Saturday, February 29, 2020

39. The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider

read on my iPhone - Amazon Prime
2013 Katherine Tegen
335 pgs.
Finished 2/29/2020
Goodreads rating:  3.76 - 49,498 ratings
My rating: 4.5
Setting: Contemporary America

First line/s:  "Sometimes I think that everyone has a tragedy waiting for them, that the people buying milk in their pajamas or picking their noses at
stoplights could be only moments away from disaster."

My comments:  Terrific tale.  I loved being able to totally get into his head, to feel his back-and-forth feelings about his new disability, his friendships old and new, his future, and his past, his relationships during his senior year, trying to find his place in the world.  And, SPOILER ALERT: It doesn't have the typical "feel good" YA ending, but the ending works just's probably a lot more real than most YA CRF/romances.  I'm going to definitely look into other books by this author.

Goodreads synopsis:  Robyn Schneider's The Beginning of Everything is a witty and heart-wrenching teen novel that will appeal to fans of books by John Green and Ned Vizzini, novels such as The Perks of Being a Wallflower, and classics like The Great Gatsby and The Catcher in the Rye.
          Varsity tennis captain Ezra Faulkner was supposed to be homecoming king, but that was before—before his girlfriend cheated on him, before a car accident shattered his leg, and before he fell in love with unpredictable new girl Cassidy Thorpe.
          As Kirkus Reviews said in a starred review, "Schneider takes familiar stereotypes and infuses them with plenty of depth. Here are teens who could easily trade barbs and double entendres with the characters that fill John Green's novels."
          Funny, smart, and including everything from flash mobs to blanket forts to a poodle who just might be the reincarnation of Jay Gatsby, The Beginning of Everything is a refreshing contemporary twist on the classic coming-of-age novel—a heart-wrenching story about how difficult it is to play the part that people expect, and how new beginnings can stem from abrupt and tragic endings.

Friday, February 28, 2020

38. Collision by Victor Dixen

#3 Phobos
read the book - translated into English from the original French
originally published in 2016 in France
published in English in 2019 by Hot Key Books
725 pgs.
YA SciFi
Finished  2/28/2020
Goodreads rating: 4.02 - 1112 ratings
My rating:  4
Setting:  Mars, in the future

First line/s:  "I'm alone, even if the people who've lived with me through the most important moments of my life are all around me:  them, the Genesis pioneers - the space heroes - the condemned of Mars."

My comments:  Wow, what a trip.  Ups and downs and all sorts of craziness, bt I couldn't wait to get back to the story every time I had to leave it.  The first volume was the best, the most fun, but the intricacy of this last volume, number three, was also really interesting.  Victor Dixen has quite an imagination.  I don't   think it would hurt to look into some of his other writing, if I can find any.  The series was written in French and I'm so tickled that it was translated into English, even though it was difficult to get hold of copies and hasn't been published in Kindle or audio as far as I can tell.

Goodreads synopsis:  The third book in a heartstopping, high-octane new space series.
          The Genesis Programme reality TV show has brought twelve young astronauts to Mars, to face unprecedented hostility. An even greater danger is now threatening Earth, but the viewers are too glued to their screens and the rescue mission to see what is really happening. 
          Leonor is ready to risk everything to bring out the truth and warn the world. She can never admit defeat - but can she fight her last fight alone?

Thursday, February 27, 2020

36. The Year of Saying Yes by Hannah Doyle

listened to audio on Chirp
narrated by Zara Ramm
Unabridged audio (12:02)
2017, Headline
363 pgs.
Finished 2/27/2020
Goodreads rating: 4.21 - 723 ratings
My rating:  2
Setting:  Contemporary England

First line/s:  "If I cock up the next few hours of my life then I know I'm going to have to admit defeat."

My comments:  I really feel like I wasted my time with this book.  Yes, she did come out the other end being a MUCH better person, and there were certainly a few funny spots, but other than that it just went on and on and on.....

Goodreads synopsis:  Dear Readers,
          I hold my hands up: I'm stuck in a rut. For three years and counting I've been hopelessly in love with the same guy - and the closest we've ever got is a drunken arse grab (NB: this doesn't count). My favourite hobby is googling cats for spinsters and I'm sick of my shoestring salary that barely pays for my shoebox flat.
         I need a head-to-toe life makeover. Enter my 'Year of Saying Yes', which is where you come in. To help me sort out my sorry life, I need you to #DareIzzy. For the next 12 months I'll be saying 'yes' to your challenges, no matter how wild, adventurous or plain nuts they are. 'No' is not an option!
          Here goes... Wish me luck! I'm going to need it.
          Izzy x

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

37. Hot as Puck by Lili Valente

listened to audio on Chirp
narrated by Tyler Donne & Summer Roberts
Unabridged audio (6:39)
2017 Self-taught Ninja
330 pgs.
Adult Steamy Romance
Finished 2/25/2020
Goodreads rating:  4.04 - 4722 ratings
My rating:  4
Setting: Contemporary Portland,Oregon

First line/s:  "This is it, the night I'll look back on in fifty or sixty years and stab a finger at as the moment my life changed forever."

