30 January 2023
25 January 2023
16 January 2023
13 January 2023
Yep, right off the bat, January gives us a Friday the 13th <cue scary music>.
Do you worry about it at all? I'm not overly superstitious, but I have to admit that I find it fun when a Friday the 13th rolls around. I'm not a fan of scary movies, but I am intrigued by people's superstitions and how for some, they rule their activities. I guess basically I agree with Baby Yoda:
11 January 2023
10 January 2023
04 January 2023
Happy New Year! I hope 2023 is treating you well so far. I still have some posts for you that are related to the end of the year, and this is the first one. Here are the books I read/attempted to read during the last three months of 2022. Not as many as I would have liked, but there were a few weeks during this time when I either just couldn't settle my brain enough to read for any length of time, or couldn't read for other reasons. In any case, here's what I did read, and my thoughts about each one.
Alias Grace, by Margaret Atwood. I started this and was finding it interesting. But then my glasses got broken, and the book was due at the library, so I'll have to try and borrow it another time to see what my final verdict will be.
The Litter of the Law, by Rita Mae Brown. It's getting close to Halloween in Crozet, Virginia, and the residents are preparing not just for the holiday,but for the end of the growing season. There's also the Haunted Hayride coming up, a fundraiser for the local library.
But when two bodies are discovered that were originally thought to be Halloween decorations, things turn creepy. Were the murders related? How? Why?
This was another entertaining installment in this series, and because of the style and circumstances of the killings, a bit more unsettling than usual. But still enjoyed every page.
The Golden Couple, by Greer Hendricks. This book is really intense.
Avery is a "disgraced" therapist in Washington, DC - she has lost her license due to an unethical approach to helping clients.But she is busier than ever after an article about her and her 10 Step " maverick" approach to helping couples appears in the paper.
When Marissa and Matthew Bishop become her clients, to help deal with Marissa's infidelity, Avery sees them as the perfect couple for her approach.
But it turns out that Marissa has other secrets. So does Matthew. And so does Avery. But is it possible that they are/will somehow intersect, even though they've never met before? How is that possible?
There are so many twists and turns and red herrings here, you have to keep reading. I really enjoyed this book, I wasn't expecting it to be what it was.
Flying Solo, by Linda Holmes. This was not a long book, but I still think it could have used another round of editing.
Laurie has flown to her hometown in Maine from her current home in Seattle to clean out the homeowners her recently deceased Aunt Dot. Laurie was close to her aunt for her entire life, and the house was like a second home. When she finds a beautiful duck decoy tucked away in a drawer, she becomes fascinated in finding its story. Her friend June and former high school boyfriend Nick set out to help her.
It's a good story, and it all makes a good point about single, childless adult women and the worth of their lives. But there just seemed to be parts where it all dragged to move along.
I wanted to like it much more than I did.
In a Dark, Dark Wood, by Ruth Ware. As usual, Ruth Ware sucked me in right from the beginning with the first few words of this book.
Leonora "Nora" Shaw, a fairly successful crime writer, receives an out-of-the-blue invitation to a hen party, for her best childhood friend, who she has neither seen nor spoken to for 10 years. She and another friend from those days who she stayed in touch with decide to go together.
They arrive, at a location that is both remote and a bit weird. Their hostess, a current devoted friend of the bride-to-be, has gotten the use of her aunt's summer house for the weekend.
The whole thing is weird and unsettling and Nora soon learns why she was invited. But soon things head south, and before you know it, Nora wakes up in the hospital, overhearing the police officer outside of her room talking about a murder. Is Nora the killer?
This was a real page-turner, and appropriately spooky for the Halloween season.
Haunted Hibiscus, by Laura Childs. Another good story in this series. In this installment, Theodosia tries to find out who killed a young woman author in a particularly gruesome manner at a local haunted house event. The police investigation leads to Theodosia's detective boyfriend being shot, so her motivation is stronger than ever.
I enjoyed this, with its Halloween timing, descriptions of Charleston S.C., and the yummy concoctions from the tea room. But the mystery was a good one as well, with quite a few red herrings thrown in. A good read especially during spooky season.
The Paris Library, by Janet Skeslien Charles. A book that appeals to so much that I love!
This us abook that details and celebrates how the librarians at the American Library of Paris kept things going during World War II, even once Paris was occupied by the Nazis.
Odile Souchet is a French young woman who gets her dream job working at the Library. Along with her co-sorjers, they provide books, magazines, and answers to questions to their patrons every day. When the war starts, and then when the Nazis take over Paris, the staff gas to use their courage and creativity to provide materials.
Another aspect of the story takes place in the 1980s in Froid, Montana, where teenage Lily decides she will do a school report about her somewhat reclusive neighbor. Lily and the neighbor develop a deep bond, and they help each other in surprising ways.
The author used a lot of archival sources to tell the librarians' stories, as well as as talking to those involved and family members.
There are some unexpected turns in both parts of the story, but I thought this was a good read.
