Sunday, December 23, 2018

"The Innkeeper's Wife" by Savannah Jezowski

Awwwwwwww.  This is such a lovely story!  As someone who struggled with getting pregnant initially, though I've since had three healthy babies, I really identified a lot with things going on in this book.

Ginny and Caleb are in their mid-thirties.  They own and run a bed-and-breakfast.  They've wanted children for years, but never conceived.  In the middle of a Christmas snowstorm, a young couple arrives at the b&b, which is full.  The young woman is great with child, to say the least, and Ginny struggles to be courteous, let along kind, with this girl who has what Ginny so desperately wants.

Over the next few hours, Ginny comes to understand that what you want isn't always what you need, and whether or not you like a situation, that doesn't mean you can walk away from it.  I shed a tear or two over this story, but good tears.  The happy kind.

Particularly Good Bits:

Were all those tears for nothing?  Just salty water to fill up a well of pain that would never be emptied?

If This was a Movie, I Would Rate It:  PG for discussion of childbirth-related behavior, the mention of "missing periods" and taking pregnancy tests, and other things younger kids might not be ready for or interested in.  Nothing gratuitous, no bad bad language or violence or smut.

This is my second book read and reviewed for the Literary Christmas Link-up.

Friday, December 21, 2018

"Holiday Grind" by Cleo Coyle

This was an engaging, fun mystery.  I liked the main character, coffeehouse manager Clare Cosi.  The mystery itself kept my interest, too.  Clare's friend who dresses as Santa and collects money for charity gets murdered, and the police think it's just a mugging.  Even Clare's NYPD detective boyfriend thinks so.  But Clare is sure there's more going on, and of course she uncovers the truth after many mishaps and missteps.

While I did enjoy this mystery while reading it, it faded from my consciousness awfully quickly.  Two days later, and I'm struggling to recall character names and plot details.  Like a foamy latte that I barely remember an hour later, it was frothy and tasty while it lasted, but not ultimately a favorite.  Still, fun while it lasted!

If This was a Movie, I Would Rate It:  PG-13 for some non-graphic intimate moments between Clare and her boyfriend, lots of innuendo in the dialog, bad language, and violence.

This is my first book read and reviewed for the Literary Christmas Link-up and my 16th for the Mount TBR Challenge 2018.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

New Story in a New FREE Anthology!

It's true!  My "flash fiction" piece called "Knighthood" now appears in the brand-new anthology It Happened in a Flash presented by Holly Lisle.  You can get the e-book for FREE on Amazon or on Barnes and Noble, and other places too, I'm told.

The sixty-four stories in this anthology all revolve around something impossible happening, and they're all 500 words or less.  And if you think it's tough to cram a full story into 500 words, with a protagonist, antagonist, setting, and plot -- you're right!  But it's totally possible, as the stories in this attest.  Including mine!

My story "Knighthood" is about an actor named Andrew who realizes one day that he can stop pretending to be a knight and actually be one.  If you want to read a little about what inspired me to write it, check out this post on my other blog.  Then download the ebook (did I mention it's FREE?), read it, and leave some feedback wherever you download it, or on Goodreads!

Please note that while my story is 100% squeaky clean, the anthology as a whole would be rated PG-13 -- no really smutty stuff, but there may be some mildly objectionable content in other stories.  I've only read six or seven of them so far -- none have been something I found distasteful so far, but your standards may be different from mine.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

"Mr. Popper's Penguins" by Richard and Florence Atwater

I'm afraid I liked this book better as a kid.  It's still cute and fun, but my suspension of disbelief got stretched a little too far for me to totally enjoy it.  Not that it was a huge favorite of mine as a kid either -- I remember reading it and wishing my parents would let us have snow in the house, but that's about all I recall, so I must have only read it once or twice.

I read it now because my 8-yr-old loves penguins.  This is the last book we'll be reading this semester for our homeschool co-op lit course, and I chose it because she would enjoy it.  And she did.  So that's a win, really.  And it only took me a couple of hours to read, so it's not like I was stuck with a book I didn't thoroughly enjoy for very long.

Mr. Popper's Penguins involves a very nice man who wishes he was an explorer instead of a house painter.  Imagine George Bailey from It's a Wonderful Life if he was even poorer.  In fact, James Stewart likely would have made a very effective Mr. Popper if they'd made a movie of this sixty or seventy years ago.

