July Reading Wrap Up

July 31, 2019

July Reading Wrap Up

July Reading Wrap Up

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

July was a productive reading month and I am happy to report several four-star reads. Find all my July reads listed below in order of Star Rating. Keep in mind that I normally recommend five- and four-star reads on the blog; three-star reads receive mixed reviews from me for various reasons; and two-star reads are books that were not for me. One star reads are usually shelved as DNF.

My favorite read of the month is Hum if You Don’t Know the Words.

Did we read any of the same books?

Titles are Amazon affiliate links and my available reviews are linked.


Hum if You Don’t Know the Words by Bianca Marais

4 Stars. Thought-provoking historical fiction. I love diverse reads! Brief Goodreads Review.


The Unlikely Adventures of the Shergill Sisters
by Balli Kaur Jaswal

4 Stars. Engaging, zany, and light women’s fiction with some thoughtful themes. A great choice to take on vacation in August! Full review here.


The Romanov Bride by Robert Alexander

4 Stars. For fans of Russian history. Brief Goodreads Review.


The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy
by Rachel Joyce

4 Stars. A companion read to The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry (5 Stars). Full Review Here.


What the Wind Knows by Amy Harmon

4 Stars Romantic time travel. Not yet reviewed.

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If You Like That, Read This

July 30, 2019

***Titles are Amazon affiliate links or links to my reviews

top ten tuesday

I’m linking up today with That Artsy Reader Girl for Top Ten Tuesday: Freebie. For this week’s Top Ten Tuesday “Freebie,” I’m listing ten sets of compatible reads.

 

If You Like That, Read This!

10 Sets of Compatible Reads

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry
and The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy
both Contemporary Fiction by Rachel Joyce
(character-driven companion reads)


My Dear Hamilton (Historical Fiction) by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie
and Alexander Hamilton (NF) by Ron Chernow
(for fans of U.S. History and the Founding)


Where the Crawdads Sing (Fiction) by Delia Owens
and The Scent Keeper (Fiction) by Erica Bauermeister
(especially for readers who are interested in unique coming of age stories)


The Romanov Bride (HistFic) by Robert Alexander
and I Was Anastasia (HistFic) by Ariel Lawhon
(for fans of Russian History)


For One More Day by Mitch Albom
and The Deal of a Lifetime by Fredrik Backman
(for fans of reflective, meaning of life stories)


Paper Hearts (WW11 YA HistFic) by Meg Wiviott
and The Librarian of Auschwitz (WW11 YA HistFic) by Antonio Iturbe
(for readers who appreciate inspiring, unforgettable characters)


A Man Called Ove (movie) and Britt-Marie Was Here
both by Fredrik Backman
and The Cactus by Sarah Haywood
(for fans of poignant, character-driven contemporary fiction)


The Glass Castle (NF Memoir) by Jeanette Walls (movie)
and Educated (NF Memoir) by Tara Westover
and The Great Alone (Fiction) by Kristin Hannah
(for readers who want gritty, beating-the-odds stories)


The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane (HistFic) by Lisa See
and The Secret Daughter (Fiction) by Shilpi Somaya Gowda
and Far From the Tree (YA Fiction) by Robin Benway
(for fans of adoption themes)


A Grief Observed (NF Memoir) by C. S. Lewis
and Becoming Mrs. Lewis (HistFic) by Patti Callahan
(and then watch the movie, Shadowlands)



QOTD!

I love to make connections between my reads! How about you?
What other pairs can you suggest?



Posts You Might Have Missed:

2 Year Blogiversary & Giveaway!

Summer’s ONE “Must-Read” Book

Summer 2019 TBR

Book Club Recommendations

My Best Reads of the Year So Far 



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



Sharing is Caring

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 photo are credited to Amazon or an author’s (or publisher’s) website.

2 Year Blogiversary & Giveaway

July 28, 2019

 

To celebrate my two-year Blogiversary, I’ll reflect on what I wish I knew two years ago and offer a GIVEAWAY!

