2015 Book Riot Read Harder Challenge, Book Reviews

The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi

I loved this book when I was in middle and high school. I wanted to read it again. I actually still owned a copy of it. With my current book challenges, I had the perfect reason to read it again. It did not disappoint. Unlike many stories, this book was just as good as it had been when I read it as a teen.

The story follows young Charlotte Doyle. She is scheduled to travel on a merchant ship back home to Rhode Island from England. There is supposed to be two other families on board, but they fail to show. As soon as she boards, the young lady knows there is something amiss. Vague warnings and unusual occurrences start the warning bells buzzing in her head.

After a failed attempted mutiny, Charlotte joins the sailors. She becomes one of the crew, working along side them from dawn to midnight, taring the deck and taking a watch. Danger from both human and ship lead to a very gripping tale on the sea. Every day, Charlotte adds some to her journal, leaving evidence of the crimes committed on board.

I love this book. It is fascinating to watch Charlotte grow from a young, sheltered girl to a hardworking, independent young lady. You learn a lot about what the crew goes through on a long voyage, as well as the differences in social classes that were prevalent at the time. It would be a great book for a tween/teen girl. Also, anyone who wants to learn some basics about old-time sea faring would like this book. It is an easy read, but keeps you engaged throughout. It actually has a lot of suspense for a young adult book (at least those I read when I was younger, I don’t know about today’s books). It is simply a great book.

My rating:

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2015 Pop Sugar Book Challenge, Book Reviews

The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

This book was recommended to me after I mentioned I had only read the short stories of Sherlock Holmes and wanted to read one of the actual novels. My friend Kim, a librarian, suggested The Hound of the Baskervilles as it appears to be the most popular and liked of the books.

I was quite pleased with the book. It was everything I had hoped it would be. I am not surprised at all that Anne Perry wrote the afterword to the book. The writing and story line reminded me a lot of her Thomas and Charlotte Pitt series that I love. I can definitely see where she was influenced by his writing.

The story follows Holmes and Watson as they investigate a story that is brought to him by a country doctor. The doctor explains that a family has been plagued by a demon dog that has killed the current resident of the family hall. Sir Charles had died of fright after seeing the animal and having a bad heart. As the next heir arrives in London, the doctor approaches Holmes to help him ensure the safety of the heir. After some minor issues in London, Sir Henry (the heir) and Watson retire to the family estate to complete the investigation and to ensure Sir Henry’s safety. Holmes pursues the investigation in London as Watson investigates and reports from the estate. There are twists and turns throughout the investigation, with unexpected events throwing suspicion from one person to the other. I was able to figure out who was behind everything but not the way until the very end.

I greatly recommend this book. It is a fascinating, intellectual read that keeps you engaged in the story line the whole way. I was pulling for some people to be innocent and others guilty. I had hoped for a happier ending, but I can easily understand how everything turned out. Anyone who likes mysteries or books that make you think will definitely enjoy this book!

My rating:

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Random Thoughts

Yard Sale Shenanigans

It is once again yard sale season. I usually don’t hit yard sales, but as I will be moving in a few months I thought I’d see if I could get some household stuff cheap. In my quest for these deals (of which I found a few!) I also ran across a lot of books…YAY!

Below are the spoils I claimed in my journeys this past weekend. I didn’t spend more than two dollar for any book. A couple came from Goodwill, but the rest were from yard sales.


2015 Pop Sugar Book Challenge, Book Reviews

Strangers in Death (In Death #26) by J. D. Robb

This is the first book I’ve read by J. D. Robb and let me tell you I was blown away. I am a fan after reading this book. I did actually listen to it, but I think it only made it better. The narrator really did a fantastic job with the different voices, especially Peabody and Roarke. I actually went to the story yesterday to pick up another audiobook for the series, and was pleased to find the earlier books come in three packs with the same narrator! Those are on my docket to listen to after my current audiobook finishes.

