Saturday, February 20, 2021

16. Much Ado About You by Samantha Young

Listened on Libby/Library
narrated by Imani Jade Powers
Unabridged audio (11:26)
308 pgs.
Adult RomCom w/steam
Finished 2/20/21
Goodreads rating: 3.79 - 4219 ratings
My rating: 4
Setting: Contemporary Northumberland, England - Protagonist is American

First line/s: "I had not gone on a date in two years."

What I posted on Goodreads:  same as "my comments," below

My comments
A sweet romance that takes place between an American female and a British male set in Northumberland, England.  She's a 5' 10" Shakespeare lover who rents and runs a quaint bookshop in a small village on the coast.  He is a "farmer" with a Great Dane named Shadow that he adores.  It follows the usual trajectory and at about 85% is when the huge conflict comes.  This conflict was more ridiculous than most, this otherwise perfect man had lied to her about his age - he is six years younger - and financial status - he was rich and had a title - and this "lying" set her off.  So stupid, imo. But it was a fun and entertaining read.

Goodreads synopsis:  The cozy comforts of an English village bookstore open up a world of new possibilities for Evie Starling in this charming new romantic comedy from New York Times bestselling author Samantha Young.
          At thirty-three-years old Evangeline Starling's life in Chicago is missing that special something. And when she's passed over for promotion at work, Evie realizes she needs to make a change. Some time away to regain perspective might be just the thing. In a burst of impulsivity, she plans a holiday in a quaint English village. The holiday package comes with a temporary position at Much Ado About Books, the bookstore located beneath her rental apartment. There's no better dream vacation for the bookish Evie, a life-long Shakespeare lover.
          Not only is Evie swept up in running the delightful store as soon as she arrives, she's drawn into the lives, loves and drama of the friendly villagers. Including Roane Robson, the charismatic and sexy farmer who tempts Evie every day with his friendly flirtations. Evie is determined to keep him at bay because a holiday romance can only end in heartbreak, right? But Evie can't deny their connection and longs to trust in her handsome farmer that their whirlwind romance could turn in to the forever kind of love.

Thursday, February 18, 2021

15. Map of Shadows by J. F. Penn

#1 Mapwalker
Listened on Chirp
narrated by Charlie Sanderson
Unabridged audio (5:23)
208 pgs.
YA Fantasy
Finished 2/18/21
Goodreads rating: 
My rating: 1.5
Setting: Bath, England

First line/s: "Michael Farren sat at his desk in the old map shop, an antique parchment in front of him portraying the ancient city of Bath."

What I posted on Goodreads:  Just didn't do it for me, for some reason.  I DO usually like this type of book...

My comments: Although I listened to the entire book, I really couldn't get into it.  I didn't care about the characters or either of the worlds that were described.  Because it seemed more like they were being described, not shown.  I loved that the main setting was Bath, England.  Other than that, it just  wasn't for me.  

Goodreads synopsis:  A map of skin etched in blood.
          A world under threat from the Borderlands.
          A young woman who must risk the shadows to save her family.
          When her Grandfather is murdered under mysterious circumstances, Sienna Farren inherits his map shop in the ancient city of Bath, England. Once there, she discovers that her family is bound up with the Ministry of Maps, a mysterious agency who maintain the borders between this world and the Uncharted.
          With the help of Mila Wendell, a traveller on the canals, Sienna discovers her own magical ability and a terrifying place of blood that awaits in the world beyond.
          But when she discovers a truth about her past and the Borderlands begin to push through the defenses, Sienna must join the team of Mapwalkers on their mission to find the Map of Shadows – whatever the cost.
          In a place written out of history, a world off the edge of the map, Sienna must risk everything to find her father … and her true path as a Mapwalker.
          This dark fantasy novel is the first in the new Mapwalker series.

14. A Stranger in Town by Kelley Armstrong

#6 Rockton
listened via Libby/Library
narrated by Therese Plummer
Unabridged audio (10:46)
368 pgs.
Adult Mystery series
Finished 2/18/2021
Goodreads rating: 4.23 - 2032 ratings
My rating: 4.5
Setting: Contemporary Canadian wilderness

First line/s: "As we hitch our horses to a lodgepole pine, shouts and laughter float over on the night breeze."

My comments: This installment has you thinking...a lot...about the "idea" of Rockton.  Casey solves the questions that has always bugged all of them about how the hostiles came to be.  Bears abound in this one, as well as a more clear understanding of settlements one and two and the hostiles.  The ending leaves us with the possibility of Casey and Dalton helping to create a "new Rockton" with the base of most important characters the story has introduced so far.  I get a little bored with some of the descriptions in the woods, but everything else came together quite well.  Unfortunately, it'll be another whole year before the next segment, darn it!

