What I Read in February (2023)

Books Read in February: 16

Books Read for the Year:  33/225

Topical Books/Monthly Goal Books:

The Horse and His Boy, by C.S. Lewis (re-read). I do love this series.

The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien (re-read). I just love this book.

The Record Keeper, by Charles Martin (TBR). I have no words to describe how the ending of this made me feel.

Bibi: My Story, by Benjamin Netanyu (TBR). Okay. I don’t care for biographies. I don’t like politics. Or the military. But this was absolutely fascinating!

Dead of Winter, by Kresley Cole (re-read). Love this.

Day Zero, by Kresley Cole (TBR). I had not actually read this, and it adds some fascinating nuances to these characters I love.

Prince Caspian, by C.S. Lewis (re-read). AGain, love this series.

A New Kind of Apologist, by Sean McDowell (spiritual). I think this would have been a better choice for me in a physical book, so I could retain more of the information.

For Review:

Wildblood, by Lauren Blackwood. This started off strong, then fizzled in a meandering mess of confusion.

Code Name Sapphire, by Pam Jenoff. I’ve read–and loved–several of Jenoff’s other books, but I didn’t like this one quite as much. The ending surprised me–I’m not a fan of big revelations at the end when there’s been no hint of anything going on. Feels like thee author cheated a bit when that happens.

Every Missing Girl, by Leanne Kale Sparks. This was a solid read, but I didn’t love it. Some of the suspects were left unresolved, and that left me out-of-sorts.

Where Darkness Blooms, by Andrea Hannah. This was a strange read. The town horrified me. Th sunflowers really creeped me out. A lot. This was dark, atmospheric, and not a feel-good read.

Nocturne, by Alyssa Wees. I loved the ballet part, but the rest seemed a bit…cookie cutter and a jumble of influences of other tales.

Immortality: A Love Story, by Dana Schwartz. I ended up enjoying this more than the first book in this duology. Lord Byron was just how I imagine him!

When the Moon Turns Blue, by Pamela Terry. This was so good! Southern fiction at its best and dealing with some hard issues via characters that practically vibrate on the page.

The Weight of Air, by Kimberly Duffy. I really enjoyed this! Reading about circus life was fun, and I loved these characters.

Left Unfinished: Of Manners and Murder, by Anastasia Hastings. I have to be honest: I found Violet to be a nosy busybody, so she lost my interest at about 15% of the way through.

The Love Scribe, by Amy Meyerson. I found my attention wandering—and that’s never a good sign. And I didn’t care for Alice.

Book Review:  The Weight of Air, by Kimberly Duffy  

Image belongs to Bethany House.

Title: The Weight of Air       
Author: Kimberly Duffy    
Genre:  Christian, historical, romance   
Rating:  4.5 out of 5

In 1911, Mabel MacGinnis is Europe’s strongest woman and has performed beside her father in the Manzo Brothers Circus her entire life. But at his unexpected death, she loses everything she’s ever known and sets off in the company of acrobat Jake Cunningham for America in hope of finding the mother she’s just discovered is still alive.

Isabella Moreau, the nation’s most feted aerialist, has given everything to the circus. But age and injury now threaten her security, and Isabella, stalked by old fears, makes a choice that risks everything. When her daughter Mabel appears alongside the man who never wanted to see Isabella again, Isabella is forced to face the truth of where, and in what, she derives her worth.

This was a lovely read! I enjoyed the glimpses of circus life and life in the early 1900s. Mabel was a great character! Her character growth was fantastic to watch, and I enjoyed reading Jake, too. I wasn’t quite as fond of Isabella, but she grew on me. I highly recommend this read!

Kimberly Duffy lives in Ohio. The Weight of Air is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Bethany House in exchange for an honest review.)

Sundays Are for Writing #214

This week, I only wrote one book review–When the Moon Turns Blue, by Pamela Terry–but I worked three days, then went out of town for two days, so I’m good with that. About to start a new writing regimen, so I’m excited about that.

Happy writing!

Book Review:    When the Moon Turns Blue, by Pamela Terry

Image belongs to Random House/Ballantine.

