Sunday, December 31, 2023

A Children's Bible by Lydia Millet


A Children's Bible by Lydia Millet was my final read for 2023. I listened to the unabridged audio version of this novel, which was well narrated by Xe SandsListening time for A Children's Bible by Lydia Millet is 5 hours, 34 minutes.

I first learned about
 A Children's Bible by Lydia Millet from Dorothy at The Nature of Things. She gave A Children's Bible a 5 star rating, so I decided to give this novel a go. I wasn't disappointed. 

A Children's Bible is the first novel I've read by Lydia Millet. Her writing is wonderful. I will most likely read another one of her novels in the future. I think this novel is pretty deep without being over the top, pretentious, or preachy. I also liked how the story is told through Eve's point of view. Eve is one of the teenagers. The teenagers in this novel seem more mature than their parents are and they deal with life much better than their parents do.

Below is the publisher's summary for A Children's Bible by Lydia Millet from. Chirp's website:

Pulitzer Prize finalist Lydia Millet’s sublime new novel—her first since the National Book Award long-listed Sweet Lamb of Heaven—follows a group of twelve eerily mature children on a forced vacation with their families at a sprawling lakeside mansion. Contemptuous of their parents, who pass their days in a stupor of liquor, drugs, and sex, the children feel neglected and suffocated at the same time. When a destructive storm descends on the summer estate, the group’s ringleaders—including Eve, who narrates the story—decide to run away, leading the younger ones on a dangerous foray into the apocalyptic chaos outside. As the scenes of devastation begin to mimic events in the dog-eared picture Bible carried around by her beloved little brother, Eve devotes herself to keeping him safe from harm. A Children’s Bible is a prophetic, heartbreaking story of generational divide—and a haunting vision of what awaits us on the far side of Revelation.

I am giving A Children's Bible by Lydia Millet a rating of 4 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!

Saturday, December 30, 2023

Echos In Death by J. D. Robb


Echos In Death by J. D. Robb is the third novel in the 'In Death' series I've listened to this year. Echos In Death by J. D. Robb is narrated once again by Susan Ericksen and she does a lovely job with the narration. Listening time for this novel is 13 hours, 43 minutes.

Of the three 'In Death' novels I've listened to this year, Echos In Death by J. D. Robb is the best. I enjoyed the storyline, characters, and writing.

The following is the publisher's summary for Echos In Death by J. D. Robb found on Chirp's website:

After a party in New York, Lieutenant Eve Dallas rides home with her billionaire husband, Roarke, happy to be done with cocktails and small talk.

After another party, not far away, a woman retires to her bedroom with her husband-and walks into a brutal nightmare.

Their paths are about to collide…

When the young woman-dazed, naked, and bloody-wanders in front of their car, Roarke slams on the brakes just in time, and Eve, still in glittering gown and heels, springs into action. It’s been a long night for the tired homicide cop, and it’s far from over.

Daphne Strazza is rushed to the ER, but it’s too late for Dr. Anthony Strazza. A brilliant orthopedic surgeon, he now lies dead amid the wreckage of his obsessively organized town house, his three safes opened and emptied. Daphne would be a valuable witness, but in her terror and shock the only description of the perp she can offer is repeatedly calling him “the devil” …

While it emerges that Dr. Strazza was cold, controlling, and widely disliked-and that he treated Daphne like a trophy wife-this is one case where the evidence doesn’t point to the spouse as the first suspect. So Eve and her team must get started on the legwork, interviewing everyone from dinner-party guests to professional colleagues to caterers, in a desperate race to answer some crucial questions:

What does the devil look like? And where will he show up next?

I am giving Echos In Death by J. D. Robb a rating of 3.5 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!

Thursday, December 28, 2023

The High Mountains of Portugal by Yann Martel

I listened to the unabridged audio version of The High Mountains of Portugal by Yann Martel and narrated by Mark Bramhall

Listening time for The High Mountains of Portugal by Yann Martel is 10 hours, 52 minutes.

