Category: characters

What I Read in November (2019)

Books Read in November: 22

Books Read for the Year: 210/175

Topical Books/Monthly Goal Books:

Discerning the Voice of God, by Priscilla Shirer (spiritual). Loved this!

Wuthering Heights, by Emily Bronte, (classic). Can we talk about how much I disliked EVERY SINGLE character? Seriously. I read this 20+ years ago and had forgotten just about all of it. Wishing it had remained that way…

The Knife of Never Letting Go, by Patrick Ness (TBR). Honestly…I thought this sucked. It just wasn’t to my taste at all.

On the Shoulders of Hobbits, by Louis Markos (nonfiction). This was a really fascinating read about faith and fiction.

The Pearl Thief, by Elizabeth E. Wein. (cultural). The first I’ve read by this author, and I enjoyed it.

For Review:

we met in december

We Met in December, by Rosie Curtis. This was such a fun read! I enjoyed discovering London and all Jess’s adventures as she falls for her charming flatmate.

the family upstairs

The Family Upstairs, by Lisa Jewell. This was a creepy read, and one almost unbelievable to me. If everyone sees the signs their life is becoming a cult, why not take action, before people die?

the bake shop

The Bake Shop, by Amy Clipston. I thoroughly enjoyed this Amish romance about Christiana, who opens a bake shop in the Amish marketplace, next to the cranky Jeff, who just can’t seem to get his words to come out right.

9781335008480.indd

Day Zero, by Kelly deVos. Jinx’s dad is a doomsday prepper, so she’s spent years training for the end of the world. When it happens, though, Jinx is stuck trying to take care of her little brother, her opinionated stepsister, her stepbrother…pretty much everyone, as they struggle to find her dad, accused of causing the destruction. But the truth is far harsher than the rumors.

navigating the stars

Navigating the Stars, by Maria V. Snyder. Sci-fi, YA, romance…Terra Cotta Warriors are found on other planets, and Lyra’s parents are the experts studying them. How cool is that premise? I couldn’t put this one down!

tracking game

Tracking Game, by Margaret Mizushima. I wasn’t really a fan of this K-9 murder mystery. The writing wasn’t solid enough, and the MC was…I don’t know. I just couldn’t connect with her.

chasing the shadows

Chasing the Shadows, by Maria V. Snyder. Loved this second book in the Sentinels of the Galaxy series even more than the first!

mercy road

Mercy Road, by Ann Howard Creel. An excellent historical fiction about Arlene, who joins an all-women team on the front lines of World War I as an ambulance driver.

the confession club

The Confession Club, by Elizabeth Berg. When a group of friends who meet weekly for dinner start confessing secrets in their get-togethers, they aren’t expecting the depths of each other they’ll explore. One of them is in love with a troubled homeless man. Another is hiding the truth from her husband. Will The Confession Club help them deal with their secrets? I thoroughly enjoyed this read!

this really happened

This Really Happened, by Annmarie McQueen. This is told in alternating timelines: Erin’s day-to-day life when she comes to university, where she meets her group of friends and falls in love with one of them, and blog posts she writes in the future, after a tragic accident.

A Silken Thread

A Silken Thread, by Kim Vogel Sawyer. I thoroughly enjoyed this tale sent in Atlanta a few years after the Civil War. The Atlanta Exposition is the setting, and I found it fascinating.

a christmas haven

A Christmas Haven, by Cindy Woodsmall. A sweet Amish romance about Ivy, who wants to leave her faith to start her party-planning business, and Arlan, who’d do anything to keep his sister safe.

the chosen one

The Chosen One, by Walt Gragg. I cannot recommend this military fiction. The POV was too distant, and the (very) few female characters were ridiculous caricatures.

safe harbour

Safe Harbour, by Christina Kilbourne. Harbour has been living in a a tent outside Toronto for months, waiting for her dad to arrive with their sailboat. But winter is approaching and her dad still isn’t here, and Harbour will have to find a way to survive the bitter cold.

lake season

Lake Season, by Denise Hunter (review forthcoming). When Molly’s parts died in a tragic accident, she, her brother, and her sister decided to fulfill their dream of turning their childhood home into an inn. Then Molly finds an unsent letter from 30 years before, and decides to find who wrote it—and deliver it if she can.

synapse

Synapse, by Steven James (review forthcoming). This thriller about a minister and her AI robot seeking to stop a terrorist attack was riveting from the very first page!

southern harm

Southern Harm, by Caroline Fardig (review forthcoming). Another of Fardig’s charming Southern tales has Quinn and her sister investigating a 30-year-old murder that just might hit closer to home than they suspect.