My comments:  This book was just plain fun.  A compassionate kindergarten teacher and a crocheting pro hockey hunk who have grown up next door to each other finally get together.  Lots of story and lots of super steam, a really cute book.  It's certainly not an Amish tale!!!  Would never be considered great literature, but it gets a five for entertainment value...and ooh la la, the cover!

Goodreads synopsis: The NHL's biggest bad boy is about to fall for the virgin next door...
          I am the world's biggest dating failure. We're talking my last date went home with our waitress kind of failure.
          But I have an ace in the back pocket of my mom jeans--my sexy-as-sin best friend, NHL superstar forward, Justin Cruise.
          Justin owes me favors dating back to seventh grade, long before he became a hotshot with a world famous...stick. So in return for my undying platonic loyalty, all I want is an easy-peasy crash course on how to be a sex goddess.
          How hard can it be?
          I have never been so hard in my life.
          The things I want to do to my sweet, kindergarten-teaching, mitten-crocheting best friend Libby Collins are ten different kinds of wrong. Maybe twenty.
          But I'm a firm believer in teaching by example, and by the end of our first lesson, we've graduated to a hands on approach to her education: my hands all over her, her hands all over me, and her hot mouth melting beneath mine as I prove to her there isn't a damned thing wrong with the way she kisses.
          Give me a month, and I'll transform Libby from wall flower to wall banger, and ensure she's confident enough to seduce any guy she wants.
          Problem is... the only guy I want her seducing is me.
          Hot as Puck is a sexy, flirty, friends-to-lovers Standalone romantic comedy from USA Today Bestseller Lili Valente.

Saturday, February 22, 2020

35. Worked Up by Tessa Bailey

#3 Made in Jersey
read on my iPhone/Chirp
narrated by Emma Wilder
Unabridged audio (6:48)
2016 Entangled Brazen
186 pgs.
Adult Steamy Romance
Finished 2/22/20
Goodreads rating:  3.98 - 1956 ratings
My rating:  2
Setting:  Contemporary NJ

First line/s:  "It was the type of place Samantha Waverly usually avoided."

My comments:  The attraction between the two protagonists was weird.  All SHE kept saying over and over was how huge he was.  A "bear."  /apparently pretty hairy, too.  And they both, at the beginning, had huge commitment issues.  Why?  There was so much left to the imagination, and with books like this...that have the physical stuff so implicitly recounted, who needs the other stuff left out?  Character development was nonexistent .  It did get extremely steamy about halfway in, but it was weird -much of the description from at least her POV seemed to be much more physical pain than anything else.  WTF?  A fairly crappy read.

Goodreads synopsis:  Factory mechanic Duke Crawford just wants to watch SportsCenter in peace. Unfortunately, living with four divorcee sisters doesn’t provide much silence, nor does it change his stance on relationships. But when a fellow commitment-phobe stumbles into his life, getting him good and worked up, he can’t deny his protective instincts.
          Samantha Waverly’s brother just put her in an impossible situation. The only way out? Marry huge, gruff, gladiator look-alike Duke—for show, of course. She doesn’t make promises—she knows too well how easily they can be broken—and this is no exception.
           As the blistering attraction between them grows, the lines around the no-strings relationship blur. But Duke and Samantha’s marriage is only for show…or is it?

Thursday, February 20, 2020

34. Heartwood Box by Ann Aguire

read the book, borrowed from Bosler Library
2019, Tor Teen
336 pgs.
YA Fantasy/SciFi
Finished 2/20/20
Goodreads rating:
My rating: 3.5/almost 4
Setting: Contemporary small town on Long Island, New York

First line/s:  "This is where hope goes to die."

My comments:  I really love the first half of the book, but then it started getting a little too weird.  Well, the first half was pretty weird, but interesting and believable in a fantastic way.  The second part weirdness was in that a group of highschoolers would do, act, and be believed in the way they were.  Oh well, I enjoyed it and it was great to pick up a real actual page and ink book for the first time in months.  I must try some more books by this author.  Very enjoyable (it was sort of "Stranger Things" in print....)

Goodreads synopsis:  A dark, romantic YA suspense novel with an SF edge and plenty of drama, layering the secrets we keep and how appearances can deceive, from the New York Times bestselling author.
          In this tiny, terrifying town, the lost are never found. When Araceli Flores Harper is sent to live with her great-aunt Ottilie in her ramshackle Victorian home, the plan is simple. She'll buckle down and get ready for college. Life won't be exciting, but she'll cope, right?
          Wrong. From the start, things are very, very wrong. Her great-aunt still leaves food for the husband who went missing twenty years ago, and local businesses are plastered with MISSING posters. There are unexplained lights in the woods and a mysterious lab just beyond the city limits that the locals don't talk about. Ever. When she starts receiving mysterious letters that seem to be coming from the past, she suspects someone of pranking her or trying to drive her out of her mind. To solve these riddles and bring the lost home again, Araceli must delve into a truly diabolical conspiracy, but some secrets fight to stay buried...

