The Map of Salt and Stars [Book Review] #ThrowBackThursday

December 31, 2020

The Map of Salt and Stars by Jennifer Zeynab Joukhadar

The Map of Salt and Stars by Zeyn Joukhadar (cover)

Genre/Categories: Fiction, Mythology, Folk Tale, Magical Realism, Coming of Age, Syrian, Story Within a Story

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 eager to share my review of the compelling The Map of Salt and Stars.a page-turning story with two inspirational female protagonists.

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

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

My Summary:

The Map of Salt and Stars is really two stories. One story is contemporary and the other is a mythological folk tale that takes place 800 years earlier. In the contemporary story, Nour’s mother, a Syrian-American, a cartographer and painter of beautiful maps, decides to move Nour and her sisters from New York City back to Syria after the death of Nour’s father. The mother feels a strong desire to live closer to her family. After they arrive in Syria, they experience effects of the civil war evidenced by protests and shelling in their quiet neighborhood. When a shell destroys Nour’s home and neighborhood, she and her family and a close family friend of her father’s are forced to flee as refugees across seven countries of the Middle East and North Africa in search of safety.

The story within the story is a favorite folk tale that Nour’s father told her over and over again as a young girl. Nour loves the main character in the folk tale, Rawiya, who becomes an apprentice to al-Idrisi, commissioned by King Roger II of Sicily to create a map of the region. Rawiya follows al-Idrisi on a journey across the Middle East and the north of Africa where they encounter a mythical beast and fight epic battles.

There are strong connections between the two stories as Nour and her family are forced from their home to travel the identical route that Rawiya traveled eight hundred years earlier. Throughout the journey, Nour remembers and is inspired by the heroine of her favorite folktale as she faces similar challenges and fears.

“I am a woman and a warrior,” Rawiya said, her blade cutting into his club.
If you think I can’t be both, you’ve been lied to.

Continue here for my full review of The Map of Salt and Stars ….


Have you read The Map of Salt and Stars or is it on your TBR?

Blog Audit Challenge 2020: December #blogauditchallenge2020

December 30, 2020

December’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. This is the last month of the challenge.

 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 area is back to increased lockdowns due to an increase in COVOD-19 cases. Hoping the vaccine will soon turn things around. Stay safe and mask up, blogging buddies!

December’s Challenge Focus: Know Your Stats

What a year this has been!

I’m thankful for my blog which kept me engaged and productive during the most difficult lockdown periods (which we’re in again here).

This is my 479th post! THANK YOU to each one who has followed my blog! I’m grateful for EACH visit, view, comment, and share. It’s a joy to share books and the reading life with you!


I hope you’ve enjoyed this year-long Blog Audit Challenge series! I’m doing something in this post that I do every month and every year’s end…analyze stats!

Are you a stats nerd like me? As a teacher, I grew dependent on stats (assessments) to inform my teaching, and that habit has carried over into blogging.

Each blogger is on her or his own journey in blogging and some may look at these stats and think mine are paltry while others might be amazed or even jealous. I always hesitate to share stats because I DO NOT want to promote any bad feelings or look like a clueless amateur. I simply share my stats in hopes that it will give you an authentic look at someone’s newish blog (3 1/2 years) and give you a realistic picture of what a blogger can accomplish in that time with a substantial amount of consistent effort. I work hard at writing content and promotion, so that is reflective in my stats.


Check Analytics

So far, I’ve only used the WordPress tools to check my blog stats. One of my blogging goals next year is to activate Google Analytics for a more in-depth look. How do you determine success? When I first started blogging, I relied heavily on page views to rate my success. Currently, I look at the number of comments (engagement) to evaluate success. So even though views are progressing nicely, I am especially interested in the number of comments which demonstrate that followers are reading and engaging with my content. After three plus years, I can finally compare year-to-year progress, so below you will see my stats for three years:

2018 (first full year of blogging)
* Views: 13,652
* First Time Visitors: 7,696
* Comments: 605

* Views: 60,910
* First Time Visitors: 35.5k
* Comments: 2,044

* Views: 118.3k
* First Time Visitors: 73.1k
* Comments: 3,422

I think the jump from 2018 to 2019 can be attributed to an increase in more posts per week, participating in more memes (such as Top Ten Tuesday), consistent social promotion, and more discussion posts. Over the 3 1/2 years, my total views  = 196.2k; total visitors = 118.4k; and my best daily view record = 852.

