Tag: what I’ve been reading lately

Best Books I Read in May (2021)

In May, I read 29 books, bringing my total for the year to 107 books. I actually DNFed nine other books, which is an usually high number for me. However, I also read some fantastic books in May. Actually, it’s too hard to narrow it down to three, so I’m going to go over a bit.

The Funny Thing About Norman Foreman, by Julietta Henderson. This started off a little bit slow, but it ended up being so, so good! Norman is an awesome character, and I loved his mom and her struggles, too.

New Girl in Little Cove, by Damhnait Monaghan. I was enchanted with this from the very beginning. The setting is just as much a character as any of the actual people in this story, and it was so vividly described I could almost see it.

The Summer Seekers, by Sarah Morgan. I loved all three main characters of this and couldn’t put it down!

The Girl in His Shadow, by Audrey Blake. This historical set when women in England couldn’t practice medicine was engrossing—and mildly infuriating—but so good.

Lady Sunshine, by Amy Mason Doan (review forthcoming). I ended up being completely sucked into this novel from the very beginning. It was so unexpected, yet so riveting and I couldn’t wait to find out what happened.

What I Read in May (2021)

Books Read in May: 29

Books Read for the Year:  107/250

Topical Books/Monthly Goal Books:

A Wicked Conceit, by Anna Lee Huber (TBR). Another great entry in this series!

How to Eat Your Bible, by Nate Pickowicz (spiritual).

A Court of Mist and Fury, by Sarah J. Maas (TBR, re-read). Okay, I’m really mad I never read more than the first book in this series before. Enthralling.

Brother Odd, by Dean Koontz (re-read). I’m so glad I decided to re-read these (and read the latter ones, that I haven’t read.). Odd Thomas is such a great character.

A Sorrow Fierce and Falling, by Jessica Cluess (TBR). I enjoyed this conclusion to the trilogy.

For Review:

The Funny Thing About Norman Foreman, by Julietta Henderson. This started off a bit slow, but I’ so glad I kept reading! This ended up being a wonderful read with quirky, relatable characters I’d cheerfully read more about.

New Girl in Little Cove, by Damhnait Monaghan. Another lovely read! The setting is as much a character as anyone else, and, as long as I kept in mind the when (the 80s), I didn’t roll my eyes at the Madonna references. Much.

Confessions from the Quilting Circle, by Maisey Yates. Nope. This is the last book by this author I’m reading. Her characters are just unlikable to me, whiny and entitled and they ruin any possible chance of me liking the story.

The Woman with the Blue Star, by Pam Jenoff. This was an interesting read. Not a happy read, though. I can’t imagine surviving a war by living in a sewer.

The Clover Girls, by Viola Shipman. I enjoyed this, although the 80s flashbacks really brought back some memories (Sort of. I was pretty young in the 80s.).

The Summer Seekers, by Sarah Morgan. I loved this read! It was just so much fun, and all three main characters were relatable and I couldn’t wait to find out what happened with each of them. Made me want to take a road trip—and I don’t even like road trips!

Isabelle and Alexander, by Rebecca Anderson. This ended up being such a sweet read, with a bit of a Jane Austen feel to it.

Counting Down With You, by Tashie Bhuiyan. I enjoyed this, but the male lead was way too good to be true for a 16-year-old boy.

Ariadne, by Jennifer Saint. I generally love novels that bring mythology to life, but this was just depressing.

The Girl in His Shadow, by Audrey Blake. I really enjoyed this historical read about a young lady with a gift for medicine…when it was illegal for women to practice medicine.

Talk Bookish to Me, by Kate Bromley. This was a fun, snarky read, even if the male lead was a hard no for me.

The Newcomer, by Mary Kay Andrews. I honestly didn’t care for this much. The retirees were pretty much nosy, rude busybodies, the “romance” was superficial at best, and I just didn’t really care about the characters.

Rising Danger, by Jerusha Agen. This was a decent exes-who-don’t-like-each-other romance with the threat of bombs added in.

The Last Thing He Told Me, by Laura Dave. This didn’t end up being what I expected at all. Solid read.

