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Thursday, September 30, 2021

Apples Never Fall by Liane Moriarty, In Her Tracks by Robert Dugoni, and The Sea Of Lost Girls by Carol Goodman - R.I.P. Reading

I'm back with more R.I.P. Reading thoughts.  I've been delighted to fall down the 'rabbit hole' of read/listens for September.  And I've completed 11 books.  My 'reading mojo' seems to be back and it's been quite a treat.  All the books I'll talk about today are by authors that I've very much enjoyed in the past.  That being said, I'm not sure a couple of these are their 'most loved' works - for me anyway.  Let me tell you about them.

Apples Never Fall is the latest by Liane Moriarty, a very popular author.  I'm always excited to see a new book by this Australian writer.  However, I don't think this one will be my favorite.  I remember years ago reading The Husband's Secret and Big Little Lies, loving both of them.  Later books have been not as favored by me.  Apples Never Fall - I'm afraid it falls in the 'I liked it OK but didn't love it' category.  This story is about a family, the Delaney's, who all play tennis.  There are the parents, Stan and Joy, and four grown children, Amy, Logan, Troy and Brooke.  The parents were tennis coaches and ran a noted tennis academy.  Everyone in the family plays well, just not well enough to be world famous.  The kids grew up and all moved away from the sport.  The parents have sold their business and are now trying to adjust to retirement.  One night, a young woman, Savannah, knocks on their door and says she needs help - her boyfriend has attacked her.  Stan and Joy take her in and offer their support and help for a time.  Then Joy goes missing.  No one knows where she is.  Savannah also can't be found.  The police get involved and the Delaney siblings don't know what to think.  Secrets abound with all the family members.  Lots and lots of arguing, talking, hiding things and endless back and forth.  I wanted to shake all the characters and tell them to grow up.  It sort of felt like everyone was in middle school.  As I said, liked it well enough, but won't be a favorite.  Has anyone else read this?  Reactions?

Next, I moved on to the latest book in a favorite crime series, Robert Dugoni's Tracy Crosswhite books.  The title is In Her Tracks and it's the 8th book (I've read them all).  Tracy Crosswhite is a police detective with the Seattle PD.  She's been on an extended leave after having a baby and spending some time in her hometown of Cedar Grove.  After returning to work, she's told that she's being assigned away from her regular team in the Violent Crimes Division and will be working on cold cases.  Tracy and her boss do not get along well and haven't since they were at the police academy many years ago.  She's taken aback with this new assignment, but it turns out that this is right where her skills and determination are needed.  She starts looking into the case of a missing child from 5 years ago and then gets drawn into a current case of a young woman jogging, also going missing.  I've really liked this series and recommend it.  I've talked about previous books here on the blog.  If you want to try it, I'd start with the first book, My Sister's Grave, which tells of Tracy's background and why she became a cop.  I'll be watching for #9 in the series, coming out next summer.

Lastly, I just finished Carol Goodman's book entitled The Sea Of Lost Girls.  I've read several books by this author and liked all of them a lot.  She's a good pick for this season as her books are usually set in the woods or at an old school or in the fall or winter - a bunch of Gothic themes.  This particular book does includes shades of The Scarlet Letter, The Crucible, and also maidens lost at sea.  Tess works at a well-known prep school and lives with her husband, also a teacher, and her 17-year-old son, Rudy.  The school had been a place where 'wayward' girls were sent before it became a co-ed academy and there's a lot of history here.  Not all of it good.  Rudy texts his mother late one night for help and Tess goes to get him.  He's wet and shivering and there's blood on his shirt.  Later, his girlfriend, Lila, is found dead.  What is going on and how far will Tess go to protect her son and what she thinks might have happened?  As I said, lots of themes that relate to legends and literature.  I liked the story, but Tess about drove me crazy with her 'nutty' thinking and her way of 'helping' those she 'loves'.  She wanted to protect her son, but her way of doing so involved way too much lying for my liking.  I will continue to read this author's books and I have several more on her list to try.  This particular one was just not my favorite.  Ah well.  