Title: When the Moon Turns Blue      
Author:  Pamela Terry   
Genre: Fiction    
Rating:  4.5 out of 5

On the morning after Harry Cline’s funeral, a rare ice storm hits the town of Wesleyan, Georgia. The community wakes up to find its controversial statue of Confederate general Henry Benning destroyed—and not by the weather. Half the town had wanted to remove the statue; the other half wanted to celebrate it. Now that the matter has been taken out of their hands, the town’s long-simmering tensions are laid bare.

This conflict is especially personal to Harry’s widow, Marietta, who’s never been a fan of the statue. Her brother, Macon, the top defense attorney in the Southeast, is representing Old Man Griffin, the owner of the park where the statue stood. Despite Marietta’s pleas to let the matter rest, Macon is determined to find those responsible for the damage and protect the Griffin legacy—and he’s far from the only person Marietta stands to lose over a statue. Without Harry beside her, Marietta longs to salvage those connections, but the world is changing, and the divide can no longer be ignored.

I loved Terry’s The Sweet Taste of Muscadines, so I was eager to read this. And it did not disappoint! The characters are so….I don’t know, cool? They’re people I would love to hang out with and learn from. Their personalities and histories are so different, but so well-realized I truly feel like they (the main four characters) exist and are out there really living life to the fullest somewhere. It was very hard to put this down for sleep and work, and I loved seeing how things played out. Highly recommend!

Pamela Terry is a lifelong Southerner. When the Moon Turns Blue is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Random House/Ballantine in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: Immortality: A Love Story, by Dana Schwartz  

Image belongs to St. Martin’s Press.

Title:  Immortality: A Love Story      
Author: Dana Schwartz    
Genre: YA    
Rating:  4 out of 5

Hazel Sinnett is alone and half-convinced the events of the year before—the immortality, Beecham’s vial—were a figment of her imagination. She doesn’t even know whether Jack is alive or dead. All she can really do now is treat patients and maintain Hawthornden Castle as it starts to decay around her.

When saving a life leads to her arrest, Hazel seems doomed to rot in prison until a message intervenes: She has been specifically requested to be the personal physician of Princess Charlotte, the sickly daughter of King George IV. Soon Hazel is dragged into the glamor and romance of a court where everyone has something to hide, especially the enigmatic, brilliant members of a social club known as the Companions to the Death.

As Hazel’s work entangles her more and more with the British court, she realizes that her own future as a surgeon isn’t the only thing at stake. Malicious forces are at work in the monarchy, and Hazel may be the only one capable of setting things right.

I enjoyed this read, more than I enjoyed the ending of the first book. Hazel was a much stronger character in this one, and I liked her more. The Companions to the Death were fascinating—Byron was just like I imagine him—and I liked that aspect of the story. I liked Jack….but I really like the doctor, too.

Dana Schwartz lives in L.A. Immortality:  A Love Story is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of St. Martin’s Press in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review:  Nocturne, by Alyssa Wees  

Image belongs to Ballantine/Del Rey.

Title:  Nocturne
Author: Alyssa Wees    
Genre: Fantasy, YA    
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Growing up in Chicago’s Little Sicily in the years following the Great War, Grace Dragotta has always wanted to be a ballerina, ever since she first peered through the windows of the Near North Ballet Company. So when Grace is orphaned, she chooses the ballet as her home, imagining herself forever ensconced in a transcendent world of light and beauty so different from her poor, immigrant upbringing.

Years later, with the Great Depression in full swing, Grace has become the company’s new prima ballerina—though achieving her long-held dream is not the triumph she once envisioned. Time and familiarity have tarnished that shining vision, and her new position means the loss of her best friend in the world. Then she attracts the attention of the enigmatic Master La Rosa as her personal patron, and realizes the world is not as small or constricted as she had come to fear.

Who is her mysterious patron, and what does he want from her? As Grace begins to unlock the Master’s secrets, she discovers that there is beauty in darkness as well as light, finds that true friendship cannot be broken by time or distance, and realizes there may be another way entirely to achieve the transcendence she has always sought.

