Wednesday, March 31, 2021
Goodreads rating: 4.04 - 4218 ratings
My rating: 3
Setting: Contemporary Lake Tahoe, California, summertime
First line/s: "Gripping the steering wheel tightly, Serenity Alston navigated the winding freeway heading east toward Donner Summit."
My comments: Three women discover, through DNA testing, that they are sisters. They had NO clue. They end up finding each other, then spending a summer together in a cabin on Lake Tahoe where they not only get to know each other, but support each other in each of their individual difficulties with life. Serenity, the eldest, helped to put her husband in Jail. Regan, the middle sister has just had an affair with her married boss and iss suffering the consequences of that. Lauralee, the youngest, mother of four-year-old Lucy, has just discovered that her husband not only had an affair with her best friend, but that best friend is now pregnant. So, yeah, three up-and-down love stories and the description of how three women who had never known each other before become inseparable. Just a little too sappy and disjointed for me. Excellent narrator.
Goodreads synopsis: When Serenity Alston swabbed her cheek for 23andMe, she joked about uncovering some dark ancestral scandal. The last thing she expected was to discover two half sisters she didn't know existed. Suddenly, everything about her loving family is drawn into question. And meeting these newfound sisters might be the only way to get answers.
Serenity has always found solace at her family's Lake Tahoe cabin, so what better place for the three women to dig into the mystery that has shaken the foundation each of them was raised on? With Reagan navigating romantic politics at her New York City advertising firm, and Lorelei staring down the collapse of her marriage, all three women are converging at a crossroads in their lives. Before the summer is over, they'll have to confront the paths they walked to get there and determine how to move forward when everything they previously thought to be true was a lie.
But any future is easier to face with family by your side
Saturday, March 27, 2021
Goodreads rating: 4.25 - 129,079 ratings
My rating: 4.5
Setting: contemporary Wisconsin, then Seattle, then Thailand
First line/s: "But first, Roo was born. Roosevelt Walsh-Adams. They had decided to hyphenate because --- and in spite of --- all the usual reasons but mostly so their firstborn could have his grandfather's name without without sounding too presidential, which seemed to his parents like a lot of pressure for a six pound, two ounce, brand-new tiny human."
My comments: The husband is a stay-at-home author dad, the wife's an outstanding ER doctor. Four sons, and the then fifth Claude, who really wants to be Poppy, right from the start. A move from Wisconsin to Seattle, for safety, and then on to Thailand for clarity. Great parents raising great kids amid turmoil and questions and wanting to do the right thing. There were a few places where I burrowed my brow or scratched my head, a few places there was just a little too much fairytale telling or philosophical thinking, but all in all this was a great story, beautifully narrated.
Goodreads synopsis: This is how a family keeps a secret…and how that secret ends up keeping them.
This is how a family lives happily ever after…until happily ever after becomes complicated.
This is how children change…and then change the world.
This is Claude. He’s five years old, the youngest of five brothers, and loves peanut butter sandwiches. He also loves wearing a dress, and dreams of being a princess.
When he grows up, Claude says, he wants to be a girl.
Rosie and Penn want Claude to be whoever Claude wants to be. They’re just not sure they’re ready to share that with the world. Soon the entire family is keeping Claude’s secret. Until one day it explodes.
This Is How It Always Is is a novel about revelations, transformations, fairy tales, and family. And it’s about the ways this is how it always is: Change is always hard and miraculous and hard again, parenting is always a leap into the unknown with crossed fingers and full hearts, children grow but not always according to plan. And families with secrets don’t get to keep them forever.
"This is a novel everyone should read. It’s brilliant. It’s bold. And it’s time.”
―Elizabeth George, #1 New York Times bestselling author of A Banquet of Consequences
Thursday, March 25, 2021
Adult Historical Fiction
Goodreads rating: 4.27 - 251,213
My rating: 5
Setting: 1937 eastern Kentucky
My comments: Hot damn, I loved this book. I had read The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek last year, so I was acquainted with the general idea of the WPA eastern Kentucky packhorse librarians of 1935 to 1943. The narrator was absolutely fantastic. I loved the characters: seven feisty women, two wonderful gentlemen, and a huge array of small-town folk who were mostly unlikable. Yes, definitely a love story, but more importantly a wonderful piece of well-researched historical fiction,
Goodreads synopsis: From the author of Me Before You, set in Depression-era America, a breathtaking story of five extraordinary women and their remarkable journey through the mountains of Kentucky and beyond.
