Monday, September 21, 2020

Disquiet at the Dive Shack

 This is the third book in the Dive Shack mystery series by Donna Amis Davis.  The beautiful Philippines continues to be the setting of the story.  This time the book focused on the B&B owned by Shelby's friend Jasmine and her husband, Winston.   It was a nice respite to not focus on the Sydney resort so much.  The author note at the end explained why based on how she evolved the storyline for this installment. 

We continued to get better acquainted with all the main characters in the story and  got a little more in depth views of Jasmine and Winston.  Marlena continues to charm everyone with her quirky over the top personality, especially as she prepares to celebrate a big event.  

We get a few glimpses at some budding romances as well as get a deeper look at Jesse and Shelby's relationship.  All these interactions and relationships seem very realistic  and relatable.   

I cannot wait for what I hope are many more installments in this series in beautiful Palawan.

Disquiet at the Dive ShackDisquiet at the Dive Shack by Donna Amis Davis
My rating: 4 of 5 stars 

This third book in the series was as good as the first 2. The twists and turns keep you from figuring out who is the guilty party until the very end. Davis continues to develop her main characters in this installment. This book focuses more on Shelby and Jesse as well as Marlena. There are some funny moments as always as you cannot help but smile at Marlena's personality. We also see a deeper side of Jesse and Shelby's relationship in this storyline. The supporting cast of the ladies isn't as prominent in this book with the exception of Jasmine as this story's main setting is her and Winston's B&B. 

Cannot wait to read more in the series 

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Challenge Prompts

The Challenge Prompts I will use this for are:  

  1. Cravings for a Cozy and Cloak and  Dagger #CloakDaggerChal : Book # 85
  2. Cruising through cozies -  Free choice 30
  3. Medical Examiner-  1 Toe Tag 
  4. Six Shooter- 3rd shot

Sunday, September 20, 2020

The Calculating Stars

 This book turned out to be a pleasant surprise for me.  I wasn't sure how I was going to like it when I first started reading.   I am not the biggest science fiction fan and then when you add the layer of rewriting how something happened in the past I wasn't sure how I would like the book.  I am glad I stuck with the book and finished it. 

 I really ended up enjoying the book and the way Mary Robinette Kowal wrote about different aspects of the US' history.  It was interesting to read about a time when women were not given equal opportunities in the workforce and were treated as delicate objects.   Her characters in the book are strong women who push against stereotypes and fight for what they want.  I did find it interesting how Nicole had to reframe the expectations of what the astronaut opportunity meant to the women versus Elma's approach to the situation.  

I appreciated that story praising women's accomplishments in math and science.  Kowal did a wonderful job of showing the struggles women can face in choosing fields that are traditionally male dominated.  Personally I had some similar experiences studying engineering and being in finance.  Strong women are often judged in ways their male counterparts are not.  It is nice to see a book that shows these struggles and has women succeeding on their merits without belittling men in the process.

This book felt like a fictional version of the Rocket Girls book which was so popular recently.  I am very glad I read it and would recommend it to any women in the math and science fields.  

The Calculating StarsThe Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal
My rating: 4 of 5 stars 

This book is a wonderful science fiction book that models an alternate history of the US in the 1950s. Many of the elements of the story still looked like much of the true history of the country. It was easy to see parallels with the actual space program history. I appreciated the author's strong female characters and their drive to succeed. Kowal addressed many of the obstacles women had to overcome as well as minorities at that time. 
The book was a very good fictional version of the rocket girls book that was so popular recently. 

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Challenge Prompts

The Challenge Prompts I will use this for are:  

    1. Library Love  #LibraryLoveChallenge -  Book #98
    2. Popsugar- #popsugarreadingchallenge #17 Won an award in 2019
    3. Around the Year in 52 Books- #46 era/event from Billy Joel's "We Didn't Start the Fire"
    4. Monthly Keyword-  #MonthlyKeyWordChallenge- Star
    5. Historic Fiction   #2020HFReadingChallenge  Book #7

    Friday, September 18, 2020

    Rum Raisin Revenge

     This is the second book in the series by Becca Bloom (Jennifer Joy).   The story leads us back to Ecuador and Jess' mishap adventures.  We find ourselves immersed in the nature and culture of Ecuador even more in this book.  It is hard not to imagine yourself riding the Swing at the End of the World with Jess. I decided to do a little research on this death defying ride and thought I'd share it.  

     Here's a bit more information on the Casa de Arbol and the swing. 

    The book is a great read besides the adventures in the jungle that Jess and her hosts explore.  The character development and family interactions are wonderful in this book all set against a backdrop of a mystery that Jess inadvertently gets involved in again.  
    My favorite part of the book though is the wonderful ending and how perfectly and seamlessly it sets up the future installment of the book.

