What are you reading?

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Yay! I finished one of my Spring TBR list! Just finished Becoming by Michelle Obama last night. It was so good. I felt like it did drag in a couple of spots, especially toward the end, but I’m glad I read it. It made me so sad to think how quickly the progress we made under her husband’s administration was just erased by the current White House occupant. Wow, I miss the Obamas! I wish them nothing but good things from now on.

I also finished Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky by Kwame Mbalia. If you haven’t heard of this one, it’s under the imprint of Rick Riordan Present. This book features African-American folk heroes like John Henry and Brer Rabbit. I was really looking forward to this, because I’ve always loved the Brer Rabbit stories and I’m excited to see so many diverse stories being published now. But I struggled through this. I’m not sure what the problem was, but story just didn’t keep my attention. Maybe it’s just because I don’t enjoy middle grade fiction as much as I used to. I would still recommend this one for someone else; it just didn’t work great for me.

Then today I read When the Emperor Was Divine by Julie Otsuka. This was a short novel about a family sent to the Japanese internment camps during World War II. In fact, they wind up at Topaz, which is just a couple of hours from my house. I really liked the style of this book. She uses multiple perspectives, but I felt like it worked well.

I hope you are all well and are doing all right with the quarantine. We are all healthy but a little anxious and bored at the same time. Still, I can’t complain. I’m just grateful that none of us are sick yet. Take care and happy reading.

TTT: 10 Entertaining Reads about Nature

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.

Spring is here, but many of us are stuck inside, looking at the gorgeous weather and flowers and birds from inside. Even if you can go out for a little while, it’s not the same as being able to really be outdoors.

I guess that’s what inspired my list this week. I love reading about nature and the natural world and why animals act they way they do. I hope that you will enjoy this list too.

10 Entertaining Reads About Nature

36505603._UX87_ My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell

Set during his family’s first stay in Corfu, this book is hilarious but still informative. It’s mainly about a boy obsessed with nature. Favorite part: when he captures a mama scorpion and her babies and stores them in a matchbox. On the dining table. Guess what happens.

Remarkable Creatures: Epic Adventures in the Search for the Origin of Species by Eric Carroll

Adventures around the world, while the author explains how each discovery added to our knowledge of evolution. Really entertaining. And it’s free on Kindle Unlimited.

Every Creeping Thing: True Tales of Faintly Repulsive Wildlife by Richard Coniff

Bats, mice, sharks, and bloodhounds. I listened to this one on audio and it would be a lot of fun for kids obsessed with nature. And it would count as biology lessons for home school!

3240640 Dark Banquet: Blood and the Curious Lives of Blood-Feeding Creatures by Bill Schutt

All right, not very spring-like, but it was still a fascinating book. This one was more repulsive than the previous book, as it had a chapter on bedbugs. So gross! And it talks about chiggers, which I am too familiar with as I lived in the American South. I hate those things.

All My Patients Have Tales: Favorite Stories from a Vet’s Practice by Jeff Wells

I wanted to be a veterinarian when I was a kid. Then I discovered I was allergic to dogs and cats and I was crushed. And now I’ve outgrown my allergies, so I could have been a vet after all! At least I love reading about it. From the dogs that won’t leave the porcupines alone to a pygmy donkey, this book covers the wide variety of animals and their problems that a new vet has to deal with.

29088747._SX318_ Pink is for Blobfish: Discovering the World’s Perfectly Pink Animals by Jess Keating

This one was a picture book for kids, but when I saw that face on the cover, I had to read it. It’s heavy on pictures and facts, and kids will love it. Besides blobfish here, it’s got pink dolphins, naked mole rats, and slugs. Gross and cool.

Monster of God: The Man-Eating Predator in the Jungles of History and the Mind by David Quammen

A great book by one of my favorite writers. From bears in Romania to crocodiles in Australia and leopard in Africa. Being a cat lover, the leopards where my favorite part.

Land on Fire: The New Reality of Wildfire in the West by Gary Ferguson

As a Westerner, I found this book especially timely. I read it a few years ago, just before peak fire season started. Well reasoned and researched, it should be required reading for every policy maker involved in public lands.


Not quite 10 this week, but I’ve got Extreme Birds: The World’s Most Extraordinary and Bizarre Birds on my TBR. Does that count? Happy Spring (or Fall!) and happy reading!

Review: Anna, Dressed in Blood

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Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake

Book Description:

“Cas Lowood has inherited an unusual vocation: He kills the dead.

So did his father before him, until he was gruesomely murdered by a ghost he sought to kill. Now, armed with his father’s mysterious and deadly athame, Cas travels the country with his kitchen-witch mother and their spirit-sniffing cat. They follow legends and local lore, destroy the murderous dead, and keep pesky things like the future and friends at bay.