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

33. Everything My Mother Taught Me by Alice Hoffman

Listened to eAudio/Prime
narrated by Brittany Pressley
Unabridged audio (0:50)
2019 Amazon Original Stories
28 pgs.
Adult HistFict Short Story
Finished 2/19/2020
Goodreads rating:  4.05 - 4526 ratings
My rating:  4.5
Setting:  1908 coastal Massachusetts

First line/s:  "There are those that insist that mothers are born with love for their children and place them before all other things, including their own needs and desires."

My comments:  Read beautifully.  A very interesting short story taking place in 1908 on an island off Rockport, Massachusetts, of a hateful mother and the 12-uear-old daughter who has decided to go mute upon the death of the father she adores.  I wish it had been longer, I would've liked more development of the characters and plot because it was good. 

Goodreads synopsis:  In this haunting short story of loyalty and betrayal, a young woman in early 1900s Massachusetts discovers that in navigating her treacherous coming-of-age, she must find her voice first.
          For fatefully observant Adeline, growing up carries an ominous warning from her adulterous mother: don’t say a word. Adeline vows to never speak again. But that’s not her only secret. After her mother takes a housekeeping job at a lighthouse off the tip of Cape Ann, a local woman vanishes. The key to the mystery lies with Adeline, the silent witness. New York Times bestselling author of The Rules of Magic Alice Hoffman crafts a beautiful, heart-wrenching short story.
          Alice Hoffman’s Everything My Mother Taught Me is part of Inheritance, a collection of five stories about secrets, unspoken desires, and dangerous revelations between loved ones. Each piece can be read or listened to in a single setting. By yourself, behind closed doors, or shared with someone you trust.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Picture Book - The Universe is a Tree by Laura Filippucci

Illustrated by the author
2018, Creative Editions
HC $ 18.99
32 pgs.
Goodreads rating:  3.90 - 10 ratings
My rating:  5
Endpapers:  a beautifully drawn tree in greens on white, with two poems/quotes:  one fby Charles Darwin, the other from Katha Upanishad.

My comments:   Oh my gosh, I love this book.  I love trees.  I love short, clear poetry and meaningful quotes.  So both of those are covered really well...and the illustrations are glorious!  The short explanation about each of the trees is interesting and readable, so that you can read the entire book without skimming.  Hoorah!  I wish I could have the opportunity to see them all.  I think I'll start a buck list based on these trees...

Redwood (Trees are Creators)
Kauri (Trees are Ancestors)
Oak (Trees are Temples)
Cedar of Lebanon (Trees are Homes of the Gods)
Yew (Trees are Gates to the Beyond)
Kapok (Trees are Channels to Other Worlds)
Baobab (Trees are Givers)
Sweet Chestnut (Trees are Protection)
Olive (Trees are Bearers of Peace)
Ginkgo (Trees are Healers)
Banyan/Bodhi (Trees are Founts of Wisdom)
Bristlecone Pine (Trees are Keepers of Secrets)

"To be like these, straight, true and fine,
to make our world like theirs, a shrine;
Sink down, Oh, traveler, on your knees,
God stands before you in these trees.
          -Joseph B. Strauss, from "The Redwoods"
NOTE:  This is MY kind of god!

GoodreadsTrees are teachers, healers, protectors, creators. They keep secrets. They bring peace. This rich anthology of stories, proverbs, and poems about trees from around the world reveals that a tree's roots not only go down deep into the earth, but its branches also reach up and out into the universe, connecting us all, across time and space. May we peer through the forests of our imaginations to see the beauty and experience the awe that still arches over our world.

32. The Overdue Life of Amy Byler by Kelly Harms

listened to eAudio/Audible Prime (which was free, the audible was $1.99)
narrated by Amy McFadden
Unabridged audio (10:17)
2019 Lake Union Publishing
328 pgs.
Adult Romance
Finished 2/18/2020
Goodreads rating:  3.89 - 44,323 ratings
My rating:  3
Setting:Contemporary rural PA & NYC

First line/s:  "There are a lot of people you don't expect to run into in small town Pennsylvania."

My comments:  Equal amounts of likes and dislikes for this novel.  I loved all the talk about books.  Amy is a middle school librarian who also teaches at her private school, so there's lots of book talking.  There are journal entries from the 15-year-old daughter at the beginning of each chapter which are quite clever and enjoyable.  There's some witty banter between Amy and some of her blind dates.  And there's the wonderful setting of New York City.  But there are alos the for-some-reason-always included best friends that play a huge part in her life, who even in the middle of a life-changing situation she's....texting!?  Come on!  And then there's the ex/almost-ex husband, John.  I'm not exactly sure whey he decided to leave in the first place, its's never particularly clear.  He returns after three years of an apparently lucrative law practice in Hong Kong and he hasn't even paid a penny of child support, making Amy struggle all by herself for the entire time?  We're supposed to believe that all of a sudden he's had this huge change of thinking?  A little too hard to believe.  And although it was slow in places, some of the fun parts made up for those.  She even mentions LITSY!  No steam, which is just fine.  Not a waste of time, but it could've been time better spent...and it was cheap....

