Category: reading question

The Best Books I Read in February (2019)

I read 14 books in February, four less than in January. My top three picks for the month include one book for review, one for pleasure, and one nonfiction.

wow

Warrior of the Wild, by Tricia Levenseller.  I really enjoyed this book. It has a sort-of-Viking culture, and a heroine who was raised as a warrior. When she’s betrayed and fails her challenge, she’s banished to live in the deadly wilds until she kills the god her village pays tribute to every year. She’s a strong character, but she’s haunted by fear of failure and betrayal. I enjoyed this so much!

I’d Rather be Reading, by Anne Bogel. Anne writes the wonderful Modern Mrs. Darcy blog.  I love reading all her posts, although I haven’t ventured into the world of podcasts yet. And Book Club is amazing, too. A book about reading? I’m so there!

Cast in Oblivion, by Michelle Sagara. I really love this series, and have read all of them. And loved them. Kaylin is a great character:  flawed but so loyal and brave. Awesome world-building as well.

What I Read in November (2018)

Books Read in November: 22

Books Read for the Year: 175/150

Topical Books/Monthly Goal Books:

pride

Pride, by Ibi Zoboi. (Cultural.) I’m not sure how I ended up reading two Pride and Prejudice retellings simultaneously, but…I really loved this book! I loved the diversity and seeing how this particular culture came to life. Zure was a little much at first, but I ended up loving her attitude and her pride in herself, her culture, and her family.

AHA, by Kyle Idleman. (Spiritual.) I love Idleman’s voice and his brutally honest and down-to-earth style.

Unequal Affections, by Lara S. Ormiston. (From the TBR.) I loved this re-telling of Pride and Prejudice. I thought it was very well done, and stayed true to the characters and world of the original.

Around the World in 80 Days, by Jules Verne. (Classic.) How have I never read this before? An enjoyable adventure tale!

For Review

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Nightingale, by Amy Lukavics. This is about a girl in the 1950s who doesn’t want to be a perfect housewife, but wants to write stories about alien abduction. She ends up in an asylum, where she realizes it’s no ordinary hospital. When I finish a book and think WHAT did I just read?, it’s not generally a good thing. This book was odd and just didn’t make sense.

love in catalina cove

Love in Catalina Cove, by Brenda Jackson. A solid read by a good author, about a woman who goes back to her hometown and finds her past is not what she thought at all.

embolden

Forbidden and also Embolden, by Syrie James and Ryan St. James. Two more “meh” reads. I love the idea of angels and Nephilim, but the main character is so selfish and ridiculous that it completely detracted from the interesting idea.

ministry of ordinary places

The Ministry of Ordinary Places, by Shannan Martin. I don’t usually find nonfiction riveting, but this I did. Highly recommended.

shadow of the fox

Shadow of the Fox, by Julie Kagawa. I love the Japanese culture and mythology, and the Iron Fey series was fantastic, so I was excited to read this. But I found this a little predictable, despite my liking for the naive main character.

the witch of willow hall

The Witch of Willow Hall, by Hester Fox . Family scandal, mystery, and secrets in this Gothic tale set in 1821. I enjoyed this a lot!

when the lights go out

When the Lights Go Out, by Mary Kubica. After her mother dies, Jessie Sloane finds out she has the name and social security number of a dead girl. As she tries to figure out what that means, her lack of sleep stretches into days and she starts seeing things that aren’t there—or are they? I enjoyed this quite a bit, and I’ve never wanted a character to get some sleep so much!

the lying woods

The Lying Woods, by Ashley Elston. After Owen’s father disappears with millions of dollars, destroying the lives of most of the people who live in their small town, he moves back home to try to help his mother—and figure out  if his dad really did take the money. What Owen finds is hatred, violence, and the truth about his father. This was a fantastic read!

burning fields

Burning Fields, by Alli Sinclair. When Rosie returns home during World War II, she finds some things never change, no matter how badly you want them to, but maybe with the help of the Italian man next door, she can find out the truth about her family. A solid, enjoyable read.

a marriage in 4 vseasons

A Marriage in Four Seasons, by Kathryn K. Abdul-Baki. This tale, which opens with a miscarriage, moves to an affair and a divorce, and through to a reconciliation, is a slow, emotional read that is at times painful to follow.

when elephants fly

When Elephants Fly, by Nancy Richardson Fischer. This book was such a good read! Teenager Lily is trying to live a stress-free life to hopefully avoid the genetic curse of schizophrenia. When she was seven, her mother tried to kill her, but Lily has hopes of avoiding her mom’s fate. When she ends up covering the story of a baby elephant abandoned by its mother, she finds herself way too emotionally involved.

little white lies

Little White Lies, by Jennifer Lynn Barnes. It’s been a while since I read anything by this author, but I completely enjoyed this tale of Sawyer, from the wrong side of the track, who ends up living in high society for debutante season, as she tries to find out who her father is. The feel of this loosely reminded me of the Gallagher Girls series, except not as comic.