10 Things I Wish I Knew Two Years Ago as a Beginning Blogger:

3 books graphic

I wish I knew how much time I would devote to social media.

  • I wish I knew about the amount of time social media requires.
  • Time: 2-3 hours every morning on Instagram, Twitter, Goodreads, Facebook. Pinterest, and blog comments (my blog and others). As I read blogs, I comment, like, and often share the posts on Twitter. Sometimes I link up with other bloggers (Top Ten Tuesday for example).
  • Instagram: Engage with the bookstagram community and post my own content. In order to share posts on Instagram, I first need to create a picture (because I read digitally, I use PhotoGrid to create graphics using book covers in lieu of using physical books……setting up physical books for a photo shoot would take even more time than creating a graphic in PhotoGrid). One more option to consider with Instagram is setting up the LinkTr.ee app which will enable you to add more than one link to your profile.
  • Goodreads: Check in at least once a day and engage with the reviews in my feed, or I post a review (always adding my blog link to the end of the review).
  • Pinterest: Check for notifications and look to see what I can pin. On days that I publish a post, I pin my post to several group boards (it took me a while to figure out how to find and join the boards in my niche). I create my Pinterest images using a Canva template.
  • Twitter: Check my notifications, retweet, comment, and look for opportunities to share a blog link.
  • Facebook: From my personal page, I engage with many book groups I follow and post my blog links when the opportunity arises. Then I post links or memes on my blog’s FB page.
  • Throughout the day, I also respond to various notifications from my morning’s engagement on social media. In the evening, I will often revisit my morning routine to take advantage of more opportunities to share my blog link.
  • I wish I had all the social media set up and ready to go the day I launched my blog, it would have been a lot smoother and more effective. It took me months to set up all my social media accounts. It took me about a year to finally get around to Twitter (eventually, Jennefer-TarHeelReader was kind enough to comment that she couldn’t share my blog on twitter and offered encouragement to help me get that set up!). I missed a lot of promotion opportunities by not having Twitter set up from Day One because I receive more views from Twitter than any other social media platform. It’s extremely easy for readers to click and share your blog post to Twitter for you!
  • Best Tip: Make sure all your social media accounts reflect your blog name in some way.

3 books graphic

I wish I knew how much bloggers benefit from each other’s support and encouragement.

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The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy: A Review

July 26, 2019

Have you read well-loved author, Rachel Joyce?

The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy by Rachel Joyce

The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy Review

Genre/Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Women’s Fiction, Love Story

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Summary:

If you’ve read The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce, you know that Harold has set out on a walking trip across England to visit his former coworker Queenie Hennessy who is dying from cancer. He tells her to wait for him and believes that his pilgrimage will help keep her alive. In The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy we hear Queenie’s story including all her secrets and relive the spirit of Harold’s pilgrimage from her perspective. This is not a prequel or a sequel; it is a companion to Harold’s story. When the two works are put together we are able to construct a complete picture of their lives.

Amazon Rating:  4.4 Stars

My Thoughts:

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1st Line/1st Paragraph: Hum If You Don’t Know the Words by Bianca Marais

 July 23, 2019

1st Line/1st Paragraph: Hum If You Don’t Know the Words by Bianca Marais

I’m linking up this week with Vicki @ I’d Rather Be At The Beach who hosts a meme every Tuesday to share the First Chapter/First Paragraph of the book you are currently reading.

First Paragraph

I’m pleased to share the first line and first few paragraphs of a book that’s been on my TBR for some time: Hum If You Don’t Know the Words by Bianca Marais. I’m actually eager to read the new release by Bianca Marais If You Want to Make God Laugh, but I’m on a long library wait list so I’m reading Hum while I wait.