This was actually book number 26 in the series, so I jumped in the deep end and had to figure out who everyone is. Furthermore, the books are set in the future so I had to make the adjustment to the different world, which wasn’t as disconcerting as I thought it would be. I actually really liked that it was similar enough to relate to but still futuristic.

The story follows Lieutenant Eve Dallas as she investigates the murder of a high profile philanthropist and international sports equipment seller. He is found dead in his bed by apparent kink related strangulation accident. It turns out to be murder. The wife and nephew have solid alibis, but Dallas believes the wife is in on it. The investigation is long and takes multiple twists and turns, leading to surprising and interesting insights. Eva Anders, the wife, is a fully developed and thought out character that you grow to despise the further you go in the book.The way she is written is masterful. You get pulled into the interlacing world of money and politics, along with the seedier side of Licensed Companions and blackmail. The interviews and interrogations of the suspects was written amazingly well, you felt like you were in the room watching. However, throughout the entire book you live in Eve Dallas’ head and hear what she is thinking, which I think is the best part. She is a well-developed intricate character that is fascinating to learn about and see how her mind works.

Along with the complex investigation, you have the emotional relationship between Dallas and Roarke that grows throughout the book, which I assume has continued through every book in the series. The relationship fascinated me and gave a good relief to the constant investigation. It is often by discussing things with Roarke that Dallas has her breakthroughs or new ideas to pursue. It is a great example of a healthy, functioning marriage. In addition, you grow to know the entire cast of characters better, which I again assume happens in each book. I was fun to read and learn about each individual in Dallas’ life and how they affect her.

Furthermore, the complex crime and investigation reminded me a lot of Anne Perry, another author I love to read. I would recommend this book, or even the series, to anyone who likes complex story lines that don’t revolve around sex scenes. You can’t be squeamish though if you want to read this. The death and details are discussed throughout the book, along with reasons people do horrendous things to each other. I might recommend reading some of the earlier books first because this book references events from previous books, but I loved starting with this one. I’m sure I’ll come back and re-read it sometime.

My rating:

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Book Reviews

Back to Buckhorn by Lori Foster

I want to start by saying I was kind of disappointed this was only a novella. I’m used to reading the other Buckhorn books that are long and really detailed. I loved reading about the brothers falling in love and was hoping this would be similar. I was similar, but I think there could have been a lot more to the story. Saying that, the author did a good job for such a short story.

The story follows Garrett and Zoey. Zoey comes back to Buckhorn because her mom is in the hospital, and decides she is going to stay and set up a pet grooming salon. Zoey was run out of town years ago because of an incident that left her high school football star boyfriend dead. Garrett is the hometown golden boy and a firefighter. He has always been drawn to the quirky, odd ball Zoey and now sees his chance to make his move. The story describes Zoey falling back into the comfort of small time life and remodeling her house while still dealing with some hostility about the past. Garrett is there to help her as often as he can and defending her against the haters. It is a nice story, but like I mentioned it could definitely been fleshed out more. There is a good mix of drama, romance, and emotional upheaval to keep it interesting and moving well.

I really liked and could relate easily to Zoey. I thought she was a fun, down to earth, realistic character I would like to know more about. Garrett is pretty much a standard romance hero, but it was nice to see the relationship develop in the book. Unfortunately, the ending is somewhat abrupt and doesn’t quite feel finished. I hope we run into the couple in later books to see how they are doing and how the story line plays out.

I would recommend this to anyone who liked the Buckhorn books or Lori Foster stories. It is a quick read, and would be a good summer read.

My rating:

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2015 Book Riot Read Harder Challenge, Book Reviews

Still the One (Animal Magnetism #6) by Jill Shalvis

I have been a fan of the Animal Magnetism series for a while. I actually didn’t know this book had come out. I picked it up on a whim and read it almost in a day. It is a good read, not super romantic (but there is a love story), but it is an emotionally heavy book.

