Currently reading

I’ve been so focused on my writing that I haven’t been reading much this month. But I do have my current books I want to tell you about!

34546679
This one is a true crime story called Goat Castle. It’s about the murder of an heiress in Mississippi. I got it from Net Galley and it sounds really good; however, I haven’t gotten far enough into it to tell for sure. Here’s the description though:

In 1932, the city of Natchez, Mississippi, reckoned with an unexpected influx of journalists and tourists as the lurid story of a local murder was splashed across headlines nationwide. Two eccentrics, Richard Dana and Octavia Dockery–known in the press as the -Wild Man- and the -Goat Woman—enlisted an African American man named George Pearls to rob their reclusive neighbor, Jennie Merrill, at her estate. During the attempted robbery, Merrill was shot and killed. The crime drew national coverage when it came to light that Dana and Dockery, the alleged murderers, shared their huge, decaying antebellum mansion with their goats and other livestock, which prompted journalists to call the estate – Goat Castle.

199530
The second book I’m reading is by an author I first found through book club. If you follow my blog you know I’m not always a fan of our book club picks, but we read The All Girl’s Filling Stations Reunion by Fannie Flagg and it was so much fun. This one is called Can’t Wait to Get to Heaven and it is set in the fictional town of Elmwood Springs, Missouri and I’m loving it. I’m about 1/3 of the way in. It was one of my thrift store finds this month and I’m glad I picked it up. These are great books for when you’re in the mood for a light, funny read. They’d be a lot of fun on audio too.

Combining southern warmth with unabashed emotion and side-splitting hilarity, Fannie Flagg takes readers back to Elmwood Springs, Missouri, where the most unlikely and surprising experiences of a high-spirited octogenarian inspire a town to ponder the age-old question: Why are we here?

3594

 

Which brings me to my last book, The Execution of Sherlock Holmes. It’s a collection of five Holmes-inspired short stories. The first one has Holmes kidnapped and awaiting his execution on “crimes” against a criminal gang. Basically it was a locked room escape story, and I really liked it. I didn’t like the second story about cracking some code – boring to listen to – but the rest have been good. I’m listening to this one in the car and it’s been very interesting.

 

 

That’s what I’m reading. I have a few I need to get to soon, including looking through MY book club pick, Daughter of a Pirate King. What are you reading? Are you liking it? Let me know!

Advertisements

The Zookeeper’s Wife: A Review

This is an encore review; it appeared earlier online.

Title: The Zookeeper’s Wife

Author: Diane Ackerman

Summary:

When Germany invaded Poland, Stuka bombers devastated Warsaw—and the city’s zoo along with it. With most of their animals dead, zookeepers Jan and Antonina Zabinski began smuggling Jews into empty cages. Another dozen “guests” hid inside the Zabinskis’ villa, emerging after dark for dinner, socializing, and, during rare moments of calm, piano concerts. Jan, active in the Polish resistance, kept ammunition buried in the elephant enclosure and stashed explosives in the animal hospital. Meanwhile, Antonina kept her unusual household afloat, caring for both its human and its animal inhabitants—otters, a badger, hyena pups, lynxes.With her exuberant prose and exquisite sensitivity to the natural world, Diane Ackerman engages us viscerally in the lives of the zoo animals, their keepers, and their hidden visitors. She shows us how Antonina refused to give in to the penetrating fear of discovery, keeping alive an atmosphere of play and innocence even as Europe crumbled around her. 

My review:

I was really impressed by this book. It’s the story of Jan and Antonina Zabinski who hid Jews in their villa on the zoo grounds in Warsaw, Poland. Some heart-wrenching stories in there. What made it even more amazing is that it is a true story. Most of the book is taken from the diary that Antonina kept during the war, so we get a close look at how she felt. The descriptions of how fear affects you were really well done. The only thing I didn’t like about the book is that I didn’t really find out what happened to Jan and Antonina after the war or how the diary came to be found.

Read-a-Thin November 2017

unnamed

I heard of this from Kathy@Books&Munches. I’ve been looking for a

An important part is that I can’t buy any new books to count for the challenge, and I’m assuming no new library books except for the one challenge.

THE CHALLENGES


1. Read a 2017 release

2. Read a diverse book – Paving a New Road, Jewish character and subplot

3. Read a book that is related to your favorite emoji

4. Read a book with a fall themed cover

5. Start and finish a series

6. Read a book in 24 hours

7. Read a new to you author – Dissolution by CJ Sansom

8. Buddy read a book

9. Read a horror/thriller

10. Read a book outside of your favorite genre

11. Read an eBook

12. Listen to an audiobook of a book you own

13. Read a book that counts toward another readathon

14. Read a book that is due back to the library the soonest – Age of Swords by Michael J. Sullivan

15. Read a book you ended up putting down previously

16. Read a book you got from a subscription box

17. Read a book you got for free (gift, ARC, giveaway, etc) – Paving the New Road by Sulari Gentill (free from NetGalley)

18. Read 4 books (At least 8 challenges)

Fateful Impact: A Review

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed remain my own.35556066

Title: Fateful Impact (Crimson Nightmare #1)

Author: Samantha Hoffman

Setting: Future space around Earth

Genre: YA science fiction

Plot Summary:

Cressida has lived on the Olympus Station her entire life, having been born in space just like the last several generations before her. When her class is allowed to take a field trip to a neighboring military station, everyone is excited at the chance to see someplace new. Everyone except for Cress. While her classmates are eager to get a glimpse of life at the most prestigious military academy on this side of the universe, she’s more worried about what lies below. 

