Book Talk Tuesday: Revisiting Favorites

I used to reread books all the time. I’ve read all the Agatha Christie books multiple times. Same with Dick Francis. Nancy Drew. Trixie Belden. Donna Parker. I grew up returning to my favorites like they were meatloaf and mashed potatoes. They were my comfort reads.

download (5)As I got older and found other authors I enjoyed, I reread fewer and less often. Now, I rarely reread books. I don’t have the time any more. I read books for reviews. I read books to judge for contests. Sometimes I go months without reading for purely my own enjoyment.

But before and after our Ireland and UK trip last year, I did revisit some books set in the places we’d be seeing, or had seen,  in person.

I reread a few Dick Francis books, and even read one or two of his newer titles, written with his son. They were great and reminded me why I’d been a fan for nearly forty years.

I revisited Alexander McCall Smith’s Sunday Philosophy Club series, that is set in Edinburgh and with slices of other Scottish towns.

I’ve now pulled out Liz Curtis Higgs’ MY HEART IS IN THE LOWLANDS. I read this several download (6)years ago and didn’t reread it before our trip, because I knew we were headed more to the Highlands. But I opened it up this morning because I was longing for a glimpse of the Scottish countryside.

I’m now actively trying to figure out when we can return to Scotland and visit the Lowlands this time, following in Liz’s steps.

Do you ever reread favorites? Which ones? Recent favorites or older ones? Am I the only one who thinks of them as comfort reads?

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Book Talk Tuesday: Catching Up

I’ve decided 2018 is going to be about catching up with my favorite series. The last few months have been filled with some great books, but also some lackluster entries. I realized that I have many favorite authors and their characters that I’ve set aside for other reading.

I’m going to fix that. I’ve made a list of what’s next.

downloadAlexander McCall Smith’s No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency books are always wonderful, but I hadn’t read one in three years. So I found THE SATURDAY BIG TENT WEDDING PARTY in my TBR stack and read it! It was lovely, of course, although I had a few quibbles with dangling plot points at the end. Next will be LIMPOPO ACADEMY OF PRIVATE DETECTIVES.

From Susan Wiggs’ Willow Lake series, I just requested from the library, RETURN TO WILLOW LAKE. A few months ago, I did read MARRYING DAISY BELLAMY, so that’s one mystery solved.

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A friend gave me a copy of Alan Bradley’s AS CHIMNEY SWEEPERS COME TO DUST, but that’s three or four stories ahead of where I left off in his Flavia de Luce series. Fortunately, I have a cousin who’s also a fan and she’s loaning me SPEAKING FROM AMONG THE BONES this weekend.

I’ve already read three of Jan Karon’s Mitford books so far this year, and that’s what spurred my impetus to catch up on all my favorite series.  I just finished IN THE COMPANY OF OTHERS, which is set in Ireland. Father Tim and Cynthia visit the ‘auld country and of course find a parish away from home to minister to. Next download (3)will be COME RAIN OR COME SHINE. I read these slightly out of order. Earlier this year I read SOMEWHERE SAFE WITH SOMEBODY GOOD, which is directly after IN THE COMPANY OF OTHERS. I’m trusting that picking up COME RAIN OR COME SHINE next won’t be a problem.

Since Sue Grafton’s death in late December, I’ve also been reviewing her books to make sure I didn’t miss any along the way. I don’t think I did, but I’m definitely behind. So S IS FOR SILENCE is next on my list.

download (2)I have one last Deborah Knott title by Margaret Maron that I’ve been saving, but it seems appropriate to add it to my list. Maron announced LONG UPON THE LAND would be the last Deborah Knott novel. Maron is still writing, but I don’t love her Sigrid Harald books as much as I do Deborah and Dwight and the family.

Finally, my last series to catch up on isn’t a series. I do love Earlene Fowler’s Benni Harper books and I’ve read them all. I haven’t kept up with her stand alones. I added two of those to my list. LOVE MERCY will be up first.

And then Nora Roberts. I haven’t read all of the IN DEATH series and Roberts is far too download (4)prolific for me to attempt to keep up. I’ve decided to go back and read the first in the series, NAKED IN DEATH, and then read whatever is in my TBR stack and whatever crosses my path. The books don’t require being read in order. The characters change slowly enough that it’s easy to pick up anytime. These books are all about the case, although Lt. Eve Dallas and Roark are fascinating and compelling protagonists.