Alice Wright marries handsome American Bennett Van Cleve hoping to escape her stifling life in England. But small-town Kentucky quickly proves equally claustrophobic, especially living alongside her overbearing father-in-law. So when a call goes out for a team of women to deliver books as part of Eleanor Roosevelt’s new traveling library, Alice signs on enthusiastically.
The leader, and soon Alice’s greatest ally, is Margery, a smart-talking, self-sufficient woman who’s never asked a man’s permission for anything. They will be joined by three other singular women who become known as the Packhorse Librarians of Kentucky.
What happens to them–and to the men they love–becomes an unforgettable drama of loyalty, justice, humanity and passion. These heroic women refuse to be cowed by men or by convention. And though they face all kinds of dangers in a landscape that is at times breathtakingly beautiful, at others brutal, they’re committed to their job: bringing books to people who have never had any, arming them with facts that will change their lives.
Based on a true story rooted in America’s past, The Giver of Stars is unparalleled in its scope and epic in its storytelling. Funny, heartbreaking, enthralling, it is destined to become a modern classic–a richly rewarding novel of women’s friendship, of true love, and of what happens when we reach beyond our grasp for the great beyond.
Tuesday, March 23, 2021
Adult Murder Mystery
Goodreads rating: 3.64
My rating: 5
Setting: Contemporary Boston with soirees to NH and Rockland ME
First line/s: "The front door opened and I heard the stamp of the FBI agent's feet on the doormat."
My comments: OMG, I can't find my notes! I do remember that I liked this book a lot, that it was impossible to put down, and I loved it from beginning to end. The idea that a serial murderer could find his/her inspiration from murders in famous books was a fascinating plot idea. Great narration.
Goodreads synopsis: A chilling tale of psychological suspense and an homage to the thriller genre tailor-made for fans: the story of a bookseller who finds himself at the center of an FBI investigation because a very clever killer has started using his list of fiction’s most ingenious murders.
Years ago, bookseller and mystery aficionado Malcolm Kershaw compiled a list of the genre’s most unsolvable murders, those that are almost impossible to crack—which he titled “Eight Perfect Murders”—chosen from among the best of the best including Agatha Christie’s A. B. C. Murders, Patricia Highsmith’s Strangers on a Train, Ira Levin’s Death Trap, A. A. Milne's Red House Mystery, Anthony Berkeley Cox's Malice Aforethought, James M. Cain's Double Indemnity, John D. Macdonald's The Drowner, and Donna Tartt's A Secret History.
But no one is more surprised than Mal, now the owner of the Old Devils Bookstore in Boston, when an FBI agent comes knocking on his door one snowy day in February. She’s looking for information about a series of unsolved murders that look eerily similar to the killings on Mal’s old list. And the FBI agent isn’t the only one interested in this bookseller who spends almost every night at home reading. The killer is out there, watching his every move—a diabolical threat who knows way too much about Mal’s personal history, especially the secrets he’s never told anyone, even his recently deceased wife.
To protect himself, Mal begins looking into possible suspects . . . and sees a killer in everyone around him. But Mal doesn’t count on the investigation leaving a trail of death in its wake. Suddenly, a series of shocking twists leaves more victims dead—and the noose around Mal’s neck grows so tight he might never escape.
Saturday, March 20, 2021
narrated byAmy DeLuca
Goodreads rating: 410 - 223 ratings
My rating: 3.5
Setting: contemporary-ish PA/VA
First line/s: "The rhythmic clip-clop of the horses' hooves was hypnotic."
My comments: Pennsylvania Dutch Amish girl turned a vampire relcoated to huge caverns in Virginia called, "The Bastion," where the queen, Imogen, the vampire who made her into one, wants to prepare her to be the future queen. Abbie wants nothing to do with it she believes in peace, not fighting, and ultimately joins the ranks of a huge, peaceful vampire organization headed by Sadie, Imogen's hated sister. Of course she leaves behind her "love," who has taken vows to becime a Bloodbound Warrior, loyal completely and totally to the queen.
This wasn't exactly what I had in mind…
One minute I was riding in a horse-drawn buggy on my way home to my quiet Amish village— the next was torn by the screech of car tires, and twisted metal, and the white hot lance of pain. There was no doubt in my mind my life was over.
