Thursday, February 2, 2017


Since Bryan is not reviewing, I decided it was time to make another review blog, one that is only for me.  Please change your bookmarks and follow me over there!

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

January OwlCrate

I'm late in sharing my January OwlCrate!  It was another great box.

It contained:

-The Little Prince rose and mint tea by First Edition Tea

-The Secret Garden soap by TeaSoapBooks

-A swoon-worthy Slaughterhouse Five bookmark by Lexy Olivia

- Phantom of the Opera magnet by Sweet Sequels. 

-Gorgeous literary calendar by Obvious State 

-RoseBlood by A.G. Howard.  I'm really looking forward to it, and am currently reading (on audio) Phantom of the Opera in preparation.  

January Wrap Up

January Book Haul:
I bought WAY more books than I realized this month!

Books read:

Giant's Bread by Mary Westmacott  5/5 stars (my review here)

Bobbie, General Manager by Olive Higgins Prouty 4/5 stars (my review here)

The Fifth Wheel by Olive Higgins Prouty 3/5 stars (my review here)

She and Allan by H. Rider Haggard 3/5 stars (my review here)

The Girl from His Town by Marie Van Vorst 3/5 stars (my review here)

Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner 4/5 stars (my review here)

Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut 5/5 stars (my discussion here)

Circles by James Burke 5/5 stars (my review here)

Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller 4/5 stars (my review here)

Wires and Nerve by Melissa Meyer and Douglas Holgate (my review here)

Audiobooks completed:

A Body in the Bath House by Lindsey Davis  4/5 stars
Another delightful Falco mystery, this time in Britain, as he attempts to trace two murders, protect his sister from a jealous lover, keep his two brothers-in-law in check, and audit the expendatures of a Togidumnus' palace.

The Time Machine by H.G. Wells  (my discussion here)

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness  3/5 stars (my review here)

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson (my discussion here)

And Only to Deceive by Tasha Alexander 4/5 stars
This is a mystery set in Victorian England by a current author.  I knew the solutions to the strange behaviors of both gentlemen very early on, but still enjoyed the character of Lady Emily.  I will certainly read the next in the series.

Death of an Outsider by M.C. Beaton  3/5 stars
The third in the Hamish MacBeth mystery series.  The mystery was solved by Hamish with information that the reader did not have, a situation I dislike.  Other than that, it was cute and Hamish is likable.  I'll most likely continue the series.

A Christmas Beginning by Anne Perry 3/5 stars (my review here)

There's Trouble Brewing by Nicholas Blake 3/5 stars
This mystery was a bit far-fetched, but entertaining.  I especially like the bizarre characters Blake creates so well.

Cat Among Pigeons by Agatha Christie 5/5 stars
Thoroughly enjoyable, with engaging characters, a compelling plot, and many twists and turns.

Seventy-Seven Clocks by Christopher Fowler 4/5 stars  (my review here)

Did Not Finish:

Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
I read this multiple times as a young teen, and thought it was time for a reread.  As an adult, I found Scarlet completely unappealing and Mitchell's writing to be amateurish.  I listened to a chapter, and gave it up.

The Golden Bowl by Henry James
I'm no stranger to James, and have enjoyed three or four of his novels I've read.  I thought this one, however, was simply terrible!  Here is an example of a sentence in this book:
 "He watched her, accordingly, in her favourite element, very much as he had sometimes watched, at the Aquarium, the celebrated lady who, in a slight, though tight, bathing-suit, turned somersaults and did tricks in the tank of water which looked so cold and uncomfortable to the non-amphibious."
And another:
He “did” himself as well as his friends mostly knew, yet remained hungrily thin, with facial, with abdominal cavities quite grim in their effect, and with a consequent looseness of apparel that, combined with a choice of queer light shades and of strange straw-like textures, of the aspect of Chinese mats, provocative of wonder at his sources of supply, suggested the habit of tropic islands, a continual cane-bottomed chair, a governorship exercised on wide verandahs. 
I tried daily readings for a week, but it just didn't get any better for me.