I'm now reading The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James.  Will be discussing this one with a 'new-to-me' book group here at my library.  Can't wait!  Have you read any of these books I've mentioned?  I'd love to know your reaction to them.  Do tell!         

Friday, September 24, 2021

Catching up and more RIP reading...

Hello everyone!  Hope you've had a good week and your life and reading are going well enough.  I've just gotten back in from my morning walk and it was quite comfortable if not a little cool.  Without a jacket anyway.  Our first fall cold front came a couple of days ago and our morning temps were in the high 40's yesterday and it was maybe 50 or 51 this morning.  This too shall pass, but I think I can wave the humid mid-70's goodbye for this year - early morning anyway.

I'm continuing to get connected in my new community and have begun my book-shelving volunteer work at the library.  I enjoy that job and it's peaceful and quiet in this new library.  I worked at the 'Friends of the Library' bookstore on Wednesday and that venture has become such a fun time.  I went to the 'Talking Texas' Book Group yesterday and I'll share a bit about that time.  I'm also planning on going to an author event on Saturday afternoon that I'll talk about next week.

For the 'Talking Texas' Book Group, we discussed water.  Ha!  The book we read was A Thirsty Land: The Fight For Water In Texas by Seamus McGraw.  I found the book more interesting than I imagined when I first started it and the discussion was brisk.  Lots of talk about conservation among the members and people sharing their favorite parts.  I'm not the biggest fan of non-fiction, but I think that doing some reading with book groups here will be informative.  Next month this group will switch to a fiction book (a mystery, yay!), Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke.  I've had this one on my TBR for a long time and look forward to reading it.

As to my RIP reading, I've finished another couple of books.  I enjoyed both, but maybe not as much as the Joanna Schaffhausen books.  I read The Wonder Test by Michelle Richmond.  In this book, widowed FBI Agent Lina Connerly is in Silicon Valley with her teenage son, Rory, to clear out her late father's house.  She's on leave from her FBI position for several reasons and her son is going to a new school while they are in California.  Yes, a new school with some very odd rules, tests, classmates and parents.  Kids have gone missing and then returned very different.  Lina ends up getting involved and with help from various contacts and also Rory, she discovers secrets galore.  I found this book held my interest for sure, but it was a curious blend of themes.  I don't think I've read anything else by this author, but I'd try more of her work.

I also read The Girl From Widow Hills by Megan Miranda.  This book is the October selection for the Mystery Book Group that I had to leave behind when I moved.  Left behind my 'in-person' attendance anyway.  I'll likely try to keep up with what they are reading and send my thoughts to Gayle, the new leader, by email.  We had several former members that did that after they relocated.  Anyway, I had read a couple of books by this author in the past and liked them.  I also enjoyed The Girl From Widow Hills, though I think I would have liked it more if I had not recently read the 'missing girl' storyline from the Ellery Hathaway series.  This book is a standalone and the situation is quite different.  Arden Mayor was a little girl of 6 when she went missing while sleepwalking during a storm.  She was discovered days later and she became 'The Girl From Widow Hills'.  With all the hoopla and publicity of the 10-year-anniversary of her rescue, Arden changes her name when she goes to college and becomes Olivia.  Now the 20-year marker is coming and again, Olivia/Arden fears the press and what they might bring up.  No one in her current life knows that she's 'The Girl...'.  Things begin to happen, someone might be watching her, her sleepwalking is back, and then someone dies.  As I said, I did like this book but the protagonist's repetitive thinking about people and events annoyed me a bit.  I do think the mystery group will have a good time discussing this one and I'll be reading more by this author in the future.

That's about all I have to share.  I'm in the middle of Liane Moriarty's new book, Apples Never Fall, right now.  More to say about that one next week.            

Saturday, September 18, 2021

Gone For Good by Joanna Schaffhausen

Hello everyone!  So, can I mention that I think have a new author to add to my 'favorites' list?  Yes, I'm really pleased with the 5 books I've now read by Joanna Schaffhausen.  Four of them were her current Ellery Hathaway series, fifth to come in early 2022.  And I very, very quickly made my way through the first book in this author's new series featuring Detective Annalisa Vega.  The second book is scheduled for late summer of 2022.  Cannot wait!