The High Mountains of Portugal by Yann Martel is the strangest novel I've read this year. Frankly, I almost gave up on listening to it numerous times in the first section because of the storyline. However, I persevered ONLY because an acquaintance of mine had read and loved this novel and I trust their reading judgement.

The High Mountains of Portugal by Yann Martel is divided into three sections. Each contains a different story. All three sections are intertwined and come together nicely. I was not a fan of section one, but enjoyed the last two sections just fine. I was glad that I stuck with this novel as I ended up enjoying it overall. By the way, Mark Bramhall is an excellent narrator.

Below is the publishers summary for The High Mountains of Portugal by Yann Martel found on Chirp's website:

In Lisbon in 1904, a young man named Tomás discovers an old journal. It hints at the existence of an extraordinary artifact that—if he can find it—would redefine history. Traveling in one of Europe’s earliest automobiles, he sets out in search of this strange treasure. Thirty-five years later, a Portuguese pathologist devoted to the murder mysteries of Agatha Christie finds himself at the center of a mystery of his own and drawn into the consequences of Tomás’s quest. Fifty years on, a Canadian senator takes refuge in his ancestral village in northern Portugal, grieving the loss of his beloved wife. But he arrives with an unusual companion: a chimpanzee. And there the century-old quest will come to an unexpected conclusion.The High Mountains of Portugal—part quest, part ghost story, part contemporary fable—offers a haunting exploration of great love and great loss. Filled with tenderness, humor, and endless surprise, it takes the reader on a road trip through Portugal in the last century—and through the human soul.

I am giving The High Mountains of Portugal by Yann Martel a rating of 3 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!

Wednesday, December 27, 2023

Cutthroat Cupcakes by Cate Lawley


It's no secret that I enjoy reading cozy mystery novels... And with the holiday season well underway, who wouldn't want to eat cupcakes or candy around the holidays? However, it just so happens, it isn't the Halloween Holiday! 

Nonetheless, I decided to listen to the unabridged audio version of Cutthroat Cupcakes by Cate Lawley and narrated by Meg Price. Listening time is 5 hours, 21 minutes. 

Cutthroat Cupcakes is the 1st novel in the 'Cursed Candy Mysteries' and is nicely narrated.

I liked the sweets/candy treat theme for Cutthroat Cupcakes. The plot/storyline for this novel was pretty good and so were the characters and the writing. Not a bad start to a cozy mystery series. 

Below is the publisher's summary for Cutthroat Cupcakes by Cate Lawley I discovered on Chirp's website:
Killer cupcakes?

Seems improbable to Lina, but when an attractive detective snaps cuffs on her and accuses her of witchy crimes she’s forced to reconsider.

The murder weapon? A cupcake topper sold in Lina’s shop, Sticky, Tricky Treats.

The method? A killing curse.

The curse’s origin? Lina…sort of.

Except Lina hadn’t a clue that she was a witch, and certainly didn’t know she’d accidentally cursed some of her confections.

She’s got to catch the killer who used her magic to murder or possibly face a conviction as an accessory.

Now, if only the wizard detective assigned to the case weren’t such a distraction.
I am giving Cutthroat Cupcakes by Cate Lawley a rating of 3 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!!

Saturday, December 23, 2023

New to Me Little Free Library in San Ramon, California!!


Yesterday afternoon, my husband and I visited three different Little Free Libraries locally. One of them was a new to us Little Free Library that was already packed to the gills with a plethora of books. Most of the books were geared towards youngsters with a few adult books available for trade.

It's amazing how many Little Free Libraries keep popping up in our area. I can remember when there weren't too many of them around a decade ago.

Have you found any new LFLs lately? 

Thursday, December 21, 2023

The Rowan by Anne McCaffrey


I've heard Anne McCaffrey's name mentioned over the past several decades. But I had never read any of her novels until this year when I decided to listen to the unabridged audio version of The Rowan, which was published in 1990 and narrated by Jean Reed BahleThe Rowan is a science fiction/romance novel and is the first novel in 'The Tower and the Hive' Series.