Caught Dead Handed, by Carol J. Perry. When Maralee "Lee" Barrett returns to her hometown of Salem, Massachusetts to interview for a reporter job at WICH-TV, she finds that the job has already been filled. As she is leaving, she comes across a body in the water near where she has parked her car. It turns out to be the body of the tv station's well-loved psychic.
It turns out that Lee finds herself the new psychic at the station - and while she is preparing to try and be convincing, she has a clear vision. Her Aunt Ibby, who raised her and who she is living with, tells her that she had visions when she was a child.
Lee starts the job with some success, but she really wants to find out what happened to her predecessor. As she starts poking around, she has another vision, and learns some disturbing things about some co-workers.
This was a much better book than I was expecting, once the whole thing was revealed about Lee having visions. There is a real plot and story involved, and I really wanted to learn how it was all resolved.
The Ghost Fields, by Elly Griffiths. While digging for a development of new houses, a body in a World War II plane is discovered on the site. The land was owned by the Blackstock family, and the body inside turn out to be a son who emigrated to America, joined the war effort, and was shot down, thought to be lost at sea.
While Ruth Galloway and DCI Nelson are trying to learn what happened - because the pilot was shot in the forehead - more and more Blackstock familysecrets are revealed. They learn that one of the family members has turned one of the airfields used by the soldiers - "ghost fields" - into a pig farm, and things really heat up when human remains are found in the pig feeder.
A lot happens in this book, and many of the Blackstock family members are creepy weirdos. Frank Barker, the American historian from the previous book, shows up again, causing Ruth to question her feelings for him.
The book ends during the lead up to Christmas, which I didn't know, but it leads nicely into the time of year when I enjoy reading holiday-themed books.
Winter Solstice, by Elin Hilderbrand. This is the final book in what was supposed to be a trilogy featuring the Quinn family. It's a bittersweet tale, since while some family members are clearly finding their way to happily ever afters, things are also happening that mean their lives will be irrevocably changed forever.
I enjoyed this book, and appreciate how it brought the family's story full circle, but I have to admit that I liked the others in the series more.
The Alpine Christmas, by Mary Daheim. The small town of Alpine, Washington is getting ready for the holidays, and Emma Lord, the editor of the Alpine Advocate,the town's weekly paper, is busy with the prep for the next issue as well as finishing plans for her Christmas celebration. But when someone finds a woman's leg, and shortly after a partially frozen body is found near a river, there's suddenly a lot that needs to be uncovered in Alpine, and Emma digs in.
This book was good enough, but I really only finished it to see what the resolution was, and that was an interesting twist. But frankly it didn't grab me much otherwise.
Twelve Slays of Christmas, by Jacqueline Frost. Holly White has returned to her hometown of Mistletoe, Maine when her Christmas Eve wedding plans are canceled. The good thing is that she can help out at Reindeer Games, the Christmas tree farm and well-known holiday attraction. But when the head of the local historical society is murdered on their property using one of the stakes her father made to identify different types of trees, she needs to clear his name.
This book was fine, but the characters weren't that interesting to me. And the person revealed as the murderer was seldom part of the story, so it was all kind of blah in my opinion.
Twisted Tea Christmas, by Laura Childs. In this installment of the series, Theodosia Browning and her associates are catering a party at the home of one of Charleston's wealthiest residents when she is murdered and robbed. So besides being busy with the planning of a few special holiday-themed tea events, she wants to find out who was responsible for something so reprehensible.
Not only does she eventually find the killer, but she uncovers a massive fraud being perpetrated on the wealthy residents of Charleston as well.
Enjoyable, but the food descriptions will definitely make you hungry!
Apple Cider Slaying, by Julie Anne Lindsey. This was a pretty enjoyable book, and for me, for reasons that probably don't matter to a lot of other people.
Smythe Orchards, the family orchard business in Blossom Valley, WV, has been around for a while, but is struggling financially. Winona Mae Montgomery, who was raised there by her grandparents, decides that she will organize a Winter Festival during the Christmas season to bring in crowds and hopefully start a new tradition for the orchard that will help it stay open longer every year, and give herself and her grandmother additional income. It's her way of trying to save the business.
But when the body of a meddlesome neighbor is found on the property while Winnie is walking the local banker around in hopes of him giving her a loan to open a cafe, things start to head downhill fast. First of all, people in the town start to suspect that her grandmother was somehow involved in the woman's death. Secondly, the orchard is closed for a time since it has become a crime scene. And when more deaths occur, and Winnie starts receiving threats, it's clear that the danger level has amped up.
In many ways, this is a typical cozy mystery, with the requisite types of characters and plot lines. But the things that made this stand out to me were as follows: 1) it takes place in northern WV, and most people don't realize that part of the state exists, and is at all different than the southern part of the state; 2) it mentions my home town and one of its historically most important - and well known - business symbols; 3) none of the characters portrayed is the "typical" person you see in most media from WV - you know, the hillbilly with no teeth who lives in a shack, etc.
Granted, there are guns and pickup trucks, but I have also learned while moving to various parts of the country that guess what - those are everywhere.
What about you? Have you read/listened to anything particularly good or even really bad lately? Let me know in the comments.