So when I woke up to the face of a beautiful stranger who promised me the suffering would end soon, I thought I’d seen an angel.
I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Friday, March 19, 2021
Adult short story - mystery
Goodreads rating: 4.02 - 273 ratings
My rating: 3
Setting: Maine woods, perhaps 1980
First line/s: "There were four doctors staying at the hunting camp."
My comments: Depressing, very short story about a doctor who has decided to end his cancer-ridden life by freezing to death in the woods instead of going through the ups and mostly downs of end-of-life in a sickbed and Charlie takes on finding him when he disappears. He was only 28 when this happened, and he's reflecting on it as an older gentleman.
Thursday, March 18, 2021
Goodreads rating: 4.03 - 649 ratings
My rating: 4
Setting: Contemporary Rochester, Minnesota
First line/s: "I hate this town already.
What I posted on Goodreads: Homelessness. Good story, with a lot of positivity, perfect boyfriend, symbolic mean girl.
My comments: Homeless high school senior and her family leaves Omaha for Minnesota after scandal humiliates her family and leaves them jobless with only a van and little else. She has to figure out how to begin her senior year - in a new school - without letting anyone know that she's living with her family in a van. Excellent story, leaves you with very positive vibes.
Goodreads synopsis: Seventeen year-old Abby Lunde and her family are living on the streets. They had a normal life back in Omaha, but thanks to her mother’s awful mistake, they had to leave what little they had behind for a new start in Rochester. Abby tries to be an average teenager—fitting into school, buoyed by dreams of a boyfriend, college, and a career in music. But Minnesota winters are unforgiving, and so are many teenagers.
As secrets are exposed and the hope for a home fades, Abby knows she must trust those around her to help. But will her friends let her down the same way they did back home, or will they rise to the challenge to help them find a normal life?
Wednesday, March 17, 2021
narrated by Sean William Doyle
Unabridged audio (7:25)
Adult Time Travel/Survival
Goodreads rating: 4.23 - 1256 ratings
My rating: 4.5
Setting: Mostly early 1700's Charleston, SC/coast
First line/s: "The PA system blared. "Final call for Flight seventy-three with service to Charlotte, boarding at Gate 5. This is your final call.' "
My comments: An interesting take on time travel! This one was fun to read because it had a lot of basic information about survival like gear needed and trying to put yourself into the right period of history with only what you have. Clothing of the period was interesting and the last 10% of the book (spoiler alert!) trying to get back, -- was really fun. The actual ending made me grin. There's a sequel, will try to find it on audio.
It started as a routine Miami to Charlotte flight for the passengers, crew, and Federal Air Marshal Stephen Mason. But a freak storm over the Atlantic propels the airliner unexplainably back in time to the early 18th century. They find themselves on the sparsely populated coast of the Carolina Colony. Charles Town is the only English settlement of any size in the area. It’s an inhospitable place of vast plantations, slavery, hostile natives, tall ships, and marauding pirates.
Finding a way back, if that’s even feasible, is the least of their worries. These unintended time travelers quickly find themselves ill-equipped for hardships and dangers not faced for centuries. Perils loom at every turn in this world of loss, anguish, filth, and sweat.
Foreigners in their own land, can they survive and adapt? Is it even possible for these modern transplants to carve an existence from this foul and odorous place in time?
Stephen Mason will find a way or die trying.
Tuesday, March 16, 2021
narrated by Ines del Castillo
Unabridged audio (8:42)
Goodreads rating: 3.74 - 2456 ratings
My rating: 4
Setting: contemporary Galapagos Islands/onboard cruise ship
First line/s: "Every time I collect my mail from the paint-splattered box in the lobby and see my name printed over and over in bold black ink, I'm reminded that I'm named after a rock star."
My comments: A romcom with a wonderful setting - a small cruise ship visiting the Galapagos Islands of Ecuador. Henley and Graeme are competing for the same job on the cruise line, and go from a love-hate relationship to guess where, lol! While communing with incredible wildlife, snorkeling, visiting touristy attractions, and trying to come up with a plan to wow her boss, Henley certainly keeps us entertained. Great lessons on sustainability and protecting our world included!
Goodreads synopsis: Between taking night classes for her MBA and her demanding day job at a cruise line, marketing manager Henley Evans barely has time for herself, let alone family, friends, or dating. But when she’s shortlisted for the promotion of her dreams, all her sacrifices finally seem worth it.
