Most Compelling Characters of March

March 30, 2018

March Compelling Character

This month I’m choosing two most compelling characters: Leni from The Great Alone (fiction) and Tara from Educated: A Memoir (nonfiction). Leni and Tara share some similar struggles and challenges. The two stories reminded me at times of The Glass Castle (charismatic yet unpredictable fathers, unstable homes, neglect, poverty) and Hillbilly Elegy (chaotic family life, nurturing grandparents)….a fascinating book club discussion could be centered around discussing the connections between these books and characters.

I’d love to hear which characters you read about this month that were the most memorable for you. I’ve provided a link up or you can leave a comment.

 

Meet Leni and Tara:

For me, memorable characters who grow and change despite the obstacles make all the difference in a good story. Both Leni and Tara are my choices for this month’s most compelling characters because they share some experiences and traits that make them memorable. Both endure emotional and physical abuse (not sexual), yet despite difficult childhoods, they each rise above their circumstances. Surprisingly, they continue to love and show devotion for their parents (this struck me in The Glass Castle, as well). Leni and Tara share a drive to pursue an education and a desire to belong. In addition, they are determined, persistent, courageous, loyal, clever, and brave. Each girl feels threatened (one by her father and the other by her brother) and fears for her safety.  While Leni receives support from her small village community, Tara receives support from one brother, a BYU counselor, and some professors. Each girl is memorable in her grit, her ability to survive,and her drive to strive for something better in her life. These memorable characters allow me to rate both stories 4 Stars and to recommend these reads to others. ***Trigger warnings***

Tara’s words after dance class: “The other girls rarely spoke to me, but I loved being there with them. I loved the sensation of conformity. Learning to dance felt like learning to belong.”

Tara’s words about her abusive brother: “Shawn had more power over me than I could possibly have imagined. He had defined me to myself, and there’s no greater power than that.”

Brief Synopsis and Review of The Stories:

The Great Alone is a story about a dysfunctional family that eventually moves to the harsh wilderness of Alaska to make a fresh start. In this page turner by Kristin Hannah (author of the Nightingale), thirteen-year-old Leni watches her gentle and artistic mother struggle to live a happy and secure life with her father, a Vietnam War vet, who suffers from PTSD.  A survivalist, her father becomes more paranoid and controlling as the story progresses. ***trigger warnings for emotional and physical abuse***  Leni, struggling to stay in school and walking on egg shells around her father, is also concerned about her mother and about their general well-being as the dark winter and isolation of the Alaskan wilderness cause her father’s symptoms to worsen. The first part of the story is slower paced and devoted to establishing a sense of place, character development, and a slow build up of the problem. The last part of the story  unfolds at a rapid pace and there are attempts to escape and confrontations. Some have commented that the ending is tied together easily, quickly, and conveniently. This didn’t bother me too much because rapid emotional plot twists are Kristin Hannah’s style and part of me was eager and relieved to have closure to Leni’s story.  If you’re looking for an engaging page turner with an Alaskan wilderness setting, this is a good selection to meet that criteria. However, The Nightingale remains my favorite work by Kristin Hannah. My Rating for The Great Alone: 4 Stars. (March Amazon Rating  4.6 Stars)

Great Alone

Amazon Summary and Purchase Information Here

Educated is a memoir by Tara Westover.  Tara grew up as one of seven children in a Mormon family making their home in Idaho.  Both parents are devout Mormons; however, her father is an extremist, survivalist, and he isolates the family while stockpiling supplies, avoiding the government, and planning for worst case scenarios. ***Trigger Warnings*** While Tara’s soft-spoken mother makes healing herbs and ointments and practices midwifery, her charismatic father makes a living extracting and selling scrap from his junk yard. To avoid the government, the children do not have birth certificates, are not taken to the doctor, and most of them are home schooled, although according to Tara’s account, Mom’s interest for home schooling waned with the younger ones and to complicate the situation, Dad always needed help in the junk yard.  Tara wished she could go to school, and I didn’t receive the impression that her parents would have kept her from school, it’s that she suffered from not having the right clothes, feelings of not belonging, and often felt pressured to help her father in the junk yard. Over the years she experiences mental and physical abuse from one of her brothers, becomes more dissatisfied with her chaotic home life, and her desire for an education grows. With the encouragement of a brother, she decides to study independently for the ACT and apply to BYU. Thus begins her educational journey, her path of self-realization, healing, and ultimate separation from her family. Tara’s first classroom experience was at age 17. Readers will thoroughly understand and empathize with how difficult and emotional it was for her to  take these steps as she’s a loyal girl who feels a great duty to her family. Tara’s understanding of “education “ is that with it, one is able to gain one’s own perspective on life. Here is Tara’s interview with CNN. If you’re looking for a compelling memoir similar to The Glass Castle, you might enjoy this selection. My Rating for Educated: 4 Stars. (March Amazon Rating: 4.7 Stars).

Educated

Amazon Summary and Purchase Information Here



March’s Most Compelling Character Link Up

Please share your most memorable character from your March reading in the comments or link up your blog post.



Happy Reading Bookworms!

“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



Looking Ahead

I have several books on hold at the library (I’m #27 for The Force of Nature so that will be a while) and I’m waiting for kindle prices to fall on some new releases……consequently…….next Friday I’ll read and review a book already on my shelf, Eden by Jeanne McWilliams Blasberg (and check it off my winter TBR list).

Eden

Amazon Information Here

What are you reading this week?


Reading Podcasts I Love

Modern Mrs Darcy: What Should I Read Next

Read Aloud Revival (focus on children’s literature)

Reading Women (reviews of books written by women about women)



Extra:
Reading Recommendation For Middle Grade Girls Who Love Science!

