The Cactus: A Review

June 14, 2019

The Cactus by Sarah Haywood

The Cactus Review

Genre/Categories: Women’s Contemporary Fiction, Family Life, Friendship

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Summary:

Susan Green has a perfectly controlled life until she doesn’t. Her life is carefully structured for one person: her flat is orderly and just the right size for one, her job is ideal for her analytical abilities, her cactus plants are dutifully tended, and her “relationship” is carefully defined and scheduled. Suddenly, life presents a couple of unexpected turn of events. Susan’s mother dies suddenly at the same time she finds out that she’s pregnant. Facing the added complication of an already strained relationship with her brother, Susan needs to take immediate action to bring order to her world once again. Can she adapt to these unexpected circumstances and could they bring her unexpected joy?

My Thoughts:

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The Lost For Words Bookshop: A Review

June 12, 2019

The Lost For Words Bookshop by Stephanie Butland

The Lost For Words Bookshop Review

Genre/Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Booksellers and Bookshops, Books About Books, England

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Summary:

Young Loveday Cardew works in a bookshop and prefers books to people. Her discrete tattoos feature a few of her favorite first lines. Even though the bookshop is her sanctuary and a place where she can hide from her secrets, some mysterious packages with links to her past arrive and shatter her sense of safety. With support from a caring boss and the kindness of a young poet, can she find the courage to face her past and find hope for a bright future?

Amazon Rating:  4.2 Stars

My Thoughts:

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1st Line/1st Paragraph: Looking For Me by Beth Hoffman

June 11, 2019

1st Line/1st Paragraph: Looking For Me by Beth Hoffman

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 Looking For Me by Beth Hoffman. If you have read Saving CeeCee Honeycutt, you might already know that Beth Hoffman writes heartwarming southern fiction.

From Amazon: Beth Hoffman’s bestselling debut, Saving CeeCee Honeycutt, won admirers and acclaim with its heartwarming story and cast of unforgettable characters. Now her unique flair for evocative settings and richly drawn Southern personalities shines in her compelling new novel. Looking For Me brilliantly melds together themes of family, hope, loss, and a mature once-in-a-lifetime kind of love. The result is a tremendously moving story that is destined to make bestselling author Beth Hoffman a novelist to whom readers will return again and again.

Looking For Me by Beth Hoffman

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links

Looking For Me

Genre/Categories: Contemporary Southern Fiction, Women’s Fiction, Family Life, Mothers/Daughters

1st Line/1st Paragraph:

Some people run toward life, arms flung wide in anticipation. Others crack open the door and take a one-eyed peek to see what’s out there. Then there are those who give up on life long before their heart stop beating–all used up, worn out, and caved in, yet they wake each morning and shuffle their tired legs through another day. Maybe they’re hoping for a change–a miracle, even–but runaway dreams and lost years hang heavily on their backs. It’s the only coat they know how to wear.

I have read about 80% of Looking For Me by Beth Hoffman. This is a gentle and heartfelt story exploring family dynamics, following your dreams/passions, and coping with loss. The main character, Teddi, is determined and resourceful, and willing to take risks to pursue her dream even though she is torn between family loyalty and carving out a life for herself. Saving CeeCee Honeycutt motivated me to read more from this author; however, Looking For Me cannot be compared to SCCH because they are uniquely different stories.

If you love hunting for or restoring antique furniture, there will be extra enjoyable content for you. The first part of the story is heavily character driven and rich in vivid descriptions of charming Charleston and rural Kentucky farm settings. At 80% it appears that the author is introducing a love interest for Teddi. So far, this is a quiet story with poignant themes. I look forward to reading the last 20% and predict that this will fall into my four star range. If you need a break from intense reads or a relaxing vacation read, this could work well for you. Although it might fall into the women’s fiction category, it is not chick lit light.



QOTD:

Do you love southern fiction?

Have you read Saving CeeCee Honeycutt or Looking For Me?