Goodreads synopsis:  Detective Casey Duncan has noticed fewer and fewer residents coming in to the hidden town of Rockton, and no extensions being granted. Her boyfriend, Sheriff Eric Dalton, presumes it’s the natural flux of things, but Casey’s not so sure. Something bigger is happening in the small town they call home.
          When an injured hiker stumbles from the woods, the sole survivor of a hostile attack, it’s all hands on deck. Even a member of the elusive Rockton council comes in to help. This council member also comes bearing news: Rockton is being shut down due to the hostile situation.
          Casey and Eric must now race to save the town that has allowed residents to have a fresh start, away from the mistakes of their past, while also getting to the bottom of this latest attack.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Picture Book - We Are Water Protectors by Carole Lindstrom

Illustrated by Michaela Goade
2020 Roaring Brook Press
HC $17.99
40 pgs.
Goodreads rating:  4.53 - 2103 ratings
My rating:  5
Endpapers: Bright Yellow

1st line/s:  "Water is the first medicine, Nokomis told me."

My comments:  Gorgeous, just gorgeous.  Tristan (10) and I read this together, and as we turned each page we gasped at the beauty of the illustrations.  It led to a wonderful discussion of what's been happening, which Tristan had no idea about. I'm not crazy about the title, and I'm not even sure why. But that's only a silly little negative.  Exceptional book.

Goodreads:  Inspired by the many Indigenous-led movements across North America, We Are Water Protectors issues an urgent rallying cry to safeguard the Earth's water from harm and corruption--a bold and lyrical picture book written by Carole Lindstrom and vibrantly illustrated by Michaela Goade.

Water is the first medicine.
It affects and connects us all . . .

When a black snake threatens to destroy the Earth
And poison her people's water, one young water protector
Takes a stand to defend Earth's most sacred resource.

Thursday, February 11, 2021

13. Thorn by Intisar Khanani

#1 Dauntless Path
listened via Libby/Library
narrated by Shiromi Arserio
Unabridged audio (14:30)
512 pgs.
YA Fantasy
Finished 2/11/21
Goodreads rating: 4.02 - 7933 ratings
My rating: 4.5

First line/s: " 'Try not to embarrass us,' my brother says, 'If you can.' "

My comments: A clever piece of YA fantasy that flew by and kept me on the edge of my seat the whole time.  Whimsical with touches of magic, I thoroughly enjoyed this story.  The protagonist was particularly "good" and the antagonist was particularly "bad."  If there is a continuation of the story, it would be nice to see what Thorn will do to help make her new kingdom a better place for the poor people whom she has come to know and care about.

Goodreads synopsis:  A princess with two futures. A destiny all her own
          Between her cruel family and the contempt she faces at court, Princess Alyrra has always longed to escape the confines of her royal life. But when she’s betrothed to the powerful prince Kestrin, Alyrra embarks on a journey to his land with little hope for a better future.
          When a mysterious and terrifying sorceress robs Alyrra of both her identity and her role as princess, Alyrra seizes the opportunity to start a new life for herself as a goose girl.
          But Alyrra soon finds that Kestrin is not what she expected. The more Alyrra learns of this new kingdom, the pain and suffering its people endure, as well as the danger facing Kestrin from the sorceress herself, the more she knows she can’t remain the goose girl forever.
          With the fate of the kingdom at stake, Alyrra is caught between two worlds and ultimately must decide who she is, and what she stands for.

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

12. A Stitch in Time by Kelley Armstrong

listened on Audible
narrated by Samantha Brentmoor
Unabridged audio (10:39)
336 pgs.
Adult Time Travel/Romance/Ghost Story
Finished 2/9/2021
Goodreads rating: 4.07 - 2598 ratings
My rating: 4
Setting: Contemporary and 18th century England/American protagonist

First line/s: "Six months ago I inherited a haunted house."

My comments: This time travel/ghost story is written by one of my favorite mystery series writers, so I though I would try it while I wait for number six in the Rockton series to appear.  Wow, is it ever different than the Rockton series!  Bronwyn is able to slip back and forth in time as long as she is in one particular room in the Thorn manor house in England.  One major problem s that this manor house has a number of ghosts - ghosts that had chased her away for 23 years.  In those years she has married, lost her husband, Michael, to a brain tumor, and only returns to the manor when it was bequest to her by her aunt.  And upon her return she is whisked back and forth in time once again. She is reunited with William Thorne, the young man who she had adored as a child....who has missed her and waited for her to return.  And now she has a mystery to solve.  Again very different from the Rockton series, but a fun read nontheless.