Anyway, Mr. Popper is given a penguin most unexpectedly.  Most of the book involves his family adjusting to life with a penguin.  And then life with many penguins.  They aren't rich, but they never really begrudge those penguins the money they have to pour into keeping them, though Mrs. Popper frets now and then.  Eventually, they find a way for the penguins to earn their keep.  And Mr. Popper's dearest wish comes true -- it's a very, very happy ending.  And I definitely liked that.

If This was a Movie, I Would Rate It:  G.  Squeaky clean.

This is my 11th and, presumably, final book read for the Old School Kidlit Reading Challenge.  Don't think I'll have time for another junior fiction book before the end of the year.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

"I'd Rather be Reading" by Anne Bogel

What a perfectly delightful book!

Really, reading this made me wonder sometimes if Anne Bogel had been reading my thoughts and copying my life.  I identified with her behavior toward books so fiercely in so many ways!  I'm book-bossy.  I need due dates to help decide what books to read.  I've been known to go to the library multiple times in one week.  I don't have any book twins, but I've got loads of book friends upon whom I rely for recommendations.  I rearrange my bookshelves.  I never have enough bookshelves!  And on and on and on.

I've read Anne Bogel's blog, Modern Mrs. Darcy, a few times, though I don't follow it.  I might start following it now.  We'll see.  But I will definitely be rereading this book in years to come, if only for the sense of, "I'm not alone!  Someone else understands!" that it gave me.

If you're passionate about books, or if you know someone who is passionate about books and want to understand them better, try this book.  It's delicious.

(Another of my Instagram pics)

Particularly Good Bits:

...a bookstore is full of nothing if not possibility (p. 78).

Reading is often viewed as a solitary act; that's one of the reasons I love it, and it's certainly my favorite escape and introvert coping strategy of choice.  But reading is also a social act: readers lovet o connect over good books.  If I read a book that legitimately changes my life (what a find!), or a book that becomes a new favorite, or even a breezy novel that's tons of fun, I can't wait to talk about it with my fellow readers (p. 138).

If This was a Movie, I Would Rate It: PG for a few iffy words, I think?  Honestly, I inhaled this book so quickly, I don't remember the content.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

"Death by the Book" by Julianna Deering

The more Drew Farthering Mysteries I read, the better I like them!  I've been reading them all out of order, but it hasn't mattered, as each one has been fun in and of themselves.  And I have enough practice reading book series that I can add to the timeline in my head a little helter-skelter, as needed.

In Death by the Book, Drew Farthering, his girlfriend Madeline, and his pal Nick Dennison must solve a series of seemingly random murders.  Each murder draws closer and closer to Drew himself, which is worrisome.  Also, Madeline's Aunt Ruth arrives from America, determined to separate Madeline and Drew for good.  Toss in a lot of cryptic messages left at the murder scenes and Inspector Birdsong being his usual gruff self, and you have a charming entry into the series.

(From my Instagram)

If This was a Movie, I Would Rate It:  PG-13 for violence, danger, kissing, and Aunt Ruth implying that Drew is trying to steal Madeline's virtue, as it were.

This is my 15th book read and reviewed for the Mount TBR Reading Challenge 2018!

Monday, December 10, 2018

"Twenty and Ten" by Claire Huchet Bishop

A few homeschooling mom friends recommended this to me a few years ago when I was teaching my oldest about WWII and trying to figure out how to explain the Holocaust to him because he's very sensitive, and was even more sensitive back then.  Unhappily, I never found a copy before we were done with school for the year.  Happily, I DID find a copy last year sometime, and finally managed to read it myself this fall.  

Even though my son is in 5th grade now, I'm still going to have him read this.  But I think I'll also have my 3rd-grade daughter read it too.  It's a solemn, but hope-filled story.  

When the Nazis occupy France during WWII, twenty French children are sent to the mountains to live with Sister Gabriel, a nun who teaches and cares for them.  They survive quietly there until one day a man arrives and asks if they would be willing to hide ten Jewish orphans who have fled the Nazis.  They agree to take in the ten extra children and share their meager food and clothing.  