Finding WondersFinding Wonders: Three Girls Who Changed Science by Jeannine Atkins is a beautifully and creatively written middle grade story exploring the lives of 3 girls who are curious, love questions and the world around them, and are persistent in pursuing their love of science and scientific inquiries. Each woman makes important scientific contributions, and I loved reading about them and the context of their lives. I’m not sure middle grade students will read slowly enough to appreciate the beautiful prose and nuance/subtlety of language, so it might be a good “read together” book.

The author ensures that the girls exhibit some modern feminist thoughts that struck me as the author’s agenda rather than something girls in that era would usually think. However, these thoughts might provoke good conversation starters. For example: “But she hates embroidery, its worth measured by the smallness of stitches. A needle woman trains her eyes to stay cast down while hiding knots and boredom, committing herself to the circumference of a lap.”

An interesting extension read for adults might be The Gilded Years by Karin Tanabe, a fictionalized biography of the first African-American woman (passing as white) to attend Vassar (same college where Maria Mitchell in Finding Wonders was a professor).

Finding Wonders is an interesting, creative, and worthwhile read. It makes me eager to read all the untold stories!  My Rating: 4 Stars

Amazon Summary and Purchase Information Here



Sharing is Caring

I’d be honored and thrilled if you choose to enjoy and follow along, promote, and/or share my blog. Every share helps us grow.



 Let’s Discuss!

I’d love to hear all about the most memorable character from your March reading!

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Top Ten Tuesday: Books That Take Place in Another Country

March 27, 2018

10 Books That Take Place in Another Country

One of the joys of reading is that books take you to new places to experience different countries and cultures. Lately, I’ve enjoyed more diversity than ever in my reading selections. I’m linking up today with That Artsy Reader Girl for Top Ten Tuesday: Books That Take Place in Another Country. If you’ve clicked over from there, welcome! I hope you’ll take a look around!

This is a difficult category for me on this fine Tuesday because the majority of what I read is historical fiction which often takes place in other countries. While looking over my book list, I’ve chosen books in assorted genres with memorable settings that offer a deeper look into another culture and where the setting is an integral part of the story.

(in no particular order)

Pearl That Broke its ShellThe Pearl That Broke Its Shell by Nadia Hashimi
(Afghanistan)

Brief Review Here



RefugeeRefugee by Alan Gratz
(Syria, Germany, Cuba)

Review Here



Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane

Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See
(China)

Brief Review Here



Chilbury

Chilbury Ladies’ Choir by Jennifer Ryan
(Chilbury, England)

Review Here



The Baker's Secret

Baker’s Secret by Stephen P. Kiernan
(Normandy Coast of France)

Amazon Summary and Information Here



Orphan's Tale

Orphan’s Tale by Pam Jenoff
(Germany)

Brief Review Here



Salt to the SeaSalt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys
(fleeing Europe on the Wilhelm Gustloff)

Brief Review Here



Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer
and The Soldier’s Wife by Margaret Leroy
(Both on the Island of Guernsey)

Guernsey Information Here and The Soldier’s Wife Information Here



castle of water 2

Castle of Water by Dane Hucklebridge
(South Pacific Remote Island)

Review Here



The Dry

The Dry by Jane Harper
(Australia)

Brief Review Here



Happy Reading Bookworms!

“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



Looking Ahead

Friday 3/30 I’ll be offering a March Compelling Character Link Up. Think of a favorite character you’d like to share either in a blog post or a comment.

What are you reading this week?


Sharing is Caring

I’d be honored and thrilled if you choose to enjoy and follow along, promote, and/or share my blog. Every share helps us grow.



 Let’s Discuss!

I’d love to hear about books you’ve read with memorable settings!

We Were the Lucky Ones

….. family …..

March 23, 2018

We Were the Lucky Ones
by Georgia Hunter

we were the lucky ones

Genre/Categories: Historical Fiction, Jewish, Inspirational, WW11, family

Summary:

In the spring of 1939, the extended Kurc family is living a modest and happy life in Radom, Poland. In the midst of joyful family celebrations, however, there is increased talk of the mistreatment of Jews. Soon the entire close-knit Kurc family faces separation, makes attempts to flee, and desperately focuses on safety and survival. Family members share a will to survive and seeing one another again is their greatest goal. Through cleverness, determination, faith, hope, and hardship they endure. Amazon Rating (March): 4.8 Stars

My Thoughts:

Very often when writing a review I change my star rating. This was the case here as I closely reflected on the endearing commitment to family themes. I changed my initial rating of 4 stars to 4.5, finally rounding it to 5. To solidify my thinking I noticed that 84% of the 914 reviewers on Amazon also rated it 5 stars. This is a solid, satisfying, and inspirational read.

What worked:

For me, themes are one of the more compelling elements in literature, and a story with strong themes has a great chance of earning a 4 or 5 from me.  In addition to the story’s harsh themes of survival, fear, prejudice, and hardship, the theme that means the most to me is the importance of family. Even though the children are adults, there is a devotion and commitment to family that is especially joyful, endearing, and inspirational.

In addition, I appreciated the author’s inclusion of religion as an important part of family life and a basis for their hope. Sedars are described and prayers and song lyrics are explicit. It is becoming more rare in contemporary fiction to see religious themes presented in positive ways.

Finally, I enjoyed that this story is closely based on the author’s own family history. That added an element of investment that I felt toward each character. I cared deeply about each one and their survival. Researching and writing this story must have taken the author on quite an emotional journey.

