Where I share my love of books with reviews, features, giveaways and memes. Family and needlepoint are thrown in from time to time.

Friday, April 9, 2021

Book Review: Suffer Little Children by Freda Hansburg


Title: Suffer Little Children

Author: Freda Hansburg

Genre: Thriller

About the book: Robin Perry’s life is finally on track with her dream job and a promising relationship with Ben Martin, even if his two spoiled children, Amber and Jaden, hate her. But things take a downhill turn when Ben’s acquaintance, Gloria Reyes, asks Robin to admit her young son to a cancer study meant for adults. Robin, heartbroken, must turn her down. But Gloria won’t take no for an answer and begins an insidious crusade to force the issue.

Amber Martin hates living with her crazy mother since her parents’ divorce, but she can hardly live with her dad, who’s too busy with “Miss Perfect” these days. When Amber runs into her mother’s friend Gloria, she’s glad to finally meet an adult who seems to be on her side. But as Amber becomes friends with Gloria’s sickly son, Alex, she begins to think Gloria is not as nice as she first thought, and Alex may be in trouble.

 As Gloria’s threatening behavior escalates, Robin must protect the children while finding a way to save her career and her relationship with Ben. But Gloria always manages to stay one step ahead. When a secret comes to light, Robin discovers the stakes are even higher than she imagined. 

My thoughts: I really enjoyed this story, as thrillers are probably my favorite genre to read.  The story went back and forth with different perspectives, mainly Robin's and Amber's.  When I first started reading Amber's chapters, I wasn't sure that it sounded like the thoughts of a child, but as I continued to learn more about what she had been through in her life - and how much her mother influenced her thoughts - then it started to make more sense. 

All of these characters are caught up in the lies that Gloria tells - this lady doesn't seem to know how to tell the truth!  Her lies wreak havoc in Robin's life both professionally and personally - both areas that Robin has already had struggles in, so it feels as if her life is spiraling out of control.  

If you like thrillers, you should check this one out. 

Thursday, April 1, 2021

March Reads!

I had a great reading month in March with 17 books! The beginning of the month seems so long ago it is hard to remember those first books! My favorites were probably The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah, The Searcher by Tana French, The Last Secret You'll Ever Keep by Laurie Faria Stolarz and I am not hugely into graphic novels but highly recommend The Dark Matter of Mona Starr by Laura Lee Gulledge.   Of course with all that reading I didn't actually review any of them yet (oops) so I am going to be busy over the weekend trying to get them all caught up!  Happy Easter!

Monday, March 15, 2021

Cover Reveal - A Hero Next Door


Cover Reveal

Releasing April 1st

A Hero Next Door is a heart stopping charity romance anthology.

All the profit we be donated to the NHS Charites Together and the All Clear Foundation. Both helping support our front line workers and their families.

Hero's come in all shapes and sizes and not all of them wear a sexy uniform. Grab this amazing anthology to find your dream hero next door.  

Pre-Order today

Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.
Where there’s a siren, there’s an officer.
Where there’s an emergency, there’s a hero.

If you have a cat in the tree, an accident that could cost you your life, or a wound you think will never heal, there’s a hero in here for you.

Love, lust, and longing spread when emotions run high and tension is about to crack.

Grab yourself this collection of tales about the hero next door, and fall in love with a sense of security only our (wo)men can give you.  

Sunday, February 28, 2021

February 2021 Reads!

 My favorites this month were The Pearl that Broke It's Shell by Nadia Hashimi, You Have a Match by Emma Lord and More than Just a Pretty Face by Syed M. Masood.

Book Review: More than Just a Pretty Face by Syed M. Masood

Title: More than Just a Pretty Face

Author: Syed M. Masood

Genre: YA, Romance, Contemporary

About the book: Danyal Jilani doesn't lack confidence. He may not be the smartest guy in the room, but he's funny, gorgeous, and going to make a great chef one day. His father doesn't approve of his career choice, but that hardly matters. What does matter is the opinion of Danyal's longtime crush, the perfect-in-all-ways Kaval, and her family, who consider him a less than ideal arranged marriage prospect.

When Danyal gets selected for Renaissance Man--a school-wide academic championship--it's the perfect opportunity to show everyone he's smarter than they think. He recruits the brilliant, totally-uninterested-in-him Bisma to help with the competition, but the more time Danyal spends with her...the more he learns from her...the more he cooks for her...the more he realizes that happiness may be staring him right in his pretty face. (from Goodreads)

My thoughts: I thoroughly enjoyed this rom-com and loved that it was told from the male pov for a change. It was a nice change to read from the perspective of a genuinely kind and caring young man, even if everyone around him thought he was not academically bright.  He stuck to his love of cooking even when others could not see the value in it - and it was this love that helped him to discover that there was more to him than just cooking.  I look forward to reading more from this author!