Goodreads synopsis:  Thorne Manor has always been haunted...and it has always haunted Bronwyn Dale. As a young girl, Bronwyn could pass through a time slip in her great-aunt’s house, where she visited William Thorne, a boy her own age, born two centuries earlier. After a family tragedy, the house was shuttered and Bronwyn was convinced that William existed only in her imagination.
          Now, twenty years later Bronwyn inherits Thorne Manor. And when she returns, William is waiting.
          William Thorne is no longer the boy she remembers. He’s a difficult and tempestuous man, his own life marred by tragedy and a scandal that had him retreating to self-imposed exile in his beloved moors. He’s also none too pleased with Bronwyn for abandoning him all those years ago.
          As their friendship rekindles and sparks into something more, Bronwyn must also deal with ghosts in the present version of the house. Soon she realizes they are linked to William and the secret scandal that drove him back to Thorne Manor. To build a future, Bronwyn must confront the past.

Sunday, February 7, 2021

11. All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Brynn Greenwood

listened on Audible
narrated by Jorjeana Marie
Unabridged audio (11:08)
364 pgs.
Adult CRF
Finished 2/7/2021
Goodreads rating: 4.04 - 105,166 ratings
My rating: 5
Setting: Contemporary midwest

First line/s: "Amy: March 1975.  My mother always started the story by saying, 'Well, she was born in the back seat of a stranger's car,' as though that explained why Wavy wasn't normal."

My comments: Wow.  Just Wow.  Once I started the story I couldn't stop.  Difficult subject matter, but beautifully written.  So many reviewers have said it far better than I ever could, and I will copy some of their worda below.  So much to think about, so much to discuss.  This was a truly magnificent piece of storytelling that will stay with me for a long time to come.
     "What to say about a book like this? That's it's beautifully written? That you find yourself caring immensely about the two main characters? Or that it's a dangerous and disturbing plot line that deals with an inappropriate love? But if Wavy and Kellen don't care for each other, who will? Because these two have both had miserable lives without the benefit of anyone to take care of them, let alone love them. This book just rocked me. It had me questioning my assumptions about right and wrong".-Liz Wright
     "This book destroyed me. I have never read anything like it. If you know the basic premise - that this is a so-called "love story" between an adult man and a female child - you might be thinking Lolita! But nah, All the Ugly and Wonderful Things is a completely different beast.
          Ugly and wonderful really are great descriptors for this story. The best thing about it is the completely unsentimental storytelling that, with its constant switching between perspectives, as well as alternating first and third person, beautifully presents a dark tale of childhood, family and abuse.
          It's so... not manipulative. The author narrates a series of events, using gorgeous writing, but it's a fantastic example of how showing works so much better than telling. We are never told how to feel. We are allowed to be disgusted, sad and angry on our own terms, and we are allowed to draw our own conclusions about the relationship this book portrays.
          I came to the end of the novel with my mind reeling, my emotions scattered, and completely unsure exactly what I did feel about it... but one thing is certain: I feltOh hell, I felt." - Emily May

Goodreads synopsis:  As the daughter of a meth dealer, Wavy knows not to trust people, not even her own parents. Struggling to raise her little brother, eight-year-old Wavy is the only responsible "adult" around. She finds peace in the starry Midwestern night sky above the fields behind her house. One night everything changes when she witnesses one of her father's thugs, Kellen, a tattooed ex-con with a heart of gold, wreck his motorcycle. What follows is a powerful and shocking love story between two unlikely people that asks tough questions, reminding us of all the ugly and wonderful things that life has to offer.

Saturday, February 6, 2021

10. Love Lettering by Kate Clayborn

read on my iPhone on Libby (borrowed from the library
narrated by Nicol Zanzarella
Unabridged audio (11:10)
307 pgs.
Adult Romance
Finished 2/6/2021
Goodreads rating: 3.82 - 15,233 ratings
My rating: 4.5
Setting: Contemporary NYC

First line/s: "On Sunday I work in Sans Serif."

What I posted on Goodreads:  

My comments: I totally enjoyed this book.  It was slow and delicious. There was a great deal of philosophical/introspective thinking and conversation, which I don't usually like much at all, but Kate Clayborn wove it in beautifully.  An artist and a numbers analyst.  A young woman trying to make herself more honest and a young man who, although never mentioned at all, is somewhere, somewhat, in a mild way on the Autism/Aspbergers spectrum, I'm guessing.  Walks through Manhattan and the Bronx looking at signs and all the different modern and vintage lettering.  Playing games.  20 questions.  A romance novel that slowly unfolds, written beautifully.  Two quite steamy scenes, well into the second half of the book, which totally worked.  Yup, I liked the characters, setting, occupations, personalities, and cool twist.  