    I can highly recommend this series if you want a clean humorous cozy that includes lots of wonderful descriptions.

    Rum Raisin RevengeRum Raisin Revenge by Jennifer Joy
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars 

    Tourist becomes detective in Ecuador

    This second book in the series was a good balance between plot and descriptive prose. 
    Jess finds herself mixed up in a mysterious death through a case of bad timing. Even as she tried to stay out of the investigation she gets drawn in. The mystery is full of speculation of who's guilty with several misdirects but in the end the story is wrapped up well and Bloom does a great job of clarifying the motive and how the crime was committed.
    The murder mystery is only a small portion of what makes this book so enjoyable. Bloom does a masterful job of creating truly likeable and believable characters. The humor and family banter is well written. Even when they are annoying you feel the emotions and interactions between the characters. It is easy to envision being there in Ecuador with Jess.
    The other aspect of the story is the descriptions of Ecuador and the scenery and culture there. It is definitely an armchair tourist book.
    Even with all that I must say that my favorite part of the story Bloom ended the book. She puts a wonderful twist that is a perfect and heartwarming setup for the continuation of the series. It is well done and absolutely fits the storyline

    Don't miss this book and the series!

    View all my reviews

    Challenge Prompts

    The Challenge Prompts I will use this for are:  

    1. Cravings for a Cozy and Cloak and  Dagger #CloakDaggerChal : Book # 84
    2. Cruising through cozies -  Free choice 29
    3. Medical Examiner-  1 Toe Tag 
    4. Six Shooter- 2nd shot

    Thursday, September 17, 2020

    The Perfect Nanny

     This thriller is not for the female faint of heart.  The author does a wonderful job of building up to the climactic tragedy in the story.  You really felt as though you knew the characters and could understand their roles in the family dynamic.   Leila Slimani does a wonderful job of portraying them all as likable and repulsive at different moments in the story.  Her representation of the working mother and her guilt and doubts of never being enough is well done.   

    My only issue with the book is it felt like a sudden ending without a resolution to many of the aspects of the story.  We never get the full background of Louise and what made her the way she is at the time of the story.  There are glimpses but not enough concrete to answer all the questions about why she acted as she did at the end of the story.   The book just leaves the reader hanging and I found myself wanting more explanation and feeling disappointed after really liking the book up until those last 40 pages or so.

    The Perfect NannyThe Perfect Nanny by Le├»la Slimani
    My rating: 3 of 5 stars 

    Chilling thriller

    This spooky and disarming but keeps you reading even when you're terrified of the outcome. Slimani does an amazing job at getting into the minds of the characters. You cannot help but have a bit of sorrow for Louise and wonder what drive her to her vicious acts. The immense impact of mothers guilt is apparent in Myrame. 

    While I did find the book very engaging I did come away wishing we had been given more background explanation of how Louise came to this point in life. Also a bit more closure on her relationships with Stephane and Nerve would have added to the story. even though I enjoyed the book.and found it engaging, I finished the book feeling like I had a lot of unanswered questions so that's why I didn't give it 4 stars 

    View all my reviews

    Challenge Prompts

    The Challenge Prompts I will use this for are:  

    1. Library Love  #LibraryLoveChallenge -  Book #97
    2. Cloak and  Dagger #CloakDaggerChal : Book # 83
    3. Medical Examiner-  2 Toe Tag 
    4. Around the Year in 52 Books- #31- A book inspired by a leading news story
    5. Book List Queen #19 Based on a true story
    6. 20 in 20 #Read20in2020 #14 translated to English
    7. NJM #NJMBookChallenge2020  #16  translated from another language
    8. Wizarding World Tour  possible categories
      • Castelobruxo:read a book translated into your language
    9. While I was Reading #5 based on a true story
    10. Beat the Backlist #BeatTheBacklist2020 #7 author Intl to you
    11. 2020 TBR  #2020TBRReadingChallenge #6 originally written in a foreign language
    12. TBR Book #51  #Backlistreader ; #MountTBR2020; #StartOnYourShelfathon

    Wednesday, September 16, 2020

    Private the Games


    This installment of the Private series is set in Rio in 2016 just as the Summer Games are about to kick off.  There is a different co author on this book and I think I might like Mark Sullivan's style with James Patterson a bit better than some of the other installments.  This book does a wonderful job of describing the socioeconomic and physical geography of the Brazilian city.

