Quote

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It is a country to breed mystical people, egocentric people, perhaps poetic people. But not humble ones. At noon the total sun pours on your single head; at sunrise or sunset you throw a shadow a hundred yards long. It was not prairie dwellers who invented the indifferent universe or impotent man. Puny you may feel there, and vulnerable, but not unnoticed. This is a land to mark the sparrow’s fall.

Wolf Willow by Wallace Stegner

Book Review: A Novel Disguise

A Novel Disguise by Samantha Larsen

Synopsis:

When Miss Tiffany Woodall assumes the identity of her half-brother after his death, she realizes she isn’t the only one with a secret to hide in this historical series debut, perfect for fans of Deanna Raybourn and Sherry Thomas.

1784 London. Miss Tiffany Woodall didn’t murder her half-brother, but she did bury him in the back garden so that she could keep her cottage. Now, the confirmed spinster has to pretend to be Uriah and fulfill his duties as the Duke of Beaufort’s librarian while searching Astwell Palace for Uriah’s missing diamond pin, the only thing of value they own. Her ruse is almost up when she is discovered by Mr. Samir Lathrop, the local bookseller, who tries to save her from drowning while she’s actually just washing up in a lake after burying her brother.

Her plan is going by the book, until the rector proposes marriage and she starts to develop feelings for Mr. Lathrop. But when her childhood friend, Tess, comes to visit, Tiffany quickly realizes her secret isn’t the only one hidden within these walls. The body of a servant is found, along with a collection of stolen items, and someone else grows mysteriously ill. Can Tiffany solve these mysteries without her own disguise being discovered? If not, she’ll lose her cottage and possibly her life.

My thoughts:

Poor Tiffany has no resources to call her own. She’s stuck living with her insufferable half-brother, Uriah, wholly dependent on him for food and housing. Then one morning he turns up dead. Now what is she going to do? With nowhere to live and nothing to live on, she decides her only choice is to impersonate him. She goes to work as librarian to the Duke of Beaufort, wearing her brother’s clothes and wig. But things only get more complicated as one of the servants is murdered. Perhaps Uriah’s death wasn’t natural after all. Does that mean Tiffany is next?

First the things I liked. I liked the setting – late 18th century in a big manor house with plenty of servants and the little village attached to it. I liked the characters and the love interest. The characters in general were well drawn and distinct. I really hated the vicar, which I was supposed to, and really liked Emily and Mary.

But I felt like Tiffany, while clearly driven by desperation, was not thinking things through. How long did she expect to impersonate her brother before getting caught?

I also liked the ending. The author’s note was more info about the justice system of the time and it was an eye-opener.

Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for letting me read this one for free. My opinions are all my own.

Top 10 Series I Want to Finish

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.

Book Series!

I love finding a new book series that I enjoy because that means I have a bunch of new books that I will enjoy. The downside is that if the series is not finished, I tend to get behind because I have SO MANY SERIES that I’m reading. Then I forget what happened in the previous books and I have to start at the beginning and read them all before I can read the new book. Anyway, here are 10 series that I want to finish. I’m going with series that are complete, so that rules out ongoing series like The Way of Kings.

  1. Bartimaeus by Jonathan Stroud. I almost finished this years ago, but never got to the last book. So I restarted book 1, and this time I want to finish.
  2. The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen. I came to this one kind of late, but I’m really enjoying it.
  3. Wayfarers by Becky Chambers. I’m not completely sure that this series is finished, but I need to read book 3 next.
  4. Mousai by E J Mellow. This one is complete and available on KU, but for some reason it’s not getting a lot of love. Great fantasy series with unique magical system.
  5. The Witchlands by Susan Dennard. I’m on book 3 and I’m really into it. So why haven’t I read it yet? Dunno.
  6. Winternight Trilogy by Katherine Arden. I’m actually reading book 3 right now, but I’m not very far into it yet. Love it so far.
  7. The Song of Shattered Sands by Bradley P. Beaulieu. This is one where I almost feel like I need to read book 1 again before I read the sequel. There are so many characters to keep track of.
  8. Nightmare-Verse by LL McKinney. Ready for book 3 in this one but I haven’t gotten it from the library yet. I might just buy it.
  9. Tiffany Aching by Terry Pratchett. I think there’s one more out there that I need to read, but I’m kinda saving it for a rainy day.
  10. Dread Nation by Justina Ireland. Loved the first one, so I don’t know why I haven’t read book 2.

So that’s my list. Which ones have you read or are you curious about? Let me know in the comments and Happy Reading!