From Amazon: “Life under Apartheid has created a secure future for Robin Conrad, a ten-year-old white girl living with her parents in 1970s Johannesburg. In the same nation but worlds apart, Beauty Mbali, a Xhosa woman in a rural village in the Bantu homeland of the Transkei, struggles to raise her children alone after her husband’s death. Both lives have been built upon the division of race, and their meeting should never have occurred…until the Soweto Uprising, in which a protest by black students ignites racial conflict, alters the fault lines on which their society is built, and shatters their worlds when Robin’s parents are left dead and Beauty’s daughter goes missing. 

Told through Beauty and Robin’s alternating perspectives, the interwoven narratives create a rich and complex tapestry of the emotions and tensions at the heart of Apartheid-era South Africa. Hum If You Don’t Know the Words is a beautifully rendered look at loss, racism, and the creation of family.”

Hum If You Don’t Know the Words by Bianca Marais

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links

Hum if You Don't Know the Words

Genre/Categories: South Africa, Apartheid, Historical Fiction, Coming of Age

1st Line/1st Few Paragraphs:

“I joined up the last two lines of the hopscotch grid and wrote a big “10” in the top square. It gave me a thrill writing the age I’d be on my next birthday because everyone knew that once you hit double digits, you weren’t a child anymore. The green chalk, borrowed from the scoreboard of my father’s dartboard without his knowledge, was so stubby that my fingers scraped against the concrete of the driveway as I put the final touches on my creation.

“There, it’s done.” I stood back and studied my handiwork. As usual, I was disappointed that something I’d made hadn’t turned out quite as good as I’d imagined.

“It’s perfect,” Cat declared, reading my mind as she always did, and trying to reassure me before I washed the grid off in a fit of self-doubt. I smiled even though her opinion shouldn’t have counted for much; my identical twin sister was easily impressed by everything I did. “You go first” Cat said.

“Okay.”

I pulled the bronze half-cent coin from my pocket and rubbed it for luck before flipping it into the air from my thumbnail. It arced and spun, glinting in the sunlight, and when it finally landed in the first square, I launched myself forward, eager to finish the grid in record time.

I finished three circuits before the coin skittered out of the square marked”4.” It should have ended my turn, but I shot a quick look at Cat who was distracted by a hadeda bird making a racket on the neighbor’s roof. Before she could notice my mistake, I nudged the choin back in place with the tip of my canvas shoe and carried on jumping.

“You’re doing so well,” Cat called a few seconds later once she’s turned back and noticed my progress.

Spurred on by her clapping and encouragement, I hopped even faster, not noticing until it was too late that a lace on one of my takkies had come loose. It tripped me up just as I cleared the last square and brought me crashing down knee-first, my skin scraped raw on the rough concrete. I cried out, first in alarm and then in pain, and it was this noise that brought my mother’s flip-flops clacking into my line of vision. Her shadow fell over me.

“Oh for goodness’ sake, not again.” my mother reached down and yanked me up. “you’re so clumsy. I don’t know where you get it from.” She tsked as I raised my bleeding knee so she could see.

Cat was crouched next to me, wincing at the sight of the gravel embedded in the wound. Tears started to prickle, but I knew I had to stop their relentless progression quickly or suffer my mother’s displeasure.

“I’m fine. It’s fine.” I forced a watery smile and gingerly stood up.

“Oh, Robin,” my mother sighed. “You’re not going to cry are you? You know how ugly you are when you cry.” She crossed her eyes and screwed up her face comically to illustrate her point and I forced the giggle she was looking for.

The first chapter engaged me immediately, so I’m anticipating a great read!



QOTD:

Have you read Hum If You Don’t Know the Words or Masais’s new release If You Want to Make God Laugh?



 Looking Ahead:

Return on Friday for my review of The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy by Rachel Joyce and next week for my end of July Wrap Up and a 2-year Bblogiversary Giveaway!

The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy



Posts You Might Have Missed

Summer’s ONE “Must-Read” Book

Summer 2019 TBR

Book Club Recommendations

My Best Reads of the Year So Far



Sharing is Caring

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 photo are credited to Amazon or an author’s (or publisher’s) website.

