Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Blogs and Podcasts

December 11, 2018

For this post, I’m linking up with two great memes. One is That Artsy Reader Girl: Top Ten Tuesday

top ten tuesday

…and the second is with Traveling With T: A Month of Faves: The Blogger Love Edition. I have a huge list of favorite bloggers, but for this post I couldn’t possibly mention everyone. I’ve decided to divide the list into bloggers and podcasters.

If you’ve popped over from Traveling With T or That Artsy Reader Girl, Welcome!

A Month of Favorites TwithT

 

My Favorite Blogs and Podcasts

Blogs-Podcasts

Blogs

The Thankful Heart

Visiting The Thankful Heart is always a lovely treat that’s filled with reflection, love of family, books, and recipes. Rhonda at The Thankful Heart embraces a spirit of thankfulness all year long.

Modern Mrs. Darcy

Always high quality and consistent bookish recommendation, this is one of my major resources for my best reads. MMD AKA Anne Bogel has also created an online Book Club ($10/month) and it’s a wonderful bookish community.

The Ardent Biblio

A lovely literary lifestyle blog filled with great book recommendations, links, and inspiring ideas for literary dinner parties. Michaela and Rikki offer excellence in content, blog design, and photography. I love to stop in and “look.”

The Lexington Bookie and Jennifer Tar Heel Reader

Amanda and Jennifer always writes quality and comprehensive book reviews and we share many of the same favorites.  I’ve listed them together here because they are both also super encouraging and supportive which has been important in my journey as a fairly new blogger. They represents a younger generation of readers than mine and it’s encouraging to know that the love of reading will continue for generations to come.

Traveling With T and That Artsy Reader Girl

Of course, I am pleased to include the hosts of  today’s memes where you will find an abundance of book reviews. Also, I greatly appreciate their support of the blogging community in providing opportunities like this for link ups.

Podcasts

I find that I need to limit my podcast intake or it seriously cuts into my reading time! Out of the many great podcasts, these are the ones that I’ve recently been listening to the most often (the first two are my “must listens”):

Fron the Front Porch Logo

From the Front Porch

I never miss an episode of From the Front Porch which features southern charm and the delightful bookish and lifestyle chatter of Annie and Chris. In fact, sometimes if I want to relax and not read, I will listen to a back episode. It’s a must listen every Thursday.

What Should I Read Next Logo

What Should I Read Next

This is a podcast from Modern Mrs. Darcy in which the guests tell her three books they love and one book they hate and she suggests three new reads for them. I always gain great reading ideas from this podcast and it’s a must listen every Tuesday.

Reading Women Logo

Reading Women

This podcast focuses on literary fiction and stretches my horizon as I hear about books that are not always making the best seller lists but might be winning other literary awards. I listen often and enjoy the hosts.

Popcast Logo

The Popcast

OK….. this podcast isn’t often literary but it’s my attempt to keep up with pop culture as explained by Jamie and Knox. It’s always entertaining! I listen to selected episodes based on the episode descriptions that sound appealing.

Sorta Awesome Logo

Sorta Awesome

This is another podcast that helps me keep up to date with pop culture, especially related to women’s issues. Some episodes are more interesting to me than others, so I pick and choose. The hosts also include occasional book reviews.



What are your favorite blogs and podcasts?


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



Looking Ahead:

This weekend, I’ll post my regular weekly review. I’ve read two books this week: Dear Mrs. Bird by A J Pearce and  The Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker (releasing in January). Both are interesting and very different from my usual reads. Dear Mrs. Bird will be reviewed on Friday 12/7, then The Dreamers on Friday 12/14.

 



My Fall TBR

I FINISHED ALL the books on my Fall TBR list! Usually I can’t get to every book on my list, so I’m feeling a sense of accomplishment. My winter TBR will post on December 21.



Sharing is Caring

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



 Let’s Discuss

Please share some of your favorite blogs and podcasts in comments.



***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. This money will be used to offset the costs of running a blog and to sponsor giveaways, etc.

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.

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Goodreads Monday

December 3, 2018

Goodreads Monday

Goodreads Monday

Goodreads Monday is hosted by Lauren’s Page Turners and highlights a book from your Goodreads TBR that you’re looking forward to reading. I think this will be an excellent opportunity to motivate myself to read something that’s been on my Goodreads shelf for a long time. I currently have 105 books on my To Read shelf!

For Goodreads Monday, I’m chosing 84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff from my TBR shelf. I placed it on my Goodreads shelf in August of 2017 (although it has been on my mental TBR list for years before that). I also placed it on my 2017 Spring TBR list, so it’s not like I’ve forgotten about it.

84 Charing Cross Road

Summary:

Published in 1970, 84, Charing Cross Road is a charming, classic love story. The book consists of correspondence between Helene Hanff, a freelance writer living in New York City, and a used book dealer in London. Although they never meet, they develop a warm friendship based on their common love for books. For many readers who love books about books, this story is a sentimental favorite.

Why did I put this book on my TBR shelf?

Why haven’t I read it yet?

  • Last spring I tried to obtain the e book online through Amazon. I guess because it’s an older title, it’s not available for Kindle. Since I am in the process of minimizing the amount of physical books I own, I didn’t want to purchase a hard copy and planned to get it through the library.
  • I went to the library and they didn’t have it in circulation. I knew I could probably have it sent to the branch but I was in a hurry that day and decided to come back (That didn’t work out so well because I obtain all my library books digitally through Overdrive/Libby and don’t actually visit the physical library.)
  • I went to Barnes and Noble to purchase a gift for someone and remembered that I wanted to look for this book, but they didn’t have it in stock. They offered to get it in but I hesitated because I still feel conflicted about buying physical books since I’ve converted exclusively to Kindle.
  • I am greatly distracted by new releases!
  • That’s my sad story of why this book is languishing on my TBR shelf!

Action Plan

  • Go back to the library and wait for it to be sent to my branch.
  • Break down and buy a physical copy. I think that if I buy a copy I could do a giveaway here!


So, now I’m accountable to YOU, dear reader!

By the way, are we friends on Goodreads ?



Looking Ahead:

My library hold of Dear Mrs. Bird came in, so I hope to have that review ready Friday.



Let’s Discuss:

Please let me know in comments if you’ve read 84, Charing Cross Road.

Which book have you had on your TBR list for the longest?



***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. This money will be used to offset the costs of running a blog and to sponsor giveaways, etc.

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.

Everyone Gets a Book!

December 1, 2018

Give a Book as a Holiday Gift!

gift stack of books

As you plan your holiday gift giving, you might be looking for book recommendations. Check out some suggestions below!

All of these are recent releases (most this year, some last year). All titles are Amazon affiliate links. Many of these books have been reviewed on the blog and can be found by checking the A-Z Index.