Book Review: The Pearl That Broke It's Shell by Nadia Hashimi

 Title: The Pearl that Broke It's Shell

Author: Nadia Hashimi

Genre: Historical Fiction

About the Book: In Kabul, 2007, with a drug-addicted father and no brothers, Rahima and her sisters can only sporadically attend school, and can rarely leave the house. Their only hope lies in the ancient custom of bacha posh, which allows young Rahima to dress and be treated as a boy until she is of marriageable age. As a son, she can attend school, go to the market, and chaperone her older sisters.

But Rahima is not the first in her family to adopt this unusual custom. A century earlier, her great-aunt, Shekiba, left orphaned by an epidemic, saved herself and built a new life the same way.

Crisscrossing in time, The Pearl the Broke Its Shell interweaves the tales of these two women separated by a century who share similar destinies. But what will happen once Rahima is of marriageable age? Will Shekiba always live as a man? And if Rahima cannot adapt to life as a bride, how will she survive? (from Goodreads)

My thoughts: I am not sure whose story I liked better, Rahima's or Shekiba's.  After they grew up and married, the stories were so similar it was hard to believe there was a century in between them.  Things had changed so little for women in Afghanistan during that span of time, depending on where you were born and raised. This book taught me alot about women in Afghanistan, how they are treated and what they do to survive. Rahimi and Shekibi were both very strong to survive the things they did and once I was finished with the book, the title was very fitting.  This was one of my five star reads for the month. 

Book Review: Wayward by Blake Crouch

Title: Wayward

Series: Wayward Pines #2

Author: Blake Crouch

Genre: Science Fiction, Thriller

About the Book: Welcome to Wayward Pines, population 461. Nestled amidst picture-perfect mountains, the idyllic town is a modern-day Eden...except for the electrified fence and razor wire, snipers scoping everything 24/7, and the relentless surveillance tracking each word and gesture.
None of the residents know how they got here. They are told where to work, how to live, and who to marry. Some believe they are dead. Others think they’re trapped in an unfathomable experiment. Everyone secretly dreams of leaving, but those who dare face a terrifying surprise.

Ethan Burke has seen the world beyond. He’s sheriff, and one of the few who knows the truth—Wayward Pines isn’t just a town. And what lies on the other side of the fence is a nightmare beyond anyone’s imagining.
 (from Goodreads)

My thoughts: I loved this book - even better than the first.  I am really happy that I started this series.  My husband and I are watching it on Hulu and even though it is different from the book, I am enjoying it as well.  Wayward Pines is built on an interesting premise and is a new take on a dystopian book.  I don't want to tell you much about the town, because if you haven't read book 1 you must go back and read it now.  I would highly recommend this series if you like science fiction or thrillers!  

Book Review: To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han

Title: To All the Boys I've Loved Before

Series: To All the Boys I've Loved Before #1

Author: Jenny Han

Genre: YA, Romance

About the Book: Lara Jean keeps her love letters in a hatbox her mother gave her. 

They aren’t love letters that anyone else wrote for her; these are ones she’s written. One for every boy she’s ever loved—five in all. When she writes, she can pour out her heart and soul and say all the things she would never say in real life, because her letters are for her eyes only. Until the day her secret letters are mailed, and suddenly Lara Jean’s love life goes from imaginary to out of control. (from Goodreads)

My thoughts: This was a fun YA romance to read.  I had seen the movie, but it has been a while so I can't make any comparisons at this point.  It was definitely a rom-com book and I loved the way that Lara Jean's friendship with Peter developed. I liked it because it was easy to read and quick-paced.  I plan on reading the rest of the series and will be picking up the next book from the library tomorrow (because they are finally reopening!  Yay!).  If you are in the mood for a fun romance, pick this one up. 

Book Review: You Have a Match by Emma Lord


Title: You Have a Match

Author: Emma Lord

Genre: YA, Contemporary

About the book: When Abby signs up for a DNA service, it’s mainly to give her friend and secret love interest, Leo, a nudge. After all, she knows who she is already: Avid photographer. Injury-prone tree climber. Best friend to Leo and Connie…although ever since the B.E.I. (Big Embarrassing Incident) with Leo, things have been awkward on that front.

But she didn’t know she’s a younger sister.

