a boy, she’ll risk everything to reunite him with his father who has disappeared from the known world.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Books About Muslim Life and Experience

Picture Books:

Clever Ali (Farmer) 2006 (4.5) folktale
Four Feet, Two Sandals (Williams & Mohammed) 2007 (4)
Malala's Magic Pencil (Yousafzai) 2017 (5)
My First Ramadan (Katz) 2007 (4)
My Name is Bilal (Mobin-Uddin) 2005 (3)
Night of the Moon (Khan) 2008 (5) Ramadan
One Green Apple (Bunting) 2006 (5)
A Party in Ramadan (Mobin-Uddin) 2009 (4)
Silent Music (Rumford) 2008 (4.5)
Snow in Jerusalem (daCosta) 2001 (4)
Time to Pray (Addasi) 2010 (4.5)
Under My Hijab (Khan) 2019 (5)

Middle Grades:

Other Words for Home (Warga) 2019 (3)
Shadows of Ghadames (Stolz) 2005 (5)
Under the Persimmon Tree (Staples) 2005 (4)

Young Adult:

Internment (Ahmed) 2019 (2)
A Very Large Expanse of Sea (Mafi) 2018 (4.5)




A Most Wanted Man (set in Germany) 2014 (5.5)
Mustang (set in Turkey) 2015 (5)
Sabah, A Love Story (set in Canada) 2005

98. I Am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes

listened on Audible/own
narrated  by Christopher Ragland
Unabridged audio (22:41)
2014 Atria/Emily Bestler Books
612 pgs.
Contemporary thriller
Finished 10/9/2019
Goodreads rating:  4.25 - 105,039 ratings
My rating: 5

First line/s: "There are places I'll remember all my life - Red Square with a hot wind holwing across it, my mother's bedroom on teh wrong side of Eight Mile, the endless gardens of a fancy foster home, a man waiting to kill me in a group of ruins known as the Theater of Death."

My comments:  This was a long one, over 600 pages and took about 22 hours to listen to the audio.  I think it is the way that it's written that most fascinates me.  the crux of the story is the hunt for a terrorist, but it gives all sorts of background and form to both the protagonist and the antagonist.  It is the story of an incredibly brilliant empathetic man who is also very lucky.  The story is a woven one, and it's woven brilliantly.  It gives you background without going from point A to point Z in order.  and every tiny detail is interesting...and believable.  AND well written.  I was mesmerized.  I loved this book, this story, this protagonist, this narrator.  22 hours well spent.  It looks like from skimming the reviews of this thriller that you either love or hate this book.  I just can't imagine hating it for some of the reasons given, and when I read the reviews I wonder if, for the most part, I read the same book!
     NOTE: Quite a bit of the book takes place in Bodrum, Turkey, a city I have visited.  Many of the descriptions really took me back and I could picture it perfectly.

Goodreads synopsis:  A breakneck race against time...and an implacable enemy. An anonymous young woman murdered in a run-down hotel, all identifying characteristics dissolved by acid. A father publicly beheaded in the blistering heat of a Saudi Arabian public square. A notorious Syrian biotech expert found eyeless in a Damascus junkyard. Smoldering human remains on a remote mountainside in Afghanistan. A flawless plot to commit an appalling crime against humanity. One path links them all, and only one man can make the journey.

Monday, October 7, 2019

97. Take Me by Bella Andre

Listened to audio via CHIRP
narrated  by Grace Grant and Ian MacLaren
Unabridged audio (7:56)
2013 Simon & Schuster
288 pgs.
Adult "Romance"
Finished 10/7/2019
Goodreads rating:  3.92 - 5028 ratings
My rating:  1.5
Setting:  Contemporary San Francisco

First line/s: "Me?  A model?  You've got to be kidding."

My comments:  80% sex, 10% Italy, 10% ridiculous self-loathing because you're a size 16 and don't think you're pretty.  absolutely ridiculous, see my eye-rolling.  Why do I waste my time?  LOL, I will again!

Goodreads synopsis:  A plus-sized woman finally gets the man of her dreams in this sexy contemporary romance from New York Times bestselling author Bella Andre.
          An appetite for sensual pleasures must never be denied...
          Lily Ellis has curves -- soft, beautiful curves. The kind of voluptuous body she fears Travis Carson, the man she's always loved from afar, would never crave. But Lily is about to be proven wrong. Her adventure begins when the demure San Francisco interior decorator agrees to model a plus-size dress for her fashion designer sister. Watching this sensual beauty move down the runway, Travis can't believe it's the same Lily he's always known -- and always rejected. In a whirlwind of electric attraction, Lily is soon moaning Travis's name in his bed, not just in her wild fantasies. But Lily is all too aware that she's nothing like his past lovers.
          Determined to beat Travis at his own game by guarding her true feelings, Lily partners with him on a business deal that takes them all the way to Italy. In the seductive warmth of the Tuscan sun, Lily plays a game of desire with the hot-blooded Travis. Will she be burned by an all-consuming ecstasy or will Travis open his heart to the sexy, exciting, and lasting love she has to offer?

