#6Degrees of Separation: From Stasiland to…

April 4, 2020

 #6Degrees of Separation: From Stasiland to…

#6Degrees of Separation collage of covers

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Resistance!

#6Degrees of Separation: from Stasiland by Anna Funder to ….

#6Degrees is a monthly link-up hosted by Kate at Books Are My Favourite and Best. I’ve seen this meme around for a while and a recent post by Davida at The Chocolate Lady’s Book Review Blog inspired me to give it a try this year! Making connections between books is challenging, creative, and fun!

Each month a book is chosen as a starting point and linked to six other books to form a chain. A book doesn’t need to be connected to all the other books on the list, only to the one next to it in the chain. The rules are:

  • Link the books together in any way you like.
  • Provide a link in your post to the meme at Books Are My Favourite and Best.
  • Share these rules in your post.
  • Paste the link to your post in the comments on Kate’s post and/or the Linky Tool on that post.
  • Invite your blog readers to join in and paste their links in the comments and/or the Linky Tool.
  • Share your post on Twitter using the #6Degrees hash tag.
  • Be nice! Visit and comment on other posts and/or retweet other #6Degrees posts.

Play Along?

This month’s prompt starts with Stasiland by Anna Funder

Stasiland by Anna Funder (cover)

Stasiland by Anna Funder is a book I have not heard about, but it sounds like one I might be interested in adding to my TBR.

Amazon Summary: Anna Funder delivers a prize-winning and powerfully rendered account of the resistance against East Germany’s communist dictatorship in these harrowing, personal tales of life behind the Iron Curtain—and, especially, of life under the iron fist of the Stasi, East Germany’s brutal state security force. In the tradition of Frederick Taylor’s The Berlin Wall and Philip Gourevitch’s We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will be Killed With Our Families, Funder’s Stasiland is a masterpiece of investigative reporting, written with novelistic vividness and the compelling intensity of a universal, real-life story.”

Goodreads Summary: In 1989, the Berlin Wall fell; shortly afterward the two Germanies reunited, and East Germany ceased to exist. In a country where the headquarters of the secret police can become a museum literally overnight, and one in 50 East Germans were informing on their countrymen and women, there are a thousand stories just waiting to get out. Anna Funder tells extraordinary tales from the underbelly of the former East Germany – she meets Miriam, who as a 16-year-old might have started World War III, visits the man who painted the line which became the Berlin Wall and gets drunk with the legendary ‘Mik Jegger’ of the East, once declared by the authorities to his face to ‘no longer to exist’. Written with wit and literary flair, Stasiland provides a riveting insight into life behind the wall.”

Ribbons of Scarlet by Kate Quinn et al. (cover)First Degree. From the summary of Stasiland, the topic of resistance immediately reminds me of the story of six real women in Ribbons of Scarlet: A Novel of the French Revolution by Kate Quinn et al.

My Summary: Liberty! Equality! Fraternity! Six masterful storytellers collaborate to share the experiences of seven unforgettable women of The French Revolution. During the Revolution, these courageous and determined women felt compelled to resist, to speak up, and to exert their influence wherever they could. Even though these are six separate stories, some passionate convictions and ideas connect them. My Review.

Resistance Women by Jennifer Chiaverini (cover)Second Degree: Another story of resistance is the story of Mildred Fish Harnack in Resistance Women by Jennifer Chiaverini.

My Summary: “Mildred Fish, an American College graduate, meets the love of her life, Arvid Harnack. After they fall in love, they marry and make their home in Arvid’s homeland of Germany. Mildred and Arvid thrive there, forming new friendships, and enjoying the intellectual and artistic offerings of 1930s Berlin. As Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party become more popular and powerful, Mildred and Arvid and their friends are compelled to resist. For years, Mildred and Arvid and their cohorts risk their lives to gather intelligence to bring down the Third Reich from within. Sadly, their sincere efforts don’t result in the help they desired or envisioned. This is a story of ordinary people who, while they should be enjoying their carefree youth, give their best efforts to fighting evil and saving their country.” My Review.