For Dad or Grandpa

Wait Till Next Year by Doris Kearns Goodwin (baseball memoir, Boston Red Sox fan)

Grant; Washington: A Life; or Alexander Hamilton (all) by Ron Chernow (narrative nonfiction biographies)

Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson (social justice)

News of the World by Paulette Jiles (histfic, western)

Beartown by Fredrik Backman (sports, hockey, intense issues, community, family)

The Deal of a Lifetime by Fredrik Backman (poignant, reflective, meaning of life, novella)

For Mom or Grandma

(also see recommendations in the Girlfriend’s category below)

A Place For Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza (family dynamics, *my favorite read of the year*)

Last Christmas in Paris by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb (WW1 histfic, epistolary format, *a favorite of the year*)

Becoming Mrs. Lewis: The Improbably Love Story of Joy Davidman and C.S. Lewis by Patti Callahan (histfic, biographical, romance)

We Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter (WW11, histfic, themes of survival, family, and faith, *a favorite of the year*)

From Sand and Ash by Amy Harmon (WW11, histfic, survival, romance, *a favorite of the year*)

Force of Nature by Jane Harper (detective, mystery, Australia, #2 in a series but can be read as a stand alone)

My Dear Hamilton by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie (histfic, biographical, *a favorite of the year*)

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce (fable)

As Bright As Heaven by Susan Meissner (histfic, Spanish Flu)

The Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey (histfic, 1920s India)

The Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata (contemporary fiction, Japan)

The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto by Mitch Albom (magical realism, music, a favorite author)

For a Bookworm

I’d Rather Be Reading: The Delights and Dilemmas of the Reading Life by Ann Bogel (essays on the reading life)

How to Find Love in a Bookshop by Veronica Henry ( beach read, romance, chick lit)

For Middle Grade Children

Louisiana’s Way Home by Kate DiCamillo (found family)

Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate (homelessness, imaginary friend)

Wishtree by Katherine Applegate (tolerance)

The War That Saved My Life and The War I Finally Won (both) by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley (histfic)

Refugee by Alan Gratz (mature Middle Grade histfic, refugees, adults will enjoy too)

Wild Robot (series) by Peter Brown (younger Middle Grade science fiction)

Edited to add: The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart (as highly recommended by Aimee in coments!)

See this post for more ideas

For Young Adult (or adult)

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (racial injustice, black lives matter)

The Librarian of Auschwitz by Antonio Iturbe (histfic, WW11)

The Map of Salt and Stars by Jennifer Zeynab Joukhadar (histfic, magical realism, mythology, folk tales, coming of age)

House of Dreams: The Life of L.M. Montgomery by Liz Rosenberg (narrative nonfiction, biography, targeted for MG but I recommend for YA 14+ and adults)

See more Middle Grade and Young Adult suggestions in this post.

For a Girl Friend

(also see suggestions in the Mom or Grandma category above)

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens (contemporary fiction, against the odds, *trigger: child abandonment)

The Dream Daughter by Diane Chamberlain (science fiction, time travel, *trigger: high risk birth, adoption)

The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter by Hazel Gaynor (histfic, brave and independent women)

Tell Me More: Stories About the 12 Hardest Things I’m Leaning to Say by Kelly Corrigan (humor, memoir,*trigger: cancer)

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones (contemporary fiction, African American)

The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris (histfic, WW11, romance)

The Map of Salt and Stars by Jennifer Zeynab Joukhadar (histfic, magical realism, mythology, folk tales, coming of age)

I’ll Be Your Blue Sky by Marisa de los Santos (beach read, chick lit, #3 in a series but can be read as a stand alone)

The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah (histfic, Alaska, family dynamics *trigger: domestic violence)

How to Find Love in a Bookshop by Veronica Henry ( beach read, romance, chick lit)

The Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda (adoption)

House of Dreams: The Life of L.M. Montgomery by Liz Rosenberg (narrative nonfiction, biography, targeted for mature middle grade but recommended for 14+ and easily enjoyed by adults)

Spiritual

The Ministry of Ordinary Places: Waking Up to God’s Goodness Around You by Shannan Martin (reflection, hospitality, Christian issues, family, social justice, memoir)

Present Over Perfect: Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living by Shauna Niequist (Christian living, spiritual growth, women’s issues, for fans of Bread and Wine and Savor)



I hope you have found some useful suggestions. These are some of the books that I can personally and wholeheartedly recommend. Please share in comments if you found a gift on this list or have a recommendation or question.




Tech Support for Your Book Worm!

Kindle Paper White $79.99

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Newest Version of Kindle Paper White $129.99


gift stack of books



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



Looking Ahead:

I think I’ll review an ARC (advanced reader copy) of a book I’m reading this week. It’s interesting and different, and I think it’s one that you might consider for your Winter TBR (releasing in January).

The Dreamers



My Fall TBR

I’ll be updating my Fall TBR list as I complete each read, so check this link often! I have only one more book to read and review, and my library hold of the book is due to come in any day. So I’ll be finished with my Fall TBR soon!



Sharing is Caring

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



 Let’s Discuss

Are books on your holiday shopping list?

Do you have any favorite books that you like to give as gifts?



***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. This money will be used to offset the costs of running a blog and to sponsor giveaways, etc.

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.

Review: Kingdom of the Blind

November 30, 2018

Kingdom of the Blind by Louise Penny

Kingdom of the Blind 2

Genre/Categories: Mystery, Detective, Crime Fiction, Canada

Summary:

In this recent installment of the Chief Inspector Gamache series, Armand Gamache remains suspended from the Surete du Quebec, but this doesn’t stop him from searching for a murderer, serving as liquidator for a mysterious woman’s will, and hunting for missing drugs (an unresolved story line from the previous book). All the usual characters return and a few new ones are introduced. Three Pines retains its reputation and status as a safe sanctuary and caring community.

My Thoughts

First Thoughts. I’ve waited all year for this highly anticipated release. At first, we were not sure there would be a new installment as Louise Penny suffered the loss of her dear husband. However she surprised publishers and fans by writing in spite of her grief and found joy in the process. Part of the reason writing this installment was difficult is because she based the Chief Inspector Gamache character on her husband. In fact, she was quoted as saying that she created Armand Gamache as someone she could be married to because she knew she’d be spending many years with him.

Even though the plot is complex and the characters well drawn and the sense of place vividly described, this will not rank as among my favorites of the series. Last year’s was a stand out and I rounded up my 4.5 rating to 5 Stars on Goodreads. This story didn’t quite hit that high mark. For me, the difference between a four and a five is the emotional engagement factor. Last year’s had that for me and this year’s did not. Although, it is a solid and recommendable read…especially for fans of the series.

compelling character

For November’s Most Compelling Character, I’ve chosen Chief Inspector Armand Gamache. He’s one of my favorite characters from all my reading in the past several years and certainly a favorite from this month.

“Chief Inspector Lacoste regarded the steady man [Gamache] in front of her, who believed everyone could be saved. Believed he could save them. It was both his saving grace and his blind spot.”

