Choosing the “Newbie” category and not being good at following audiobooks, I took on the 2023 Audiobook Challenge around halfway through 2023 to read seven audiobooks before December 31st, 2023. This is the second book I have listened to.

Zoe Klein has written a debut novel that keeps the listeners attention, provides excitement in adventuresome scenes, and is lyrical in its word choices and phrasing. The novel introduces us to the main character, Page Brookstone, an archeologist/anthropologist , who meets a couple, Ibrahim and Naima Baraket, who beg her to excavate their living room to discover the source of ghosts/spirits who “haunt” their home. Risking damage to her professional reputation, Page visits the couple and has an “experience” she cannot name that causes her to take on the project amid taunts of being a ghost hunter and kook.

Although Page has doubts, soon an ancient cistern is dug out, the excavation expanded, and finally the discovery of a lifetime–two lovers buried in one casket arranged in an eternal embrace. Also in the coffin are scrolls attributed to the woman, titled “The Scrolls of Anatiya” full of exquisite poetry. The author begins each chapter with these imaginary chapter and verse quotations from Anatiya which bring delight to the reader. Even more exciting, the scrolls identify the male in the coffin as Jeremiah, the Hebrew prophet, the “Weeping Prophet.”

During the excavation, Page becomes involved in a forbidden romance, then is pursued by religious zealots who do not want the casket exhumed, professional cohorts who want to steal Page’s glory, and “relentless critics” who question the authenticity of the scrolls. All this turmoil puts Page’s “dig” and reputation in question, and she and her best friend go “on the run” with the scrolls to translate them and hide them from authorities who demand them. Danger and flying bullets and explosives follow them, leading to an exciting conclusion and a satisfying epilogue.

This novel has been compared to The Red Tent and The People of the Book because of its Hebrew origins. I have read both of those, and Drawing in the Dust far surpasses both of those novels. I highly recommend it to listen to/read for a literary experience.


THIS TENDER LAND by William Kent Krueger: A Review

William Kent Krueger is one of my favorite authors, and I respect him for his wonderful writing as well as his versatility. He has said that he always wanted to write his version of Huckleberry Finn, and in Tender Land, He has done just that.

a wonderful captivating novel

This novel is “the unforgettable story of four orphans who travel the Mississippi River on a life-changing odyssey during The Great Depression.” It begins in Minnesota in 1932. It is a fast-paced page-turner, a big hearted book that has an outstanding ending and a closure-providing epilogue.

Odie O’Bannon and his brother, Albert, are sent as the only white boys to the Lincoln Indian Training School when they are orphaned. Why and how this happened is a mystery revealed in the very last pages. Odie is of a “lively nature,” which often gets him in trouble and sent to solitary confinement, the “quiet room.” Albert is older than Odie and his opposite, logical, mechanically-gifted, and eager to please because he recognizes the benefits of doing so.

After an incident at the school and a catastrophic tornado, the brothers escape, pursued by school officials, police, and authorities.They take Mose, another boy from the school, a Native American , and little Emmy, the daughter of the school’s teacher who was the only person kind to the three boys. Emmy has been orphaned by the tornado.She is pursued by the vicious headmistress who hates the boys and wants to enslave Emmy. The four children escape in an old canoe with the contents of the school’s safe, not only some money but incriminating papers reflecting fraud and corruption.

Along their journey, the children meet struggling farmers, traveling faith-healers, and Hooverville residents. Close calls and capture are too many to count, and the novel is filled with adventure, melancholy, and suspense.

It is a darned good read!

One W Wednesday

Triple W Wednesdays is a meme where one tells WHAT you have finished, WHAT you are currently reading, and WHAT you will read next. I prefer to keep it simple, dealing only with one of the W’s, WHAT I have just finished.

I finished the following book I had checked out of my local library this past week.
An exciting YA read that builds suspense all the way to its excellent climax.

This 2021 publication was picked as a Pure Belpre Honor Book, and definitely earned that honor. Petra Pena, the twelve-year-old protagonist, only wanted one thing to become a Cuentista, a storyteller like her abuelita, her grandmother. As the narrative opens, Halley’s Comet is going to collide with earth. Petra, her mother, father and little brother, Javier, blast off on a spaceship headed for a new planet. The trip will take hundreds of years, so the family is put in a sleep-state, frozen until their arrival. The family keeps Petra’s bad eyesight a secret, and they are cleared to start the survival mission.

When “they,” an evil Corporation that has taken over the ship and trip, awaken Petra, her parents’ and brother’s sleeping pods are empty. The Corporation had intended to erase every sleeping person’s memories of earth from their minds, but with Petra, for some reason, it didn’t work. Petra fakes being brainwashed until she can solve the mystery of what became of her parents and brother. Secretly, she recounts stories of earth to her brainwashed roommates, and slowly their memories come back. They escape in a small spacepod/ship and land on the target planet. Higuera’s fast-paced, sci fi story has a very satisfying ending. It is a story of friendships, family loyalty, mystery , and adventure.I definitely would describe it as a darned good read.

