The House Swap [Book Review]

September 24, 2021

The House Swap by Jo Lovett

The House Swap by Jo Lovett (cover) Image: white text on a salmon background...graphic images of a young man and woman above the title

Genre/Categories/Settings: Light Women’s Contemporary Fiction, Romance/Rom-Com, Luxury Flat in London/Beach House in Maine

My Summary:

Cassie needs to work with her agent in London for a few months and James needs a break from London and has work he can do in Boston. They meet on a house swapping website when each other’s home seems like the answer to their search. They are quite opposite in every way: personality, lifestyle, and attitudes. This deal leads to humorous communication and house swapping experiences. Do opposites attract?

My Thoughts:

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The Medallion [Book Review] #ThrowBackThursday

September 23, 2021

The Medallion by Cathy Gohlke
#throwbackthursday

The Medallion Review

Genre/Categories/Setting: Historical Fiction, WW11, Jewish, Christian, Warsaw

In 2020, I decided to systematically revisit my older review posts and update them. On Thursdays, I’ll be re-sharing a few of these great reads. Today, I’m re-sharing a compelling and page-turning story of WW11, The Medallion by Cathy Gohlke.

I’m linking up today with Davida @ The Chocolate Lady’s Book Review Blog for #throwbackthursday.

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

My Summary:

“1939 Warsaw is the setting for this harrowing, heartfelt, and inspirational WW11 tale of survival, courage, loss, hope, risk, and faith. Sophie works in the city library, and her husband, Janek, is deployed with the Polish Air Force. When the Germans invade Warsaw in 1939 and streets become a dangerous war zone, Sophie feels compelled to help friends and strangers. Rosa and Itzhak are pregnant with their first child when they seek shelter in the Jewish ghetto. When Itzhak leaves her to check on the safety of his family, Rosa faces the horrific possibility of sending their small child into hiding to save her life, but first Rosa cuts a medallion (the Jewish Tree of Life) in half and places half around her young daughter’s neck. She prays that this will be enough to reunite them after the war.

We follow the lives of these two memorable couples whose worlds are torn apart and, in post-war years, connected by a shared love for a young daughter.”

“When all seems lost, God can make a way forward.”

Continue here for my full review of The Medallion…



QOTD:

Have you read The Medalliion or is it on your TBR?

 

Top 5 Tuesday: Top 5 Stand Alone Books of Summer 2021 [Book Reviews]

September 21, 2021

Top 5 Stand-Alone Books of Summer 2021

Top 5 Stand Alone Reads of Summer 2021 (white text on a salmon color background on top of a field of wild flowers)

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

I’m linking up today with Meeghan at Meeghan Reads for Top 5 Tuesday. This week I’m narrowing the prompt of Top 5 Stand-Alone Books to Top 5 Stand-Alone Books of Summer 2021.

Top 5 Books Read in June, July, and August

1.

Three Words For Goodbye by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb (cover) Image: two young women holding promotional materials and wearing hats stand next to a railing on an ocean liner

Best Historical Fiction; Three Words For Goodbye by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb

2.

Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir (cover) Image: an astronaut floats in space tethered to a gold and black object

Best Science Fiction/Audio Book: Project Hail Mary (AUDIO) by Andy Weir

3.

The Firekeeper's Daughter by Angeline Boulley (cover) Image: the profiles of two native american young People (man and woman) in cultural dress

Best Diverse Read: Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley (YA/NA)

4.

Gilead by Marilynne Robinson (cover) Image:

Best Literary Fiction: Gilead by Marilynne Robinson

5.

the Kitchen Front by Jennifer Ryan (cover) Image: a young woman dressed in a red blouse and a white apron holds a recipe book close to her chest

Best Women’s Fiction/Histfic: The Kitchen Front by Jennifer Ryan



QOTD:

Have you read any of my Top 5 of Summer?
What is one of your Top 5 Reads of Summer?



Happy Reading Book Buddies!

“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke

“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes

“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

“I read because books are a form of transportation, of teaching, and of connection! Books take us to places we’ve never been, they teach us about our world, and they help us to understand human experience.”
~Madeleine Riley, Top Shelf Text



Let’s Get Social!