Goodreads synopsis:  Overworked and underappreciated, single mom Amy Byler needs a break. So when the guilt-ridden husband who abandoned her shows up and offers to take care of their kids for the summer, she accepts his offer and escapes rural Pennsylvania for New York City.     
          Usually grounded and mild mannered, Amy finally lets her hair down in the city that never sleeps. She discovers a life filled with culture, sophistication, and—with a little encouragement from her friends—a few blind dates. When one man in particular makes quick work of Amy’s heart, she risks losing herself completely in the unexpected escape, and as the summer comes to an end, Amy realizes too late that she must make an impossible decision: stay in this exciting new chapter of her life, or return to the life she left behind.
          But before she can choose, a crisis forces the two worlds together, and Amy must stare down a future where she could lose both sides of herself, and every dream she’s ever nurtured, in the beat of a heart.

Picture Book - Two Brothers, Four Hands: The Artists Alberto and Diego Giacometti by Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan

Illustrated by Hadley Hooper
2019, Neal Porter Books, Holiday House
HC $ 21.99
64 pgs.
Goodreads rating:  3.82 - 168 ratings
My rating:  4
Endpapers:  Deepblue

1st line/s:  1901 - 1918  "In the Swiss village of Stampa, surrounded by mountains so high that in winter their shadows fill the valley, live two brothers."

My comments:  This is the way I like to read history and a well researched picture book!  I've seen Alberto Giacometti's sculptures before, but didn't even attribute a name to them.  So this informative, easy-to-read picture book was perfect for me.  And although I was not super thrilled with the illustrations, they did tell the story of the two brothers well.

Goodreads:   The inspiring true story of the Giacometti brothers, one an artist, the other a daredevil, both devoted to their craft . . . but even more devoted to each other.
          Everyone who knew them agreed. Alberto was the genius of the family. His younger brother Diego was his opposite--he didn't care much for books or schoolwork, and he had no idea what he would be when he grew up. But despite their differences, the two brothers shared an intense bond.
          Alberto Giacometti became one of the iconic artists of the twentieth century, whose tall, spindly sculptures grace the collections of museums around the world. Diego was always at his side, helping and encouraging, and in his spare time creating remarkable pieces of furniture, works of sculpture in their own right.
          The poignant story of brothers and sculptors Alberto and Diego Giacometti is skillfully brought to life in the hands of multiple Sibert Honor authors Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan, and the spectacular artwork of Hadley Hooper.
          This lavishly illustrated 64-page book includes extensive backmatter, complete with a timeline, source notes, photographs, and an essay on how to look at a Giacometti sculpture.
Horn Book Best Book of the Year
Washington Post Best Children's Book of the Year

Sunday, February 16, 2020

31. Flight of the Sparrow by Amy Belding Brown

listened to audio/Audible
narrated by Heather Henderson
Unabridged audio (11:00)
2014 NAL
368 pgs.
Adult Historical Fiction (based on a real person)
Finished 2/16/2020
Goodreads rating: 3.96 - 811 ratings
My rating:  4
Setting: 1676+ Massachusetts Bay Colony

First line/s:  "Later, Mary will trace the first signs of the Lord's displeasure back to a hot July morning in 1672 when she pauses on the way to the barn to watch the sun rise burnt orange over the meetinghouse."

My comments:  Historical fiction, based on a factual person, Mary Rowlandson, who was captured by Indians in the Massachusetts Bay colony in the 1670s.  Though loosely based on the facts, we get a good glimpse of King Phillip's War and Puritanism in the New England in this time period.  Such harsh religious fervor!I would've never made it living in this time period without being beheaded.  I enjoyed listening to this, though I think there were many repetitious segments that could have been deleted.  I've been enjoying some well written historical fiction lately, and I hope I'll be able to continue to find more.

Goodreads synopsis:  She suspects that she has changed too much to ever fit easily into English society again. The wilderness has now become her home. She can interpret the cries of birds. She has seen vistas that have stolen away her breath. She has learned to live in a new, free way.... 
          Massachusetts Bay Colony, 1676. Even before Mary Rowlandson is captured by Indians on a winter day of violence and terror, she sometimes found herself in conflict with her rigid Puritan community. Now, her home destroyed, her children lost to her, she has been sold into the service of a powerful woman tribal leader, made a pawn in the on-going bloody struggle between English settlers and native people. Battling cold, hunger, and exhaustion, Mary witnesses harrowing brutality but also unexpected kindness. To her confused surprise, she is drawn to her captors’ open and straightforward way of life, a feeling further complicated by her attraction to a generous, protective English-speaking native known as James Printer. All her life, Mary has been taught to fear God, submit to her husband, and abhor Indians. Now, having lived on the other side of the forest, she begins to question the edicts that have guided her, torn between the life she knew and the wisdom the natives have shown her.
          Based on the compelling true narrative of Mary Rowlandson, Flight of the Sparrow is an evocative tale that transports the reader to a little-known time in early America and explores the real meaning of freedom, faith, and acceptance.

Friday, February 14, 2020

30. Blood Relations by Jonathan Moore

listened to audio/Audible
narrated by David Colacci
Unabridged audio (12:12)
2019 Mariner Books
357 pgs.
Adult Mystery
Finished 2/14/2020
Goodreads rating:  3.92 - 222 ratings
My rating:  4 (but 5 with a different narrator
Setting:  Contemporary San Francisco, with forays to LA, Mendocino, and Carmel - and Boston

First line/s:  "The first time I saw Clare Gravesend she was already dead."