The story follows Darcy and AJ. Darcy used to be a travel writer but has been forced to stay in Sunshine after a terrible accident on the highway. As her physical therapist, AJ helped to get her to walk again, but she still has some PTSD issues, both from the accident and her childhood. She is currently working as a temp at the physical therapy office and the veterinarian office (where most of the characters from the first few books work). She is also using her money to buy dogs that have been trained for police work or search and rescue that cannot perform their duties anymore and gives them to locals as service animals. Throughout the book, you have Darcy and AJ kind of circling each other on the relationship topic. At one point, they end up having to fake a relationship to aid AJ in obtaining funding for his gym. It is charged and emotional as Darcy tries to deal with everything that has happened to her. Surprisingly, you do not see much of the other characters from previous books which I was hoping for. However, you do get a very in-depth look at these two characters and the emotional struggles they go through. Also, you are reminded of the strong support the different members of the town give to the residents.

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys Jill Shalvis’s writing or the Animal Magnetism series. It is also a good summer read or for anyone who enjoys a good romance book that doesn’t focus on sex.

My rating:

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2015 Pop Sugar Book Challenge, Book Reviews

Hard Eight (Stephanie Plum #8) by Janet Evanovich

I have only read one other Stephanie Plum novel and that was number 18. I was told the earlier ones were even funnier. I happened to come across this one as a free audio book so I took the opportunity to read it.

The story follows Stephanie as she looks for a missing child and her mother. Stephanie’s parents’ neighbor asks Stephanie to look for her grand and great-grand daughter after she was informed they had taken off and were in violation of a child custody bond. The granddaughter’s ex-husband and the little girls father gets involved and ends up being killed and left on Stephanie’s couch. As Stephanie looks into it, she ticks off a couple of the wrong people and ends up getting stalked. The stalking gets pretty bad, especially as she is constantly moving houses since hers is a crime scene. During all this, she is also trying to pick up a failure-to-appear suspect that causes her all kinds of problems. She attempts the first three times, but he keeps getting away. Through all of this, Morelli and Ranger pop in and out. Morelli shows up anytime she ends up interacting with the police, which is frequent, and Ranger comes whenever she calls. Her penchant for getting cars blown up also sets a new record LOL.

The story is full of the random, crazy occurrence humor that peppers all of the Stephanie Plum books. Witty, outrageous comebacks are also an additional comedic relief. The antics of Stephanie and Lula are hilarious. Also, the interactions with Ranger and Morelli keeps things spicy and entertaining as well. Like I was told, the earlier books are definitely more funny. I think the most interesting part is when her mother hits the rabbit – believe it’s important to the story HAHA.

I’d recommend this to anyone who enjoys comedy or a mystery. It could be good for a wide variety of readers. While your reading it, it never feels like a heavy or deep read but plays off as light hearted and fun with some serious points and situations.

My rating:

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2015 Pop Sugar Book Challenge, Book Reviews

Delayed Penalty (Crossing the Line #1) by Shey Stahl

I was quite surprised by this book. First off, it is not really a novella – it’s a full length book. Secondly, it was what I had hoped for when reading hockey romance. Not a focus on sex, but a focus on relationships and the game. I had never read anything by Ms. Stahl before, but I will be looking into more of her work.

The story follows Evan and Ami. Evan is a 20/21 year old professional hockey player for the Chicago Blackhawks. Ami is a 17/18 year old orphan who Evan found almost dead from a brutal rape. Evan feels drawn to her and doesn’t leave her side during her recovery. Ami is drawn to him when she awakes from her coma. The begin a friendship and a deep connection grows between them throughout the story. I was fascinated by how the author portrayed Ami’s rape from Evan’s viewpoint. Usually you just read about the victim and all she is dealing with, but not here. It is how Evan handles the emotional pitfalls he feels as her friend and lover. Ami doesn’t remember much of her attack, so most of the memory comes from Evan. Throughout the story, Evan is constantly looking for the attacker because not knowing just rips him apart. They eventually find the guy, and there is more emotional upheaval at his arrest.

