Happy Monday! What are you reading?

I haven’t done one of these in a while, so it’s time for an update! I’m still working on my Read Your Shelf challenge, trying to finish some of the books I own before acquiring any more. So far I have avoided the library for a month, but I did but a couple on Kindle.

This weekend I finished In Harm’s Way: The Sinking of the USS Indianapolis and the Extraordinary Story of Its Survivors by Doug Stanton. Here’s the synopsis.

On July 30, 1945, the USS Indianapolis was torpedoed in the South Pacific by a Japanese submarine. An estimated 300 men were killed upon impact; close to 900 sailors were cast into the Pacific Ocean, where they remained undetected by the navy for nearly four days and nights. Battered by a savage sea, they struggled to stay alive, fighting off sharks, hypothermia, and dementia. The captain’s subsequent court-martial left many questions unanswered: How did the navy fail to realize the Indianapolis was missing? And perhaps most amazing of all, how did these 317 men manage to survive? 

If you like survival stories, this one is really good. It’s headed to the used bookstore now.

I am also listening to My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry by Fredrik Backman. It’s okay, but I really liked A Man Called Ove better.

I’m reading Dominion, Book 4 in the Awaken Online series by Travis Bagwell. I’ve mentioned his series on here before. I also just started A Dedicated Man by Peter Robinson, a detective mystery. What are you reading? Let me know in the comments.

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Vacation Books!

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Photo by Eneida Nieves on Pexels.com

We’ve got our family vacation this weekend at a little, relaxing cabin in the woods! My sister is planning on going on a paddleboat, hiking with her dogs, watching movies on her tablet. I’m going to read. All right, I might do the paddleboat too, if it’s not too long a ride and I’m not feeling too sore. But I am so excited to get away from everything and dig into my TBR.

It’s not like I don’t read a lot at home. It’s just that at home, I’m always interrupted by having to drive someone here or there, buy groceries, make dinner, whatever. Sometime I do it to myself by staying on the Xbox until it’s too late to read and I have to get up in the morning. But up in the mountains, there’s no wi-fi, there’s no schedule, I can just relax. And that means read. 8) I’ve already loaded up my tablet with everything I want to get to, so I thought I would share my list here.

I went to Overdrive and checked out some ebooks. Here’s what I borrowed:

The Girl with the Ghost Eyes by M H Boroson

Dear Mr. Knightly by Katherine Reay

Snowdrift and Other Stories by Georgette Heyer

From A Certain Point of View (Star Wars) edited by Renee Adieh

From Kindle Unlimited I got:

Between Frames by W R Gingell

Apprentice of Magic by K M Shea

Awaken Online: Dominion by Travis Bagwell

And from my ebook library I have:

Absolution by Murder by Peter Tremayne

Mr. Midshipman Hornblower by C S Forester

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

The Genius Plague by David Walton

One of Our Thursdays Is Missing by Jasper Fforde


I know you might be thinking, “Come on, I know you’re Speedy Reader, but seriously, how long are you going to be gone? That’s a lot of books!” And you’re absolutely right. There’s no way I will get through all these books. I probably won’t even finish half of them. But it’s all about options. After all, if I start a book and don’t like it, it’s not like I can go to the other room and grab a different book. I want to be prepared. Besides, if I ran out of books, I might have to go outside and do something, and that’s just not happening.

I am going to schedule a post for when I’m gone, but when I get back, I’ll let you know how I did on this list, what I liked and what I didn’t. Until next week, happy reading!

May Reading Wrap Up

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Hello readers! May is over so I thought I would do a wrap up of my reading month. It looks like it was a pretty good month, so let me get started.

Let me start with the bad, and work up to the good!

Books I DNF’d

The Christie Curse (Book Collector #1) by Victoria Abbott – I remembered why I don’t like modern cozy mysteries.