When the DNA service reveals Abby has a secret sister, shimmery-haired Instagram star Savannah Tully, it’s hard to believe they’re from the same planet, never mind the same parents — especially considering Savannah, queen of green smoothies, is only a year and a half older than Abby herself.

The logical course of action? Meet up at summer camp (obviously) and figure out why Abby’s parents gave Savvy up for adoption. But there are complications: Savvy is a rigid rule-follower and total narc. Leo is the camp’s co-chef, putting Abby's growing feelings for him on blast. And her parents have a secret that threatens to unravel everything.

But part of life is showing up, leaning in, and learning to fit all your awkward pieces together. Because sometimes, the hardest things can also be the best ones.
 (from Goodreads)

My thoughts: I really enjoyed this young adult book.  It wasn't the syrupy everything is fine sibling story or love story.  The girls, Abby and Savannah, had problems, they ran into obstacles, they had separate lives, but discovered they also had things in common (besides parents).  Trying to wade through their respective issues with their love lives and figure out why Savannah was given up for adoption to friends, who are no longer friends, made for an entertaining twist to a contemporary YA book.  Learning to trust and believe in yourself also played a part.  I would recommend this book to young adults dealing with trying to figure out who they are and how they fit in this world. 

Saturday, February 27, 2021

Book Review: The Paris Wife by Paula McLain


Title: The Paris Wife

Author: Paula McLain

Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance

About the Book: Chicago, 1920: Hadley Richardson is a quiet twenty-eight-year-old who has all but given up on love and happiness—until she meets Ernest Hemingway and her life changes forever. Following a whirlwind courtship and wedding, the pair set sail for Paris, where they become the golden couple in a lively and volatile group—the fabled “Lost Generation”—that includes Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, and F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald.

Though deeply in love, the Hemingways are ill-prepared for the hard-drinking and fast-living life of Jazz Age Paris, which hardly values traditional notions of family and monogamy. Surrounded by beautiful women and competing egos, Ernest struggles to find the voice that will earn him a place in history, pouring all the richness and intensity of his life with Hadley and their circle of friends into the novel that will become The Sun Also Rises. Hadley, meanwhile, strives to hold on to her sense of self as the demands of life with Ernest grow costly and her roles as wife, friend, and muse become more challenging. Despite their extraordinary bond, they eventually find themselves facing the ultimate crisis of their marriage—a deception that will lead to the unraveling of everything they’ve fought so hard for.

A heartbreaking portrayal of love and torn loyalty, The Paris Wife is all the more poignant because we know that, in the end, Hemingway wrote that he would rather have died than fallen in love with anyone but Hadley.
 (from Goodreads)

My thoughts: I did like this book but somewhere in the middle it started to become really long for me.  I thought the author did a good job of describing the relationship between Hadley and Ernest and especially their introduction to life in Paris. The whole lifestyle and the traveling that they did was incredible and I couldn't imagine living like that.  Hadley had a really hard time fitting in, as she was more content with family than the fast life that Ernest seemed to be drawn too.  Had this been a different environment or a different time, maybe her and Ernest would have been able to survive it - however, we may not have gotten some of the Hemingway books that are around today. 

Book Review: Make Up Break Up by Lily Menon

Title: Make Up Break Up

Author: Lily Menon

Genre: Romance, Contemporary

About the Book: Love, romance, second chances, fairy-tale endings…these are the things Annika Dev believes in. Her app, Make Up, has been called the “Google Translate for failing relationships.”

High efficiency break-ups, flashy start-ups, penthouses, fast cars…these are the things Hudson Craft believes in. His app, Break Up, is known as the “Uber for break-ups.” It’s wildly successful—and anathema to Annika’s life philosophy.

Which wouldn’t be a problem if they’d gone their separate ways after that summer fling in Las Vegas, never to see each other again. Unfortunately for Annika, Hudson’s moving not just into her office building, but into the office right next to hers. And he’ll be competing at the prestigious EPIC investment pitch contest: A contest Annika needs to win if she wants to keep Make Up afloat. As if it’s not bad enough seeing his irritatingly perfect face on magazine covers when her own business is failing. As if knowing he stole her idea and twisted it into something vile—and monumentally more successful—didn’t already make her stomach churn.

As the two rival app developers clash again and again—and again—Annika finds herself drawn into Hudson Craft’s fast-paced, high velocity, utterly shallow world. Only, from up close, he doesn’t seem all that shallow. Could it be that everything she thought about Hudson is completely wrong? Could the creator of Break Up teach her what true love’s really about? (from Goodreads)

My Thoughts: This book was really just okay for me.  I don't know whether Annika was just naive when it came to Hudson's motives or if she was just really self-centered, or maybe it was a deep down insecurity about herself, but for me it got old kind of fast.  They never really say why after their fling in Las Vegas that they went their separate ways, so I never really understood why Annika hadn't kept in touch with Hudson.  It was fun to read as it is February and I feel I should read romances in February, but there were not really a lot of surprises in the story. 