Friday, October 4, 2019

96. A Merciful Truth by Kendra Elliot

#2 Mercy Kilpatrick, Oregon FBI
read on my iPhone (have on Kindle)
2017 Montlake Romance (See, I've being saying this is more a romance than a mystery!!!)
322 pgs.
Adult Mystery with a lot of romance
Finished 10/4/2019
Goodreads rating:  4.25 - 15,481 ratings
My rating: 2.5
Setting:  Contemporary rural Oregon

First line/s: "Police Chief Truman Daly slammed the door of his Tahoe and raised a hand to protect his face from the heat of the fire."

My comments:  This took me forever to finish, I slowly plowed through over a month's time while listening to others.  Mystery, yes, but also a great deal of romance, a little more than I was happy with.  The story was easy to follow and predictable.  Family means everything to mercy, no matter what injustices they enact.  It's a little nauseating.

Goodreads synopsis:  Raised by a family of survivalists, FBI agent Mercy Kilpatrick can take on any challenge—even the hostile reception to her homecoming. But she’s not the only one causing chaos in the rural community of Eagle’s Nest, Oregon. At first believed to be teenage pranks, a series of fires takes a deadly turn with the murder of two sheriff’s deputies. Now, along with Police Chief Truman Daly, Mercy is on the hunt for an arsonist turned killer.
          Still shunned by her family and members of the community, Mercy must keep her ear close to the ground to pick up any leads. And it’s not long before she hears rumors of the area’s growing antigovernment militia movement. If the arsonist is among their ranks, Mercy is determined to smoke the culprit out. But when her investigation uncovers a shocking secret, will this hunt for a madman turn into her own trial by fire?

95. The Alien's Mail-Order Bride by Ruby Dixon

read on my iPhone (have on Kindle)
84 pgs.
X-rated SciFi Short Story
Finished 10/4/2019
Goodreads rating:  3.90 - 2570 ratings
My rating:  2

First line/s:  Emvor/  "If there was one person I didn't want to meet at the spaceport, it was Sanjurel."

My comments:  A short story.  One-sentence summary, lol:  Blue-skinned, horned alien falls for tiny (compared to him) wife and throws off all his preconceived prejudices before consummating his marriage with steamy sex at the end of the book.

Goodreads synopsis:  Though still carrying the scars of his past as an intergalactic soldier, Emvor doesn’t mind the quiet of his chosen life as a farmer. He doesn’t even mind that most nights are lonely on remote Cassa, but he does need help around his farm. A mail-order bride from his homeworld seems like the perfect solution. She’ll be a tall, sturdy female to help with the chores and bear his children.
          Unfortunately, the person that arrives is Nicola. She’s small, delicate…and human. She also knows nothing about farming, and she's lied and deceived her way across the galaxy to get to Cassa so she can hide from those that would capture her. She's a problem, and also the most enticing thing he's ever seen.
          Now Emvor has to decide…can he keep the woman who’s nothing like what he asked for but is everything he needs?

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Picture Book - Under My Hijab by Hena Khan

Illustrated by Aaliya Jaleel
2019, Lee & Low Books
HC $17.95
32 pgs.
Goodreads rating:  4.37 - 597 ratings
My rating:  5!!!
Endpapers: Bright Pink
Written in quatrains with the second and fourth lines rhyming.

1st line/s:  "Grandma peeks into the oven
as a brown loaf of bread starts to rise
Her hijab is carefully folded,
like the crusts on my favorite pies."

My comments:  A more-than-excellent book, probably one of my favorites so far this year.  Should be read to all kids AND ADULTS!!!

Goodreads:  Grandma wears it clasped under her chin. Aunty pins hers up with a beautiful brooch. Jenna puts it under a sun hat when she hikes. Zara styles hers to match her outfit. As a young girl observes six very different women in her life who each wear the hijab in a unique way, she also dreams of the rich possibilities of her own future, and how she will express her own personality through her hijab. Written in sprightly rhyme and illustrated by a talented newcomer, Under My Hijab honors the diverse lives of contemporary Muslim women and girls, their love for each other, and their pride in their culture and faith.

Ice Planet Barbarians and Icehome Series by Ruby Dixon

#1 in a huge series called "A Sci Fi Alien Romance" :)
94th read in 2019
Listened to Audio via Chirp
read by Hollie Jackson & Mason Lloyd
Unabridged audio (5:51)
2015 self published?
188 pgs.
Adult Erotica SciFi
Finished 10/3/2019
Goodreads rating:  3.90 - 11,575 ratings
My rating: 4  Steam 4/4
Setting:  An ice planet far, far away....

