January 2020 Reading Wrap Up

January 31, 2020

January 2020 Reading Wrap Up

January Reading Wrap Up (2020)

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

January was a great reading month with three five-star reads and several four-star reads. I read a total of ten books, and I DNF one (which is always a frustrating use of time). Find all my January reads listed below in order of Star Rating and preference. 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 fiction read of the month is Big Lies in a Small Town. My favorite nonfiction read is The Only Plane in the Sky: An Oral History of 9/11.

Did we read any of the same books?

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

 Big Lies in a Small Town by Diane Chamberlain

5 Stars (4.5 rounded up). Historical Fiction/Mystery/Hint of Romance. A compelling story of secrets, prejudice, and making peace with your past. My full review here.

The Only Plane in the Sky: An Oral History of 9/11

5 Stars. Nonfiction. Tragic and compelling. My full review here.

Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb

5 Stars. Nonfiction. Exploring mental health, finding meaning in life, and repairing broken relationships. My full review here.

Lovely War by Julie Berry

4 Stars. YA Histfic. Heartfelt, heartbreaking, and charming. Full review here.


Big Lies in a Small Town [Book Review]

January 29, 2020

 Big Lies in a Small Town: by Diane Chamberlain

Big Lies in a Small Town (cover)

Genre/Categories: Light Historical fiction, Light Mystery, Southern Fiction, Art

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

My Summary:

Secrets, prejudice, and making peace with the past ….

Two young women living several decades apart are focused on the same mural….one is creating the mural in 1940 and the other is restoring the same mural in 2018. In alternate viewpoints and dual timelines, we hear both stories, the mystery of what happened to the original artist is uncovered, and connections between the two are revealed.

My Thoughts:


My Love/Hate Relationship With DNF

January 27, 2020

 My Love/Hate Relationship With DNF

My Love Hate Relationship With DNF

DNF=Did Not Finish

This post is inspired by my lovely blogging friend, Zoe, over at Reading By the Moonlight. Check out her post about why she has never DNF’d a book!

***This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Are You a DNFer or a Finisher?

Some readers always finish every book they start. Other readers frequently DNF a book that isn’t working for them. Which are you? A Finisher or a DNFer?

In general, I’m a Finisher! In fact, I will put off starting a project because I know that once I start it, I won’t rest until it’s finished. So in my weird thinking, it’s better to not start it than not finish it. Does this same thinking apply to my reading life?

I certainly agree with the points Zoe made in her post about being a Finisher:

  • She has too much will power and she’s too persistent to DNF
  • She loves the feeling of accomplishment in finishing
  • She chooses her books carefully so she doesn’t frequently face the DNF dilemma

I strongly identify with all these reasons for being a Finisher. I can also add that, for me, having paid for the book is a huge factor in my deciding to finish or DNF a book. It’s definitely easier for me to DNF a library book! Also, I feel a huge obligation to finish an ARC (an Advanced Readers Copy that was given to me for free in exchange for a review).

DNF is an Option


Lovely War [Book Review]

January 24, 2020

 Lovely War: by Julie Berry

Lovely War cover

Genre/Categories: YA Historical Fiction, WW1, Romance/Love Story, Mythology

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

My Summary:

Is love more powerful than war?

During the years of WW1, Hazel, a shy and talented pianist meets James, a handsome soldier, at a dance. He’s shipping out to the front in a week. Is this enough time to fall in love? Two more characters round out the cast: Colette, a gifted singer from Belgium, and Aubrey, a member of the all African-American regiment and a gifted musician. The Greek gods narrate this story of love, music, and war.

My Thoughts:


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

January 23, 2020

 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: 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:


1st Line/1st Paragraph: Seven Fallen Feathers: Racism, Death, and Hard Truths in a Northern City

 January 21, 2020

1st Line/1st Paragraphs

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.

Open book on the sand with a blurred out ocean background: words: First Chapter, First Paragraph, Tuesday Intros

I’m pleased to share the first paragraphs of Seven Fallen Feathers: Racism, Death, and Hard Truths in a Northern City by Tanya Talaga.

Is this on your TBR or have you read it?

Amazon Summary:

“In 1966, twelve-year-old Chanie Wenjack froze to death on the railway tracks after running away from residential school. An inquest was called for and four recommendations were made to ensure the safety of indigenous students. None of those recommendations were applied.

More than a quarter of a century later, from 2000 to 2011, seven indigenous high school students died in Thunder Bay, Ontario. The seven were hundreds of miles away from their families, forced to leave home because there was no high school on their reserves. Five were found dead in the rivers surrounding Lake Superior, below a sacred indigenous site. Jordan Wabasse, a gentle boy and star hockey player, disappeared into the -20° Celsius night. The body of celebrated artist Norval Morrisseau’s grandson, Kyle, was pulled from a river, as was Curran Strang’s. Robyn Harper died in her boarding-house hallway and Paul Panacheese inexplicably collapsed on his kitchen floor. Reggie Bushie’s death finally prompted an inquest, seven years after the discovery of Jethro Anderson, the first boy whose body was found in the water. But it was the death of twelve-year-old Chanie Wenjack that foreshadowed the loss of the seven.

Using a sweeping narrative focusing on the lives of the students, award-winning investigative journalist Tanya Talaga delves into the history of this small northern city that has come to manifest Canada’s long struggle with human rights violations against indigenous communities.”