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Net Galley in exchange for my honest review. 

Book Review: Again Again by E. Lockhart


Title: Again Again

Author: E. Lockhart

Genre: YA, Contemporary

About the book: If you could live your life again, what would you do differently?

After a near-fatal family catastrophe and an unexpected romantic upheaval, Adelaide Buchwald finds herself catapulted into a summer of wild possibility, during which she will fall in and out of love a thousand times--while finally confronting the secrets she keeps, her ideas about love, and the weird grandiosity of the human mind.

A raw, funny story that will surprise you over and over, Again Again gives us an indelible heroine grappling with the terrible and wonderful problem of loving other people.

My thoughts: I requested this book from Net Galley as I really enjoyed We Were Liars, but this book was nothing like that.  It was sort of a multiple universe story as Adelaide's story was told in different scenarios depending on what/how she or someone else reacted in different situations.  It was hard to read in the beginning, but once you grasped the format it became much easier.  It sort of reminded me of myself as a teenager, when I would replay a scene in my head by how I wished it had gone. . .   

The important part of the story was Adelaide's relationship with her brother, and this almost gets lost in this format.  I wish that there had been more attention paid to that storyline and not so much on Adelaide's love life - or lack of one.  Overall, it wasn't bad and introduced me to a new format of storytelling. 

Book Review: The Painted Veil by W. Somerset Maugham


Title: The Painted Veil

Author: W. Somerset Maugham

Genre: Classic, Historical Fiction

About the Book: Set in England and Hong Kong in the 1920s, The Painted Veil is the story of the beautiful, but love-starved Kitty Fane. 

 When her husband discovers her adulterous affair, he forces her to accompany him to the heart of a cholera epidemic. Stripped of the British society of her youth and the small but effective society she fought so hard to attain in Hong Kong, she is compelled by her awakening conscience to reassess her life and learn how to love. (from Goodreads)

My thoughts: Had I not listened to this book on audio, I am not sure that I would have finished it.  I am really glad that I did though as it was not what I expected.  The description above says that Kitty was love-starved, but I believe that her husband loved her very much before the affair.  She just did not love him but had married him so as not to become an old maid.  She had been too choosy when she was younger and all of her friends were married and suddenly she felt left behind.  Though her husband forced her to accompany him into the cholera epidemic, it is here that she learns to love herself, if not him.  I liked the way that the book just sort of stripped away everything that she knew and forced her to reevaluate those choices that she had made.  It was really rather heartbreaking in the end. 

Book Review: Bringing Down the Duke by Evie Dunmore


Title: Bringing Down the Duke 

Series: A League of Extraordinary Women #1

Author: Evie Dunmore

Genre: Romance, Historical Fiction

About the book: England, 1879. Annabelle Archer, the brilliant but destitute daughter of a country vicar, has earned herself a place among the first cohort of female students at the renowned University of Oxford. In return for her scholarship, she must support the rising women's suffrage movement. Her charge: recruit men of influence to champion their cause. Her target: Sebastian Devereux, the cold and calculating Duke of Montgomery who steers Britain's politics at the Queen's command. Her challenge: not to give in to the powerful attraction she can't deny for the man who opposes everything she stands for.

    Sebastian is appalled to find a suffragist squad has infiltrated his ducal home, but the real threat is his impossible feelings for green-eyed beauty Annabelle. He is looking for a wife of equal standing to secure the legacy he has worked so hard to rebuild, not an outspoken commoner who could never be his duchess. But he wouldn't be the greatest strategist of the Kingdom if he couldn't claim this alluring bluestocking without the promise of a ring...or could he?

    Locked in a battle with rising passion and a will matching her own, Annabelle will learn just what it takes to topple a duke.... (from Goodreads)

My thoughts: This was a fun and light read and just what I needed for February.  I am not a big romance reader when it comes to Dukes and Duchesses and 19th century England, but I did enjoy this one.  Annabelle knew the world she had been born into and tried hard to stay in her place.  Her intelligence and quick-wit didn't always allow her to keep her mouth closed when she should and rather than infuriating Sebastian he found himself intrigued by her.  While I won't run out to find the second book in the series, I can see myself picking it up when the mood strikes.  