Their boss tasks each of them with drafting a proposal on how to boost bookings in the Galápagos—best proposal wins the promotion. There’s just one catch: they have to go on a company cruise to the Galápagos Islands...together. But when the two meet on the ship, Henley is shocked to discover that the real Graeme is nothing like she imagined. As they explore the Islands together, she soon finds the line between loathing and liking thinner than a postcard.
With her career dreams in her sights and a growing attraction to the competition, Henley begins questioning her life choices. Because what’s the point of working all the time if you never actually live?
Tuesday, March 9, 2021
A storm drives all the farm animals indoors except for a lonely fox family. The barn isn’t their home. But where will they go for safety?
This stunning picture books explores themes of acceptance and belonging:
Large or small,
Short and tall,
There is room,
There is room,
There is room
For us all.
Sunday, March 7, 2021
Let's Try Again...
Unabridged audio (5:58)
Goodreads rating: 4.04 - 885 ratings
My rating: 3
First line/s: "Mari Beadie used to love bartending weekend shifts at Danny's, Wardham's only pub."
My comments: Another fake girlfriend-to-lover novel, this time an NHL hockey player who's profession was squashed at 33 when he was in a card accident, and a 24-year old bartending, aspiring singer-songwriter. Set in Canada, just north of Detroit, this light-hearted rom was fun. It's a riot how they all follow the same outline, these steamy romances! If I had knows I'd be reading these even five years ago I would've absolutely, positively denied it, lol!
Goodreads synopsis: It started with a kiss...
Mari Beadie needed a boyfriend, and former NHL hockey star Chase Miller happened to be in the right place at the right time. The kiss that followed wasn't necessary, strictly speaking, but it sure was hot.
Hot enough that when the tables are turned, Chase knows just the pretty bartender to ask to be his pretend girlfriend. Only this time, it's not a one-time deal.
The pub was slammed, strange for a Sunday night, but it was one of the last weekends of the summer. The tips would make up for the sore feet.
Mari was pouring a tray of pints when the phone rang. She hopped over and stuck the ancient handset under her ear, pinning it in place as she pulled the long cord back to the taps with her.
“You sound busy.”
Her heart didn’t leap a little at the sound of his voice. No, it didn’t. “Yep.”
“What time do you get off?”
“We close at ten tonight, then I need to do some clean up. Probably ten thirty, but I’m not sure.”
“Okay. See you later.”
She frowned as she hung up the phone. Two hours later, she was still confused when he sauntered in after last call. Instead of taking his regular stool, he started straightening chairs.
“What are you doing?”
“Because that’s what boyfriends do?”
She looked around. They were alone. “Uhm…”
“Because that’s what friends do?” He shrugged. “Don’t overthink it. I actually just wanted to give you my cell phone number, but when I called you sounded swamped, so I thought it would be easier to stop by. And I’m not going to watch you sweep, that would be a dick move.”
“You watch me tend bar almost every day.”
“I don’t know. Give me that.” He took the broom from her hand, and she ignored the little thrill she got at the brief, hot press of his fingers against hers.
Saturday, March 6, 2021
Unabridged audio (10:22)
Contemporary "Locked Room" Mystery
Goodreads rating: 3.89 -4498 ratings
My rating: 3.5
Setting: Contemporary off-season ski resort in the French Alps
First line/s: "It's that time of year again. The time the glacier gives up bodies."
My comments: This was definitely a different, interesting plot Five friends/acquaintances have been summonsed anonymously to the same snowboard training center on a glacier in the Alps where they had met ten years previously when they wer training for the British snowboard championships. It's all a big mystery about who has summonsed them....someone is trying to solve the mystery of what happened to Curtis's sister, Saskia, who disappeared during that time. Mila tells the story in the first person and flips back-and-forth from the present to the time before, melding the two stories into one so that we discover, slowly, what had happened that winter. The tension rises when their phones are stolen, the electricity keeps going out, there's a storm coming, and there's no way to get back down to the bottom of the moutain. Definite tension. Lots of talk about snowboarding, glaciers, tricks and moves that didn't really interest me, but on the whole it was pretty decent storytelling. Enjoyed the narrations.
Goodreads synopsis: In this propulsive locked-room thriller debut, a reunion weekend in the French Alps turns deadly when five friends discover that someone has deliberately stranded them at their remote mountaintop resort during a snowstorm.