Scared Little Rabbits, by A.V. Geiger (review forthcoming). This ended ip being a total guilty-pleasure read!

Just Because:

Call Down the Hawk, by Maggie Stiefvater. A spin-off series to The Raven Boys? I’m in! Loved this read. A bit…quirky, but the wry humor had me snorting with laughter. Some beautiful sentences in there, too.

Book Review: This Really Happened, by Annmarie McQueen

this really happened
Image belongs to the author.

Title:  This Really Happened
Author:    Annmarie McQueen
Genre:  Fiction
Rating:  4 out of 5

For Erin, university is her chance to stretch her wings. She’d like to make some friends, but she also must focus on her studies—economics, which her emotionally-distant parents approve of. Then she meets her five flatmates, including Allen, the quiet, creative boy who just seems to get her. Their friendship grows, as do Erin’s feelings for Allen, until one day Allen starts dating Charlotte, another of their flatmates.

Erin is devastated but struggles to be okay with it and be happy for her friends. Then one night leaving a crowded club, Charlotte is struck by a car, and everything changes.

This Really Happened is told in alternating timelines:  Erin’s experiences in the present day and her blog posts about Charlotte’s accident and its aftermath, the times slowly growing closer together as the reader gets closer to the truth. Erin only has one friend—her older sister—when she comes to university. She’s not close to her parents, so having a ready-made group of friends is a heady experience with her.

I enjoyed reading about how the friendships developed and I was fascinated by the alternating timelines. I found Allen a bit annoying, but I can see how he interested Erin. This is a solid read for anyone who likes to be intrigued with their reading choice.

Annmarie McQueen is a London-based writer and blogger who loves tea. This Really Happened is her new novel.

(Galley courtesy of the author in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: The Confession Club, by Elizabeth Berg

the confession club
Image belongs to Random House.

Title:  The Confession Club
Author:    Elizabeth Berg
Genre:  Fiction
Rating:  4 out of 5

A group of friends in Mason, Missouri start a supper club to talk, share recipes, and have dinner and wine. Except one night one of the ladies confesses something startling—and soon the weekly get-togethers are called The Confession Club, with all the ladies sharing misdeeds, regrets, and secrets.

Like one of the ladies is dating a charming new man…but he’s homeless. And another ran away from New York hiding a secret so big she doesn’t even know what to do with it. The Confession Club gives them a chance to talk about these things, but it’s also a place for love and support.

The Confession Club is a charming read. I haven’t read any of the other Mason books, but had no problems jumping in with book three. Despite being about a big group of women, I had no problems keeping them sorted out, and I was completely invested in their secrets and confessions. Thoroughly enjoyed this!

Elizabeth Berg is an award-winning author. The Confession Club is her newest novel, the third book in the Mason series.

(Galley courtesy of Random House via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)

What I Read in October (2019)

Books Read in October:  21

Books Read for the Year: 186/175

Topical Books/Monthly Goal Books:

The Anatomist’s Wife, by Anna Lee Huber(cultural). Okay, “cultural” might be stretching it a bit…but I loved this take on a female Sherlock Holmes. (I’ve already procured the second one, too.)

Every Exquisite Thing, by Matthew Quick (TBR).  I’m just going to say “eh” on this one. I was not impressed.

More than a Good Bible Study Girl, by Lisa TerKeurst (spiritual). An excellent read!

The Beauty and the Damned (classic). Honestly…I thought this book kinda sucked. I don’t like selfish, self-absorbed people, and the two main characters were nothing if not that, so this was not the right choice for me.

