The Witchfinder’s Sister

I’m currently reading The Witchfinder’s Sister by Beth Underdown and it’s really great, you guys! Really great! (The writing reminds me somewhat of The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova, but it’s a shorter book.)

The main character, Alice Hopkins, pregnant and widowed, has returned to her brother Matthew’s home after the sudden death of her husband. Her brother has changed a lot in the five years she’s been gone and she has difficulty relating to him – the understanding and easy communication they shared before her marriage (of which he disapproved), are gone. In her brother’s place is a strange man who is at the center of an on-going witch hunt.


I’m only about halfway thorough this book and I’ve been trying not to speculate on how it ends – I have several theories and not all of them would I consider to be be satisfactory endings!

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2016 Reading Challenge (a recap), 2017 Reading Challenge

With the craziness of 2016 finally at an end, I have had time to think about my reading habits during 2016.

Once again, I found that I started a lot of books that I didn’t finish and now I wish that I had kept track of those unfinished books in some way so I could have something meaningful to tell you about them. Why didn’t I finish those particular books? Did they sound better than they turned out to be? Was my schedule too packed for reading at the time? What happened?

My goal for 2016 was to read 24 books and I read 29. Pretty good, considering the amount of unfinished books for the year (more than a dozen, I’m certain).

I had my first 1-star review during 2016 – and I do hope you didn’t read that book, it was terrible. Truly.

The best book I read in 2016 was The Martian by Andy Weir. Should a book about an astronaut left for dead and stranded all alone on a hostile planet be hilarious? Probably not. But it was! I wish I could say that I just laughed out loud while reading The Martian and leave it at that but that wouldn’t be at all accurate. I cackled, chortled, guffawed, and snort-laughed my way through that book. I made my three teenage sons read it and they loved it, too.

I have, of course, added another several dozen books to my To Read List. That’s always the way, isn’t it? Adding more books to the To Read List than I could ever finish in a lifetime…

It’s not just me, right?

My reading goal for 2017 is 24 books again. That number was achievable, but not too challenging.

Dog Sitters by Rozsa Gaston

My fist 1-star review!

While reading this book I literally had to remind myself of my rating scale which assigns a 1-star rating as a book so horrible that I wanted to “warn other unsuspecting readers away from it.” I even renewed my library loan so I could have this book on hand (with my highlights and notes about the particularly terrible parts) while I wrote my review.

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I love the idea of two strangers agreeing to split a dog-sitting favor for mutual friends and falling in love (this is a PG-rated romance) in the process! I love the idea of the dog in question being a schnoodle (schnauzer/poodle mix). I have a schnoodle! He’s adorable! Here’s a picture!

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And that’s it, that’s where the love for this book ended and the hate began.

Cliches. Bad writing. Shallow characters.

——

Cliches.

Both of the main characters have had bad luck in the department of love.

Annabel, Jack’s ex-girlfriend, is described in such a way that she reminded me of a combination of Jessica Rabbit (immodestly-dressed bombshell), Barbie (fashionable but stupid), and the wicked Queen from Snow White (self-absorbed & bent on revenge).

Tim, Hint’s ex-almost-fiance, is your garden variety commitment-phobic boyfriend. Prior to the novel’s start Tim accepted a promotion that required him to relocate to China. Of course he met someone else not long after he arrived thus spelling the end of his relationship with Hint (“Hint’ really is the name of the female main character. Really.)

Annabel makes two appearances in this novel while Tim is only mentioned in a flashback.

Brian, on the other hand, is the supervisor of Hint’s apartment complex, and he is, predictably, a creeper.

——

Bad writing.

I took the time to highlight a few bad passages for your wincing pleasure.

She wanted Jack’s history to have begun that morning, the moment she’d woken up in his arms.

He wanted to be a hero for her. He knew he wasn’t, but at least he could try as hard as possible until he blew it.

Perhaps she’d given his number to someone she didn’t want calling her, so he could field the calls.

That was it. She needed him to be her hero. Her champion.

He scanned the room. Hint was nowhere to be found. His blood began to boil. Had they already retired to the Englishman’s hotel room? Why was he being so ridiculously unreasonable?

——

Shallow characters.

The preponderance of cliches and bad writing lead unsurprisingly to shallow characters.

Jack is obsessed with comparing Hint to Annabel, his ex. Sometimes favorably, sometimes not. Jack doesn’t trust Hint because of his bad past relationship.

Hint is obsessed with Jack. No trust issues due to past relationship(s).

Brian, the supervisor of Hint’s apartment complex, is obsessed with Hint and turns up unannounced and creeps on her.

