Category: reading question

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

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:



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


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


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


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


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, 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


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.


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:













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

What did everyone else read in 2017?

What I Read in December

I read 21 books this month, bringing my total for the year up to 174. Quite a bit past my goal of 100 books for the year…

Sir Percy Leads the Band, by Emmuska Orczy (classic). I found this “sequel” to The Scarlet Pimpernel to be a fun, entertaining read. And Sir Percy is such a fantastic character, able to change his persona so completely.

Life and Other Near Death Experiences, by Camille Pagan (cultural book of the month, except not). I thought this was going to be mainly set in the Caribbean, hence its place as “cultural” book, but it wasn’t. It was a very enjoyable read about a woman who finds out she has cancer, and, on the same day, her husband tells her he’s gay. So she runs away to Caribbean to deal with the idea of her pending death. A funny read, and Libby is such a likeable and relateable character that I finished this quickly.

Once Upon a Time by Debbi Macomber (spiritual book of the month). This author is one of the very few “romance” authors I’ll read, and this book was par for her:  well-written, thoughtful, and it spoke to me.

Empire of Ivory, by Naomi Novak (TBR/just because). Another solid read in this series. I can’t believe I let these sit unread on my shelf for years

as you wish

As You Wish, by Chelsea Sedoti (read to review). A magical realism read about a town where every person is granted one wish on their 18th birthday, and it always comes true.

bad call

Bad Call, by Stephen Wallenfels (read to review). This is a YA suspense about a girl and three guys who go hiking in Yosemite and end up in the midst of a snowstorm, with no food and no shelter. One of them doesn’t come back. A decent level of suspense, but the characters’ motivations had me wondering why so much that I’d rate the book three out of five.

How to Hang a Witch, by Adriana Mather (from my Tulsa book haul). So…I didn’t pay attention to the fact that the book was by one of the Mathers—of Salem Witch Trial notoriety—until I finished the book. The book is about a Mather descendant who moves to Salem and discovers the curse that haunts all of the descendant families—and she tries desperately to uncover the truth and stop the curse before it kills her father. I enjoyed this book, and it had a prominent dose of creepiness.

wolves of winter

The Wolves of Winter, by Tyrell Johnson (read to review). I loved this book! Finished it in just a few hours, straight through, because I couldn’t put it down. A dystopian about Lynn, who lives with her family in the Yukon after nuclear war and disease collapsed civilization. Survival is the focus, until Lynn meets Jax, who shows Lynn a destiny she can’t even comprehend. I can’t speak highly enough about this book, and its unique (to me) setting.

Where I End, by Elizabeth Katherine Clark (review forthcoming). The true story of Katherine Clark, who broke her neck when a boy on the playground fell on her. The doctors told her she’d never walk again, but God had other plans. An uplifting, inspiring read.

Believe, edited by Randy Frazee (person/spiritual). I’ve been reading this tome since August. Lots to digest here, but broken down into easy chunks.

Mesmerized_Mock-up dpi 72

Mesmerized, by Candace Camp (read to review). Olivia works to expose mediums and their tricks, but finds herself in the midst of events she can’t explain away, when she starts seeing visions from Blackhope Hall’s past, events that seem to feature the current lord of the manor, Stephen, as well. A solid period romance, with the “mad Morelands” providing even more interest.

Wedding Bells, Magic Spells, by Lisa Shearin (as a treat). I love the Rain Benares books, and this was no exception. Lots of action, smart humor, and, of course, the lovely Mychael.

The Forgotten Book, by Mechthild Glaser (review forthcoming). This is a YA fantasy about Emma, who goes to a prestigious boarding school, and who finds an old book full of scribblings.  But this is not your typical journal:  everything written in the book comes true…in a manner of speaking. I enjoyed this book, and the myths and mystery added depth to it. I thought the school—and its students—were a bit too good to be true—no cliques, no enemies, and a whole lot of freedom, but I enjoyed this very much.

The Black Painting, by Neil Olsen (review forthcoming). This was merely a “meh” read to me. Frankly, the characters were too confusing, and the narrative was too disjointed–which makes sense for a novel about characters who arguably all have a mental illness–for me to really get into. And the painting by Goya is very creepy to me.

Firebrand, by Kristen Britain (as a Christmas weekend treat). I absolutely love this series. SO MUCH. Karigan is such a strong character, yet so flawed, and I can both sympathize with and respect her. The characters in this series are so vibrant I feel like I know them personally, and I am drawn into all their stories. This is probably one of the best fantasy series I’ve ever read. Loved it!

Breaking Rules, by S.B. Alexander (to review, but stopped reading). I made it about halfway through this before I stopped reading. There are a ton of good reviews on Goodreads, but the characters are too wishy-washy for me. One second, Train was charming and flirty, the next he was a rude jerk. And sometimes Montana was strong and independent, and sometimes she was also just a jerk.

Menagerie and Spectacle, by Rachel Vincent (Read the first as a treat, because it was already on my Kindle, then had to buy the second one immediately.) I am a huge Rachel Vincent fan, and Menagerie had such a unique concept. Sadly, I could totally see “normal” humans acting this way towards anyone different—because that happens all the time. Looking forward to the enxt one.

The Holy Bible, as an obvious spiritual choice, that I read via a 365-day reading plan.