The Obesity Code, by Jason Fung (nonfiction). Interesting reading, but a little dense and repetitive at times.

For Review:

the lies we tell

The Lies We Tell, by Debra Webb. this was the second book in The Undertaker’s Daughter series—I haven’t read the first one—but I had no issues catching up or following along. Kind of a dark family drama/murder mystery, and a solid, enjoyable read.

the speed of falling objects

The Speed of Falling Objects, by Nancy Richardson Fischer. I loved When Elephants Fly, by this author, and this novel was excellent as well. Family angst and a catastrophic rainstorm adventure with a hot movie star? Yep, I’m there. I truly enjoyed this entire novel, and read it straight through in one sitting.

one night gone

One Night Gone, by Tara Laskowski. Sometimes, books with dual timelines just don’t work for me. This one, however, did. Mystery in a seaside town, a girl missing for 30 years…

trinity sight

Book Review: Trinity Sight, by Jennifer Givhan. A dystopian novel with Zuni mythology… When Calliope wakes up and finds all the people are gone, she sets out to find her family. Along the way, she finds creatures from myth and legend. This was an oddly compelling read.

whispers of shadow & flame

Whispers of Shadow & Flame, by L. Penelope. Another excellent read in the Earthsinger Chronicles! I love the different cultures in these books, and the magic system. Can’t wait to read the next one!

a spell of murder

A Spell of Murder, by Kennedy Kerr. Temerity Love runs Love’s Curiosities—and is renowned for her expertise with antiques. When a murder happens in her tiny Scottish town, her services will be needed to solve the crime. I loved this cozy mystery mixed with magic, and look forward to reading more!

the widow of rose house

The Widow of Rose Harbor, by Dina Biller. Fantastic read! The love interest, Sam, is just so…lovable. Alva has been tarred and feathered in the press thanks to her horrible husband after she left him. Now that she’s a widow, she wants to come home to New York, but the rumors have followed her and her efforts to restore an abandoned mansion are thwarted by a ghost. Enter Sam, the eccentric genius professor (I really wanted to say “playboy billionaire” there and go of on an Avengers tangent…) obsessed with studying ghosts.

the library of lost things

The Library of Lost Things, by Laura Taylor Namey. Darcy is named for one of literature’s most beloved characters, which satisfies her book-loving soul. Now she’s trying to keep her carefully orchestrated life—and her hoarding mother—from falling apart. When Darcy meets Asher, she yearns to get to know him better, but trust has never been her strong point. Darcy’s BFF Marisol makes this book! (Actually, ALL the supporting characters are marvelous.)

the grace year

The Grace Year, by Kim Liggett. This had the feel of The Handmaid’s Tale…except I didn’t care for that book, and I LOVED this one. In a male-dominated society, when they turn sixteen, girls have to get rid of their magic so they don’t have power over men, so they are banished for one year, The Grace Year. Not all of them will come back. And those that do will be changed.

oracle

The Oracle of Cumae, by Melissa Hardy. It’s possible that reading three books right before this one that were amazing made this less-than-amazing book seem even worse, but…honestly, I liked the premise, but the plot was meandering at best, and really more like pointless.

girls like us

Girls Like Us, by Randi Pink.  This is set in the 70s and is about teenage girls dealing with unplanned pregnancies. It was supposed to be about defying conventions and standing up for yourself…except none of them really did that.

christmas angels

Christmas Angles, by Nancy Naigle. This was a sweet Christmas romance about Liz, who buys the deserted inn that belonged to her grandparents and sets out to restore it.

the middle matters

The Middle Matters, by Lisa-Jo Baker (review forthcoming). A solid, relatable, and inspirational read.

bound in flame

Bound in Flame, by Katherine Kayne. I don’t think I’d ever read anything set in historical Hawaii, so I was excited to read this. But…the writing was shaky at best, and felt very bare-bones (Not in a clean, sparse way, but in an this-is-practically-an-outline-without-details-or-connections way).

if darkness takes us

If Darkness Takes Us, by Brenda Marie Smith. This was a unique concept to me:  secret doomsday-prepper granny left to take care of her four grandchildren after something knocks out all power and the government. Some of the characters seemed more like caricatures than actual people (rebellious teenager, angry pre-teen, verbally abusive husband) and the POV felt more distant than I would have liked, but it was an interesting read.

the curious heart of ailsa rae

The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae, by Stephanie Butland. This was a fantastic read! It’s about a girl who gets a heart transplant after a lifetime of being sick, and how she learns to live again.