The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware
Due to the great critic reviews, I've been on the waiting list since July to read this one.  I finally got it on audio book, and two hours in just was not impressed.  The protagonist, Lo, is always drunk or drinking, and when she isn't (okay, sometimes when she is) she's crying or whining.  The idea of the murder is exactly like 4:50 from Paddington.  The writing is not strong enough nor the plot interesting enough to make me sit through 8 more hours of Lo complaining.  Frankly, the thought of going back and finishing this is totally unappealing.

Warlock Holmes: A Study in Brimstone by G. S. Denning
This is an alternate reality Holmes, in which he is a Warlock, Lestrade is a vampire, and Watson--still a doctor--is the sane one doing the detecting.  It was cute and funny, but it got to be too cute and funny.  I've not nixed it entirely, and may try reading it again later.

It Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover
I had heard nothing but praise for this book and for Hoover in general, so despite it not being my preferred genre, I decided to give it a try.  Hoover is a good enough writer that I was compelled to read long past my point of appeal.  In the end, I gave up, not because it wasn't well-written, but because I just was not interested or involved in the plot.  On the strength of what I read, I can certainly see why she has a devoted fan base.

Wires and Nerve: Volume 1 by Marissa Meyer (Author) and Douglas Holgate (Illustrator)

Wires and Nerve: Volume 1
Marissa Meyer  (Author)
Douglas Holgate (Illustrator)
4/5 stars

Wires and Nerve is part of the Lunar Chronicles, and follows Iko as she returns to Earth to act as Cinder's secret agent and capture the remaining rogue Lunar wolf-soldiers.  The story fits nicely into the series, and is a believable addition, as one doesn't expect that the transition from war to peace would be smooth.  Iko's starring role is welcome, as is the appearance of all the Rampion crew.

The art is good, and the shades of blue give it a serious feel.  Holgate pictures some of the characters different than I, but it is still fun to see all nine heroes given a concrete form.

Overall, this is an entertaining read with the same feel as the existing novels.  I highly recommend it to Lunar Chronicle fans and look forward to the second volume.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Magical Miniature Gardens & Homes: Create Tiny Worlds of Fairy Magic & Delight with Natural, Handmade Décor by Donni Webber

Magical Miniature Gardens & Homes: Create Tiny Worlds of Fairy Magic & Delight with Natural, Handmade Décor
Donni Webber
4/5 stars

Magical Miniature Gardens & Homes is filled with charming ideas for making a fairy garden or home.  The photos are gorgeous; it's worth owning the book just to browse through the environments and decor.

The instructions for creating the pieces of the fairy land are detailed, and accompanied by illustrations.  However, despite the title saying "natural decor", many of the them are made from materials that one doesn't usually have on hand, such as polymer clay or copper wire. More than a few were also of fairly complicated design: twisting wire, weaving a basket, making bricks.  Crafting tools are used that require an adult, and that are also not available in every home.  It certainly is not a book that a child could follow to create a fairy home, and the less crafty of adults will also find it difficult.

While it may not be able to be an instruction guide for every reader, it will spark the imagination and possibly lead to other designs made from things on hand.  Also, as I said above, it is a pleasure simply to peruse the photos.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

Song of Achilles
Madeline Miller
4/5 stars

Song of Achilles is a retelling of Achilles' part in the Trojan war, narrated by friend and lover Patroclus.  I was not particularly impressed with Miller's interpretation of the child Achilles, and I felt that her romance-telling skill was weak.  However, once Troy was reached, Miller's writing improved and she told the story excellently, with especially good use of metaphor and simile.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Seventy-Seven Clocks by Christopher Fowler

Seventy-Seven Clocks
Christopher Fowler
4/5 stars

Detectives Bryant and May run London's Peculiar Crimes Unit, where the most unusual cases get investigated.  In this third book of the series, a spate of bizarre murders comes to their attention.  In investigating these connected deaths, they find themselves researching a Victorian tontine, protecting the most crabby of families, and receiving unsolicited help from a nosy teenager.

As with the other two PCU books, the plot of Seventy-Seven Clocks is bizarre and convoluted, but in a good way, keeping the reader guessing.  Bryant and May are engaging characters, giving much personality to the novel.  The interwoven plot of the teenager, Sam, added an extra dimension.  This is a fun novel for readers that appreciate a far-fetched but enjoyable mystery.