October 2020 Reading Wrap Up

October 31, 2020

October 2020 Reading Wrap Up

October Reading Wrap Up 2020 (collage of book covers)

How was your October reading?

October was a thirteen book reading month with one DNF. I am happy to report three five-star reads, six four-star reads, three three-star reads, and one two-star reads. Find all my September 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 a tie between two middle-grade books: Isaiah Dunn Is My Hero and The War I Finally Won.

My favorite adult title is The Sunflower Sisters.

Did we read any of the same books?

***This post contains Amazon affiliate links.
Titles are Amazon affiliate links and my available reviews are linked

Isaiah Dunn Is My Hero by Kelly J. Baptist

5 (MG) Stars. Compelling, engaging, and heartfelt middle-grade fiction.
My review of Isaiah Dunn here.

The War I Finally Won by Kimberly Brubaker Bradly

5 (MG) Stars. (second book in The War That Saved My Life series) Heartfelt middle-grade fiction with a “found family” theme. (This is a reread and I loved it as much as the first time!) My brief Goodreads review of The War I Finally Won here.

Sunflower Sisters by Martha Hall Kelly

4.5 rounded up to 5 Stars. (ARC) Number three in the Lilac Girls series. Well-researched, compelling, and engaging historical fiction (Civil War). My review coming soon.

Lemons by Melissa Savage

4 (MG) Stars. Sweet and heartfelt “found family” read. My review of Lemons here.


Blog Audit Challenge 2020: October #blogauditchallenge2020

October 30, 2020

October’s Blog Audit Challenge 2020

Blog Audit Challenge 2020 (picture of a woman's hands on the keyboard of a laptop)Blogging Friends,

This year I’m participating in Blog Audit Challenge 2020 hosted by Jo Linsdell. The plan is to work on making our blogs even better and setting our goals for the coming months. Each month will have its own challenge to work through. Join us!

 I hope that if you are reading this that you continue to be well and that your area is opening up for business and recreation with social distancing precautions. Our county is off the state’s watch list due to a decrease in COVOD-19 cases. Hoping we can stay that way! Stay safe, blogging buddies!

October’s Challenge Focus: Social Networking

How do you participate in Social Networking?

Over the last few months, the challenges have allowed me to improve content, design, and readership. Now let’s discuss Social Networking as another aspect of developing readership and increasing your blog traffic.

Honestly, promoting myself is an area in which I feel the least amount of comfort or confidence. It took me about a year to connect social networks to my blog. In retrospect, I’m sorry that I didn’t have social networking in place from Day One. I wasted a lot of time!

Our host for this challenge has suggestions for Social Networking that I’ll discuss here. What I also share here is my personal strategy which is a work in progress and will not look like your process. However, I think it’s interesting for bloggers to get a behind-the-scenes peek. I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences.

Social Networking To Increase Blog Traffic:


5 Books With Music Themes: Magic Strings of Frankie Presto, Music Shop, Chilbury Ladies’ Choir, Musical Chairs, Ensemble [Book Reviews] #throwbackthursday

October 22, 2020

5 Books With Music Themes #throwbackthursday

5 Books With Music Themes (Image: collage of covers)

This year as part of Blog Audit Challenge 2020 I’m going back to update older review posts. On Thursdays, I’ll be re-sharing a few of these great reads, and today I’m sharing my reviews of five books with music themes. Two of the five are my favorites: Magic Strings and Music Shop.

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

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Music and Reading!

The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto by Mitch Albom

“Music is the unusual narrator telling the story of Frankie Presto, a gifted guitar player and singer, who changes six lives with his six magical blue strings. Born under tragic circumstances, abandoned as an infant, and raised by a music teacher in a small Spanish town, Frankie is sent to America alone at nine years old with his prized guitar (and six magic strings). His life touches many famous musicians on his journey to become a pop star himself. Because Frankie is troubled by his childhood experiences and tortured by his biggest mistake, he drops out of sight to reconcile with his past. He reappears just before his death to change one last life.

Magic Strings is a favorite of the five and you can find my full review here.

The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce

“Set in the 1980s on a run-down street in a forgotten suburb of London, there is a small indie music shop that is jam-packed with vinyl records of every kind. Frank, the shop’s owner, has a way of connecting his customers with the exact piece of music they never knew they needed, he welcomes the lonely, and he goes out of his way to help others. One ordinary day, a beautiful young woman in a green coat, Ilse Brauchmann, comes into his music shop and changes his life. Frank feels an attraction to her and yet he fears developing any closeness; in spite of his reservations, he begins to teach her about music and they develop a close friendship based on their common musical interests. Frank is terrified of his feelings for Ilse, yet he’s drawn to this strangely still, mysterious woman with eyes as black as vinyl. It’s complicated because Ilse has secrets and Frank has a past that haunts him. Readers find out about Frank’s life with his eccentric mother through flashbacks; however, Ilse remains mysterious. While Frank and Ilse contemplate the risks of a relationship, there are events in the community that threaten the livelihood of all the small, independent shops including Frank’s music shop. A further complication for Frank is the growing popularity of cassette tapes and CDs while Frank cherishes the world of vinyl.”