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Book Review: Dancing on Broken Glass by Ka Hancock


Title: Dancing on Broken Glass

Author: Ka Hancock

Genre: Romance

About the book: Lucy Houston and Mickey Chandler probably shouldn’t have fallen in love, let alone gotten married. They’re both plagued with faulty genes—he has bipolar disorder, and she has a ravaging family history of breast cancer. But when their paths cross on the night of Lucy’s twenty-first birthday, sparks fly, and there’s no denying their chemistry. 

Cautious every step of the way, they are determined to make their relationship work—and they put it all in writing.  Mickey promises to take his medication. Lucy promises not to blame him for what is beyond his control. He promises honesty. She promises patience. Like any marriage, they have good days and bad days—and some very bad days. In dealing with their unique challenges, they make the heartbreaking decision not to have children. But when Lucy shows up for a routine physical just shy of their eleventh anniversary, she gets an impossible surprise that changes everything. Everything. Suddenly, all their rules are thrown out the window, and the two of them must redefine what love really is. (From the book cover)

My Thoughts: What better than a romance book for the month of February?  This was much more than just a romance book though.  Lucy and Mickey have a very special relationship.  With his history of bipolar disorder and her family's breast cancer, it would seem like they have the odds stacked against them, but somehow they become a family.  Lucy provides Mickey with a solid place to strive towards when his bipolar wants to take control and Mickey loves Lucy like she has never been loved before. The story is told back and forth from both Mickey's and Lucy's POV.  The chapters start with journal entries that Mickey has written and then it evolves into Lucy's story.   It is a very good way to see where Mickey is at and how Lucy is reacting/handling his disorder. I liked this book very much and give it five stars.  Be sure to have kleenexes ready!

Book Review: The Enlightenment of Bees by Rachel Linden


Title: The Enlightenment of Bees

Author: Rachel Linden

Genre: Women's Fiction/Chick Lit

About the book: At 26, idealistic baker Mia West has her entire life planned out: a Craftsman cottage in Seattle, baking at The Butter Emporium, and the love of her life, her boyfriend Ethan, by her side.  But when Ethan breaks up with her instead of proposing on their sixth dating anniversary (with the Tiffany blue box in his pocket), Mia’s carefully planned future crumbles.

Adrift and devastated, she determines to find new meaning in her life by helping those in need. Guided by recurring dreams about honeybees that seem to be leading her toward this new path in life, Mia joins her vivacious housemate Rosie on an around-the-world humanitarian trip funded by the reclusive billionaire, Lars Lindstrom. Along with a famous grunge rock star, an Ethiopian immigrant, and an unsettlingly attractive Hawaiian urban farmer named Kai, Mia and Rosie embark on the trip of a lifetime. From the slums of Mumbai to a Hungarian border camp during the refugee crisis, Mia’s eyes are opened and her idealistic vision is challenged as she experiences the euphoria, disillusionment, and heartbreaking reality of humanitarian work abroad.

As Mia grapples with how to make a difference in an overwhelmingly difficult world, circumstances force her to choose between the life she thought she wanted and the unexpected life she has built.

My Thoughts: I did like this book, but it was not one that I could get lost in.  It felt like I was forcing myself to read it, and seemed to take longer than it should.  I liked Mia, and I don't think she gave herself enough credit in the beginning.  She did learn to stand on her own after Ethan breaks up with her, and I get it - after six years together you expect engagement and marriage to follow - so when that doesn't happen she is left not knowing which way to turn.  I didn't expect to learn so much about what the refugees went through in the Hungarian border camp, and while I realize it just touched on their issues, it was probably a realistic look at what a first-time volunteer would see and feel. It was nice to have the focus on something other than a relationship in a "chick-lit" book - though there were relationships as well.  It just didn't feel like they were the focus.  

Book Review: Pines by Blake Crouch


Title: Pines (Wayward Pines #1)

Author: Blake Crouch

Genre: Science Fiction/Thriller

About the book: Wayward Pines, Idaho, is quintessential small-town America--or so it seems. Secret Service agent Ethan Burke arrives in search of two missing federal agents, yet soon is facing much more than he bargained for. After a violent accident lands him in the hospital, Ethan comes to with no ID and no cell phone. The medical staff seems friendly enough but sometimes feels...off. As days pass, Ethan's investigation into his colleagues' disappearance turns up more questions than answers

Why can't he make contact with his family in the outside world? Why doesn't anyone believe he is who he says he is? And what's the purpose of the electrified fences encircling the town?  Are they keeping the residents in? Or something else out?