Other interesting stats include:

* Search Terms: One of the most important stats to look at in my opinion! Why or how do people end up on your blog? Overwhelmingly, “book recommendations” in some form are among my highest search terms. Other popular search terms include “book club discussion questions,” other “book club” related searches, a specific “book title,”and  “summary” or “synopsis.” I look at Search Terms every week! First, it’s interesting and Second, they can inspire a post (for example, one search term was “light histfic for women”….I can create a post about that!). Third, these Search Terms can be added to your future blog posts: for instance, I try to remember to include the word “book club” somewhere in my content as it’s one of my highest search terms!

* Average Word Count (important for SEO): my average word count for 2020 is 845 (my shorter meme posts bring down this average). I think my word count is in the acceptable range especially since many of my posts have higher word counts.

* Most Viewed Posts: It’s also informative to look at your most viewed posts. In 2017 (blogged for 6 months): 2017 Really Recommendable Reads (views); in 2018 Where the Crawdads Sing (495 views); in 2019 Where the Crawdads Sing (7,777 views)….I’m certainly happy I read and reviewed that book!); in 2020 The Book of Lost Friends (7, 447 views). My conclusion is that although a discussion post or memes are great for entertainment and variety, my book reviews and book recommendation posts still receive more views. Is this true for you, too? Which post of yours has received the most views?

* Referrers: In 2020 my top referrers are: Search Engines: 62.8k; WordPress Reader: 5,480k; Pinterest: 2,517; Instagram: 897; Twitter: 911; Facebook: 802 (Thus my opinion: it’s beneficial to promote across all platforms! Every view counts!)

* Domain Authority (DA): This is something I look at once a month for free at the MOZ Domain Analysis site. DA is a search engine ranking score that predicts a website’s ability to rank on search engine results pages. The score is from 0-100: 25 is an acceptable score for small bloggers, 40-50 is considered average, 50-60 is good, and over 60 is excellent. To give you an idea, Modern Mrs. Darcy has a domain score of 54 and she’s a HUGE blogging success. I’m not trying to compete with her. If you’re curious, you can type any website into the domain checker and find our their DA! Amazon’s is 96! Our host, Jo Linsdell’s, is 30! Congrats Jo! The free domain checker gives you a certain number of opportunities for free each month. Why do I care about DA? Well, once on Twitter, a blogger was asking for bloggers for a collaboration or a guest post or something….she indicated that she was looking for bloggers with a DA of 20 something (I can’t remember the exact number now. But it sent me down a rabbit hole to find out about DA and if I had it and what my score was. My first DA score was a dismal 13 …. then it went from 16 to 18 to 21 to 23 to 25 (yay!) down to 22 (what?!), up to 23, and currently 22 (again). I have no idea about the algorithms of DA but I do know that SEO is part of it in some way.  In my investigation into DA I have discovered these contributing factors:

  • Quality Content
  • SEO best practices
  • Internal Linking (you want to reduce your bounce rate and encourage readers to stay on your blog and look around)…for example, I linked to my May Blog Audit Challenge on SEO above.
  • High Quality External Links (remove broken links…I update one old post per week and I’m surprised by the number of broken links I find!)
  • (Increase) Publishing Frequency
  • Friendly Website (speed, headings, structure, mobile friendly, etc)
  • A Domain Name That Describes Your Niche
  • Social Promotion

If you are a NEW blogger and feel overwhelmed by this information, choose one thing to focus on this month or next year! It’s taken me 3 1/2 years to work on these items and I still have a list of areas that I need to improve or implement!


Most Memorable Reads of 2020 #TopTenTuesday

December 29, 2020

2020 Memorable Reads:
The Top Ten List and The Categories

Most Memorable Reads of 2020 (Image: a colorful banner, confetti, and colorful baloons)

I’m linking up today with That Artsy Reader Girl: Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Books Read in 2020

Top Ten Tuesday (winter) graphic

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year!”

I mostly love the angst of creating top ten lists! Although it can be a daunting task, it’s my most anticipated post of the year! First, let me remind you that this list is subjective. It’s compiled of books I’ve read this year (there are always so many more great ones that I didn’t get to), and each one has made it onto this list because reading it was a memorable, emotional experience and gave me a “book hangover.”

I’m presenting my list this year in two formats: in list form and in categories. The categories part is a bit more comprehensive because I provided some runners up. Titles are links to my reviews or Amazon affiliate links. Although most titles in this post were published this year, a couple were not.