Thank you for visiting and reading today! I’d be honored and thrilled if you choose to enjoy and follow along (see subscribe or follow option), promote, and/or share my blog. Every share helps us grow.

Find me at:
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***Blogs posts may contain affiliate links. This means that at no extra cost to you, I can earn a small percentage of your purchase price.

Unless explicitly stated that they are free, all books that I review have been purchased by me or borrowed from the library.

Book Cover and author photos are credited to Amazon or an author’s (or publisher’s) website.

© ReadingLadies.com

Fall 2021 TBR #toptentuesday

September 21, 2021

Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Books on My Fall 2021 TBR

#TopTenTuesday Fall TBR (Image: white text over a background of colorful fall leaves)

top ten tuesday

I’m linking up today with That Artsy Reader Girl: Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Books on My Fall 2021 TBR.

What is your most anticipated fall read?

With all the books that are on my radar on a given day, it’s nice to pick out a few for an official TBR. Ten still leaves room for library holds that come in, occasional ARCs, or some mood reading.

One question you may ask is “Are these spooky reads or thrillers?” Many readers have differing opinions of what comprises a fall read: some want spooky, some look for atmospheric, some seek out thrillers, while others like to tackle large tomes or nonfiction during the fall when they are spending more time sitting by the fire. It’s my opinion that any book you read in the fall is a fall read. For my fall reads, I look for the types of books I look for all year: memorable, thought-provoking, and unputdownable. So the answer to the question is NO….no thrillers or spooky reads because I’m too susceptible to nighmares.

The following two highly anticipated books were on my initial fall TBR list and then FOMO gripped me and I read them in summer! Project Hail Mary (AUDIO)) by Andy Weir and Three Words For Goodbye by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb. I highly recommend both of these 5 Star reads for your fall TBR.

Keep in mind that I’m not yet recommending the books on my official fall TBR list…..check back often, though, because I will provide updates and links to reviews as I read them. For now, these are the reads that are on my fall 2021 reading radar.

I finished my Summer TBR just last week!

*Titles are Amazon affiliate links.

Fall 2021 TBR

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Do Hype, Book Buzz, and High Expectations Affect Your Reading Experience? #WhatsOnYourBookShelfChallenge #LetsDiscuss2021

September 17, 2021

 Do Hype, Book Buzz, and High Expectations Affect Your Reading Experience?

Do Hype, Book Buzz, and High Expectations Affect Your Reading Experience? (white text over a background picture of a tall stack hardback books on a blue painted table"

***This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

I’m linking up today with Deb @ Deb’s World and SueDonna, and Jo for the September installment of #WhatsOnYourBookShelfChallenge ….

…and with the 2021 Discussion Challenge.

2021 discussion challenge graphic (a blue bird and red fox and wall clock and stack of books graphic)


My answer to this question is absolutely YES!

If you love reading, you’re likely to approach your next read with certain expectations. Or perhaps you try to minimize your expectations and go in “cold.” Some readers don’t like to read reviews or blurbs before they read. This post is written with the assumption that you might have some expectations about your current or next read.

I have learned through experience to approach highly buzzed and popular books with caution because high expectations have definitely affected my reading experience. Do you find this true in your reading life? Two recent books that did meet my high expectations were the audio version of Project Hail Mary (The audio was absolutely as good as I expected) and Hamnet.

Currently, I have the highest expectations for Fredrik Backman’s new release (Beartown #3) in 2022.

Sometimes publishers hype a book through social media campaigns and blog tours and the hype doesn’t develop organically from reviewers. At times I’ve read hyped books and thought “Really?” Then later, more authentic and honest reviews start rolling in and the hype is not sustainable.

I need to confess that I have a high level of FOMO (fear of missing out), so I am highly susceptible to buzzed and hyped and popular books. This doesn’t always serve me well. For example, I SHOULD have a review ready for you on the blog today! Truthfully, I need to report that I have been underwhelmed with a few highly anticipated books lately which has negatively affected my scheduled reviews and my reading mojo. This situation has caused me to think about the predicament of high expectations, so I’m opening it up for discussion today.

An author’s blurb (cover endorsement) can cause you to have high expectations for a book. That happened to me last year. I accepted an ARC for a book that was endorsed by one of my favorite authors and I ended up disliking it. So… proceed with caution (curb impulse buying!) when it comes to cover blurbs and check some reviews!