Music Shop is my other favorite of the five and you can find my full review here.

The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir by Jennifer Ryan

A notice pinned to the Chilbury Village Hall notice board, Sunday, 24th March, 1940 reads: “As all our male voices have gone to war, the village choir is to close.” (Signed The Vicar)

“Facing an impending Nazi invasion, the ladies of Chilbury, England pull together under the strong leadership and persistent encouragement of new choirmaster, Prim, to resurrect the choir as a ladies choir. This heartfelt historical fiction story is told from multiple perspectives and voices in diary and journal form. As author Jennifer Ryan states: “At the beginning of the war, an organization known as Mass Observation began, encouraging ordinary individuals to keep diaries and journals and send them into headquarters, where some would be published in a newsletter.” The ladies were serious in supporting the war effort in every way and their earnest writings combine to tell an inspirational story of what it was like to be a woman in the wartime 1940s, working outside the home to support the war effort, finding their voice, and their exploration of independence without their men. Some readers might be concerned that this is simply a collection of these writings: however, I can assure readers that this reads as one complete work and the individual perspectives flow seamlessly from viewpoint to viewpoint and add to the complexity and richness of this heartfelt, charming, and inspirational story. Throughout the narrative, a cast of charismatic and memorable characters emerges as the women face the uncertainties and hardships of war, resolve village problems as they arise, and a few enjoy a bit of romance.”

Chilbury is a fun and engaging read and you can find my full review here.

Musical Chairs by Amy Poeppel

“Bridget and Will are best friends, professional musicians, and are two thirds of a struggling chamber trio. It’s summer and Bridget is reeling from an unexpected breakup and Will is her “break-up buddy.” Bridget heads for her family’s vacation home in upstate Conneticut, but complications include the search for a third chamber member, a summer house that needs significant repairs, two young adult children descending on Bridget’s lovely summer plans with problems of their own, a strained friendship with Will,secrets and misunderstandings, a famous father who unexpectedly announces his intent to marry again, and Bridget offering to host the wedding. Obviously, this is not the summer that Bridget envisioned. But maybe it will be salvaged in unexpected ways.”

My Goodreads review of Musical Chairs here.

The Ensemble by Aja Gabel

 The Ensemble follows the lives of four young members of a chamber quartet as they navigate the world of competitive classical music, ambition, relationships, success, failure, and love. Readers will meet Jana, first violin, aloof, resilient, and fearless leader; Brit, second violin, beautiful, idealistic, and quiet orphan; Daniel, cello, angry, oldest, and most adrift; and Henry, viola, an easy-going prodigy who has always lived an easy and blessed life. This is a character driven story (some unlikable) and includes a multitude of musical references. Although it’s beautifully written and a unique concept, there’s minimal plot. With a focus on relationships, the four musicians, drawn together by art, are bonded for life (reminding me a bit of Mitch Albom’s metaphor in The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto that “we’re all in a band” and throughout our lives we join different bands. The author expertly and carefully explores relationships and friendships, backgrounds of the four musicians, and the profound impact that their families of origin have on their decisions and outlooks. The beauty in the story is in the exploration of the family you choose as they choose each other over and over again.

You can find my review of The Ensemble in this post here.


I hope you’ve enjoyed this focus on Music and Reading for #ThrowBackThursday!

Have you read any of these titles?

Do you have a title you can add to this list?

The Lost and Found Bookshop [Book Review]

October 28, 2020

The Lost and Found Bookshop by Susan Wiggs

the Lost and Found Bookshop by Susan Wiggs (cover) Image: text plus four hardcover books

Genre/Categories: Women’s Contemporary Fiction/Chick Lit (with a side of slow-burn romance), Book About Books (and bookshops)

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.


Natalie is in a job that doesn’t bring her joy and in a less-than-satisfactory relationship when sudden tragedy strikes her life. Quickly, she finds herself managing her mother’s financially struggling quaint bookshop in San Francisco and caring for her dear ailing grandfather. Should she sell the shop? Should she place her grandfather in an assisted living facility? Should she walk away from the shop and her childhood memories and return to her job? Should she maintain the shop that she loves and has also been her family home? As she wrestles with grief and these life-changing questions, “Peach” Gallager and his young daughter, Dorothy, enters her life.

My Thoughts:


10 Mildly Suspenseful Books #toptentuesday

October 27, 2020

Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Mildly Suspenseful Books

top ten tuesday

I’m linking up today with That Artsy Reader Girl: Top Ten Tuesday: Halloween Freebie.

Are you a HSP (highly sensitive person) like me? Or do you like the scariest and most thrilling reads?

Does the thought of reading scary books cause anxiety?

I have a bookish confession: I’m an October Outlier. I don’t read books that fall into the horror, true crime, crime fiction, paranormal, or thriller categories or are too scary or spooky. I’m highly susceptible to nightmares. So…..this makes a typical Halloween post rather tricky! If you share my preferences and would rather have recommendations for “slightly suspenseful,” I think you might like today’s list!

I have discovered that I can tolerate a bit of suspense! However, I won’t promise you that I haven’t peeked at the last page to be sure my favorite characters are still alive!

