Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Cold and Rainy Fall Days....

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I've been home sick for two days with some kind of virus, and have felt so bad I didn't even want to read. That never happens! I feel a bit better today, and am a bit behind in my book reviews; so here goes:

What I Recently Read

Image result for the other woman daniel silva

I finally finished Daniel Silva's latest Gabriel Allon book, The Other Woman, and 4 different formats were used to read this one! I listed to the e-Audiobook on my phone in the car with the Cloud Library app, read some on my Ipad through the Amazon WhisperSinc app for Kindle, listened to the audibook in CD Format and finally finished up the print copy I received from my friends at Library Love Fest (HarperCollins Library Marketing Division).  It was a great book, with a head-scratching plot hole at the end that I happily overlooked. (I overlook a lot of things from favorite authors - I'm just so happy they keep writing)! And I've recently learned on Twitter that the next title in the series will be out next summer! Something to look forward to. I am fan-girling so much that this author follows me on Twitter!

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I also finished The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager, author of Final Girls (which I also now want to read). I started this book a while back and put it down to read something else; but not because it wasn't good. It's just so hard not to start new books I'm excited about! At a summer camp for wealthy adolescents, three girls go missing, never to be seen again. One of the campers was greatly affected by this tragedy. When she is asked, 10 years later, to come back for one summer and help open up the camp again, she agrees, hoping to get some closure. But there are a number of lies by all parties involved that will come to light in this great thriller, and it's one that surprised me a number of times! Highly recommended.

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The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is probably the most unique and complex novel I've read this year. A number of people are gathered for a house party somewhere in England, in some unknown era, and one of the characters will be murdered at 11pm. Every night. And unless the main character, who wakes up in a different guest's body every day for 8 days, can solve the murder, the time loop will never end. Can you imagine keeping all the details of a story like that straight? It takes some focus and concentration, but readers who hang in there will be richly rewarded. And kudos to this author who, except for a few plot holes, manages to bring this whole story to a satisfactory and surprising end!

What I'm Reading Now

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When I was sick as a dog on Monday night, and nothing sounded good to read, I picked up Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Book Store by Robin Sloan that was lingering on my prodigious book shelf! It's about an unemployed tech/marketing millennial who takes a job as the night clerk at a 24 hour book store and discovers a number of mysterious goings-on that are related to some strange books in the store. It's a delight for book lovers, for sure!

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I'm a big fan of Australian author Jane Harper whose debut, The Dry, was a break-out hit last year, followed up by Force of Nature, a loosely connected sequel that was also excellent. This next novel, being published in February, 2019, is the story of three brothers who own neighboring properties in the Australian Outback. And when it says "neighboring," it means that it takes several hours to get from one property to the next. When one of the brothers is found dead at the border of two of the properties, the remaining siblings must delve into some hidden secrets to discover what happened. It hasn't "grabbed" me like The Dry did, but it's good and I will keep reading!
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I love, loved Sally Thorne's debut, The Hating Game, a humorous contemporary romance with a big heart, so I was very excited to see that her second novel will be published in January.  Library Love Fest sent me a print ARC (thank you, thank you!!), and I am enjoying it. This author does an excellent job of characterization, dialogue and keeping up the tension between the characters. I don't like it as much as I did The Hating Game, but it's still an enjoyable "escape" read and sometimes that's just what you need.

What I'm Reading Next

Phoenix Falling: A Wildlands Novel by [Bickle, Laura]

Choices, choices! 

I'm finishing up all my reading for the TLA Lariat List Committee (55 books were nominated, and I had to read them all)! I will have a lot of extra time to read after December, and I can't wait! Laura Bickle has a great contemporary dark fantasy series known both as "Dark Alchemy" and "Wildlands." The next book in in the series is Phoenix Falling, published in February, 2019, and I may dive into that. This series has a great coyote sidekick named "Sig," whose next shenanigans I'd love to read about. But I have lots of books to choose from, just the way I like it!!

Happy Reading!!

Thursday, October 11, 2018

It's almost time for #FridayReads!

