Saturday, April 30, 2016

Dying to Call You by Elaine Viets and The Drowning Girls by Paula Treick DeBoard

This is a great cozy mystery. It has all the right elements-a strong and funny female protagonist who refuses to give up, an intriguing mystery, a cast of unique supporting characters, well-done subplots, and some out-there drama that makes total sense in the world the book has created.

Helen is a telemarketer, the latest in a string of jobs that will pay her cash under the table and not ask questions. She may not love having insults hurled at her through the phone, but she is on the run from her ex-husband and needs the work.

On one of her calls though, she hears a murder. The police don't believe her, and so she must investigate on her own. She goes undercover among a group of wealthy men and women with strange underground parties that may be at the root of the murder that occurred.

I just found out this is part of a 15 book series the author is still writing, and I/'m so excited. This is a series I will definitely be returning to!

I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This did not affect my opinion of the book or my review itself.

In this book full of masterfully-spun psychological suspense, DeBoard brings to light what hides under the surface of paradise. When Liz and her daughter, Danielle, move to The Palms with her husband Phil (who has been hired as the head of community relations), everything seems perfect. The women are gorgeous, the men are rich, and the homes are beautiful.

But Liz never feels like they quite fit in. After all, they don't own their home-it was part of the job package Phil received-and they certainly aren't wealthy. So she encourages shy, bookish Danielle to attend a pool party for the neighborhood teens.

And there Danielle meets Kelsey, and everything begins to spiral out of control.

The Drowning Girls is a tale of obsession, manipulation, secrets, and lies. It's about how nothing is ever what it seems, and questions how well you can ever truly know someone. Using flashbacks and flashfowards, DeBoard builds a tension that makes it impossible to put this book down.

Friday, April 29, 2016

May Book Challenges!

I'm very excited to participate in both these reading challenges, they look like so much fun!

This is the post where I will keep track of what I read, and link to reviews.

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, May 9th and runs through Sunday, May 15th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 16 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team
Bout of Books

1) Catacomb by Madeleine Roux
2) The Tuesday Club Murders by Agatha Christie
3) The May Queen Murders by Sarah Jude

Five Friday: Five Poems About Books

This Friday, it's all about poems about books!

1) This first poem is actually written by my dad. I'm of course totally biased, but I think it's really good! 

A Good Book

Here goes:
Miles Vorkosigan, the pluckster,
Any time. A mystery set in
Asia, most rainy days and 
Train rides. Easy Rawlins, Fearless 
Jones, Socrates Fortlow, R.L., every
Difficult day. Sharpe and Harper,
Wherever they march again. John
Berryman, shaking that word cup.
Billy Collins, shoveling snow and
Drinking cocoa. James Wright
Dragging a hand in the black river.
Robert Bly, fresh snow on the mailbox.
Sharon Olds when I cut myself, 
Homer, when life needs to be bigger.
Spenser and Hawk, for a snack.
Wodehouse, when it's bubbly time, with
Music hall on the radio.
Dean Young for surprises.
Dickens, for family and a
Blanket by the fire.
Harry Potter to cheer and find out.
Jane Austen, to travel slowly, and
Patiently, correctly, find satisfaction.
William Gibson, for Sarah Sze in words.
Haruki Murakami, for unsettling shapes in a darkened room,
Neruda for passion. Yeats for
Fife and fairy and bee-loud glade.
T.S. Eliot for a hand at the
Shade, above the early morning
Slowly stirring street.

2) There is No Frigate Like a Book by Emily Dickinson

There is no Frigate like a Book 
To take us Lands away 
Nor any Coursers like a Page 
Of prancing Poetry – 
This Traverse may the poorest take 
Without oppress of Toll – 
How frugal is the Chariot 
That bears the Human Soul –

3) And Yet the Books by Czeslaw Milosz

And yet the books will be there on the shelves, separate beings,
That appeared once, still wet
As shining chestnuts under a tree in autumn,
And, touched, coddled, began to live
In spite of fires on the horizon, castles blown up,
Tribes on the march, planets in motion.
“We are,” they said, even as their pages
Were being torn out, or a buzzing flame
Licked away their letters. So much more durable
Than we are, whose frail warmth
Cools down with memory, disperses, perishes.
I imagine the earth when I am no more:
Nothing happens, no loss, it's still a strange pageant,
Women's dresses, dewy lilacs, a song in the valley.
Yet the books will be there on the shelves, well born,
Derived from people, but also from radiance, heights.