What was difficult:

There were so many characters! I should have kept a character chart with important details in my journal as I read. Because this story is about the survival of a family, I don’t see how the author could have left any one out. Just be prepared to keep track of many individuals!

Recommended?

This is a book that I highly recommend for readers of WW11 historical fiction, for those who love family stories with great themes, and for those who enjoy against-the-odds and inspirational themes. As with any WW11 survival story there are some difficult parts, but it is balanced nicely with humor, hope, and lovely characters. Plus the title is comforting because I kept reminding myself “they will find a way through this situation!” We Were the Lucky Ones is going on my potential favorites of the year list.

My Rating: 4.5 Stars rounded up to 5

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we were the lucky ones

Buy Here

Meet the Author, Georgia Hunter

Georgia HunterWhen Georgia Hunter was fifteen years old, she learned that she came from a family of Holocaust survivors. We Were the Lucky Ones was born of her quest to uncover her family’s staggering history. Hunter’s site, http://www.georgiahunterauthor.com, offers a behind-the-scenes glimpse at the extensive research this project has entailed. She lives in Connecticut with her husband and son.

 



Happy Reading Bookworms!

“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



Looking Ahead

Friday 3/30 I’ll be offering a March Compelling Character Link Up. Think of a favorite character you’d like to share either in a blog post or a comment.

What are you reading this week?


Links I Love

hash

*Photo credit: Good Cheat Eats

 

 

My newest favorite recipe, zucchini and sweet potato hash, is from Good Cheap Eats

If you’re looking for an easy, tasty, and healthy side dish (or I could eat this as a main dish), try this recipe! I usually double it, and I’m not a mushroom lover so I leave that out. You can pair this hash with any meat or even top it with an egg for breakfast. Here’s how I’ve been using it: I pop salmon into the oven and while that’s baking, I make the hash. Or if I have left over chicken (or other meat) from a previous meal, I make this and it helps me forget I’m having leftovers. I’m an avocado lover so I always pair it with avocado as in the picture. Below is a pic I snapped as it started cooking. I’m not a great cook and I always look for ways to cut down my kitchen time so that I can spend more time reading….. so this recipe is a win for me because I eagerly look forward to making it and it fits with my need for easy and quick. For gardeners, this would be a great way to use up an abundance of zucchini!

hash 2

Other Links:

Novels and Nonfiction guest posted for The Hungry Bookworm: 12 Memoirs for Nonfiction Newcomers

DefinitelyRA: Thoughts After Seeing The Wrinkle Movie.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society coming to theaters April 20!
(notice the Downton Abby actors!)

If you loved The Book ThiefMarkus Zusak has a new book releasing in October:
Bridge of Clay



Extra: 

Author Panel + Brunch

If you live in Southern California near Corona, you might be interested in an Author Brunch at the Corona Public Library on Saturday morning, April 21. Authors are Susan Meissner, Laura Kamoie, and Michelle Gable. Here’s the flyer:

histfic author brunch



Sharing is Caring

I’d be honored and thrilled if you choose to enjoy and follow along, promote, and/or share my blog. Every share helps us grow.



 Let’s Discuss!

I’d love to hear all about what you are reading (or cooking!) this week!

 

 

 

Spring TBR (& Winter Update)

March 20, 2018

Do you keep a TBR list?

books graphic

I’m an impulsive reader. Are you? First, I have FOMO when I hear others’ reviews of new releases. Also, my reading selections depend upon when my digital library holds come in, on current great Kindle deals, and, of course, on my book club’s selections. For me, though, making a list is a fluid experience.

I’m linking up today with That Reader Artsy Girl for Top Ten Tuesday. If you’re clicking over from there, welcome!





Spring TBR (in no particular order)





Great AloneThe Great Alone by Kristin Hannah
(author of The Nightingale)

I just recently read this! When you make your lists, do you also write something you’ve already accomplished on them so that you can check it off right away? I haven’t reviewed The Great Alone yet, so I guess it still counts as spring reading. I’ll be reviewing it on the blog soon. However, until then, you can check my brief Goodreads review….and readers must know that there are*** trigger warnings*** for domestic abuse.
By the way, are we friends on Goodreads?

Amazon Information Here



Force of Nature

Force of Nature by Jane Harper

This is the sequel to The Dry (brief review here), but I think it can be considered as a stand alone, too. It was on my winter TBR but it wasn’t released until February, so I’m bumping it to my spring list. The sad news is that I’m #33 on the digital hold list at the library. Diligently, I look for a good Kindle price every week.

Amazon Information Here



Us Against You

Us Against You by Fredrik Backman

I’m eager to read this sequel to Beartown (brief review here); however, Us Against You doesn’t release until June, so I may need to bump it to my summer TBR! I’m on the library waiting list but until it’s released, I won’t know how far back I am on the list. Backman is one of my favorite newly discovered authors. Have you read any of his work?

Amazon Information Here



music shop

The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce

This was a BOTM (Book of the Month Selection) and it looks promising, especially for music lovers! I’m on a hold list at the library but it’s not yet available digitally, so until it is, I don’t know where I am on the wait list.

Amazon Information Here



Italian Bulldozer

My Italian Bulldozer by Alexander McCall Smith

As a fan of #1 Ladies Detective Agency series, I’m curious about Smith’s recent work involving Italy + food + romance. It sounds light and delightful. I’m #1 on the library’s digital wait list!

Amazon Information Here



four seasons in rome

Four Seasons in Rome by Anthony Doerr

The only thing I needed to know about Four Seasons in Rome before it went on my TBR was that it’s by the Pulitzer Prize winning author of the beautifully written All the Light We Cannot See.
*Edited to add that I’ve removed this from my active TBR list and moved it to the-books-I-want-to-read-some-time shelf or until I travel to Rome.