Of course, as my favorite authors release new stories, I’ll add those in. They’re not included on this list because I’m already caught up with everything they’ve written. This includes Susan Mallery, Kristan Higgins, Susan May Warren, Kathryn Cushman, Tamara Alexander. I could keep going, but I’ll stop for now.

Last year I read 100 books. This year, I’m at 37 so far. Looks like I may hit the century mark again.

Expect reviews in the next weeks. And please, ask me how the list is coming along. I estimate I have 27 books to read to consider myself “caught up.” And I’ve pre-ordered several books from my favorites that will be released in the next few months and will have to be factored in.

Gotta go. I’ve got a book waiting!

 

Book Talk Tuesday: A Cold and Lonely Place

I’ve had this one on my TBR stack for quite a while, but I was in the mood for something chilly to offset the hot days to come, so I pulled this one out.

It’s wonderful.

Very atmospheric. The Adirondacks, Lake Placid and Lake Saranac are described in not overly detailed terms, but well enough that if I ever go there, it will feel familiar. I’ve said the same thing about Julia Spencer-Fleming’s books set in upstate New York. When we visited there in 2011, it really did seem like I’d been there before. But only in the pages of a book.

1473581_origA Cold and Lonely Place is described as a “literary mystery,” and I don’t disagree with that description. While it may not be your typical “fair play,” mystery, there is a mystery at the heart of the story. Actually two mysteries.

What happened to Tobin Winslow? And what happened to his brother six years ago? Both drowned, although in vastly different circumstances.

Our “detective,” is Troy Chance, a freelance writer in the Lake Placid and Lake Saranac area. She’s taking pictures of the construction of the annual Ice Palace when a body is found. She recognizes the frozen face, as the boyfriend of one of her roommates, and begins piecing together the last days, months, then years of the victim’s life.

When I started the book, I couldn’t put it down. The chapters were short and engaging and begged me to turn the page and keep going. As the story progressed, it wasn’t quite as compelling, especially as I suspected we weren’t going to receive a villain neatly captured and handed over to the authorities.

But that didn’t lessen my enjoyment. A Cold and Lonely Place is an excellent, engaging, and enthralling story. I’ll read more by this author.

Monday Morning Musings: Book Review

Even though it’s not a Book Talk Tuesday, I’m posting a book review on Monday. I really enjoyed this one, and can’t wait to share about it.

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A few books stay with you after you finish the final page and close the book. SECRETS OF THE TULIP SISTERS is one of those.

The Tulip Sisters are a fun group of women. I wish they lived closer. I wish they were real.

Kelly is the uber-responsible older sister who works the family tulip farm and loves it. She and her dad are close. Her long-time boyfriend recently broke up with her and she’s sad that it didn’t upset her more. What’s bugging her now is that Griffith, her high school crush, is back in town and keeps showing up wherever she is.

Olivia is the flighty younger sister. Or is she? Olivia shows up in town after ten years away, expecting a reunion with her own high school boyfriend. The homecoming is not quite as heartwarming as one might hope. With either the ex or her family.

Helen is Kelly’s best friend, and an honorary sister, with a huge secret of her own.

Life is … if not good, at least acceptable, for all three women. Until Kelly and Olivia’s mother shows up, bringing havoc and leaving a trail of mayhem in her wake.

I love this book! Fun dialogue and situations, believable characters, emotionally engaging writing. It’s going on my keeper shelf.

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I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. Which this is.

Book Talk Tuesday: RESCUE ME

RESCUE ME is Susan May Warren’s second book in her Montana Rescue Series.

The PEAK team in Montana is back and RESCUE ME picks up where WILD MONTANA SKIES left off. I’m loving this series.

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RESCUE ME is Sam Brooks’s story. At the end of WILD MONTANA SKIES, he’d asked Sierra Rose out and made his interest in her plain. Sierra and Ian had stopped working together their incipient romance crashed and burned. Sierra’s heart was broken, but she was determined to move on and she accepted Sam’s invitation.

Fast forward a few weeks and Sam and Sierra are still dating. The PEAK team is still searching and rescuing both locals and tourists in the area and in Glacier National Park.