Code Name Helene by Ariel Lawhon (cover)Third Degree: A book that I haven’t yet read but is high on my TBR and has the same strong themes of resistance is Code Name Helene by Ariel Lawhon.

Amazon Summary: Code Name Hélène shares the story of the astonishing woman who killed a Nazi with her bare hands and went on to become one of the most decorated women in WWII.

Told in interweaving timelines organized around the four code names Nancy used during the war, Code Name Hélène is a spellbinding and moving story of enduring love, remarkable sacrifice and unfaltering resolve that chronicles the true exploits of a woman who deserves to be a household name.

It is 1936 and Nancy Wake is an intrepid Australian expat living in Paris who has bluffed her way into a reporting job for Hearst newspaper when she meets the wealthy French industrialist Henri Fiocca. No sooner does Henri sweep Nancy off her feet and convince her to become Mrs. Fiocca than the Germans invade France and she takes yet another name: a code name.

As LUCIENNE CARLIER Nancy smuggles people and documents across the border and earns a new nickname from the Gestapo for her remarkable ability to evade capture: THE WHITE MOUSE. With a five million franc bounty on her head, Nancy is forced to escape France and leave Henri behind. When she enters training with the Special Operations Executives in Britain, she is told to use the name HÉLÈNE with her comrades. And finally, with mission in hand, Nancy is airdropped back into France as the deadly MADAM ANDRÉE, where she claims her place as one of the most powerful leaders in the French Resistance, known for her ferocious wit, her signature red lipstick, and her ability to summon weapons straight from the Allied Forces. But no one can protect Nancy if the enemy finds out these four women are one and the same, and the closer to liberation France gets, the more exposed she–and the people she loves–will become.

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Lighter Reads During Stressful Times

April 3, 2020

Lighter Reads During Stressful Times

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Lately, have you found it difficult to focus on reading?

Do you have more difficulty than usual focusing on heavier reading material?

Reading can help pass the time when you’re confined to home and you’ve finished Netflix!

As COVID-19 escalated, so did the anxiety. March found me setting aside heavier reads and searching out easy, engaging, and light reads. I have heard the same sentiments from other reading friends across social media. This motivated me to consider creating a book list focusing on lighter reads! I pulled the following titles from my Goodreads “Read” shelf. I enjoy my lighter reads with a side of substance and low on steam, so these might not be as light or steamy as you’re looking for. Certainly, there are hundreds of titles that I haven’t read that can be added to this list. I can guarantee, though, that these titles do not come with serious trigger or content warnings. Check out the list, and let me know your favorite light reading recommendations in the comments.

I hope you are finding some comfort and distraction through reading during these worrisome times. Be safe everyone!

Titles are links to my blog or Amazon affiliate links.

Biographies/Memoirs

Birth and Other Surprises by Kimberly David Basso

Talking As Fast As I Can by Lauren Graham (for fans of Gilmore Girls and Parenthood)

84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff (a classic)

Inheritance by Dani Shapiro

I Miss You When I Blink by Mary Laura Philpott

Complicated Families

The Unlikely Adventures of the Shergill Sisters by Balli Kaur Jaswal

Eden by Jeanine Blasberg

Hard Cider by Barbara Nemon

A Place For Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza

Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman

The Dearly Beloved by Cara Wall

Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin

The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman

Action/Adventure/Survival

The River by Peter Heller

Castle of Water by Dane Hucklebridge

Heartwarming Women’s Fiction

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March 2020 Reading Wrap Up

March 31, 2020

March 2020 Reading Wrap Up

March Reading Wrap Up (collage of book covers on a background of three leaf clovers)

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

What Was Your Best March Read?

Did March feel like the loooongest March on record to you?

March was a mixed results reading month with one five-star read and several three and four-star reads. I read a total of seven books. Find all my March reads listed below in order of Star Rating and preference. Keep in mind that I normally recommend five- and four-star reads on the blog; three-star reads receive mixed reviews from me for various reasons; and two-star reads are books I finished but that were not for me. One star reads are usually shelved as DNF or perhaps quickly scanned.