First line/s: "Up until yesterday, I, Georgie Carruthers, never believed in aliens."

My comments:  How can you NOT read a book with a title like this?  And OMG, I'm totally embarrassed to say how much I loved it.  Science fiction, outer space, aliens, and a whole lot of really steamy x-rated "romance."  I couldn't put it down.  Incredibly superficial, but who cares?  I'm rating it a 4 because it's so embarrassing to rate a book like this a 5!
Goodreads synopsis:  
You'd think being abducted by aliens would be the worst thing that could happen to me. And you'd be wrong. Because now, the aliens are having ship trouble, and they've left their cargo of human women - including me - on an ice planet.
          And the only native inhabitant I've met? He's big, horned, blue, and really, really has a thing for me...
#2:  Barbarian Alien
:Liz and Raahosh
111th read in 2019
Unabridged audio (6:27) by the same readers as before
211 pgs.
Published in 2015
Goodreads:  3.96 - 7831 ratings

My comments:  I can't really say that I like the protagonist, Liz - she has a really raunchy sense of humor and it's a type of raunchy that I don't really like.  Very steamy for most of the book, and I do enjoy this very weird series.  This is the first one I've read in the Amazon Romance $6.95 a month deal - which I can't believe I'm trying out!  Me, romance!  This is a 3-4-5...3 for characters and 5 for steaminess, lol!
Goodreads Synopsis:
          Twelve humans are left stranded on a wintry alien planet. I’m one of them. Yay, me.
          In order to survive, we have to take on a symbiont that wants to rewire our bodies to live in this brutal place. I like to call it a cootie. And my cootie’s a jerk, because it also thinks I’m the mate to the biggest, surliest alien of the group.
          BARBARIAN ALIEN is a sequel to ICE PLANET BARBARIANS. You do not have to read both in order to understand the plot, but the story will be richer if you do!

#3 Barbarian Lover
Kira and Aehako
116th read in 2019
Unabridged audio (5:47 with the same two original narrators)
191 pgs.
Goodread ratings:  4.02 - 6469 ratings

My comments:  My favorite in the series so far, I like both Kira and Aehako a whole lot, and their adventure together is pretty cool.  Same amount of smut as the first two I've read, but enough interesting substance as well.  I'm really surprised at how much the author is keeping these characters interesting, and that I'm still enjoying them, this setting, this world, and all the descriptive language surround aroused body parts~
Goodreads synopsis:  As one of the few humans stranded on the ice planet, I should be happy that I have a new home. Human women are treasured here, and one alien in particular has made it clear that he wants me. It's hard to push away the sexy, flirtatious Aehako, when all I want to do is grab him by his horns and insist he take me to his furs.
          But I've got a terrible secret - the aliens who abducted me are back, and thanks to the translator in my ear, they can find me. My presence here endangers everyone... but can I give up my new life and the man I want more than anything?

#4 Barbarian Mine
Harlow & Rukh
#117th read in 2019
Unabridged audio (5:36)
182 pgs.
Goodreads:  4.10 - 6223 ratings

My commentsHarlow and Rukh live by themselves many miles away from the rest of the tribe, by the sea.  Rukh has never lived with the rest of the tribe and thinks of them as "the bad people."  This is the book where the babies start being born, and it is Harlow's baby that is born first, tiny and sickly.  she is  constantly concerned that Rukh will want to return to their solitary lifestyle.  Good story, the series is so incredibly addicting.  And I'm not even sure why!
Goodreads Synopsis:  The ice planet has given me a second lease on life, so I'm thrilled to be here. Sure, there's no cheeseburgers, but I'm healthy and ready to be a productive member of the small tribe.
          What I didn't anticipate? That there'd be a savage stranger waiting nearby, watching me. And when he takes me captive, the unthinkable happens... I resonate to him.
          Resonance means mating, and children... but I don't know if this guy's ever been around anyone before. He's truly a barbarian in all ways, right down to clubbing me over the head and claiming me as his own.
          So why is it that I crave his touch and hunger for more?

#5 Barbarian's Prize
Tiffany & Salukh
#126 in 2019
Unabridged audio (6:05)
238 pgs.
GR:  4.02 - 4998 ratings
Finished 12/14/2019
My Comments:  Not as good as the rest, perhaps I'm getting tired of them?  Or is it that I'm not crazy about the female protagonist?  The book does end with the final female finally resonating - that should be the next one, and I bet it will be a good one, because they hate each other at the onset....
Goodreads Synopsis: It’s hard being the most popular girl on the ice planet. The alien men are falling all over themselves to impress me in the hopes that I’ll take them to my furs. But they don’t know my secrets – none of them do. And they don’t realize that behind my smile, I just wish they’d go away.
          I don’t want any of them. I want someone else – someone with a gorgeous blue body, big horns, and the most intense gaze ever. He’s the only one that knows the truth. Maybe with him, I can work through my fears of the past…. but I’m pretty sure he wants more than just friendship.
          He wants forever, and I’m not sure I can give it