I realize that I may be guilty of raising your expectations for certain books I love and then they fall flat for you. If this has been your experience, I’m truly sorry. It simply shows that no two readers read the same book and that the reading experience is a personal one.

Do HYPE and book BUZZ and HIGH EXPECTATIONS affect YOUR reading experience or reading choices?

Do high expectations (book buzz and hype) work for you or against you in your reading life?

How many times have you turned the last page and thought “I wanted to love it more”?

There are a few courses of action a reader can take when your highly anticipated book disappoints you:

  1. throw that book across the room
  2. take the author off your auto buy list
  3. delete it from your Goodreads shelf and pretend you’ve never read it or wanted to read it
  4. write a negative review
  5. accept it as a lesson learned (once burned…) and vet the next book very carefully
  6. Give the author another chance
  7. no drama needed….not every book is for every reader….move on
  8. donate/give the book away
  9. set it aside to pick up again at a later date (maybe it wasn’t the right time)
  10. spiral into a reading slump
  11. stop buying or borrowing or requesting hyped books
  12. only read from a back list and avoid popular books
  13. throw it in the trash
  14. what have you done with a book you didn’t like?????

My history with disappointing reads: I read on a kindle so throwing it across the room is not a wise option….although I have been known to return digital books to Amazon! I don’t think I would discount a favorite author, but I’m certainly going to read many reviews and refrain from a publishing day purchase. I would probably throw away a book I disliked before I would donate it. If I felt it was just me and others might appreciate it, I would donate it. I rarely set a book aside to read at a later date. I know my reading tastes well and they are not likely to change that much over time. I have been known to delete books from my Goodreads shelf and pretend I haven’t read them. Most of the time, though, I just move them to my DNF shelf. Honestly, I don’t enjoy writing negative reviews and have written very few (usually I leave a one or two star rating and keep my opinions to myself).  Actually, most of the time my reaction is “it was not for me but it might be perfect for another reader” and move on. Life is too short to read bad books or books that don’t match my reading tastes. These days, I’m quick to abandon a book without much guilt. I think I’ve become pickier over the years and embrace the quote from Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society; “Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”

A highly anticipated book that didn’t work out: One book which I set the highest expectations for was Bridge of Clay by Marcus Zusak, author of The Book Thief. Readers have waited thirteen years for a new book by this author and the anticipation was at a high level. Although others have loved it, I was underwhelmed and disappointed (mainly because it didn’t match my reading tastes). Although I don’t write many negative reviews, you can read my goodreads review here. I will certainly take a close look at his next book before jumping in.

A highly anticipated book that did work out after an initial scare: A recent book that made me nervous in the beginning was Anxious People by Fredrik Backman. It started out slow and I panicked and thought “Oh no! What if this isn’t a great reading experience for me?!” Then I remembered the author and decided to relax into the read and trust him; to acknowledge that he can take his time to build a story (Beartown); and to know that his message/themes are worth an investment of time. It ended up being a 4.5-5 Star read for me and you can see my review of Anxious People here.

If You’re Curious: Here’s a list of a few recent buzzed and hyped books that I highly anticipated and that underwhelmed me (for a variety of reasons). These are NOT bad books (others have loved them); they are just not to my taste. Brood, Braiding Sweet Grass, The Madness of Crowds, The Road Trip, Olympus Texas, Crying in H Mart. (of these, I abandoned Braiding Sweet Grass and Road Trip…I finished the others but they received 3 stars) The lesson here is that exploring and knowing your reading tastes will help you avoid disappointments. I knew that Crying in H Mart might not be the right read for me (too sad) but I’ve seen it on soooo many lists and I fell under the FOMO spell.

Move On: I think it’s important to realize that every book won’t match your reading tastes and that’s it’s absolutely OK to set it aside or mark it as DNF. In other words, just move on! I think that the more we read and the more we reflect on our reading experiences our knowledge will help us choose the next right book for an enjoyable reading experience!

Don’t feel bad if you’re an outlier. Often in my reviews, I need to confess that I’m an outlier (in the minority) with my opinions. I’m comfortable with that and I encourage you to also embrace this concept as a possible reaction to a book.

