What I Read in October (2018)

Books Read in October: 21

Books Read for the Year: 153/150

Topical Books/Monthly Goal Books:

Song of the Lark, by Willa Cather (classic). I totally enjoyed this book, as well as the other two in the group.

A Long Walk to Water, by Linda Sue Park (cultural book). This novel, based on a true story about a survivor of the war in Sudan, was sad yet inspiring. Very quick read.

Year One, by Nora Roberts (TBR). Nora Roberts is one of the few “romance” authors I’ll read, mainly beause most of her books have a strong fantasy element. This isn’t a romance but a dystopian, and I enjoyed it.

Revelation, by Priscilla Shirer (spiritual). Wow. That’s all I can say.

For Review

trouble brewing

Trouble Brewing, by Suzanne Baltsar.  I enjoyed this romance about a woman trying to break into the craft beer scene. Very colorful characters, and the secondary characters were great, too.

seasonofwonder

Season of Wonder, by RaeAnne Thayne.  Sweet, simple romance about a woman with a troubled past who moves to a small town and finds herself attracted to a deputy sheriff.

words we don't say

Words We Don’t Say, by K.J. Reilly. Joel Higgins has almost a thousand unsent text messages on his phone. It’s just easier than actually communicating with people. His best friend is gone. He failed the SATs. And Eli has no idea he’s in love with her. But volunteering at the soup kitchen gives Joel something else to think about, and opens his eyes to the wider world around him. I enjoyed this a lot. Joel is conflicted and complex, and the author really lets the reader get into his head and see from his eyes.

theseventorments

The Seven Torments of Amy and Craig, by Don Zolidis. Nerdy Craig and popular Amy get together and break up, over and over again. This one was just kind of “meh” for me. I liked Craig and his nerdy friends, but Amy was kind of annoying the first half of the book.

my whole truth

My Whole Truth, by Mischa Thrace. This was a powerful book. 17-year-old Seelie has her three best friends, a mother who couldn’t care less about her, and is unpopular, at best, at school. When popular Shane attacks her and Seelie defends herself, killing Shane, she’s charged with murder, and the whole town turns against her. But Seelie can’t bear to talk about what really happened that day. Even if it will keep her from going to prison. You should definitely read this! (Warning:  there are triggers here, so it’s not for everyone.)

TheDreamDaughter-cover

The Dream Daughter, by Diane Chamberlain. In 1970, Caroline receives news that her unborn baby has a serious heart defect and nothing can be done. Not then, anyway. I had a feeling this would be one of those books that don’t necessarily have a happy ending, but I read it anyway. A very well-written read, full of emotion and love.

thebonelessmercies

The Boneless Mercies, by April Genevieve Tucholke. “A dark standalone YA fantasy about a band of mercenary girls in search of female glory.” Mercenary girls, magic, and a Norse-esque setting? Wow. This was a heck of a read.

RoyalRunaway_4-4

The Royal Runaway, by Lindsay Emory. This fun read about a princess who was left at the altar and who teams up with a spy to find out what’s really going on was a quick, entertaining read.

img_20181025_071922_8375716035256080981801.jpg

Fromage a Trois, by Victoria Brownlee. I really enjoyed this light read about Ella, who moves to Paris in the aftermath of a breakup and ends up in a bet to try every type of French cheese as she discovers there’s more to love than she suspected.

returnofthesong

Return of the Song, by Phyllis Clark Nichols.  This felt like a quiet book, but it was good! Caroline, still hurting from the death of her fiance 6 years ago, finds things are changing—even if she’s not sure she wants them to.

IRISH

An Irish Country Cottage, by Patrick Taylor (review forthcoming). Another “slow” read that was very enjoyable. Set in the 50’s in the Irish countryside.

salt

Salt, by Hannah Moskowitz. What if sea monsters were real? What if gypsy-like families sailed the oceans killing the monsters—without the world being any the wiser? Seventeen-year-old Indi has only known the life of hunting monsters, but with his parents gone, it’s only him and his siblings left to carry on. His older sister is intent on revenge. His younger brother seems destined to be a pirate. His younger sister is smart, and deserves a chance at whatever she wants to do. Indi just wants a normal life.