Seven Fallen Feathers: Racism, Death, and Hard Truths in a Northern City

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links

Seven Fallen Feathers by Tanya Talaga

Genre/Categories: Nonfiction, Indigenous People, First Nations, Canada, True Crime

1st Line/1st Paragraphs From Chapter One:

Arthur Street runs east to west in a long, straight ribbon through the downtown area of the Fort William region of Thunder Bay. Arthur Street is devoid of charm–it’s a stretch of drive-thru restaurants, gas bars, and grocery stores, and cars in a hurry to get anywhere but here.
Turn off Arthur, north onto the Syndicate, and you’ll find the Victoriaville Centre, a poorly planned shopping mall with a 1970s vibe. The mall is riddled with empty stores and stragglers having a cup of coffee before heading over to the courthouse across the street. Parts of the mall have been taken over by mental health clinics, an art gallery, and an Indigenous health centre. Upstairs is the main administration office of Nishawbe Aski Nation (NAN), a political organization representing forty-nine First Nations communities encompassing two-thirds of the province of Ontario, spanning 543,897.5 square kilometres.
There is one elevator and it behaves like an old man. It grumbles as the door shuts, and it shakes and heaves its way slowly upstairs. A sign posted near the buttons says, “When the elevator breaks down, call this number….” When,” not if.
This was where I found myself one grey day in April 2011. I was there to see Stan Beardy, NAN’s grand chief.

Seven Fallen Feathers has been on my nonfiction radar for a while now. I placed it on my Winter TBR and it’s time to tackle this one. This first caught my eye because I had read Killers of the Flower Moon, and it appears to have similar themes and features journalistic investigation. Last, I’ve received many recommendations and I enjoy narrative nonfiction, so  I’m anticipating a compelling read.


Do you like narrative nonfiction?

Is Seven Fallen Feathers on your TBR or have you read it?

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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.

Just Mercy Review: In Honor of MLK Jr and His Work

January 20, 2020

I've decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear. ~MLK

Today, in honor of Martin Luther King Jr (MLK) and his work, I’m reposting an updated review of Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson from my September 14, 2018 post…

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

September 14, 2018

An inspirational memoir of courage ….. determination ….. vision …..

Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

Just Mercy

Genre/Categories: Nonfiction, Memoir, African-American, Judicial System, Criminal Procedure, Politics and Social Science


Named one of the Best Books of the Year by The New York Times • The Washington Post • The Boston Globe • The Seattle Times • Esquire • Time

In this compelling and engaging memoir, Bryan Stevenson shares true stories about founding the Equal Justice Initiative, a legal practice established to defend those most desperate and in need (the underrepresented, poor, wrongly condemned, women, and youth trapped for life in the criminal justice system). In addition to detailing his experience as a young lawyer confronting political machines, fighting prejudice, and accepting challenging cases, Stevenson works determinedly and thinks deeply about mercy, true justice, and compassion.

Listen to Bryan Stevenson summarize his ideas in his own words: Bryan Stevenson TED Talk

Just Mercy Movie Trailer

Amazon Rating (September): 4.8

My Thoughts:


Hey, Kiddo: A Review

January 17, 2020

 Hey, Kiddo: How I Lost My Mother, Found My Father, and Dealt With Family Addiction by Jarrett J. Krosoczka

  • Hey, Kiddo: How I Lost My Mother, Found My Father, and Dealt With Family Addiction

Genre/Categories: Nonfiction, Memoir, MG/YA Graphic Novel

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.


Normal is a setting on the dryer….

Jarrett Krosoczka knows from a very young age that his family is complicated. His mom is an addict and unreliable; his father is absent in every way and Jarrett doesn’t even know his father’s name. Jarret’s grandparents rescue, adopt, and raise him. As a teenager, Jarrett gains a deeper understanding of his complicated family and embraces his love of art as a lifeline.

Jarrett Krosoczka’s TED Talk

My Thoughts:


How I Use Goodreads

January 13, 2020

(I will return to edit this post occasionally as I notice updates)

How I Use Goodreads (text over an open laptop, a pink potted flower and a cup of coffee)

Image Source: Canva

How I Use Goodreads

Are you a Goodreads Novice, Newbie, or a Pro?

Are you interested in learning more about Goodreads or in picking up some tips?

In this post, I promise that you will find the answers to at least two FAQ about Goodreads:

  1.  How do I shelve books that I do not finish (DNF) so that they don’t show up as read or in my Goodreads challenge total? Part two to the same question: How do I make an Exclusive shelf?
  2.  Why doesn’t a book I’ve read show up on my Read Shelf or on my Challenge?

Why I Like Goodreads:

  • I have my TBR with me at all times (because I also have the App on my phone)….this comes in handy at a bookstore or at a library.
  • If someone recommends a book, I can enter it immediately into Goodreads and not worry later about finding the note I wrote to myself.
  • When I sign up for the Challenge, it keeps a running total of books that I read.
  • I can organize my books on virtual bookshelves.
  • I have a record of the books I read so that I can refresh my memory.
  • I can share reviews with IRL friends and virtual friends.
  • I can join Goodreads Groups.

I’m NOT a pro, but I can definitely share how I use Goodreads. I know there’s more I can do, but for the moment I’m happy with my level of usage. I know enough to be comfortable.

If you have wanted to use Goodreads but don’t know where to begin maybe this post will be helpful. Most of what I’ve learned has been through trial and error….so don’t be afraid to jump in!

Or if you’re a Pro, please share a tip!

Important to Know:


Lady Clementine: A Review

January 10, 2020

 Lady Clementine: by Marie Benedict

Lady Clementine review

Genre/Categories: Biographical Historical Fiction, WW1 and WW11, England

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Thanks #netgalley #sourcebooks #sbkslandmark for a free e ARC of #ladyclementine in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.


Clementine Churchill is the devoted wife, partner, and best friend of Winston Churchill. Lady Clementine is brilliant, ambitious, innovative, and fascinating, and she devotes all her energy and loyalty to her husband and country.

My Thoughts:

An underappreciated woman in history….