Not every book is for every reader: For every book that I do not enjoy, I read many raving reviews from others. Reading is a personal experience and not every book is for every reader. We each bring unique experiences and thoughts and triggers to the reading experience. Embrace what you enjoy and know that other readers will enjoy the books that are not right for you. I think one of the worst things to do is to force yourself to finish a book that doesn’t match your tastes.

I honestly believe that Hype, Book Buzz, and High Expectations do affect your reading experience. I’m not sure of the best way to avoid that except to read many reviews and to get to know your reading tastes. Often, I read the 2 Star reviews just to see what some major objections might be. If I notice themes or certain triggers, I know it’s a book I might want to skip. Deciding not to read a popular book is difficult, though, isn’t it? For example, I decided not to read a popular new release, The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah, because I knew I didn’t want to read something that depressing and sad (she has made me ugly cry before and I didn’t like it). But every time I see it on a list, I feel a twinge of regret and then I have to remind myself of why I made the decision.

If I’ve listed a book here that you’ve loved, I’m sorry. I usually avoid talking about books in a negative way. I think the topic of high expectations is worth exploring and it’s always helpful to provide examples. Your examples would be completely different from mine! Please leave your thoughts in comments.

Do you agree or disagree that high expectations can affect a reading experience?



QOTD:

Do you think your own high expectations has ever affected your reading experiences? Can you give an example?



Happy Reading Book Buddies!

“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke

“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes

“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

“I read because books are a form of transportation, of teaching, and of connection! Books take us to places we’ve never been, they teach us about our world, and they help us to understand human experience.”
~Madeleine Riley, Top Shelf Text



Let’s Get Social!

Thank you for visiting and reading today! I’d be honored and thrilled if you choose to enjoy and follow along (see subscribe or follow option), promote, and/or share my blog. Every share helps us grow.

Find me at:
Twitter
Instagram
Goodreads
Pinterest



***Blogs posts may contain affiliate links. This means that at no extra cost to you, I can earn a small percentage of your purchase price.

Unless explicitly stated that they are free, all books that I review have been purchased by me or borrowed from the library.

Book Cover and author photos are credited to Amazon or an author’s (or publisher’s) website.

© ReadingLadies.com

The Dearly Beloved [Book Review] #ThrowBackThursday

September 16, 2021

The Dearly Beloved by Cara Wall
#throwbackthursday

Dearly Beloved by Cara Wall (cover) Image: white text over the graphic image of a tree with long reaching limbs....all against a blue background

Genre/Categories/Setting: Literary Fiction, Marriage, Friendship, Faith, 1960s Manhattan

In 2020, I decided to systematically revisit my older review posts and update them. On Thursdays, I’ll be re-sharing a few of these great reads. Today, I’m re-sharing a compelling drama of marriage, friendship, and faith, The Dearly Beloved: A Review. My best read of the year in 2019.

Recently, I reviewed Gilead and explained why I think it is literary fiction; The Dearly Beloved is another example of literary fiction.

I’m linking up today with Davida @ The Chocolate Lady’s Book Review Blog for #throwbackthursday.

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

My Summary:

“Four very different individuals (two couples) navigate relationships, marriage, children, faith, career, ministry, crisis, joy, friendship, forgiveness, uncertainty, understanding, and heartbreak. The couples meet in the 1960s when the men, Charles and James, accept positions as co-pastors of the Third Presbyterian Church in Manhattan. The relationship between the couples is strained because the wives are polar opposites: Lily is a loner and an atheist and Nan values connection and is a devout Christian. In this tender character-driven story that covers decades of life, we also learn the backstory of each individual.”

One Favorite quote: “While she was away, they had been able to forget the accident. When she returned, they had been forced to pick up their rakes of grief and drag them along the ground.”

A thoughtful story of faith and doubt, hope and disappointment, friendship and marriage, career and family….

Continue here for 10 reasons why I loved The Dearly Beloved…



QOTD:

Have you read The Dearly Beloved or is it on your TBR?