Amazon Information Here



A Surprise Postal Book Club Selection

This seems like a good time to tell you about the Postal Book Club I joined! I signed up for this book club with 5 other women (whom I do not know) through Modern Mrs Darcy Book Club connections. Here’s how it works….6 participants scattered throughout the country each select a book and a small journal. First, each person reads their book and makes notes (including questions for other readers) in the journal. Then each person mails the book and journal to the next person on the list. That person will read the book and make notes in the journal and pass it on. There are 6 of us, so we mail our books every other month (we started at the end of January), and at year’s end we’ll have read all 6 books. ***Note: the person who coordinated this, set up our group based on our preferred genres which we had indicated to her when we signed up for the club. Book selections are supposed to be kept a surprise (which means that I don’t talk about the titles on social media or email participants about what’s coming). It’s fun to see what you’ll get. At the end of the year, I’ll receive my original book back along with notes in the journal from 5 other people. My next selection comes at the end of March and I’ll have 2 months to read it, make notes in the journal, and mail it to the next person. Doesn’t this sound like fun? If you love book mail, it’s easy to set up…all you need is a group of 5 other people. My group doesn’t know each other IRL, but you could set this up with your friends far and near! It’s a wonderful idea for friends or family who can’t get together for IRL book clubs I’ll give you an update (including titles of books we’ve read) in December! I’d be happy to answer any questions you may have in the comments.



84 charing cross road

84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff

This title may hold the record for being on my TBR the longest. My main obstacle is that it’s not available to read digitally. I need to get myself down to the library to check out a physical copy.

Amazon Information Here



***edited to add…

room on rue Amelie

Room on Rue Amelie by Kristin Harmel
(released 3/27)

Amazon Information Here





Winter TBR Update

For this update, I’ll list the books from my winter TBR list and give star ratings, links for the review or Amazon information, and  brief comments. I’m not including cover pics, but you can follow the link to my original post or to Amazon to find covers. (listed in order of my original list)






Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann

Completed: 4 Stars
Review
Comment:  A compelling and sad true crime retelling (U.S. Native American History).



Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder by Caroline Fraser

Completed: 4 Stars
Review
Comment: Real life versus children’s stories;
biography + U.S. middle America history.
I recommend not listening to this on audio because the reader is less than ideal.



Force of Nature by Jane Harper

Bumping this from my winter to my spring TBR
Amazon Information Here



84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff

Bumping this from my winter to my Spring TBR.
I’ll need to get myself down to the actual physical library to borrow this because it’s not available digitally for Kindle or digitally from the library. I could listen on audio but that doesn’t provide me with my best reading experience.
Amazon Information Here



Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf

Completed: 4 Stars
Goodreads Review (not reviewed on blog)
Comment: Grandparents are important and seniors can find love, too! (There’s also a movie adaptation on Netflix with Robert Redford and Jane Fonda).



As Bright As Heaven by Susan Meissner

Completed: 4 Stars
Review
Comment: A memorable and unforgettable read.



Far From the Tree by Robin Benway

Completed: 4 Stars
Review
Comment: A heartfelt YA story of the adoption triangle.



The Library At The Edge Of The World by Felicity Hayes-McCoy

Completed: 3 Stars
Goodreads Review (not reviewed on blog)
Comment: Others have enjoyed this character driven book…it just wasn’t the right book for me at the time (see review for more details).



Eden

Bumping from my winter to my spring TBR. I recently bought this for Kindle at a great price (sale no longer available) ….so look for a review soon….

Amazon Information Here



The Kommandant’s Girl by Pam Jenoff

Completed: 4 Stars
I didn’t review this one.
Comments: A quick and easy histfic read and a page turner. (same author as Orphan’s Tale and an earlier work)

Amazon Information Here



Us Against You by Fredrik Backman

Bumping from my winter to my spring TBR. Not released until June. I’m on the library waiting list, and in June if I have a long wait, I’ll probably purchase it to alleviate my FOMO stress. Backman is totally worth shelling out the bucks!

Amazon Information Here



…. That’s it ….

Completing 7 out of 11 from my winter list is not too bad (considering release dates, library wait lists, that I did a lot of other reading….and Prairie Fires and Killers of the Flower Moon were both dense and long reads).  Do you keep TBR lists?



Happy Reading Bookworms!

“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



Looking Ahead

Friday 3/23, I’ll review We Were The Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter

we were the lucky ones

Amazon Information Here

What are you reading this week?


Links I Love

DefinitelyRA: Thoughts After Seeing The Wrinkle Movie.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society coming to theaters April 20! 

If you loved The Book ThiefMarkus Zusak has a new book releasing in October:
Bridge of Clay



Extra: 

Author Panel + Brunch

If you live in Southern California near Corona, you might be interested in an Author Brunch at the Corona Public Library on Saturday morning, April 21. Authors are Susan Meissner, Laura Kamoie, and Michelle Gable. Here’s the flyer:

histfic author brunch



Sharing is Caring

I’d be honored and thrilled if you choose to enjoy and follow along, promote, and/or share my blog. Every share helps us grow.



 Let’s Discuss!

I’d love to hear all about what you are reading this week!

Do you keep a TBR list on your phone or in Goodreads?

What’s on your Spring TBR list?
Do we share any titles?
I’d love to know if you have some “must adds” for me!