The Secrets We Left Behind, by Soraya M. Lane. I thought this was sad, but it was a good read.

The Summer of Lost and Found, by Mary Alice Monroe. I probably won’t read any more of this author again. I’m not a huge fan of the characters, among other things.

Dead Sprint, by Caroline Fardig. I’ve been looking forward to reading this 3rd novel in a the series, and it did not disappoint!

You Will Remember Me, by Hannah Mary McKinnon. Frankly, I feel like the author did not deliver on the promises made to the reader, and I will not read anything of hers again. No mystery at all about who the bad guy was, on top of the lack of delivery thing.

Legends of the North Cascades, by Jonathan Evison (review forthcoming). This was kind of a “meh” read for me. Excellent writing, but I was left wondering what the point was.

The Stepsisters, by Susan Mallery (review forthcoming). I finished reading this, but, of the three sisters, I couldn’t stand one of them, only sort of liked another, and mostly liked the third.

Lady Sunshine, by Amy Mason Doan (review forthcoming). I really loved this! It was a very unexpected, engrossing read!

The Warsaw Orphan, by Kelly Rimmer (review forthcoming). This was a solid, albeit sometimes sad, read.

Just Because:

Draw the Circle, by Mark Batterson.

Grace is Greater, by Kyle Idleman. I love this author’s voice: he makes heavy topics relatable.

Left Unfinished:

Hurricane Summer, by Asha Bromfielder, by Asha Bromfield. I was really looking forward to reading this, and I made it about 30% through, but in the end, the patois slowed down the flow so much that I just didn’t care anymore.

A Summer to Remember, by Erika Montgomery. I made it about 15% of the way through this, then realized I hadn’t made a connection with the characters and I didn’t care what happened to them.

A Good Mother, by Lara Bazelon. I didn’t make it very far int his. The MC was just…not a likable person to me.

The Rooftop Party, by Ellen Meister. I only read about 15% of this before stopping. Dana comes across as vapid and self-absorbed, and the other characters were about the same, so I just couldn’t continue reading. And…if Dana is supposedly so smart and savvy, would she really have left a drink beside a guy who creeped her out and then returned for it a few minutes later and drank it? Really?

Local Woman Missing, by Mary Kubica. I read about 20% of this before giving up. The writing was solid, but the style just wasn’t for me. I found the switches between timelines and points-of-view to be clunky and confusing, and I just didn’t feel a connection to any of the characters.

The Photographer, by Mary Dixie Carter. The voice of this just wasn’t for me.

The Whitby Murders, by J. R. Ellis. I made it about 20% before DNFing this one. I just didn’t feel a connection with the characters, so while the premise was cool—a locked room murder in a panic room setting—I just couldn’t get into it.

The Summer of No Attachments, by Lori Foster. I read about 25% of this, but the characters basically got aon my nerves.

Canaryville, by Charlie Newton. The first 10% of this felt like a bad cop movie and I just couldn’t do it.

The Best Books I Read in April (2021)

I read 19 books in April, most of them solid reads, a few not-so-good, and three really excellent ones.

Blessed Monsters, by Emily A. Duncan. This is the ending to a fantastic trilogy! These books are dark and bloody, with grim magic and vivid characters, and are well-worth reading!

Maggie Finds Her Muse, by Dee Ernst. This read was an excellent bit of fun! It’s billed as a romantic comedy, but I think it’s just more of lighthearted read about an almost-50 woman who finally figures out what she wants out of life. In Paris, of course.

Sweetshop of Dreams, by Jenny Colgan. This was also an excellent light read. When a Londoner ends up in a tiny English village, neither the village or the Londoner are ready. This was just a fun, enjoyable read, perfect for a weekend or vacation read.

What I Read in April (2021)

Books Read in April: 19

Books Read for the Year:  77/250

Topical Books/Monthly Goal Books:

Wings of Fury, by Emily R. King (TBR). This was just a “meh” read for me.

A Court of Thorns and Roses, by Sarah J. Maas (TBR, re-read). Why did I stop reading this series? Can’t wait to read the next one!

A Poison Dark and Drowning, by Jessica Cluess (TBR). I’m enjoying this series!