    The storyline and its connection to poverty and wealth and the struggles to move the country forward without further impoverishing the  poor is on point.  It definitely creates a thought provoking inner dialogue with me as a reader of the book.  It is especially appropriate timing with all that is going on in the US and the world in 2020

    The GamesThe Games by James Patterson
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars 

    This is a typical Private series book with lots of shooting and action. This time Jack Morgan is in Rio for the Summer games in 2016. The details of the city and the landscape definitely make it possible to visualize the scenery and the city as you read. The premise behind the story is a bit close to home with much of what is in the news today in US. There are some thought provoking aspects to the storyline. The book is part of the series but can be read in any order. 

    View all my reviews

    Challenge Prompts

    The Challenge Prompts I will use this for are:  

    1. Library Love  #LibraryLoveChallenge -  Book #96
    2. Literary Escapes-  Brazil
    3. Finishing the Series-  #FinishingTheSeries2020   
    4. Cloak and  Dagger #CloakDaggerChal : Book # 82
    5. Medical Examiner-  10 Toe Tag 
    6. Six Shooter- 6th Shot-  Target completed
    7. TBR Book #50  #Backlistreader ; #MountTBR2020; #StartOnYourShelfathon  

    Tuesday, September 15, 2020

    Girl Gone Viral

     This is the second installment in the Modern Love series by Alisha Rai.  It is part steamy romance, part introspective look at  relationships.   Rai examines both romantic relationships and family dynamics in this novel.  

    The novel centers around the same characters we met in The Right Swipe (see blog post here) but this book is all about Katrina.  We learn much about what troubles her and how it affects her daily life.  The illness was alluded to in the initial book but this time it is described in detail as is her life history.  We really learn about what makes her who she is and why she is the way she is.  

    We also get to see how she interacts with a new romance and her reactions to the family dynamics that relationship brings.  The author does a wonderful job of showing multiple perspectives of conflict and how different individuals interpret the same situation.  

    As the title suggests, the underlying story relates to an episode going viral on Twitter.  It raises some real issues about privacy in the modern electronic era and how a seemingly innocent act can have many unintended consequences.  

    The novel centers around characters that are deep and realistic.  It is easy to envision the scenarios Rai describes, particularly if you have any previous experiences with the mental ailments she focuses on in her narrative.   I appreciate that her characters are strong women who can take care of themselves but still appreciate a man and romance in their lives.   

    I look forward to reading the next book in the series, First Comes Like,  when it is published next year.

    Girl Gone ViralGirl Gone Viral by Alisha Rai
    My rating: 5 of 5 stars 

    View all my reviews

    Challenge Prompts

    The Challenge Prompts I will use this for are:  

    1. Library Love  #LibraryLoveChallenge -  Book #95

    Monday, September 14, 2020

    Map of books to read in 4th quarter

    I decided it might be a good idea to make a listing of the books I have in my queue for meeting challenge prompts.  I admit I tend to be distracted by the shiny books that show up in my inbox for ebooks.  Plus when I head to the library I tend to come home with more books that I had returned.  Basically I don't think I have every met a book I didn't want to find out about and pretty much any cozy freebie lands in my kindle account.

    As I head into the last quarter of the year I decided I might need to focus my attention on completing my challenges.  Additionally, there are some specific dated challenges that I need to make sure I address at the appropriate time. 

    That being said I am trying to lay out a timeline of books I need to read in the next bit of time so I don't get too distracted by all the tempting choices.


    1-   Vox by Christina Dalcher 
    • Girl XOXO award book
    • popsugar #32 made up language
    • what's in a name 4 letters or less
    • A to Z- V

    2-   And then there were none by Agatha Christie  Sept 27th week
    • Read banned book in banned book week-   popsugar #39

    3-   Disney's Land by Richard Snow
    • Girls XOXO Motif-  when text just isn't enough 
    • NF history
    •  Booklist Queen # 33 Nonfiction topic you love
    • 20in20 #10  NF Book with 11 characters
    4-  The Perfect Nanny by Leila Slimani
    • Around the Year # 31- A book inspired by a leading news story
    • Booklist Queen # 19 Based on a true story
    • 20in20 #14 translated to English
    • NJM #16  translated from another language
    • while I was reading #3 translated from another language
    • Beat the Backlist author Intl to you
    • 2020TBR #6 originally written in a foreign language
    • wizarding world Castelobruxo  - read a book translated into your language

    Keyword challenge  Star, Cry, She, Window, Forever, Eye

    Oct-  The Boys in the Boat   By Daniel James Brown  
    • 2020TBR #10 winner Booker Award
    • Wizarding World Mahoutokoro - involving a sport
    • 20in20 #16 has to do with sports
    • Booklist Queen #29 about sports

    Greenwood by Michael Christie
    • Book set in future

    Nov-  Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine  winner of Specsavers National Book Awards UK