Sunday, December 31, 2023

Dogs Think That Every Day is Christmas


Short and sweet - I was thinking that this was going to be something else entirely - but this book is straight outta left field. That isn't to say that I didn't enjoy it - I did - it was just so unexpected. The book opens with a with an introduction and confession about how he wronged his dog Pete when he was a child and has never fully been absolved for it - then follows the poem "Dogs Think That Every Day is Christmas" that is not as child friendly as these amateurish illustrations would lead you to believe. An odd but endearing little book from the master of sci-fi.

Wrapped With a Beau


Very steamy, very predictable. Good holiday fun! Longer review coming soon - just want this in before the new years!

Saturday, December 30, 2023

House of Ash and Bone


A little on the cheesy side, but definitely dark. This read like a middle grade horror novel but with plenty of foul language. When Josephine and their family find out they have inherited a big old house in Canaan; the news couldn't have come at a better time. There family is in dire financial straights and this could be just the thing they need to get back on track. The house is big and creepy and better than they expected - there are five big bedrooms, one for each daughter and the rooms seem perfectly suited to each of them. So why does Josephine feel ill at ease? Soon her memory starts to go foggy and soon she starts to suspect that they aren't the only ones living in the house. Genuinely creepy at moments, but there was somehow both a lot and not a lot going on at the same time. Just an ok novel with a meh ending. 

Thursday, December 28, 2023

The Boys from Biloxi


Why have I waited so long to read a John Grisham?!? I was thoroughly engrossed in this legal thriller and it wasn't as "literary" or "legally" as I thought it might be. It was very straightforward and the plot kept me engaged. Biloxi wasn't just known for it's coastal beauty and fishing, it was also known for its vices and corruption. The police and judges were in bed with the mobsters; taking cuts from the illegal drinking, gambling, and prostitution. Two young boys were raised in this environment and they couldn't lead different lives; once friends and athletes the two grow apart after high school and find themselves at opposite sides. One will become a lawyer who idealizes his father and the work he is doing to clean up Biloxi; the other a thug and mobster, one who also idolizes his father and the "empire" he built. Fast paced, I liked how this story spans over decades. The city of Biloxi also feels like a character. I definitely need to read more Grisham!

Tuesday, December 19, 2023

Unhinged


There's nothing like ending a great reading year with a little bit of smut. And what bizarre smut this was. A door (yes a door) starts to fall for the woman that lives in the apartment he guards. He starts to really fall for her and watches her every move. Soon he realizes that the landlord is up to no good and he wants to protect her from his evil advances. But how can he do that when he can't move on his own? One wild dream later and Tana is lubing up the doorknob (OW!). Is this how he can protect her? Wild and ridiculous. Though honestly.... I could have done with a little more door sex, lol. 

Monday, December 18, 2023

The Treehouse Library


The 5th installment of the Pages and Co. series, is good, but not my favorite. The first few were so good that it's hard to come close to that bookish magic. The Treehouse Library is the second book in the series that focuses on Milo, and now he's the most important kid because he controls the Quip, a magical train that runs on stories and imagination. His uncle, the real conductor of the train is unconscious and poisoned. Milo and his new friend, Alessia, must try to find the cure to wake him. They take the train and go looking for the Botanist, if anyone has a cure it must be here. Whimsical and fun. This series is perfect for book lovers!

Wednesday, December 13, 2023

Notes From the Porch


Short and sweet, this little collection of short stories can easily be read in an hour so. Ranging from observations about his seven year old neighbor, to blue herons, to the loss of his daughter, the stories run the gamut of emotions and of brevity. Written during the pandemic, the stories carry the mark of learning to adapt to less human interaction; while still remaining charming and heartfelt. Cute, but not a timeless collection that you would re-read over and over. 

A Christmas Story


Simply the best Christmas tale. Why did I wait so long to read this?! I grew up loving the movie and being proud that it was written by a Hoosier who lovingly wrote about where I grew up (the "region"). Reading this collection of short stories (taken from another short story collection by Jean Shepherd) that inspired the cult classic Christmas movie, I was in awe of how truly funny it was. I literally laughed out loud on multiple occasions much to the annoyance of my cats. I can't praise it enough. It's fantastic and I want to reread it every holiday season. It's too damn good to read just once. For fans of the movie adaptation, humor, and Hoosiers. Not to be missed!