Searching for a ghost the locals call Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas expects the usual: track, hunt, kill. What he finds instead is a girl entangled in curses and rage, a ghost like he’s never faced before. She still wears the dress she wore on the day of her brutal murder in 1958: once white, now stained red and dripping with blood. Since her death, Anna has killed any and every person who has dared to step into the deserted Victorian she used to call home.

Yet she spares Cas’s life.”

My thoughts:

If you are looking to spend quarantine curled up with a creepy ghost story and hint of romance, a little dash of teen angst, new friends and a homecoming queen, look no further. This YA supernatural thriller has got it all. Cas is used to being the new kid in school, since he crosses the country (and now Canada too) looking for the uneasy dead -and making sure they stay dead.

But even Cas has never had a first week like this – he meets the A crowd at school, gets invited to a killer party, and finishes up the night by getting assaulted at the local haunted house. Now he’s got to figure out why this ghost, a Finnish immigrant named Anna, is so much more powerful than every other spirit he’s faced. And he’d better do it before she kills again.

This was a little different from my usual read, since I don’t read a lot of ghost stories and I’m not as into YA books anymore either. But that cover – I mean, come on! That was so intriguing and beautiful and creepy! I don’t love this book description – it was a little weak – but it was good enough to convince me to get this from the library.

I listened to this one and it was so much fun. The narrator did a good job of getting Cas’s voice right. This one would be perfect for a wintery night or Halloween, but I enjoyed it right now. Definitely an absorbing story perfect for keeping your spirits high – get it? Spirits? Yeah, I’m hilarious.

TW and spoilers: Contains references to physical and emotional abuse, hints of possible sexual abuse, lots of violence and blood, and the death of a pet. It also contains profanity and teenage drinking.

 

Throwback Thursday – Nursing Home Murder

This meme is dedicated to reviews or posts that you published before, but feel deserve a second chance to shine.

Nursing Home Murder by Ngaio Marsh

Synopsis:

“When Britain’s Home Secretary complained of abdominal pains, it seemed like a simple case of appendicitis. But minutes after his operation, the ill-fated politician lay dead on the table. When Chief Detective-Inspector Roderick Alleyn arrives to dissect the situation, he finds many a likely suspect, including a vengeful surgeon, a lovelorn nurse, an unhappy wife, and a cabinet full of political foes.”

My thoughts:

Sir Derek O’Callaghan is in the middle of pushing through an important bill when he becomes ill with appendicitis. The surgery appears to be a success, but he dies soon after.

It sounds like an accident, but his widow is convinced that his enemies got him. The police aren’t convinced – until the post-mortem. And after they begin to invesigate, they find no shortage of enemies to choose from.

Inspector Alleyn is on the job. I really enjoyed this one and was stumped as to how it was done. Inspector Fox was also in this one, and I like him.


Update: I still have a definite fondness for Marsh’s books. I love her frequent use of the theater as a backdrop for her stories, and I’ve always liked the quiet, erudite Inspector Alleyn. But when read today, the attitudes toward LGBT characters is just shocking. I’m not sure how this was viewed at the time they were written, mostly the 1940s & 1950s, but today’s reader will really be surprised. So I recommend caution. This book didn’t have anything offensive in that way (at least that I can remember) but be aware that it’s there. Also that element was really toned down in the video adaptation, and they were really well done. Maybe watch these instead.

 

 

Top Ten Books on my Spring TBR List

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.

It’s Spring and it’s quarantine, so it’s a perfect time to stay inside and read. Here’s what I’m looking forward to.

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Becoming by Michelle Obama. I’m enjoying this so far. Sigh. I miss those guys.

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The Ace of Skulls by Chris Wooding. So ready for this one! Conclusion in a great series.

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The Sound of Glass by Karen White. This one is for my book club and I hope it’s as much fun as it sounds!

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Lirael by Garth Nix. I’m rereading the series and this is my least favorite, but I want to give it another chance.

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett, for my other book club. This is a reread, but it’s one I’m happy to read again.

The King’s Justice by E M Powell. First book in a new historical mystery series.

Children of Virtue and Vengeance by Tomi Adeyami. I just got this at the used book store and I’m excited to read it!

The Boy in the Suitcase by Lene Kaaberbol. It’s been on the shelf too long.

Kindness Goes Unpunished by Craig Johnson. For Contemporary-thon next month. In the Sheriff Walt Longmire series.

Caesar’s Last Breath by Sam Kean. I love his lighthearted science books.

 


There’s my list, and there’s only one that I’m not sure I own. All the rest are on the shelves! Anyhow, I hope you’re all staying healthy! Happy reading.