I was partly inspired to read a novel by Anne McCaffrey because she became the first woman to win a Hugo Award and also the first woman to win a Nebula Award. I figured that if she had won both of these prestigious literary awards, then she must be an excellent writer.  So why not give one of Ms. McCaffrey's novels a try? 

It wasn't until Chirp Audiobooks had a sale for The Rowan by Anne McCaffrey, that I downloaded and listened to this audiobook. It's plot sounded somewhat intriguing and the book seems to be well liked overall by readers.

Ugh, The Rowan's plot is bland, flat, and boring! It is such a one dimensional read. I don't understand it's appeal. Most of the character's were over the top dramatic in their interactions and it seemed like they were (almost) constantly bickering amongst each other when it came to the primes... And the romance between Jeff and the Rowan wasn't much of a romance, in my opinion.

The audio production for The Rowan was lacking. I don't know if it was originally recorded in the 1990s or when exactly, but the sound production is bad. Plus, the sound effect used to make it sound like the characters were communicating telepathically was annoying.

I didn't like The Rowan and I will not be continuing with the series. I doubt I'll be reading another novel by Anne McCaffrey either.

Below is the publisher's summary for The Rowan by Anne McCaffrey found on Chirp's website:

Told in the timeless style of Anne McCaffrey, The Rowan is the first installment in a wonderful trilogy. This is sci-fi at its best: a contemporary love story as well as an engrossing view of our world in the future.

The kinetically gifted, trained in mind/machine gestalt, are the most valued citizens of the Nine Star League. Using mental powers alone, these few Prime Talents transport ships, cargo and people between Earth’s Moon, Mars’ Demos and Jupiter’s Callisto.

An orphaned young girl, simply called The Rowan, is discovered to have superior telepathic potential and is trained to become Prime Talent on Callisto. After years of self-sacrificing dedication to her position, The Rowan intercepts an urgent mental call from Jeff Raven, a young Prime Talent on distant Deneb. She convinces the other Primes to merge their powers with hers to help fight off an attack by invading aliens. Her growing relationship with Jeff gives her the courage to break her status-imposed isolation, and choose the more rewarding world of love and family.

I am giving The Rowan by Anne McCaffrey a rating of 1 star out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!!!

Wednesday, December 20, 2023

The Guest List by Lucy Foley


The Guest List by Lucy Foley has been a book in my to be read pile for quite a while. I was initially attracted to this novel because of its setting on a remote island and that it was a mystery with an intriguing storyline. In some ways, the setting for The Guest List and how the guests came together reminded of Agatha Christie's novel, And Then there Were None... But that's where the similarities between both novels end.

I feel that Lucy Foley does a fantastic job of creating suspense. The Guest List is a very atmospheric read and you can feel the tension building as you continue reading this novel. The best part of The Guest List for me is how the story is told through the eyes of several of the main characters in alternating chapters throughout the novel. 

The wedding night is not told in one continuous chapter, but is broken up into sections and scattered throughout the novel with the various main characters sharing their perspective of the wedding  events, how they know the bride or groom and tidbits about their personal lives. It becomes apparent who will be murdered, but by whom, when, and how the murder will happen is quite a different matter as quite a few people had an issue with the murder victim.

I did not like most of the characters in The Guest List. Most of them seemed shallow, immature, or rowdy frat boys as in the case of the best man and groomsmen. The best man and groomsmen were so over the top immature and the groom himself so slick... I couldn't stand them. The bride was no angel herself either and was callous/stuck up. Essentially, I was turned off by many of the characters/bad actors in this novel that it overshadowed the good parts of The Guest List for me.

Below is the plot summary for The Guest List by Lucy Foley from Chirp's website:

On an island off the coast of Ireland, guests gather to celebrate two people joining their lives together as one. The groom: handsome and charming, a rising television star. The bride: smart and ambitious, a magazine publisher. It’s a wedding for a magazine, or for a celebrity: the designer dress, the remote location, the luxe party favors, the boutique whiskey. The cell phone service may be spotty and the waves may be rough, but every detail has been expertly planned and will be expertly executed.