Monday, December 11, 2023

Her Secret Hope


While not the strongest storyline in the Pinecraft series - this installment is a perfect conclusion to the series. Lilly Kurtz returns to Pinecraft for good, but not to be with a man. She is tired of living in the shadow of her adoption and wants to figure out life on her own. She takes a job as a maid in order to secure free housing and enjoys getting to reconnect with her best friends. The only thing is, even though she is so much closer to them, she has never felt further apart. They seem to speak their own language talking about husbands and kids and Lilly starts to feel left out. That's not what she wanted? Or is it? When Eddie Byler, an Amish guest at the inn, starts talking to her she feels a spark. Maybe there is something there, but she's nervous that if he gets too close he will be disgusted by her past. Can she let down her walls to let love in? Inspirational, heartwarming, and charming. I wish this series would continue!

Friday, December 8, 2023

Holidays on Ice


I love David Sedaris, he has such dry, wry wit. But this has to be my least favorite book of his. It's not as funny, and he comes off as a real jerk in most of the stories. I listened to the audiobook which is the best way to get the full Sedaris experience! He and his sister, Amy, do all the narration which is fantastic. This collection isn't the most uplifting holiday read, in fact save for the first story, it's barely a holiday read at all. But I will read anything by Sedaris, so even though it's not my favorite, it's still worth a listen!

Friday, December 1, 2023

The Water Dancer


The prose isn't always easy to read, but this story is powerful and unforgettable. Hiram was born with a gift he doesn't know how to use or control; but it has the power to change his future. He was born into servitude at Lockless, a Virginian tobacco plantation. His mother and his memory of her is long gone; all he has is his half brother, Maynard, the heir to the estate, and the plantation owner, his father. He is afforded some liberties but when you're born to the tasked; the only liberty that matters is freedom. Little does he know that his gift will soon help him on the underground. Heartbreaking and powerful!

Lessons in Chemistry


I am such a fool! I avoided this book for ages solely because I disliked the cover! I deprived myself from loving this for far too long. The audiobook narration was superb, and was the very first thing that hooked me. I was so invested in Elizabeth Zott and her story. From defying the odds in the early sixties as a female scientist, finding love, losing love, starting a family, and become a well loved tv host - this journey was fantastic and was all about defying the odds while staying true to yourself. The character building is top tier and I had such deep feelings for them all. The characters were wonderfully flawed and so real. I can't wait to watch the show. This is a book I will definitely read again!

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

The Book Club Hotel


Charming, seasonal, heartwarming, and ultimately relatable. Three friends put aside their busy work and home lives and get together once a year for a week in a nice hotel to hang out, discuss books, and catch up on life. Claudia is still reeling from her boyfriend of ten years dumping her and then her later losing her job as a chef. Anna is preparing to be an empty nester when her twins go away to college in a year and isn't taking the holiday season well. Erica is toying with the idea of maybe liking someone enough to let them be more than a casual thing - and she also has a big secret that she hasn't shared with her best friends. The cozy Vermont Inn is an idyllic setting and the perfect place for their yearly getaway. The owner, Hattie, has some problems of her own as well. Running an inn and raising a child while being widow is tough, but's even tougher when there are staff members with big egos who keep getting in the way. These four women will find they have so much more in common then they thought. They'll also realize that even if someone's life looks perfect on the outside, that isn't always the whole picture. Female fiction at its finest. 

Monday, November 27, 2023

Ladies' Lunch: and Other Stories


Pulitzer Prize finalist, and beloved New York writer, Lore Segal pens a short story collection about five female friends who have been lunching together for over forty years. As they enter their ninth decade of life, they find that things that were important in their youth don't matter so much anymore. They limit their talk on aches and pains and try to focus on friendship, family, the future, and of course aging. Over the course of sixteen stories listeners are treated to humor, heartbreak, resourcefulness, and grim determination as these women try to avoid assisted living, figure out how to travel, and brainstorm ways to keep the whole gang together. Ladies' Lunch is narrated by Callie Beaulieu, who effuses the ladies' advanced ages and voices with wisdom, humor, and grace. Segal brilliantly showcases both incredible sharpness and wisdom in characters that sometimes forget names and misplace medications; with a perspective that younger writers can't easily imitate. Some stories shine much more than others, but seniors especially will relate and identify with the struggles of aging gracefully. 

Sunday, November 26, 2023

Bookshops & Bonedust


I love this cozy fantasy world so so much. This wasn't quite as head over heels for me as Legends & Lattes was but it was so close!! It was so good getting to see a new side to Viv, a battle hungry orc, before she puts up her blade. While on a mission to apprehend a necromancer she gets severely injured and is left behind in a town to heal. An orc with nothing to do but rest and heal is miserable and Viv is beyond that. Against the doctors orders she starts walking around the sleepy seaside town she is trapped in and finds a musty old bookshop. After getting guilted into buying a book, she discovers she loves reading and finds herself coming back again and again and befriending the Rattkin owner. Together and along with some other outcasts they form a little ragtag group and work on saving the bookshop from folding. It's wholesome and charming. More books set in this world please!