My comments: Super interesting story, great plot and extremely interesting characters.  I loved the setting - from San Francisco to LA and all along the California coast including Carmel, Monterrey, Mendocino, all places I know fairly well and have a strong picture in my mind.  My biggest - and only - problem was with the narrated voice of the protagonist.  It didn't match what I would have considered his personality in even the slightest way.  His voice was deep, gruff, and much older sounding than I think he was supposed to be.  It threw me off completely with what I physically pictured and I didn't like that part of it at all.  And I think that means I have to take my overall rating down.  I would love to have another book in the series, but I felt the same way about the last book I read by this author and no second book as appeared for that one, either!

Goodreads synopsis:  Who is Claire Gravesend?
          So wonders PI Lee Crowe when he finds her dead, in a fine cocktail dress, on top of a Rolls Royce, in the most dangerous neighborhood in San Francisco. Claire’s mother, Olivia, is one of the richest people in California. She doesn’t believe the coroner: her daughter did not kill herself. Olivia hires Crowe, who—having just foiled a federal case against a cartel kingpin—is eager for distraction. But the questions about the Gravesend family pile up fast.
          First, the autopsy reveals round scars running down Claire’s spine, old marks Olivia won’t explain. Then, Crowe visits Claire’s Boston townhouse and has to fend off an armed intruder. Is it the Feds out for revenge? Or is this connected to the Gravesends? He leaves Boston afraid, but finds his way to Claire’s secret San Francisco pied-à-terre. It’s there that his questions come to a head. Sleeping in an upstairs bedroom, he finds Claire—her face, her hair, her scars—and as far as he can tell, she’s alive. And Crowe’s back at the start:
          Who is Claire Gravesend?

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

29. 10 Blind Dates by Ashley Elston

listened to Audible - TPPL eAudio
narrated by Sophie Amoss
Unabridged audio (7:51)
2019 Disney-Hyperion
336 pgs.
YA CRF Romance
Finished 2/11/20
Goodreads rating: 4.06 - 5417 ratings
My rating:  3
Setting:  Contemporary Shreveport, LA

First line/s:  " 'Are you sure you won't come with us?' Mom hangs out or the passenger window and wraps me in a fierce hug for the tenth time in the last ten minutes."

My comments:  A cute, predictable story about being a senior in high school with the whole world ahead of you.  There were touches of seriousness with the premature birth of her niece and the possibility of serious illness for her sister, but it was on of those that everything turns out just  great in the end.  A little too much of a huge, meddling family, a couple of pretty loud guffaws, and some serious eye-rolling in places lead to a perfectly acceptable read.

Goodreads synopsis:  Sophie wants one thing for Christmas-a little freedom from her overprotective parents. So when they decide to spend Christmas in South Louisiana with her very pregnant older sister, Sophie is looking forward to some much needed private (read: make-out) time with her long-term boyfriend, Griffin. Except it turns out that Griffin wants a little freedom from their relationship. Cue devastation.m
          Heartbroken, Sophie flees to her grandparents' house, where the rest of her boisterous extended family is gathered for the holiday. That's when her nonna devises a (not so) brilliant plan: Over the next ten days, Sophie will be set up on ten different blind dates by different family members. Like her sweet cousin Sara, who sets her up with a hot guy at an exclusive underground party. Or her crazy aunt Patrice, who signs Sophie up for a lead role in a living nativity. With a boy who barely reaches her shoulder. And a screaming baby.
          When Griffin turns up unexpectedly and begs for a second chance, Sophie feels more confused than ever. Because maybe, just maybe, she's started to have feelings for someone else . . . Someone who is definitely not available.
          This is going to be the worst Christmas break ever... or is it?

Monday, February 10, 2020

28. Conviction by Julia Dahl

#3 Rebekah Roberts, NYC investigative reporter
Listened to Audio on Audible
narrated by Andi Arndt
Unabridged audio (8:17)
2017 Minotaur Books
312 pgs.
Adult Mystery
Finished 2/10/20
Goodreads rating:  3.83 - 812 ratings
My rating: 3.5
Setting: Contemporary Brooklyn with lots of flashing back to the late 90s

First line/s:  "The little boy walked to the storefront church alone, with blood on his hands and face."

My comments:  Another story told though descriptions of different times related to the major incident of the story.  The summer of 1992 in Brooklyn, New York, and the present, what took place from different points of view - and how Rebekah is following up on all the information she is able to compile. I was really uncomfortable whenever it flipped back to 1992 because I felt so horribly sad the the 16-year old who was falsely convicted and then imprisoned for over twenty years.  And so, so so pissed a the cops!  It almost got to the point I didn't finish the book because I was so darned uncomfortable and pissed at the whole situation.  And Rebekahs's mother...geez!  Poor Rebekah, working so hard in the first two books to find and figure out her mother and now we discover one of the most unlikable people ever.  I've seen nothing about a book number four, and it's been a few years, so I wonder if one will be coming at all....