Looking Ahead:

I have reviews coming soon for The Lost For Words Bookshop and The Cactus.



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:
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***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.

On The Come Up: A Review

June 6, 2019

On The Come Up by Angie Thomas

On the Come Up Review

Genre/Categories: Young Adult Contemporary Fiction, Homelessness, Poverty, Family Life, YA Music, Racism

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Summary:

The daughter of a Garden Heights rap legend, sixteen-year-old Bri’s greatest desires include making it as a rapper, making enough money to take care of her mom and siblings, and moving out of the neighborhood. Bri is distracted at school by her rapping goals and neighborhood performances. At home, her mom has lost her job and the family is facing unpaid bills, shut off notices, an empty refrigerator, and the threat of homelessness. Suddenly, Bri not only wants to make it as a rapper, now she has to make it. Bri makes some impulsive decisions as she fights to make her dreams a reality. This is a story about fighting for your dreams against the odds as it portrays the realities of poor and working-class black families. Author Angie Thomas has experience in the art of rapping and her authentic voice fills all the spaces in this realistic story with vivid details of the Garden Heights community and its memorable characters. Although the story takes place in the same community and makes a reference to the shooting at the center of The Hate You Give, this is not a sequel to THUG and can be read as a stand-alone. Each book is a unique reading experience.

My Thoughts:

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1st Line/1st Paragraph: The Cactus by Sarah Haywood

June 4, 2019

1st Line/1st Paragraph: The Cactus by Sarah Haywood

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 The Cactus by Sarah Haywood. If you follow the Reese Witherspoon Instagram Book Club @reesesbookclubxhellosunshine this is her June pick. I don’t always read the selections, but she had me at “quirky” character.

From Amazon: In this charming and poignant debut, one woman’s unconventional journey to finding love means learning to embrace the unexpected. For Susan Green, messy emotions don’t fit into the equation of her perfectly ordered life. She has a flat that is ideal for one, a job that suits her passion for logic, and an “interpersonal arrangement” that provides cultural and other, more intimate, benefits. But suddenly confronted with the loss of her mother and the news that she is about to become a mother herself, Susan’s greatest fear is realized. She is losing control.

The Cactus by Sarah Haywood

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links

The Cacrus

Genre/Categories: Contemporary Fiction, England, Family Life, Mothers/Daughters

1st Line/1st Paragraph:

I’m not a woman who bears grudges, broods over disagreements or questions other people’s motives. Neither do I feel compelled to win an argument at any cost. As with all rules, of course, there are exceptions. I won’t stand idly by while one person’s being exploited by another, and the same goes when I’m the one being exploited; I’ll do everything within my means to ensure that Justice prevails. Not surprisingly, then, the events that have unfolded this month have left me with no choice but to take immediate and decisive action.

I have read about 61% of The Cactus by Sarah Haywood. My first impression is that Susan is more unlikeable and difficult than quirky. For me, quirky is a word that has an endearing component. Susan is prickly! She is set in her ways and her life is regimented and compartmentalized…..perhaps she is on the spectrum or has suffered some trauma. In addition, she doesn’t have a great relationship with her mother or her brother, and her alcoholic father (for whom she did feel more affection) has died. Susan experienced a great deal of distress in childhood because of her alcoholic father’s behaviors, she doesn’t have many real friends, and she is not close to her extended family. When we first meet her, she’s a loner and runs her lonely life efficiently. I’m gradually warming up to Susan and she may be endearing before story’s end. The blurb on the book indicates that if readers love Eleanor Oliphant, they will love this book. The jury is still out on that point. So far, Eleanor still holds the gold standard of quirky (and endearing)! If you love quirky, you might want to give The Cactus a try. The first paragraph is interesting because the story so far feels exactly like “exceptions” to her rules! I’m invested in finding out how this turns out for her. Stay tuned for my full review in a few weeks…



QOTD: Do you love stories about quirky characters?