Goodreads synopsis:  Meg Mackworth’s hand-lettering skill has made her famous as the Planner of Park Slope, designing beautiful custom journals for New York City’s elite. She has another skill too: reading signs that other people miss. Like the time she sat across from Reid Sutherland and his gorgeous fiancĂ©e, and knew their upcoming marriage was doomed to fail. Weaving a secret word into their wedding program was a little unprofessional, but she was sure no one else would spot it. She hadn’t counted on sharp-eyed, pattern-obsessed Reid . . .

          A year later, Reid has tracked Meg down to find out—before he leaves New York for good—how she knew that his meticulously planned future was about to implode. But with a looming deadline, a fractured friendship, and a bad case of creative block, Meg doesn’t have time for Reid’s questions—unless he can help her find her missing inspiration. As they gradually open up to each other about their lives, work, and regrets, both try to ignore the fact that their unlikely connection is growing deeper. But the signs are there—irresistible, indisputable, urging Meg to heed the messages Reid is sending her, before it’s too late . . .

Thursday, February 4, 2021

9. That Darkness by Lisa Black

#1 Gardiner & Renner
listened on Audible - also have on Kindle
narrated by Kirsten Potter
Unabridged audio (9:03)
308 pgs.
Contemporary Adult Mystery
Finished 2/4/2021
Goodreads rating: 3.49 - 1699 ratings
My rating: 4
Setting: Contemporary Cleveland, Ohio 

First line/s: "The room wasn't much, just a steel table and chairs, old paint on the walls with the occasional rust stain, two windows frosted by contact paper and a battered desk in the corner, well out of splattering range."

My comments: The story worked just fine for me, flipping back-and-forth between two protagonists to get each point of view pretty clearly.  One is a cop who is a serial killer, only killing the ultra-bad guy who gets away with his/her crime and the other a forensic pathologist who's expert at fingerprint and little piees of lint, lol!  It's how they come together at the end, to an uneasy truce of sorts.  There are more coming in the series, I wonder where the author will go?

Goodreads synopsis:  As a forensic investigator for the Cleveland Police Department, Maggie Gardiner has seen her share of Jane Does. The latest is an unidentified female in her early teens, discovered in a local cemetery. More shocking than the girl’s injuries—for Maggie at least—is the fact that no one has reported her missing. She and the detectives assigned to the case (including her cop ex-husband) are determined to follow every lead, run down every scrap of evidence. But the monster they seek is watching each move, closer to them than they could ever imagine.
          Jack Renner is a killer. He doesn’t murder because he savors it, or because he believes himself omnipotent, or for any reason other than to make the world a safer place. When he follows the trail of this Jane Doe to a locked room in a small apartment where eighteen teenaged girls are anything but safe, he knows something must be done. But his pursuit of their captor takes an unexpected turn.
          Maggie Gardiner finds another body waiting for her in the autopsy room—and a host of questions that will challenge everything she believes about justice, morality, and the true nature of evil...

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

8. Synnr's Hope by Kate Rudolph

listened on Chirp (I think, lol)
narrated by Tyler Darby
Unabridged audio (6:20)
308 pgs.
SciFi Steamy Romance
Finished 2/2/21
Goodreads rating: 4.33 - 81 ratings
My rating: shoot, can't remember! 2.5 ?                     
Setting: contemporary other planet/galaxy

First line/s:  from Chapter 2:  "The last six months had sucked.  Or eighty years. Lena still wasn't sure how to square the passage of time in her mind.  She was still the same thirty-four year old who'd been walking down the streets of Oklahoma City on that fateful night, and she'd spent six months as the captive of aliens intent on using her for their twisted experiments."

My comments: Darn, didn't record reactions immediately....but there was a lot of hand-to-hand fighting, which made it boring and uninteresting for me....

Goodreads synopsis:  She’s stuck on the wrong planet…
          Lena is supposed to be back on Earth, but any chance of returning home was stolen by the aliens who kidnapped her. She’s safe from those pirates now, but she’s going crazy on Aorsa with nothing to do. Her only hope lies with Solan, the smokin’ hot military leader responsible for rescuing her from her former captors. She’ll team up with him to earn her wings—literally—but no matter what, they’re not falling in love.
          He can’t claim a human…
          Things were simple in the military: follow orders, take out bad guys, protect his people. At home in Osais, Solan has a heap of family obligations and expectations he can’t live up to. Adding a human Match on top of things will only complicate matters, but a Matched unit could go far in the Synnr military. To bond with Lena, he has rules and one is more important than any other: their relationship is strictly professional.
           But when they fail to gel as a unit, they’re sent off to intensive training in the middle of nowhere. Just Solan, Lena, and a house determined to hone them into the best team they can be. When sparks start flying, there’s nothing to stop the two of them from crashing together with explosive heat.