Goodreads synopsis:  New York City 1992: a year after riots exploded between black and Jewish neighbors in Brooklyn, a black family is brutally murdered in their Crown Heights home. A teenager is quickly convicted, and the justice system moves on.
          Twenty-two years later, journalist Rebekah Roberts gets a letter: I didn't do it. Frustrated with her work at the city’s sleaziest tabloid, Rebekah starts to dig. But witnesses are missing, memories faded, and almost no one wants to talk about that grim, violent time in New York City—not even Saul Katz, a former NYPD cop and her source in Brooklyn’s insular Hasidic community.
          So she goes it alone. And as she gets closer to the truth of that night, Rebekah finds herself in the path of a killer with two decades of secrets to protect.
          From the author of the Edgar-nominated Invisible City comes another timely thriller that illuminates society’s darkest corners. Told in part through the eyes of a jittery eyewitness and the massacre’s sole survivor, Julia Dahl's Conviction examines the power—and cost—of community, loyalty, and denial.

27. We Hope for Better Things by Erin Bartels

listened to eAudio - RBDigital/TPPL
narrated by Stina Nielsen
Unabridged audio (12:03)
2019, Fleming H. Revell Co.
393 pgs.
Adult Hidtorical Fiction told in 3 time periods
Finished 2/10/2020
Goodreads rating:  4.22 - 2440 ratings
My rating:  5
Setting:Detroit and rural Michigan:  1861-1871, 1963-1967, and present time

First line/s:  Detroit: July  "The Lafayette Coney Island was not a comfortable place to be early."

My comments:  This was one of those books I didn't want to put don't and I couldn't wait to get back to.  I love historical fiction that goes back and forth between points-of-view, and this one didn't disappoint. Told from the viewpoints of three strong women, all related, and dealing with the racism of the Civil War, 1960's Detroit, and present day, and how history can follow a family - and just how important a family's history can be.  Beautifully read, great characters, and a setting that is a hugely strong part of the story, a great story.

Goodreads synopsis:  When Detroit Free Press reporter Elizabeth Balsam meets James Rich, his strange request--that she look up a relative she didn't know she had in order to deliver an old camera and a box of photos--seems like it isn't worth her time. But when she loses her job after a botched investigation, she suddenly finds herself with nothing but time.
          At her great-aunt's 150-year-old farmhouse, Elizabeth uncovers a series of mysterious items, locked doors, and hidden graves. As she searches for answers to the riddles around her, the remarkable stories of two women who lived in this very house emerge as testaments to love, resilience, and courage in the face of war, racism, and misunderstanding. And as Elizabeth soon discovers, the past is never as past as we might like to think.
          Debut novelist Erin Bartels takes readers on an emotional journey through time--from the volatile streets of 1960s Detroit to the Underground Railroad during the Civil War--to uncover the past, confront the seeds of hatred, and discover where love goes to hide.

Saturday, February 8, 2020

Picture Book: Crow Not Crow by Jane Yolen and Adam Stemple

Illustrated by Elizabeth Dulemba
2018 The Cornell Lab Publishing Group
HC $16.95
36 pgs.
Goodreads rating: 3.93 - 120 ratings
My rating:  5/Excellent
Endpapers:Deb Grocery Bag Brown

1st line/s:  "The first day Dad took me out birding, the sky was the color of Mom's old pearl ring.  The trees were draped with birds.  It was very noisy."

My comments: This book was written for me....or a kid just like me.  All birds look the same to me.  But this ingenious way to teach beginning birders how and what to look for when they're birdwatching is a super-great idea.  The book ends with a few of the birds described in the book, and a few other common North American birds. Lovely illustrations.

Goodreads: New York Times bestselling children's author, Jane Yolen, and her son, Adam Stemple, have teamed up to write this gentle tale of a father introducing his daughter to the joys of bird watching using the "Crow, not Crow" method for distinguishing birds. Elizabeth Dulemba's delightfully warm illustrations bring the story to life..

26. A Fatal Obsession by James Hayman

#6 McCabe and Savage
read on my iPhone/Kindle
2018 Witness Impulse
368 pgs.
Adult Mystery/Police Procedural
Finished 2/8/2020
Goodreads rating: 4.11 - 369 ratings
My rating:  4+
Setting: Contemporary NYC, mostly lower east side

First line/s:  "The worst thing about the rage was its randomness.  Tyler Branshaw never knew what might trigger one."

My comments: This was an excellent story, I love the way it switched back and forth between the abducted Zoe and the police proceedings trying to find her.  I was actually quite intrigues with this "bad guy," and formed a bond with him, as Zoe did in a weird, quirky way.  What a wonderful character she was!  And boy, are there some evil people in this world.  I'd still rather be going through life with blinders on....
     I'm not sure how quickly and happily the NYPD would allow two detectives from Portland, Maine, be the lead investigators in a recent abduction in NYC, particularly when one of the detectives is the uncle of the abducted!  And Maggie certainly took a back seat in this one.  Not that I remember the first five really, really well, but I think there was more of a partnership involved than in this one.
      Overall, I really liked the storytelling.  I wasn't a nervous wreck whenever we were in Zoe's world, I actually found the happenings quite intriguing.  I originally thought of this as a five, but because of a few weak points (above), I think I'll rate this a solid 4.
     As much as I love NYC, I sure hope they plan to return to Portland!