I loved the deep emotional quality of the book. Every character is thoroughly fleshed out and has a personality. You get to meet Evan’s family (who are from Pittsburgh by the way, my hometown – Go Pens!) and several teammates. You also meet Callie, a lively woman who tends to sleep with everyone on the team, but becomes a great friend to Ami. You read mainly from Evan’s point of view, but there is a lot of Ami in there as well. I wasn’t super drawn to Ami, but she is a lovable character and solid. I preferred Evan and Callie, they seemed more animated and fascinating.

I would recommend this book to anyone who loves hockey. It is not a lighthearted romance by any means, so if that’s what you’re looking for don’t read this one. However, if you are looking for a well-developed story with a strong emotional pull and intricate characters, this is a good book.

My rating:

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Random Thoughts

Reading Inspired Crochet

I am an avid crocheter. I usually make blankets for new babies, but lately there have been a lot of babies and little time LOL. I decided to make the little baby cocoons and hats because they are quicker. I found a pattern that was inspired by The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. Once I finished that, I decided to make another Eric Carle inspired set, but I made the pattern, so there isn’t a link to the pattern I used. Enjoy!

The Very Hungry Caterpillar Cocoon and Hat


Pattern Available: Oui Crochet Caterpillar Pattern

Baby Bear, Baby Bear, What do you see? Cocoon and Hat


I made the pattern up as I went, but I did it similar to the caterpillar cocoon without the ripples in the bottom.

2015 Book Riot Read Harder Challenge, Book Reviews

The Eyre Affair (Thursday Next #1) by Jasper Fforde

Let me start by saying this is a solid sci-fi novel and I am usually not a fan of sci-fi. That being said, I actually enjoyed the book. I picked it up because it kept showing up on my recommended reading list on multiple sites LOL. I found it used at a bookstore and thought, Why not?

The first half of the book is setup and it was hard for me to stay engaged. A lot of background, setting, and explanation of what the world is like, in addition to the set up for the story line. However, without it the rest of the book doesn’t make much sense. Once you got past the first part, it picked up from there and it was focused solely on the main story line.

The book is a little hard to describe, but the back cover/book description does a fairly decent job. It is set in an alternate 1980s England and follows the main character, Thursday Next. There are airships instead of planes, do-dos are pets, and everyone is OBSESSED with literature. There is a group of special operations divisions that carry out different tasks – SpecOps 5 is Search and Containment of criminals, SpecOps 12 is ChronoGuard that monitors time travel and the time line, SpecOps 17 is Werewolf and Vampire Disposal, and Thursday’s division of SpecOps 27 – Literatec that monitors stolen or forged literature and literary crime. There are a lot of others, but these ones you run into in the book. Her dad is a ChronoGuard fugitive who pops in and out of the story traveling through time. Her uncle is an inventor and her love interest is a writer.

The book opens with a Charles Dickens manuscript getting stolen by a man named Hades. There are issues during the recovery operation and Thursday transfers home to the smaller office in Swindon. Her uncle and one of his inventions is kidnapped. Shortly after, a character goes missing from the Dickens story. Before Thursday and her crew can get the manuscript back, Hades steals the Jane Eyre original manuscript and Jane gets pulled out of the book. This is about halfway into the book, and it really picks up at that point. I happen to love Jane Eyre and if you are familiar with the book, you notice some interesting changes throughout The Eyre Affair, but it all works out in the end.

Once I got past the background phase of the book, I really like it. I can see why people say you should read it at least once. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys sci-fi or interesting literature stories. I thought it was a lot of fun and a neat take on the world. Not sure if I will read more of the series because I mainly picked this one up because of my love for Jane Eyre but I’m glad I read it. You should check it out!

My rating:

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