 

love a la mode

Love à la Mode, by Stephanie Kate StrohmA cute read about two teens who get into an elite cooking school in Paris. This book made me hungry!

Second Chance at Two Love Lane, by Kieran Kramer (review forthcoming). I found this kind of underwhelming. There was too-much glossing over of things, so it seemed o skip around, and several of the characters were caricatures and not fully fleshed-out. And one of the sub-plots was basically pointless, with its resolution summed-up and not resolved.

Just Because

Fury, by Rachel Vincent. I was excited to read the conclusion to the Menagerie trilogy. This is a fascinating world, and I love the characters. Great read. I finished it in one sitting, but I was not a fan of the ending.

Girl, Wash Your Face, by Rachel Hollis. I had to stop myself from devouring the whole thing straight through. I want to be friends with Rachel!

Look Alive, Twenty-Five, by Janet Evanovich. I do love this series, but…this one was sadly lacking in humor, apart from Lula’s antics. I think this series is starting to get stale.

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.)

Book Review: Season of Wonder, by RaeAnne Thayne

seasonofwonder
Image belongs to Harlequin.

Title:  Season of Wonder
Author:  RaeAnne Thayne
Genre:   Romance
Rating:   4 out of 5

Dani Capelli desperately needed a chance to start over, so she took the job as a veterinarian at a clinic in the small town of Haven Point. With her two daughters, she leaves behind New York and the secrets of her past life. She just wants to make a safe home with no trouble.

But her oldest daughter has other ideas, and soon the deputy sheriff is knocking at her door. Dani didn’t want trouble, but she never really imagined trouble being quite so good looking, either.

Ruben never thought he’d fall for a big-city girl, but he’s attracted to Dani and her daughters. He wants to show them his family traditions to prove that life in Haven Point is all they need. No matter what secrets Dani is hiding.

Season of Wonder is a standard small-town romance. The writing is solid, and the characters are believable and likable. This is the first novel I’ve read by this author, but I would read more.

Raeanne Thayne is an award-winning author. Season of Wonder is her newest novel.

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

Book Review: The Matrimonial Advertisement, by Mimi Matthews

The Matrimonial Advertisement

The Matrimonial Advertisement
Image belongs to Perfectly Proper Press.

Website:  Title:   The Matrimonial Advertisement
Author:   Mimi Matthews
Genre:   Historical romance
Rating:   4 out of 5

Ex-army captain Justin Thornhill needs someone to make his life a little bit easier. Orphaned and growing up in poverty, he’s spent 20 years paying back old grievances, making his fortune, and getting tortured in an Indian prison. Now he just wants to get along with the local villagers and have someone run his isolated household. A matrimonial advertisement seems the perfect way to accomplish that.

Helena will do anything to escape London, even traveling to the back of beyond and marrying a stranger. It’s a small price to pay for her freedom. She even starts to think she and Justin can be happy together. But when secrets from her past show up, will Justin keep her safe? Or will he listen to his own fears and walk away?

Occasionally I’ll read a book marketed as romance. Not often. And only if the premise and characters sound fairly unique and promising. Which is why I picked this one up. I’m glad I did. Helena’s secret was perfectly horrible and completely believable, given what I know about her era, but I loved her strength. Justin is deeply wounded, but so willing to help everyone around him. I loved how their relationship grew and developed.

Mimi Matthews writes about 19th century English history, historical romances, and she’s a lawyer. The Matrimonial Advertisement is her newest book.

(Galley provided by Perfectly Proper Press in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: All We Ever Wanted, by Emily Griffin

all we ever wanted
Image belongs to Random House/Ballantine Books.

Title:   All We Ever Wanted
Author:   Emily Griffin
Genre:   Fiction
Rating:   4 out of 5

Nina Browning is living the good life among Nashville’s elite. Her husband sold his tech business for millions, catapulting them into the moneyed class, and her son, Finch, just got accepted to Princeton. It’s a far cry from Nina’s middle-class other-side-of-the-tracks upbringing.