The Missing Guests of the Magic Grove Hotel (Ethical Chiang Mai Detective Agency #2) by David Casarett – just lost interest. It made me hungry though!

Girl, Wash Your Face: Stop Believing the Lies about Who You Are So You Can Become Who You Were Meant to Be by Rachel Hollis – flipped through a few pages, got the general idea.

Crossed Out by Kim Baccellia – didn’t realize it was a YA paranormal, didn’t fit for me.

The Invisible Hand (The Cost of Freedom #3) by Chris Northern – I loved the previous books in this series. What happened?

Not a bad amount, although it felt like there were more. There were a few books I read a few pages of and then decided I wasn’t in the mood to finish, so I decided to try later, but I’m not going to list them.


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Audiobooks

The Grave’s a Fine and Private Place (Flavia de Luce #9) by Alan Bradley. Fun, but not his best. 2.75 stars

Captain’s Fury (Codex Alera #4)  by Jim Butcher. Still like the characters, but the writing is started to bug me. 3.5 stars

The Gene: An Intimate History by Siddhartha Mukherjee. Dense, highly technical writing made relevant with personal stories. Mind blowing stuff. 5 stars

I’m kind of surprised the number is so low. What was I listening to? Did I just forget to track it? I don’t know.


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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Books I read

Red Sister and Gray Sister (Books of the Ancestor 1 & 2) by Mark Lawrence. Freaking awesome! 5 stars each.

The Black Lung Captain (Tales of the Ketty Jay #2) by Chris Wooding. Lots of fun and I *loved* the ending. 4.5 stars

Black Enough: Stories of Being Young & Black in America, edited by Ibi Zoboi. Not a bad story in here. 4 stars

Resorting to Murder: Holiday Mysteries, edited by Martin Edwards. Reviewed here.

The Sea Detective by Mark Douglas-Home. Promising series debut set in Scotland. 4 stars

Murder in Little Shendon by A H Henderson. Also a mystery debut, set in mid-20th century England. 4 stars

The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf by Ambelin Kwaymullina. Totally original teen dystopia by Australia writer. 5 stars

Napoleon’s Buttons: How 17 Molecules Changed History by Penny Le Conteur. Why chemistry matters! 5 stars

A Bone of Contention: The Third Chronicle of Matthew Bartholomew by Matthew Gregory. Medieval mystery set in Oxford. 4 stars.


Longest book read: The Gene by Siddhartha Mukherjee, 592 pages

On my TBR the longest: Napoleon’s Buttons by Penny Le Conteur, since Feb 2012

Most disappointing: The Invisible Hand by Chris Northern. Went from a military fantasy fighting necromancers in book 1 to economic theory in book 3. Yawn.

Epic Awesome: Red Sister and Gray Sister by Mark Lawrence. You need to read these!

Coziest comfort read: Resorting to Murder. Perfect for a day sick in bed.


Like I said, a really good month! This month I’m hoping to stick to more of my own books, and not borrow from the library. I have so many physical book around here I would like to read. But I don’t make a specific TBR for each month. How was your reading in May? Let me know in the comments or post a link to your list. Happy reading!

Friday Flashback

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Baby Speedy Reader! Just turned 16

Let’s take a look at life in 1985. Here I am at 16 years old, still in high school. I remember I loved that shirt!

Back to the Future and Breakfast Club came out that year. Madonna and Michael Jackson were big in the music world. We still didn’t have cable so I watched Friday Night Videos. There were no cell phones, no laptops, and McDonald’s has just started selling Chicken Nuggets.

Big books in 1985 included The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (still haven’t read it), Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card (which I have read and loved), If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Joffe Numeroff, and Sarah, Plain and Tall by Sarah MacLachlan. I was reading Agatha Christie and Rex Stout mysteries with the occasional Harlequin romance. I had also discovered Shakespeare and read several of his plays for school.

Hope you enjoyed this look back. Have a good weekend!