4) The Land of Story-books by Robert Louis Stevenson

At evening when the lamp is lit,
Around the fire my parents sit;
They sit at home and talk and sing,
And do not play at anything.
Now, with my little gun, I crawl
Away behind the sofa back.
All in the dark along the wall,
And follow round the forest track
And play at books that I have read
There, in the night, where none can spy, All in my hunter’s camp I lie, Till it is time to go to bed.
The roaring lions come to drink.
These are the hills, these are the woods, These are my starry solitudes; And there the river by whose brink I see the others far away
Home I return across the sea,
As if in firelit camp they lay, And I, like to an Indian scout, Around their party prowled about.
So, when my nurse comes in for me,
Home I return across the sea,
At my dear land of Story-books.
And go to bed with backward looks
5) Old Books by Margaret Widdemer
THE people up and down the world that talk and laugh and cry,
They're pleasant when you're young and gay, and life is all to try,
But when your heart is tired and dumb, your soul has need of ease,
There's none like the quiet folk who wait in libraries–
The counselors who never change, the friends who never go,
The old books, the dear books that understand and know!

"Why, this thing was over, child, and that deed was done,"
They say, "When Cleopatra died, two thousand years agone,
And this tale was spun for men and that jest was told
When Sappho was a singing-lass and Greece was very old,
And this thought you hide so close was sung along the wind
The day that young Orlando came a-courting Rosalind!"

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Sister Dear by Laura McNeill

This is one of those books that leaves me wondering how I truly feel about it.

I didn't love it.

I didn't hate it.

It wasn't particularly good.

But it wasn't particularly bad either.

McNeil tells the story of Allie, who has just been released on parole from prison after a decade. She was convicted of a murder she swears she didn't do. Her hometown believes her to have murdered their beloved football coach, who led the team to victory, but may also have been giving his players dangerous steroids. Allie wrote an expose on him, but no one believed her accusations about that either.

There are subplots surrounding the main mystery. Allie has a daughter, Caroline, who has been raised by Allie's sister, Emma. Caroline barely knows Allie, and doesn't think she wants to know her. Searching for purpose, a teenage Caroline volunteers at a nursing home, where she meets fellow volunteer Russell. The sheriff, who hates Allie, has a wife in the nursing home due to her being in a devastating car accident that left her with severe brain damage.

The book is Allie trying to prove her innocence, persevere, and reconnect with her daughter (and possibly her former love). The mystery is certainly intriguing. Who doesn't love a small town full of secrets? But the solution, at least in my opinion, gets telegraphed too early and too blatantly. The ending is supposed to be a complete shock, but I'd seen it coming for a long time. Too much insight is given into a secondary character's mind and motivations, and this gives the game away, and frankly makes the character very unlikeable from almost the start of the story.

This is a book with potential that devolves too frequently into cliches and obvious answers. If you read it, don't go in expecting the next Dark Places.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

What We're Reading Wednesday: April 27, 2016

I'm focusing on Breach of Crust right now as my ebook on my phone, as I'm almost halfway through. Once I finish that, I will be going back to And Then There Were Nuns, which I'm suspecting will take me less time as it's got much more mystery in it.

This has been my graphic novel read for a while, because I'm savoring it. My dad bought it for me because I have a little black dog.

This is my before-bed read. It started out a little slow for me, but it's picked up, and I'm really enjoying it. I love Amy Poehler! I'm not loving this like I loved Tina Fey's Bossypants, but it's still a good read.

This is my book I'm carrying around. It's a cozy mystery centered around a telemarketer, and was recommended by my mom. So far, it's a light, fun read that I'm really enjoying.

This is my Kindle read. It's an ARC psychological thriller, and while it's not the best I've ever read, it's still good. I have less than an hour left, and a really busy day at work ahead, but I'm hoping to still be able to finish it today.

What are you reading?

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Bookworm Delights

As always Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the wonderful The Broke and The Bookish !

Here are ten things that make this bookworm smile!

1) Walking into a library or bookstore-just knowing all those books are there, getting to flip through them, and take some home- just being among all those books is guaranteed to make me happy.

2) Finding a book I've had on my wishlist at a used bookstore or yard sale

3) Getting new cute bookmarks

4) Big book events, like ALA or Printer's Row

5) Finding an Agatha Christie cover or edition I don't have in my collection

6) Having someone read and like a book I recommended

7) Getting a tweet or message from one of my favorite authors

8) Picking a book from my shelf to read next

9) Getting to spend time in a cafe with a book

10) A really good movie being made out of a book I loved

What bookish things make you happy?

Monday, April 25, 2016

Emma: A Modern Retelling by Alexander McCall Smith

This is a great retelling of a great classic.

Setting the story of Emma in present-day England, McCall Smith's flowing writing style perfectly compliments the pace of his characters in their countryside.

 Our title character grows up, goes to university, and comes back with plans to start an interior design business. She hosts dinner parties, interacts with the cast of characters we love from Austen's classic, and attempts to become an unofficial matchmaker. Along the way, she learns a lot about herself, including some realizations she may not like, but definitely needs.