Each step toward the truth takes Ethan further from the world he knows until he must face a horrifying fact—he may never get out of Wayward Pines alive.....
 (from Goodreads)

My thoughts: While the premise of this book was right up my alley, I will admit that when I started it, I really didn't like it. The writing seemed a little disjointed and I felt like there was something missing.  However, I still liked the storyline so I kept reading.  I ended up finishing it really quickly and after reading the Afterword by the author at the end of the book it began to gel for me.  The author stated that one of his inspirations for this series was Twin Peaks.  And I thought - yes - the way it was written did give me a little bit of a Twin Peaks vibe.  That was the disjointedness - that on the surface everything seemed perfect - just don't look beneath the surface.  I then saw that this was a series on Hulu called Wayward Pines and my husband and I are now three episodes in.  I have also started the second book and am enjoying it more than the first.

Sunday, January 31, 2021

January Wrap-up!

 I had a great reading month and finished 12 books this month!  It has been a long time since I have read that much in a month.  Hopefully this will develop into a good habit!

Book Review: The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah


Title: The Great Alone

Author: Kristin Hannah

Genre: Historical Fiction

About the book: Ernt Allbright, a former POW, comes home from the Vietnam war a changed and volatile man. When he loses yet another job, he makes an impulsive decision: he will move his family north, to Alaska, where they will live off the grid in America’s last true frontier.

Thirteen-year-old Leni, a girl coming of age in a tumultuous time, caught in the riptide of her parents’ passionate, stormy relationship, dares to hope that a new land will lead to a better future for her family. She is desperate for a place to belong. Her mother, Cora, will do anything and go anywhere for the man she loves, even if it means following him into the unknown. 

At first, Alaska seems to be the answer to their prayers. In a wild, remote corner of the state, they find a fiercely independent community of strong men and even stronger women. The long, sunlit days and the generosity of the locals make up for the Allbrights’ lack of preparation and dwindling resources.

But as winter approaches and darkness descends on Alaska, Ernt’s fragile mental state deteriorates and the family begins to fracture. Soon the perils outside pale in comparison to threats from within. In their small cabin, covered in snow, blanketed in eighteen hours of night, Leni and her mother learn the terrible truth: they are on their own. In the wild, there is no one to save them but themselves.

In this unforgettable portrait of human frailty and resilience, Kristin Hannah reveals the indomitable character of the modern American pioneer and the spirit of a vanishing Alaska―a place of incomparable beauty and danger. The Great Alone is a daring, beautiful, stay-up-all-night story about love and loss, the fight for survival, and the wildness that lives in both man and nature. (From Goodreads)

My Thoughts: I really liked this book.  I will admit that it is my first Kristin Hannah book, though she has been on my radar for years. I listened to this book on audio and as it was going to "disappear" at midnight from Libby (someone else has it on hold) I sped up the narration so I could finish it!  This isn't something that I would normally do, but I had to see how it ended!   I believe that I will most likely re-read this in the future so I can really enjoy the story and the setting more fully.  I liked all the characters in the book, both the good and the bad, and enjoyed all the strong women that survived up in Alaska. The way the community came together as a family to support newcomers is something you don't always see, especially today.  I can't wait to read another book by Kristin Hannah in the future!

Book Review: The Highway by C.J. Box


Title: The Highway (The Highway Quartet #2)

Author: C.J. Box

Genre: Mystery/Crime

About the book: When two sisters set out across a remote stretch of Montana road to visit their friend, little do they know it will be the last time anyone might ever hear from them again. The girls—and their car—simply vanish. Former police investigator Cody Hoyt has just lost his job and has fallen off the wagon after a long stretch of sobriety. Convinced by his son and his former rookie partner, Cassie Dewell, he begins the drive south to the girls' last known location. As Cody makes his way to the lonely stretch of Montana highway where they went missing, Cassie discovers that Gracie and Danielle Sullivan aren't the first girls who have disappeared in this area. This majestic landscape is the hunting ground for a killer whose viciousness is outmatched only by his intelligence. And he might not be working alone. Time is running out for Gracie and Danielle… Can Cassie overcome her doubts and lack of experience and use her innate skill? Can Cody Hoyt battle his own demons and find this killer before another victim vanishes on the highway? (From Goodreads)

My thoughts:  We are currently watching The Big Sky on ABC which is based on this book - and may I say loosely based on this book.  At this point, I am not sure which one I liked better.  The book covered just a couple of days and we are in Season 2 of the series.  The story has a female protagonist, Cassie, who is a Deputy in Helena.  In the beginning of the story she is just learning the job and has been taken advantage of by the Sheriff to do some of his dirty work.  She finds her strength throughout the story and learns to trust her gut.  I hope to see more of her in the next book in the series.  There are some slimy characters in the book and I think we may see more of them as well.  I did enjoy the story and it moved at a good pace that kept me reading past my bedtime a few nights.  