How To Find Love In A Bookshop

March 16, 2018

Romantic….quaint English village….a book about books and bookish people….delightful

How to Find Love In A Bookshop
by Veronica Henry

How to find love in a bookstore

Genre/Categories: Women’s Fiction, Light Romance, Books and Reading

Summary:

Emilia returns to her idyllic Cotswold hometown fulfilling a promise to take care of her father’s independent bookstore, Nightingale Books, after his death. It’s clear that the bookshop is important to the community, and villagers who come into the shop have their own stories to tell. It’s evident that Emilia’s father was more than a bookseller to his customers; in addition to offering personal recommendations, he was a friend, confidant, and greatly admired and respected friend.  Can Emilia save Nightingale Books? Amazon Rating (March): 4.3 Stars

My Thoughts:

Frequently, in between my dense and heavy WW11 histfic reads, I need something light…like a palate cleanser and sometimes I read books because of the cover!

It’s rare that you’ll find me promoting and reviewing “chick lit.” However, this delightful, easy reading, romantic book stands out from the rest with its interesting characters, multiple perspectives, varied story lines, and charming sense of place. Although it’s predictable, it’s also the perfect feel good read. If this is the type of low stress read you’re looking for, it delivers. If you’re like me and at one time have had bookish dreams of owning an independent bookstore, it’s an added incentive to read the book as we are able to experience the struggles and joys of bookstore ownership through Emilia.  How To Find Love in a Bookshop is one of the best books about books I’ve read in a while, and it’s definitely engaging because I read it in one day. It might even land on my favs of 2018 list at year’s end.

Recommended for readers looking for a story that is light, escapist, a bit romantic, and has a happy ending. Try not to expect more.

My Rating: 4.5 Romantic Stars

twinkle-twinkle-little-startwinkle-twinkle-little-startwinkle-twinkle-little-startwinkle-twinkle-little-star

How to find love in a bookstore

Buy Here

Meet the Author, Veronica Henry

Veronica HenryAs an army child, I went to eight different schools, including the Royal School Bath, where I learnt Latin, how to make rock buns and how to take my bra off without getting undressed.  I went on to study Classics at Bristol University, followed by a bi-lingual secretarial course – a surprisingly useful combination.

I landed a job as Production Secretary on The Archers at Pebble Mill in Birmingham, where it used to take me two and a half hours to type out an Archers script on an Olivetti ET121 typewriter.  Duties ranged from recording the sound of newborn piglets to playing Peaches the barmaid in the Cat and Fiddle.  There was never a dull moment, and The Archers taught me that everyone needs an escape from everyday life.

From there, I became a script editor for Central Television, working on broadcasting legends Crossroads and Boon.  I started a family and became a freelance scriptwriter, writing hundreds of hours of television drama, including Heartbeat and Holby City.

In 2000 I got my first book deal, and am currently writing my fifteenth novel, The Forever House.

I also write lifestyle features for newspapers and magazines, including Woman and Home, Red, The Daily Mail, Woman and The Sunday Times.

I speak regularly at Literary Festivals, libraries, WIs and charity events, talking about my career and the inspiration for my novels.



Happy Reading Bookworms!

“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



Looking Ahead

Tuesday 3/20 I will post my Spring TBR and also review progress on my Winter TBR.

Next Friday 3/23, I’ll review We Were The Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter 
(see…I’m back to heavy reads!)

we were the lucky ones

Amazon Information Here

What are you reading this week?


Links I Love

DefinitelyRA: Thoughts After Seeing The Wrinkle Movie.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society coming to theaters April 20! 

If you loved The Book Thief, Markus Zusak has a new book releasing in October:
Bridge of Clay



Extras:

Before I forget, I want to mention two middle grade histfic reads that I enjoyed recently: The War That Saved My Life (2016 Newbery Honor book Winner of the 2016 Schneider Family Book Award) and its sequel The War I Finally Won…. both by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley. Do you ever read middle grade or YA literature? I think good stories can be appreciated and enjoyed by all ages! I never felt like I was reading a “kids” book. Recommended for older elementary and middle grade girls who might enjoy WW11 histfic.

Author Panel + Brunch

If you live in Southern California near Corona, you might be interested in an Author Brunch at the Corona Public Library on Saturday morning, April 21. Authors are Susan Meissner, Laura Kamoie, and Michelle Gable. Here’s the flyer:

histfic author brunch



Sharing is Caring

I’d be honored and thrilled if you choose to enjoy and follow along, promote, and/or share my blog. Every share helps us grow.



 Let’s Discuss!

I’d love to hear all about what you are reading this week!

Did you see the Wrinkle in Time movie? What did you think? All the glitter though! The movie was simply OK for me. It’s been ages since I’ve read the book, but I remember it as science fiction. The movie seemed to portray tessering as magical or by the power of one’s mind.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Books That Surprised Me (in a good or bad way)

Top Ten Tuesday: Books That Surprised Me (in a good or bad way)

March 13, 2018

books graphic TOP TEN TUESDAY

top ten tuesday

I’m linking up today with That Artsy Reader Girl for Top Ten Tuesday: Books That Surprised Me (in a good or bad way) and with Modern Mrs. Darcy/Quick Lit: March. If you’re here because you’ve clicked over, welcome!