Above all, he’s a kind and compassionate person, always looking out for the vulnerable and watching out for the innocent and unprotected. We empathize with Gamache and his desperation to find the lethal drugs that went missing at the end of the last story. We realize that he is tortured with the thoughts of the damage it will inflict on the community and will take desperate measures to secure the drugs. In addition, we appreciate his frustration and disappointment as he lives with his suspension. As we read the story, we admire Gamache for his brilliance and courage.

Symbolism. In addition to the memorable and honorable Chief Inspector Gamache character, I love the community of Three Pines and the symbolism as a place of safety, solace, and comfort. A place where vulnerable, troubled, and hurting souls are cared for, comforted, kept warm, and fed.

Observation. What intrigued me in the story was the clear juxtaposition of the two streets: the street that housed the financial institutions and the indirect comparison with the street where the poverty stricken, prostitutes, and drug dealers lived. So close to one another but worlds apart.

Plot. Louise Penny is a masterful story teller and pulls readers quickly into the story. Although the middle bogged down a bit, the ending was tension filled and contained a couple of plot twists (one of which I predicted). What I admire the most about the author is her ability to balance a character driven story with a plot driven story. Whereas most stories can be defined as either character driven or plot drive, this series is both. To me, these are the best reads and explains why the series has enjoyed overall popularity and success. There’s a plot twist at the end that left me speculating about the continuation of the series (although the author has given no reason to suspect that this will conclude the series).

For an overview of the series and a review of last year’s release, see this post.

Rating. What kept me from awarding Kingdom of the Blind a full five stars? Partly this is personal preference as I was less than fully engaged with the financial story line. I found myself skimming through the sections that involved detailed discussions of tracking the money. Also, I thought the dialogue was a bit stiff in places and the interactions and conversations seemed a bit repetitive or rehashed from past stories. Finally, I didn’t think the two story lines meshed together well because they were very different with little connections between them. It was almost like two separate books.

Recommended. Kingdom of the Blind is definitely recommended for fans of the series, and for readers who enjoy stories with a moral and kind main character, and for those who appreciate mostly gentle mysteries and detective stories (minimal profanity, some tension but usually no graphic violence). *I recommend reading the series in order starting with Still Life. It is possible to read them as stand alones but richer when you have the full context and background. In my opinion, some stories are stronger than others and you can see my star ratings for each one on my goodreads account (books read shelf). Overall, the series is popular with many readers.

My Star Rating: 4.5 Stars

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Kingdom of the Blind

Buy Here

Meet the Author, Louise Penny

Click Here: CBS This Morning Interview With Louise Penny

Louise Penny LOUISE PENNY is the #1 New York Times and Globe and Mail bestselling author of the Chief Inspector Armand Gamache novels. She has won numerous awards, including a CWA Dagger and the Agatha Award (five times) and was a finalist for the Edgar Award for Best Novel. She lives in a small village south of Montréal.

 



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



Looking Ahead:

I’m working on a bookish Holiday Gift Guide….Coming soon!



My Fall TBR

I’ll be updating my Fall TBR list as I complete each read, so check this link often! I have only one more book to read and I’m waiting for the library hold to come in. So I’ll be finished with my Fall TBR soon!



Sharing is Caring

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



 Let’s Discuss

Are you a fan of the Chief Inspector Gamache series? If you’ve read some of the installments, which have been your favorites?



***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. This money will be used to offset the costs of running a blog and to sponsor giveaways, etc.

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.

November Wrap Up

November 29, 2018

November Wrap Up

November Wrap Up

I read eight books this month, and there were some hits and misses. In these Wrap Up posts, it’s important to know that I’m not recommending all these books.

All titles are Amazon affiliate links and my reviews have been linked if available. My November reads are listed below in the order of my Star ratings:

* * * * * * * * * *

Kingdom of the Blind by Louise Penny (#14)
4.5 Stars
Review available on the blog tomorrow.
For fans of cozy mystery/detective stories with good character development.

* * * * * * * * * *

House of Dreams: The Life of L.M. Montgomery by Liz Rosenberg
(biography, my November Nonfiction read)
4 Stars
Full Review Here.
For fans of Anne of Green Gables and Emily of New Moon.

* * * * * * * * * *

The Wartime Sisters by Lynda Cohen Loigman
ARC: Pub Date: 1/22/19
3 Stars
Goodreads Review Here.
For fans of WW11 Historical Fiction.

* * * * * * * * * *

The Colors of All the Cattle (#19 in the #1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series)
by Alexander McCall Smith

3 Stars
Full Review Here.
For long time fans and for readers looking for a gentle, character driven, diverse read.

* * * * * * * * * *

Harry’s Trees by Jon Cohen
3 Stars
Goodreads Review Here.
For fans of contemporary fiction with a bit of magical realism.

* * * * * * * * * *

The Children Act by Ian McEwan
3 Stars
Not Reviewed.
For fans of a character driven story (you may know Ian McEwan for Atonement).

* * * * * * * * * *

The Book of Essie by Meghan MacLean Weir
2 Stars
Goodreads Review Here.
I almost didn’t finish this….but pressed on to see how the plot resolved. (others have loved it, but it wasn’t the right book for me)

* * * * * * * * * *

Bridge of Clay by Marcus Zusak
2 Stars
Goodreads Review Here.
This was close to a DNF for me. I ended up skimming a lot to see if it would get better and to give Zusak the benefit of the doubt. Not recommended. (too much profanity, obscure writing) Please read more reviews before making your reading choice.



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



Links I Love

If you’ve read My Dear Hamilton by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie and provide a review on social media or Amazon, you can fill out this form to receive FREE bonus content!

Have you seen The Hate U Give movie? Here’s the THUG trailer. 
I’ve read positive reviews with some saying it could be one of the best movies of the year. Of course, the movie is never as good as the book so don’t miss this important read.



Looking Ahead:

Tomorrow I’ll be back with my regular Friday review. This week’s review will be Louise Penny’s new release, Kingdom of the Blind.

Kingdom of the Blind



My Fall TBR

I’ll be updating my Fall TBR list as I complete each read, so check this link often! I have only one more book to read and review after tomorrow’s post, and my library hold of the book is due to come in any day. So I’ll be finished with my Fall TBR soon!



Sharing is Caring

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

Today’s post represents my 100th post! I’m grateful for all the support! Thank you so much!


 Let’s Discuss

What did you read in November?

See any favorites?



***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. This money will be used to offset the costs of running a blog and to sponsor giveaways, etc.

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.

Review: House of Dreams: The Life of L.M. Montgomery

November 23, 2018

“Words were her salvation, her business, and her hope.”

House of Dreams: The Life of L.M. Montgomery by Liz Rosenberg

House of Dreams 2

Genre/Categories: Narrative Nonfiction, Biography, Middle Grade, Canada

Summary:

House of Dreams is the biography of L.M. Montgomery. Told in narrative style with a few illustrations, the story reveals the complex and troubled life of the well-known author of Anne of Green Gables. As well as exploring her lifelong struggle with anxiety and depression, the biography also details her childhood years and her love for books and writing. Through L.M. Montgomery’s own words, we are struck by her talent, perseverance, and hope.