But perfection is for plans, and people are all too human. As the champagne is popped and the festivities begin, resentments and petty jealousies begin to mingle with the reminiscences and well wishes. The groomsmen begin the drinking game from their school days. The bridesmaid not-so-accidentally ruins her dress. The bride’s oldest (male) friend gives an uncomfortably caring toast.

And then someone turns up dead. Who didn’t wish the happy couple well? And perhaps more important, why?

I'm giving The Guest List by Lucy Foley a rating of 2 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!!

Sunday, December 10, 2023

Pointe by Brandy Colbert


I finished reading the paperback edition of Pointe by Brandy Colbert. I've had this young adult novel since before the pandemic and I am happy I finally read it.

It was the storyline that initially attracted me the most when it came to reading Pointe. I'd read an excerpt from Pointe and was hooked, so I decided I wanted to read the entire novel. There are some pretty deep topics discussed within Pointe, which made for interesting reading. Some of the topics touched upon are eating disorders, rape, kidnapping, child molestation, and PTSD. All heavy topics, but presented in a way that was different and engaging.

The main character is Theo (short for Theodora) Cartwright. She's 17 years old and a high school student who is into ballet big time. In fact, Theo is on her way to becoming an elite dancer. Although ballet is a part of this novel, ballet isn't the main focus of Pointe. At the start of the novel, we learn of Theo's best friend, Donovan, returns home after four years from being kidnapped/abducted. It later turns out that Donovan was kidnapped by Theo's former boyfriend and Theo is left wondering if Donovan willingly went with his abductor or if he was forced into being with his abductor. 

There's so much more to divulge about Pointe's storyline, but doing so would create many spoilers and I don't know how to share more information without spoiling it for potential readers... Yet leaving my review the way it is, doesn't highlight what a great read this novel is.

All I can say is that the writing is good/solid. I found Pointe to be different than expected in many ways. I also felt like the first 80-90% of the novel was the slow burn/build up to the final finale as the last forty pages of Pointe were the most riveting and engaging part of the entire novel.

Below is the plot summary for Pointe by Brandy Colbert I discovered through Goodreads:

Theo is better now.

She's eating again, dating guys who are almost appropriate, and well on her way to becoming an elite ballet dancer. But when her oldest friend, Donovan, returns home after spending four long years with his kidnapper, Theo starts reliving memories about his abduction—and his abductor.

Donovan isn't talking about what happened, and even though Theo knows she didn't do anything wrong, telling the truth would put everything she's been living for at risk. But keeping quiet might be worse.

I am giving Pointe by Brandy Colbert a rating of 4 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!!

Saturday, December 2, 2023

The Christmas Ruse by Jennie Goutet

I like to read or listen to one or more holiday themed reads each year if possible based on time and interest. 

It just so happens that my last read for the month of November was a holiday themed novella titled, The Christmas Ruse by Jennie Goutet. This regency romance is a quick listen at just over 2 hours in length and is well narrated. Overall, I felt The Christmas Ruse had a decent storyline, interesting plot twists, a romance, and filled with fairly well developed characters despite the short length. It is a predictable read as to the story's outcome/ending. 

Even though I wasn't wowed by this novella, it is a clean, wholesome read that is worth the read if you enjoy regency romance novels/novellas.

Below is the plot summary for The Christmas Ruse by Jennie Goutet I found in the description section in YouTube video itself.

Nicholas Cranleigh suspects his meddlesome sister is up to something when she invites him to stay at Cothill Manor at the same time as Miss Dresden. He’s on his guard, but it’s hard to resist a woman with luminous eyes, who’s in need of a savior. Lavinia Dresden is ready to sacrifice herself to save her family from financial ruin in the only path open to a woman of gentle breeding. But she hadn’t counted the cost on her sacrifice until Lord Cranleigh came into her life—a man she knew to be her ideal. There remain only five days until the Christmas ball when Miss Dresden’s fate will be decided, and it soon becomes apparent to Nicholas that the question is not whether he wants to save Lavinia, but whether he is able.

I was able to listen to this unabridged novella for FREE on YouTube and so can you by clicking on the video link above.

I am giving The Christmas Ruse by Jennie Goutet a rating of 3 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!!