October Wrap Up

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Hey readers! How’s it going out there? Hope your October / Halloween was lots of fun. Fright night was pretty chill at our house. We had quite a few Trick or Treaters but we didn’t do anything special. I’m sorry if this looks different from usual – I’ve been fighting with Word Press, trying to get my page to work and apparently it’s winning.

What I read in October

Audiobooks

  1. Rule of Wolves by Leigh Bardugo, Grisha duology #2
  2. The Amulet of Samarkand by Jonathan Stroud, Bartimaeus series #1

Both were really good. I loved the characters and the action in the first book and the sly humor in the second book. Planning to continue with that series. I was hoping for more of the F/F romance with the Grisha, but it didn’t really get as much time as it deserved. But Zoya is still my queen!

Nonfiction

Only one here, The Winter World: The Ingenuity of of Animal Survival by Bernd Heinrich. TW: animal experiments. I did enjoy this and the little drawing were charming, but I felt like sometimes it got a little dry. And sometimes gross. But I wouldn’t mind giving this author another try.

Fiction

Lots here!

  1. Odds Against by Dick Francis*
  2. Dead Cert by Dick Francis*
  3. A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers (Wayfarers #2)*
  4. Mecca (Ms. Marvel #8)* by G. Willow Wilson
  5. Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno Garcia*
  6. The Last Judgement #4 by Iain Pears
  7. The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow #1 by Katherine Woodfine
  8. A Master of Djinn by P. Djeli Clark*
  9. The Thursday Murder Club #1 by Richard Osmun*
  10. Tea and Sympathetic Magic #1 by Tansy Rayner Roberts*
  11. This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger*

Lots of series there, I just noticed. The Dick Francis books were rereads but the rest were new. Loved Mexican Gothic and A Master of Djinn. ACACO was also very good. The Iain Pears book was just so-so.

Children’s Books

I read a bunch to boost my numbers on my Storygraph challenge. Kinda cheating, I guess, but I did read them, so maybe not.

  1. Spiky by Ilaria Guarducci
  2. Be Kind by Pat Zietlow Miller
  3. Pirates Don’t Go to Kindergarten by Lisa Robinson

And that’s about a wrap for the month! Best of the month was Mexican Gothic, worst was The Last Judgement, starred books are recommended. See you soon and happy reading!

Halloween Top 10

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Halloween Top 10

Need something spooky to read? It’s the season. Here are some creepy books I’ve enjoyed.

  1. Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno Garcia. Just finished this one and it was super creepy and fun.
  2. I Am Not a Serial Killer by Dan Wells. An older series, but still good.
  3. The Gates by John Connolly. The first in a kid’s series but all about opening the gates to Hell.
  4. Full Tilt by Neal Shusterman. Features an evil carnival.
  5. Dead Mann Walking by Stefan Petrucha. Need at least one zombie book in here.
  6. Monsters I Have Known by Jess Hartley. An indy published collection of short stories.
  7. A Sincere Warning About the Entity in Your Home by Jason Arnopp. Another indy published novella.
  8. Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake. Need some malevolent spirits in this list too.
  9. His Hideous Heart by Dahlia Adler. New collection of stories based on Poe’s classics.
  10. The Keep by F. Paul Wilson. Throws some Nazis into the eldritch evil. First in a series.

What about you? What spooky books are you planning on reading this week? Let me know. Happy scary reading!

Happy Weekend!

Hey fellow readers! How’s your October been going? It’s finally cooled off here in the Rocky Mountains. Today is cool and rainy. Halloween is just around the corner and my birthday is right after that. Today is busy with errands – mailing our ballots, going to the dispensary, going to the storage unit, and maybe making apple cobbler.

I’ve also been reading some. I’m still on a fanfic streak, but I’ve been reading regular books too. I’m currently listening to The Bartimaeus trilogy book 1, The Amulet of Samarkand by Jonathan Stroud. It’s a reread and I forgot how much I enjoyed it the first time around.

I also just started A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers. Too soon to tell what I think, but I loved the first book. And I’m still meandering through A Winter World by Bernd Heinrich.

What about you? What are your plans this weekend? What are you reading? Let me know, and happy reading!

Thursday Throwback!

Throwback Thursday is a thing where I bring back old reviews and share them with my new readers! This one is from 2013.

Bellwether by Connie Willis

Book description

“Connie Willis has won more Hugo and Nebula awards than any other science fiction author. Now, with her trademark wit and inventiveness, she explores the intimate relationship between science, pop culture, and the arcane secrets of the heart.