Books That Surprised Me in a Good Way: (in no particular order)

News of the World

News of the World by Paulette Jiles

It surprised me how much I loved this book because it’s a Western! However, because it’s also historical fiction I took a chance and it became one of our (mine and my hubs) favorite reads of 2017! Trust me…….Give this one a chance!
Brief Review Here
Amazon Information Here
Movie Talk Are in Process With Tom Hanks



Hillbilly Elegy

Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance

I ignored this memoir for many months before I decided to give it a try. I enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would, and I found it to be a worthwhile read. In addition, I learned a great deal about poverty, the working poor, and the Appalachian culture. Readers have a variety of opinions on this book and reviews vary greatly….please consider my positive review as well as others.
Full Review Here
Amazon Information Here



How to find love in a bookstore

How to Find Love in a Bookshop by Veronica Henry

I read very little chick lit and when I do, I’m unlikely to rate it higher than 3 stars. Frankly, chick lit is boring because I enjoy more substantial reads with significant themes. This totally surprised me! The reason I took a chance on it is because a few reviewers whom I respect were giving it positive reviews. Keep in mind, one needs to be in the right mood for a light, romantic, cozy, delightful, and purely escapist read, and this came across my radar at exactly the right time when I needed a break from some intense historical fiction and dense nonfiction reads. I loved the interesting characters, the quaint idyllic bookstore, the amazing sense of place (England), and the multiple perspectives/story lines. I appreciated the brain break! If this is the type of read you’re looking for, it delivers! The full review will be a future blog post.

Amazon Summary and Information Here



Refugee

Refugee by Alan Gratz

This intense and dramatic cover is as great as the read. I’m amazed once again at how much I enjoy some middle grade reads. This story of three refugee families from Cuba, Syria, and Germany will engage and captivate adult readers as well as its (mature) middle grade intended audience. Fast paced and a page turner, this historical fiction story covering multiple decades and several locations might be an excellent story to read together with your family because of its thoughtful themes of perseverance, determination, courage, and hope in the midst of difficult circumstances.

Full Review Here
Amazon Information Here



A Gentleman in Moscow

Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

I almost missed out on the rich reading experience that this book offers. I started it (read Part 1) and then set it aside for weeks, only to read a bit more (Part 2) and set it aside again. At this point, I was tempted to shelve it DNF. However, enough reviewers kept raving about it that I had to give it another chance. Because of the reviews, I felt it was a book worth finishing and that I would take it in chunks and read other books in between. In addition, I decided that I would discipline myself to appreciate the beautiful writing of Amor Towles and enjoy this literary fiction reading opportunity. As I relaxed about the reading, it because easier and more enjoyable and I found that I didn’t need the breaks. In fact, by the end, I was quite engaged (and it helped that the story picked up the pace a bit in the last part). This is a book I’m glad to say that I’ve read because it’s touted as a modern classic.  The premise of the story is intriguing: a well-respected Russian Count is sentenced to spend the rest of his life in a hotel in Moscow under house arrest. Readers meet a true gentleman and are inspired to make the best of all life’s circumstances. If you enjoy literary fiction, beautiful writing, and well crafted stories, give this a chance.

Amazon Summary and Information Here



Wonder

Wonder by R.J. Palacio

I bought this book because as a teacher it was expected…..I was recommending it to students and yet I confess that I hadn’t read it myself. In my defense, I would say I was preoccupied with my “adult” reads. When the movie was announced, I knew I had to pull this off my TBR shelf and read it before I saw the movie. I don’t know why I procrastinated because I loved this story with its positive messages for ALL of us!  Don’t miss out on this book because you think it’s for kids. It is, but good literature can be enjoyed by all. This would also be a fabulous family read with the movie as a follow-up. We can all be inspired by Auggie’s courage and be inspired by the national Choose Kind Campaign that grew out of the book.

Full Review Here
Amazon Information Here
Movie Trailer Here



Unbroken

Unbroken:
A World War 11 Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption

by Laura Hillenbrand

I was reluctant to read this book because of the prisoner of war section. However, after I had the privilege of meeting and hearing this dear man speak at an event, I knew I needed to read his remarkable story of faith, endurance, and perseverance against all odds.  Even though I had to skim over some of the prisoner of war sections, I am glad that I read this memorable and captivating story to honor and celebrate his life.

Amazon Summary and Information Here

Movie Trailer Here



Hunger Games

The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins

No one was more surprised than me when I read all three books in The Hunger Games trilogy in one week during Spring Break! Don’t be afraid to read out of your usual genres! I really enjoyed all three books….much more than I expected! I especially appreciated that the books were able to delve more into the moral dilemmas, ethics, and personal angst that the movies couldn’t replicate. I enjoyed this series so much that I eagerly gobbled up Divergent and Insurgent  (Veronica Roth) that same year (I skipped #3 in that series because of negative reviews).

Hunger Games Amazon Summary and Information Here

Hunger Games Movie Trailer Here



Books That Surprised Me In a Bad Way:

Everything I Never Told You

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

This is a book that has received lots of hype and some very high reviews but it wasn’t the right read for me. Although it was beautifully written and constructed, the story was extremely sad and depressing. Some other readers and reviewers disagree, so I urge you to check out other opinions before making your reading choice. (***triggers: death of a child) Her second book, Little Fires Everywhere (my review here) was one of my favorites of 2017 (and I almost didn’t read it because of my reaction to her first book). Celeste Ng is a gifted writer and I would seriously consider reading her next work; this one just didn’t work for me.

Amazon Summary and Information Here



everything everything

Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon

*Unpopular opinion alert* It was the ending of this YA book that didn’t work for me. The ending was a complete surprise to me because I read it soon after it had been released and I wasn’t prepared for such a major plot twist. I can’t say too much without it being a spoiler, but the ending left me feeling punked by the author. In fact, after I read the book, I didn’t desire to see the movie. Others, however, have loved the book…..so you might want to give this popular YA read a chance.

Amazon Information Here

Movie Trailer Here



Happy Reading Bookworms!

“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



Looking Ahead:

On Friday, I’ll be providing a full review of How to Find Love in a Bookshop by Veronica Henry

How to find love in a bookstore

Amazon Information Here

What are you reading this week?