Book Review: The Magnificent Ambersons by Booth Tarkington


Title: The Magnificent Ambersons

Author: Booth Tarkington

Genre: Classic, Historical Fiction

About the book: Winner of the Pulitzer Prize when it was first published in 1918, The Magnificent Ambersons chronicles the changing fortunes of three generations of an American dynasty. The protagonist of Booth Tarkington's great historical drama is George Amberson Minafer, the spoiled and arrogant grandson of the founder of the family's magnificence. Eclipsed by a new breed of developers, financiers, and manufacturers, this pampered scion begins his gradual descent from the midwestern aristocracy to the working class. (From Goodreads)

My thoughts: This book was hard for me to get into at first.  It is always hard with the classics as they are written at a different time and you have to be able to immerse yourself in the writing.  After a while though I had a black and white film running in my head to accompany the dialogue.  This makes me wonder whether I had seen the movie adaption at some point and don't remember it.  I digress - I did like the book and think the lessons are relevant with each generation since it was written until now - which is sort of stated towards the end of the book - how each generation is replaced and the old is forgotten by the new.  I did check the movie out from the library and hope to watch it sometime this week.

Saturday, January 30, 2021

2021 Backpacking Bookworm Reading Challenge (#bbReadingChallenge2021)


And yet another book challenge that I read a book for - and yet forgot to post the challenge!   This one is hosted by the Backpacking Bookworm.  As you can see from above - there are different categories for each month.  While the backpacking bookworm looks like they are going to read a whole bunch of books each month based on the category - I am just going to try to do one.

January - Character with a disability - All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

February - Set in Afghanistan - The Pearl That Broke It's Shell by Nadia Hashimi

March - Celebrates Diversity

April - Teaches you Something New

May - Personified Animal

June - Epistolary or diary format

July - Indigenous Author/characters

August - Children's classic

September - Historical fiction based on true events

October - Nordic Noir

November - Learn about a new culture

December - Character on a journey

Book Review: All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr


Title: All the Light We Cannot See

Author: Anthony Doerr

Genre: Historical Fiction

This was a poignant story that was beautifully written, set in and around WWII.  When I first started reading it I was just flying through the pages.  Somehow I knew that this little German boy, Werner, and this blind French girl, Marie-Laure were going to cross paths, but I didn't know how or when. 

The reading went really fast in the beginning, and then it started to get loonnng - maybe because I wanted to see how it was all going to work out.  

The story was told back and forth from the perspective of each character and also jumped back and forth in time - alternating from when they were children, the beginning of the war, and the end of the war.  It depicts how the choices that we make, and how we should be true to what we believe, can alter our own future, as well as that of others.  And that it is never too late to do the right thing.  While the ending was realistic, it was not how I wanted it to end, but satisfying none the less. 

Book Review: Mayhem by Estelle Laure


Title: Mayhem

Author: Estelle Laure

Genre: YA, Magical Realism

This book is set in Santa Maria, California, a beach town, in 1987.  This is the year I was married (the first time) and actually lived in San Diego, so I could picture a beach town in the 80's very easily.  It reminded me of the warm nights spent at the beach and the sense of safety that was around back in the 80's.  

In the town of Santa Maria, however, this sense of safety is a ruse.  There is someone stealing girls off the beach at night, yet the police don't seem too concerned about it.  This is the spot that Mayhem Brayburn and her mother Roxy run to when the abuse from her stepfather finally deflects from Roxy onto Mayhem.  It is Roxy's hometown and the first place where Mayhem feels like she might belong.  

See - Mayhem (what a cool - yet psycho name!) comes from a line of women who have a history of magic tied to a secret cave off the beach.  Water from the cave gives the Brayburn's a unique ability to be able to see through people's facade to what they are really like - either good or evil.  If you are not a Brayburn and you drink the water, you will receive this ability - but it will destroy you in the long run. It isn't long before Mayhem is introduced to this water and begins to learn the history of her family through diaries and letters from her great grandmother, grandmother, aunt and Roxy. 

This was a quick read for me as I was immediately drawn into the story.  I enjoyed the back and forth between the letters from the past and what was happening to Mayhem in the present.  I could see this possible becoming a series, though it did have a satisfactory ending as is.

Thank you to Net Galley for the prepub. 