Sam is busy with his job, caring for his mom recovering from cancer treatments, dealing with an increase in bear attacks in the park, and his flaky younger brother Pete, a fellow PEAK team member. Sam still blames Pete for their father’s death when the boys were teenagers.

Willow, Sierra’s sister, has been trying to get over her crush on her sister’s new boyfriend by concentrating on her job and volunteering as a youth leader at her church. Then she is passed over for the youth director job at the church and her father marries and is so busy with his new family that he doesn’t have time or space for Willow anymore.

Sam keeps denying how drawn he feels to Sierra’s sister. Sierra is perfect for him. They’re both organized, steady, focused. Willow is … well, she never finished high school. She’s a free spirit who loves Jesus and her sister.

For Willow, getting over Sam is even harder when she and Sam end up leading several youth group members on a day hike. They have an accident on the way back and are stranded in the park with injured kids.

The PEAK team swings into action, searching for their missing friends. Especially Pete who is determined not to let his brother down again.

Like all of Warren’s best books, RESCUE ME has several plot threads that are woven tightly to make an incredible read. The characters’s faith is real and not heavy-handed.

Willow struggles with feeling worthy and like she belongs. Sam finally sees just what his anger and unforgiveness has cost him.

Pete has a sub-plot with Jess, one of the other PEAK Team members. I’m guessing their story will be in a future book. And, I hope, we’ll finally get back to Ian and Sierra in an upcoming book.

I was so sad when Warren’s Christiansen Family series ended, but Montana Rescue is a worthy successor. I’m looking forward to A MATTER OF TRUST, due in early July.


I received a free copy of RESCUE ME from Revell via NetGalley in return for an honest review. Not a problem for me. I loved this one!

 

Book Talk Tuesday: AN UNCOMMON COURTSHIP

I absolutely adore this book! I’ve read everything in Hunter’s Hawthorne House series and each book is better than the last. This is Trent’s story. He’s a second son so is now the younger brother of the duke. He’s been happy to take his time finding a wife, but plans to marry for love like his parents and his sisters are derailed.

He never expected having to marry a virtual ucstranger in order to salvage her reputation.

Adelaide is a second daughter, so she’s used to being overlooked as her mother readied her older sister for society and a desirable match. She never expected to marry before having her Season in London.
But married they are, and making their home in London.

The first two books in the series are all about the courtship and I thought it was brilliant to have this book begin with the wedding. Since there was no courtship, Trent and Adelaide’s marriage is full of the kinds of conflicts newlyweds experience.

Some of the other reviews I read on lAmazon and Goodreads have commented about the “sex.” There is nothing lewd or gratuitous.

Is it appropriate for a twelve-year-old? No. Is it appropriate for a sixteen-year-old? Given the highly sexualized culture we live in, I think yes. It could be a great conversation starter about wedding night expectations vs. realities. And given that this book is about a new marriage, the consummation is going to be a big event. Hunter handles it very well indeed.

It’s only mid-January, but I know this will be going on my Top Ten of 2017 list.

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I received a free copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review. I honestly loved it!

Book Talk Tuesday on a Thursday

The last two to round out my Top Ten.

I thought long and hard about this.

These last two are by friends. And I can hardly bear to only put two friends on the list, so I may have to add a few more. I have so many amazing writer friends that I’m very afraid to start down the road of naming my faves, because I just know I’ll accidentally leave off someone.

But … here goes.

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FADING STARLIGHT by Kathryn Cushman. Katie’s been a best writing friend for a long time. And I couldn’t love this book more even if she was a complete stranger. The story is delicate and nuanced and perfectly presents both sides of a sticky moral issue. And the clothes sound fabulous! I love that dress and the window on the cover. Gorgeous!

 

A HERO TO HOLD by Sheri Humphreys is a great book. There’s just no getting around it, herofriend or not. I mean, I’ve always known HERO is special, but it was named one of Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books of 2016. So I may be biased, but someone else who doesn’t know Sheri personally also loved it.

The hero is in a wheelchair, injured in the Crimean War. The heroine is a widow, pretty much shunned by society. Their chemistry ignites on the page and I guarantee that the reader forgets he’s not completely able-bodied.

Whew! That was harder than I thought.

And I had to leave off some really stellar books by friends and strangers. I also either read and enjoyed these books or I’m looking forward to reading them soon (disclaimer: I’m sure I left off someone whose book I loved or will love. Please know it was inadvertent):