This is a really enjoyable read. It's cozy, and comfortable, and fun.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King

I was so excited to find a brand new copy of this book at a book swap I recently attended. I had just added it to my TBR wishlist and there it was, sitting there for free.

This was definitely a good read, certainly not perfect, and I didn't love it like I loved The Shining (though I doubt I will ever love a King book like I loved that one). But it was a long book that flew by, and I couldn't put it down.

So, the good first. This is a gripping story. There is so much suspense, something King is a master of, and such great foreshadowing. My heart was pounding in my chest as I got closer to the ending. King makes you care about the characters and what is going to happen, and keeps upping the tension as the book goes on. He doesn't pull any punches, and the book is better for that.

Where the book is not so perfect isn't as obvious, at least to me it wasn't. But some of the characters seem to verge on stereotypes, which seems especially odd when King frequently has characters comment on seeing past stereotypes and realizing who people really are. I suspect King is trying to make his readers see past the stereotypes he has written out, but it comes across as clunky sometimes, and took me out of the book a bit.

Would I recommend this book? I would, and I plan to read the rest of the trilogy. But know going in this is a dark book, with a really twisted villain, strong language, and some highly uncomfortable situations. If you can hold on for the ride though, it's well worth it.

Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon!!

My current goals are reading as much as possible of Mr. Mercedes (hardcover), Emma: A Modern Retelling (hardcover), and Sister Dear (ebook). Keep checking back here for updates!

Update: I finished Mr. Mercedes! 

I also bought more books at two different sales while I was out with my friend, mostly books I have already read and wanted to own, plus three books that have been on my TBR wishlist for a while.

I did not get to read any of Sister Dear, so that will be a priority for tomorrow, as well as starting a new book from my shelves (I haven't decided what yet.). I'm going to walk my dog, Sherlock, and then curl up in bed with Emma: A Modern Retelling until I fall asleep.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Guest Post: The Paperback Princess: Five Friday: Five Bookish Quotes to Bring You Up When You're Feeling Down

Hello everyone! I'm Emily from The Paperback Princess, and thanks to Becca for allowing me to guest post as part of her Five Friday Feature! Today, I'm going to be talking about five bookish quotes to bring you up when you're feeling down:

1. "we accept the love we think we deserve"- Stephen Chbosky, The Perks of Being a Wallflower.
This quote will always stick with me because it is a perfect example of giving yourself self-love, as well as letting love into your life. If you need support in anyway, please read this book!

2. "stay gold, ponyboy"- S.E. Hinton, The Outsiders
This beloved classic tells a story of fitting in, and this quote represents just that. The main character, Ponyboy explains that nothing ever stays golden and great, but his friend Johnny tells him that no matter what, he can stay gold. This quote to me shows that no matter where you come from, you can be special.

3. "happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light"- J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
I would be insane not to include a Harry Potter quote! In this midst of all distress, the amazing Albus Dumbledore reminds us that to find happiness, we must find it in ourselves to help turn on the light.

4. "Eleanor was right, she never looked good. She looked like art, and art wasn't supposed to look good, it was supposed to make you feel something"- Rainbow Rowell, Eleanor and Park
This quote is the definition of why Rainbow's books are so beautiful. She doesn't create traditional, perfect characters, she creates characters with REAL problems. This quote can give me, and so many people the confidence to be themselves and worry about what's on the inside too. Please read Eleanor and Park, it will change your life.

5. "if you don't imagine, nothing ever happens at all"- John Green, Paper Towns
Lastly but certainly not least, we have a beautiful quote from an even more beautiful book. If someone ever tells you to stop imagining and come back to reality, then this quote is here. I think that this defines us as bookworms and writers as well, if we don't imagine, then the world is not possible.

Thanks so much to Becca for featuring me! If you would like to follow me on any of my social media, here are my links:

Emily @ Paperback Princess

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

What We're Reading Wednesday

I was really excited to find this at the Book Swap I went to recently, as I had just added it to my wishlist. So far it's really intriguing, and dark and twisty.


These are the two cozy mysteries I have going on my Kindle right now. I just started And Then There Were Nuns, but I've been wanting to read it for a while, with the title being a play on one of my all-time favorite books. 

I'm still reading Breach of Crust, just taking a little break from it now and then. I'm about a third of the way through now, and it continues to be well-written and fun (which is what keeps me reading), but there is still not enough mystery happening.

This is the perfect before-bed read, cozy, nothing scary or untoward...I've been so tired lately I haven't been able to stay up to read much before bed, but I'm still really enjoying this book.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

The Midnight Assassin: Panic, Scandal, and the Hunt for America's First Serial Killer by Skip Hollandsworth

True Crime

I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This did not affect my opinion of the book or my review itself.

The true story of "The Midnight Assassin", as he was nicknamed by members of the press, is the tale of America's first serial killer.

