Flashback Friday!

Flashback Friday is a feature where I share a book review that I posted earlier. This one is from 2009. Reading it reminded me how much I enjoyed this book. I need to check out his other titles.

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Threads from the Web of Life: Stories in Natural History by Stephen Daubert

This was a lovely collection of essays, each focusing on a different scene. From ocean to forest to jungle, this book ranged all over the planet, explaining why nature works the way it does and how it got that way. It’s hard to pick my favorite essay, but one standout was the one on the migration of squid. I also loved to read about the mysterious UFO also known as the white pelican.

Sometimes the writing was a little too lyrical, but I loved the section at the end of each essay, telling about the science behind the story, and the section at the end of the book, giving the reader options for further reading. A wonderful book for any nature lover.

Can’t Wait for Starsight

Can’t-Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted at Wishful Endings to spotlight and discuss the books we’re excited about that we have yet to read. Generally they’re books that have yet to be released. It’s based on Waiting on Wednesday, hosted by the fabulous Jill at Breaking the Spine. If you’re continuing with WOW, feel free to link those up as well! Find out more here.

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I love this cover!

It’s no secret that I am a GIANT fan of Brandon Sanderson. I loved his new YA book set in space, Skyward. It helped that there was a massive plot twist at the end that changed everything for the book. So my pick this week is the sequel to that one, Starsight. (Spoilers for book 1 ahead, so if you are still waiting to read it, you might want to stop here!)


Book description:

“All her life, Spensa has dreamed of becoming a pilot. Of proving she’s a hero like her father. She made it to the sky, but the truths she learned about her father were crushing.

Spensa is sure there’s more to the story. And she’s sure that whatever happened to her father in his starship could happen to her. When she made it outside the protective shell of her planet, she heard the stars–and it was terrifying. Everything Spensa has been taught about her world is a lie.

But Spensa also discovered a few other things about herself–and she’ll travel to the end of the galaxy to save humankind if she needs to.”


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Fortunately the wait is almost over as this book releases November 26, 2019! Sanderson is one of the few authors I will buy as soon as the books release, so I can’t wait for this one!

Do you have any books you’re still excited for this year? Let me know in the comments! Happy reading!

TTT: Childhood Favorites

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

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I’m coloring here, but I’m sure I was going to read later!

This week’s topic was favorite bookmarks. Since I don’t really have any, I looked through past topics until I found one that sounded like fun. Here we go!

10 Favorite Books from my Childhood

 

Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren. I loved all the Pippi books. She is as just such a wild and carefree kid! I loved all her adventures.

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum. In fact, I read the whole series, although I’ve forgotten it. But I loved them. I do still remember the library in Texas where I got them all.

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This the edition I remember

The Book of Three or The Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander. I wanted to live in that series!

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Mrs. Ladybug is the best!

James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl. I think I liked this one just a bit more than Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I mean, I love chocolate, but I found Willie Wonka a little scary.

The Pushcart War by Jean Merrill. One that my kids loved too.

Charlotte’s Web by E B White. Gentle Fern and clever Charlotte and of course Wilbur were all favorites of mine, and the illustrations really helped.

Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle by Betty MacDonald. First, what a great name! Second, the pictures were amazing. And last, the stories were just so funny! These are great to read aloud.

Understood Betsy by Dorothy Fisher Canfield. I loved the way Betsy changed so much during this book.

Nancy Drew by Caroline Keene. I couldn’t pick one favorite, but I think this was the first series that I used my own money to buy.

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I still have my doll!

Raggedy Ann Stories by Johnny Gruelle. Most people only know the dolls, but this was a whole series of short adventures.


There were at least 100 more I could have listed; these are just the first ones that came to mind. And I didn’t even include fairy tales or picture books! Maybe that will be another week’s list.

(Note: some of these books were old when I read them, and contain elements that don’t belong in modern books, whether it’s racist attitudes, gender stereotypes, or whatever. But I have happy memories of them all. Just be warned.)

My Weekend

Hey there reader friends! I had a GREAT weekend. I treated myself to a refresher getaway all by myself. I stayed at a bed & breakfast (which was pretty, but otherwise not great), ate some (mostly) good food, and went shopping. (I bought books. And clothes! But mostly books.)

And I laid around and read. Which is different from my usual weekend because . . . um, there were no cats.🐱 (I did bring my teddy bear.) Anyway, it was relaxing and exactly what I needed.

Here’s what I read this weekend:

Murder at Melrose Court by Karen Baugh Mehunin. A cozy mystery set post WWI in a big country house. The countess is murdered. It was fun, but the main character was kind of clueless. Not sure if I’ll read more by this author, but it was free from Kindle Unlimited.

Forty Thieves by Thomas Perry. A husband & wife team of detectives are hired to solve a cold case murder, which sparks the killer to hire another husband & wife team of killers to take them out. Random jewel robbery ring pops up halfway through and switches gears. I liked the first half lots better. Library book.