Thanks for sharing great reads with me this year!

***This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Top Ten Memorable Fiction Reads of 2020

(see categories below for runners up and additional selections)


 The Girl With the Louding Voice by Abi Dare


Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell


Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi


All the Devils Are Here by Louise Penny


 The Last Train to London by Meg Waite Clayton


The Printed Letter Bookshop by Katherine Reay


 Sunflower Sisters by Martha Hall Kelly


 The Book of Lost Names by Kristin Harmel


 The Last Bookshop in London by Madeline Martin


Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger

Most Memorable Nonfiction

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

The Choice: Embrace the Possible by Dr. Edith Eva Eger

Born a Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah

* * * * * BONUS *****


December 2020 Reading Wrap Up

December 28, 2020

December 2020 Reading Wrap Up

December 2020 Reading Wrap Up (collage of book covers)

How was your December reading?

December was a twelve book reading month, but it weighed in heavily on the “meh” side with only one five-star read, four four-star reads, six three-star reads, and one two-star read. Find all my December 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 The Girl From the Channel Islands by Jenny Lecoat (histfic).

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

The Girl From the Channel Islands by Jenny Lecoat (cover) Image: a young woman stands next to a bicycle in a field overlooking a small village as airplanes fly overhead

The Girl From the Channel Islands (ARC) by Jenny Lecoat

5 Stars. (ARC). Compelling and memorable WW11 histfic.
Pub Date: 2/2/2021 Review coming soon.

The Nature of Fragile Things by Susan Meissner (cover) Image: blue-toned picture of a woman and young girl holding hands and walking down railroad tracks with backs to camerai

The Nature of Fragile Things (ARC) by Susan Meissner

4.5 Stars. (ARC.)  Histfic (San Francisco Earthquake)/Suspense/Mystery/Family Drama mashup. Pub Date: 2/2/2021. Review coming soon.

The Paris Library by Janet Skeslien Charles (cover) Image: a woman sits on a wall with her back to the camera overlooking the Eiffel Tower in the distance

The Paris Library (ARC) by Janet Skeslien Charles

4 Stars (ARC). WW11 histfic featuring the American Library of Paris. A book about books. Pub Date: 2/9/2021. Review coming soon.

the Chanel Sisters by Judithe Little (cover) Image: a tight shot of a woman's downcast face wear red lipstick, a white beaded bracelet and white feather trimmed hat....the Eiffel Tower in the background

The Chanel Sisters (ARC) by Judithe Little

4 Stars (ARC). Interesting imagined story of Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel from her sister’s perspective. Pub Date: 12/29/2020. Review coming soon.


Merry “Pandemic” Christmas!

December 25, 2020

Merry Christmas to Everyone Who Celebrates!

We are ready here!

Santa's Sidekick


Luke Bryan, O Holy Night

Josh Groban, It Came Upon a Midnight Clear

(my fav verse)

And ye, beneath life’s crushing load,
Whose forms are bending low,
Who toil along the climbing way
With painful steps and slow,
Look now! for glad and golden hours
come swiftly on the wing.
O rest beside the weary road,
And hear the angels sing!

Do you love Flash Mobs?

“Hallelujah Chorus”

Merry Christmas

The Girl With the Louding Voice [Book Review] #ThrowBackThursday

December 24, 2020

The Girl With the Louding Voice by Abi Daré

The Girl With the Louding Voice by Abi Dare (cover)

Genre/Categories: Contemporary Women’s Fiction, Nigeria, Oppression, Women’s Rights, Education

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 eager to share my review of the compelling The  Girl With the Louding Voice…a message of hope and encouragement to girls worldwide who are dreaming and striving to use their own Louding Voices.

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

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

My Summary:

“Life for a woman is not easy in Nigeria. Adunni’s mom plants the thought of having a “voice” in her spirit. Fourteen-year-old Adunni is determined to fight for her voice to be heard and for her future despite being sold as a third wife. Even when she runs away, she finds herself in another powerless position of servitude. Adunni is introduced to a more modern woman who befriends her and encourages her to keep hope alive and to think of herself as important and having value.

“Tomorrow will be better than today. I have value and I’m important.”

Continue here for my full review of The Girl With the Louding Voice ….


Have you read Girl With the Louding Voice or is it on your TBR?