And isn’t the cover awesome?

the traveling cat chronicles

The Traveling Cat Chronicles, by Hiro Arikawa (review forthcoming). First of all, this is a bonus cultural book, since it’s set in Japan and translated from Japanese. This book. All the feels. It’s the story of Nana, a street cat who ends up with a human, and their travels together. So good. Fair warning:  I was sobbing by the end.

chosen for christ

Chosen for Christ, by Heather Holleman (review forthcoming). And this book is a bonus spiritual read. Also a very good read.

umbertouched

Umbertouched, by Livia Blackburne (review forthcoming). I can’t tell you how excited I was to read this! I loved the first book, Rosemarked, and this one was just as good! This continues the story of Zivah and Dineas as they seek to save their people from war with the emperor–and the rose plague.

the darkest star

The Darkest Star, by Jennifer L. Armentrout (review forthcoming). I didn’t intend to read this in one sitting—but I did. Aliens, mystery, angst…this book had a few issues, but I enjoyed it as the entertaining read it was, and I intend to read the series.

Just Because

Smoke and Iron, by Rachel Caine. For some reason, I thought this was the final Great Library book. I’m glad it’s not. I flew through the pages, trying to find out what was going to happen to Jess and the gang. Not what I ever imagined of the Great Library of Alexandria.

Left Unfinished

The Last Sword Maker, by Brian Nelson. I made it about 15% of the way through this. It was supposed to be a technological thriller, but I never got to the thriller part, and the tech explanations just lost me.

Linking up with Modern Mrs. Darcy for Quick Lit.

 

Advertisements

Book Review: Salt, by Hannah Moskowitz

salt
Image belongs to Chronicle Books.

Title:   Salt
Author:   Hannah Moskowitz
Genre:   YA, fantasy
Rating:   4 out of 5

Seventeen-year-old Indi has only ever known one life:  roaming the oceans with his parents, his older sister, his younger brother, and his younger sister as they seek out and destroy the sea monsters plaguing the seas. Their life is spent in secret, trying to keep others outside their calling from knowing about the monsters. Indi grew up thinking it was normal, until his parents disappeared while on the trail of a huge monster, leaving he and his sister Beleza to take care of their younger siblings.

Beleza wants revenge on the monster that killed their parents and will stop at nothing to track it down. Oscar seems intent on becoming a pirate, or at least a very adept thief. Six-year-old Zulu is brilliant but has no chance at an education on the ocean. Indi just wants to take care of his family—and maybe, just maybe, do something for himself just once.

The premise of this novel is pretty incredible:  sea monsters exist, and families that have hunted them for centuries continue to do so, keeping them secret from the rest of the world. I would have liked to have seen a bit more depth and fleshing-out of the characters, but the concept was unique. The final battle was a bit of a letdown, but I still enjoyed the adventure.

Hannah Moskowitz’s new novel is Salt.

(Galley provided by Chronicle Books in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: Return of the Song, by Phyllis Clark Nichols

returnofthesong
Image belongs to Gilead Publishing.

Title:   Return of the Song
Author:   Phyllis Clark Nichols
Genre:   Fiction, Christian
ating:   4.2 out of 5

Caroline Carlyle lost her fiancé six years ago and lost her music as well, at least the ability to finish the song she was writing for him. Now her days are a pleasant haze of piano lessons, church, and time spent with her neighbors. She doesn’t have the to heart to try anything new.

But change starts when Caroline hears someone playing her song—in her home—one night. The mystery of her stalker starts to stir things up, and soon Caroline is searching for her childhood piano, which leads her to Kentucky and a mysterious, reclusive gentleman. Change is coming—even if she’s not ready for it.

This was a calm, soothing read, with a vividly-realized setting and characters. It’s a quiet book, and one I enjoyed very much. I don’t know a lot about piano music, so some of the nuances were lost on me, but I loved every single page, and I was not expecting the resolution to the mystery of her stalker.

Phyllis Clark Nichols was born in Georgia during a hurricane. Return of the Song is her newest novel.

(Galley provided by Gilead Publishing in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: Fromage à Trois by Victoria Brownlee

Image belongs to Amberjack Publishing.