Left Unfinished:

I Have No Secrets, by Penny Joelson. I made it about 20% of the way through this, and decided to stop. It was interesting, I just don’t think it was a good fit for me now.

The Best Books I Read in September (2019)

I read 21 books in September, for a total of 165 books so far this year.

Sadly, most of them were just “good,” not “great.”

Here are the top 3.

today we go home

Today We Go Home, Kelli Estes. This two-stories-in-one tale is about Larkin, still struggling to cope with what happened in Afghanistan, and Emily, who disguised herself as a man to fight for the Union in the Civil War. An excellent historical!

the wendy

The Wendy, by Erin Michelle Sky and Steven Brown. This re-telling of Peter Pan was fantastic! Loved all of it, and can’t wait for the next book in the series (out next week).

sword and pen

Sword and Pen, by Rachel Caine. The final book in The Great Library series wasn’t quite as good as I’d hoped, but it was still excellent. I’m sad to see these characters go.

Book Review: Blow: A Love Story, by Tracy Ewens

 

blow a love story
Image belongs to Tracy Ewens.

Title:   Blow: A Love Story
Author:  Tracy Ewens
Genre:   Romance
Rating:   4.5 out of 5

Millie Hart has spent her life writing happy endings, but now she’s decided to write a “serious” book:  one that will impress even her aloof, condescending father. So she rents a cottage in a small seaside town, betting the dark and gloomy oceanside town will inspire her new novel. Instead she finds a quaint community that comes with a loud—and annoying—soundtrack. Not to mention the new neighbor who’s big on crankiness, not understanding.

Drake Branch barely escaped the accident six years ago with his life. Now he’s got his life together, he’s moved on, and he loves his job at BP Glass Works. When he lets a struggling metalworks shop move in next door, he’s not prepared for the PTSD triggered by the screeching noises—so he compensates with loud music. Not ideal for the writer who just moved in next door.

I haven’t read any of the other books in this series—sadly—but I really enjoyed this one! Millie has her issues, but she’s such a great character, and her struggle with her feelings towards her father is so heartfelt and painful. Drake just thinks he’s a tough guy who’s recovered from his tragic accident, but when he meets Millie, he realizes he isn’t healed at all. I loved the characters, the setting, everything about this book!

Tracy Ewens lives and writes in Arizona. Blow:  A Love Story is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of the author via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: The Merciful Crow, by Margaret Owen

the merciful crow
Image belongs to Henry Holt and Co.

Title:   The Merciful Crow
Author:   Margaret Owen
Genre:   Fantasy, YA
Rating:   5 out of 5

Fie is a Crow—a caste of undertakers and mercy-killers immune to the plague and despised and persecuted by society. When her band is tasked with disposing of two royal bodies, they encounter the conniving queen who plans to cheat them of their pay and cost them even more respect. But Fie thwarts the queen—and discovers the two royal bodies aren’t exactly dead.

Instead, the crown prince and his clever body double have faked their own deaths to escape before the murderous queen can kill them. If they can make it to their allies, they have a chance at overthrowing the queen. They strike a deal with Fie:  if she sees them safely to their allies, the prince will protect the Crows when he’s king.

But the queen’s ruthless assassins are on their trail, and Fie might lose everything she cares about to fulfill the promise she made.

From the very first page, I was enthralled. I couldn’t put this book down, and I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I’ve never read anything like this and found the worldbuilding both vivid and unique. The magic system was odd—teeth?—but compelling, and I adored Fie as a character. She’s tough and prickly and fierce, but she can, eventually, see reason. I fell into this world headlong and did not want to leave.