Saturday, November 18, 2023

The Christmas Guest


Trying to get in the holiday spirit by reading about some murder under the mistletoe. While no one gets murdered under the mistletoe (more like actually bludgeoned to death with a rock in the snowy woods), there is at heart a little mystery. When an American student is invited to the English countryside to spend the holidays with one of her classmates she bites at the chance. She also falls head over heels for her friend's older brother. While at the pub, someone comments that she looks just like the murdered girl found behind her classmate's manor. Is it true? How did that girl die and why? Interesting narrative. It was a quick read that kept me hooked. 

Lore Olympus v. 5


The artwork is stunning and this story keeps getting more engaging. I am always so interested to see how Rachel Smythe can "modernize" ancient mythology and it's always so inventive and engaging. This slow burn between Persephone and Hades is starting to steam up. I can't wait for the next installment!

Cat + Gamer


Cute, but not quite cute enough to continue the whole series. I'm not even sure what else there is to write about. Riko is an office worker pushing thirty. She never works overtime, never discusses her private life, and never goes out for drinks with her co-workers. She is an enigma to everyone. One day a security guard finds a scared kitten in the parking lot and she finds herself volunteering to take the kitty home. Before the kitten all she would do is play video games, all night and every weekend. Now that she has a kitten she backed off the games (only a little) and has started focusing on "leveling up" her kitten. It's cute, but how much more story can there be?

Thursday, November 16, 2023

One by One


Not my favorite Ruth Ware thriller. I loved the setting and I liked the premise but I STRONGLY disliked the dual narrative. The story unfolds between two perspectives, Erin a chalet cleaner and host and Liz, a timid guest staying at the chalet as part of a corporate retreat. The chalet is high in the alps, it's gorgeous and isolated; just what the executives of Snoop need to decide the future of their company. They've brought along one extra member though, Liz. Liz hasn't been employed in several years, but she does have a stake in the company owning 2% of the shares. She knows the co-founders are going to hem and haw and use her to be a deciding factor if they take their company public or if they sell it. When one of the co-founders goes missing after a day of skiing they are sick with worry, before they can send out a search party an avalanche traps them up in the mountains. They have no power, no reception, and soon no hope as other members of the party start to die. Who is killing off people and why? It was pretty obvious. And again, the dual narrative was not done well. I'll try another Ruth Ware though - the setting was great. 

Monday, November 13, 2023

Behind the Seams


To thine oneself be true, could aptly sum up this excellent audiobook celebrating Dolly Parton's iconic and timeless style. Narrated by the icon herself, Behind the Seams takes readers on a journey through Dolly's early style, makeup, fashion, wigs, and more. Interspersed throughout the interviews are song clips and interviews with some of the designers and stylists who have helped showcase Dolly’s unique and unforgettable vision. From the Country Music Awards, The Porter Wagoner Show, album covers, Studio 54, and The Playboy cover – each outfit has a story to tell. Dolly Parton’s style has evolved over the years, but has always been flashy, busty, unique, and glitzy; just like the legend herself. Part memoir, part fashion manifesto, part archive; Behind the Seams is filled with humor, confidence, candor. This audiobook deserves all the rhinestone stars it can get.

The Unmaking of June Farrow


I wanted to like this book more than I did. I love the concept, it just made my brain hurt trying to keep all the time travel threads together and in the right order. June Farrow has always known that she is from a family of strong, yet curiously sick women. Her mother abandoned her on her family's steps and her grandmother slowly lost her mind as well. It's not your average mental illness, something seems to unravel the Farrow women and June knows it's only a matter of time before it happens to her as well. She's put off love, hopes, and dreams, and surrendered herself to the family curse. After her mother's funeral, June receives a newspaper article featuring her mother... from nearly 80 years ago. How could that be? Maybe she just looks identical to her mom? She starts following a trail of breadcrumbs an things start getting really weird, really fast. When the visions and "hallucinations" start to get real bad, her dear friend Birdie tells her that the next time she sees the red door she has to go through it. But what is on the other side? A twisty  magical realism book about love, family secrets, and the power to change our past by changing the future. 