Title: Fromage à Trois
Author: Victoria Brownlee
Genre: Fiction, romance
Rating: 4 out of 5

Ella and Peter have been together 8 years and she’s expecting a proposal. What she gets is Peter telling her he’s off to find himself—and he never intended to marry her. With her heart broken, Ella decides to move to Paris for a year. Her French is questionable, and she doesn’t know a soul there, but she knows a change will do her good.

In Paris, Ella wanders into a fromagerie—a cheese shop—and ends up in a bet with Serge, the owner, that she can’t eat 365 kinds of cheese in a year. In between washing dishes at a coffee shop, she explores the city, works on her French, and meets a dashing French man.

Ella is torn between the two sides of life and Paris, and she’ll have to decide if her dreams will ever live up to reality.

This was a fun read. I might have wanted to slap Ella couple of times, but her adventures made me laugh. I can’t imagine just moving to another country for a year, so I admire that, and the cheese made me drool!

Victoria Brownlee is a writer and editor from Australia who now lives in France. Fromage à Trois is her first published novel.

(Galley provided by Amberjack Publishing in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: The Royal Runaway, by Lindsay Emory

RoyalRunaway_4-4
Image belongs  to Gallery Books.

Title:   The Royal Runaway
Author:   Lindsay Emory
Genre:   Romance
Rating:   4 out of 5

Thea just wants a night out on the town without the pressures of her job breathing down her neck. But, as Princess Theodora Isabella Victoria of Drieden of the Royal House Laurent, a no-stress night out of the castle isn’t really an option. Except Thea’s been sneaking out of the castle for years.

It’s been a rough four months since Thea was left at the altar. She was exiled until the rumors died down, but now she’s back on princess duty:  attending a myriad of events, all with her perfect princess smile firmly in place.

But on her secret night out, she meets Nick, a sexy Scottish stranger, and decides it might be time to stick her toe in the waters of romance again. Until Nick turns out to be a British spy in search of his brother—Thea’s ex-fiancé—and intent on uncovering the conspiracy behind his disappearance. Even if it goes all the way to the crown.

I thoroughly enjoyed this snarky, page-turning read. Thea’s rebelliousness was fun to read, and she’s down-to-earth for a princess (not that I know any). Nick was a perfect foil for her attitude and adventuresome spirit, and their banter made this even more fun to read.

Lindsay Emory is a Texan and an author. The Royal Runaway is her newest novel.

(Galley provided by Gallery Books in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: The Boneless Mercies, by April Genevieve Tucholke

thebonelessmercies
Image belongs to Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group/Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Title:   The Boneless Mercies
Author:  April Genevieve Tucholke
Genre:   Fantasy, young adult
Rating:   5 out of 5

Frey, Ovie, Juniper, and Runa are the Boneless Mercies. They have no homes, and no families but each other. They travel around dispensing death quickly, quietly, and mercifully when they are hired to. The sick wife with a lingering illness. The elderly man who feels he’s a burden on his children. The father with a child who is suffering and will never recover. The Mercies take care of them all and ease their way from this life.

But Frey and the others are tired of the death trade. When they hear of a ferocious monster rampaging a nearby region and killing everyone it meets, Frey decides it’s their one chance to make enough money to leave their old lives behind. The fame they will earn as well will give them a fresh start. But that monster isn’t the only obstacle they’ll face and ending up in the middle of a witches’ war might be the last thing they’ll do.

I loved this book! The concept was beyond unique, and the setting and mythology—reminiscent of the Norse—was compelling and detailed. There are layers in this story:  layers of mythology, history, and culture that make it feel so vibrant and alive. l loved the characters as well. Their cohesiveness is wonderful, but their individuality really shines. Go read this!

April Genevieve Tucholke lives and writes in Oregon. The Boneless Mercies is her newest novel.

(Galley provided by Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group/Farrar, Straus and Giroux in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: The Dream Daughter, by Diane Chamberlain

 

TheDreamDaughter-cover
Image belongs to St. Martin’s Press.

Title:   The Dream Daughter
Author:  Diane Chamberlain
Genre:   Fiction
Rating:   4 out of 5

Caroline Sears is newly-widowed by the Vietnam War and pregnant with her first child when she finds out there is something wrong with her baby’s heart. Carly is devastated because the baby is the only thing she has left from her husband. Then her brother-in-law, mysterious physicist Hunter, tells her he can help her—but his “how” is more than Carly can even imagine. Will she risk everything for her unborn daughter?