#6 Barbarian's Mate
Josie & Haeden
#87 in 2020
Unabridged audio
207 pgs.
GR:  4.06 - 5848 ratings
Finished 5/31/2020
My Comments:  It was nice to return to the land of the ice planet.  Josie, the female protagonist in this one, was so irritating for the first half of the book...  As soon as she finally resonated, she couldn't wait to find her mate, then went hunting high and low to each and every male resident no matter their age or appearance.  However, the one she resonated with she absolutely hated.  Not sure why.  And with all the words and rehashing it was still difficult to understand why.  So frustrating.  Oh well.  Ruby Dixon seems to be an incredibly prolific writer.
Goodreads Synopsis: 'Resonance' is supposed to be a dream - that's when your soulmate is chosen for you. And everyone on the ice planet has hooked up with a big, hunky soulmate of their own... except me. So do I want a mate? Heck yeah. More than anything, all I've ever wanted is to be loved by someone.
          Except that the soulmate chosen for me? My least favorite person on the darn ice planet. Haeden's the most cranky, disapproving, unpleasant, overbearing male alien... so why is it that my body sings when he gets close? Why is he working so hard to prove to me that he's not as awful as I think he is?
          I hate him... don't I?

Note:  There seem to be different orders.  I'm changing this to align with Goodreads.  Those read are in italics.
  1. Ice Planet Barbarians (Georgie/Vektal)
  2. Barbarian Alien (Liz/Raahosh)
  3. Barbarian Lover (Kira/Aehako)
  4. Barbarian Mine (Harlow/Rukh)
  5. Barbarian's Prize (Tiffany/Salukh)
  6. Barbarian's Mate (Josie/Haeden)
  7. Barbarian's Touch (Lila/Rokan)
  8. Barbarian's Taming (Maddie/Hassen)
  9. Barbarian's Heart (Stacy/Pashov)
  10. Barbarian's Hope (Asha/Hemalo)
  11. Barbarian's Choice (Farli/Mardok)
  12. Barbarian's Redemption (Elly/Bek)
  13. Barbarian's Lady (Kate/Harrec)
  14. Barbarian's Rescue (Summer/Warrek)
  15. Barbarian's Tease (Brooke/Taushen)
  16. Barbarian's Beloved (Ariana/Zolaya)
  17. Barbarian's Seduction (Marlene/Zennek)
  18. Barbarian's Treasure
Icehome Series by Ruby Dixon

1.  Lauren's Barbarian, 2017
2.  Veronica's Dragon, 2018
3.  Willa's Beast
4.  Gail's Family
5.  Angie's Gladiator
6.  Hannah's Hero
7.  Devi's Distraction
8.  Nadine's Champion
9.  Callie's Catastrophe
10.  Penny's Protector
Twas the Night Before No-Poison Day   
11.  Mari's Mistake
12.  Raven's Return
13.  Bridget's Bane

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

93. Machine City by Scott J. Holliday

#2 Det. John Barnes, Detroit Police Detective
Listened on Audible - my purchase
read by J. D. Jackson
Unabridged audio (9:21)
2018 Thomas & Mercer
Adult Dystopian Mystery
Finished 10/1/2019
Goodreads rating:  4.08 - 317 ratings
My rating:  3
Setting: Contemporary Detroit

First line/s: "Former Detroit homicide detective John Barnes sat on the wooden steps that led up to his porch, his leather tool belt unbuckled and set at his side."

My comments:  I was totally boggled by this book, really didn't have much of a clue about what was going on for most of the first 7/8 of the book.  If I hadn't read the first in the series I would really have been stumped.  Then the enlightening chapter and everything (more or less) came together I would not recommend this book to anyone who has not read the first one, and not to anyone who's only going to peripherally listen or read with just half a mind to it!  Difficult to rate....

Goodreads synopsis:  In this unputdownable thriller set in the new future, a detective enters the mind of a killer to find a missing child.          
          To ex-detective John Barnes, the machine is a dangerous and abhorrent addiction. The criminal thoughts it embedded in his brain helped him stop a serial killer, but they left him dazed—with pounding, murderous impulses. Having turned in his badge to salvage what’s left of his psyche, Barnes must return to the darkness at the request of his former partner. A little girl has gone missing. So has Adrian Flaherty, the detective in the kidnapper’s shadow.         
          And only Barnes can hear the clues.
          But the trail is more dizzying and more personal than he feared. The voices are revealing a secret only Flaherty could have known. They’re also telling Barnes that he doesn’t have long to live. To find the girl, he must listen closely. Because the clock is ticking…and Barnes’s mind is going fast.