I found this meme on Facebook yesterday! I'd love to give credit to its creator, but it is so ubiquitous on Google that I'm not sure who the originator is. Either way, I had an ear worm all day after seeing this. And it is a nice day for a light sweater, indeed, in Texas: 59 degrees yesterday morning and 55 today when I left the house. Finally, after a hellish summer, Fall weather has arrived. I'm so happy!

And I've gotten some reading done, so YAY! 

What I Finished Reading

Shakespeare's Landlord: A Lily Bard Mystery (Lily Bard Mysteries Book 1) by [Harris, Charlaine]

I've been a fan of Charlaine Harris for a while, and not even for her Sookie Stackhouse novels. She wrote a series of mysteries set in Shakespeare, Arkansas with a woman named Lily Bard as the main character. Lily settled in Shakespeare to escape a VERY dark and violent past, and works as a house cleaner and errand runner for folks in her small town. Of course, dead bodies turn up in Lily's life, and she finds a way to solve the mysteries. I enjoyed these books primarily because the main character was very well-developed and had such a difficult past to overcome - yet she found a way to make a life for herself in spite of what happened to her.

I finally dove into Charlaine Harris' new title, An Easy Death, last weekend, and came up for air (and snacks, and a bathroom break) quite a long while later! I I love this world she's created - a fractured US that has weakened, causing parts of the country to be gobbled up by Canada, Mexico, Russia and England.

The main character, Lizbeth "Gunny" Rose lives in the South where there is a lot of lawlessness, and makes her living with a crew who will take travelers from her area North into New America. Lizbeth is a "gunny," basically a hired gun, and she is one TOUGH gunslinger! I love that the author has created some great characters: men and women who are strong, as they must be, to survive in this new world order. When Lizbeth's crew is killed by bandits and her cargo is kidnapped, leaving her the lone survivor, she sets out to track them down and finish the job she set out to do. She does, and how!  Her next adventure involves some Russian wizards, a secret from her past, and much more Wild West action. There are a lot of gunfights and deaths in this book, but it isn't over the top, and didn't feel gratuitous - it's just the way of life in this world.

My only criticism is that in the last bit of the book the author seemed to run out of things to say and struggled to end it in a way that would produce a sequel. That made it a 4 star rather than 5 star read for me. This book is very plainly narrated, which matches the no-nonsense main character, and the writing reflects that. As a side note, I just saw today that An Easy Death will be adapted for the small screen. It will make a great series!

What I'm Currently Reading

I'm slowly savoring this small book which is a love letter to bibliophiles everywhere. Anne Bogel, creator of the Modern Mrs. Darcy blog and life-long reader, shares some beautiful essays about the reading life, and I can relate to each and everyone. I especially love the chapter called "Bookworm Problems" which is written in list form, and expresses all those situations that book lovers have experienced, such as:

  • All your library holds coming in at once
  • You pack 12 books for a five-day vacation because you can't decide what to read next
  • You keep reading "one more chapter" until 2 a.m. and then are too tired to work the next day
  • You finish a great book and realize the next in the series won't be published for a year
  • Your TBR list is too long to finish before you die
  • And my favorite: You pile your stack of books in your passenger seat, and the car yells at you because it thinks you have an unbuckled passenger!
It's a lovely book and I highly recommend it for anyone who is a reader and loves books.

I've had my eye on The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle for a while, and finally started it last night. I've heard that it's a very good mystery, but you have to pay attention! The setting is at an estate in the English countryside, sometime in the past (the author is British). Every day, Evelyn Hardcastle, the daughter of the estate owner, is killed at 11 p.m. Every day, Aiden Bishop awakens to find himself inhabiting the body of one of the guests, and he must try to figure out who killed Evelyn before it happens again. There are a lot of characters, but luckily the author provides a cheat sheet in the form of a Party Invitation at the beginning of the book that provides details on everyone to help keep them all straight in your head as you read. It's well-written, and I have not gotten too confused yet!