Forever Odd, by Dean Koontz (Re-read). I just love this series.

Stronger than the Struggle, by Havilah Cunnington (spiritual). Excellent read.

For Review:

Just Get Home, by Bridget Foley. This was a decent read, although I didn’t like the MC very much. She was basically useless and ineffectual.

Blessed Monsters, by Emily A. Duncan. I loved this entire trilogy, and this was a fitting ending to it. Very,very dark, but riveting.

The Last Bookshop in London, by Madeline Martin. This was an excellent read! I loved the bookshop itself, and the love of reading it fostered. And, it was nice to read a novel of World War II that wasn’t all dark and gloomy.

The Bookstore on the Beach, by Brenda Novak. This was an okay read, but I think there was too much going on to give any of the plotlines justice.

The Sign of Death, by Callie Hutton. I enjoyed this cozy mystery set in Victorian England just as much as the first one in the series. The unconventional heroine is a lot of fun—although I could do without the froufrou dog.

Bitterroot Lake, by Alicia Beckman. The setting here—and the lodge itself—is almost a character in its own right, and the descriptions made me want to visit, but there was never much question in my mind who the actual killer was, although the author tried to throw out some red herrings.

When the Stars Go Dark, by Paula McLain. I enjoyed this thriller, especially the parts in the past in the woods.

Death with a Double Edge, by Anne Perry. I think this was the first Anne Perry book I’ve read. It was a solid read, but the ending felt a little too easy for me.

Maggie Finds Her Muse, by Dee Ernst. I thoroughly enjoyed this read! The heroine isn’t some young 20-something. She’s in her late 40s, and she’s still struggling with what she wants to do with her life, so when she ends up in Paris and meets a handsome Frenchman and her ex-husband wants to reconnect, well, there’s a lot going on. This was so much fun!

How to Train Your Earl, by Amelia Grey. This was a solid historical romance. It delivered on the promises of the genre, but wasn’t a standout, although it tried to make its heroine unique.

Sweetshop of Dreams, by Jenny Colgan. I enjoyed this so much! The setting, the characters, the story itself—all worked together wonderfully!

Mother May I, by Joshilyn Jackson. This was a good read, but it wasn’t my favorite Joshilyn Jackson novel (that would be gods in Alabama, if you want to know). I love her Southern fiction, and this was more of a thriller, so that was a little disappointing, but it was still a solid thriller—and I did not see the ending coming!

A Tale of Two Cookies, by Eve Calder. This is a sweet, fun series that I really enjoy. Cookies and cozy mysteries!

Just Because:

The Year of Living Happy, by Alli Worthington. This was a lovely daily devotional.

Leap into Love, by Havilah Cunnington. I enjoyed this bible study read.

Left Unfinished:

The Dictionary of Lost Words, by Pip Williams. This should have been fascinating, but I found it so slooow.

The Space Between Two Deaths, by Jamie Yourdon. I didn’t make it very far in this, as I just found it boring. It might have picked up and the setting intrigued me, but not enough to force myself to slog through it.

The Last Exiles, by Ann Shin. This just started off way too slow for me. Solid writing, just not good timing for me.

The Good Sister, by Sally Hepworth. I made it about 15%, but I just didn’t really care for either sister.

Sea of Kings, by Melissa Hope. I made it about 15% through this. I don’t expect middle-grade novels to be as nuanced as adult or even YA books, but this felt clunky and kind of a Harry Potter meets Under the Sea feel.

Under the Southern Sky, by Kristy Woodson Harvey. This just didn’t catch my attention in the first 10%.

When in Vanuatu, by Nicki Chen. There were a lot of books this month that I DNF. This one just didn’t catch my interest.

Best Books I Read in March (2021)

In March, I read 21 books toward my goal of reading 250 books this year. Normally, I re-cap the best three books I read each month, but this time there are more than three.

I Don’t Wait Anymore, by Grace Thornton. This book spoke to me on so many levels! Very uplifting, motivating, and full of hope.