The Liebster Award – I’m Tagged!

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Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

Yay! I’m tagged! I’m tagged! I feel so famous! I just got tagged for this one by Beck over at Smellfoy. If you haven’t checked their page out, you should! Thanks for the tag!!


Today’s burning questions!

 

1 what was your first blog post about?

You know I love to be creative, so my first post was called Introducing Myself. Yeah, not so original, but hey, I was just warming up!

 

2 if you had to become a disney villain for a day, who would you be?

Can I go with Loki? Because you know I would love to be a drama queen for a day! And I even look good in green!

3 what is your favorite podcast to listen to?

I am more into audiobooks than podcasts, but I do love Stuff You Missed in History Class. I love Holly & Tracy.

4 what Doctor Who creature do you identify with the most? (if you don’t watch Doctor Who just look it up and take a guess)

I’m not a Doctor Who fan, so I have no idea who I identify with the most. But my daughter used to be hooked on the show and I thought the Weeping Angels were the creepiest!

5 what is your favorite gif?

6 most paranormal experience?

I went to a psychic last year! Does that count?

7 open your junk drawer (I know you have one) and grab a couple random items in the bottom of the drawer. Tell me what they are (incorrect answers only)

I found a set of steel false teeth and the handle for a very cheap sword. Also cat hair. (for real tho.)

8 which Spider-Man? Tobey, Andrew, or Tom? What about Spider-Verse characters?

Also I love Miles Morales!

9 what is your favorite meme? (don’t tell me, show me!)

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10 did you ever hear the tragedy of Darth Plagueis the wise?

Nope.

11 just go on a mini rant about anything!

The latest thing I’m stressing over is moving! We need a new house because they’re building a 1000+ bed apartment complex at the end of our block, 650 new cars AT LEAST. We’ve had 3 shootings in the last year. So we have to sell. But we’ve lived in our house for 20+ years (No, really. I’m old. I raised my kids in this house.)

But I don’t know where we’re going yet. Hubby want to live close to his work, but that will take us away from my daughter’s work. Other daughter does NOT want to live in townhouse, my hubby doesn’t want any yardwork. I have hundred of books I don’t want to get rid of but I don’t want to pack them all either.

And we haven’t even figured out what we can afford. Do we look before or after we list this place? What if we sell too soon and have nowhere to go? What if we buy a new place and this one doesn’t sell? I’M FREAKING OUT!


So that’s me for today. Let’s see, who do I want to tag?

Sarah

Pretty Purple Polka Dots

Literary Counsellor

Siobhan

Flavia

Emer

And Leelynn


1 – What’s your favorite kind of blog post to do?

2 – What type of characters do you hate the most?

3 – Which author writes the best endings?

4 – Favorite movie snack?

5 – Early bird or night owl?

6 – Do you have any pets? How many and where did they come from?

7 – Favorite pizza topping?

8 – Tell me your best library story.

9 – What are your favorite smells?

10 – Most recent book you DNF’d and why?

Flashback Friday

This review has appeared previously.

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Venom House by Arthur Upfield.

Most people are content to leave the Answerth family alone. Their mansion, Venom House, secluded on an island in the center of a treacherous man-made lake, doesn’t exactly lay out the welcome mat for prospective visitors. And there are the stories that Venom House is haunted by ghosts of aborigines slaughtered by Answerth ancestors to keep outsiders away. But when a couple of corpses are found floating in the stagnant lake, Detective-Inspector Napoleon Bonaparte has a sudden urge to get to know the Answerths and their charming home much better.

This almost read like a gothic novel–creepy atmosphere, troubled family, complete with faithful (?) retainer, mentally ill brother, dominant sister, etc. But it was really good. I enjoyed the setting a lot and the characters were well done.

TTT: One Word Titles

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.


Titles! It’s the first thing you know about a book, and a good title can really sell a book. This week I’m highlighting books with a one word title. I’ve also chosen to only mention books on my TBR, in hope that some of my readers can tell me which ones I need to read soon, and which ones I can skip altogether.

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Mutts by Patrick McDonnell. I can already tell you that I will love this book, because I love the comic strip and I love the author. I have two of his book, but not this one, and I really want it! If you are an animal lover, you should check his stuff out.

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Truman by David McCullough. I love McCullough’s stuff. He really makes history come alive, and I don’t know that much about President Harry S. Truman, so this one would be informative. But it’s not at the top of my TBR.

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Gettysburg by Stephen W. Sears. Again, I love history and I love reading about war. I’ve read several books about the Civil War, but I’ve never read anything by Sears. I probably will get to this one next year.