If you follow my reviews you know I have a soft spot for quirky characters. I think I’ll do a full post on this subject in the near future.

Who’s your favorite quirky character?



Looking Ahead:

I have reviews coming soon for On the Come Up, The Lost For Words Bookshop, The Cactus, and The River.



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.

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Books in My Favorite Genre: Historical Fiction

June 4, 2019

Do you love making lists?

Top Ten Tuesday:
10 Favorite Historical Fiction Reads

 

 

top ten tuesday

I’m linking up today with That Artsy Reader Girl for Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Books In My Favorite Genre. Last week, I made a list of my favorite historical fiction books for each of the last ten years. This week’s list is comprised of my absolute favorites in historical fiction! I actually didn’t think I could make this list! My initial list had several more titles and it was difficult to cut, so I’ve cheated a bit. How do I choose my favorites when I’ve read so many titles? The following titles are the stories that I connect with emotionally, the stories I still remember weeks and months and years later, and the stories I recommend over and over again! All are five-star reads and all have great themes. I recommend them without hesitation.

How many of these titles have you read and loved? Are you a histfic fan?

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

(in no particular order)

my dear hamilton

My Dear Hamilton by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie

I love the (less public) story of the determined, smart, influential, and driven woman who was Alexander Hamilton’s wife, partner, and best friend. America’s First Daughter by the same authors is also excellent.
My review here.


From Sand and Ash

we were the lucky ones

From Sand and Ash by Amy Harmon
and We Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter

(I read these almost back to back and because of the themes I always think of them together….so this is my sneaky trick to include one more!)
Themes make these stories memorable: I love the theme of faith in Sand and Ash; in We Were the Lucky Ones, I love the themes of family and faith….especially the beautiful ending). Sand and Ash review here. We Were the Lucky Ones review here.


invention of wings

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd

I love this imagined story of two brave women who were actual pioneers in the abolitionist movement. Review here.


News of the World

News of the World by Paulette Jiles

I love the theme of found family and the moral dilemma at the story’s end of doing the right thing versus doing things right. I also love the beautiful prose. Brief review in this post.


Salt to the Sea

Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

I love the compelling themes of determination and survival. Brief review in this post.


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1st Line/1st Paragraph: The River

May 29, 2019

1st Line/1st Paragraph: The River

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 The River by Peter Heller. I’ve read a few great reviews, and I’m eager to bring you my full review soon. If you spend time fishing, camping, and canoeing, you might appreciate this wilderness survival/suspense thriller set in the Canadian wilderness.

From Amazon: From the best-selling author of The Dog Stars, The River is the story of two college students on a wilderness canoe trip–a gripping tale of friendship tested by fire, white water, and violence. From the charged beginning, master storyteller Peter Heller unspools a headlong, heart-pounding story of desperate wilderness survival.

The River by Peter Heller

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links

The River

Genre/Categories: Fiction, Thriller, Suspense, Wilderness Survival, Adventure, Friendship

1st Line/1st Paragraph:

They had been smelling smoke for two days. At first they thought it was another campfire and that surprised them because they had not heard the engine of a plane and they had been traveling the string of long lakes for days and had not seen sign of another person or even the distant movement of another canoe. The only tracks in the mud of the portages were wolf and moose, otter, bear. The winds were west and north and they were moving north so if it was another party they were ahead of them. It perplexed them because they were smelling smoke not only in early morning and at night, but would catch themselves at odd hours lifting their noses like coyotes, nostrils flaring.

I have read about 50% of The River. I can report that it’s a great balance of character driven and plot driven content. The description settings are vivid and beautifully written. The River explores the character of two college friends who share a deep friendship, a love of the mountains, books, and fishing. Throughout the story, we also observe that they have a great deal of respect for each other. These are good guys. What starts out as an enjoyable wilderness trip goes horribly wrong as the young men need to outrace a forest fire, save a life, and protect themselves from a violent stranger. I’m eager to see how this ends!