Thursday, November 9, 2023

World Within a Song


New York Times bestselling author and Wilco front man, Jeff Tweedy is back with another fun music inspired journey. Tweedy shares the fifty songs that have impacted his life the most, for better or for worse. He’s very clear that these aren’t what he considers the best fifty songs of all time, that is too daunting of a list to try. Rather this compilation of songs represents moments in his life where the song is crucial to the memory. From childhood to his wedding, music has been involved in every aspect of his life and these fifty songs highlight some important and unforgettable moments. Fantastically narrated by the legend himself, Tweedy’ s charisma shines throughout the recording. He shares the experiences behind each song and how it impacted his own relationship with music and song-writing. Featuring an eclectic list of songs by Otis Redding, Billie Eilish, Deep Purple, The Rolling Stones, and many others; this list is fresh and surprising. Part memoir, part music appreciation, and all-around joy; World Within a Song is a fantastic listen, that will have listeners pausing the audiobook to listen to the many songs referenced. – Erin Cataldi 

Monday, November 6, 2023

The Woman in Me


Wow. Definitely learned A LOT about Britney and her life. It's sad and crazy to think that this sort of abuse happened in our lifetimes. It explains so much about the headlines and the photos. The book is so eye opening and drops so many crazy little stories in details. It's not what I would call well written or super detailed for a memoir, it's much more conversational. There is no overall flow, but it's a quick read and the voice really does seem authentic to her. After reading this I have newfound and mad respect for her. Also, fuck Justin Timberlake!

Against the Wind


While this is the second book in a series, this historical novel can easily be read as a standalone as well. Louisa Vaughn had vowed never to return to Sweetwater Crossing but when her friend insists that she accompany her back to bury her husband she does. She reunites with her estranged sister and discovers she has been left a doctor's office. That comes as a major blessing because while away she had been studying to become a midwife and doctor. Sweetwater Crossing no longer has a doctor and she is ready to take the reigns if the townsfolk will trust a female doctor. The first big way to prove that she knows what she is doing is by setting the leg of a man who was thrown from his horse. Josh Porter is a big shot from New York who was just passing through, but since he broke his leg he will have to spend several months there while he heals. She finds her heart opening to him and another man who seems intent on pursuing her. Maybe returning to Sweetwater Crossing wasn't so bad after all? She'll have to navigate her heart and convince the town that she really is fit to be their doctor. A good clean Christian read. 

Thursday, November 2, 2023

One Italian Summer


Honestly, this is just a 3 or 3.5 star - but I rounded up for the excellent narration from Lauren Graham. She made the book sparkle despite some pretty big shortfalls. I immediately identified with this book having lost my mother around the same age, but, the execution of the "magic" was just too unbelievable for me. When Katy's mother dies she decides to hop on a plane on go on the trip to Positano Italy that she and her mother had been planning for months. She can barely function but she hopes that seeing the place her mother had loved as a young woman would help make her feel closer to her. Katy is barely functioning as her mom was her best friend and the most important person in her life (even more than her husband!). While she is in Positano she sees her mother as a 30 year old, which is impossible, yet it's her, it is somehow her mother reincarnated as her younger self. Later we find out that Katy has somehow traveled back into time to the same summer that her mother was in Italy. Katy NEVER questions this or anything. She is just so excited to see her mother and befriend her that she doesn't question anything. Like HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE?! There are some heartwarming moments and she has to accept that her mother was not perfect. Another thing I loved besides the narration was all the food writing and the descriptions of the Italian countryside. Charming, yet ridiculously unbelievable. 

Monday, October 30, 2023

An Appetite for Miracles


A stunning teen novel in verse that was mouthwatering and profound. Danna is slowly losing her grandfather to dementia, it's taking away her favorite person and she is determined to hang on to him for as long as she can. She cooks his favorite meals and gets the food he so lovingly wrote about when he was a food writer. Sometimes he comes back for a minute, sometimes an hour, sometimes it has no effect. 

Raul is a mediocre student who just wants to play the guitar so he can forget about the fact that his mom is locked up in prison. When he and his uncle go to Danna's house to sing and play guitar as part of music therapy he and Danna form an instant connection. Their teenaged lives are in turmoil and through food, prayer, and friendship things will work out. Not the way they planned it, but they will work out. Beautiful writing; it's impossible not to get hungry while reading this. It's practically a love letter to food and the memories it can store for us. 

Lost and Found


While not technically part of a series, Lost and Found takes place in the same quaint Amish community as A Season on the Wind and Anything But Plain. So while it can easily read as a stand alone, it's nice to see characters from novels past. In Lost and Found, Micah and Trudy discover that their beloved pond filled with birds (they are avid bird watchers) is about to be bulldozed to make way for a neighboring Amish Church. They are about to lose their livelihood and a big piece of their community. On top of that, Trudy's older sister has started leaving voicemails for Micah asking him to rescue her. She ran away a while back to become a singer and no one has heard from her since. He's determined to somehow save her himself, rather than let the Bishop or her family know. Micah has so much on his plate he can't even begin to focus on trying to save Wonder Lake. He's irritable and unable to focus on anything, not even birding and especially not on Trudy. Wholesome, sweet with a side of intrigue. Can't go wrong with Amish romance! 