Tom Volpe is a single dad who works several jobs trying to raise his independent daughter, Lyla. Since her mom left, he’s been struggling to keep Lyla from following in her drinking and partying ways, so Lyla attends the elite Windsor Academy, her way out.

When questionable pictures of Lyla surface after a party, Tom refuses to let his daughter be victimized, and reports the incident to the principal. Soon the entire school is in an uproar, and Nina is faced with believing her beloved son—even when his story doesn’t always add up—or following her own instincts.

I enjoyed this read about Nina, who on the outside looks like a wealthy wife with nothing to do but charity work, living off her husband’s money and content with the choices she made. But Nina isn’t content, and when she realizes what happened to Lyla, she does what she knows is right, bucking the system and society both, as well as her husband. This was a great read, and it delves into some of the questions surrounding social media use and taking advantage of girls with it.

Emily Griffin is a former lawyer turned best-selling author. Her newest novel is All We Ever Wanted.

(Galley provided by Random House/Ballantine Books in exchange for an honest review.)

What I Read in June (2018)

This post will not be as detailed as my monthly re-cap normally is. June was a crazy month for me, with lots of family stuff going on. My dad had major surgery. My grandmother is on hospice. I’m just not up to it right now.

Books Read in June: 11

Books Read for the Year: 83/150

Topical Books/Monthly Goal Books:

Never Stop Walking, by Christina Rickardsson (cultural). Interesting read about a Brazilian girl, adopted to a Swiss couple, who goes back to the poverty-ridden neighborhoods she grew up in in search of her mother.

A Swiftly Tilting Planet, by Madeleine L’Engle (classic). Hard to go wrong with a L’Engle book.

Station 11, by Emily St. John Mandel (TBR). Um…turns out I’d already read this. I found the resolution a bit anti-climatic.

Unexpected, by Christine Caine (spiritual). Excellent, inspiring read.

Cast in Chaos, by Michelle Sagara (TBR). Love this series. Kaylin is such a flawed but likable character.

For Review:

 

emperor

The Emperor of Shoes, by Spence Wise. This was…slightly more than so-so. The father was completely unlikable.

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Little Do We Know, by Tamara Ireland Stone. I enjoyed this story of a girl struggling to make sense of her beliefs.

bookshop

The Bookshop of Yesterdays, by Amy Meyerson. Loved this one!

csw

Convenience Store Woman, by Sayaka Murata. Meh. I couldn’t relate to this on ANY level.

Love-Letter_Cover-Comp

The Love Letter, by Rachel Hauck. I enjoyed this Christian romance that tells the story of two couples, in different centuries.

Not+The+Girls+You're+Looking+For+Cover

Not the Girls You’re Looking For, by Aminah Mae Safi. 

So, honestly, this was lacking a plot. And the main character—and her three best friends—were not nice. Basically unlikable. I liked the diversity and the writing was solid, but the main character looked for things to be offended about.

Left Unfinished:

Harry’s Trees, by Jon Cohen. Just couldn’t get into it.

L’s Precarious Reality, by Layla J. Silver. This was a case of me not being the right reader.

Redeeming How We Talk, by Ken Wytsma. I liked the idea behind the book, but got bogged down in the analysis. I was looking for more concrete suggestions.

Linking up with Modern Mrs. Darcy for Quick Lit.

 

Contest: Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage Giveaway

babyteethgiveaway

Baby Teeth, by Zoje Stage, goes on sale on July 17th.

To read an excerpt and see the trailer, go here.

This psychological thriller about a battle of wills between a mother and her seven-year-old daughter who’s defiant, manipulative, deceitful—and determined to turn her father against her mother—will keep readers riveted to the page.

I’ll be reviewing the book on the 18th, but right now, I have three copies to give away!

To enter, comment on this post and tell me why you want to read this book. I’ll pick three readers randomly to send a copy to. The contest will run today, July 1st through Thursday, July 5th.

What I Read in March (2018)

Books Read in March: 14

Books Read for the Year: 40 /150

Topical Books/Monthly Goal Books:

The Good Earth, by Pearl S. Buck (classic). This was kind of a “meh” read for me. I likee reading about the culture, but I just could not care about the characters.

Go:  A Coming of Age Novel, by Kazuki Kaneshiro and Takimi Nieda (cultural). I enjoyed this, well, as the title says, coming-of-age novel, set in Japan and exploring the conflict about being raised Korean in a Japanese society, embracing your identity, and honesty.