When several convicts organize a prison break from the maximum security prison lurking in the bowels of the station, Cress and several of her classmates are taken hostage during the escape. With the convicts in charge of their shuttle, they crash land on an uncharted planet far away from home and even further from any hope of rescue. 

The students band together in an attempt to survive as long as possible, but it won’t be easy. Aside from the convicts who are willing to do anything to survive, they will have to fight starvation, the elements, and the many surprises the planet has to offer. With their lives falling apart, Cress begins to understand that things were never truly as they seemed back home. While lost, she finds a sense of purpose, and it drives her to survive at all costs. 

My review:

It’s not often that we get YA in space. YA fantasy is extremely popular, as is dystopia or contemporary fiction. When I heard this one was set in space, I admit to being curious. Then add in a penal colony, starships, and a crash landing on an alien planet, and that checked all kinds of boxes for me.

As for the characters, I admit I didn’t love Cress at first. She seemed very stuck on herself, but by the time they got to the planet I began seeing another side of her. She begins to take charge from the time they’re kidnapped. I like seeing her strength. Her friendship with Pandora and the other girls was well written. I’m not sure I bought the love interest though. It seemed awfully sudden, just sort of thrown in there at random.

The story is gripping. I raced through it. I’m not sure it all made sense, but it was so much fun that I wasn’t feeling especially picky. It was a killer ending – quite the cliffhanger! So if you pick it up, be prepared. Recommended.

Paving the New Road: A Review

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. My opinions, however, remain my own.

29324407
Title: Paving the New Road (Rowland Sinclair mysteries #4)

Author: Sulari Gentill

Setting: Australia then Germany 1933

Summary:

It’s 1933, and the political landscape of Europe is darkening.

Eric Campbell, the man who would be Australia’s Führer, is on a fascist tour of the Continent, meeting dictators over cocktails and seeking allegiances in a common cause. Yet the Australian way of life is not undefended. Old enemies have united to undermine Campbell’s ambitions. The clandestine armies of the Establishment have once again mobilised to thwart any friendship with the Third Reich.

But when their man in Munich is killed, desperate measures are necessary.

Now Rowland Sinclair must travel to Germany to defend Australian democracy from the relentless march of Fascism. Amidst the goosestepping euphoria of a rising Nazi movement, Rowland encounters those who will change the course of history. In a world of spies, murderers and despotic madmen, he can trust no-one but an artist, a poet and a brazen sculptress.

Plots thicken, loyalties are tested and bedfellows become strange indeed.

My review:

I must admit to knowing little or nothing about Australian politics, but I know a good thriller when I read one. Rowland Sinclair and his group of friends have been sent into the very heart of Nazi Germany to put a stop to an Australian politician’s nascent friendship with Adolf Hitler. While there, Rowland want to discover who murdered the last guy sent on the same errand. Along the way he meets lots of historical figures caught up in the same pre-war frenzy. Famous names aside, the real thrill was in seeing whether they would all escape Germany alive. A real page-turner.

This was the first book I read by this author and I’m sure I would have enjoyed it more if I had been more familiar with the characters and their backstory. However I was able to jump in and sort things out, so I’m glad I got chosen for it. I can say it won’t be the last I read by this author! Recommended.

Two DNFs

Don’t you hate it when you pick up a dud book? I had two misfires in a row. Both were books I was asked to review, but for different reasons, I just couldn’t finish either one.

The first was The Muse by Arjay Lewis. It was described to me as a horror/mystery book. I love mystery, and sometimes I like horror, so I wanted to give it a chance. Here’s the book description:

Famed novelist Jack Court has a secret: the wealthy writer is a serial killer. He has another hidden treasure, a small antediluvian creature that dwells within his body and gives him youth, strength and a superhuman ability to avoid capture. On his trail is Sheriff Neil Trajan, who is certain Court murdered his wife three years earlier. 
When the author is hit by a careless driver, the creature leaves him and through a series of events, ends up with lowly writer, Harold Godwine. Godwine begins to write faster and better, but is troubled by dreams of blood. 
However, Jack is healing and devolving into something not quite human. As Court seeks the young author, he leaves a trail of destruction, pursued by Trajan and his FBI associate, Bill Morris.
Will Jack Court do anything to retrieve the companion that inspires his dark desires? 

It sounds pretty good, but I was put off by the amount of gore in the very first chapter. This book may be perfect for another reader, but it just wasn’t right for me.