At first, it's fun to have more playmates.  But one day, suspicious Nazi soldiers descend on the children while Sister Gabriel is gone.  It's up to those twenty French children to endure interrogation and intimidation... or else their ten new friends will be found and captured.

Based on a true story, this book is definitely serious, and tense in places, but not quite tense enough to be scary.  I'm really glad friends recommended it to me, and I look forward to discussing it with my kids later this year when they're studying WWII.  Courage, kindness, integrity, and ingenuity are all featured here, making a powerful impact in very few words.

If This was a Movie, I Would Rate It: PG for tense and serious subject matter.

This is my 24th book read and reviewed for the Classics Club.

This is my 14th book read and reviewed for the Mount TBR Reading Challenge 2018.

And this is my 10th book read and reviewed for the Old School Kidlit Reading Challenge 2018!  Wahoo, I reached my goal for this too!

Friday, November 30, 2018

"Marilla of Green Gables" by Sarah McCoy

Today is Lucy Maud Montgomery's birthday!  To celebrate, I'm reviewing a book that's based on her Anne of Green Gables series, Marilla of Green Gables by Sarah McCoy.  As you would expect, this is a prequel to the Anne books, creating a deeper backstory for Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert than is provided in Anne's stories.

I really liked the first two-thirds of this book.  Reading the imaginings about Marilla's life as a quiet, reserved girl who knows loss at a young age, who makes friends with the extroverted Rachel White, and who gradually falls in love with John Blythe was just a joy.  The last third was less delightful for me, and I'm not sure if that's because it was sadder (I don't think I need to say "spoiler alert" about the fact that she does NOT marry John Blythe) or because it got sort of exciting and suspenseful all of a sudden, and the tone didn't quite fit the rest of the book.  So I'm kind of adopting the first two-thirds into my personal head-canon for the Anne universe, and the last third I'll just... gradually forget.

This book is beautifully written, and I do recommend it to fans of the Anne books.  There are a lot of sweet little nuances, moments where you can say, "Oh, THIS is why she's so attached to that amythest brooch!" or "Aww, no wonder she encouraged Anne to go make friends with Diana -- she knows what it is to need a friend."  Also, the Pyes and the Blythes and the Andrewses and so many other familiar names appear, which was charming and fun.

(Mine from Instagram)

Particularly Good Bits:

"I like doing," said Marilla (p. 22).

"Greatness can be found anywhere.  It doesn't need grandeur.  There's greatness in the ordinary.  Maybe even more than elsewhere" (p. 34).

She was just as she was.  It didn't bother her to be plain (p. 56).

Marilla frowned.  His words rang of fatalism, and despite her no-nonsense nature, she was covertly a hopeful spirit (p. 161).

Silence had always been a Cuthbert comfort (p. 191).

If This was a Movie, I Would Rate It:  a soft PG-13 for discussions of death in childbirth, a few minor curse words, a suspenseful part involving men with guns, and some kissing scenes.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

"Jane of Austin" by Hillary Manton Lodge

This is a refreshing book.  It's sweet, salty, full of likable characters and enough problems to keep things interesting.  It's also a retelling of Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen, set in Austin, Texas, in the present day.

People told me I would love this book.  I got a copy.  Then I resisted reading it for months because I was afraid I wouldn't actually love it.

But I put it specifically on my Autumn To-Do List as something I wanted to read this fall, so I made myself start reading it despite my worries.  After all, the worst that could happen would be that I didn't love it.  Then I'd sell it to the used bookstore and move on with my life, right?

Well, I loved it.  I really did!  It had quite a few surprises to it, not the least being that it's told alternately from the POVs of the Marianne character and the Colonel Brandon character.  They're not named that here, but that's who they are.  And it's really neat to hear the story from a different angle, because in the original, Elinor is pretty down on Marianne, and because I'm more like Elinor than Marianne, I kind of go with that.  But now I think I understand the Mariannes of the world a little better, and that's awesome.

In this, sisters Jane and Celia Woodward must find a way to support themselves and their little sister Margot when their father has to skip the country after getting caught with his hand in the cashbox, so to speak.  They start a tea shop in their native San Francisco.  Celia falls in love.  All goes well.