Amazon (Early) Rating (November): 4.3 Stars

My Thoughts:

Target Audience. This is tricky discussion. Although House of Dreams is categorized as Middle Grade, I think that because of mature themes that it’s more suitable for YA and adults than children. I’m not suggesting that children should be shielded from the harsh realities of real life or the actual life of L.M. Montgomery, but I think the book might not appeal to children. Even though there’s a great deal to admire about L.M. Montgomery, it seems that middle grade readers might be bored with or even disturbed by discussions of an unhappy marriage, mental illness, feelings of despair, drug dependencies, and law suits. In my opinion, there seems to be a great deal of adult talk about adult issues in a children’s book. It’s a sad story and may discourage children (8-12) from reading Montgomery’s work.

I need to inject here that I appreciate today’s trend of writing about difficult topics that children might face within the context of children’s or young adult literature. A few examples are: Far From the Tree (adoption, foster care), Crenshaw (homelessness), The Hate U Give (racism, black lives matter), Stella by Starlight (racism, prejudice), Louisana’s Way Home (found family), Wishtree (diversity and tolerance), El Deafo (hearing challenged), Inside Out and Back Again (immigrant experience, bullying), Wonder (disabilities, acceptance, bullying), etc. Do you have titles to add to this list?

Realism or Happiness? For mature readers, there’s a great deal of inspiration to gain from the life of L.M. Montgomery and the double life she led. One life was the harsh reality of losing her mom as a toddler and having a loving father abandon her as a young girl. Even though she was placed with grandparents, they were strict and stern.  Her other life consisted of her passion for writing and her imagination, a happy place of escape and inspiration. Laura Ingalls Wilder also wrote happy stories for children which didn’t always reflect the reality of her life. Even Louisa May Alcott was pressured by publishers to write happy stories for children. It appears that this was the expectation of the time. Thus, the unhappiness of Montgomery’s actual life was treated with lightness and hope in her stories for children:

“Thank God, I can keep the shadows of my life out of my work,” she wrote. “I would not wish to darken any other life–I want instead to be a messenger of optimism and sunshine.”

Inspirational. The author often refers to Montgomery as “heart-hungry,” always searching for family, friendship, love, and belonging. The author notes: “Maud was honing her special genius–to make the most of any situation, and to find humor under the most trying circumstances. It was a gift she would pass along to her own young fictional heroines, and a resource that upheld her for years to come. She transformed her own history of abandonment into a story of love and rescue. Ann of Green Gables is a book about creating lasting family. It is a celebration of place, a story about belonging. No one but Maud Montgomery, with all her checkered history and heart-hungry longing, could have created it.”

Not only was her ability to rise above her childhood circumstances inspirational, her ability to navigate a man’s world is noteworthy. In dealing with her publisher, she stated, “They cannot bluff, bully, or cajole.” Even though she wasn’t given a fair contract, she ended up making quite a substantial amount of money for a woman at that time. This money gave her some power and resources to sue the publishing company and to support her family as her husband’s mental health declined. Despite suffering from depression herself, Montgomery was able to take charge of her family, make important decisions, and write prolifically until the very end. She rose above her suffering for a very long time and accomplished so much in the face of it.

In addition, I think her loyalty and unwavering commitment to her grandmother is noteworthy. Her grandmother made many sacrifices for L.M. Montgomery and took care of her the best she could. Montgomery, in turn, sacrificed some things to make sure her grandmother was taken care of at the end of her life. Even though Montgomery never received the love she craved as a child and was even abandoned by her own father, she didn’t use this as an excuse to abandon her grandmother. Her sense of duty and responsibility is admirable and inspiring. In the most difficult of circumstances, she always strived to do the right thing for her family.

Favorite Quote. “She kept a notebook and pen in her apron pocket for small literary ’emergencies.’ ”

I Wish. Throughout the story, I wished the author had included real life pictures of people and places. It would have enhanced the reading in my opinion.

Recommended. As indicated above, I recommend this well written biography for YA (14+) and Adult fans of L.M. Montgomery, for readers who appreciate narrative biographies, and for all who are looking for a story about a strong, independent woman facing difficult circumstances and creating her best life. I would recommend this for mature middle grade readers with some parent or teacher support.

Although well written, I’m giving this 3.5 stars because I feel like it missed its target audience.

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House of Dreams

Buy Here

Meet the Author, Liz Rosenberg

Liz RosenbergLiz Rosenberg is the author of 5 novels, 4 books of poems and more than 20 award winning books for children. She has edited five prize winning poetry anthologies (including THE INVISIBLE LADDER and LIGHT GATHERING POEMS) and her picture book, THE CAROUSEL was featured on PBS’ Reading Rainbow. TYRANNOSAURUS DAD (illustrated by Matthew Myers) is a Children’s Book of the Month Club bestseller and has garnered praise from Publisher’s Weekly, Kirkus, School Library Journal and elsewhere, and was an Amazon top 10 children’s book. WHAT JAMES SAID, her newest children’s book, (ALSO ill. by Matthew Myers) is a Best Book for Social Studies. Her children’s book, MONSTER MAMA, is currently under option as a feature movie.

Her long-awaited first non-fiction book, HOUSE OF DREAMS, a biography of author L.M. Montgomery, (Anne of Green Gables) will be published June 2018. It is a Junior Library Guild Selection.

Her first novel for adults, HOME REPAIR was a Target Breakout book, a BookBub pick, and voted top ten for Book Clubs and Most Likely to be Next Oprah Pick on Goodreads. Her second, THE LAWS OF GRAVITY, has been a best-seller in the United States, Canada, Germany and the UK. and was a Jewish Book Network selection for 2013. The Boston Globe hailed it as “a thoughtful story about morality, personal responsibility, the law, and above all, the complicated, sometimes incomprehensible ties of family.”

THE MOONLIGHT PALACE was the #1 best-selling Kindle book on Amazon. It was chosen to be a Kindle First, and was a #1 best-seller in the US and UK. BEAUTY AND ATTENTION, published in fall, 2016, is an updated re-telling of Henry James’ classic, PORTRAIT OF A LADY.

Her newest novel is INDIGO HILL, due out in November, 2018. About INDIGO HILL, author John Dufresne writes, “Liz Rosenberg loves her characters and makes us love them, too. She knows what Faulkner knew, that the past isn’t dead; it isn’t even past. She knows, as well, that every story is many stories, and she handles the complex intersecting tales of unspeakable loss, astonishing secrets, familial chaos, and heartbreak, with intelligence, poise, and tenderness.”

She is a full professor at Binghamton University’s English Department and has guest taught all over the world, from Russia to Austria to Singapore, and throughout the United States. Ms. Rosenberg spends her time reading and writing. Her hobbies and passions are reading and writing.



