Quarantine TBR

Hello, hello! Welcome to May. How is everyone doing? They’re currently trying to reopen Texas in phases even though we’re beating records for most new cases of Covid-19 just about every day. Because that seems like the smart thing to do? I guess? Whatever. Everyone else can do what they want. I’ll be keeping myself at home until things actually settle down and/or there’s a vaccine or treatment protocols that work. So, that means I need to find ways to entertain myself for a while longer. That means books. Lots of books. And since I have nothing else to ramble about today, I thought I would share my to-be-read list thus far (I add books every day).

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It’s not wrong.

Instead of just listing some books, it’ll be easier if I group them together by genre or whether I’ve already read them. So, here are some of the books on my TBR list.

1. Books I’ve read, but want to read again. This year, I’ve been making my way through the Chronicles of Narnia. I have three left (The Horse and His Boy, The Magician’s Nephew, and The Last Battle). I also plan on rereading The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon by Stephen King, Ransom by Lois Duncan, and Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman at some point before the end of the year. Depending on how my other reads go, I might also try to start Harry Potter again, but I might save that for next year’s reading list.

2. Mysteries (cozies or otherwise). I don’t know how this list ended up being so long, but it is and it’s still growing. I want to read The Missing Ones by Edwin Hill, Bound for Murder by Victoria Gilbert, A Crafter Hooks a Killer by Holly Quinn, and Death in a Budapest Butterfly by Julia Buckley. Also, Killer Kung Pao by Vivien Chien is due out in August, which I’m looking forward to. And if you look at my GoodReads page, you’ll see a bunch more like these that I probably won’t get to this year.

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3. Fantasy. I’m currently reading Dragon Brothers by L.B. Lillibridge for this month’s book review. I was originally going to read The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna, but its publication date got pushed back until February, so while I’m still going to read it this month, the review will wait until closer to February. I also have Children of Virtue and Vengeance by Tomi Adeyemi, The Bone Houses by Emily Lloyd-Jones, and Winterwood by Shea Ernshaw on my list for this year. The next two books in Danielle Rose’s Darkhaven saga are also due out before the end of the year, so those go on the list too.

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I doubt I’ll be able to make it through all of these books by the end of the year, but since there probably won’t be much progress with Covid-19 in the foreseeable future, maybe I’ll be able to finish them and more before I stop hermitting. Quarantining. I meant quarantining. What are some of the books on your TBR list? As always, feel free to share your thoughts or lists or suggestions or whatever here or on my social media pages!

Summer Reading List

Hello, hello!  It’s already the first day of May.  Can you believe it?  And even though it’s not technically summer, we’re starting to warm up around here, so I’ve been thinking about what to sit outside (at least until we hit the triple digits, then I’ll probably stay inside) and read.  Do you have your summer reading list ready?  I thought I would go ahead and share mine.  These are just my “for fun” books, not the ones I plan to review.  Also, the list is a work in progress, so I might add some or replace some.  Nothing is concrete, but these are all part of my current plan.

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Anyway, here are the books in no particular order!

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1. A Study in Emerald by Neil Gaiman, Rafael AlbuquerqueRafael Scavone, and Dave Stewart.  It’s been a while since I’ve read a graphic novel, so this should be a fun read.  Not to mention that it’s a Lovecraftian Sherlock Holmes story with Gaiman at the helm, so it’s right up my alley.

From the back: This supernatural mystery set in the world of Sherlock Holmes and Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos features a brilliant detective and his partner as they try to solve a horrific murder.

The complex investigation takes the Baker Street investigators from the slums of Whitechapel all the way to the Queen’s Palace as they attempt to find the answers to this bizarre murder of cosmic horror!

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2. Storm of Locusts by Rebecca Roanhorse.  It’s the second in The Sixth World series and I’ve been looking forward to it since I read and reviewed the first book.  Can’t wait to see what Maggie and Kai get up to this time!

From Amazon: It’s been four weeks since the bloody showdown at Black Mesa, and Maggie Hoskie, Diné monster hunter, is trying to make the best of things. Only her latest bounty hunt has gone sideways, she’s lost her only friend, Kai Arviso, and she’s somehow found herself responsible for a girl with a strange clan power.