The Unlikely Adventures of the Shergill Sisters: A Review

June 19, 2019

Can three very different sisters living three vastly different lives come together to honor their mother’s last dying wish of traveling to India and scattering her ashes?

The Unlikely Adventures of the Shergill Sisters by Balli Kaur Jaswal

Unlikely Adventures of Shergill Sisters Review

Genre/Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Family Drama, India

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Summary:

To honor their mother’s dying wish, three Punjabi sisters travel to India on a pilgrimage to visit sacred places that are special to Mom and to scatter her ashes. Told from the three perspectives of three very different sisters, The Unlikely Adventures of the Shergill Sisters explores sibling relationships, modern vs traditional roles of women, secrets, and the importance of family.

My Thoughts:

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Summer’s One “Must Read” Book

July 16, 2019

Find Your One “Must Read” Book of the Summer!

One Great Summer Read

Are you pondering what book to pack for your vacation?

Are you in limbo trying to decide what ONE great book to read this summer?

Do you ever wish someone would just TELL you what book to read?

Are you looking for a list of trusted book review bloggers?

Do you spend more time thinking about which book to pack for your vacation than packing the clothes? (oh…just me?)

If you only have time to read ONE more book before summer’s end, what would you choose?

beach reads cartoon

This is the time of year when readers look for “beach reads.” This term is puzzling to me because I think any book you read at the beach is a beach read (similar to any body at the beach is a beach body!). Furthermore, “beach read” means different things to different readers: some want easy reading/light/fluffy, some want escapist, some want thrillers/suspense/mystery, while others are looking for heavier or longer reads that they might have more time for in the summer. During the summer, I look for the same types of reads I look for all year long: something substantial, engaging, memorable, unputdownable, and thought-provoking. What is your ideal beach read?

Reviewers Recommend:

Some things bring joy to a blogger’s heart and this post is definitely at the top of the list!

I am thrilled to publish this post today! I contacted twelve experienced reviewers from a variety of geographical locations to ask them what they would recommend as their ONE “not-to-be-missed  5 Star” summer recommendation. Today, I’m exceptionally excited to introduce you to twelve bloggers who chose ONE recommendation for YOU (listed in alphabetical order by blogger’s first name). Please take a look at their recommendation, check out their blog, and give them a follow!

I think you’ll enjoy the following “recent releases” recommendations that include some diversity and represent a variety of genres that will appeal to a variety of tastes (from hisfic to romance to nonfiction to family drama to southern fiction to time travel to young adult to slightly dark).

i love books

***Titles are Amazon affiliate links and full review links have been included.

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Miracle Creek: A Review

July 12, 2019

Miracle Creek by Angie Kim

Miracle Creek Review

Genre/Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Murder Mystery, Crime Fiction, Courtroom Drama, Korean American

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Summary:

Miracle Creek takes place in a small town in Virginia of the same name. In this town, there is a special treatment center, a hyperbaric chamber that may cure a range of conditions. As the story begins, the chamber explodes and two people die. Is this an accident or sabotage or insurance fraud? Through multiple perspectives, we become acquainted with the owners and surviving patients and learn about their secrets, their anguish, their frustrations, their best intentions, their misconceptions, and their rivalries. The story is rich in vivid details about the trial, parenting a special needs child, and the immigrant experience.

My Thoughts:

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1st Line/1st Paragraph: What the Wind Knows by Amy Harmon

 June 25, 2019

1st Line/1st Paragraph: What the Wind Knows by Amy Harmon

I’m linking up this week with Vicki @ I’d Rather Be At The Beach who hosts a meme every Tuesday to share the First Chapter/First Paragraph of the book you are currently reading.

First Paragraph

I’m pleased to share the first line and first paragraph of What the Wind Knows by Amy Harmon. If you love historical fiction, a love story, and time travel, this may be a good read for you.