The BUZZ

You might be interested in this thorough “Wrinkle in Time” book to movie review and analysis by trusted blogger and Madeleine L.Engle super fan, DefinitelyRA.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society coming to theaters April 20! 



Sharing is Caring

I’d be honored and thrilled if you choose to enjoy and follow along, promote, and/or share my blog. Every share helps us grow.



 Let’s Discuss!

Which books have surprised you in a good or bad way?

Have you seen Wrinkle in Time?

What are you reading this week?

Island of Sweet Pies and Soldiers

March 9, 2018

Colorful Hawaii…friendship…loyalty…pies…romance…racism…brave marines…and a lion

Island Of Sweet Pies and Soldiers
by Sara Ackerman

Island of Sweet Pies and Soldiers 2

Genre/categories: historical fiction, WW11, family life, military

Thank you to The Loud Library Lady for a free review copy in exchange for my honest opinion. This review of Island of Sweet Pies and Soldiers is part of a Reading Train and all opinions are my own.

Summary:

Surrounded by the tropical beauty of Hawaii in 1944, Violet Iverson and her daughter Ella struggle to stabilize their lives after the attack on Pearl Harbor and the disappearance of Violet’s husband and Ella’s father whom some speculate might have been a spy. After Pearl Harbor, prejudice against the Japanese is common on the island, and the fear and mistrust is difficult for Violet to face as many of her close friends and community members are Japanese and suddenly become the feared “them.” Because Violet and her friends desire to make a little money and also wish to support the war effort, they devise a plan to make sweet pies for the soldiers, Meanwhile, Ella is miserable because she’s keeping a secret, is scared, and refuses to talk about it. More complications set in when Violet develops a close relationship with Sergeant Parker Stone. In spite of Violet’s attraction, she feels guilty because her husband’s disappearance has not been resolved. Readers will need to suspend their belief when they find out that a friendly pet lion is the marine mascot and among the cast of characters.  Goodreads Overall Rating: 4.14

My Thoughts:

Recommended

Readers that are looking for a light historical fiction read with a bit of mystery and romance might enjoy Island of Sweet Pies and Soldiers. It’s a quick and easy page turner with memorable characters (including a pet lion!). Readers who call or have called Hawaii home might find this an especially interesting read. The author is from Hawaii and her story is based on stories she heard from her grandmother.

What Worked

I enjoyed the Hawaiian perspective of the war, appreciated hearing about the training for the soldiers, and was saddened about the treatment of the Japanese (the only other time I’ve read about the prejudice against the Japanese is in Hotel at the Corner of Bitter and Sweet). Also, I appreciated the realistic story line of a single mom trying to hold it together and the heartbreaking descriptions of ten-year-old Ella suffering from severe anxiety and fear.

Themes

Told from two perspectives (Violet’s and Ella’s), readers will enjoy the strong themes of friendship, hope, loyalty, mother/daughter relationship, secrets, heartbreak and tragedy of war, and the power of choosing love in difficult circumstances.

My Rating: 4 Stars

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Island of Sweet Pies and Soldiers

Buy Here

Meet the Author, Sara Ackerman

Sara Ackerman

Born and raised in Hawaii, Sara studied journalism and earned graduate degrees in psychology and Chinese medicine. When she’s not writing or practicing acupuncture, you’ll find her in the mountains or in the ocean.

 

 



Happy Reading Bookworms!

“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



Looking Ahead

Next week, I’ll review How to Find Love in a Bookshop

How to find love in a bookstore

Amazon information here

What are you reading this week?


Links I Love

Novels and Nonfiction: Top Ten Favorite Classics With Quotes

Top Shelf Text: 50 Books By and About Women of Color
(in celebration of International Women’s Day)

A Wrinkle in Time coming to theaters TODAY March 9! 

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society coming to theaters April 20! 



Sharing is Caring

I’d be honored and thrilled if you choose to enjoy and follow along, promote, and/or share my blog. Every share helps us grow.



 Let’s Discuss!

I’d love to hear all about what you are reading this week!

Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder

March 2, 2018

comprehensive…eye opening…richly researched…real life…resiliency

Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder
by Caroline Fraser

Prairie Fires

Genre/Categories: Nonfiction, American History,  Biography, Frontier, Family Life

Summary:

Prairie Fires is a comprehensive look at the life of Laura Ingalls Wilder, author of the beloved (and fictionalized) “Little House on the Prairie” books that have been loved by children, teachers, and librarians for decades. Over 600 pages, Prairie Fires goes beyond biography as the author provides extensive American history material including information about westward expansion, the railroad, extreme weather, fires, the Indian Wars, rural communities, and the Dust Bowl.  The author also addresses the controversy surrounding the true authorship of the “Little House” series. Prairie Fires was chosen as one of New York Times 10 Best Books of the Year.

Amazon Rating (March): 4 Stars

My Thoughts:

First, I must mention that this is a long book! It can be tedious in places if you’re not a history fanatic. However, Laura’s true story is rather fascinating in its historical context.

One question that I wanted answered while reading is this: Why did Laura Ingalls Wilder write idyllic, happy, fictionalized stories when her actual living conditions were extremely harsh?