Tuesday, October 24, 2023

On Moonberry Lake


A cute and charming book with a cast of unforgettable characters. When Cora's mother dies she finds out she inherited her grandparent's amazing lake house. She had fond memories of going there as a child but that all stopped when she turned seven. From then on she and her mother were always on the move, something she continued to do as an adult. Cora never stayed anywhere long and never put down roots.  With her mother dead, she has no family left to ask questions to. There are so many things that don't make sense. Her grandparent's lake house is hers as long as she stays there for one year, it is in rough shape and needs to be gutted, but she quickly finds herself warming to the job. Her kindly neighbor Sam helps her hire a grumpy handywoman by the name of Widgey and soon the old decrepit house is coming back to life. The physical work keeps her body busy and meeting all the interesting neighbors and townfolks start to keep her mind engaged. For the first time in a long time she is happy and content. Can Moonberry Lake be the place where she finally settles down? A charming inspirational read. 

Wednesday, October 18, 2023

The Intern


I'm not generally one for legal thrillers but this one was surprisingly well done! Told from two alternating perspectives, The Intern follows Madison, a young Harvard law student, and Judge Kathryn Conroy. When Madison's younger brother is locked up for a serious crime he did not commit their mother begs her to try to find out more about his case with her connections. Conveniently, the judge who sentenced her brother is also an adjunct professor at Harvard and Madison applies for an internship with her. What she uncovers leads her to believe her brother wasn't lying and that he really was framed. Judge Conroy isn't as squeaky clean as everyone believes. She's got some big secrets to hide and wonders if Madison will be the key to getting out of the mess she's in. Fast paced and thrilling, this legal thriller has mob action, murder, and more. The ending is also very satisfying!

Tuesday, October 17, 2023

Hunt for the Skinwalker


OMG This book couldn't end soon enough. It was SUCH a slog. If you're looking for the actual rigorous science testing, data, and methodology to back up all the bigfoot and UFO sightings at this little ranch in Utah DON'T HOLD YOUR BREATH! There is literally none of that!! It's a bunch of he said, she said weird sightings of paranormal activity. And it's not just at this ranch; the author feels the need to bring up cases all over the US and that does nothing to add to the story. I guess he's just trying to prove weird shit happens all over?! Stupid, long, repetitive. God I wish the aliens would beam this author up into their UFO. 

Saturday, October 14, 2023

Dance Upon the Air


WOOF! This book was.... not good. Helen is running away from a violent past. She faked her death so her wealthy, influential, and super abusive husband would let her go. She ran and hid for months, finally settling on Three Sisters Island. There she reinvented herself as Nell and started baking and cooking at the local bookstore. She quickly made friends, caught the eye of the local sheriff, oh and discovered she was a witch (honestly - that witch aspect added nothing to the story for me, and I like witchy stuff - I feel as if it were thrown in as an afterthought). Things are going well, but there is something ominous on the horizon, will her husband discover she is alive? The thing that really ticked me off the most about this dang book was the fact that the "hero" - the local sheriff, was such a total dickhead! A big ol' unsympathetic macho jerk. She ran away from one loser and fell straight into the arms of another one. UGH!!

Monday, October 9, 2023

The Running Grave


I was ENGROSSED from the beginning. Galbraith's writing and intricate plots keep getting better and better and I could not put this down. I literally stayed up until 2am last night to finish it like a crazy person. Strike and Robin's latest case is from a concerned father who just want to get their adult son back. Will Edensor has been taken in by the Universal Humanitarian Church (picture Scientology, but worse) and is unwilling to leave. Will has a delicate mental state and is easily coerced so they are sure that he is being taken advantage of. Robin agrees to go under cover and join the ranks of the UHC and what she discovers is far worse then they had imagined. They knew it was a cult, but what is going on at the farm is beyond the pale. It's dark, fucked up, and omg this book was intense. Such  a great twisty read. I am already sad that I have to wait upwards of a year for the next book!

Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Someone is Always Watching


I get that teen novels are supposed to be a little over the top but this is freaking delusional. Maybe as a tee I could have put my blinders on and believed a concept like this, but it gets more and more ridiculous the more you keep reading. I can only suspend belief for so long. Blythe goes to a special prep school funded by her parent's employers, in fact almost every kid there has family that works "up in the labs." When Blythe's best friend snaps at school one day and starts ranting and raving about the cameras everywhere, Blythe is concerned. This is unlike her friend, she vows to get to the bottom of it and decides to eavesdrop on the principal's conversation after school and that is all she remembers. She finds out later that her principal killed himself in his office (suspicious) and no one is allowed to see Gabrielle. She and her friends Tanya and Tucker know that something else is going on and will do anything to figure out what so they can help their friend. Over the top and super unbelievable. I literally can't. 