I don’t generally read books that I know will make me cry.  I risked it with this book, and I’m glad I did. I loved Carly, and her struggle for her unborn baby was both moving and heartbreaking. This was a good, emotional read.

Diane Chamberlain is a former social worker and a bestselling author. The Dream Daughter is her newest novel.

(Galley provided by St. Martin’s Press in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review The Seven Torments of Amy and Craig, by Don Zolidis

theseventorments
Image belongs to Disney-Hyperion.

Title:   The Seven Torments of Amy and Craig
Author:   Don Zolidis
Genre:   YA
Rating:   3.8 out of 5

Craig is awkward. He plays Dungeons & Dragons, which, in 1994 Wisconsin, does not make you part of the cool crowd. He’s had a crush on Amy for a while. But a geek with the super-smart student body president? That’s never going to happen. Until it does.

Then Amy breaks up with Craig. And gets back together with him. Then breaks up with him again. Over and over again. Seven times.

Senior year is hard enough without adding heartbreak—repetitive heartbreak at that—into the mix. Craig wants to escape his hometown and hopes to find a quirky college to feel at home at. Amy doesn’t know what she wants—she just knows it’s not what she has. It might be Craig. It might not. But both of them are fighting to figure out what really matters—and what they can do about it.

I liked Craig. He’s quirky and fun and definitely awkward. His group of friends are all nerdy but vibrant. Craig and Amy together, however…Well, I was Team Craig in this one. Except he was basically selfish and oblivious of what was going on around him, so focused on himself and what he wanted that it never occurred to him to think about what other people wanted. But he does grow and develops an awareness of others that is both fledgling and blooming, making this worth reading.

Don Zolidis is a playwright and former teacher. The Seven Torments of Amy and Craig is his first published novel.

(Galley provided by Disney-Hyperion in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: My Whole Truth, by Mischa Thrace

my whole truth
Image belongs to Flux Books.

Title:   My Whole Truth
Author:   Mischa Thrace
Genre:   YA
Rating:   4 out of 5

Seelie Stanton has a mother who could not care less about her, but she has three best friends who have her back no matter what, so it’s okay. Even when the kids at school can’t stand her. She just sticks with her friends and minds her own business. Until Shane Mayfield shows up at her job high and attacks her.

Seelie never wanted to kill someone, but she had to kill Shane to save her own life. Now she’s being charged with murder, haunted by a night she never wants to speak of again.

Though her friends support her, most of the town turns against her. Seelie doesn’t want to think about that night, much less talk about it, but she’ll have to tell the truth about what happened—the whole truth—if she wants to survive.

The friendships in this book are the best thing. I loved the group’s interactions, even when they disagree, they still support each other. Seelie is a strong character, but she can’t see it for her grief and pain. A well-written look at a girl who survived the horrors of being attacked—only to face condemnation and hatred from those around her.

Mischa Thrace lives in Massachusetts. My Whole Truth is her newest novel.

(Galley provided by Flux in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: Words We Don’t Say, by K.J. Reilly

words we don't say
Image belongs to Disney-Hyperion.

Title:   Words We Don’t Say
Author:   K.J. Reilly
Genre:   YA
Rating:   4.5 out of 5

Joel Higgins has almost 1,000 unsent text messages on his phone. He can say whatever he wants there. He can talk to people he just can’t seem to find words for in person. Like Eli, the girl he has a crush on.

His best friend, Andy, is gone. The new guy, Benj, talks a lot but Joel doesn’t know quite how to take him. He failed the SATs. The only bright spots in his days are volunteering with Eli at the soup kitchen.

Then there’s the wounded vet Joel meets. The bag hidden in the garage. And the problem of all those Corvette Stingrays. Joel sees so many problems and has so many questions, but all he can do is type another text message he won’t send.

I really enjoyed this book, even though I sometimes have problems clicking with male narrators. That wasn’t the case here. Joel is such an honest character and getting inside his head was easy. You should definitely read this!

Words We Don’t Say is the new novel by K.J. Reilly.

(Galley provided by Disney-Hyperion in exchange for an honest review.)