From Amazon:  Anne Gallagher grew up enchanted by her grandfather’s stories of Ireland. Heartbroken at his death, she travels to his childhood home to spread his ashes. There, overcome with memories of the man she adored and consumed by a history she never knew, she is pulled into another time. Caught between history and her heart, she must decide whether she’s willing to let go of the life she knew for a love she never thought she’d find. But in the end, is the choice actually hers to make?

What the Wind Knows by Amy Harmon

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links

What The Wind Knows

Genre/Categories: Historical Fiction, Love Story, Time Travel

1st Line/1st Few Paragraphs:

“Grandfather, tell me about your mother.” He was silent as he smoothed my hair, and for a long moment, I thought he hadn’t heard me.

“She was beautiful. Her hair was dark, her eyes green, just like yours are.”

“Do you miss her?” Tears leaked out the sides of my eyes and made his shoulder wet beneath my cheek. I missed my mother desperately.

“Not anymore,” my grandfather soothed.

“Why?” I was suddenly angry with him. How could he betray her that way? It was his duty to miss her.

“Because she is still with me.”

This made me cry harder.

“Hush now, Annie. Be still. Be still. If you are crying, you won’t be able to hear.”

“Hear what?” I gulped, slightly distracted from my anguish.

“The wind. It’s singing.”

I perked up, lifting my head slightly, listening for what my grandfather could hear. “I don’t hear a song,” I contended.

“Listen closer. Maybe it’s singing for you.” It howled and hurried, pressing against my bedroom window.

“I hear the wind,” I confessed, allowing the sound to lull me. “But it isn’t singing a very pretty song. It sounds more like it’s shouting.”

“Maybe the wind is trying to get your attention. Maybe it has something very important to say,” he murmured. 

After reading From Sand and Ash last year, I declared Amy Harmon a favorite author. I’m eager to dive into her new title after reading a few glowing reviews. I’m not that enamored with time travel but I do love a good love story, so we’ll see how this goes!



QOTD:

Have you read From Sand and Ash?

Do you love time travel stories?



 Looking Ahead:

Coming next week! A special collaboration post with twelve other bloggers as we each give our recommendation for ONE great summer book!

One Great Summer Read



Sharing is Caring

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 photo are credited to Amazon or an author’s (or publisher’s) website.

Favorite Quirky Literary Characters

June 9, 2019

My Favorite Quirky Literary Characters

Aren’t we all just a bit quirky?!

Favorite Quirky Characters

Quirky Defined

Definition of quirky: having many quirks : unusual in especially an interesting or appealing way (a quirky sense of humor, quirky ideas/behavior, a quirky and creative artist)

My personal definition also includes the word endearing. My favorite quirky characters have a story behind their quirkiness and often quirky is a survival strategy. Their quirkiness is understandable when a reader sees the entire picture and their quirkiness becomes endearing in light of the challenges they are bravely overcoming.

top ten tuesdayI’m linking up today with That Artsy Reader Girl: Top Ten Tuesday: Character Freebie.

Although I love characters of all types, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the recent abundance of stories with quirky characters. I love to hear their stories and celebrate their determination to live their best lives in spite of the circumstances. Even though my star ratings vary on the following books, I’ve loved all the quirky characters. My favorites are brave Eleanor and grumpy Ove. Do you love quirky? Who are your favorite quirky characters?

***Titles are Amazon affiliate links. Listed in order of Star ratings. And, yes, I realize I have eleven and not ten! I couldn’t leave any of them out! 



Quirky Favorites



Eleanor from Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

5 Stars. My Brief Review.

Eleanor Oliphant


Ove from A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

5 Stars. No Written Review.

man called ove


Frank from The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce

5 Stars. My Review.

music shop


Loveday from The Lost For Words Bookshop by Stephanie Butland

5 Stars. My Review.

The Lost for Words Bookshop

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