The second book was also a mystery, but with a science fiction twist. Again, I like both of those genres, so my hopes were high. Here’s the synopsis on this one:

At a modern Institute for particle physics and cosmology, where deciphering secrets of the Universe adds tension to a cunningly subtle race for privileges, the scientific community is shocked to learn that a freak accident takes the life of their talented colleague, the author of a mysterious research project aimed at challenging laws of nature and making chance docile to bring good fortune on request. 

Curious to learn more about the enigmatic study, Professor William Brown, who is on sabbatical leave, and his chess mate Steve Andersson, a graduate in computer science, find themselves involved in a perilous search for clues to unravel the mystery of new shocking tragedies following the researcher’s death. 

Are they all a terrible misfortune, or something truly diabolical makes bad things happen? 

This time it wasn’t the death that threw me off. It was a little grisly, but not unduly so. It was the writing that I struggled with. The plot and the action were fine, but there were a lot of long wordy paragraphs and a bad font that I just couldn’t get through. I think a good editor would help a lot with this one.

So that’s my weekend. Kind of a downer Sunday, but Saturday was a good one for reading, and I’ll be back with more reviews later. Happy Monday!

Ugly Covers Day

I’ve seen so many beautiful covers lately. But as we all know, you can’t judge a book by its cover, no matter how pretty. So how about the ugly ones? The really, really ugly ones. Well, sometimes you CAN a judge a book. WARNING: These are ugly. You’ve been warned.

317621 (1)
WTH?

I’m sort of reading this one right now. A friend gave it to me, so I feel like I have to finish it. It’s weird. But I could have guessed that from the cover, amirite? What exactly is that? It’s got to be the ugliest cover I’ve seen this year.

638763
That goat.

This one is the ugliest cover from last year. I read a different edition, one much more boring. I think it was just black and white. But this – wow, I have to admit I would have thought twice if I saw this. This time, I did kind of like the story.

248596
Just guessing here

Did the artist even read the book? Or the description? Or anything? I mean, it is about a carnival, so I give them that. But this is just bad. Great book, though.


Here’s a real winner for you – TWO terrible covers FOR THE SAME BOOK! I’ve read the book. I think it’s amazing. (I know not everyone agrees with that.) But someone, please, give the cover a makeover!

16688
Really, Dad?

Finally, one that’s on my TBR list, mostly because it belonged to my dad and I’m reading his favorites because I miss him so much. This cover, though, wow. So bad.

What about you? What covers made you cringe? Did you hesitate before you picked up a book? Show and tell! I want to know.

Challenge reading

Hey, so I’ve been thinking about my 2018 Reading Challenge and I’m really excited about it. I’ve decided to do a Crime theme. It’s a category challenge, and I have 10 categories. Here’s what I’ve got.

Cold cases – book that have been on the shelf too long
First Timers – new books
Repeat offenders – rereads
Serials – books in a series
Isolated occurrence – stand alone titles
Minor infractions – YA and kids books
Eyewitness accounts – nonfiction books
Advance warning – ARCs
Most Wanted – best books of the year
Petty crime – boring and DNF

I’ve got a few titles in mind, but my biggest goal is clearing out some of my TBR books here and at the library.

But that’s got me wondering – since I’m in a little bit of a reading slump, maybe I need a short challenge for 2017. Something that would be really fun. I need some ideas? Any suggestions? We’ve only got 2 months, just about, left in the year, so I need something little. Hm. I’ll have to think about it.

Afterdeath: Review

I was given this book for free in exchange for an honest review. The opinions expressed are solely my own.

35274633Title: Afterdeath

Author: Benoit Chartier

Synopsis:

Death is a country we see through the tiny keyhole of an immovable door.
Raised by their grandmother after their parents’ death, Chloe and Olivia Borders are now in mourning for Rose. The Alzheimer’s that forced them to be split into separate foster homes has taken their last living family member. As a way to rekindle their friendship, the twins commit to a road trip— which spells their demise. Now the question is: What comes after, and how will they get back to life?

Review:

Twin sisters Chloe and Olivia have drifted apart since their parents’ deaths. Now that their grandma is dead, the two decide to become reacquainted with a sister road trip. They both die. That sounds like a spoiler, but it happens early in the book, and the real story is about what happens AFTER Death. Hence the title, get it? Right.

So what does happen next? Let’s just say it’s NOTHING like you might expect. Olivia is a serious Christian, Chloe an agnostic, and both of them are in for a shock when they get to the other side. First of all, there’s still plenty to do and no sign of the Pearly Gates. Instead they meet some dubious new folks who claim to be there to help, but it’s hard to know who you can trust and who wants to kill you. Again.

It all gets a little confusing and kind of depressing, TBH. I had to push myself to keep reading. It doesn’t help that Angelica, their new companion, flips back and forth between seeming like a good gal and then a bitch. I couldn’t decide if I was supposed to like her or hate her, but she just confused me instead.

In the end, this one was quite original, but I can’t say I really enjoyed it. I think it was a case of a bad fit. It sounded like something I would like, but I guess I was in the mood for something lighter.