Margaret Owen is an author and illustrator. The Merciful Crow is her debut novel.

(Galley courtesy of Henry Holt and Co via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)

What I Read in July (2019)

Books Read in July: 20

Books Read for the Year: 120/175

Topical Books/Monthly Goal Books:

Secret Adversary, by Agatha Christie (classic). Okay, it may not actually be a classic, but it’s  Agatha Christie.

Braving the Wilderness, by Brene Brown (nonfiction). Brown always has deep, meaningful things to say.

The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck, by Bethany Turner (from the TBR pile). I LOVED this read! I could relate to it so much—and it really made me laugh.

Ayesha at Last, by Uzma Jalaluddin (cultural). Wow. This was really a fantastic read!

Get Out of that Pit, by Beth Moore (spiritual). Pulling no punches here.

For Review:

bethlehem

Bethlehem, by Karen Kelly. I enjoyed this tale set in two different times, about women living in a steel industry town. And love. And complicated family relationships. And secrets…

crashing the a-list

Crashing the A-List, by Summer Heacock. This made me laugh so much! An out-of-work editor discovers a career-ending secret about a famous actor…who thinks she’s trying to blackmail him. He forces her to pose as his girlfriend, and misunderstandings ensue. Such a fun read!

justice makes a killing

Justice Makes a Killing, by Ed Rucker. This tale of a criminal defense lawyer out to prove his client is innocent—vs the private prison industry—was a solid read.

ten years

Ten Years a Nomad, by Matthew Kepnes. Matt Kepnes is known for his travel-writing, but this is more of an autobiography and exploration of why he traveled for ten years.

if you want to make God laugh

If You Want to Make God Laugh, by Bianca Marais. This story is filled with heavy subjects, and strong, strong female characters.

gamers-guide-book-cover

The Gamers Guide to Getting the Girl, by Kristine Scarrow. I enjoyed this light tale of a nerdy gamer guy trapped in a mall during a terrifying storm who ends up surprising himself, his dream girl, and the people he helps save during the danger.

three ways

Three Ways to Disappear, by Katy Yocom. This was a pretty good read. Two sisters. Tigers. India. I loved being immersed in the Indian culture.

evie

Evie and the Upside-Down World of Nevermore, by Birgitte Märgen. This felt almost like middle-grade to me. I loved the different regions Evie traveled to, but her “backwoods” dialect (when it appeared) felt contrived, not natural, since her internal voice didn’t usually include the dialect.

specter

Specter, by Katie Janie Gallagher. Being a teenage is hard enough without seeing ghosts on top of it. Love this cover!

the mcavoy sisters

The McAvoy Sisters Book of Secrets, by Molly Fader. I loved this book! The sisters’ relationship—and their mom—is complex and full of secrets, but this book was so compelling!

The Seekers

The Seekers, by Heather Graham. I don’t do creepy/scary very well, so the beginning of this was almost too much for me, but I enjoyed the way the crimes of the past were connected to the present. I can’t believe there are so many books in this series!

highlander

A Highlander Walks Into a Bar, by Laura Trentham. I thoroughly enjoyed this romance—and the men in kilts! Isabel’s talk-first-think-later statements made me laugh, and I was completely intrigued by the idea of Highland, Georgia. A good, solid read.

the book charmer

Book Review: The Book Charmer, by Karen Hawkins. I loved loved loved this book! Sarah Dove can hear books, and when one cranky old tome tells her Grace is the only one who can save Dove Pond, Sarah knows she has to convince her to stay. This book—its small-town setting, the characters—is so realistic and charming that I loved every page.

the merciful crow

The Merciful Crow, by Margaret Owen (review forthcoming). This was another book I LOVED! I don’t even have the words to tell you how good this was. Just go read it!

Just Because:

BioDiet, by David Harper.

Left Unfinished:

Stars of Alabama, by Sean Dietrich. I just couldn’t get into this. It has great reviews, so it’s clearly just me.

The Last List of Miss Judith Kratt, by Andrea Bobotis. I wanted to like this. The writing was great. But…the main character was very unlikable, and I just couldn’t keep going.