Gone For Good is set in Chicago with Detective Annalisa Vega as the protagonist.  Annalisa is the daughter of a retired Chicago police officer and she's also the ex-wife of a policeman.  She doesn't date much, but naturally while on a date with a man who is clearly not going to get a second 'yes' to a date request, her work phone pings and she finds herself at a crime scene with a murdered woman.  Oh, and who should come striding up to the scene as well - her ex-husband Nick.  Complications ensue.  

The storyline features the Lovelorn Killer, someone who murdered 7 women over a decade ago.  This new murder seems like it might be related - same killer or a copycat?  We also meet an amateur crime-solving group called The Grave Diggers.  Annalisa has a large family and they play a part as well.  

I was totally involved in this tale and I really like Annalisa, though she does have tendency to place herself in harm's way a bit.  However, she is also a professional law enforcement officer and I think that is different than an amateur sleuth doing the same.  Joanna Schaffhausen is a talented writer in my opinion and her female protagonists are strong, but with 'cracks' in their armor because of what life has thrown at them.  This one and really all this author's books are recommended by me.  Note though that these are not 'cozy' crime scenes with the violence or the result of violence 'off the screen'.  

One more to add to my R.I.P. reading.  And now I've started a new book, The Wonder Test by Michelle Redmond.  I'll be back soon to talk about that one.  Hope all have a good weekend!

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

More RIP Reading - Joanna Schaffhausen's Ellery Hathaway series #2, #3, and #4

Hello book pals!  Hope you are all well and enjoying some good reading.  I certainly have been having fun doing read/listens for more of Joanna Schaffhausen's series featuring Ellery Hathaway.  I mentioned the first book, The Vanishing Season, in my last post.  And these all work well for my R.I.P. reading.

In the second series book, No Mercy, Ellery Hathaway has been required to attend a counseling group because she is on involuntary leave from her police department job after shooting a murderer.  Since this group is for victims of violent crime, Ellery gets involved in various ways with the other members.  She helps one whose attacker has not been caught and she thinks that another member's story might have more to it.  Asking her friend, FBI Profiler Reed Markham, for assistance is hard for her, but he gets involved again and both are risking their jobs.  This was a quick read for me and I enjoyed it thoroughly.  

I quickly moved on to the third book, All The Best Lies.  The storyline here is focused more on Reed Markham's life and background, though Ellery is an active participant as well.  Reed was adopted as a baby, but has known that his birth mother was murdered in Las Vegas when he was quite small.  His adopted family is a prominent one in Virginia and when Reed unexpectedly finds out some additional information about his background, he goes to Las Vegas to explore the cold case crime of his mother's murder.  Ellery, still on leave from her police department, goes as well.  Lots of secrets and surprises here.  I also read this one very fast and liked it a lot.

The next book in the series, the fourth, is entitled Every Waking Hour.  This is the latest book featuring Ellery and Reed, but a fifth is scheduled to be published in January, Last Seen Alive.  As Every Waking Hour begins, Ellery is back on the job and is now with the Boston Police Department as a new detective.  She and Reed are still working out what their relationship looks like and he is visiting Boston.  A young girl, age 12, goes missing and Ellery and her new partner are assigned to the case.  It's important to Ellery to find Chloe and hopefully be able to rescue her as Reed did Ellery herself.  The characters lives move along with this book and also the ones before it.  I don't want to share too much because of spoilers, but this series is a good one for me.  I'll be waiting impatiently for the fifth book.

Meanwhile, Joanna Schaffhausen has a new book out, Gone For Good.  It's the first in a new series featuring Detective Annalisa Vega.  I started this book today and look forward to meeting new characters and seeing where this author takes me next.       

Monday, September 6, 2021

Fallen by Linda Castillo and The Vanishing Season by Joanna Schaffhausen - RIP Reading...

Hello everyone and Happy Labor Day to you!  Hope you are all well and enjoying this holiday weekend.  I'm here with some short thoughts about my first two R.I.P. books - both mysteries.