Then the Goodacre twins show up at Maggie’s door with the news that Kai and the youngest Goodacre, Caleb, have fallen in with a mysterious cult, led by a figure out of Navajo legend called the White Locust. The Goodacres are convinced that Kai’s a true believer, but Maggie suspects there’s more to Kai’s new faith than meets the eye. She vows to track down the White Locust, then rescue Kai and make things right between them.

Her search leads her beyond the Walls of Dinétah and straight into the horrors of the Big Water world outside. With the aid of a motley collection of allies, Maggie must battle body harvesters, newborn casino gods and, ultimately, the White Locust himself. But the cult leader is nothing like she suspected, and Kai might not need rescuing after all. When the full scope of the White Locust’s plans are revealed, Maggie’s burgeoning trust in her friends, and herself, will be pushed to the breaking point, and not everyone will survive.

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3. Murder Lo Mein by Vivien Chien.  This is the third book in the A Noodle Shop Mystery series, of which I reviewed the first.  It’s a cute little cozy series and I really enjoy the characters even if the mysteries have been a little predictable so far.

From Amazon: Lana Lee’s stake in her family’s Chinese restaurant is higher than ever now that she’s been made manager. So when she enters Ho-Lee into Cleveland’s Best Noodle Contest, Lana makes it her business to win—at all costs. But when a local food critic receives a threatening note in a fortune cookie and is later found dead, face-down in a bowl of lo mein, all bets are off. . .

Now, along with her sweet-and-sour boyfriend Detective Adam Trudeau, Lana decides to take matters into her own hands and dig into the lives of everyone involved in the contest. But when she receives an ill-fated fortune, Lana realizes that in order to save the reputation of her restaurant, she needs to save herself first. . .

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4. Past Due for Murder by Victoria Gilbert.  This one is also the third cozy in a series (A Blue Ridge Library Mystery) where I reviewed the first one.  I really don’t know why I keep coming back to this series except that I find the love interest and side characters amusing, but I will give it another shot.

From Amazon: Spring has sprung in quaint Taylorsford, Virginia, and the mayor has revived the town’s long-defunct May Day celebration to boost tourism. As part of the festivities, library director Amy Webber is helping to organize a research project and presentation by a local folklore expert. All seems well at first—but spring takes on a sudden chill when a university student inexplicably vanishes during a bonfire. 

The local police cast a wide net to find the missing woman, but in a shocking turn of events, Amy’s swoon-worthy neighbor Richard Muir becomes a person of interest in the case. Not only is Richard the woman’s dance instructor, he also doesn’t have an alibi for the night the student vanished—or at least not one he’ll divulge, even to Amy. 

When the missing student is finally discovered lost in the mountains, with no memory of recent events—and a dead body lying nearby—an already disturbing mystery takes on a sinister new hue. Blessed with her innate curiosity and a librarian’s gift for research, Amy may be the only one who can learn the truth in Past Due for Murder, Victoria Gilbert’s third charming Blue Ridge Library mystery.

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5. Finding Baba Yaga by Jane Yolen.  Ever since I read Briar Rose, I’ve been meaning to look into more of Yolen’s work.  This seemed like a good opportunity for a quick read by an awesome author.

From Amazon: A young woman discovers the power to speak up and take control of her fate—a theme that has never been more timely than it is now…

You think you know this story.
You do not.

A harsh, controlling father. A quiescent mother. A house that feels like anything but a home. Natasha gathers the strength to leave, and comes upon a little house in the wood: A house that walks about on chicken feet and is inhabited by a fairy tale witch. In finding Baba Yaga, Natasha finds her voice, her power, herself

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6. A Hero Born: Legends of the Condor Heroes 1 by Jin Yong (translated by Anna Holmwood).  A friend sent me this one a few months ago and I haven’t had a chance to dig into it yet, so I’m looking forward to it.