And then it doesn't go well, and they move to Austin, Texas, to start over again.  There, they meet retired Marine Callum Beckett and charming musician Sean Willis, and they try to find a new place for their tea shop, and of course, one of the new men in their lives turns out to be a skunk, and yeah... it really is Sense and Sensibility in Texas.  No big surprises.  Nothing where they swap up the characters -- and that's my favorite kind of retelling, one where I can connect the dots to the original and have a good idea how the new version is going to wind up, but I thoroughly enjoy the ride to get to the end.

Oh, and this book has a whole bunch of recipes in it that I want to try.  Especially the one for Cranberry Vanilla Scones.  Nom nom nom.

(From my Instagram)

Particularly Good Bits:

"You're weird."
"I'm idiosyncratic," I retorted.  "That's different."  (p. 50).

Celia's mouth eased into a sideways smile.  "Not everyone has your passion for dead leaves" (p. 62).  (I suspect this whole book was born of the idea of a new way to make this line work.  I love it.)

If This was a Movie, I Would Rate It:  PG-13 for discussion of a man getting a woman pregnant.  Also, quite a bit of kissing.  Nothing really racy, but not exactly a book I'd hand  my pre-teen to read, either.  No bad language.  

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

A Literary Christmas Challenge 2018

You probably remember me participating in this challenge for the last two years.  It's so fun, I'm doing it again this year!  Basically, you sign up at In the Bookcase, you pick some festive books to read and review, and then you link your reviews back at In the Bookcase.   You can check out other people's reviews too, maybe get ideas for Christmasy books you want to read, maybe make a new blogging friend, etc!

This year, Tarissa is also hosting a giveaway in conjunction with the challenge.  Details on that are here.  It only runs through the end of this week, just so you know!

Me?  I'm aiming to read both of these:

(From my Bookstagramming adventures)

Those are Old West Christmas Brides by six different authors and Holiday Grind by Cleo Coyle, for the record ;-)  Also, my daughter decided I needed to have her favorite penguin in the picture because she's obsessed with penguins.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday: Thank You Notes

This week is a freebie for TTT, hosted now by That Artsy Reader Girl.  I'm doing Ten Book-Related Thank-You Notes.  Here goes!

1.  Dear Cowboy, thank you for being a loving husband who works hard at his job so I can buy books.  You keep me happy.

2.  Dear Public Library, thank you for having a good selection of books so I don't have to buy every book I want to read.  You keep my marriage happy.

3.  Dear Book Bloggers, thank you for faithfully reviewing books!  You keep me from running out of books to read.

4.  Dear Bookstagrammers, thank you for inspiring me to combine my love of books with my love of photography!  You keep me busy.

5.  Dear Readers of My Books, thank you for reading my books, buying my books, reviewing my books.  You keep me writing.

6.  Dear Authors, thank you for sharing your stories with me.  You keep me sane.

7.  Dear Publishers, thank you for paying people to write books!  You keep me hopeful.

8.  Dear KDP, thank you for trying to streamline the self-pubbing process, even though it's a little widgety right now.  You keep me guessing.

9.  Dear Bookstores, brick-and-mortar as well as online, thank you for making my TBR bookcase totter.  You keep me supplied with new friends.

10.  Dear DKoren, thank you for being my writing mentor and best friend.  You keep me growing.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

"An Hour Unspent" by Roseanna M. White.

TODAY is the 100th anniversary of the ending of World War I.  Or, the Great War, as they called it then.  Perfect time to review this book, as it takes place during WWI.  In fact, I tried to hold off on finishing this book until today, but the truth is, I finished it a couple days ago because I couldn't stop reading it.  However, I did manage to hold off on reviewing it until today so I could mark this very important day in a special way on my blog!

I would have finished it even faster if this book had come in at the library for me a little sooner.  And if, right after it came in, I hadn't gone to my parents' for a week and left it behind.  In fact, I started reading it almost two weeks after I got it from the library, and then it came due when I was only ten chapters in, and I couldn't renew it because other people had holds on it too.  What's a girl to do?

A girl is to know, ten chapters in, that she loves this book so much, she must own a copy of it, and order one from Amazon, and finish reading it once it arrives on her doorstep, obviously.  Hurrah for Prime shipping.