——

This book was a perfect storm of things I hate about awful books. Do yourself a favor and DO NOT READ THIS BOOK.

1 star. Barely. Maybe half of a star.

2016 Reading Challenge

I’ve set a goal of reading 24 books in 2016!

I added a few more books to my want-to-read list on Goodreads. I’m up to 628 books; I’ll have to live forever to be able to finish all the books on my To Read shelf! If I never add another book to my want-to-read list and if, like last year, I consistently read 14 books every year… that’s 44.9 years of books to read.

But who are we kidding? Of course I’ll add more books!

A few of the additions to my want-to-read list:

  1. All 7 books in Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman’s series The Death Gate Cycle. I read these when I was in high school and I LOVED them, but high school was so long ago I don’t really remember anything about these books other than I loved them.
  2. One Year After by William R. Forstchen, because I really, really liked One Second After.
  3. The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen. I borrowed this audiobook from my library but didn’t have a chance to finish it before it was due back again–I really enjoyed the first third or so of the book before it was due back at the library. And I hear that Emma Watson will star in the movie!
  4. A few clean romance novels Lord Fenton’s Folly, Hidden in the Heart (Kansas Connections #2), and Every Bride Needs a Groom.

2015 a recap & 2016 looking ahead

After dealing with some health issues, a brief period of unemployment, then all the stress of starting a new job, and various other family-related issues (including a death, a divorce, and my ex-husband moving back to town), things have finally settled down enough for me to begin posting again. *whew*

2015 was a tough year for me actually being able to finish a book. I think I started a new book every couple of weeks, but only finished a handful of them. That’s very unlike me–I generally read more books than I would ever have time to review!

I participate in the Goodreads reading challenge every year and this year I had set a goal to read 26 books. I’ve only read 14. Even if I finish the 3 books on my Currently Reading shelf, I still won’t meet my goal.

To put this into perspective for you, my 2014 reading goal was also 26 books and last year I read 40. My 2013 reading goal was 52 books and I read 54.

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For 2016, I’m very much looking forward to reading Clive Cussler’s newest addition to the Oregon Files series (my favorite out of all his series) The Emperor’s Revenge.

I’m looking forward to finally reading some books that have been on my to-read list for what feels like forever and re-reading some old favorites, too.

Was 2015 a good year for reading for you? Are you looking forward to reading in 2016?

The Kill Switch by James Rollins and Grant Blackwood

I read The Kill Switch by James Rollins and Grant Blackwood recently and I really, really enjoyed it. 4 stars!

I see that I haven’t written any reviews of James Rollins’ books before or Clive Cussler’s, which is a serious lapse on my part because these are two of my very favorite authors! I don’t believe I have read anything by Grant Blackwood, but if this book is any indication, my list of favorite authors has just increased by one.

The main character, Tucker Wayne, is a former Army Ranger. His partner, a military working dog named Kane, has a vocabulary of 1,000+ words and is exceptionally well-trained and it was fascinating for me to visualize this sort of partnership in action–I have two dogs myself, but they are family pets, not working dogs, so the training they have received is not nearly to the level of a working dog of any type, much less a military working dog.

Tucker Wayne and Kane work on a contract basis, taking jobs for a variety of clients around the world. Their current job is to help a Russian scientist secretly escape Russia and then escort him to the United States.

However, nothing is as it seems and knowing who to trust is the most difficult thing of all.

Midnight Sons Vol. 1: Brides for Brothers and The Marriage Risk by Debbie Macomber

I’ve really enjoyed a few of Debbie Macomber’s books recently, but not so much with Midnight Sons Vol. 1: Brides for Brothers and The Marriage Risk (this volume is two novels in one). The characters and their motivations are shallowly developed, which basically ruined both books for me.

I liked the concept in Brides for Brothers, the first novel in the Midnight Sons series. One of the three brothers who own Midnight Sons (an Alaskan charter-plane service) advertises in Seattle-area newspapers that the town is short on women and the ad lists a few available job openings–also included in the ad is an offer for 20 acres of land and a cabin in Alaska if the woman commits to staying in the town and at the job for 1 year. This could be the beginning of a really cute love story (or series of love stories!) but we never really get to know the characters, so it was hard for me to care about them and what happens to them.

2 stars.

***

The Marriage Risk is the second novel in the Midnight Sons series. Again, I really liked the concept, but this novel, too, feels a bit flat.

Also 2 stars.

Certainly don’t let my 2-star ratings put you off reading either or both of these novels. If you are looking for a sweet, quick-to-read, romance novel (or 2!), either one of these books are sure to please.