 

Currently Reading

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Photo by Oleg Magni on Pexels.com

Hey! How’s everyone? I’ve been living the spring weather here in the Rocky Mountains. Lilacs and forsythias are blooming, the tulips just finished and the irises are starting. It’s great to have all the windows open.

I have a couple of fantasy series I’ve been steadily getting through this spring. The first is the Jim Butcher Codex Alera series. I’ve been doing then on audio and really enjoying them. I do think Butcher’s female characters are not his strong point, but I have loved the character growth in here. I’m also reading the Mark Lawrence series Book of the Ancestor. I flew through the first two books but I don’t have a copy of the third. Definitely recommended.

Right now I have 3 nonfiction books I’m reading. Syria’s Secret Library is from Net Galley. Very interesting so far, but I’ve barely started. Then I’m reading Power, Sex, and Suicide: Mitochondria and the Meaning of Life by Nick Lane, also just started, and Napoleon’s Buttons: How 17 Molecules Changed History   from the library. I’m almost done with that one and it’s been fascinating stuff.

How about you? What are you reading? Tell me what’s good!

20 Questions About Books!

Hey fellow readers! I thought it would be fun to come with some random questions about Books and see what my answers are. Feel free to play along, just tell me your answers are!

Name a book you were supposed to read for school but didn’t.

Lord Jim by Joseph Conrad  Just ran out of time and bluffed my way through.

Name a book that made you cry.

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Assassin’s Fate by Robin Hobb Although, TBH, I probably cried through the whole series. The last one was the worst though. Full on sobs.

Name a book that surprised you.

Surprised in a good way, Between Jobs by W R Gingell.

Name a book that made you laugh out loud.

Probably something by P G Wodehouse. I find his books hilarious.

Name a book that made you furious.

The Gene by Siddhartha Mukherjee has a long section on eugenics. So upsetting.

Name a book that left you wanting more.

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Spirit’s End by Rachel Aaron was the last in the Eli Monpress series, but I really hated to say goodbye to those characters.

Name a book that fundamentally changed you.

The Doomsday Book by Connie Willis.

Name a book that was good for killing time.

Schott’s Original Miscellany by Ben Schott. Full of trivia and interesting lists .

Name the last book you paid full price for.

Warrior of the Wild by Tricia Levenseller. Got it signed too.

Name the last book you got as a gift.

The Christmas Box by Richard Paul Evans at a book exchange. I never get books as presents anymore!

Name a movie that was better than the book.

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Legally Blonde by Amanda Brown

Name a book that would make a great movie.

Thirteenth Child by Patricia C. Wrede. Western fantasy steampunk!

What’s the oldest book you own?

My grandma’s copy of William Shakespeare. She used it when she taught school.

What book has been on your TBR the longest?

Absent in the Spring by Mary Westmacott/Agatha Christie

What’s the next book on your TBR?

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Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh for the Asian readathon this month

What’s the most popular book you own?

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J K Rowling

Which format of books do you prefer?

Honestly, I like ebooks more, but I also love audiobooks. And print books are good too, but not my favorite anymore.

Where do you get your books?

Library sometimes, Overdrive, Kindle Unlimited, and my favorite used bookstore, Pioneer Books in Provo.

Do you reread books? Yes, but not as often as I would like! There are so many new ones and it’s so easy to download a new book.

What do you do with old books? Mostly I trade them in at Pioneer Books, but I also donate them to the thrift store sometimes. I only keep book I’m sure I will want to reread.


I hope this was fun to read! I’d love to see your answers. I know mine are heavily weighted to fantasy, but that is what I read most of. Take care and happy reading!

Book Quote 4/5

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Photo by Andreea Ch on Pexels.com

“In a few hours’ time the secret library will open for business. Between twenty to thirty people arrive every day. All make treacherous journeys across the shattered city, braving snipers, bombs and missiles. Their reward – a few precious moments quietly choosing books, reading and exchanging news. Then they return to the streets and warily, block by block , inch their way home.