I’m guessing that most of us can relate to the reasons why March was a challenging reading month thanks to COVID-19. (On the subject, I found this video clip very helpful, reassuring, and comforting!) I thought at one point that we’d never reach the “reading wrap up” part of the month! Are you under orders to stay home where you live? I am, and the first week my reading suffered greatly. I had difficulty focusing, especially with my heavier content reads and ended up setting several aside. I finally picked up This Won’t End Well by Camille Pagán and its light subject matter and snappy writing immediately engaged me! I read it in one day and it jump-started my reading!

My favorite fiction read of the month is The Last Train to London by Meg Waite Clayton. (which I’m glad I read early in the month before my brain was preoccupied with COVID-19)

Did we read any of the same books?

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


 The Last Train to London by Meg Waite Clayton

5 Stars. Historical Fiction (WW11). An inspiring and memorable main character who worked with the Kindertransport that rescued children from Nazi-controlled Europe during WW11. My full review here.


The Book of Lost Friends by Lisa Wingate

4 Stars. (ARC) Historical Fiction (post Civil War South). I especially loved the present-day teacher timeline. My full review here.


This Won’t End Well by Camille Pagán

4 Stars. Contemporary Women’s Fiction. Quirky character + snappy writing = one great escapist read! My full review here.


What You Wish For by Katherine Center

3.5 Stars. (ARC) Contemporary Women’s Fiction (chick lit end of the spectrum) A school librarian main character for the win and a few poignant themes. Brief Goodreads review here. Blog review is scheduled for July 14, 2020 (pub date).

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10 Signs That I’m a Book Lover #toptentuesday

March 31, 2020

Top Ten Signs That I’m a Book Lover

10 Signs I'm A Book Lover (image: tall stack of books on a blue painted table)

Before we get to the book talk, I’m curious if you are in isolation at home due to Covid 19 or are you an essential worker? Most of my family and I are at home. We do have four essential workers (three medical) in our family that we cover in prayer. God Bless the nurses and doctors, grocery store staff, and other essential workers!

Honestly, it’s been a little difficult to read with an anxious mind. Have you been finding it difficult to focus on reading? How are you practicing self-care? I discovered that I need lighter reads right now which will likely play havoc with my Spring TBR. This Top Ten topic listing the obvious signs that I’m a book lover is interesting because I’m definitely well prepared for isolation. Stay safe everyone! Wash your hands and don’t touch your face!

Top Ten Signs That I’m a Book Lover

Top Ten Tuesday (meme)

I’m linking up today with That Artsy Reader Girl for TTT: Top Ten Signs I’m a Book Lover.

(listed in no particular order)

giphy-9

You know I’m a Book Lover because the first question I’ll ask you is “What are you reading now?” or “What is the best book you’ve read this year?” or another book-related question. My favorite topic is books and I’m prepared to use extreme tactics to steer the discussion in that direction.

 

giphy

You know I’m a Book Lover because you will always see me reading on my Kindle app in any waiting room or checkout line. I look forward to driving so that I can listen to an audio book. In fact, I’m never bored because I can always read!

 

giphy-8

You know I’m a Book Lover because I stay up way too late reading (and writing reviews). An additional sign that I’m a Book Lover is that I love to read “books about books”!

 

giphy-11

You know I’m a Book Lover because I think the book is better than the movie 99% of the time.

giphy-12

You know I’m a Book Lover because I have a Bookstagram account on Instagram with over 1,000 bookish friends and scroll Goodreads twice a day.

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10 Favorite “Books About Books” #toptentuesday

March 24, 2020

10 Favorite Books About Books for Top Ten Tuesday (Image: a tall stack of books on a blue table)

Top Ten Favorite “Books About Books”

Before we get to the book talk, I’m curious if you are in isolation at home due to Covid 19 or are you an essential worker? Most of my family and I are at home. We do have three essential workers in our family that we cover in prayer. God Bless the medical staff and grocery store workers!