This wasn’t consistent read for me. What I mean by that:  solid writing and descriptions, and I love the ballet parts. But….Grace and the other characters felt very one-dimensional and cliched, like the author tried to cobble them—and the story—together from a handful of other stories and myths, but didn’t make them unique enough to be believable. Grace was more of a puppet than anything else, barely taking any of her own initiative to do anything. As a whole, this just didn’t work for me, despite the dreamy ballet sequences.

Alyssa Wees lines in the Chicago area. Nocturne is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Ballantine/Del Rey in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review:    Where Darkness Blooms, by Andrea Hannah

Image belongs to St. Martin’s Press.

Title:  Where Darkness Blooms      
Author:  Andrea Hannah   
Genre: YA, fantasy    
Rating:  3.5 out of 5

The town of Bishop is known for exactly two things: recurring windstorms and an endless field of sunflowers that stretches farther than the eye can see. And women—missing women. So when three more women disappear one stormy night, no one in Bishop is surprised. The case is closed and their daughters are left in their dusty shared house with the shattered pieces of their lives. Until the wind kicks up a terrible secret at their mothers’ much-delayed memorial.

With secrets come the lies each of the girls is forced to confront. After caring for the other girls, Delilah would like to move on with her boyfriend, Bennett, but she can’t bear his touch. Whitney has already lost both her mother and her girlfriend, Eleanor, and now her only solace is an old weathervane that seems to whisper to her. Jude, Whitney’s twin sister, would rather ignore it all, but the wind kicks up her secret too: the summer fling she had with Delilah’s boyfriend. And more than anything, Bo wants answers and she wants them now. Something happened to their mothers and the townsfolk know what it was. She’s sure of it.

Bishop has always been a strange town. But what the girls don’t know is that Bishop was founded on blood—and now it craves theirs.

This was a very strange novel. Very atmospheric and evocative, but strange. The sunflowers creeped me out tremendously—like the corn field in The Stand—and even when I got an explanation for them, that didn’t make them any less creepy. The relationship between the four girls was realistic, with their fighting and arguing and defending each other, but I didn’t really care for them. This was a very dark and bloody story, and I didn’t find much hope in it.

Andrea Hannah is an award-winning author. Where Darkness Blooms is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of St. Martin’s Press in exchange for an honest review.)

Sundays Are for Writing #212

This week, I wrote two book reviews, Code Name Sapphire, by Pam Jenoff  and Every Missing Girl, by Leanne Kale Sparks.  I’ve read–and loved–several of Jenoff’s previous books, but I didn’t enjoy this one quite so much. Every Missing Girl left some things unresolved, and I’m not a fan of that, so this was just an okay read for me. I DNFed two other books this week because I wasn’t crazy about the MC and found myself slightly bored while reading. I’m hoping to do some brainstorming on a project this week, plus several reviews, so here’s hoping.

Happy writing!

Book Review:  Every Missing Girl, by Leanne Kale Sparks   

Image belongs to Crooked Lane Books.

Title:  Every Missing Girl      
Author: Leanne Kale Sparks     
Genre: mystery/thriller    
Rating:  3.5 out of 5

The stunning landscape of Colorado’s Rocky Mountains are among our greatest natural treasures. But there are deadly secrets lurking in the craggy heights. FBI Special Agent Kendall Beck and Denver Homicide Detective Adam Taylor team up to investigate a kidnapping crime, but the case quickly turns cold. When Taylor’s niece, Frankie, suddenly vanishes at a local hockey rink, it’s clear that there’s a predator on the loose—and now, the case has turned personal.

One discovery after another leads Beck and Taylor closer to the truth, as they close in on the devastating truth about the fates of the missing girls—and the many who came before them. Will they be able to find Frankie before it’s too late?

I liked the beginning of this story, but I feel like the second half got a bit choppy and left some important thing unresolved. There were so many possible suspects for Frankie’s disappearance—among other things—but not all of these suspects’ stories were resolved…and that bothered me quite a bit. I feel like they got away with something. I liked the camaraderie between Kendall and Adam and the rest of their team, but the whole story felt unresolved to me, so I probably wouldn’t read more.

Leanne Kale Sparks lives in Texas. Every Missing Girl is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Crooked Lane Books in exchange for an honest review.)