The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen. This kept me reading, but the ending was dragged out too long and after I finished I wished it had given me more substance. Thrift store book, so not too worried.

If We Were Villains by M L Rio. So good! If you like mysteries or thrillers, just get a copy of this and read it now; don’t read the synopsis. Loved everything in this. I raced through this one and it was good to the last page. Got at the used bookstore this weekend and read it right away.


That was my weekend. I also got a pedicure and a massage and a facial and a psychic reading, which I may tell you about later. Otherwise, I’m glad to be back!

Fabulous 50!

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Happy birthday!

Monday was a big day – my 50th birthday. I have been kind of freaked out about getting older, but I decided to make it into a celebration. Saturday I had a party with friends and bought this gorgeous cake! Dark chocolate and raspberry, so yummy. I got some great books for my birthday, but I’m going to try to get a picture tomorrow and post it then.

Instead, I thought I’d share my quiz I did for 1969. The answers are in the comments.


True or False

Richard Nixon is sworn in as president of the United States.

The first Special Olympics is held.

The Beatles give their last public performance, on a London rooftop.

The Stonewall riots in NYC mark the start of gay rights movement.

Tonga becomes an independent country.

Apollo 11 lands on the moon.

The first Gap store opens in San Francisco.

Scooby-Doo and Sesame Street both premiere.

Yale University announces it will admit women.

Woodstock music festival was held in New York.

The first Earth Day celebration is held in San Francisco.

Mattel introduces the Hot Wheels toys.

In Literature

Published

Agatha Christie – Halloween Party

Ray Bradbury – I Sing the Body Electric

Michael Crichton – The Andromeda Strain

Ursula LeGuin – The Left Hand of Darkness

Mario Puzo – The Godfather

Kurt Vonnegut – Slaughterhouse Five

Eric Carle – The Very Hungry Caterpillar

Maya Angelou – I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

Awards

Nobel Prize for Literature – Saul Bellow

Newberry Award – Lloyd Alexander The High King


 

Goodreads Monday

Goodreads Monday is a weekly meme that was started by @Lauren’s Page Turners. The meme is pretty easy to follow, to participate simply choose a random book from your TBR and explain why you want to read it!

This week’s book!

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The Great Unexpected: A Novel by Dan Mooney

An unlikely friendship. An adventure of a lifetime.

 

I read The Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out of a Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson last year on a whim. It was available on audio from Overdrive and it sounded like fun. I laughed so hard while listening to that book. I also loved A Man Called Ove by Frederik Bachmann. Between the two books, I guess I’m looking for more funny books featured the elderly. This one sounds great.


A curmudgeon and his eccentric new roommate join together to plan an epic escape in this charming, poignant tale.

Joel lives in a nursing home, and he’s not one bit happy about it. He hates being told when to eat, when to sleep, when to take his pills. He’s fed up with life and begins to plan a way out when his new roommate, a retired soap opera actor named Frank, moves in and turns the nursing-home community upside down.

Though the two men couldn’t be more opposite, a fast friendship is formed when Frank is the only one who listens to and stands up for Joel. When he tells Frank about his burgeoning plan, they embark together on a mission to find the perfect escape, and along the way will discover that it’s never too late for new beginnings.

Filled with colorful characters, sparkling humor and deep emotion, The Great Unexpected is the story of friendship, finding oneself later in life and experiencing newfound joy in the most unexpected places.


 

Okay, I admit I’m a little concerned to hear it described as “Charming, Poignant.” That can also mean sappy, which I do not enjoy. But the idea of two old men going on the run together sounds hilarious. And if it explores friendship too, that would be great. Have you heard of this one? What’s on your TBR?

The Stranger Diaries

This meme is to honor all those great book that don’t depend on the next book to wrap things up. Let’s hear it for the stand alones!

Hell is empty and all the devils are here

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The Stranger Diaries by Elly Griffiths

I went to the library looking for a good thriller to curl up with. I was hoping for something creepy, with maybe a supernatural twist to it. This sounded like that’s what it would deliver, but although it was scary and intense, it wasn’t as spooky as I thought.

Book description

“Clare Cassidy is no stranger to murder. A high school English teacher specializing in the Gothic writer R. M. Holland, she teaches a course on it every year. But when one of Clare’s colleagues and closest friends is found dead, with a line from R. M. Holland’s most famous story, “The Stranger,” left by her body, Clare is horrified to see her life collide with the storylines of her favourite literature.

To make matters worse, the police suspect the killer is someone Clare knows. Unsure whom to trust, she turns to her closest confidant, her diary, the only outlet she has for her darkest suspicions and fears about the case. Then one day she notices something odd. Writing that isn’t hers, left on the page of an old diary: “Hallo, Clare. You don’t know me.”

Clare becomes more certain than ever: “The Stranger” has come to terrifying life. But can the ending be rewritten in time?”