Honestly, it’s been a little difficult to read with an anxious mind. Have you been finding it difficult to focus on reading? How are you practicing self-care? I discovered that I need lighter reads right now which will likely play havoc with my Spring TBR. This Top Ten topic involving a favorite genre is timely because most of the titles in this post could be considered lighter reads.

A Favorite Genre

Do you love the “book about books” sub-genre? If you are a bookworm like me, one of your favorite genres might be “books about books.” Here are a few of my favorites! Do we share any favorites?

Top Ten Tuesday (meme)

I’m linking up today with That Artsy Reader Girl for TTT: Favorite Genre.

Titles are Amazon affiliate links and my reviews are linked.

(listed in order of favorites)

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson (cover)

Genre: Histfic (Kentucky) 5 Stars
What I Love: the fearless, feisty, determined, compassionate main character

Full Review Here

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Spring 2020 TBR

March 17, 2020

Spring Reading Season TBR (2020)

Open book with a spray of lilacs as a bookmark; Words: Spring TBR

Image Source: Canva

***This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

For spring, these are the ten books prioritized on my TBR Mountain. They are a mix of genres, include three ARCs (advance reader copies), and most have been reviewed highly by others. I’m hoping for some winners here. Have you read any of these or is one on your TBR?

I never plan more than ten titles for my quarterly TBR lists because I need to leave time for mood reading and review commitments. These ten books (in no particular order) are a priority on a much longer general TBR.

What is your most anticipated read this spring?

I’m linking up today with That Artsy Reader Girl for Top Ten Tuesday: Spring 2020 To Be Read List.

Top Ten Tuesday (meme)


Spring 2019 TBR


The Salt Path by Raynor Winn

The Salt Path by Raynor Winn (cover)

Genre: Nonfiction, Memoir

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10 Inspirational Reads For Middle Grade March

March 9, 2020

10 Inspirational Reads For Middle Grade March

(top view) picture of a middle grade child reading on a recliner covered with a reddiish knitted afghan

Image Source: Canva

***This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

To participate in #middlegrademarch, I’ve compiled a list of ten (plus!) great Middle-Grade reads! There are many wonderful middle-grade books from which to choose and even though I haven’t read extensively in middle grade, these titles are stories that I’ve recently read and thought were exceptional because of their themes and/or diversity.

Often, children fall in love with reading in Middle Grade. Was this your experience? Children in Middle Grade have “learned to read” and they can fully immerse themselves in the world of words as they “read to learn” and “read for enjoyment.” They have more autonomy to choose their own reading material and can pursue individual interests. Many stories promote great family read-aloud experiences (or buddy reads). As a bonus, most Middle-Grade stories have heartfelt themes without the angst and/or objectionable language of YA. Reading builds understanding and compassion.

What theme do you think Middle Grade books have in common?

For adults, Middle-Grade books make the perfect palate cleanser or fit the description of books that can be read in a day. If I’m feeling in a reading “funk,” I often seek out a recommended Middle Grade read to stimulate my reading life once again. I love that Middle-Grade books almost always end on a hopeful note. This theme of hopefulness is one of the main reasons I love reading in the Middle-Grade genre. I strongly believe that great Middle-Grade literature can be enjoyed by adults!

In addition to all the above reasons to read Middle-Grade literature, I appreciate the authors who write diversely for Middle-Grade readers and write on difficult themes or topics in an easy to read and understandable manner. If we buy and read more Middle-Grade diverse literature, it will encourage publishers and writers to produce more. I think it’s important for children to see themselves in literature.

Middle-Grade Literature

(in no particular order)

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#6Degrees of Separation: From Wolfe Island to…

March 7, 2020

 #6Degrees of Separation: From Wolfe Island to…

A collage of all titles

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

#6Degrees of Separation: from Wolfe Island by Lucy Treloar to The Girl With the Louding Voice by Abi Daré.