The Stars Never Rise and The Flame Never Dies, by Rachel Vincent (Read the first as a treat, because it was already on my Kindle, then had to buy the second one immediately.) I finished the first one in about 3 hours, then had to make myself ration the second one…for two days. Fantastic concept. where demons really exist and have consumed all the available souls as they try to take over a world run by the Church, who is desperate to catch natural exorcists. So good!

Linking up with Modern Mrs. Darcy for Quick Lit.



What I Read in October

I read 19 books in October. I know, right? Not sure where I found the time. But…some of these were REALLY good, and I finished them in less than 24 hours. Especially the last two…and the first one I read in November. 🙂

the indigo girl

The Indigo Girl, by Natasha Boyd (read to review). Fascinating historical fiction about the early efforts to produce indigo in colonial America. Eliza Lucas is a sixteen-year-old left in charge of the family’s estates while her father chases his military dreams. This novel also talks about the early slave uprisings and Eliza’s efforts to teach slaves to read. A very engrossing read, with a bit of romance thrown in for good measure.

merry and bright

Merry and Bright, by Debbie Macomber (read to review). Debbie Macomber is always a good author to turn to for feel-good, uplifting stories, and this one is no exception—even for someone disgusted with the commercialization of Christmas. Merry is so busy she has no time for herself, until her mother and brother set up an online dating profile for her, which leads her to someone she never expected.


Select, by Marit Weisenberg (read to review). I’m not sure what to say about this novel. The cover is beautiful, and the premise sounds intriguing, but the execution didn’t live up to the promise. A reclusive group of beautiful people with special traits prepares to separate themselves from the rest of the world, while the leader’s daughter learns there’s a lot more going on than she’s ever been told.

the house at 758

The House at 758, by Kathryn Berla (read to review). Loved this! YA fiction about Krista, still grieving the death of her mother, while her father wants to move on and Krista is obsessed with the mysterious house at 758.


The Midnight Dance, by Nikki Katz (read to review). Penny and eleven other girls are students at an elite ballet school, hidden away from the world by the Master, a reclusive wealthy man who only wants the best for them. Until Penny’s memories no longer add up, leaving her to wonder if what she remembers is the truth or not. Beautiful cover!

His Majesty’s Dragon, by Naomi Novik (from the TBR pile). This has been on my shelf for years. I’m not sure why I waited to read this, but I loved it! Dragons as military fighters in the war with Napoleon.

Throne of Jade, by Naomi Novik (from the TBR pile). Still loving this series.

the breathless

The Breathless, by Tara Goedjen (read to review). A creepy gothic read about a family with dark secrets struggling to deal with the loss of their oldest daughter–and the secrets she was keeping. I enjoyed this read a lot. Very creepy, but I did not want it to end like it did (yet the ending was very appropriate).

Black Powder War, by Naomi Novak. (Just because.)

the beautiful ones

The Beautiful Ones, by Silvia Moreno-Garcia (read to review). This was a Regency-ish read with hints of steampunk…maybe magical realism set in a Regency-type society? Nina is used to country living, but she comes to town for the Grand Season and her ice-cold aunt tries to mold her into a society girl. Except Nina keeps forgetting the rules and speaking her mind. Then there’s the telekinetic performer she meets and falls in love with, Hector, who’s hiding dark secrets.

Stay with Me, by Ayobami Adebayo (cultural book of the month.) Okay, I love reading books set in Africa. I’ve felt drawn to it as long as I can remember, and ironically, my boyfriend is from Cameroon. Go figure. This book, set in Nigeria, is about a wife struggling to get pregnant and keep her children alive, and the secrets she and her husband have hidden from each other. It was an emotional read, and I’m still not sure what I think of it.

Lilac Lane, by Sherryl Woods (review forthcoming). A romance about an Irish woman who falls in love with the pub chef, but the problems from their past are great enough to shadow everything around them. I may have to read the rest of this series.

Murder over Mochas

Murder over Mochas, by Caroline Fardig (read to review.) I’m sad that this is the last of the Java Jive series. Funny, light mystery that reminds me quite a bit of the Stephanie Plum books.

Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance, by Emmie Ruth Lang (review forthcoming.) I’m still digesting this read about a boy who was raised by wolves, and the man he grows up to be…with powers. A bit of an X-men feel to this one.

The Reason for my Hope, by Billy Graham (spiritual book of the month.) Great read.

Passing, by Nella Larsen (classic book of the month.) I’d never actually heard of or seen this book on any list of classics, but it showed up on a Goodreads search, and I thought it would be an interesting choice, considering the conversations about racism going on. I’m not quite sure what I think about this. I found one of the characters almost unlikable, and the other so conflicted I never got a true sense of her.

Firebrand, by Sarah MacTavish (Just because.) This has been sitting on my TBR pile for WAY too long. About abolitionists just before the Civil War. There was a lot here that I didn’t know about, which is sad, since half the book is set not too far from where I live/grew up. I cannot imagine having lived in such dark times. Wonderful characters, and I’m looking forward to more from this author.

The Dark Intercept, by Julia Keller (Review forthcoming.) I found this version of the future disturbing (but not completely farfetched), and I loved the characters and their conflicts. I enjoyed this immensely and recommend it! Read it in one day.

Rosemarked, by Livia Blackburne (Review forthcoming.) Hands down the best book I read all month! About a healer who catches the illness she’s fighting, and is given an opportunity to help others who suffer from it, while secretly trying to learn more about the enemy that conquered her people, before they can be destroyed by war. Fantastic read! Even better, it’s the first of a series! I blew through this in less than a day.

Linking up with Modern Mrs. Darcy.