The Sweet Taste of Muscadines, by Pamela Terry. I love well-done Southern fiction, and this one was top-notch. The voice was just incredible, and the settings were so vibrant I felt like I was there.

Namesake, by Adrienne Young. I loved the first book in this duology, and I enjoyed this one just as much. What’s not to like about adventure on the high seas?

Odin’s Child, by Siri Pettersen. This is a bestseller finally translated into English, and it’s a phenomenal read! The mythology and culture are wonderfully realized, and I loved the characters so much.

Firekeeper’s Daughter, by Angeline Boulley. I’m not really a sports fan, but even the bits of this book about hockey were engrossing. The cultural details and struggles this book is about were very well-done, and the main character—and the women surrounding her—were strong and determined.

What I Read in March (2021)

Books Read in March: 21

Books Read for the Year:  55/250

Topical Books/Monthly Goal Books:

I Don’t Wait Anymore, by Grace Thornton (TBR). This books. Man. All the feels.

The Secret Keeper, by Beverly Lewis (TBR). I genuinely love Amish fiction—and I have no idea why. This is an excellent read!

The Circle Maker, by Mark Batterson (spiritual). This book is wonderful.

The Love That Split the World, by Emily Henry (TBR). I loved this. The characters are fantastic.

A Million Junes, by Emily Henry (TBR). Okay, I am just now this very second realizing that Emily Henry wrote both these books—and I adored both of them! Looks like she’s now an auto-read.

For Review:

The Jigsaw Man, by Nadine Matheson. I feel like this took me a looong time to read, but it was a busy week. I enjoyed this, although the crime scene descriptions were pretty revolting.

The Last Garden in England, by Julia Kelly. I enjoyed all three timelines in this novel a lot, which is unusual. I loved reading about the lives of these determined women and what they experienced.

Falling Down Under, by Errin Krystal. This is billed as a romantic comedy, but I wouldn’t really call it comedy. More of just a light read. The MC showed a lot of character growth, and I enjoyed that, but the secondary characters—undoubtedly slated for their own romances later in the series—were fairly one-dimensional.

Good Eggs, by Rebecca Hardiman. This had a Fredrik Backman feel to it—except set in Ireland—and I enjoyed it quite a bit. The grandmother is quite a character.

The Bounty, by Janet Evanovich. I do love the Stephanie Plum series, and I think I read the first book in this series, too. This was a fun read, but it felt like a big-budget action movie with lots of convenient occurrences and the characters never really in danger.

The Sweet Taste of Muscadines, by Pamela Terry. This book. I’m not sure I have the words to convey how much I loved this. The voice is phenomenal. I mean “Growing up in the South is not for the faint of heart.”…How wonderful is that sentence? This really was a fantastic book!

The Memory Collectors, by Kim Neville. This was a bit odd, I’ll admit, and I really disliked one of the characters, but it was a solid read.

Namesake, by Adrienne Young. Fantastic read! More adventure on the high seas in this sequel to Fable.

Danger in Numbers, by Heather Graham. Yep, I’m definitely not going to visit the Everglades anytime soon. Cults and life on the edge of nowhere? No, thank you. A decent thriller read, though.

Tell No Lies, by Alison Brennan. There was a lot going on here in this thriller set in the desert—the landscape was as much a character as any of the people—but I was totally invested in what was happening.

Odin’s Child, by Siri Pettersen. This was a phenomenal read! I loved all of it and can’t wait to read the rest of the trilogy.

The Girl Who Stole an Elephant, by Nizrana Farook. I don’t usually read middle-grade, but this was cute.

Firekeeper’s Daughter, by Angeline Boulley. I enjoyed this so much! I love how vividly—and well—the culture was portrayed.

Checking Out Crime, by Laurie Crass. This was an easy cozy mystery. I haven’t read any of the others in the series, but that wasn’t a problem.

The Path to Sunshine Cove, by RaeAnne Thayne (review forthcoming). This was a decent read, but not a standout.

Just Because:

A Mind Set Free, by Jimmy Evans.

Left Unfininished:

Just My Luck, by Adele Parks. I think I made it 15% in this, but the characters were just unlikable, so I put it down.