“The books Amjad so lovingly tends were not bought from shops or delivered by publishers. Most were bravely gathered from burning homes and bombed council offices, often under shelling and sniper fire. Filling this library was a dangerous business.”

Syria’s Secret Library by Mike Thomson

The Onyx Crown: A Review

 I received this book for free in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. My thoughts remain my own.
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The Onyx Crown, book 1 by Alan Hurst

Synopsis:

The Onyx Crown is an exciting foray into the world of African fantasy. From the searing heat of the desert to the vastness of the savannah, it tells the story of three children–Sania, Gesi, and Jorann who grow up in a pre-medieval era of wars and successions, not fifteen years after the greatest king in the history of the continent has been deposed and assassinated. They must overcome the traumatic circumstances of their birth as well as many dangerous trials to fulfill the destiny bestowed upon them as infants. Can mere children use their courage, wits, and uncanny abilities to defeat legendary warriors, entire tribes, provinces, and kingdoms–allowing them to lead the worthy to the greatest prize of all, the Onyx Crown?

My thoughts:

If you’ve been reading my blog for very long, you know that I love fantasy series. Unfortunately, writers of fantasy can get stuck in a rut of relying on the same tired tropes, the medieval-with-a-bit-of-magic settings, and the same stock characters. Don’t get me wrong, I love it when it’s done well or when something fresh is added to the mix. But if done poorly, it can be a snoozefest.

InAlan Hurst is an author and entrepeneur. Hurst who spent most of his childhood reading Asian wuxia fiction, Marvel comics and encyclopedias is delving into trilogy territory with THE ONYX CROWN. He briefly studied religion at Harvard.  Later, he settled in Washington, DC where he founded a software consulting firm, hosted the Urban Nation Radio podcast, and occasionally played the World Series of Poker.  When not writing or enjoying time with his family, he prefers to take his Ducati motorcycle out for the occasional spin!
Website: https://www.alanhurstjr.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AlanHurstJr
Twitter: https://twitter.com/AlanHurstJr
@AlanHurstJr
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ajhurstjr/ this book, which is the first in a planned trilogy, first time author Alan Hurst shakes things up with an African setting and a fresh plot. The story focuses on 3 teens, Jorann, Gesi, and Sania. Fifteen years  ago their lands were united under one king, but when the royal family was killed, the lands fractured and the warlords took over. However, the heir escaped. Now a prophecy foretell his return along with 3 guardians.

The story sounds really promising. Plus I love this setting. It’s great to see some more diversity in publishing. It did take me a while to sort out the characters. Of the kids, I found the boys the most interesting. Jorann has been living as a slave for several years. He doesn’t really remember a family. Gesi has grown up with a foster father, attached to the local prince’s household. They were good foils for each other. Gesi definitely has some magical combat skills, but he was too arrogant. Jorann has been beaten down so much. We get to see him learning new skills with unrealistic speed, but he seems more down to earth than Gesi.

While I liked the kids, the adults this book all strike me as pretty horrible people. I couldn’t tell who to trust or what their motives were. No doubt this will become clearer in the next book, but be prepared for betrayal and violence. The body count is pretty high. I did find the plot confusing, especially at first, and the ending of the book was rather abrupt. But if you are looking for something fresh in fantasy, this series might be just what you need.


About the author:

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Alan Hurst is an author and entrepeneur. Hurst – who spent most of his childhood reading Asian wuxia fiction, Marvel comics and encyclopedias – is delving into trilogy territory with THE ONYX CROWN. He briefly studied religion at Harvard.  Later, he settled in Washington, DC where he founded a software consulting firm, hosted the Urban Nation Radio podcast, and occasionally played the World Series of Poker.  When not writing or enjoying time with his family, he prefers to take his Ducati motorcycle out for the occasional spin.
Website: https://www.alanhurstjr.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AlanHurstJr
Twitter: https://twitter.com/AlanHurstJr
@AlanHurstJr
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ajhurstjr/


This review was courtesy of R & R book tours.

r & r

Currently reading, 3/18 – Napoleon!