When Milla accepts an off-season invitation to Le Rocher, a cozy ski resort in the French Alps, she's expecting an intimate weekend of catching up with four old friends. It might have been a decade since she saw them last, but she's never forgotten the bond they forged on this very mountain during a winter spent fiercely training for an elite snowboarding competition.
Yet no sooner do Milla and the others arrive for the reunion than they realize something is horribly wrong. The resort is deserted. The cable cars that delivered them to the mountaintop have stopped working. Their cell phones--missing. And inside the hotel, detailed instructions await them: an icebreaker game, designed to draw out their secrets. A game meant to remind them of Saskia, the enigmatic sixth member of their group, who vanished the morning of the competition years before and has long been presumed dead.
Stranded in the resort, Milla's not sure what's worse: the increasingly sinister things happening around her or the looming snowstorm that's making escape even more impossible. All she knows is that there's no one on the mountain she can trust. Because someone has gathered them there to find out the truth about Saskia...someone who will stop at nothing to get answers. And if Milla's not careful, she could be the next to disappear...
Friday, March 5, 2021
narrated by Philip Alces & Ava Lucas
Unabridged audio (7:34)
Adult Romance w/steam
Goodreads rating: 4.21 - 452 ratings
My rating: 3
Setting: contemporary Boston
First line/s: " 'The prince slipped the glass slipper on Cinderella's foot, and of course it was a perfect fit.' "
My comments: What a stupid name for this book. It was exactly like the previous six or eight steamy, fake-fiancé books I've read, but for some reason this is a tome that I particularly enjoy. The joke's on me! Like a Nancy Drew mystery, they all seem to follow the same format. This one is set in Boston, but the setting in very insignificant, unfortunately. Super rich families, idiot fathers, super-mean society "friends," yada yada yada. But I'm sure it won't be too long before I read another...again, the joke's on me! An interesting aside: the super buff, gruff male protagonist loved reading YA, and many are either quoted or reerred to, which was sorta cool.
Goodreads synopsis: Boston socialite Morgan Lett is having a run of bad luck. Her fiancé just dumped her for her stepsister, the charity foundation she’s given her life to is in danger of folding, and now, the gorgeous man she bid on and won at a masquerade bachelor auction turns out to be a cold-hearted jerk…and her new employer.
Monday, March 1, 2021
narrated by Laura Faye Smith
Unabridged audio (5:48)
adult murder mystery
Goodreads rating: 4.04 - 15,098 ratings
My rating: 3.5
Setting: Contemporary sall town Bloody Mary, VAmFirst line/s:
First line/s: "Fourth generation mortician. That's a lot of dead bodies."
My comments: An entertaining murder mystery with lots of characters and an interesting protagoist. Every time I heard them say Dr. Graves I jumped, LOL. She hadn't had any kind of relationship in over four years, but was very good looking, smart, and when a good-looking guy came into her path it took her less than 12 hours to make things hot and heavy? Sorta weird. And, well, unbelievable. Oh well. Not terrifically crafted, but as I said before, entertaining. There are more in the series and I think I will definitely try at least the second, if I can find it a a decent price.
Goodreads synopsis: J.J. Graves has seen a lot of dead bodies in her line of work...
The murders are piling up...
The residents of Bloody Mary are dropping like flies, and when a popular mystery writer shows up on J.J.'s doorstep with plans of writing his new book about the Bloody Mary Serial Killer, J.J. has to decide if he might be going above and beyond the call of duty to create the spine tinglers he's so well known for. It only clouds the issue and puts her reputation on the line when the attraction between them spirals out of control.
And passions are rising...
J.J and Jack are in a race against time. They discover each victim had a shocking secret, and the very foundation of J.J.'s life is in danger of crumbling when it turns out she’s harboring secrets of her own—secrets that make her the perfect victim in a deadly game.
Endpapers: Aleppo skyline, with lots of sky and white dove-like birds
Alaa loves Aleppo, but when war comes his neighbors flee to safety, leaving their many pets behind. Alaa decides to stay--he can make a difference by driving an ambulance, carrying the sick and wounded to safety. One day he hears hungry cats calling out to him on his way home. They are lonely and scared, just like him. He feeds and pets them to let them know they are loved. The next day more cats come, and then even more! There are too many for Alaa to take care of on his own. Alaa has a big heart, but he will need help from others if he wants to keep all of his new friends safe