So.  This book focuses on Barclay Pearce, older "brother" of the women featured in A Name Unknown and A Song Unheard.  I kind of wish he'd been on the cover, but I guess the publishers wanted the books to be all matchy and feature only women or something.  And there IS a woman who's a major part of the book, but... but... Barclay is the center of it, and they should have put him on the cover, so there.

I'm not reviewing this very well.  So, basically, it's about former thief Barclay Pearce walking literally into the muddled life of Evelina Manning, an upper-middle-class London clockmaker's daughter who is reeling from a broken engagement.  Really, Barclay is there to help her father with an important gizmo that will revolutionize air warfare.  She decides to flirt with him to prove to herself that she is independent and desirable and mistress of her fate.  And then she falls in love with him, and there's a middle section where everything went wrong and I wanted to shake her.

But like I said, this is Barclay's story, really.  He is such a glorious character, struggling with his own private issues, trying to reconnect with his past, but all the while opening his home and his heart to those in need.  Wonderful guy.

The ending has a few thrilling heroics tossed in for good measure, much like the endings of the previous two books in the trilogy.  And it all ends satisfactorily, so yay!

Particularly Good Bits:

Blast it all.  Why had she made friends with these people?  They didn't follow the rules, didn't ever grant her the comfort of her preconceived notions.  Even before she'd known the whole truth about them, she'd recognized that, so why had she become so attached? (p. 306)

If This was a Movie, I Would Rate it:  PG for some peril and violence.  No bad language or questionable content.  There's some kissing, though.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

"Return to Gone-Away" by Elizabeth Enright

Awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww.  I would have LOVED this book as a kid!  Not that I didn't love it now, cuz I did, but I would have read it over and over and over and over as a kid, just like I did the book that preceeds it, Gone-Away Lake.  

This book picks up where that one left off, with Portia's family renovating the abandoned mansion that her parents bought the previous summer.  It's all about fixing an old house, and I have ALWAYS wanted to fix up an old house (in theory, anyway -- my adult self realizes that would be a LOT of work).  Plus, you get to spend another whole book hanging out with Portia and Julian and all their friends, young and old, and hanging out with fictional friends is one of my favorite pastimes.  

There are adventures and surprises and discoveries and treasure hunts, and it is altogether jolly good fun.  I read this aloud to my kids, which was awesome, and I fully intend to re-read it in a few years.

If This was a Movie, I Would Rate It:  G.  There's one part where kids get stuck in a dumbwaiter that's a little tense, and very little kids might find that freaky.  But it's clean as a whistle.

This is my 9th book read and reviewed for the OldSchool Kidlit Reading Challenge 2018.  I need to read one more, and I'll have reached my goal for this challenge!

Friday, November 2, 2018

"Soldier On" by Vanessa Rasanen -- Guest Review on SDMW

Wow.  This book is intense.  It deals with the struggles faced by a married couple who are separated when the husband is deployed to the Middle East.  I love how it gives a clear picture of two Christians with mature faith who still struggle to live out their faith in their daily life.  

There are no easy answers provided here -- simply reading the Bible and praying and going to church don't fix every problem, though turning your back on Word and Sacrament certainly exacerbate troubles at times.  Depression and doubt are depicted realistically, but shown to be survivable, not the end of life or faith.

I've reviewed this book fully here on Sister, Daughter, Mother, Wife, if you want to know more.  You'll also have a chance to enter a giveaway there!

Particularly Good Bits:

Church wasn't a place to go only when life was going well.

They might not be like other couples, attached at the hip and sickeningly cute, but this was them, with their own brand of marriage and love, however odd it might seem to the outside world.

She looked down into her mug, wishing she could disappear into the abyss, drown herself in coffee.  That would be a weird way to go.  Very Lutheran of you.

If This was a Movie, I Would Rate It: PG-13 for scenes of war violence and danger, soldiers using occasional crass language and making jokes about people's mothers, a realistic depiction of more than one kind of depression, and discussions of child neglect and a suspected suicide attempt.  Gritty, but not gruesome or gross.

I received a complimentary advance copy from the author, and in no way did I agree to provide a positive review in exchange.  These are my honest opinions.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

"The Hound of the Baskervilles" by A. Conan Doyle

I've read this book 4 times since I started this blog in 2013.  I read it in 2013, led a read-along of it in 2014, read it again in 2016 but didn't review it, and now I've read it again.  Can you tell I love it?  It is, in fact, my favorite Sherlock Holmes story, and I get in the mood for it every October.  Some years I read it, some years I watch a filmed adaptation of it, kind of depends on what I've got going on.