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



Links I Love

Kingdom of the Blind will be released next Tuesday! This is an enticing promo!

If you’ve read My Dear Hamilton by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie and provide a review on social media or Amazon, you can fill out this form to receive FREE bonus content!

Have you voted in the 2018 Goodreads Awards?  Final voting is Nov 13-26. To vote, follow this link. Honestly, I’m discouraged with this year’s voting because my favorites of the year didn’t make it to the final cut in most categories. Did yours?

Have you seen The Hate U Give movie? Here’s the THUG trailer. 
I’ve read positive reviews with some saying it could be one of the best movies of the year. Of course, the movie is never as good as the book so don’t miss this important read.



Looking Ahead to December

Of course I’ll be reviewing Kingdom of the Blind by Louise Penny next Friday, and then I’m planning posts that will include a November Wrap Up, a bookish gift guide, a Winter TBR, and end of the year recap. After that, I’ll see what library holds come in and watch for kindle deals. I’m definitely looking for some lighter reads in December.



My Fall TBR

I’ll be updating my Fall TBR list as I complete each read, so check this link often! Only one more read after Kingdom of the Blind until I complete my Fall TBR. Did you make a fall reading list?



Sharing is Caring

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



 Let’s Discuss

What do you think about including harsh realities in children’s literature? Do you have some examples of this being done well?

I’d love to hear updates on your November reading! What are you looking forward to reading in December?



***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. This money will be used to offset the costs of running a blog and to sponsor giveaways, etc.

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: Thankful for Ten Favorite Contemporary Authors

November 20, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday: Thankful For Ten Favorite Contemporary Authors

Today I’m linking up with That Artsy Reader Girl for Top Ten Tuesday: Thanksgiving Freebie. Of course, I’m filled with gratitude for family, friends, faith, good health, God, and all my wonderful blessings; however, I’d like to include wonderful contemporary authors to that list! Reading brings me great joy and I spend countless, delightful hours immersed in the worlds that authors create.

The following list of authors is only a partial list of contemporary authors I enjoy. In part, I’ve chosen these authors to spotlight because I have likely read more than one of their titles and these titles are among my top reads of the year. Certainly, these authors fall into the “auto buy” category for me in that I would order or check out the book based solely on author’s reputation.

You can find reviews for some of the books mentioned in this post in the A-Z index. Titles are Amazon affiliate links.

authors spotlight

In no particular order, these are ten contemporary authors that are among my favorites:

Frederick Backman

Fredrik Backman

My favorites include Beartown, The Deal of a Lifetime, And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer, and Britt-Marie Was Here.

Louise Penny

Louise Penny

I love Penny’s entire Inspector Gamache series, but How the Light Gets In, A Great Reckoning, and Glass Houses are three examples of the stories to which I’ve awarded four stars. (it’s best to read the series in order starting with Still Life) The newest installment (#14) will be released next week!

Stephanie Dray

Stephanie Dray
Laura Kamoie
 Laura Kamoie

For the purpose of this top ten list, I’m counting Dray and Kamoie as one author because they coauthored America’s First Daughter and My Dear Hamilton, two favorite reads.

Rachel Joyce

Rachel Joyce

I loved The Music Shop and The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry.

Mitch Albom

Mitch Albom

Two favorites include Tuesdays With Morrie and The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto.

Kate Morton

Kate Morton

Always a solid women’s fiction read, my favorites include The Lake House, The Forgotten Garden, and The Secret Keeper (her newest The Clockmaker’s Daughter was OK but not a favorite and The Distant Hours has been on my TBR for a long time.)

Hazel Gaynor

Hazel Gaynor

I first discovered Hazel Gaynor when I read The Last Christmas in Paris (coauthored with Heather Webb) and I immensely enjoyed her recent release The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter. I look forward to more from this author.

Yaa Gyasi

Yaa Gyasi
fatima farheen mirza
Fatima Farheen Mirza

Two debut authors that have earned a spot on this list are Yaa Gyasi author of Homegoing, and Fatima Farheen Mirza author of A Place For Us. Both authors were in their late twenties when they wrote their debut novels, and I anticipate years of more wonderful books from them.

Ron Cherow

Ron Chernow

I’m going to include one of my husband’s favorite contemporary authors to round out this list because I often hear him raving about Ron Chernow’s work. My husband’s favorites by Chernow are Grant, Washington: A Life, and Alexander Hamilton.



Please share in comments your favorite contemporary authors.



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



Links I Love

Are you missing loved ones during the holidays? Enjoy this reflection from Mitch Albom: “Empty Chairs, Empty Table, Still Thanksgiving.”

My blogging buddy, Rhonda, at The Thankful Heart focuses on gratitude and the spirit of Thanksgiving all year long.

This is an excellent and enticing promo for Kingdom of the Blind!

If you’ve read My Dear Hamilton by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie and provide a review on social media or Amazon, you can fill out this form to receive FREE bonus content!

Have you voted in the 2018 Goodreads Awards?  Final voting is Nov 13-26. To vote, follow this link. Honestly, I’m discouraged with this year’s voting because my favorites of the year didn’t make it to the final cut in most categories. Did yours?

Have you seen The Hate U Give movie? Here’s the THUG trailer. 
I’ve read positive reviews with some saying it could be one of the best movies of the year. Of course, the movie is never as good as the book so don’t miss this important read.



Looking Ahead in “Nonfiction November”

What do you have on your TBR for “Nonfiction November”?

After some deliberation and indecision, I settled on House of Dreams: The Life of L.M. Montgomery by Liz Rosenberg for my Nonfiction November read. Review will be posted Friday.

In addition to nonfiction, I’m certainly looking forward to the new Louise Penny release on November 27! So many books, so little time!



My Fall TBR

I’ll be updating my Fall TBR list as I complete each read, so check this link often!



Sharing is Caring

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



 Let’s Discuss

Who are your favorite authors?

I’d love to hear updates on your November reading! Do you plan to read a nonfiction selection?



***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. This money will be used to offset the costs of running a blog and to sponsor giveaways, etc.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Review: The Colors of All the Cattle

November 16, 2018

Where are my faithful readers of this series?!

the color of all the cattle 2

The Colors of All the Cattle by Alexander McCall Smith

Genre/Categories: Gentle Mystery, Amateur Sleuths, Botswana

Summary:

The Colors of All the Cattle is the nineteenth installment of this charming, easy reading series. All the usual characters are present, reflecting on life, drinking tea, embracing tradition, and investigating human nature in sunny Botswana. In the newest story, Mma Ramotswe reluctantly runs for political office, battling long-time adversary Violet Sephotho. Using the honest slogan, “I can’t promise anything–but I shall do my best,” Precious Ramotswe is torn between wanting to do her duty, not disappointing her supporters and friends, and being in the public spotlight. In this story, we find Charlie becoming more mature, and we experience again the wisdom, graciousness, honesty, good humor, kindness, and thoughtfulness that is exemplified in the main character, Precious Ramotswe.  Along with the unfolding of this story and interactions between beloved characters, we are treated to beautiful descriptions of Botswana.