This is not a killer who has been written about like Jack the Ripper or H.H. Holmes (though he has been suspected of being both those infamous murderers as well), but is one who carved his own trail of terror through Austin, Texas, and was never caught. This is an unsolved crime, one even many descendants of the victims themselves had never heard of.

Hollandsworth expertly brings this untold true crime tale to today's readers, with impeccable research and an excellent writing style. I highly recommend this book for readers of true crime. It's the kind of book where I read an ereader ARC of it, and have added the hardback to my wishlist. I want it as an addition to my true crime book collection.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Five Friday: Five Good Books That Start With F

Everything Tana French writes is brilliant, and this is no exception. This entry in the Dublin Squad Murders picks up the thread of a supporting character from a previous book, and the disappearance of the woman he loved two decades ago.

This, to me, is Waters' finest book. It has one of the most shocking twists in any book I've ever read, on top of being brilliantly written.

This is one of my all-time favorite Agatha Christie books, and one I've re read many times.

My dad and I used to read these books together (he would read them out loud to me), and they still have a very fond place in our hearts.

This is probably my all-time favorite graphic novel, a take on a possible solution to the Jack the Ripper mystery.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware

I love the unreliable narrator trend. Books such as The Girl on the Train, Gone Girl, Turn of Mind, and Luckiest Girl Alive are some of my all-time favorite reads, and take up a large section of my bookshelves.

In a Dark, Dark Wood is a welcome addition to this group.

Lenora is our narrator here. She lives a solitary life, for reasons we are not yet privy to, but this careful existence is shaken when she receives an invitation to a bachelorette party for her former best friend. Lenora almost declines, but eventually decides to go, to see the woman she has not spoken to for over a decade. We don't know why they haven't spoken, or what exactly it was that caused Lenora to shut everyone from her past out.

But we, the readers, do know the future repercussions of her choice to say yes-or at least, some of them. The bachelorette party is told in flashbacks, as Lenora lies in a hospital bed, under police guard. The flashbacks occur as Lenora begins to recover her memory, memories lost to an accident she cannot remember.

Ware does a fantastic job of making the readers identify with Lenora, and be completely caught up in her story. We learn what really happened as Lenora does. We know what she knows. We feel the claustrophobic tension of "the Glass House", where the party occurs and where secrets and blood are spilled.

I was lucky enough to receive an ARC of Ware's next book, and I am even more excited to start it now. Ware is a welcome addition to the psychological thriller genre.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

What We're Reading Wednesday

Still working my way through this one. And again, it's not that it's bad, it's just not great. There's been some more development in the mystery, which has helped keep my interest, but there's still an uneven balance of magic and mystery. With it saying that this is a mystery on the cover, I really do want more mystery inside the cover.

This is my Kindle read. I could not be more excited to have gotten an ARC of this book! It just came out April 5, so I am a little behind, but work has kept me really busy and really tired. This is being touted as one of the next big true crime books, and for good reason. It is really well-written, and covers a crime that has rarely (if ever) been written about in book form. 

This is now my before-bed book, which has been perfect, as it is charming, soothing, and beautifully written.

This book is so good! It's got so many things I like going for it (even besides really good writing)-cabin in the woods, isolated group of people, flashbacks, secrets, mystery-definitely cannot wait to have more time to read this!

What are you currently reading? Let me know in the comments below!

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Books to Read If You're a True Crime Reader

As always, Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the wonderful The Broke and The Bookish.

These are considered two of the classics in this genre, and for good reason. They not only tell the tale of the crime itself, and its aftermath, but the culture, society, and politics surrounding the era in which the crime occurred. 

This is a brilliant book that looks at many notorious crimes through the light of statistical analysis. I am not a math fan by any means, but this book is absolutely fascinating, and is written in an easily accessible narrative style that flows like fiction.

This is definitely a modern classic, and an exemplary example of how to perfectly blend history and crime.

This is one of my all-time favorite true crime books. It is so well-written, and tells its story so well.

This is a newer entry in the true crime genre. The author has clearly done extensive research and presents all aspects and angles of Manson's life, from childhood to jail.

I remember this being one of the first true crime books I ever read. I borrowed my parents' copy, and now have a copy of my very own (which reminds me I'm due for a re read of this soon). To me, it's akin to a modern day In Cold Blood, with the author being so personally immersed in the setting and with the people.

This case has always fascinated me-the psychology, the fact that it takes place in my hometown, the trial, the scandal-I even did a research project on it in high school that turned into a paper in college.

This is one of the most difficult books I've ever read, but also one of the most important. It covers the Columbine shooting in such heartbreaking detail, debunking the prevalent media myths, and getting at the painful truth.

Sherlock Holmes fans plus solving super mysterious unsolved crimes is a guaranteed win, especially when the book is really well-written.

And a bonus!