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

The Haunting of Hill House


An extremely chilling, unique, and unsettling horror novel; that remains relevant even to this day. I've read other books by Shirley Jackson, but this might be my favorite. It's simple yet so very deep and nuanced and everything ties in together; weaving a tapestry of evil and doubt. Three strangers are united by a scholar of the occult promising a summer of free lodging, modest pay, and amiable company. The four find themselves taking up residence in Hill House, a massive manor that has spent decades empty and has dozens of rumors surrounding it. Everyone is unsettled by the house which gives off an air of darkness and chill, but they band together to see if anything is truly off about the house. Dr. Montague is the primary note taker and scholar, Theodora is a beautiful and engaging participant, Luke is the future inheritor of the estate, and Eleanor is poor, friendless and determined to make the best of the situation. Small horrors begin to creep in and by the time they think to do something it's too late. A great horror novel!

Monday, September 25, 2023

Letters From My Sister


The writing is lush and evocative and I adore that this historical romance is unique, well written, and not overly inspirational. Emmy and Callie Bullock are not only sisters, they are best friends. They have grown up with wealth and privilege, part of a brood of Alabama cotton farmers. Their cozy life gets turned upside down when their cook's granddaughter turns up unexpectedly and starts getting a lot of unwanted attention from Emmy's fiancĂ©'s twin brother. The final straw is when Callie witnesses something she was never meant to see, she blacks it out, but that only makes things more challenging. The sisters are soon separated and the only way they are able to piece together what happened that fateful night is through letters. Heart-wrenching and filled with a cast of great characters. I wouldn't mind reading some more books set in this family's household! 

Friday, September 22, 2023

Evergreen

 

The second installment of the Edgar award winning Japantown mystery series by Naomi Hirahara showcases not so much mystery, but the beautiful, fractured, and resilience of a Californian Japanese community. The second World War has just ended and people are finally making their way back to their homes after being detained in Japanese Internment camps. Aki, her recently returned veteran husband, and her parents rent a new home in their old community. When she stumbles across Babe, the best man at her wedding, and his father at the hospital she works at, Aki has questions. Did Babe beat his father? How did he get so many broken bones and bruises? Babe seems evasive and unwilling to talk and when his father is later found dead in his Little Tokyo apartment, Babe is nowhere to be found. Aki is determined to find out what happened before their connections with Babe drag them along in the scandal. Excellently narrated by Allison Hiroto, whose charm and wit shines through. This fantastic historical mystery is a must read, Aki Ito will win over readers with her sweet demeanor and quick wit. - Erin Cataldi

Thursday, September 21, 2023

World War Z


This was a fantastic audiobook. It kept me hooked and I loved the full cast of voice actors. I had never seen the movie before so I went into this blind and I loved it. I loved how Max Brooks thought through so many different scenarios and outcomes and I loved that he "interviewed" people all over the world to really get the scope of the zombie apocalypse. If you love zombie books and movies then this will not disappoint - I wish the book were longer - I feel like there were so many different perspectives he could have included! I would definitely recommend the audiobook version - I feel that since this was an oral history - that it was the best way to read it - the voice actors really were superb too!

Monday, September 18, 2023

The Rocky Road to Ruin


A cute New England town, a homemade ice cream parlor, a mysterious murder, and cute cats. What more can a reader want?! Well maybe a bit more of a plot that doesn't have a million threads, lol. I love a good cozy mystery - but this one was a bit of a struggle for me. I feel like the author tried to introduce far too many characters, and every single quirky trope that she had ever encountered. Plus the plot has a lot going on and is all over the place. Riley Rhodes, librarian, spy and travel blogger (the travel blogger thing - NEVER came back up) comes back to her hometown for her best friend's mother's funeral. Buzzy was a legend in her hometown - she had a huge sprawling farm and a fun ice cream parlor - everyone is sad when dies. What will happen to the property? To the ice cream parlor? Her daughter doesn't want to sell, but the son sure does. When he is found murdered with a pitchfork Riley and her friend have to make some hard choices. Dear read - be prepared to suspend your disbelief for the whole dang novel. It's entertaining but COME ON!

Thursday, September 14, 2023

The Oracle


Is this series amazing... not really - but it keeps me entertained and I'll be damned if I don't finish it. The Oracle is the 11th installment of the Fargo Adventure series and follow Sam and Remi Fargo as they follow up on some funding inconsistencies at an archaeological site they are funding in Tunisia. As if that wasn't enough of a headache one of the supply trucks headed out to a girls school (that they also fund) is missing in transit. Is something nefarious going on? Not as much about treasure hunting as there other books, but it was still exciting. I really liked Nasha, a young stowaway that wins over the hearts of the Fargos and their friends. Implausible as always but a fast listen. 