My Thoughts:

cup of tea

“Tea, thought Mma Ramotswe–no matter what was happening, no matter how difficult things became, there was always the tea break–that still moment, that unchangeable ritual, that survived everything, made normal the abnormal, renewed one’s ability to cope with whatever the world laid before one. Tea.”

Series Overview. In the most soothing of ways, this story is predictable to the other stories in the series: readers grow to appreciate the beauty of Africa (Botswana is almost a character in the story); there’s always time for a cup of tea at work or at home; and the characters are likable, quirky, and warmly drawn. Mma Ramotswe, founder and owner of the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, is a “traditionally built woman,” gentle, honest, inclusive, compassionate, full of common sense, thoughtful, gracious, and wise. In fact, she always chooses kindness and forgiveness as her response and never revenge. Idealistically, she believes that people are good and kind and want to enjoy themselves and take care of each other. She is a proponent of the old Botswana morality and the traditional ways (especially the old way of greeting others and breaks for tea). The focus of her work at the Ladies’ Detective Agency is on righting small injustices. The books in this series need to be read when you’re in the mood for a slow-paced, character driven story with an abundance of reflection and description. It could be classified as a gentle, cozy mystery and a true comfort read. It seems that we always feel like we can be better people after spending time with Precious Ramotswe.

Loyal Fan. Once I begin a beloved series, it’s difficult for me to let it go. So, I’m still reading the No 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series nineteen years later! Who’s still reading this series with me?

Beloved Characters. Throughout the series, the same familiar characters appear in each book, so reading a story is like a visit with old friends. We are able to appreciate the ways in which the characters mature and how relationships deepen. In this story, Charlie emerges and we get to know him a bit better. The safety that he experiences when Mma Ramotswe takes him into her home helps us infer a lot about his childhood.

Diversity. One of the aspects I appreciate most about the series is the glimpse into the beauty and culture of every day life in Botswana. Alexander McCall Smith was born in Africa and lived and worked in Botswana for a time, and this enables him to write and make observations with an informed, nuanced, and authentic voice.

Plot. Most of the stories in the series are character driven. For me, the ones with a bit more plot (e.g. #18) are the most enjoyable. Even though the stories are heavily character driven, there is a mystery to be solved in each story, and in that respect the stories can be read as stand alones.

Themes. Important common themes appear throughout all the stories in the series, and they include compassion, kindness, graciousness, reflection, good manners, forgiveness, and inclusiveness. Readers also hear the author’s voice as he provides gentle commentary on universal issues. In this story, he offers thoughtful reflections on politics.

Recommended. I think these books can be read as stand alones (but, of course, they are richer with all the context gained from earlier stories). I can recommend The Colors of All The Cattle for fans of the series, for readers who might be looking for a character driven, gentle, relaxing, uplifting, clean read (no violence, offensive language, sex, etc.), and for those who are looking for a cultural reading experience featuring Botswana. Alexander McCall Smith does what he sets out to do really well. My recommendation comes with one qualification: I did enjoy #18 more than #19 because it was more plot driven. If you haven’t read any of the series and want to try one, I’d recommend #18 over this one. Find my 4 star review here: The House of Unexpected Sisters. If you’re looking for an intense, suspense filled thriller and unputdownable page turner, this might not be the series for you.

My Star Rating: 3 Stars

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all the colors of the cattle

Buy Here

Meet the Author, Alexander McCall Smith

Alexander McCall Smith

Alexander McCall Smith was born in what is now Zimbabwe and taught law at the University of Botswana. He is now Professor of Medical Law at the University of Edinburgh. He has written more than fifty books, including a number of specialist titles, but is best known for The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series, which has achieved bestseller status on four continents. In 2004 he was awarded British Book Awards Author of the Year and Booksellers Association Author of the Year. He lives in Scotland, where in his spare time he is a bassoonist in the RTO (Really Terrible Orchestra).

 



Happy Reading Book Worms!

“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



Links I Love

If you’ve read My Dear Hamilton by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie and provide a review on social media or Amazon, you can fill out this form to receive FREE bonus content!

Have you voted in the 2018 Goodreads Awards?  Final voting is Nov 13-26. To vote, follow this link. Honestly, I’m discouraged with this year’s voting because my favorites of the year didn’t make it to the final cut in most categories. Did yours?

Have you seen The Hate U Give movie? Here’s the THUG trailer. 
I’ve read positive reviews with some saying it could be one of the best movies of the year. Of course, the movie is never as good as the book so don’t miss this important read.



Looking Ahead in “Nonfiction November”

What do you have on your TBR for “Nonfiction November”?

One title that I’m seriously considering is In Pieces by Sally Field. Beginning with The Flying Nun, Sally Field has played a lifelong prominent role in my entertainment life! I’ve heard though that it’s a gritty read in places. I’m on a six month hold for this at the library, so I’m deciding whether or not I want to buy it.

In Pieces

Another consideration is the new release by Doris Kearns Goodwin, Leadership: In Turbulent Times. I’m almost certain that this is what my hubs will be reading for “Nonfiction November” as Doris Kearns Goodwin is one of his “auto buy” authors!

leadership in turbulent times



My Fall TBR

I’ll be updating my Fall TBR list as I complete each read, so check this link often!
So far I’ve read nine, and today’s review makes ten, out of my twelve titles (two more to go!).



Sharing is Caring

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



 Let’s Discuss

Are you a Mma Ramotswe fan (No 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series)?  I’d love to hear if you’ve read the early books in this series.

I’d love to hear updates on your November reading! Do you plan to read a nonfiction selection? If I’m going to accomplish this goal, I need to decide on a read this week!

In addition to nonfiction, I’m certainly looking forward to the new Louise Penny release on November 27! So many books, so little time!



***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. This money will be used to offset the costs of running a blog and to sponsor giveaways, etc.

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.

Review: The Invention of Wings

November 9, 2018

Friday Favorite

Today in lieu of reviewing a new release, I  am chosing to revisit an old favorite which I read years before starting this blog. (thanks for the inspiration Sandy’s Book a Day blog!)

I’m highlighting an old favorite because my last two reads were disappointing and I’ve decided not to write full reviews….however, you can find them mentioned later in this post.

Friday Favorite: The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd

invention of wings 2

Genre/Categories: Historical Fiction, Abolition of Slavery, Women’s Rights, African-American, Plantation Life

Summary:

The Invention of Wings is a fictionalized biographical account of the Grimke sisters as they become trailblazers in the abolition movement and early leaders in the fight for women’s rights.