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Shadows by Robin McKinley. For some reason, I keep getting this one mixed up with one of McKinley’s other books, and that’s why I never remember to get it from the library. Her books are kind of hit or miss with me too, so I’m not sure about this one. Anyone read it?

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Byzantium by Stephen R. Lawhead. This is a historical fiction book by an author I’ve never tried, but the time period and the subject sound fascinating.

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Dodger by Terry Pratchett. Pratchett takes on one of Dickens’ best characters in this one. It’s not a part of the Discworld series, obviously, but I love his books, so I think this one will be at least a 4 star read for me.

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Scarlet by A C Gaughen. Another book that offers a fresh take on a classic character, this time Will Scarlet from Robin Hood. Except Will is really a girl. (Which is totally obvious from the cover. But still.)

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Imaro by Charles R. Saunders. This is not a new book, but I had never heard of it until I found it on some lists of African-inspired fantasy. I’ve been really loving fresh takes on epic fantasy, so I hope this is as good as it sounds.

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Reawakened by Colleen Houck. I didn’t love her previous series, but I am a sucker for things inspired by Egypt. A mummy brought back to life? That sounds like pure fun.

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Ripper by Stefan Petrucha. What if the reason they never found more victims of Jack the Ripper is because he sailed to America? What if he started killing again, this time in New York? Kind of on the fence on this one, and my library doesn’t have it. So I’m not sure I want to buy it.


That’s my list of 10! It’s a totally random list too; they don’t have anything in common. What can I say? My reading tastes are pretty broad. See you soon with another list!

Saturday series: The Indranan War

Once a gunrunner, now heir to an empire

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Meet Hail: Captain. Gunrunner. Fugitive.

Quick, sarcastic, and lethal, Hailimi Bristol doesn’t suffer fools gladly. She has made a name for herself in the galaxy for everything except what she was born to do: rule the Indranan Empire. That is, until two Trackers drag her back to her home planet to take her rightful place as the only remaining heir.

But trading her ship for a palace has more dangers than Hail could have anticipated. Caught in a web of plots and assassination attempts, Hail can’t do the one thing she did twenty years ago: run away. She’ll have to figure out who murdered her sisters if she wants to survive.

A gun smuggler inherits the throne in this Star Wars-style science fiction adventure from debut author K. B. Wagers. Full of action-packed space opera exploits and courtly conspiracy – not to mention an all-out galactic war – Behind the Throne will please fans of James S. A Corey, Becky Chambers and Lois McMaster Bujold, or anyone who wonders what would happen if a rogue like Han Solo were handed the keys to an empire . . .

Have you been looking for an exciting new series with plenty of action, casually queer characters, and no love interest for our main character? Look no further. Princess Hailimi is tough, determined, and ready for vengeance. After both her sisters are murdered, Hail finds herself next in line for the throne. And it may come up sooner rather than later, since the health of her empress mother is fading fast. Now Hail has to prepare for the throne while seeking the killers who murdered her family and standing up to rebels at home. And she thought gunrunning was hard….

I listened to this entire trilogy and I loved the distinct voices for all the characters. I also love the world building in here. You can tell the author has thought things through. It’s set on a planet populated by colonists from India. Once they got to their new home, some disease attacked, but it hit the men harder than the women. Eventually all the chosen leaders were dead and the surviving women – now matriarchs – set up a new society. It definitely combines much from Hindu religion and Indian culture, but by the time the book opens over a thousand years have passed and the matriarchy is in control.

As far as queer characters, it’s a society where anyone except the nobility can marry whomever they want. Romance is not a major theme in the book, but there are lots of M/M and F/F couples, including Hail’s main bodyguards. There’s also some disabled characters in here too. But it’s not a major theme, it’s just an accepted part of society that doesn’t even need to be commented on. Very nice.

I raced through this series. I like that the main character has some moral grayness, but the series overall is not as dark as a lot of sci fi/fantasy tends to be right now. As far as the comparisons to Star Wars go, though, I didn’t really see it. I mean, yes, Hail was a smuggler and gunrunner, but in my mind at least, she really didn’t resemble Han Solo at all.

What series are you reading now? Let me know.

Birthday Tomorrow

Tomorrow is my honey’s birthday and he’s asked for a nice dinner at home. I’m making chicken cutlets, rotini, and ratatouille. If you’ve seen the Disney movie, you might be familiar with the dish. If not, imagine all the best summer veggies in one mouth-watering dish. Here’s the recipe I’m going to use.

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https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/anne-burrell/ratatouille-recipe-1925496&ved=2ahUKEwidzeyuuu7nAhWNtZ4KHS_qB6QQrbMEMAN6BAgGEA8&usg=AOvVaw04BZxkHuVpgv0qVETcdLGD