David Mogo, God Hunter, by Suyi Davies Okungbowa. I wanted to read this so much. Nigerian fantasy? Yes, please. I loved the setting and the concept, but after about 50% of it, I realized that I was having so much trouble with the pidgin English dialogue that I was missing a good chunk of what was going on—because I couldn’t understand what was being said and there weren’t any context clues.

Please Send Help, by Gaby Dunn. I think I read about 30% of this before losing all faith in humanity…the absolute selfishness and carelessness of the two main characters almost did me in.

Book Review: Crashing the A-List, by Summer Heacock

crashing the a-list
Image belongs to MIRA.

Title:   Crashing the A-List
Author:  Summer Heacock
Genre:   Women’s fiction/romance
Rating:   4.5 out of 5

For an out-of-work editor, finding a new job isn’t easy. So, Clara sleeps on her brother’s couch while she collects unemployment and job-hunts. She signs on for a stint of cleaning out abandoned storage buildings, but she’s not prepared for the trash, the unidentified objects—are those eyeballs?—or the piles of paper. Then she finds the records of an old escort service—complete with the resume of Caspian Tiddleswich, a super-famous British actor.

Clara’s best friend thinks she should sell her find to the tabloids, but Clara can’t imagine doing that. Instead, she tracks down Caspian’s number and leaves a message assuring him his secret is safe. At least, that’s what she thinks she says. But Caspian shows up at her door, accusing her of blackmail—and the paparazzi gets a picture of their confrontation, and suddenly the two of them are news.

Caspian’s PR team jumps on the opportunity—and Caspian isn’t averse to a little blackmail himself, so Clara finds herself posing as his girlfriend to atone for her sins. But as she gets to know Caspian, she realizes there’s far more to the superstar than meets the eye, and their game of pretend becomes something else.

I read this straight through while in the car on a road trip, and I’m pretty sure my brother thought I’d lost my mind because of all the snickering and outright laughter. There’s a lot of profanity, but this story is hysterical! And, let’s face it, who hasn’t daydreamed about some dreamy actor? Clara was such a relatable character, and her best friend is awesome, too. And Caspian—well, there’s a lot of character growth there. You should definitely read this!

Summer Heacock is a writer, a mom, and a wife. Crashing the A-List is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of MIRA via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)

The Best Books I Read in June (2019)

I read 20 books in June, bringing my total to the year for 102 books read.

I have to say, this was a case of quantity, not necessarily quality, as there were a few books that I really enjoyed, but most were just solid to mediocre reads.

That being said, two of my monthly goal books and one of the last books I read for review for the month were outstanding.

at the water's edge

At the Water’s Edge, by Sara Gruen. This was my cultural pick of the month. Which, admittedly, was fudging it a bit, since the heroine is American and the books starts in New York in 1942. But…socialite Maddie and her horrid husband, Ellis, and his best friend, Hank, end up in Scotland in search of the Loch Ness monster, so I rationalized it. Fantastic, engrossing book! I would love to go to Loch Ness, and Gruen’s prose is top-notch. Highly recommend this!

backseat saints

Backseat Saints, by Joshilyn Jackson.  This  was from my TBR pile. I discovered Joshilyn Jackson when I read gods in Alabama for the first time several years ago (and re-read it last year and was just as entranced). This was when I discovered Southern fiction was a thing. I’ve read several of her books now–and cannot wait to review her upcoming novel, Never Have I Ever, at the end of the month. Backseat Saints takes a minor character from gods in Alabama and explores her very challenging life. Joshilyn Jackson is an auto buy for me, and that’s a really short list, so…

the stationary shop

The Stationary Shop, by Marjan Kamali. I’m still emotionally reeling from reading this, so I’m not sure I can talk coherently about it. Most of this takes place in 1953 Tehran, when Roya and Bahman fall in love on the edge of a revolution. it’s…not a happy book, which I realzied immediately. Usually, I would have chosen not to finish what I knew would be a sad read, but this was so good that I continued reading.