The Madness of Crowds [Book Review]

September 14, 2021

The Madness of Crowds by Louise Penny

The Madness of Crowds by Louise Penny (cover) Image: white and light blue text over the background of the graphic silhouette of a pine tree with sunburst of various bright colors behind the tree

Genre/Categories/Setting: Contemporary Fiction, Crime Fiction, Mystery/Detective, Police Procedural, Canada, post Pandemic

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

My Summary:

The Madness of Crowds is the seventeenth installment of the Inspector Gamache/Three Pines series. Although I recommend reading the series in order, this particular book is easily read as a stand alone.

As the New Year’s celebration approaches and the residents of Three Pines enjoy snow sports and hot chocolate in the bistro, Chief Inspector Armand Gamache is asked to provide security for a visiting professor who is giving a lecture at a nearby university. At first glance, it seems like an easy enough assignment, but then he realizes that the professor has a repulsive agenda that Gamache can’t endorse. He urges the university to cancel the lecture, but they cite academic freedom and the event proceeds. When a murder occurs, Gamache and his team will need to set aside their personal convictions and find the killer.

My Thoughts:

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The Only Plane in the Sky: An Oral History of 9/11 [Book Review] #NeverForget911

September 11, 2021

 The Only Plane in the Sky: An Oral History of 9/11 by Garrett M. Graff

The Only Plane in the Sky by Garret M. Graff

Genre/Categories/Setting: Nonfiction, U.S. History, Terrorism, New York City

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

My Summary:

We will always remember…

On September 11, 2001, America experienced a devastating attack that killed almost 3,000 innocent civilians and wounded over 25,000 others and caused at least 10 billion dollars of infrastructure and property damage. Garrett Graff tells the story of that day through the voices of those who lived it. From the early hours of September 11 to day’s end, we hear actual accounts from first responders, Twin Tower workers, family members, children, government officials, survivors, military…..a 360-degree picture of the tragic events. This is truly an “own voices” work.

My Thoughts:

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Other Words For Home [Book Review]

September 10, 2021

Other Words For Home by Jasmine Warga

Other Words For Home by Jasmine Warga (cover) Image: the profile of a young Syrian girl in a head scarf

Genre/Categories/Setting: Middle Grade+, Contemporary Fiction, Syria (and U.S.), Refugee, Coming of Age, Novel in Free Verse, Diverse Reads

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

My Summary:

Because of instability in Syria, Jude and her mother leave her father and older brother to live with relatives in America (Cincinnati). Even though Jude has learned some English, she is unprepared for life in an American family, starting school in the U.S,. and her new label as “Middle Eastern.” Jude makes the best of some difficult situations and is suprised to make a new friend. Ultimately, she summons all her bravery and tries out for the school musical.

My Thoughts:

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If You Want To Make God Laugh [Book Review] #ThrowBackThursday

September 9, 2021

If You Want To Make God Laugh by Bianca Marais
#throwbackthursday

If You Want To Make God Laugh by Bianca Marais (cover) black text on a yellow background....a graphic image of a dog and bird surround the title

Genre/Categories/Setting:  Historical Fiction, (post Apartheid) South Africa, Family Life, Sisters

In 2020, I decided to systematically revisit my older review posts and update them. On Thursdays, I’ll be re-sharing a few of these great reads. Today, I’m re-sharing a compelling family drama, If You Want To Make God Laugh by Bianca Marais.

I’m linking up today with Davida @ The Chocolate Lady’s Book Review Blog for #throwbackthursday.

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

My Summary:

If You Want to Make God Laugh is the compelling story of three unforgettable women living in post-Apartheid South Africa at the time of a growing AIDS epidemic and threats of civil war. Zodwa is seventeen, pregnant, poor, and lives in a squatter’s camp. Ruth and Delilah are middle-aged sisters who live on an inherited, rural farm. While Ruth is an unhappy, disillusioned, and newly divorced socialite, Delilah is a former nun and social worker who is hiding a big secret. A newborn baby will bring these characters together, and this is a story of their precarious relationships, of sibling jealousy, rivalry, and healing, and of found family.”

“I’d often wondered since then if a child could be inoculated in the womb against the horror of the world through the power of its mother’s love; if that love could infuse joy into a child even when her presence couldn’t.”

If You Want to Make God Laugh…..tell Him your plans…

Continue here for my full review of If You Want To Make God Laugh…



QOTD:

Have you read If You Want To Make God Laugh or is it on your TBR?
Have you read Hum If You Don’t Know the Words by the same author?