The Currently Reading Book Tag

December 23, 2020

The Currently Reading Book Tag

an open journal and pen next to a hardback book and a candle (also, plaid ribbon and red ornament decorations on a silver tray)

***This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

I’m continuing to have FUN during these days before Christmas by catching up on some tags. I appreciate each tag, but I’m not the best at responding! Yesterday, I completed Davida’s Sunshine Blogger’s Award tag.

Thanks Emily @ Frappes and Fiction for tagging me!

The Questions:

How many books do you usually read at once?

I can do a deep dive into one OR I can read three at a time. When I read multiple books, I almost always read different genres. I think it works well to read a fiction and a nonfiction at the same time. I find that most nonfiction can easily be read in chunks allowing space for reading another book. Some readers who read multiple books at a time use time blocking. For example, you might read nonfiction during your morning reading time, a fiction for some afternoon reading time, and poetry or something inspirational before bed. Another strategy for reading multiple books is to choose a fiction/nonfiction book pairing (some examples of pairings in this post). Sometimes I enjoy reading an ebook and an audio book concurrently (ebook for my at-home reading spot and audio for driving, walking, or doing chores). Probably the most I read at one time is three….but I could do more! How about you? How many books do you read at once? Do you have a certain strategy for reading more than one book at a time?

How do you decide to switch between multiple reads?

I’m a huge mood reader so if I’m reading something dense or heavy, I’ll choose a lighter read to balance it out. A good example of this is when I read The Only Plane in the was so emotional and heavy that I must have read four books during the time I read Last Plane because I could only read a few pages at a time.  Another example is Gentleman in Moscow. Although it was beautifully written and I was committed to finishing it, I found that I needed to take breaks from it and read something else. This strategy kept me from DNFing it and helped me hang in there until I reached the faster-paced ending. Another reason I might switch is if I have an ARC deadline pending or a library due date looming. If you read multiple books at a time, how do you decide when to switch?

Do you ever switch bookmarks partway through a book?

I don’t usually read physical books so I don’t use bookmarks. When I do use a bookmark, I love my little magnetic butterfly and I don’t switch. I like the magnetic bookmark because it doesn’t fall out like other bookmarks! Do you have a favorite bookmark?

What time of day do you read most?

Because I’m recently retired, I read at all times of the day and night. However, you can ALWAYS find me reading late at night after the house is quiet. I like to spend my morning hours checking in with social media and blog hopping. If I’m captivated by a book, I will read ALL day like it’s my job!

How long do you typically read in one session?

Like I mentioned above, I can read ALL day (joys of retirement and the empty nest!)! How much I read in one session really depends on the book and what else is going on in my life. I can typically read a 300-350 page book in one day, so that means I can read a very long time in one session!

Do you read hardcovers with the dust jacket off?

Nope. I usually leave it on. If I took it off, I would probably misplace it or it would get smashed somewhere. Safer to leave it on in my opinion. Plus the flap makes a handy bookmark! Do you leave yours on?

What position do you mainly use to read?

I like to switch up positions frequently (because I read so long in one session!), but I think my favorite position in on my back with my head propped…either on the couch, a recliner, or in bed. The only danger in this position is that if I fall asleep, my kindle drops in my face! What is your most comfortable position for reading?

Do you take your current read with you everywhere you go?

Absolutely! Because I read on kindle, I have the kindle app on my phone which is with me at all times (the kindle app syncs to my current read) . I look forward to waiting rooms and long lines (pre-pandemic) where I will always seize the opportunity to read! My favorite place to read is in a local bagel shop! Do you read on the go?

How often do you upgrade your Goodreads reading progress?

I update Goodreads when I begin a book and when I finish. I don’t always update my progress unless it’s a book that I’ll be reading over a long period or if I need to return it to the library before I’m finished. I do check my Goodreads news feed every day though. I also use it to check reviews and to track the number of books I read in a year. Are we friends on Goodreads?

***I TAG anyone who wants to participate!

Thanks again Emily for the tag! I hope you enjoyed my answers!

Related: Check out my recent post: What Is Your Reading Style?

a large bear raeding a red book beside an old fashioned lamp on a snowy day

Happy Reading Book Buddies!

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

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

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

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

Let’s Get Social!

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

Find me at:

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

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

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


Sunshine Blogger Award #TakeTwo

December 22, 2020

Sunshine Blogger Award #TakeTwo

Sunshine Blogger Award (text on a field of and bottom yellow and blue star border)

I’m honored to be the recipient of awards and tags…..unfortunately, I have difficulty with follow-through! My apologies to anyone I haven’t responded to who has tagged me!