Sandra Foster studies fads – from Barbie dolls to the grunge look – how they start and what they mean. Bennett O’Reilly is a chaos theorist studying monkey group behavior. They both work for the HiTek corporation, strangers until a misdelivered package brings them together. It’s a moment of synchronicity – if not serendipity – which leads them into a chaotic system of their own, complete with a million-dollar research grant, caffé latte, tattoos, and a series of unlucky coincidences that leaves Bennett monkeyless, fundless, and nearly jobless.

Sandra intercedes with a flock of sheep and an idea for a joint project. (After all, what better animal to study both chaos theory and the herd mentality that so often characterizes human behavior?)

But scientific discovery is rarely straightforward and never simple, and Sandra and Bennett have to endure a series of setbacks, heartbreaks, dead ends, and disasters before they find their ultimate answer.”

My thoughts:

I enjoyed listening to this. I think it made the funny parts better. But I do think she let the story go on a little too long. For such a smart scientist, Sandra took a little forever to figure out her feelings and her science. Also, I think Willis is too heavy with the ‘people are sheep’ message. I got it already!

Update: I have read/listened to this since 2013 and I enjoyed it more the second time. The first time I was focused on Sandra and her lab assistant Flipp. The second time I read it I caught more of the bizarre corporate behavior in the background and the social commentary. The “people are sheep” thing didn’t bother me nearly as much as it did before, since events have really reinforced that message. So, not my favorite Willis, but a really good read all the same. 

(Also, what a weird cover! It doesn’t really fit the book.)

12 Books I’ve Read for the Mount TBR Reading Challenge

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.

Hey fellow readers! I didn’t have much to say about this week’s prompt, so I thought I would catch you up with another one of my reading challenges. This one is hosted by Bev over at My Reader’s Block. This one is designed to knock a bunch of books off that TBR pile!

The challenge levels run as follows:

Pike’s Peak: Read 12 books from your TBR pile/s
Mount Blanc: Read 24 books from your TBR pile/s
Mt. Vancouver: Read 36 books from your TBR pile/s
Mt. Ararat: Read 48 books from your TBR pile/s
Mt. Kilimanjaro: Read 60 books from your TBR pile/s
El Toro*: Read 75 books from your TBR pile/s (*aka Cerro El Toro in South America)
Mt. Everest: Read 100 books from your TBR pile/s
Mount Olympus (Mars): Read 150+ books from your TBR pile/s

I signed up for Mount Blanc, 24 books. You’re welcome to read more than your goal, but you have to meet your goal to count the challenge as completed. All books (and any format is ok) must be owned prior to Jan 1, 2022. I am currently at -37- so I have finished the Mt. Vancouver level!! But I haven’t been keeping up on my reviews so I’m going to try to knock out a bunch this week. Here are my first 12 I did for the challenge.

  1. A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles. Audio. I actually started this one ages ago, but I didn’t finish it until August. I took a long break over the spring and summer. But I did finally finish so it counts!
  2. The River of Doubt by Candice Millard. Print. Definitely worth reading – amazing adventure story and a harrowing read.
  3. Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng. E-book. I got this for my birthday last year and I was pretty excited about it. It turned out to be such a good read with so much to think about.
  4. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman. E-book. Wow, for a book that seems so light on the surface and in the description, it is an absolute gut punch. I loved Eleanor – maybe my favorite character of the year.
  5. The Templar’s Penance by Michael Jecks. Print. A murder on pilgrimage leads our main characters into an investigation. Interesting setting, but mediocre mystery.
  6. The Gold Bug and other Stories by Edgar Allan Poe. Print. This had a lot of stories I had never read as well as some old favorites. Trigger warning for animal cruelty though.
  7. The Dark Horse by Craig Johnson. Print. I just love this series. Sheriff Walt Longmire has to go undercover on this one. It was fun to see him out of his comfort zone.
  8. Doomsday Book by Connie Willis. Print. Possibly my very favorite book of all time. This was a reread and it packed just as much of a punch the 2nd time around.
  9. Your Republic is Calling You by Kim Young-ha. Print. DNF, but it still counts because I got it off my TBR. Depressing and confusing.
  10. A Day Like This by Kelley McNeil. E-book. Not what I expected – sort of an alternate reality story where the character gets to choose what to believe.
  11. Between Kings by W R Gingell. E-book. Conclusion to a great urban fantasy series. Some real twists and shocking moments in this one.
  12. The Water Memory by Ta-Nehisi Coates. Audio. A little magical realism in this one about slavery and the Underground Railroad.