God is Able, by Priscilla Shirer (spiritual). Excellent read.

Wreck My Life, by Mo Isom (spiritual book). I reviewed Isom’s most recent book last month, and decided I had to read her first book immediately. She writes with an honesty and openness that is truly moving.

For Review

southern discomfort

Southern Discomfort, by Caroline Fardig. The first in a lovely cozy mystery series + Southern fiction (one of my loves). When Quinn’s best friend Drew’s brother is found murdered and Drew and Quinn herself fall under police suspicion, they decide to find a better suspect for the police. Quinn’s just not sure how her ability to be polite in all circumstances–Southern to her core–will come in handy. This was a great read!

in search of us

In Search of Us, by Ava Dellaira. This is about Angie, a 17-year-old biracial girl who never knew the father her mother said is dead. But when Angie finds out she has an uncle, who her mother said was also dead, Angie starts to doubt everything her mother has told her. This is also the story of Angie’s mom, Marilyn, who fell in love at age 17 with James, someone who encouraged her to live her own life, not the life her mother wanted her to. This book is wonderful, yet sad.

HeartBetweenUs2

The Heart Between Us, by Lindsay Harrel. Megan spent her entire childhood wishing for a new heart, while her twin sister, Crystal, got to do everything. Now, three years after a heart transplant, Megan sets out to complete the bucket list of her heart donor, and takes Crystal with her, as the two struggle to heal their fractured relationship, as well as trying to sort out their own lives. A lovely, uplifting book!

In Sight of Stars

In Sight of Stars, by Gae Polisner. Klee lost his world when he lost his father. Now he’s living in the suburbs with his mom when he loses control and ends up in a mental facility. To recover, he must learn the truth about his father, his mother, and his whole life. Loved this!

rosie colored glasses

Rosie Colored Glasses, by Brianna Wolfson. Another read about mental illness, told from a child’s perspective. I found the adults in this book to be a bit unbelievable, with the way they completely ignored 11-year-old Willow and her struggles with her mother’s manic-depressive life.

Paris by the Book, by Liam Callanan. (review forthcoming) Leah Eady’s husband vanished, leaving her with their two daughters. Not knowing what happened, but chasing down clues her husband left—maybe, possibly—Leah goes to Paris and starts a new life in the bookstore her husband wrote about. But she sees his everywhere in her mind, and her daughters want to know when their dad is coming back. I am ambivalent about this book. Solid, evocative writing, but I just don’t get the characters and their motivations. Strong does of denial here as well.

Hurricane Season, by Lauren K. Denton. (review forthcoming) Two sisters, both intent on chasing their dreams, have trouble dealing with their pasts to embrace their futures—while a hurricane looms. I enjoyed this book a lot. The sisters’ relationship is so well-done!

Just Because

Everlife, by Gena Showalter. This is the third book in the Everlife series, and I loved it! I love the idea of this series, which is, in many ways, biblical. Ten is an amazing character (and I love her blue hair), and the choices and hardships she faces are overwhelming. Fantastic writing and characterization as always from Showalter, and a unique setting and plot to back it up.

Left Unfinished

The Flight Attendant, by Chris Bohjalina. Made it about 15% though this novel about a flight attendant who wakes up beside the murdered body of her one night stand. Unlikable characters are one thing I can’t deal with, and Cassandra was so willfully self-destructive I couldn’t take any more.

Indecent, by Corinne Sullivan. Unsympathetic main character. Why are you doing this crazy thing?

Strangers, by David Alexander Robertson. I liked the difference in protagonist and setting, but the author was playing his cards a little too close to his vest:  if I don’t have any idea what the big secret from the past is, the characters’ actions now make no sense.

A Guide for Murdered Children, by Sarah Sparrow. I read quite a bit of this, but realized I had NO idea what was going on, so I stopped.

Protogenesis, by Alysia Helming. Again, I had no idea what was going on, and the character just wasn’t believable enough to pull that off.

Linking up with Modern Mrs. Darcy for QuickLit.

What I Read in 2017

My goal for 2017 was to read 100 books. I actually read 174 books. Kind of mad I didn’t get to 175…

Here’s my Year in Books on Goodreads, if you want to see what I read.

And here are my monthly recap posts:

January

February

March

April

May

June

July

August

September

October

November

December

My goal for 2018 is 150. Let’s see how this year in reading goes.

What did everyone else read in 2017?