Fallen is the 13th book in Linda Castillo's series featuring Police Chief Kate Burkholder and this series is a favorite of mine.  I've read all of them.  Set in Painter's Mill, Ohio and in the Amish country, this author has kept us entertained with the life and crime investigations of Kate Burkholder.  We're familiar with the whole Painter's Mill PD, some of the local Sheriff's office, and John Tomasetti, Kate's significant other, who is an investigator for the Ohio State Police.  Kate came from an Amish family and left that life when she was a teenager.  Her family still lives in the area and she has a unique perspective on how the crimes she investigates affect the Amish community.  In Fallen, another woman who was born and raised in the area is murdered.  Rachael Schwartz was known to Kate as a young girl, but unlike Kate, Rachael's life after leaving Painter's Mill has been filled with questionable decisions.  Kate has to rely on her team and also Tomasetti to help her solve this one.  I enjoyed it a lot and look forward to the next book.

Linda Castillo has moved to the Central Texas area in the last year or so.  She lived in another part of Texas before.  I'm really hoping that I'll be able to see her at an event at some point.  A favorite author that I've never gotten a chance to meet.  Crossing my fingers!

The second book I read for the R.I.P. Challenge was The Vanishing Season by Joanna Schaffhausen.  This is the first book in her series featuring Ellery Hathaway, a police officer that has a background that includes being kidnapped as a teen by a serial killer.  I did a read/listen of this book and did enjoy it.  This author has a new book that just came out, Gone For Good, part of a new series.  As I was reading about Gone For Good, I realized that I owned The Vanishing Season on audio and decided it was time to try it.  At this time, the Ellery series has 4 books and a new one to be published in January.  

Ellery, who was a 'girl who lived', is now a small town police officer and she's noticed a pattern of people going missing.  She tries to get her boss to take her seriously, but since she has not ever shared why she knows about 'going missing', her concerns are dismissed.  Finally, she reaches out to the FBI agent that rescued her, Reed Markham.  It's been 14 years since Ellery and Reed have seen each other.  Markham is on leave from the FBI and reluctantly agrees to come and talk with Ellery.  And the story progresses from there.  I liked this one well enough to try the next in the series, No Mercy   Fun to try a 'new to me' author and know there are several books out there to read by her.  

Hope all who are participating in the R.I.P. Challenge are finding some good mysteries or spooky stories or fantasy or whatever to keep them 'challenged'.   

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

RIP XVI - Reader's Imbibing Peril - 2021

 


It's time for this year's RIP XVI-Reader's Imbibing Peril Challenge!  I participate in very few challenges, but RIP is one that's I've done in the past.  As my goal of reading more, I think I'll take part this year and will use this post for updates.  It will be in my sidebar and I'll also mention RIP when I read and talk about any book that would work for the challenge.

I'm going to cheat and 'copy' what Diane said here on her blog, Bibliophile By the Sea:

'To join Readers Imbibing Peril just read as many mystery, suspense, thriller, horror, dark fantasy, supernatural, or Gothic books as you want between  September 1 – October 31st, and post about them on your blog, Instagram, or Twitter.  You can use #RIPXVI or tag @PERILREADERS to connect with other participants.'

I'll keep a running list below.  Join in if you'd like and I hope we all have fun with the challenge this fall.  We certainly need some fun, right?

1. Fallen by Linda Castillo

2. The Vanishing Season by Joanna Schaffhausen

3. No Mercy by Joanna Schaffhausen

4. All The Best Lies by Joanna Schaffhausen

5. Every Waking Hour by Joanna Schaffhausen

6. Gone For Good by Joanna Schaffhausen

7. The Wonder Test by Michelle Richmond

8. The Girl From Widow Hills by Megan Miranda

9. Apples Never Fall by Liane Moriarty

10. In Her Tracks by Robert Dugoni

11. The Sea Of Lost Girls by Carol Goodman

12. The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James

13. Dark Roads by Chevy Stevens

14. The Fiancee by Kate White

15. My Sister's Bones by Nuala Ellwood

16. Twenty-one Days by Anne Perry

17. The Stranger Behind You by Carol Goodman

18. The Sanatorium by Sarah Pearse