The Gauguin Connection (Book 1) (Genevieve Lenard) by [Ryan, Estelle]

I also started this book last night: The Gauguin Connection by Estelle Ryan (yes, I often read more than one book at a time)! It's about an insurance investigator in Strasbourg, France, who is a high-functioning autistic woman with tremendous abilities to read facial expressions and recognize patterns in things she reads and sees. Dr. Genevieve Lenard is a great character, and the first book was free for Kindle yesterday, so I had to have it!. I read about this series on Modern Mrs. Darcy's blog, when some of her readers were commenting on the types of books they like to read when the weather turns cooler (mainly gothic stories and the classics, apparently). As for me, I don't have seasonal reading habits. If it looks like a good book, I'll read a Christmas book in July or a beach read in November. I just want to be reading a good book - every day of my life!

What I'm Planning to Read Next

The Lost Man by [Harper, Jane]3D_082918_Cover.jpgBowlaway: A Novel by [McCracken, Elizabeth]

The Magnetic Girl: A Novel by [Handler, Jessica]

I received  ARCs or e-galleys of all these books this week, and I will have a hard time choosing! They will all be published in winter or spring of 2019. Jane Harper, an Australian author, burst on the literary scene with The Dry, followed by Force of Nature, both excellent mysteries, and I have no doubt that her next novel, The Lost Man, will be good as well.

 The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek is based on the historical blue-skinned people of Kentucky and the Kentucky Pack Horse library service, and should be loved by librarians and biblophiles everywhere!

Bowlaway is a "sweeping and enchanting new novel from the widely beloved, award-winning author Elizabeth McCracken about three generations of an unconventional New England family who own and operate a candlepin bowling alley." This one caught my eye because my grandmother was born in 1899 in a small town and was named Bertha - the same as one of the main characters in this book!

Finally, The Magnetic Girl is an historical fiction novel based on the true story of Lulu Hurst, who was a "mentalist" with the power of electricity, or was she?

My hope is that you, too, are reading something wonderful!

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Burden of Proof by DiAnn Mills ~ Lone Star Literary Book Blog Tour: Author Video and Giveaway!

FBI Rapid Response, #1
   Genre: Inspirational /Mystery / Suspense / Romance
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers
Date of Publication: October 9, 2018
Number of Pages: 416

Scroll down for the giveaway!

Reeling from a negotiation gone wrong, FBI Special Agent April Ramos is caught off guard when a frazzled young woman shoves a crying baby into her arms, then disappears. Worry for the child’s safety quickly turns to fear when a man claiming to be the girl’s father abducts them at gunpoint. April puts her hostage negotiation skills to use to learn more about who she’s dealing with: Jason Snyder, a fugitive accused of murder. 

As Jason spins a tall tale about being framed for the killing of his business partner, April must sort through his claims to find the truth. A truth that becomes all the more evident after April overhears a conversation between Jason and the local sheriff and realizes something more sinister may be happening in their small town of Sweet Briar, Texas. But aligning herself with a known fugitive to uncover the burden of proof could cost April her job . . . or worse, her life and the lives of other innocent people.

PRAISE FOR DiANN MILLS:  "The tension level rises as layers of lies are peeled away in multiple plot twists." --Library Journal "DiAnn Mills is a master of fast-paced and intricately plotted romantic suspense." --Colleen Coble, Bestselling author "[A] fast-moving, intricately plotted thriller." --Publishers Weekly

DiAnn Mills shares insights into the ideas and writing of Burden of Proof.


DiAnn Mills is a bestselling author who believes her readers should expect an adventure. She combines unforgettable characters with unpredictable plots to create action-packed, suspense-filled novels.

Her titles have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists; won two Christy Awards; and been finalists for the RITA, Daphne du Maurier, Inspirational Reader's Choice, and Carol Award contests. Firewall, the first book in her Houston: FBI series, was listed by Library Journal as one of the best Christian fiction books of 2014.

DiAnn is a founding board member of the American Christian Fiction Writers and a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, Sisters in Crime, and International Thriller Writers. She is co-director of the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference, where she continues her passion of helping other writers be successful. She speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops around the country.  DiAnn has been termed a coffee snob and roasts her own coffee beans. She's an avid reader, loves to cook, and believes her grandchildren are the smartest kids in the universe. She and her husband live in sunny Houston, Texas. DiAnn is very active online and would love to connect with readers.
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OCTOBER 9-18, 2018
(U.S. Only)

Author Video
Top List
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Character Interview
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