Thanks, Evin.


The true story of the author’s great grandmother’s journey to a new country and a new life during the Mexican Revolution

Up front, let me say that the copy I read was provided by the author with absolutely no strings attached. The opinions voiced here are strictly my own.

Twelve-year-old Petra Luna was happy living with her abuela in a small town in Mexico. Although her mother had died, things were going right in her life–until her father was conscripted by Los Federales to fight in the Mexican Revolution. Petra had to grow up fast, becoming the sole provider for her grandmother, sister, and baby brother. Eventually the Federales came to her town, burning it to the ground, causing Petra and her little family to become refugees, walking through the burning desert and all the horrors that awaited them there.

When they reached a resting place, the met up with Pancho Villa’s soldiers, including a tough, dedicated female general who encouraged Petra to join the army of guerrillas and fight the Federales.

Petra is torn between family and freedom to be herself and become a strong, independent woman. The decision she makes, and the event that happens afterwards brings tragedy and suffering into her life. Dobbs’ action-packed, fast-paced ending had me breathing hard and my heart pumping rapidly as I read. It is a real page-turner with many twists and turns, which actually happened to Dobbs’ great-grandmother.

I highly recommend it for fans of historical adventure who want a darned good read. It will be published in September.


Ok, so I’m behind; waaayy behind: on schoolwork on reading blogs, on writing posts on my blogs, on housework–I’m behind. Usually on Saturday mornings I recommend a book especially for kids, often about kids. An eleven-year-old narrator tells the story of WWII U boats and war efforts near Carucao, “the largest of the Dutch islands just off the coast of Venezuela in Theodore Taylor’s The Cay.

Shown here are Timothy and Stew, the cook’s car with Phillip in the background

When I saw the cover of the book, I assumed “The Cay” referred to the huge Negro, giving him an ethnicity or tribal identity or something. Actually, the Cay is an island, surrounded by a volcano-created atoll and reef, hiding the little island on which Phillip and Timothy are washed ashore after a German submarine torpedoed the ship Phillip and his mother were on. Timothy was a worker on the big ship and has the strength of many men, despite his advancing age.

This is a story of survival, of friendship, and of changing attitudes and prejudices. It is an adventure story, but so much more. Taylor’s imagination for catastrophe will have you holding your breath only to help you release it in moments of warmth and life lessons learned .

This book is appropriate for all children eleven and up, but especially life-changing for middle school students. I highly recommend it.


Recently I read another “book about books,” Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine, book two of “The Great Library Series.” Originally written for young adults and in the “steampunk” tradition, the book appeals to young and older readers alike. It is an Alternate History, where the great library of Alexandria survived, instead of burning, and by the time of this novel, it is all-powerful and in complete control of all knowledge. Personal ownership of books is forbidden although people have access through tablet-like devices to the words and world of books. This situation makes black-market books, especially old ones, very big business.

The story opens as Jess, a young bookrunner, is being chased by Library Gardas and automatons across the busy marketplace. With the help of his twin brother, Brendan, who is described as “a schemer,” Jess escapes. Shortly afterward, the boys’ father sends Jess into “Library Service” to spy on its activities and to determine the location of ancient books, so Brendan can steal them to further the family’s illegal business. Jess’s training is rigorous, and he ends up making friends with other candidates who compete against him. Exciting book-related and library-related adventures ensue, and one turns the pages with anxiety and even dread at times. Action-fueled scenes bring the fatal “Greek Fire” of the alchemists, an encounter with an inklicker, and many encounters with bookburners The Library is seeking to prosecute.

Jess and his friends are well-drawn, and the author makes the reader care about what happens to each of them, even the ones who at the beginning are arrogant or worse. Characterization, a skill I seek in every book I read, is second only to the fast-paced, breath-holding pace of the action and plot. This is a fun read and promises much in the next book of “The Great Library Series.”


As soon as I finished the first book in the “Sunblind Series,” Running Out Of Space, by S.H. Higbee (of Brainfluff blog), I ordered the sequel, Dying for Space. I was so enamored of the main character, “Lizzie”, now matured through loss, revelation and responsibility into “Liz”, illegitimate  daughter of the overbearing General Norman that I couldn’t wait for more of her adventures and misadventures .

Dealing with lingering loss, duplicity, and betrayal, Liz gains a following and popularity that her love/hate-relationship father covets. Many twists and turns fascinate the reader who reads way beyond bedtime. As in the first book, lots of action and crisis moments occur. The book is a fast-paced, attention-keeping read that can be summed up as a “darned good read.” I believe the series is intended to be a trilogy, and am eagerly awaiting the third book centered on a character I have grown to admire and want to read more about.