I’m taking a blogging break of sorts this week (Christmas Week) to have some FUN! I thought today might be a perfect time to acknowledge this thoughtful award from Davida @ The Chocolate Lady’s Book Review Blog.

Here are the rules for today’s tag:

  • Thank the blogger who nominated you and link back to their page (THANKS Davida!)
  • List the rules
  • Answer the 11 questions
  • Nominate 11 new bloggers and ask them 11 new questions

My Answer to Davida’s Questions:

First of all, if you had to pick one author as your #1 favorite, who would it be; and what book of theirs would you recommend others read first?

No surprise here, folks! Fredrick Backman is currently my favorite author. I wrote an entire post about it here. He’s a skilled wordsmith, creative, risk-taking, thoughtful, and heavily character-driven I’m a completist and have read all his work. These are my favs in order:

What genre do you refuse to read, and why?

If you’ve followed me for long, you will notice that my reviews heavily involve certain genres/subgenres (histfic, complicated family dramas, literary fiction, women’s fiction, memoirs, biographies, and new releases). Conspicuously absent are reviews of thrillers, paranormal, erotica, horror, crime fiction, true crime, child abduction, and anything extremely graphic, violent, or disturbing. I’m an HSP (highly sensitive person) in my reading life and I think real life is scary enough. To give you an idea, American Dirt and The Huntress are about as harrowing as I can handle without triggering nightmares! Interestingly, I can read about concentration camps in my WW11 histfic selections without ill effects.

Do You Think You Spend Too Much Time Blogging or Not Enough Time Blogging?

For me, I have found a good balance and I think I spend just about the right amount of time. I’m recently retired, so reading/blogging fills those hours…and it’s certainly been nice to have something to take my mind off the pandemic! I love my blogging life and treasure my blogging friendships!

When you’re reading a book and you suddenly realize you don’t like it, what makes you decide you can’t read further, if at all?

I’m NOT afraid to DNF for several reasons: triggering content, excessive profanity (especially combined with other factors), boredom (nothing happening…feelings of dread and not of joy when I pick up the book, mindless scrolling social media instead of reading), not my preferred genre, disturbing content, and an overly done author agenda. I wrote a post about my love/hate relationship with DNF here.

Is there a nickname, persona or “handle” that you use online, and if so, what’s the story behind it?

I use some version of reading ladies across all platforms (if you have a bookish account, let’s connect):

Twitter (ReadingLadiesBC)
Instagram (readingladies_book_club)
Goodreads Carol (Reading Ladies)
Pinterest (ReadingLadies)

Here’s the story behind the handle: I was reading the recent installment of No 1 Ladies Detective Agency at the time and I thought I could do a take-off on that like No 1 Ladies Reading Club … or some variation. The tech person helping me set up my blog gave me the side-eye when I explained how to spell “No” and gently explained that I needed something people didn’t have to wonder how to spell…so I said “fine….reading ladies book club @ Honestly, I didn’t think much about it. I just wanted my blog to be up and running. If I could change it at this point, I might change it to “Sunflowers and Stories” or something (cuter) like that. Another reason behind the (plural) name is that I would eventually like this to be a team effort. I’d love to bring a new blogger on board who would like to learn the ropes of blogging without going solo….like an intern. It’s always tricky to find someone with similar interests and style. I know there’s a person out there, I just need to connect! So a long-range goal is to make Reading Ladies a team!

What is one food you could eat every single day and never tire of eating it?


If you could build your dream home in your dream type of location, where would it be?

My dream home would definitely be in a tropical location overlooking the ocean!

What makes you angrier than anything else, and what do you do to express or repress your anger?

Hummmm….it makes me angry when adults mistreat, ignore, or damage children. I think people throughout history that have rescued children (like Tante Truus in The Last Train to London) are the best people! I just finished reading The Leavers and the way the adults treated Daniel caused me such grief that it greatly affected my reading experience. I felt the same way when I read Before We Were Yours or Orphan Train. These are the most difficult reads for me. In my teaching career, I tried to get my students any help they needed from the counselor. I took all their concerns seriously and did my best to help or listen or care….that’s all I could do. I was always the teacher knocking at the psychologist’s door insisting on services for a child!

When you were 10, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I’m not sure I was 10, but I remember when I was young wanting to be an author. When I was a little older, I dreamed of owning a book store. Neither of these dreams came true….but in my teaching career my passion was to create lifelong readers and to cultivate the joy of reading, and hopefully, my blog supports the reading world! In a way, my life has always been literary and has revolved around books and reading.