Did any of those spark your interest? Also, how big is your TBR? I’m pretty pleased that I got so many finished this year, and I still have a couple of months to go! Happy reading everyone!

2022 Non-Fiction Reading Challenge

Hey readers! I just realized that I forgot to list ALL my reading challenges at the beginning of the year. This one is one I omitted entirely, although I have been tracking it since January. It’s hosted over on Book’d Out and has the following categories:

Categories

1. Social History

2. Popular Science

3.  Language

4. Medical Memoir

5. Climate/Weather

6. Celebrity

7. Reference

8. Geography

9. Companion to a podcast

10. Wild Animals

11. Economics

12. Published in 2022

Also the rules are as follows:

You can select, read and review a book from the categories listed below during the year for a total of up to 12 books; OR select, read and review any nonfiction book. A book may be in print, electronic or audio format. The challenge will run from January 1st to December 31st 2022. Participants may join at any time up until December 1st 2022.

So that’s the official rules. You can do as few as 1 book or as many as you like. Here’s what I’ve got so far.

  1. Social History

In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin by Erik Larson 3.25 stars

On Juneteenth by Annette Gordon-Reed

Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson 3.5 stars

Wisdom from the Four Agreements by Miguel Ruiz 1.5 stars

In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin by Erik Larson 3.5 stars

2. Popular Science

Life Ascending: The 10 Great Inventions of Evolution by Nick Lane 4 stars

At the Water’s Edge: Fish with Fingers, Whales with Legs, and How Life Came Ashore but then Went Back to Sea by Carl Zimmer 4 stars

3. Language

The Elements of Style by William Strunk, Jr. 3.5 stars

4. Medical Memoir

Everything Happens for a Reason and Other Lies I’ve Loved by Kate Bowler 3.75 stars

5. Climate/Weather

Ruthless Tide: The Heroes and Villains of the Johnstown Flood, America’s Astonishing Gilded Age Disaster by Al Roker 4 stars

6. Celebrity

Roberto Clemente: Young Baseball Hero by Louis Sabin 3 stars

The Good, Good Pig: The Extraordinary Life of Christopher Hogwood by Sy Montgomery 3.25 stars

7. Reference – none so far

8. Geography

The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt’s Darkest Journey by Candice Millard 4.5 stars

9. Companion to a Podcast – none so far

10. Wild Animals – none so far

11. Economics – none so far

12. Published in 2022 – nothing

Books that didn’t qualify:

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates 4 stars

Hunting Eichmann: How a Band of Survivors and a Young Spy Agency Chased Down the World’s Most Notorious Nazi by Neal Bascomb 3.5 stars

The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui 4.5 stars


Definitely some good reads in there. I’m currently lazing through another non-fiction, Winter World by Bernd Heinrich. It’s a nature book and I’m enjoying it, but feeling no pressure to hurry and finish. A chapter a night is just about right for me. How’s your non-fiction reading this year? Let me know if you’ve read anything amazing! Happy reading.

Top 10

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.


I’m back! I’ve been really busy so I haven’t had much time for blogging. Then when I looked at the prompt for this week (Favorite bookstores or booksellers) I didn’t really feel inspired. So I’m using one of the prompts that I missed.

10 Books on My Fall/Winter TBR

  1. The Master of Djinn by P. Djeli Clark. Currently reading this one, but only 2 chapters in. Reading for Autumn Mixtapeathon.
  2. Rules of Wolves by Leigh Bardugo. Currently listening. Really good, but it feels a little slow. Very anxious about this one. 😰😰😰
  3. Winter of the Witch by Katherine Arden. Already started this one, but I think I will concentrate on it more towards November. It’s definitely giving me winter vibes, instead of autumn.
  4. Winter World by Bernd Heinrich. A cool (ha!) non-fiction read about how nature survives in the harsh environment of winter.
  5. Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno Garcia. I have this one from the library so I need to finish soon.
  6. The Year of the Witching by Alexis Henderson. I know nothing about it except the title and the cover and it’s spooky!
  7. The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow by Katherine Woodfine.
  8. Kamusari Tales Told at Night by Shion Miura. Book in translation for Mixtapeathon.
  9. The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena. Gotta have a good thriller!
  10. A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers. Just reread book 1 so I’d be ready to start this one!

That’s what I’ve got! What do you think? Any that catch your eye? Let me know in the comments and thanks for stopping by!