Strongheart, by Jim Fergus. I didn’t make it very far in this at all. I wasn’t a fan of the MC or the voice.

Best Books I Read in February (2021)

In February, I read 17 books, bringing my total for the year to 36. Goodreads says I’m a few books behind schedule for my goal of 250 books this year. Three of the 17 were really excellent reads!

Amelia Unabridged, by Ashley Schumacher. This was a great read! The bookstore in this was so lovely, I wanted to pack up and move there immediately (to be fair, it does have living quarters). The characters are great, and their journeys were believable and had me rooting for all of them.

The Lost Apothecary, by Sarah Penner. Sometimes I struggle to engage with both storylines in books with dual timelines, but this wasn’t one of those times at all. I loved the historical timeline, and found it absolutely fascinating, but the present-day story was just as engrossing.

Float Plan, by Trish Doller. This was fantastic! From the very beginning, where the MC is struggling to get her supplies loaded as she’s running away, to every sun-soaked island and her ocean-filled adventures. She works through her grief and learns to stand on her own two feet after tragedy completely knocked the wind from her sails.

What I Read in February (2021)

Books Read in February: 17

Books Read for the Year:  36/250

Topical Books/Monthly Goal Books:

This Present Darkness, by Frank E. Peretti (TBR, re-read). I’d basically forgotten this entire thing, so it was like reading it for the first time.

Love Does, by Bob Goff (TBR). His books are so inspiring!

Hope in the Dark, by Craig Groeschel (spiritual). This would be excellent for someone going through a dark time.

The Yada Yada Prayer Group Gets Decked Out, by Neta Jackson (TBR). I’m sad to see this series end!

Jesus Among Other Gods, by Ravi Zacharias (spiritual). I’m not 100% sure I’m smart enough to truly understand Ravi’s books.

For Review:

We Run the Tides, by Vendela Vida. This was not a good fit for me. The writing was great, but the story felt like a weird mix of lit fic and YA, with some Mean Girls thrown in for good measure.

Amelia Unabridged, by Ashley Schumacher. This was a wonderful read! I enjoyed it so much! I want to visit this bookstore. Or live there. The friendships in the story were lovely.

Furbidden Fatality, by Deborah Blake. This was a quick read. A fairly lighthearted cozy mystery set at a pet rescue.

The Lost Apothecary, by Sarah Penner. I really enjoyed this historical fiction with half the story line set in the present. Character growth, mystery, and a tiny bit of magic made this an engrossing read.

Bright Burning Stars, by A.K. Small. This was a gritty look at an elite ballet school—and the things dancers will do.

To Catch a Dream, by Audrey Carlan (review forthcoming). This really didn’t work for me. The male lead was overbearing, and the female MC was just wishy-washy and inconsistent. Despite the solid writing, I didn’t care for this at all.

The Castle School (for Troubled Girls), by Alyssa Sheinmel (review forthcoming). This ended up being not what I expected—in a very good way!

Float Plan, by Trish Doller (review forthcoming). I LOVED this! So much character growth, set amidst tropical islands and adventure. Highly recommend!

The Nature of Fragile Things, by Susan Meissner. This historical fiction novel had a lot going on, but its pace felt leisurely. This was a solid read.

Every Last Fear by Alex Finlay (review forthcoming). I enjoyed this murder mystery/suspense novel. Told in multiple POVs and timelines, it all weaves together to make an engrossing read.

A Game of Cones, by Abby Collette (review forthcoming). This is the second in a cozy mystery series…and I won’t bother reading any others.The characters were one-dimensional and it was just too over-the-top and dramatic for me.

Her Dark Lies, by J. T. Ellison (review forthcoming). This was a decent suspense read, but the MC was a bit unreliable. Like the reveal about her past that comes towards the end of the book. It felt convenient and deus ex machina, not realistic and believable. And there was never much mystery over the psychopath causing problems, not to mention leaving the question of did her fiance kill his first wife or not was never answered.

Left Unfinished:

The Love Proof, by Madeleine Henry. I read about 12% of this, but it felt so slow, I just couldn’t get into it (the irony of a book about time being slow is not lost on me). Solid writing, just not a good choice for me.