Pa

Through extensive research, the author draws a realistic picture of the struggle, poverty, and transient life style of the Ingalls family. As the true history of Laura’s family is significantly more harsh than is portrayed in the children’s books, I pondered why Laura chose to write the books in the happy, idealized manner that she did (besides the obvious reason that she couldn’t successfully publish the reality of her life for children). As I read, I came to realize how much she adored her Pa in spite of the harsh living conditions and his financial  difficulties. In Laura’s childhood her parents might have normalized the fact that their family moved around as much as they did, or concealed the fact that Pa had difficulty supporting them, or perhaps it was simply the norm that most people were poor and that every member of the family was expected to pitch in. As evidenced by Laura’s poem describing her Pa, she didn’t fault him for failing to provide financially; on the contrary, she remembered him fondly: for his music (violin, singing, dancing, entertaining), for adoring and cherishing his family, for his strength and physical endurance, for his spirited contentment despite the circumstances, for his excellent reputation exemplifying a faithful and loving husband, and for his character which was honest and upright. The person that Pa was to his family and his community greatly overshadowed his financial failures. I know I would have liked him because his children adored him (and that’s always a good recommendation!). In the epilogue, the author states that Wilder’s purpose in writing was “to save her father’s stories from being lost…and…..to promote her parents’ values which were her own: courage, self-reliance, independence, integrity, and helpfulness.” It’s understandable that in her 50s Laura began to write these stories because she adored her Pa and experienced yearning and melancholy for home, her parents and sister, and remembered and appreciated the strong moral teaching she had received. This special relationship she enjoyed with her Pa most certainly was not fictionalized, and I strongly believe that she wrote the “Little House” stories later in her life as a tribute to her dear Pa and his values.

Charles Ingalls reminds me a bit of the father in The Glass Castle as he supplied a bit of “magic” in their difficult lives and he never gave up hope for achieving his dream as he moved from place to place and provided little physical or financial stability for his family. As in Prairie Fires, the children in The Glass Castle could forgive their father of a lot because they felt loved.

Authorship of the “Little House” Series

As well as getting to know the family, the author explores the tumultuous and competitive relationship that Laura had with her own daughter, Rose Wilder Lane, and attempts to clarify the controversy surrounding the true authorship of the stories. It’s true that Rose encouraged her mother to write and provided a great deal of editing assistance; however Rose also manipulated and bullied Laura. In fact, Rose was unstable and probably mentally ill. Some feel that her daughter was a ghost writer; however, the author provides strong evidence that clears this up (at least for me).  I’m choosing not to include that spoiler here.

Traits of Settlers

Coming from the midwest, I’ve been accused of being self-reliant, independent, and stoic. An interesting part of the book for me was the identification of self-reliance as the highest and most held onto value among the settlers coming west. Also interesting was the conversation that Laura and Rose had about stoicism versus apathy. Rose accused the settlers of appearing apathetic in the onslaught of difficult circumstances because of their subdued reactions. Laura explained that when one is faced with difficult circumstances during one’s entire life that one doesn’t overreact to each instance…rather, one takes setbacks in stride (which may seem like apathy to a casual observer). The author is struck by the resilience that the settlers exhibit in facing years and years of difficult times, adversity, and disappointments. She indicates that they just keep on going time after time.

Women

Because I grew up on the prairies of South Dakota as did my mother, grandmothers, and aunt, I can both embrace and am struck by the solitude of the farming lifestyle. Therefore, it affected me to read the author’s descriptions and explanations of the solitude that many women settlers in the mid west faced as they often endured a life of loneliness and isolation in the years before automobiles, radio, television, email, and the internet.

Rating

Why didn’t I give this ambitious and well written work 5 stars? First, I feel that it was a bit too long and too much time was spent on Rose. Also, the author became distracted by providing too many facts about too many historical events….in other words, it was overly comprehensive for me. Bottom line, readers need to know that this is an exhaustive biography and contains a great deal of American history.

I would recommend reading a print or electronic version as the audible version’s narrator is not optimal.  I have a great deal of difficulty with audio books in general and I really struggled with this read. My husband who listens exclusively to audio books gave it a listen and assured me that it would’ve been easier with a better narrator.

My Rating: 4 stars with a tip of the hat to the amount of historical research the author did in compiling this comprehensive look at the life of Wilder.

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Recommended for readers who love history, who love Laura Ingalls Wilder, and who might be looking for a nonfiction historical read.

Buy Here

Meet the Author, Caroline Fraser

Caroline FraserCaroline Fraser is the author of Rewilding the World: Dispatches from the Conservation Revolution (Metropolitan, 2009) and God’s Perfect Child: Living and Dying in the Christian Science Church (Metropolitan, 1999), which was selected as a New York Times Book Review Notable Book and a Los Angeles Times Book Review Best Book. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, The New York Review of Books, and Outside magazine, among others. She lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

 

 



Flight Pick

If you’d like to read more about the Dust Bowl, consider Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse. It’s a beautifully written fictional account of a Oklahoma girl’s experience in the Dust Bowl. See my brief review here.

Out of the Dust



Happy Reading Bookworms!

“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



Looking Ahead:

I’m reading Island of Sweet Pies and Soldiers by Sara Ackerman for next week’s review.
(…that title and cover though! ….Are you a bit curious?!)

Island of Sweet Pies and Soldiers

Amazon information here

What are you reading this week?


The BUZZ

A Wrinkle in Time coming to theaters NEXT WEEK on March 9! 

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society coming to theaters April 20! 



Sharing is Caring

I’d be honored and thrilled if you choose to enjoy and follow along, promote, and/or share my blog. Every share helps us grow.



 Let’s Discuss!

If you’ve read Prairie Fires, what was the most surprising fact you learned?

Were you a Little House on the Prairie reader or TV fan?

Please tell me about your early reading experiences. What were your favorite childhood reads? My favorites include Nancy Drew, Heidi, The Bobbsey Twins, Penny Nichols and the Black Imp, The Triplets Take Over, etc. My first big book and book hangover was Gone With the Wind. I still have my copy of The Bobbsey Twins!

Bobbsey Twins

 

What are you reading this week?