A Royal Christmas


When Adelaide Smith stops working as a barista it's so she can focus up on finishing her law degree. But when she gets a mysterious letter in the mail saying she is the long lost princess of Montovia, she puts those plans on hold to go visit her long lost father, the king. When she arrives he is on his deathbed; so she devotes the holiday season to getting to know him better. There is one person who is not happy to see her in the palace and that is the queen. She has designs to put her son (the king's stepson) on the throne. Adelaide finds herself being won over by the small European country and its quaint Christmas customs. It doesn't hurt that Anton, the friendly diplomat guiding her around, is charming and sweet. Can Adelaide picture herself ruling someday? Or does she need to go home to finish her law degree? It definitely reads like a Hallmark Christmas movie but that does not make it any less of a read. The perfect Christmas novella for those who love rags to riches, or in this case, rags to royalty. 

Monday, September 11, 2023

Shark Heart


My heart was not ready for this! When the description of the book tells the reader to expect a man to slowly morph into a shark, you don't anticipate crying your bloody eyes out. I certainly didn't. I was intrigued with the weird concept, that in this world, some people are born with a condition that mutates them into animals. Sometimes it doesn't happen until they are older, sometimes it happens to children. Some animal species can take humans decades to evolve into - other species (like sharks) can take only a few months. Wren and Lewis have recently wed and they have their whole lives ahead of them. Lewis is an eternal optimist, a high school theater director, fun and loud. Wren is his opposite, small, quiet, tidy, and orderly - always thinking two steps ahead. When out of the blue Lewis is diagnosed with the ultra rare diagnosis - transforming into a great white shark - they have to figure out how to proceed. How long does he have? Will their love endure? AMAZING STORYTELLING! I can't stop thinking about this book. The format is amazing - it alternates characters, is sometime told in the form of a scene in a play, sometimes just a thought. It's gorgeous. Definitely one of my top picks for the year!

Friday, September 8, 2023

How Can I Help You?


A small town library harbors a dangerous secret. Margo, the helpful, demure, and punctual librarian is not in fact, be who she claims to be. Years ago as a nurse she left behind a trail of death; what was just "mercy killings" to her, outraged the police, families, and public when discovered. She managed to sneak away and change her identity, but when Patricia, the new librarian arrives, her long hidden secret may come tumbling out. When a library patron is found dead in the bathrooms, Patricia starts to put some pieces together and can't help looking at Margo. Margo's forbidding and menacing personality starts to escape bit by bit and rather than be disgusted or scared by it, Patricia is intrigued. Patricia is a struggling novelist, and when she starts to write about Margo - the words just flow out. She can't wait to see what will unfold. The narration is fantastically executed by Carlotta Brentan and Maggi-Meg Reed, who convey disgust, incredulity and intrigue so so well. Margo and Patricia are unforgettable characters and this suspenseful novel will have listeners at the edge of their seats. Readers who love books about librarians and literature will eat up this psychological thriller.

Wednesday, August 23, 2023

Lore Olympus Volume Four


Not my favorite installment of the series - but still good enough to keep me going. We start to learn more about Persephone's childhood and Hades motives. I like this series and the illustrations in this graphic novel are unmatched. I can't wait for the 5th one. 

A Business Proposal


I love a good fake dating trope and this breezy adult manga was cute. When Hari Shin's best friend, an heiress, gets set up on a blind date with some millionaire CEO she doesn't want to go. She instead pays Hari to go on the date pretending to be her and bomb the date so he never calls her again. Hari dons a wig and a sultry persona and comes face to face with her boss. She is desperate to not get recognized and he is desperate to just marry the next person he says (ie the blind date) to get his family off his back. It's a comedy of errors and is done well in manga form. I look forward to reading more in the series. 

The Invisible Hour


I go into every Alice Hoffman book thinking it is going to be as magical and perfect as Practical Magic, and I am always "slightly" let down. But really, I loved this - it was just different from what I was expecting. Alice Hoffman always writes BEAUTIFULLY and her words are like a warm bath on a cold night. They just roll over you. The Invisible Hour is about a mother and daughter both trapped in a commune. Told in alternating storylines, the reader discovers how Ivy could be tricked into joining such a cult like community and the repercussions it has on her daughter. When her daughter starts sneaking out to walk to the library in the next town, she discovers a whole new world in books. And when she reads The Scarlett Letter which has striking similarities to her childhood she feels connected to the long dead, Nathaniel Hawthorn. I don't want to say anything else and risk spoiling the plot. Just know that it is beautiful magical realism. I love me some Alice Hoffman!