If you could choose any destination to visit anywhere in the world when this virus ends, where would you decide to go, and why?

  1. South Dakota for my family reunion that was canceled during the pandemic
  2. Hawaii (to read on the beach)

On a scale of 1 to 10, how much do you like answering these types of questions?

I guess an 8! Did you enjoy my answers?

My Nominees:

I follow hundreds of blogs, so I hesitate to single out bloggers. To follow the rules, though, I need to mention a few. Give them a follow! These nominees represent lovely and supportive blogging friends whom I interact with on a regular basis.

Feel free to participate…or not!

Nicki @ The Secret Library Book Review Blog

Lynne @ Fictionophile

Carla @ Carla Loves To Read

Tina @ Reading Between the Pages

Jaymi @ The OC Book Girl

Hopewell’s Public Library of Life

Karen @ Booker Talk

Sandy @ Sandy’s Book a Day Blog

Julie @ A Little Book Problem

Debbie @ Deb’s World

Jonetta @ Blue Mood Cafe

My Questions:

  1. What is your favorite genre to review?
  2. Where is your favorite place to read?
  3. Do you remember your first book hangover?
  4. What is your favorite snack and/or beverage while reading?
  5. What was your favorite children’s book?
  6. I’m embarrassed to admit that I’ve never ever read __________.
  7. Three people I’d invite to a literary dinner party are __________, __________, and __________.
  8. The blogger/bookstagramer that has most inspired me is _________ and why.
  9. If I dressed up as a literary character for Halloween, I would choose to be __________.
  10. If I could introduce one literary character to another literary character, I would introduce __________ to __________ because __________.
  11. Are you a DNFer or a FINISHer?

THANKS for the tag Davida! I hope you enjoyed my answers!

If you celebrate, are you ready for Christmas in a few days?

Never Broken: Songs Are Only Half the Story [Book Review]

December 18, 2020

Never Broken: Songs Are Only Half the Story by Jewel

Never Broken by Jewel (cover) Image: Barefoot Jewel is dressed in a full skirted orange summery dress and sitting bareback on a black horse

Genre/Categories: Nonfiction, Memoir, Biographical, Music

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Are You Old Enough to be a Jewel Fan?


Never Broken meets Educated meets The Glass Castle meets Hillbilly Elegy….

In Never Broken, poet and singer-songwriter Jewel shares her unconventional childhood, her rise to fame, her marriage, and her musical journey. In her younger years, she lived on a homestead in Alaska, learned to yodel at three, and sang with her father in hotels, honky-tonks, and biker bars. Even though the family valued creativity and music, there was also trauma and instability. Jewel left home to live on her own at age 15. The following years took her to a private performing arts school in Michigan (applying for a scholarship and financing her own transportation). By eighteen, she had hitchhiked across the country, was homeless (living in her car), writing poetry, and playing in coffee shops in San Diego to support herself. A local D.J. played one of her songs, and at twenty-one, she had a following and a debut album which went multiplatinum. From there, we hear her story of complicated family, financial difficulties, insecurities, fear, survival, the breakup of her marriage, and deep heartache over the estrangement from her mother. She also shares poetry and the audio version features some singing. There’s more in the story (including Jewel’s own heartfelt advice) that can’t be covered in a brief summary.

My Thoughts:


I Was Anastasia [Book Review] #ThrowBackThursday

December 17, 2020

I Was Anastasia by Ariel Lawhon

I Was Anastasia by Ariel Lawhon (cover) Image: a lady wearing a hat, boots, coat, and scarf sits on her suitcase in the middle of the road)

Genre/Categories: Historical Fiction, Biographical, Mystery

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 eager to share my review of the compelling I Was Anastasia by Ariel Lawhon…an intriguing international mystery.

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

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

My Summary:

“For nearly a century, many have speculated about the survival of Anastasia Romanov after her famous political family was forced into a basement in Siberia and executed by firing squad in 1918. Bolshevik executioners claim that no one survived, but in 1920 a young woman surfaces and claims to be the Russian Grand Duchess Anastasia. People who don’t believe her call her Anna Anderson. For years, rumors that Anastasia did survive circulate through Europe. In this story, readers have an opportunity to form their own opinion.”

If you like uniquely structured books…

Continue here for my full review of I Was Anastasia ….


Have you read I Was Anastasia or is it on your TBR?
Have you read other books by Ariel Lawhon?