#6Degrees is a monthly link-up hosted by Kate at Books Are My Favourite and Best. I’ve seen this meme around for a while and a recent post by Davida at The Chocolate Lady’s Book Review Blog inspired me to give it a try this year! Making connections between books is challenging, creative, and fun!

Each month a book is chosen as a starting point and linked to six other books to form a chain. A book doesn’t need to be connected to all the other books on the list, only to the one next to it in the chain. The rules are:

  • Link the books together in any way you like.
  • Provide a link in your post to the meme at Books are My Favourite and Best.
  • Share these rules in your post.
  • Paste the link to your post in the comments on Kate’s post and/or the Linky Tool on that post.
  • Invite your blog readers to join in and paste their links in the comments and/or the Linky Tool.
  • Share your post on Twitter using the #6Degrees hash tag.
  • Be nice! Visit and comment on other posts and/or retweet other #6Degrees posts.

Play Along?

This month’s prompt starts with Wolfe Island by Lucy Treloar

Wolfe Island by Lucy Treloar (cover)

Wolfe Island by Lucy Treloar is a book I have not heard about, but it sounds like one I might be interested in adding to my TBR.

Amazon Summary: “For years Kitty Hawke has lived alone on Wolfe Island, witness to the island’s erosion and clinging to the ghosts of her past. Her work as a sculptor and her wolfdog Girl are enough. News of mainland turmoil is as distant as myth until refugees from that world arrive: her granddaughter Cat, and Luis and Alejandra, a brother and sister escaping persecution. When threats from the mainland draw closer, they are forced to flee for their lives. They travel north through winter, a journey during which Kitty must decide what she will do to protect the people she loves.

Part western, part lament for a disappearing world, Wolfe Island (set off the northeast coast of the US) is a transporting novel that explores connection and isolation and the ways lives and families shatter and are remade.”

The Scent Keeper by Erica Bauermeister (cover)First Degree. From the summary, the remote and isolated island location in the northeast coast of the U.S. immediately reminds me of the remote island (also located along the northeast coast of the U>S.) in The Scent Keeper by Erica Bauermeister.

My 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 Review.

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens (cover)Second Degree: Although not as remote, the atmospheric setting and a young girl on her own reminds me of the southern swamp setting in Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens. In both survival stories, young girls are left to fend for themselves.

My Summary: Living in the marsh outside a quiet, small town on the coast of North Carolina, Kya Clark, later known as the “Marsh Girl,” is abandoned by her entire family and learns to survive in the marsh on her own from the age of ten. One by one her older siblings abandon the family, her mother leaves when Kya is about seven, and finally her father, a difficult, unreliable, and drunk man, leaves when she’s ten. Kya attends school for one day after a truant officer catches her. On that day, she is teased by the students, knows she’s hopelessly behind academically, and never returns. Preferring the isolation and safety of the marsh, she learns what she can through observing nature. Although she can survive on her own, she begins to long for companionship as she reaches her teen years. Two boys from town attract her attention. One of them turns up dead, and she is suspected of murder. The other becomes a life long supporter and friend. A coming of age story with a fair share of tragedy, mystery, and grit, this is an unforgettable read you’ll want to devour and recommend. My Review.

The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah (cover)Third Degree: Connecting to these strong themes of isolation and survival, I’m reminded of The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah. This young girl is not on an island and is not on her own, but the family is isolated in Alaska and the young girl is faced with physical as well as emotional survival.

