I think an update is way past due here. And since we are having another blizzard day, it seems like a good time. You’ve probably noticed a decrease in the number of reviews I’ve been posting. Well, that’s because I started working as an Accountant again a few months ago and my available reading time has been cut down. We are now entering tax season and it will probably be cut back even more for the next 3 or 4 months. I’m loving the work though, so that’s all good.
So I started the year with a TBR that has 205 books on it. So far I have finished 1 (review coming soon).
I set my Goodreads challenge at 80 books for 2020. I am currently 3 books behind schedule. Slow start out of the gate for this goal but I’m not giving up hope.
I haven’t even finished any audiobooks yet this year because I went down a podcast rabbit hole (Wine & Crime this is your fault) for a couple of weeks.
What’s on my desk right now? I recently finished reading “Facets of Death” by Michael Stanley. This follows a police investigation in Botswana and has a really fun characters. Hopefully I’ll get my review up yet this weekend.
Right now I’m reading “The Third Rainbow Girl” by Emma Copley Eisenberg. This is a true crime which follows the investigation into the Rainbow Murder in West Virginia in the early 80’s. This book releases on the 21st and I’m going to try to get my review up to coincide with the release.
I’m almost finished with the audiobook version of “Running Blind” by Lee Child. This is book 4 in the Jack Reacher series. I will leave Amazon links below to all the books mentioned.
Thanks to all my followers for sticking with me and Welcome! to those of you who are new here.
Finding Family and a Way Forward in the Appalachian Mountains
Nestled in the Appalachian mountains, Owsley County is one of the poorest counties in both Kentucky and the country. Buildings are crumbling and fields sit vacant, as tobacco farming and coal mining decline. But strong women are finding creative ways to subsist in their hollers in the hills.
Cassie Chambers grew up in these hollers and, through the women who raised her, she traces her own path out of and back into the Kentucky mountains. Chambers’s Granny was a child bride who rose before dawn every morning to raise seven children. Despite her poverty, she wouldn’t hesitate to give the last bite of pie or vegetables from her garden to a struggling neighbor. Her two daughters took very different paths: strong-willed Ruth—the hardest-working tobacco farmer in the county—stayed on the family farm, while spirited Wilma—the sixth child—became the first in the family to graduate from high school, then moved an hour away for college. Married at nineteen and pregnant with Cassie a few months later, Wilma beat the odds to finish school. She raised her daughter to think she could move mountains, like the ones that kept her safe but also isolated her from the larger world.
Cassie would spend much of her childhood with Granny and Ruth in the hills of Owsley County, both while Wilma was in college and after. With her “hill women” values guiding her, Cassie went on to graduate from Harvard Law. But while the Ivy League gave her knowledge and opportunities, its privileged world felt far from her reality, and she moved back home to help her fellow rural Kentucky women by providing free legal services.
Appalachian women face issues that are all too common: domestic violence, the opioid crisis, a world that seems more divided by the day. But they are also community leaders, keeping their towns together in the face of a system that continually fails them. With nuance and heart, Chambers uses these women’s stories paired with her own journey to break down the myth of the hillbilly and illuminate a region whose poor communities, especially women, can lead it into the future.
Find it on Amazon!
Another great Appalachia book:
First published in 1944 Fell Murder sees E.C.R. Lorac at the height of her considerable powers as a purveyor of well-made, traditional and emphatic detective fiction. The book presents a fascinating ‘return of the prodigal’ mystery set in the later stages of the Second World War amidst the close-knit farmerfolk community of Lancashire s lovely Lune valley.
The Garths had farmed their fertile acres for generations and fine land it was with the towering hills of the Lake Country on the far horizon. Garthmere Hall itself was old before Flodden Field, and here hot-tempered Robert Garth, still hale and hearty at eighty-two, ruled his household with a rod of iron. The peaceful dales and fells of the north country provide the setting for this grim story of a murder, a setting in fact which is one of the attractive features of an unusual and distinctive tale of evil passions and murderous hate in a small rural community.
I loved this mystery! This is the second classic crime that I’ve read from this author and the writing is just so rich and descriptive that I just feel like I’m there on the farm with the characters. And the Garth family is a fascinating group of personalities. This is a shorter book than the mysteries we get today but it really packs a punch and lacks not at all in twists and turns. The villain is not immediately obvious and the means of murder are vicious. This story has everything a good mystery should have and I highly recommend it. If you’ve never tried a classic crime novel E.C.R. Lorac is a great place to start.
Find it on Amazon!
Other books by this author:
Rowland Sinclair Mystery Series #7
Wealthy Rowland Sinclair, an artist with leftist friends and a free-wheeling lifestyle, reluctantly agrees to a charity race. He’ll drive his beloved yellow Mercedes on the Maroubra Speedway, renamed the Killer Track for the lives it has claimed. His teammates are a young Errol Flynn and the well-known driver Joan Richmond. It’s all good fun. But then people start to die…
The body of a journalist covering the race is found murdered in a House of Horrors. An English blueblood with Blackshirt affiliations dies in a Maroubra crash. Reporters stalk Rowly for dirt while bookmakers are after an edge. When someone takes a shot at him—it could be anyone. Then the police arrest one of Rowly’s housemates for murder.
This is the second book I’ve read from this series and I have to say that the character of Rowland Sinclair and his various companions continue to grow on me. Ms. Gentill has crafted some incredible personalities for the lead characters which all work together to keep the reader engaged and at times on the edge of their seat. While this book is not a thriller it does contain some harrowing moments, this time centered around a racetrack which by its very nature is a threat to life and limb. There’s also a coven of witches coming out to play and complicate the mystery, and a quirky young lady trying get break in to the art world. Although I was never a big fan of the actor Errol Flynn, his appearance in this story helps to draw you into the time period. Overall, I found this to be a fun romp through Australia in the years between the wars and look forward to more installments in this series.