QOTD: Are you intrigued? Do you like wilderness survival stories?



Looking Ahead:

Come back Friday for my May Reading Wrap Up!



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.

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Historical Fiction Books I Read During Each of the Last 10 Years

May 28, 2019

Do you love making lists?

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Historical Fiction Books I Read During Each of the Last 10 Years

 

 

top ten tuesday

I’m linking up today with That Artsy Reader Girl for Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Books I Read in Each of the Last Ten Years. Once I started curating my list, I realized that the majority of titles were historical fiction (no surprise!), so I’m tweaking the prompt to list my favorite historical fiction reads in each of the last ten years. This is a difficult task, but it’s fun to reminisce. Some years it was too difficult to choose only one. Many years I have favorites that are not historical fiction and I decided to save those for another list.

For this list, I have simply chosen a memorable book for each year. This list doesn’t represent the best of all the books I’ve read in the last ten years.

Most of these titles were read in the year they were published, but some are back list titles.

How many of these titles have you read and loved?

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

2019 (to date)

The Gown, Paper Hearts

2018

My Dear Hamilton, Last Christmas in Paris

2017

From Sand and Ash, Refugee

2016

News of the World, Homegoing, America’s First Daughter, Salt to the Sea

2015

The Nightingale

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The Island of Sea Women: A Review

May 27, 2019

Have you experienced a patriarchal or matriarchal culture?

The Island of Sea Women by Lisa See

Island of Sea Women Review

Genre/Categories: Historical Fiction, South Korea, Women’s Roles

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Summary:

You may have read The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, or Shanghai Girls by popular author Lisa See. In The Island of Sea Women, See imagines the story of Mi-ja and Young-sook. As the story begins, we are introduced to these two young girls living on the Korean Island of Jeju. Although the girls are best friends, they come from very different backgrounds. As the girls mature, they begin working in the sea with other women in the village as part of the diving collective (the haenyo). Even though diving is dangerous, the girls are eager to be allowed to join the women of the sea as they learn the trade and follow in the tradition of the other women in the village who are the sole providers for their families. In this matriarchal culture, the men stay home, cook, and assume primary care for the children. Women take on the responsibility for providing an income from selling the bounty of their diving expeditions. It’s women who worry about the livelihood of their families and village, assume great physical risks, and take responsibility for knowing the best locations and times/conditions to dive. The  sea women dive when they are pregnant and sometimes give birth on the boat as part of their workday if necessary. The story begins in the 1930s and continues through WW11, the Korean War, and the modern technology boom. Over the decades, circumstances put the girls’ friendship under great strain and the story encompasses their entire lives. It’s a story of a unique culture, friendship, understanding, community, and a dangerous and demanding profession.

My Thoughts:

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The Scent Keeper: A Review

May 24, 2019

The Scent Keeper by Erica Bauermeister

Welcome to my stop on The Scent Keeper Blog Tour sponsored by St Martins Press. Thanks to Clare Maurer at St Martins for the invitation! Thanks to #NetGalley #StMartinsPress for a free digital copy of #TheScentKeeper in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. *This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

The Scent Keeper Review

Genre/Categories: Fiction, Coming of Age, Family Life, Magical Realism

Summary:

Emmeline lives on a small isolated and remote island with her father. They function as survivalists by foraging and growing their own food. Even though Emmeline and her father are isolated, the father has a contact who arrives by boat and occasionally delivers items that can’t be acquired on the island. Emmeline’s father teaches her about the natural world through her senses. Emmeline’s world is filled with love and security and it’s all she knows. Her father also has a mysterious machine that creates or captures scents (similar to a Polaroid camera), and he has scents stored in drawers that line the walls of their cabin. Although she’s curious about the scents, her father doesn’t offer a great deal of explanation. One day, Emmeline is forced out into the real world beyond the sanctuary of her island. She sets out on a quest to understand the life her father created for them, her father’s reasons, and the secrets he safeguarded.

My Thoughts:

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