Goodreads synopsis:  "James Hayman’s edgy, ingenious novels rival the best of Lisa Gardner, Jeffery Deaver, and Kathy Reichs. A Fatal Obsession is his finest to date: a ferocious live-wire thriller starring two of the most appealing cops in contemporary fiction." —A.J. Finn, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Woman in the Window   
          Someone’s watching...      
          Zoe McCabe is a beautiful young actress on the verge of stardom who has been basking in the standing ovations and rave reviews she’s been getting from critics and fans alike for her portrayal of Desdemona in an off-Broadway production of Othello. As she takes her final bows, Zoe has no idea that, seated in the audience, a man has been studying her night after night, performance after performance. A man whose carefully crafted plans are for the young actress to take a starring role in a far deadlier production he has created just for her.         
          Portland, Maine detectives Mike McCabe and Maggie Savage are settling into the new rhythm of their relationship when McCabe gets a late night call from his brother Bobby that Zoe, McCabe's favorite niece and Bobby’s daughter, has suddenly disappeared. The NYPD is certain Zoe's abduction is the work of the man the tabloids have dubbed “The Star Struck Strangler,” a killer who has been kidnapping, abusing and finally strangling one beautiful young performer after another. Bobby begs McCabe to return to the New York City crime beat he’d left behind so many years ago, to work his old connections, and to help find Zoe before her time runs out. The stakes for McCabe and Savage have never been higher. Or more personal. And suddenly the race is on to stop a vicious attacker, before the McCabe family is torn apart beyond repair.

Thursday, February 6, 2020

25. Big Lies in a Small Town by Diane Chamberlain

listened to the eAudio borrowed from Bosler
narrated by Susan Bennett
Unabridged audio (13:19)
2020 St. Martin's Press
400 pgs.
Adult Historical Fiction/Present time Back & Forth
Finished 2/6/2020
Goodreads rating: 4.25 - 4671 ratings
My rating: 5
Setting: 1940 & 2019 Rural North Carolina

First line/s:  "The children knew it was finally spring, so although the air still held the nip of winter and the grass and weeds crunched beneath their feet, they ran through the field  and woods, yipping with the anticipation of warmer weather."

My comments:  I very much enjoyed this enthralling narrative, weaving the dialogue of two women almost 80 years apart in the same small town of Edenton, NC.  short chapters switched back and forth effortlessly, spending just enough time in each time period.  Art, mystery, racism, prison life, alcoholism, prejudice, and long-kept secrets wind together to  create a believable story that I couldn't put down and didn't want to end.

Goodreads synopsis:  North Carolina, 2018: Morgan Christopher's life has been derailed. Taking the fall for a crime she did not commit, she finds herself serving a three-year stint in the North Carolina Women's Correctional Center. Her dream of a career in art is put on hold—until a mysterious visitor makes her an offer that will see her released immediately. Her assignment: restore an old post office mural in a sleepy southern town. Morgan knows nothing about art restoration, but desperate to leave prison, she accepts. What she finds under the layers of grime is a painting that tells the story of madness, violence, and a conspiracy of small town secrets.
          North Carolina, 1940: Anna Dale, an artist from New Jersey, wins a national contest to paint a mural for the post office in Edenton, North Carolina. Alone in the world and desperate for work, she accepts. But what she doesn't expect is to find herself immersed in a town where prejudices run deep, where people are hiding secrets behind closed doors, and where the price of being different might just end in murder.
          What happened to Anna Dale? Are the clues hidden in the decrepit mural? Can Morgan overcome her own demons to discover what exists beneath the layers of lies?

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

24. V is for Vengeance by Sue Grafton

#22 Kinsey Millhone
listened to eAudio/Bosler Library
narrated by Judy Kaye
Unabridged audio (15:11)
2011 Putnam Adult
437 pgs.
Adult Mystery
Finished 2/4/2020
Goodreads rating: 3.96 - 26,591 ratings
My rating:
Setting: 1988 Santa Theresa (Santa Barbara), California, and a bit in San Luis Obisbo

First line/s: "So this is how it went down, folks.  I turned 38 on May 5, 1988, and my big birthday surprise was a big punch in the face that left me with two black eyes and a busted nose."

My comments:  I haven't read a Kinsey Millhone in years, so it was really fun to start listening to this.  I totally remembered the voice of Judy Kay, which is definitely the voice of Kinsey Millhone from my past.  Sue Grafton was the detail queen of the police procedural!  They were so many minute details - many of them unnecessary -  but it was fun to listen and try to determine which were important and which weren't.  Back-and-forth between a number of characters, it was fun looking at the story from all sorts of angles, including the sorta bad guy, which = spoiler alert!! = you really begin rooting for.  An entrancing story, even though it was over fifteen hours of listening, which did seem a little long at one or two points.  Fun book.