From Amazon: China: 1200 A.D. The Song Empire has been invaded by its warlike Jurchen neighbours from the north. Half its territory and its historic capital lie in enemy hands; the peasants toil under the burden of the annual tribute demanded by the victors. Meanwhile, on the Mongolian steppe, a disparate nation of great warriors is about to be united by a warlord whose name will endure for eternity: Genghis Khan. Guo Jing, son of a murdered Song patriot, grew up with Genghis Khan’s army. He is humble, loyal, perhaps not altogether wise, and is fated from birth to one day confront an opponent who is the opposite of him in every way: privileged, cunning and flawlessly trained in the martial arts. Guided by his faithful shifus, The Seven Heroes of the South, Guo Jing must return to China – to the Garden of the Drunken Immortals in Jiaxing – to fulfil his destiny. But in a divided land riven by war and betrayal, his courage and his loyalties will be tested at every turn.

That’s my list so far!  Plus, I plan to read a poem every day starting today.  Recommendations for books or poetry are always welcome.  Feel free to share your own summer reading lists here or on my social media pages!

Thoughts on A MURDER FOR THE BOOKS

Hello, hello!  We’ve reached the last Wednesday in December (the last one of 2017).  Can you believe that?  And that means it’s time for my monthly book review.  For December, I chose a cozy mystery (think along the lines of Murder She Wrote, only this heroine is a young librarian).  I was looking for something light and fun this time, and A Murder for the Books by Victoria Gilbert, which was published on Dec. 22nd, popped up in my recommendations list on NetGalley.  Yes, it’s another advanced reader copy (ARC), so I must thank the publisher, Crooked Lane Books, and NetGalley for giving me access to the ARC in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.  Now, let’s get on with the actual review.

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An interesting cover, but the more I look at it, the less it fits the book.

A Murder for the Books is the first in a new cozy series collectively known a the Blue Ridge Library Mysteries.  It follows Amy Webber, who has moved in with her elderly aunt Lydia under the guise of taking care of Lydia (who doesn’t really need much in the way of help), but is actually fleeing her old life after making a public scene when she found out her long-term boyfriend had been cheating on her.  She’s gone from being a librarian at a major university to being one at a small town public library.  Plus, she’s self-conscious about her weight and wary of anyone who shows a romantic interest in her.  Cue the entrance of Richard Muir who is a dance instructor at her old university and is new to her little town.  He asks for some help researching an old murder and that’s when they stumble upon a fresh murder and things just get weirder from there.

After the last three ARCs I got turned out to be less than satisfying, I had very low hopes for this book.  But I went into it with an open mind and, to my surprise, I liked it quite a bit.  The characters were relatable (if somewhat over the top occasionally).  And the plot was fun.  It was a little predictable at points, but the main antagonist turned out to be a bit of a surprise.  I figured they were somehow involved, but I didn’t think they’d actually do their own dirty work.  So, it was fun.

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And they did it.

That being said, I did have one major issue with the plot.  Every time Amy painted herself into a seemingly inescapable corner, instead of finding a logical way out, the author employed a deus ex machina (plot device where something is magically cleared up by the intervention of something random).  A book that’s been lost for years shows up even though they had done a complete inventory of the library earlier that year and no one had found it, another book randomly falls off a shelf at her house… twice, a shadow in the woods spooks the killer into running away, a gust of wind on an otherwise calm day knocks the killer off balance, etc.  These things are explained away as the possible actions of a ghost, which would be fine if this were a paranormal series (I love ghost stories!).  But it’s not.  The whole prospect of ghosts doesn’t even come up until more than halfway through the book, so it feels like a lazy escape method from having to find logical alternatives.

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A little too convenient.

Beyond that, the writing was good.  There was a little too much focus on description.  I didn’t really need to know what every house and garden Amy went in looked like in full detail.  That made it drag a little bit in places.  And there was a lot of hair twirling and similar actions that could’ve been left up to the reader’s imagination.  But none of that detracted from the fun of the story itself, so I’ll let it slide.

Ultimately, I was satisfied with A Murder for the Books.  It was interesting and fun enough that I’ll probably pick up the second book when it’s available.  Hopefully, there won’t be as much deus ex machina in the second one.

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Overall, I’d rate it 4 out of 5 stars.  If you’re looking for something nice to snuggle up by the fire with, this one would be a good choice.