This year, I'm teaching it to several homeschooled high schoolers, which is so much fun.  I love teaching others about books I love!  

What draws me to this book?  The characters, of course.  Hanging out with Holmes and Watson is one of my dearest fictional joys.  The mystery is solid, though because I know how it goes, it doesn't surprise me anymore.  But it's such a strong story that it still sucks me in, and I get all caught up in running around the moor in pursuit of justice.  

This is one of the most atmospheric books I've ever read.  The whole thing oozes eerieness, all foggy and damp and dark and ghastly.  I love trying to figure out how Doyle captured that feeling and sustained it for so many chapters.  The pacing in general is absolutely perfect, pulling us inexorably forward, but never rushing.  Brilliant.

Because I counted this for my first go-round with the Classics Club, I'm not counting it this time.  Just so you know.  

Particularly Good Bits:

There, outlined as black as an ebony statue on that shining background, I saw the figure of a man upon the tor... He stood with his legs a little separated, his arms folded, his head bowed, as if he were brooding over that enormous wilderness of peat and granite which lay before him.  He might have been the very spirit of that terrible place (p. 98).

If This was a Movie, I Would Rate It:  PG for suspense and scary images.

This is my fourth and final book read for the Reams of Rereads event.  Yay!  I met my goal!

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday: 'Tis Now the Very Witching Time of Night

This week, That Artsy Reader Girl gave us a bit of a freebie.  It's supposed to be something Halloween-themed, but the exact prompt is up to us.  I decided to focus on dark, macabre, or eerie books.  Now, the truth is that I don't like scary books.  Or scary movies.  At all.  Unless they involve vampires; then, I'm okay.  So none of these are especially scary or horrifying, except maybe Dracula (cuz vampires).  But they ARE dark.

I'm sharing a dark or eerie passage from each just to give you a taste of what they contain.  As always, if I've reviewed this book here, I'll link the title to my review.  Without further ado, here are my ten favorite dark reads

1.  Hamlet by William Shakespeare.
"'Tis now the very witching time of night,
When churchyards yawn, and hell itself breaths out
Contagion to this world.  Now could I drink hot blood
And do such bitter business as the day
Would quake to look on."

2.  Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
What crime was this, that lived incarnate in this sequestered mansion, and could neither be expelled nor subdued by the owner? What mystery that broke out, now in the fire and now in the blood, at the deadest hours of the night? What creature was it, that, masked in an ordinary woman's face and shape, uttered the voice, now of a mocking demon, and anon of a carrion-seeking bird of prey?

3.  The Hound of the Baskervilles by A. Conan Doyle
A hound it was, an enormous coal-black hound, but not such a hound as mortal eyes have ever seen. Fire burst from its open mouth, its eyes glowed with a smouldering glare, its muzzle and hackles and dewlap were outlined in flickering flame.

4.  Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
The road to Manderley lay ahead. There was no moon. The sky above our heads was inky black. But the sky on the horizon was not dark at all. It was shot with crimson, like a splash of blood. And the ashes blew towards us with the salt wind from the sea.

5.  The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux
Despite the care which she took to look behind her at every moment, she failed to see a shadow which followed her like her own shadow, which stopped when she stopped, which started again when she did and which made no more noise than a well-conducted shadow should.

6.  The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
It was a wild, cold seasonable night of March, with a pale moon, lying on her back as though the wind had tilted her, and a flying wrack of the most diaphanous and lawny texture.

7.  From the Dust Returned by Ray Bradbury
"I have no name," he whispered. "A thousand fogs have visited my family plot. A thousand rains have drenched my tombstone. The chisel marks were erased by mist and water and sun. My name has vanished with the flowers and the grass and the marble dust."

8.  Bloodlines by Jan Burke
If the blonde had not put her hand on Jack Corrigan's thigh, he might have awakened in his own bed, rather than facedown on the side of a farm road in the middle of the night.  Then he would have missed the burial.