Book Review: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald


Title: The Great Gatsby

Author: F. Scott Fitzgerald

Genre: Classic, Historical Fiction

I can finally say that I have read The Great Gatsby.  As it seems like everyone I know had to read this in school, not sure why I hadn't.  Not sure what I can say about it that hasn't already been said, argued, theorized, etc.  I found it to be tragic and sad.  To me, it was the story of innocence (Nick) who quickly began to see how jaded the world really was.  That happiness was only on the surface and once you got under the parties and the lights, real life was not all that pretty, or fair, and choices were sometimes made for you. 

I ended up getting the movie after I read the book and can say that had I not read the book I probably wouldn't have sat through the entire movie.  

It wasn't one of my favorite classics, but I am glad that I have now read it (finally!). 

Friday, January 22, 2021

Book Review: Fade into the Bright


Title: Fade into the Bright

Authors: Jessica Koosed Etting, Alyssa Embree Schwartz

Genre: YA, Realistic Fiction

Abby and her older sister Brooke have been raised by their mother since Abby was five.  One day their dad was there, and the next he was gone - with no explanation as to where or why.  So when the sisters receive a letter from their dad before Christmas Abby's senior year in high school, it is both a surprise and a shock.

In the letter, he tells his daughters that he has been diagnosed with Huntington's Disease, for which there is no cure, and that they have a 50% chance of having the gene.  This is Abby's story as she finds out her test result and deals with what her future might look like.  

While this wasn't a "feel good" story, it was one that made you think about the choices that you make, why you make them, and how your future might look because of them.  Abby escapes to Catalina Island to the home of an aunt she hasn't seen since her dad left them.  She stumbles into a job at a beach and becomes friends with her coworkers.  Her aunt has told her she would give her space to deal with things, but Abby tends to just ignore everything and not make any decisions at all until it is almost too late. 

Monday, January 18, 2021

2021 Pop Sugar Reading Challenge


Ugh, another challenge that I had in my challenge log that I didn't do a blog post on - presenting the Pop Sugar Reading Challenge.

This challenge has a list of reading prompts that bring diversity and push me out of my comfort zone.  You can get a printable list and also join their Facebook and Goodreads pages.

2021 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge


  • The longest book (by pages) on your TBR list
  • The shortest book (by pages) on your TBR list
  • The book on your TBR list with the prettiest cover
  • The book on your TBR list with the ugliest cover
  • The book that's been on your TBR list for the longest amount of time
  • A book from your TBR list you meant to read last year but didn't
  • A book from your TBR list you associate with a favorite person, place, or thing
  • A book from your TBR list chosen at random
  • A DNF book from your TBR list
  • A free book from your TBR list (gifted, borrowed, library)

Book Review: It's the End of the World as I Know It by Matthew Landis

 Title: It's the End of the World as I Know It

Author: Matthew Landis

Genre: Middle Grade, Realistic Fiction

Derrick, or Dee, as his friends and family call him, has just started 8th grade and is sure the Apocalypse will happen before the end of the month.  So sure that he has built and stocked his own shelter. This obsession with the end of the world has come about after his mom dies on active duty.  It consumes most of his thoughts during the day and affects his relationships with his friends.  

His neighbor, Misty, is recovering from a kidney transplant and is looking at life as a new adventure every day.  Together they take on the last steps to complete the shelter before the date that Dee is sure the world is ending.  

Even though this book is dealing with a heavy subject, the author seasons it with a dose of humor.  It also is the story of friends sticking together when they know one of them is going through a bad period and not giving up on him.

Book Review: We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

 Title: We Were Liars

Author: E. Lockhart

Genre: YA, Realistic Fiction

For some reason, the more I like a book, the harder it is for me to write a review for it.  I am not sure whether it is because I am afraid I will say too much and give something away - or if I feel I won't be able to give it justice.  This is one of those books. 

I know that we just started 2021, but I think this will go on the best books I read in 2021 list.  

The setting of this book is a private island off the coast of Massachusetts.  There are four houses on the island - the grandparents, and one for each of their daughters' families.  The families all come every summer and bring with them all the familial drama.  

The three oldest grandchildren and a family friend comprise the "liars".  I didn't get a clear picture as to why they were called that by the adults, but it kind of plays into the storyline.  The story really centers around the oldest granddaughter, Cady, and an event that happened on the island the summer she was 15, which has left her with amnesia.  We learn about that summer through her relationships with the other liars on the island a couple of years later.  

For me this book was heart-breaking and I wish that I could have the experience of going back and reading it again for the first time.


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