Here’s my list of books that I have enjoyed that have a bit of suspense but are not too scary! I should also note that none of these books have a Halloween theme or setting.

Is there a certain type of book that you enjoy reading in the fall?


*Titles are Amazon affiliate links. (more…)

10 Popular Books With Mature Characters #FridayFavorites

October 23, 2020

10 Popular Books With Mature Characters

Do you enjoy reading books with older characters?

Today’s post is a list of ten books (five newer and five older releases…plus some bonus picks!) with main characters that are fifty plus. Recently, I’ve read several titles with older characters and it’s been delightful!

Do you love older characters?

***Titles are Amazon affiliate links.


The Librarian of Auschwitz [Book Review] #throwbackthursday

October 22, 2020

The Librarian of Auschwitz by Antonio Iturbe


The Librarian of Auschwitz by Antonio Iturbe (cover) Image: a young girl stands on top of a giant stack of books

Genre/Categories: YA Historical Fiction, Fictionalized Biography, Jewish, WW11, Holocaust

This year as part of Blog Audit Challenge 2020 I’m going back to update older review posts. On Thursdays, I’ll be re-sharing a few of these great reads, and today I’m sharing my review of The Librarian of Auschwitz, brave…inspirational…courageous…feisty…determined….daring…

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

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

My Summary of The Librarian of Auschwitz

“During the darkest hours of the Holocaust in an Auschwitz concentration camp, a young girl, Dita Kraus, risks her life to keep the magic of books alive. Imprisoned along with her mother and father, Dita finds meaning and purpose as the Librarian of a secret library within a secret school in the “family camp” section of Auschwitz, caring for eight precious volumes that have been smuggled in past the guards.

Be sure to read the author’s Afterward as he speaks of his interview with the real Dita Kraus about her incredible life, courage, and survival.”

 Continue here for my review of The Librarian of Auschwitz

QOTD: Have you read The Librarian of Auschwitz or is it on your TBR?

Isaiah Dunn Is My Hero [Book Review]

October 21, 2020

Isaiah Dunn Is My Hero by Kelly J. Baptist

Isaiah Dunn Is My Hero by Kelly Baptist (cover) Image: the back view of a middle grade boy wearing a blue superhero cape and holding a pencil

Genre/Categories: Middle Grade Realistic Fiction, Family Issues, Poverty, Homelessness, Grief, African American

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.


Are you someone’s Hero?

Isaiah is the older brother and is grieving the loss of his father. Isaiah feels the burden of holding the family together. The most important people in his life include his four-year-old sister who never stops asking questions, his mother who is depressed and drinking too much, and his best friend Sneaky. Because of her grief, Mom has taken a leave of absence from her job and they lose their apartment when she has difficulty paying the rent. As the pressure mounts, Isaiah gets in trouble at school and fights with his best friend. Isaiah’s one true comfort is reading the stories in his dad’s journal that his dad wrote for him, and his safe place is the library. In his dad’s stories, Isaiah is a hero and Isaiah ponders how he can be a hero and help his family.

a cartoon drawing of several superheroes

My Thoughts:


South of the Buttonwood Tree [Book Review]

October 16, 2020

South of the Buttonwood Tree by Heather Webber

South of the Buttonwood Tree by Heather Webber (cover) Image: white text over a background of a buttonwood tree closeup

Genre/Categories: Southern Fiction, Magical Realism, Family Drama

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.


Blue Bishop lives in the charming small town of Buttonwood, Alabama, and she has a sixth sense for finding lost things. The magical buttonwood tree in the woods is important in the community because people can leave their life questions in a rabbit hole of the tree and the next day the tree will leave an answer for you. One day as Blue is walking in the woods, she discovers an abandoned baby south of the magical tree. In solving the mystery of the abandoned baby, long-held secrets are revealed, lives are altered, and family is redefined.

looking upward through the branches of a buttonwood tree

A Buttonwood Tree

My Thoughts:


Convenience Store Woman [Book Review] #throwbackthursday

October 15, 2020

Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata


Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata (cover) Image: white text on blue background....below it is a small plate with a traditional Japanese snack lying on a pink and white cloth napkin

Genre/Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Japanese Culture, Conformity, Short Fiction, Book in Translation

This year as part of Blog Audit Challenge 2020 I’m going back to update older review posts. On Thursdays, I’ll be re-sharing a few of these great reads, and today I’m sharing my review of Convenience Store Woman, the story of self aware and determined Keiko who is torn between self fulfillment and cultural conformity

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

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

My Summary of Convenience Store Woman

“Keiko Furukura grows up labeled a “strange child,” and her parents worry about her ability to function in the real world and about her future success.  While at university, Keiko begins a job at a local convenience store. After eighteen years, her parents and friends worry that she doesn’t have a real career and has never had a boyfriend. Even though Keiko is successful as a convenience store worker and enjoys her job, she feels the pressure to live up to her parents’ cultural expectations. What will she do?”

Quirky character…Japanese culture…finding your niche……conformity…

 Continue here for my review of Convenience Store Woman

QOTD: Have you read Convenience Store Woman or is it on your TBR?