9.  Dracula by Bram Stoker
Never did tombs look so ghastly white. Never did cypress, or yew, or juniper so seem the embodiment of funeral gloom. Never did tree or grass wave or rustle so ominously. Never did bough creak so mysteriously, and never did the far-away howling of dogs send such a woeful presage through the night.

10.  The Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis
Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one -- the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.

Have you read any of these?  Did you like them too?  Did you post your own TTT list this week?  Please share!

Monday, October 29, 2018

"Fahrenheit 451" by Ray Bradbury

Every time I read something by Ray Bradbury, I think, "Why don't I read more Ray Bradbury?"  I really need to remedy that and just... read more of his stuff.  I mean, I've read 3 of his novels and 2 collections of short stories, but I know he wrote a lot more than that.  Vanessa Rasanen has me convinced I need to try Something Wicked This Way Comes, so that's going on my TBR list.

I love this book.  I loved it the first time I read it, between freshman and sophomore years of college.  I've loved it every time I've reread it, and this is probably the fifth time I've read it.  It's fantastic.  The storytelling, the writing, the plot, the imagery, the characters, just everything.  I don't generally enjoy dystopian fiction, but this book hits so many of my buttons that I can't help but love it.  Loner protagonist?  Deep discussions about the value of books?  Characters who stand up against oppression?  Burning buildings?  People living on the fringes of society?  Check and check and check again. 

(From my Instagram)

If you don't know about this book, it's about a future society where everyone is obsessed with interactive television shows and spends their days and nights listening to music piped into their heads through little earbuds called seashells, and if that sounds eerily like today's society... yeah.  Bradbury wrote this in the 1950s, and wow, our world right now resembles his a lot.  Except that in this book, firemen set fires.  Specifically, they burn books.  All books, all the time.  Doesn't matter what they are, they must be burned. 

One fireman, Guy Montag, meets up with a quirky and unusual girl one evening, and her perspective on life changes his worldview forever.  Instead of burning books, he tries reading one, and... I don't want to spoil the book, so let's just say nothing is ever the same for him again.  It's fabulous, and everyone should read it, okay?  It has so much to say about the power of words.

I had the great pleasure of attending a reading given by the late, great Ray Bradbury when I was in college.  I brought along my copy of Fahrenheit, 451, which he signed for me.  I treasure it.

If This was a Movie, I Would Rate It:  a hard PG-13 for bad language, scary moments, violence, and discussion of things like suicide.

This is my 23rd book read and reviewed for my second go-round with the Classics Club and my 3rd for the Reams of Rereads event.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

"The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe" by C. S. Lewis

Is it weird that I liked this book WAY BETTER when I read it now, as an adult, than I did as a kid?  I'm thinking that maybe I'm old enough to read fairy tales again, like the dedication to this book says.  I read the series when I was in my early teens and just didn't care for them.  I've never been a huge fan of allegory, so that was part of it.  But I think I was just in the wrong time of life for them, like I was for The Hobbit.  

Anyway, I totally dug this book this time through!  I think I spent less time trying to "solve" the allegory and figure out who represented what, and so on, which I remember getting hung up on as a teen.  Instead, I enjoyed the characters and their arcs, and appreciated the artistry of Lewis' storytelling.  I didn't expect to say this, but I intend to reread the rest of the series over the next few months.  

I did read this one and The Horse and His Boy at least twice when I was younger, and when I was in my twenties, I went to see the movies.  So it's not like I was anti-Narnia so much as just not into Narnia.  But maybe I'm finally ready to be into it.

I was interested to discover that, as an adult, I still like Edmund best of the Pevensies.  I like Lucy too, but she's almost too good to be realistic, you know?  And so is Peter.  Susan is okay, but not someone I want to be friends with, really.  But Edmund... I understand Edmund.  I love his character arc, how he stumbles and falls and repents and finds forgiveness -- which is also a big part of why I love Boromir in The Lord of the Rings, actually.  I love how both of them are so relatable -- we all are tempted, we all sin, we all need forgiveness.  (I also love Boromir because he's wonderful, but that's another post from another time.)

If This was a Movie, I Would Rate It:  PG for some violence and scary moments.  Squeaky clean in all other respects.

This is my 22nd book read and reviewed for my second go-round with the Classics Club, and my 8th book for the OldSchool Kidlit Reading Challenge.

And this is my second book read for the Reams of Rereads event!