One of the things I liked about this one is that there were 3 narrators with very distinct voices. We had Clare, the English teacher; Harbinder Kaur, the police inspector, and Georgia Newton, Clare’s daughter. I love books where you get to see the events from very different perspectives. It makes you wonder just who is telling the truth and what’s really going on. You also keep getting new views of the characters themselves.

As the police investigate, they keep coming across references to a Gothic writer, R M Holland. I loved that part too. It made me almost believe that Holland was an actual writer. The pace was good. However, I did find some aspects of the story kind of unbelievable and I wasn’t totally sold on the identity of the killer. I rated it about 3.75, but I did enjoy it enough that I would love to read more by this author.

 

Halloween

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Photo by Skitterphoto on Pexels.com

It’s Fright Night and I’m in the mood to share a horror recommendation. This one is also Throwback Thursday since this review already appeared here.

The Wandering Land by Jamie Killen

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I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

I love a good, creepy story. My idea of great horror is something that takes the familiar and makes it slightly but definitely other, then taking the story and letting the otherness grow until the whole story is just horrifying. It doesn’t even have to have supernatural stuff in it – a creepy, suspenseful story is always immensely satisfying. One example would be We Have Always Lived in the Castle. I loved the book description on The Wandering Land, and I was really hoping the story was just as good.

I was right. Killen delivers a very satisfying story with a truly creepy payoff. The story starts with five different people who all discover a way into a hidden world. Each of the five is creative in a different way – an artist, a writer, a cartoonist, an editor, and a musician – and they discover that through their art they can create new and sometimes unsettling changes to this hidden world.

As they redesign the world, they are given tasks to complete, all at the direction of a hidden queen. The further they progress in their tasks, the more the world begins taking hold of their every day life as well. Soon it becomes almost impossible to separate the two. They have to dive deep to uncover the history of this wandering land if they are all going to be able to free themselves from its spell.

There was so much to enjoy about this book. First, I loved the concept of a hidden world that chooses its new residents. It’s set in Tuscon, and I think that’s a great place to imagine a portal to a hidden world. The desert is definitely a landscape where you feel like anything could happen.

But my favorite part of this book was the characters. While the story was great, well-imagined and original, the characters were the part that really made this story shine for me. I loved that the author was able to get such diverse group of characters without making it seem like she was just checking off boxes for the sake of diversity. Lovers Darcy and Wes work together on a comic, but they have to work hard to overcome the differences in their upbringing. Eli has a family to support but he can’t help feeling this connection to the wandering land that threatens to overshadow his responsibilities. Amal is a professor who has just moved in with her girlfriend. And Coyote has no family, only one friend, and lives only for her music. Each character has a compelling back story and a unique voice.

In short, I’m really glad I had a chance to read this one. I haven’t read any other books from this author, but I would definitely recommend this one.

I did receive this book for free in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. It is currently available through Kindle Unlimited.

The Water Dancer

Can’t-Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted at Wishful Endings to spotlight and discuss the books we’re excited about that we have yet to read. Generally they’re books that have yet to be released. It’s based on Waiting on Wednesday, hosted by the fabulous Jill at Breaking the Spine. If you’re continuing with WOW, feel free to link those up as well! Find out more here.

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The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates

I don’t always click with magical realism. In fact, I usually hate it. For some reason, this book sounds so good that I can’t wait to try it. Partly it’s that stunning cover. It just catches the eye and makes you want to know what it’s about. But it’s also the author – Coates gets so much buzz and so many critics love him that I want to know what it’s all about. I did read his Black Panther series for Marvel, and I thought it was pretty good. Maybe in a novel I will enjoy his writing more.

Book description:

“Young Hiram Walker was born into bondage. When his mother was sold away, Hiram was robbed of all memory of her—but was gifted with a mysterious power. Years later, when Hiram almost drowns in a river, that same power saves his life. This brush with death births an urgency in Hiram and a daring scheme: to escape from the only home he’s ever known.

So begins an unexpected journey that takes Hiram from the corrupt grandeur of Virginia’s proud plantations to desperate guerrilla cells in the wilderness, from the coffin of the deep South to dangerously utopic movements in the North. Even as he’s enlisted in the underground war between slavers and the enslaved, Hiram’s resolve to rescue the family he left behind endures.”


This one is available now, so if you have read it, what did you think? Are you planning on reading it? Let me know in the comments!

TTT: Spooky Reads!

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Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

10 Spooky Reads for Halloween

 

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The Hound of the Baskersville by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

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The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury

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The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Other Stories by Washington Irving

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Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff

Macbeth by William Shakespeare

Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury

A Night of Darker Blackness by Dan Wells

The Keep by Paul F. Wilson

Poison by Chris Wooding

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman


Enjoy! I hope these give you something scary to read while waiting for the monsters to knock on your door. Happy reading!