My Summary: The Great Alone is a story about a dysfunctional family that eventually moves to the harsh wilderness of Alaska to make a fresh start. In this page turner by Kristin Hannah (author of the Nightingale), thirteen-year-old Leni watches her gentle and artistic mother struggle to live a happy and secure life with her father, a Vietnam War vet, who suffers from PTSD.  A survivalist, her father becomes more paranoid and controlling as the story progresses. ***trigger warnings for emotional and physical abuse***  Leni, struggling to stay in school and walking on egg shells around her father, is also concerned about her mother and about their general well-being as the dark winter and isolation of the Alaskan wilderness cause her father’s symptoms to worsen. The first part of the story is slower paced and devoted to establishing a sense of place, character development, and a slow build up of the problem. The last part of the story  unfolds at a rapid pace and there are attempts to escape and confrontations. Some have commented that the ending is tied together easily, quickly, and conveniently. This didn’t bother me too much because rapid emotional plot twists are Kristin Hannah’s style and part of me was eager and relieved to have closure to Leni’s story.  If you’re looking for an engaging page turner with an Alaskan wilderness setting, this is a good selection to meet that criteria. My Review.

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Women’s History Month 2020: 10 Inspirational Reads

March 2, 2020

Women’s History Month 2020: 10 Inspirational Reads

Six young women standing on a bluff with itheir hands on the shoulders of the girl in front of her ... all facing sideways looking at the ocean

Do You Need a Reading Idea for Women’s History Month?

Inspired by Women’s History Month, which was established to amplify women’s voices and value their contributions to history, I searched through my reading lists to find stories about inspirational women whom we can celebrate during Women’s History Month.

Historical Fiction is filled with inspirational women; some are actual historical figures and others are fictional characters who lived during a certain historical time period. For this list, I’ve chosen stories about real women in history. Titles are Amazon links and my available reviews are linked.

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

In no particular order….

Resistance Women by Jennifer Chiaverini

Resistance Women by Jennifer Chiaverini (cover)

Brave women in the German resistance movement before and during WW11. (histfic) Full Review Here

Ribbons of Scarlet by Kate Quinn et al.

Ribbons of Scarlet by Kate Quinn et al. (cover)

Seven brave women of the French Revolution. (histfic) Full Review Here.

Learning to See by Elise Hooper

Learning to See by Elise Hooper (cover)

The fictionalized biographical history of photographer Dorothea Lange. Full Review Here.

My Dear Hamilton by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie

My Dear Hamilton by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie (cover)

This fictionalized biographical narrative of Eliza Hamilton reveals her vital contributions to U. S. History in her role as Mrs. Alexander Hamilton. Full Review Here

America’s First Daughter by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie

America's First Daughter by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie (cover)

This fictionalized biographical narrative of Patsy Jefferson reveals her important role in the presidency of Thomas Jefferson and her contribution to her father’s overall health, well being, and success. Full Review Here

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February 2020 Reading Wrap Up

February 29, 2020

February 2020 Reading Wrap Up

February 2020 Reading Wrap Up (a collage of nine book covers talked about in the post)

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

What Was Your Best February Read?

February was a mixed result reading month with one five-star read and several four-star reads. Three of my reads this month count toward my long term goal of reading more diversely. I read a total of nine books, and I had one DNF (which is always a frustrating use of time). Find all my February reads listed below in order of Star Rating and preference. Keep in mind that I normally recommend five- and four-star reads on the blog; three-star reads receive mixed reviews from me for various reasons; and two-star reads are books that were not for me. One star reads are usually shelved as DNF.

My favorite fiction read of the month is The Girl With the Louding Voice by Abi Daré. Favorite nonfiction read of the month is Born a Crime by Trevor Noah.

Did we read any of the same books?

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


 The Girl With the Louding Voice by Abi Daré

5+ Stars. Contemporary Fiction (diverse read). An inspiring and memorable main character. A favorite read of the year thus far. My full review here.


The Printed Letter Bookshop by Katherine Reay

4.5 Stars. Contemporary Women’s Fiction. My new favorite book about books. My full review here.


Necessary Lies by Diane Chamberlain

4.5 Stars. Historical fiction and multilayered family drama. Exposes the controversial Eugenics Program of the 1960s. (not yet reviewed)


Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

4 Stars. Nonfiction, Memoir. (diverse read) Growing up half black/half white in Apartheid South Africa. Full review here.

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