The story takes place in the pre Civil War era and begins on a plantation in Charleston. On the occasion of Sarah Grimke’s eleventh birthday, she’s presented with her own slave, ten-year old Hetty “Handful” Grimke. Sarah has always been uncomfortable with this tradition. At first, Sarah and Handful are more like sisters and playmates as they develop a friendly companionship. As the story progresses, Sarah leaves Charleston to join her adventurous and fearless sister, Angelina, in the north as early pioneers in the fight for abolition and women’s rights. We follow Sarah’s and Hetty’s journeys for thirty-five years as both women strive to carve out a life of their own and navigate a close and complex relationship.

Amazon Rating (November): An amazing 4.7 Stars from over 12,000 reviews

My Thoughts:

The Invention of Wings has been a favorite for years, and it’s always at the top of my recommendation list. If you missed reading this or are looking for an excellent book club selection, I highly recommend this story! Pictured below are my dearest reading buddies from book club day.

book club

We all enjoyed this intense, powerful, and amazing story based on the real life Grimke sisters.

Memorable characters. The story is told through dual, alternating perspectives as we follow the lives of Sarah and Hetty and learn of their fears, hopes, and dreams. From an early age, Sarah exhibits a strong sense of social justice and equality (evidenced when Sarah teaches Hetty to read), and later we see her straining against her family’s and society’s expectations for a southern woman as she makes decisions to speak for abolition and fight for women’s rights. Through Hetty aka “Handful,” we experience the cruel treatment of slaves and also learn about her cultural heritage on her mother’s side. Each character faces limitations put on them and learns she is stronger than she thinks.

Unputdownable. Every reader’s experience is uniquely her own, and I found this story absorbing, engaging, thought-provoking, well researched, and unputdownable. I particularly love stories about real people doing daring, visionary, and brave things under difficult circumstances and against the odds. Although this story is highly fictionalized, it helps us find the heart and soul behind historical facts.

Themes. Any book that becomes one of my favorites includes important themes. A few of the poignant themes in The Invention of Wings includes the brave fight for freedom, finding your voice, loss and sorrow, the injustice of inequality, the fight to make the world a better place, complicated relationships, friendship, sisters, family, determination, loyalty, hope, daring, and empowerment.

Recommended. The Invention of Wings is highly recommended for fans of Sue Monk Kidd (The Secret Life of Bees), for readers of historical fiction, for those who appreciate inspirational stories of strong, independent women, and for readers looking for an engaging book club selection.

Don’t miss this important story!

 

My Rating: 5 Stars

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invention of wings

Buy Here  (I suggest looking for the original non annotated version, not the Oprah annotated version)

Meet the Author, Sue Monk Kidd

sue monk kiddSue Monk Kidd’s first novel, The Secret Life of Bees, spent more than one hundred weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, has sold nearly six million copies, and was chosen as the 2004 BookSense Paperback Book of the Year and Good Morning America’s “Read This!” Book Club pick. It was adapted into an award-winning movie in 2008. Her second novel, The Mermaid Chair, a #1 New York Times bestseller, won the 2005 Quill Book Award for Best General Fiction and was adapted into a television movie. Her novels have been published in more than thirty countries. She is also the author of several acclaimed memoirs and the recipient of many awards, including a Poets & Writers Award. She lives near Charleston, South Carolina.
Photo from Goodreads.



Happy Reading Book Worms!

“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



Links I Love

If you’ve read My Dear Hamilton by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie and provide a review on social media or Amazon, you can fill out this form to receive FREE  bonus content!

Have you voted in the 2018 Goodreads Awards? Voting in the semi final round started this week (Nov 6-11). Final voting is Nov 13-26. To vote, follow this link.

I love this inspirational Thanksgiving post over at The Thankful Heart…..a thoughtful reflection, a recipe for “pumpkin twists,” and craft ideas for the littles!

Have you seen The Hate U Give movie? Here’s the THUG trailer. 
I’ve read positive reviews with some saying it could be one of the best movies of the year.



Disappointments:

bridge of clay

Bridge of Clay by Marcus Zusak (The Book Thief).  was not the book for me, and I can’t recommend it. It’s a long and tedious read at almost 500 pages,and is sprinkled with abundant offensive language and tragic and sad events. Although written beautifully in some places (Zusak is a master of figurative language and vivid descriptions), it’s obscure in others and sometimes entire sections left me confused. Fans of Zusak have been waiting thirteen years for a new book, and I fall in the group of fans that find this poignant story a disappointment. It’s also confusing that the target audience is YA, and I have difficulty envisioning this for them. I’m aware that reading is a personal experience and others have loved Bridge of Clay. Read more reviews here as you make your reading choice.
Two Stars.

twinkle-twinkle-little-startwinkle-twinkle-little-star

Find my brief Goodreads review here.

harry's trees

Harry’s Trees by Jon Cohen was my second meh read this week. Others have really loved this, so I chalk this up to “not my preferred genre.” It resembles a fairy tale for adults and includes some magical realism (not my favorite). Usually I enjoy a quirky story and adore quirky characters; however, the story was simply a mediocre read for me and I didn’t love it. I found myself bored and skimming frequently. I kept reading to the end because I wanted to find out what happened, thus three stars. Every reader’s experience is different and its early Amazon rating is 4.5 Stars, so I encourage you to check out more reviews here.
3 Stars
twinkle-twinkle-little-startwinkle-twinkle-little-startwinkle-twinkle-little-star



Looking Ahead in “Nonfiction November”

What do you have on your TBR for “Nonfiction November”?

One title that I’m seriously considering is In Pieces by Sally Field. Beginning with The Flying Nun, Sally Field has played a lifelong prominent role in my entertainment life! I’ve heard though that it’s a gritty read in places.

In Pieces

Another consideration is the new release by Doris Kearns Goodwin, Leadership: In Turbulent Times. I’m almost certain that this is what my hubs will be reading for “Nonfiction November” as Doris Kearns Goodwin is one of his “auto buy” authors!

leadership in turbulent times



My Fall TBR

I’ll be updating my Fall TBR list as I complete each read, so check this link often!
So far I’ve read nine out of my twelve titles (three more to go!).



Sharing is Caring

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



 Let’s Discuss

Have you read The Invention of Wings? Please leave a comment and tell me what you thought.

What are your reading plans for November? Do you plan to read a nonfiction selection?

In addition to nonfiction, I’m certainly looking forward to the new Louise Penny release on November 27!

And my easy comfort read will be Alexander McCall Smith’s recent #1 Ladies’ Detective Agency installment #19, The Colors of All the Cattle. Are you a Mma Ramotswe fan?



***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. This money will be used to offset the costs of running a blog and to sponsor giveaways, etc.

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.

Review: The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter

November 2, 2018

Do you love lighthouses?

The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter by Hazel Gaynor

***Celebrating my 100th read of the year!***

The Lighthouse Keepers Daughter

Genre/Categories: Historical Fiction, Women’s Fiction

Summary:

Inspired by true events, The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter shares the story of Grace Darling, an extraordinary young woman who helps her father keep the Longstone Lighthouse on the Farne Islands off the coast of northeast England. One day in 1838 during a furious storm, Grace and her father rescue nine shipwreck survivors. Grace gains notoriety and finds herself the subject of poems, ballads, and plays. The dear friendship that develops between Grace and one of the survivors and the survivor’s brother continues to impact lives 100 years later.