Monday, August 21, 2023

The Ink Black Heart


I put off reading this book for so long because 1) JK Rowling is problematic as hell and 2) it's ridiculously long. However once I started it I was COMPLETELY absorbed - it was an absolute treat to read 1,000+ pages with Robin and Strike (the slow burn continues!) investigating their trickiest case yet. The creator of a popular online cartoon, The Ink Black Heart, is found brutally stabbed and murdered in the park along with her partner (although he lives). The week prior Edie Ledwell (the creator) had reached to Robin to ask for help for because the online harassment that she had been receiving for years had really ramped up and she thought she was in danger. After she is found murdered, Robin is wracked with guilt about not taking the case when she was still alive, so when Edie's relatives reach out to see if they can discover who Anomie, the online troll is, (who also happens to be the number one suspect) they jump on the case. Anomie is a moderator of a game based off The Ink Black Heart and does nothing but spew vitriol about Edie, even after her death. Strike and Robin will have to go online and learn quickly all about this toxic fandom and pull the mask off Anomie before anyone else connected with the cartoon dies. Dense, but fantastic. I could not put it down - hell I would have read more. I didn't come close to correctly guessing Anomie. Give me more Strike and Robin!!!

Tuesday, August 15, 2023

The Wishing Game


Debut author, Meg Shaffer, charms readers in this inventive literary escapade. Kindergarten aide, Lucy Hart is grasping at straws. She desperately needs more money so she can move out on her own and get a car, but working in a school and having a side hustle on Etsy isn't cutting it.  She wants to adopt seven year old Christopher, but no caseworker will even consider letting her foster him when she has roommates. Just when she thinks all hope is lost, her and Christopher's favorite children's author, Jack Masterson, has announced a competition that has the potential to change their lives. When Lucy is selected as one of the four contestants to compete on Clock Island, the famous setting of the children's book series, things seemed to be looking up. But what if she's not up for the challenge? In Jack Masterson's series, kids almost always get their wishes granted; but Lucy is no longer a kid. Does she even have a chance? Fantastically narrated by Rachel L. Jacobs and Paul Boehmer, whose childlike glee helps set this narration apart. Whimsical, hopeful, and fun; Shaffer is is sure to gain a following after this stellar debut. 

Thursday, August 10, 2023

Megabat Mega Star


Before you lambast me for the low rating, I want to preface a few things - I am not the target audience for this book, I do not read elementary novels like this AND I have never read any other books in this series. Those factors contributed to this lower than normal rating! The illustrations were a highlight for me and I think the little cast of characters is fun. I don't love that Megabat talks like a backwards heathen and nothing is ever spelled right. I get the intent behind that, but it grated on my nerves after a while. I think the premise kids will love. There is some naughtiness, some accidents, and lots of fun. And again the illustrations are fantastic. It kind of reminded me of Howliday Inn and Bunnicula. I wish I would have enjoyed this more, I'm just an old bitter millennial, lmao. 

some blue, a little spur


A poetry collection that soothes as much as it shocks; Kris Falcon's second book is a feast for the mind. Beautiful phrases unearth themselves in the rubble, and readers will find themselves re-reading lines and savoring the way it sounds in their heads and hearts. Some blue, a little spur contains over fifty poems - many dealing with the lockdown, friendship, emotions, and life's great questions. While not "uplifting" per se, this collection is pensive and lugubrious while still maintaining its beauty - like a butterfly in amber. "I am being trusted here for my capacity to be certain the robin has the boldest heart. A map on my palm stings right. Every branch toward the waves." Kris Falcon's poetry also appears in The Hong Kong Review, Atlanta Review, Gulf Stream Magazine, and other publications. 

Wednesday, August 9, 2023

Georgie, All Along


I didn't really click with this book and I'm not sure why. It's a slightly spicier Hallmark - but I just didn't love any of the characters. When Georgie Mulachy finds herself out of a job she decides to try and "find herself" by moving back to her hometown and in with her parents. The biggest perk is that her best friend has recently moved back and is expecting a baby so she can pretend she's just in town helping her BFF get the house ready for her kid, but really there is a hole in Georgie's life. While unpacking boxes in her friend's house she discovers the friend fic that they worked on in 8th grade and Georgie is convinced that if she does all the things she aspired to do and never did - she will find some sort of purpose in life. Things don't work out as planned, but she does meet her high school crushes older brother and things get interesting. Again - totally fine storyline - I just didn't like Georgie... and I don't know why.