Hey fellow readers! I’m back. I didn’t mean to take such a long break, but I didn’t feel like I had anything to say, so I — didn’t? Say anything? Lame excuse, I guess, but there it is.

But today I’m back with a my current reads and plans for the rest of the month. I was looking at my library request list and realized I had several books on there about the Napoleonic Wars. Why not do them all in one big lump? So that’s what I have planned for the rest of the month. Here’s the books on my TBR list:

His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novik. – done! This was a reread since I thought this one would sort of ease me into the whole subject. Lots of fun, combines fighting Napoleon with dragons. This is the first in the series and I really enjoyed revisiting this one.

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Hey, it’s got a blurb from Stephen King. Can’t be all bad!

None But You, (Captain Frederick Wentworth, #1) by Susan Kaye – done! Written as a companion to Jane Austen’s book Persuasion from the hero’s perspective. Not as good as I hoped, but I will still read the next one.

Napoleon’s Wars: An International History 1803-1815 by Charles Esdaile.  Currently reading. Already happy with it because it has several maps and color photos of paintings. Over 500 pages.

Not reading yet, but I’m also planning on reading:

Nelson’s Trafalgar: The Battle That Changed the World by Roy A. Adkins

Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norell by Susannah Clarke, reread – also the TV series!

Can you think of any good ones I have missed? Maybe I’ll watch Night at the Museum 2 as well!

 

 

 

Double Book Signing!

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I had a great time last week at a double book launch! Charlie N. Holmberg is the author of the Paper Magician series and other books, including The Fifth Doll, which I did a giveaway of last year. Tricia Levenseller is the author of the duology Daughter of a Pirate King and Daughter of a Siren Queen. Both are local authors here in Utah and I was really excited to go and find out about their new books.

Charlie’s new book is called Smoke & Summons and it’s the start of a brand new series. I got the Netgalley copy of it but I’m ashamed to say I haven’t started it yet. But it sounds really good. Here’s the description:


A captivating world of monsters and magic from the Wall Street Journal bestselling author of The Paper Magician Series.

As a human vessel for an ancient spirit, Sandis lives no ordinary life. At the command of her master, she can be transformed against her will into his weapon—a raging monster summoned to do his bidding. Unlike other vessels, Sandis can host extremely powerful spirits, but hosting such creatures can be fatal. To stay alive, she must run. And in a city fueled by smoke and corruption, she finds a surprising ally.

A cunning thief for hire, Rone owns a rare device that grants him immortality for one minute every day—a unique advantage that will come in handy in Sandis’s fight for freedom. But Sandis’s master knows how powerful she is. He’s determined to get her back, and he has the manpower to find her, wherever she runs.

Now, to outwit her pursuers, Sandis must put all her trust in Rone and his immortal device. For her master has summoned more than mere men to hunt her down…


Tricia’s new book is called Warrior of the Wild. I got it at the book launch and finished it in about 2 hours! I think I liked her pirate series better, but this one was really original. Less romance in this one and more nasty monsters. Here’s the book description:

How do you kill a god?

As her father’s chosen heir, eighteen-year-old Rasmira has trained her whole life to become a warrior and lead her village. But when her coming-of-age trial is sabotaged and she fails the test, her father banishes her to the monster-filled wilderness with an impossible quest: to win back her honour, she must kill the oppressive god who claims tribute from the villages each year or die trying. 


I will be back with a complete review of that one and maybe a little more about the book launch. It was a lot of fun, and I even won a free book in a trivia contest.

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It sounded really good, but then when I got home I read the reviews and now I’m not so sure I’ll enjoy it. I think I’ll give it a try and if it doesn’t work for me, maybe I’ll do another giveaway!