In 1938 at another lighthouse in Newport, Rhode Island, nineteen year old Matilda is sent away from Ireland in disgrace to live with a distant relative who happens to be an assistant lighthouse keeper. As Matilda stumbles upon an old chest containing artifacts from her family history, she uncovers the story of Grace and the connections Grace has to Matilda’s great-great-grandmother. Although Matilda’s part of the story is pure fiction, the hurricane that hits the east coast of the U.S. in 1938 is historic.

Author, Hazel Gaynor, creates strong connections between two time periods and two story lines including hurricane events of 1838 and 1938, complex connections between past and present family members, and lighthouse themes between the stories.

Amazon (Early) Star Rating (November): 4.3 Stars

My Thoughts:

It’s always challenging to write a review when there’s so much to say!

Stars. First, I awarded this story all the stars because it is an engaging page turner with a complex plot, poignant themes, inspiring and well drawn characters, and the story tugs at the emotions. Any time I’m left with a bit of a reading hangover, I know it’s a 4 or 5 star read. While it’s a solid 4.5, I bumped it up to 5 on Goodreads because of the excellent writing.

Characters. One of Hazel Gaynor’s strengths is in creating and writing about strong, memorable female characters. Grace Darling is a real person and a good portion of the story explores the true events that surround her life. In the 1830s, she remarkably takes on responsibilities at the lighthouse that are usually assigned to men. In fact, she can take care of the lighthouse as well as her brother can and has more passion for the job, yet at that time in history, the assignment of lighthouse keeper is given to her brother. Grace also shows initiative in rescuing and caring for nine shipwreck survivors. Grace is a heroine and a role model for women in 1838. Her courage and determination inspired an independently minded and troubled Matilda later in the story.

Even the brave were once afraid. The sum of generations of strong, courageous women who came before her, an echo of them all lingering in her soul.

While Grace is a real person, the strong women characters we meet in 1938 are fictionalized, but they represent the work that women accomplished as lighthouse keepers. All four women characters in this story are brave and formidable as they draw strength from each other.

The inspiration Matilda is able to draw from Grace and the strong women in her family, reminds me how grateful I am for the strong generations of women in my own family. I think the spirit of courage, bravery, and determination is passed along from generation to generation. Do you have stories of strong women in your family?

Even though the connection between all the characters comes together neatly in the end, I feel it is a touch too coincidental, convenient, and easy……but still emotionally rewarding.

The Wikipedia article on Grace Darling can be found here; however, I recommend NOT reading it until after you’ve read the story to avoid spoilers.

Plot. A complex and multilayered plot, multiple perspectives, two time periods, and two locations will keep you engaged! I enjoyed how the two different time periods complimented each other in setting, family ties, facing hurricanes, and the characterizations of strong women.

Setting. If you love the sea and lighthouses, you will absolutely love the settings described in this story. Author Hazel Gaynor creates a delightful sense of place in both England and Rhode Island seaside locations. Even the detail of the collected shells connects both story lines.

Themes. Inspirational themes abound in the Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter, and if you read my reviews you know that the presence of important themes often make or break my reading experience. I can overlook a lot in the presence of great writing and themes. In this story, poignant themes include father/daughter relationships; the lighthouse as a symbol of protection, guidance, safety, and protection; found family; strong and independent women finding their way and their voice; and family heritage.

Writing. In addition to the compelling story lines, you will enjoy excellent writing. I love a story in which I can appreciate the beautiful writing but it doesn’t interfere with the story. The writing flows as the author creates vivid images, memorable characters, and transitions between story lines. Hazel Gaynor is also the co author of the Last Christmas in Paris, one of my favorites of the year.  She has secured a place on my “auto buy” author list!

Lighthouses. Do you love lighthouses? Do you have a favorite lighthouse location? Do you have a nostalgic lighthouse story?

My personal lighthouse story: Several years ago my hubs and I traveled to York, Maine so that my hubs could meet his biological sister for the first time in his life! The Nubble Lighthouse is well loved by his sister’s family, and now it’s our favorite too! Here’s a pic my hubs and I took in front of the lighthouse marking the occasion of birth siblings reunited!

nubble lighthouse

Nubble Lighthouse, York, Maine

 

Recommended. Highly recommended for readers of historical fiction, for fans of stories with important themes, for those who savor stories of strong, independent women, and for all who are looking for an engaging and well written story.

My Star Rating: 4.5 Stars (rounded up to 5 stars on Goodreads)

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lighthouse keeper's daughter

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Meet the Author, Hazel Gaynor

Hazel GaynorHAZEL GAYNOR is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of A Memory of Violets and The Girl Who Came Home, for which she received the 2015 RNA Historical Novel of the Year award. Her third novel, The Girl from the Savoy, was an Irish Times and Globe & Mail Canada bestseller, and was shortlisted for the BGE Irish Book Awards Popular Fiction Book of the Year. In 2017, she has published The Cottingley Secret and Last Christmas in Paris. Hazel was selected by US Library Journal as one of ‘Ten Big Breakout Authors’ for 2015 and her work has been translated into several languages. Hazel lives in Ireland with her husband and two children.



Happy Reading Book Worms!

“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



Links I Love

Did you  see the results of the PBS Great American Read? Who did you vote for? I voted for Gone With the Wind (which came in at #6).

Have you seen The Hate U Give movie? Here’s the THUG trailer. 
I’ve read positive reviews with some saying it could be one of the best movies of the year.



Looking Ahead in Fiction:

I’m in the process of reading: Bridge of Clay by Marcus Zusak (The Book Thief).  It’s a slow read for me and I’m not sure I’ll be able to finish it before it’s due back to the library in three days, and in that case I’ll be reviewing Harry’s Trees by Jon Cohen next week.

 

 

 

 



Looking Ahead in “Nonfiction November”

What do you have on your TBR for “Nonfiction November”?

One title that I’m considering is In Pieces by Sally Field. Beginning with The Flying Nun, Sally Field has played a lifelong prominent role in my entertainment life!

In Pieces

 

Another consideration is the new release by Doris Kearns Goodwin, Leadership: In Turbulent Times. I’m almost certain that this is what my hubs will be reading for “Nonfiction November” as Doris Kearns Goodwin is one of his “auto buy” authors!

leadership in turbulent times



My Fall TBR

I’ll be updating my Fall TBR list as I complete each read, so check this link often!
So far I’ve read nine out of my twelve titles (three more to go!).



Sharing is Caring

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



 Let’s Discuss

Do you have a favorite lighthouse location or lighthouse story?

What are your reading plans for November? I’m certainly looking forward to the new Louise Penny release on November 27!



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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.