Find it on Amazon!
Other books in this series:
Narrated by Johnathan McClain
Jack Reacher, ex-military policeman relaxed in Key West until Costello turned up dead. The amiable PI was hired in New York by the daughter of Reacher’s mentor and former commanding officer, General Garber. Garber’s investigation into a Vietnam MIA sets Reacher on collision with hand-less “Hook” Hobie, hours away from his biggest score.
Jack Reacher is quickly becoming my newest hero. Parts of this story were very gruesome and hard to listen too, but that was definitely outweighed by the complexity of the story. Reacher starts to develop a personal life which I enjoyed and adds additional dimension to him as a character. The Vietnam War connection in the plot really points out Jack Reacher’s former years in the military and the death of his former mentor will have a completely unexpected outcome on his life. Reacher continues to be a loner, for the most part, and someone who wants to live by his own code, which I have to admit is an archetype that I relate well too. The ultimate resolution of this mystery took me by surprise by seemed very appropriate to the events that had taken place. This story represents to me another way in which war can destroy lives, and that’s something that I think we should all be reminded of frequently. There are multiple lives at stake in this story and the action is riveting. I think this story translated well to audio and the narrator did a great job of bringing the characters to life.
Find it on Amazon!
Other books in this series:
Narrated by Jeff Harding
He is our best hope.
He is our last hope.
On a lonely moor in northern England, the body of a young woman is discovered. In the south, a girl lies buried beneath a Saxon mound. To the southeast, the ruins of a priory hide a human skull.
Each is a sacrifice, a summons. And something in the darkness has heard the call.
Charlie Parker has also heard it and from the forests of Maine to the deserts of the Mexican border, from the canals of Amsterdam to the streets of London, he will track those who would cast the world into darkness.
Parker fears no evil—but evil fears him.
It is no secret that I am a huge fan of Charlie Parker but this one really made me work, in a good way. The religious roots in this story are very complicated and I really had to pay attention while listening so as not to get completely lost. That being said, I love a complex story that makes my brain work along the way, so for me this is a winning characteristic. This installment also felt like it was more emotional for the characters as we are faced with a battle against cancer while trying to stop evil from destroying the world. I continue to enjoy the expansion of the roles of Charlie’s daughters as the series progresses. For me the incorporation of the children makes it all a little more real. Charlie and his team (my word for the group of recurring characters) are not just fighting evil as a theoretical concept or as a function of law enforcement, but as an actual living force that can end all hope of a future for mankind. This may well be my favorite so far, though I wouldn’t suggest this one as your first foray into this series. John Connolly continues to dazzle me with his creativity, and Charlie Parker is still one of my favorite heroes.
Find it on Amazon!
Other stories in this series:
A rare manuscript. A midnight promise. A man who would steal them both away.
Pressured by looming deadlines and an annoying patron, Evie Brown, an academic librarian, struggles to find joy this Christmas holiday. Worse, her sick father is ready to abandon treatments and surrender to fate – a decision she refuses to accept. Delving into a medieval manuscript, she searches for answers in the distant past.
For the woman who has stolen his heart, only a perfect proposal will do. Ash Lockwood, botanist, has transformed the rooftop greenhouse into a tropical fairyland. But when Evie begs him to help her harvest mistletoe at midnight, they venture down a different garden path, unaware that danger circles close.
When their plans implode and a murderer threatens their lives, only invention and teamwork will save them.
Christmas in steampunk Victorian England! What could be better. I don’t usually go for Christmas themed books because I find them to be rather sappy, but I can’t resist an Anne Renwick story and this one is no exception. I was also very pleased to see
Find it on Amazon!
Others in this series:
England, 1586. Tensions rise as threats to the realm abound. Traitors are plotting for Mary Queen of Scots to depose Elizabeth I and take the throne. Rumors of a Spanish invasion by sea mount daily. And the body of one of Sir Francis Walsingham’s agents is found floating in the Thames as other agents face enemies armed with crossbows and vials of poison.
Nicholas Holt, a spy in Walsingham’s employ, narrowly averts the same fate while setting off in pursuit of the killer–or killers. And when he surprises a suspect in the company of a Spanish agent, he believes he’s close not only to solving the case but preventing an act of high treason.
But soon, the attacks begin to threaten Nick’s circle of friends. As those he loves face mortal peril, Nick must unravel the tangled plot, all the while steering a careful path through the fierce rivalry between Walsingham’s agents and those of the Queen’s favorite, the upstart Earl of Essex. Now it’s a race to the breathless conclusion as Nick desperately searches for the answers that can save the day–and a vestige of loyalty that can save his own life.
When I picked up this book, I was honestly shocked to find myself in Medieval England. I had completely forgotten why I originally selected this one and I wasn’t sure if I was going to enjoy it. It turns out that this story took me on a rollicking adventure across London. And the tour was guided by the handsome Nicholas Holt. This is a different kind of investigation because it’s in medieval times and Nicholas doesn’t have all the fancy tools that we have today but it forces you to pay more attention to the characters and their motives. My favorites were Nicholas and Rivkah. I also really enjoyed Annie as a counterpoint to Nick. The author did an excellent job of bringing Nicholas’s part of London alive and incorporating the differences between wealthy parts of the city and the impoverished parts. I found the politics of the time that influence the events to be really interesting too. This story is very much driven by the characters themselves, no gun fights or high speed chases, but that’s why it was such a good read.
Find it on Amazon!