books and reading

Monday’s Not Coming

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As I’ve been quarantined, I’ve been riding the stationary bike while listening to a book. I’m usually a podcast person, and I still listen to those when I get a chance, given my kids are in the house and most I listen to are highly inappropriate for kids. But I’m trying to listen to books that are on my PopSugar Reading Challenge and give myself 30 minutes each day of shutting out the world.

At some point, someone online mentioned that this was a book with a made-up language, so I used it for that prompt. The girls in the story, Claudia and Monday, do have a made-up language that only they know, but it’s not a prominent part of the book, but I’m still counting it. This book was really good but very triggering for a lot of people. And it was pretty challenging to listen to because the plot jumps in various timelines- “the before,” “the after,” “one year before the before,” making me really not able to follow *when* things were occurring. Before the before was when Claudia and Monday were friends, living their best middle school lives. The before was when Claudia returned from a summer at her grandma’s to find that Monday is seemingly missing. The after is after Claudia learns what really happened. The multiple timelines are pretty confusing. It was clear when “before the before” was because Monday was there. But the before and the after kept me confused, mostly. Ultimately, the timelines make sense and the full story of what has happened to Monday is revealed.

This powerful book isn’t for everyone. There are plenty of topics that are difficult to read about. However, I also think it’s an important one. Children, too often, go unnoticed. People turn a blind eye to their struggles and voices. So much of Monday’s situation could have been avoided if the right people had done what they could. This book is a cautionary tale, at the very least.

books and reading

No Exit

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I’m always on the hunt for a good thriller. This one came highly recommended by my online book club. We have a book of the month that we all read, but we also read all kinds of stuff and recommend to each other. Several of them said this one was worth reading. I’m always skeptical because so many thrillers end up ridiculous, but I’m happy to report this one holds up. It’s excellent, kept me guessing, and didn’t fall into terrible tropes.

Basic premise is that college student Darby is on her way home to see her mom before she has surgery for cancer, but Darby gets snowed in at a rest stop in Colorado. There are three other people who seem nice enough, but one guy is pretty creepy. While trying to get a cell signal outside, Darby sees a small child’s hand in the back of a van. Alarm bells go off, and our story begins.

The story takes place over the course of one night, and although there are twists and turns, none of them are implausible, and Darby is a great heroine. She’s not irritating, she tries to be the hero because it’s right rather than for any kind of glory, and she is level-headed. Who Darby can trust in the rest stop becomes part of the mystery, and I was kept guessing and on the edge of my seat most of the book. The writing is tight, and the plot moves rapidly. Highly recommend this one!

books and reading

Little Heaven

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At some point, Stephen King recommended one of Nick Cutter’s books. I make a point to check out his recommendations when I can. I’ve learned that he is pretty spot-on with his recommendations. And Nick Cutter is for sure a great one. I’ve read The Deep and The Troop and enjoyed them both. The Deep was better, for me, but The Troop is more graphic if that’s your kind of thing. So, when I needed a western for the PopSugar Reading Challenge, I knew I had to think out of the box. I don’t like westerns, and I really have no desire to read them. I’m sure some are great, like Lonesome Dove, but I would rather read something Western-ish. I recommend Unbury Carol, if you haven’t read that one. It’s definitely a western but also really great.

The podcast. Books in the Freezer, mentioned Little Heaven as a horror/western, so I went with it for my selection. This book, however, took me a while to get through. I try to read while I wait in the pick-up line for my kids. I get a good 30 minutes of quiet reading time. And even with that time, I just didn’t connect to this book. Then the quarantine happened, and my reading got all out of whack. I couldn’t figure out where to fit reading into my day with all the homeschooling I’m doing now. So, this book went on the back burner for a bit. Once I picked it back up, I got sucked into it.

The story is told in two different time periods, 1960s and 1980. We start in 1980 where Micah’s daughter has been led away from their house by an entity. Micah immediately knows what it is, and then we switch to the back story. Micah, Minerva, and Ebenezer have been hired by a woman to go to a remote part of a forest to retrieve her nephew from a cult. Sounds easy enough, but they soon learn this forest is also inhabited by some mystery. As the cult dissolves, the mysteries rise.

Even though it took me a while to get through this one, I did enjoy it. I would recommend his other books first, though. They captured me from the beginning, and I flew through them. He writes a great horror novel, though, and I look forward to reading more from him.

books and reading

The Devil in Silver

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For the PopSugar Reading Challenge, I had to read a book with “gold,” “silver,” or “bronze” in the title. Thankfully, I have all my books either on Kindle or logged into the Bookpedia database. I searched through both of these things and didn’t find a single book with those words in the title. I then went to my Amazon wish list and found this one. Head to the library website, and I downloaded the ebook. Whew.

Given the world today, and the fact that my kids are home and needing to be homeschooled, I haven’t had much time to read, so this one took a while. That said, I think I would have made it more of a priority if I had enjoyed it more. This book was very reminiscent of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, taking place in a mental hospital, but this one has a supernatural element to it.