Goodreads synopsis:  A spiderweb of dangerous relationships lies at the heart.
          A woman with a murky past jumps off a bridge, or was she thrown? A spoiled kid awash in gambling debt thinks he can beat the system. A lovely woman whose marriage is about to splinter into a thousand fragments. A professional shoplifting ring working for the Mob, racks up millions from stolen goods. A wandering husband is rich and ruthless. A dirty cop is so entrenched on the force he is immune to exposure. A sinister gangster is conscienceless and brutal. A lonely widower mourns the death of his lover, desperate for answers, which may be worse than the pain of his loss. Private detective, Kinsey Millhone's thirty-eighth-birthday gift is a punch in the face that leaves her with two black eyes and a busted nose.
           And an elegant and powerful businessman whose dealings are definitely outside the law: the magus at the center of the web.
          V: Victim. Violence. Vengeance.

Monday, February 3, 2020

23. My Favorite Half-Night Stand by Christina Lauren

listened to eAudio/Bosler Library
narrated by Shayna Thibodeaux and Deacon Lee
Unabridged audio (7:08)
2018 Gallery Books
384 pgs.
Adult Romance
Finished 2/3/2020
Goodreads rating: 3.83 - 22,195 ratings
My rating:
Setting: Contemporary Santa Barbara, California

First line/s:   "When I was in grade school, my best friend, Alison Kim, was obsessed with horses."

My comments:  Very enjoyable romantic comedy with some serious stuff, too...  Five college professors at University of California Santa Barbara are best friends - four males and one female.  What happens when two of them take it a little bit farther?  Throw in escapades with online dating, California vineyards, misunderstandings, and a teeny tiny bit of steam and you have this very enjoyable story.  I'm really beginning to like this author a lot.  She even used the word CACOPHONY!!!

Goodreads synopsis:  Millie Morris has always been one of the guys. A UC Santa Barbara professor, she’s a female-serial-killer expert who’s quick with a deflection joke and terrible at getting personal. And she, just like her four best guy friends and fellow professors, is perma-single.
          So when a routine university function turns into a black tie gala, Mille and her circle make a pact that they’ll join an online dating service to find plus-ones for the event. There’s only one hitch: after making the pact, Millie and one of the guys, Reid Campbell, secretly spend the sexiest half-night of their lives together, but mutually decide the friendship would be better off strictly platonic.
          But online dating isn’t for the faint of heart. While the guys are inundated with quality matches and potential dates, Millie’s first profile attempt garners nothing but dick pics and creepers. Enter “Catherine”—Millie’s fictional profile persona, in whose make-believe shoes she can be more vulnerable than she’s ever been in person. Soon “Catherine” and Reid strike up a digital pen-pal-ship...but Millie can’t resist temptation in real life, either. Soon, Millie will have to face her worst fear—intimacy—or risk losing her best friend, forever.

Sunday, February 2, 2020

22. Steadfast by Shirleen Davies

Listened to audio/Chirp
narrated by Markham Anderson (with an incredibly deep voice)
Unabridged audio (5:44)
2019 Avalanche Ranch Press
180 pgs.
Adult CRF
Finished 2/2/2020
Goodreads rating: 4.49 - 145 ratings
My rating: 2
Setting: Contemporary Arizona desert

First line/s:  "Lieutenant Commander Caiden Isaac McCord stood ramrod straight, arms at his sides, a slight twitch in his leg from an injury during his team's last mission."

My comments:  A group of Navy SEALS have been commanded to become bikers in a biker group in the desert of Arizona, deeply undercover, to infiltrate other biker groups doing illegal activities.  They are led by a hunk named Wrath.  It sounds like they're all hunks, incredibly tough and smart and ...well...hunky.  Into their midsts comes a beautiful unattached attorney and of course head hunk falls for her.  As expected, the feelings are mutual.  Most of this book is made up strategies and antagonism between three biker gangs, one very bad, one good, and one in between.  The romance between the two protagonists is steamy but only for a couple of short segments.  There's more "story" than a lot of these sorts of books, but also a lot of fighting and reconnaissance and "war" types of things that I don't really care about.

Goodreads synopsis:  He’s secretive and commanding. She’s having none of it.
          Steadfast, Book One, Eternal Brethren Military Romantic Suspense Series
          Caid “Wrath” McCord never anticipated being tapped to lead a deep cover Navy SEAL team. Never one to shirk his duty, the transition from sea-loving warrior to president of an undercover motorcycle club is as smooth as a ride on his beloved Harley. Nothing interferes with his devotion to his men and their missions…until he meets a fiery, mysterious, motorcycle-riding woman who has all his senses on high alert.
          Cara Mortensen considers herself a survivor. With three older brothers, she became a fighter at an early age. Following the death of her SEAL husband and the discovery of his hidden life, starting over in Liberty Lake is a welcome change. No one knows about her past, which is how she wants to keep it. Except she can’t shake the determined president of a local motorcycle club, a man who could be perilous to her life as well as her heart.
          Even as walls between them begin to tumble, dangers exist which threaten not only Wrath and his men, but the woman he can’t push from his thoughts. Only his steadfast determination will keep her safe and in his life.
          Can he shelter her from danger and his secret life without losing the trust she so fiercely guards?
          Steadfast is book one in the Eternal Brethren Military Romantic Suspense Series by best seller Shirleen Davies. It is a stand-alone, full-length novel with no cliffhanger and a guaranteed HEA.
     Book 1: Steadfast     
     Book 2: Shattered
     Book 3: Haunted
     Book 4: Untamed