Ladies of the House, by Lauren Edmondson. This sounded promising–a modern retelling of Sense and Sensibility? But I read about 20% of it and just could not get into it. Half the characters were vapid, the other half were hateful and ugly and I just don’t need that sort of negativity in my life.

Best Books I Read in January (2021)

In January, I read 19 books towards my goal of 240 books this year. I also left two other books unfinished. I’m two books behind schedule so far this year…Of those 19 books, three were really good!

Girlhood: Teens Around the World in Their Own Voices, by Masuma Ahuja. This was a fascinating read! It told the stories of girls from all across the world: the history of where they live, their culture, and their lives, including journal entries written by the girls themselves. An excellent read! Lots of pictures as well, to truly bring their stories to life.

Everybody Always, by Bob Goff. I love the author’s voice as he tells stories, using everyday occurrences to make his point. The reader ends up enjoying the lesson. And, when I found out the story behind the cover illustration, it blew my mind! I’m already reading another of his books.

The Iron Raven, by Julie Kagawa. It’s been years since I read anything in this world, but I loved this! Puck was always my favorite character, so it was great to see him get his own story—with characters I loved from the other books in the background of this one.

What I Read in January (2021)

Books Read in January: 19

Books Read for the Year:  19/250

Topical Books/Monthly Goal Books: 

Jo’s Boys, by Louis May Alcott (classic re-read). I really loved this!

Swing, by Kwame Alexander and Mary Rand Hess (TBR). Despite being told entirely in verse, I really enjoyed this—until the ending, which seemed completely unrelated to the rest of the book.

Eveybody Always, by Bobb Goff (spiritual). I LOVE the voice in this!

Made Like Martha, by Katie M. Reid (spiritual). Excellent read!

It’s Not Supposed to Be this Way, by Lisa TerKeurst (spiritual). This would wonderful for someone going through a tough time.

Dressed to Kill, by Rick Renner (spiritual). There were a few too many exclamation points and redundancy for me.

The Yada Yada Prayer Group Gets Rolling, by Neta Jackson (TBR). Still loving this series!

For Review:

Girlhood: Teens around the World in Their Own Voices, by Masuma Ahuja (review forthcoming). This was a fascinating read! Stories of girls all over the world, complete with pictures and journal entries.

Dearest Josephine, by Caroline George (review forthcoming). Enjoyable novel, although I thought the main question of the story was left unanswered.

How to Build a Heart, by Maria Padian (review forthcoming). This was a solid, heartwarming read, without all the drama found in a lot of YA novels.

The Iron Raven, by Julie Kagawa (review forthcoming). This is the first time I’ve read anything in this world in years, but I loved the start of Puck’s adventures. He’s so much fun! A little dark here, though.

Killer Content, by Olivia Blacke (review forthcoming). This just didn’t work for me. The MC was almost a farce, and she was super judgey of everyone around her, mentally condescending while being superficially nice—then being surprised when her judgments were wrong.

The Vineyard at Painted Moon, by Susan Mallery (review forthcoming). Mallery is an excellent writer, so that wasn’t a problem, but the characters here—for the most part—were just awful people. Awful. Vindictive, mean, cruel, petty, lying…the list goes on. Which means I had to struggle not to stop reading. The MC and her two friends were fine, but the rest of the characters were just so horrible it turned my stomach.

Just Because:

As Death Draws Near, A Brush with Shadows, An Artless Demise, and A Stroke of Malice, by Anna Lee Huber. I LOVE this series! I read the first one some time ago, and I just binged the rest of the series (new book out soon).

Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz. It’s been so long since I first read the first part of this series. I really enjoyed this re-read.

Devotions Inspired by The Principle of First Mention. This was my church’s yearly 21-day devotional read.

Left Unfinished:

And Then She Vanished, by Nick Jones. The whole time-travel premise sounded great, so I gave this a shot. I read 20% of it, and it was very sloooow…and I did not care for the MC.

The Obsession, by Jesse Q Sutanto. I didn’t get very far in this. Solid writing, but the creepiness-factor was too much for me.