I felt like this one wandered more than it should have. There’s this mystery about “the Devil” that is presented early on, but it’s semi-abandoned halfway through for a bit of a love story, which seemed un-authentic. The book didn’t really know what kind of book it should be, I guess. Is it a horror book? A dramatic book? A realistic book? It just seemed to wander between all of them. I appreciate when books can pull off more than one genre, but those genres should be present from beginning to end. Not just one here, one there, back to the first. I think with some heavy edits, this book would be a lot better.

books and reading


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I’ve been on a mission to finish series that I started ages ago. I read Cinder a few years ago, then made it through Scarlet last year. And this series is one that I really am invested in. The storytelling is really well-done, and the female heroine characters are fantastic. Each main character is loosely based on a fairy tale- Cinder is Cinderella, Scarlet is Red Riding Hood and Cress is Rapunzel. The final book in the series, Winter, is Snow White.

This story finds Cress living on a satellite, doing the bidding for an evil woman. Cress is a techno whiz, so this fits in the “woman in STEM” category in the PopSugar Reading Challenge. There’s a lot of backstory for the series that I’m not going to get into here. Basically, Cress is miserable and wants to help Cinder and her gang. They are able to communicate, and Cress is rescued. There’s a big battle and most of the gang gets separated. Cinder’s mission is still to stop Queen Levana’s wedding, so there’s a bit of plot there with Levana and Kai, as well.

I listened to this one, which really is a different reading experience than physically reading. I also listen on 1.5 speed because I needed to return the book to the library and wanted to make sure to finish. This series is one that I recommend a lot as a good example of female strength, but without a lot of teenage drama. It’s more sci-fi than a lot of books I read, but it’s well-written and well-developed, which helps the reader sink right into the world Marissa Meyer has created.

books and reading

Death at the Workhouse

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I did it! I finished this series before my Kindle Unlimited subscription ran out. I’ve subscribed to the author’s emails, so hopefully, I get a notice when book nine comes out because I definitely need to know what happens to Penny after this crazy cliff-hanger.

Book eight finds Penny and her sister, Eliza, spending the night in what we would consider a homeless shelter. She’s writing an article about the conditions of this shelter, but she realizes something fishy is going on. People are dying and their bodies are disappearing. She and James, of Scotland Yard, must figure out of these people are dying naturally or not, and whether their families are aware of the fact that the bodies are missing, since the casket is heavy, but only filled with sand. Of course, Penny and James’s relationship is part of the series-long plot point, as is the whereabouts of Penny and Eliza’s father, and these are still discussed in the book.

I really respect the author for doing the amount of research she does. In the back of this book, she discusses the research and lists a lot of books she’s read to prepare for writing this series. Her preparation shows me how seriously she takes her craft, and I appreciate that. So, if you’re looking for a fun light-hearted, but really well-written and well-researched set of books, I highly recommend the Penny Green series by Emily Organ.

books and reading

An Unwelcome Guest

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I’m in the home stretch! Book seven down, one to go! Until book nine comes out, that is. And as fun as these books are, I will be happy to have a break from Victorian England for a bit. It’s a bit stuffy. I am reading other books, so I’m not entirely immersed in these, but I do enjoy a variety in the books I read.

This book finds Penny, once again, investigating a murder. This time, she’s a witness. She has been invited to a hotel to stay as a guest with a few other people to report about the hotel’s grand opening. That night, a man and his guest are murdered. Penny is initially a suspect, but we know she didn’t do it. Not our hero! She and James have to team up to find out just who that dead guest is, and they need to find out the motivation behind these murders.

Like always, the murder needs to be solved, but there are also the series plots about Penny and James’s relationship, Penny’s sister Eliza’s family situation, and the long-lost father that we are still wondering about. I’ve already started the eighth book and look forward to wrapping up this series.

books and reading

The Bermondsey Poisoner


I’ve read six books in this series, now. Some have been really good, some have been just okay. Part of my opinion is based on some of the recurring plot points and how interested I am in them. The overall murder mystery of each book is always interesting, but some of the ongoing plot points aren’t as good as others. However, this one hit the mark on all points.

Right now, there are eight books in the series, with the ninth on the way at some point in the near future. My Kindle Unlimited runs out on March 14, so I am trying to finish these last two before then. Fingers crossed I can do it! This one finds Penny investigating a serial murder, a Black Widow! A woman has killed a number of previous husbands, but there are other people who seem to be suspects, as well. Penny, of course, teams up with James from Scotland Yard to try and solve these murders.

I’m not a big fan of historical fiction, and I really don’t know whether there are anachronisms or not. And the characters in the books don’t evolve much, but I’m not looking at these as “fine literature.” I like Penny. She is interesting and dynamic and wants to make a difference in the world. She’s the reason I keep reading. I was glad to find that one of the books in this series fit into the 2020 PopSugar Reading Challenge with a book title of at least 20 letters.