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August 2017 Reads

It’s the second Tuesday of the month and I’m sharing my August 2017 reads in Steph and Jana’s monthly Show Us Your Books linkup. I was traveling with the kids a lot in August and did not get in a lot of reading time.  I’m hoping next month turns out better in terms of both quantity and quality of books read.  There was only one book this month that I loved and the rest were all so-so reads.

3 Stars

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Bull by David Elliott – This is a YA book told in poetic form.  It’s a retelling of the Greek myth Theseus and the Minotaur.  I was unfamiliar with the original version and had to do a quick Wikapedia search to catch me up.  I found the language in this book to be a bit much for a YA book but enjoyed the writing style.  The author even used a different poetic form for each character.  So, if you’re into Greek mythology or books in poetic form are your thing than give it a go. I read and reviewed this book for Kiss the Book where you can find my full review.

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The Crush by Sandra Brown – As jury forewoman, after delivering a not guilty verdict during contract killer Ricky Lozada’s trial, Dr. Rennie Newton becomes the object of his affection.  Soon after Dr. Newton’s co-worker is brutally murdered and Lozada is a suspect……along with Dr. Newton.  As Detective Oren Wesley works the case, he calls in his friend and ex-partner Wick Threadgill, who has personal reasons for Lozada’s capture. I’ve owned this book forever and it was on my summer reading list. It’s been awhile since I’ve read Sandra Brown.  Her books have been either hit or miss with me.  This one was a so-so romantic suspense read.

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Emma In the Night by Wendy Walker – (c/o Netgalley) – Three years ago, fifteen-year-old Cass and seventeen-year-old Emma disappear.  But Cass has returned without her sister and tells a crazy kidnapping tale.  Normally I like a good suspense book.  However, I found this to be a pretty unrealistic story with manipulative, psychotic characters. I read Walker’s previous book All is Not Forgotten and enjoyed that one a lot more.

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One Summer by David Baldacci – Jack is terminally ill and does not have much time left to live.  One night when his wife, Lizzie goes out to get him his medicine she ends up dying in car accident.  Their three kids are separated and sent to live with family members in different parts of the country.  Living out his last days alone in a hospice facility, a miracle happens and Jack somehow makes a full recovery.  He reunites his family at Lizzie’s childhood home in South Carolina, hoping to rebuild his family.  This book was off my own bookshelf and also part of my summer reading list.  Baldacci is an author known for his mystery thrillers, none of which I have read.  While the book reminded me of Nicholas Sparks and the romance/love stories by James Patterson, I didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I would.

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Something Like Family by Heather Burch – (c/o Netgalley)  Tuck hires a private investigator to find his grandson, Rave. When he’s found in a small town working as a waiter, Rave agrees to meet Tuck, the grandfather he didn’t know he had.  Abandoned by his drug addict mother, Rave has never really known what it’s like to have family.  He ends up creating a life with Tuck and learns a lot from his grandfather.  This is the first Netgalley book that I’ve read for review. While I enjoy a good family drama, it felt at times like I was reading a Christian fiction book.  This was another so-so read for me.

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The View From Penthouse B by Elinor Lipman – Sisters Margot and Gwen are living in Penthouse B at the Batavia. Gwen is a widow of two years and Margot’s husband is in prison.  After Margot lost all her money in Madoff’s Ponzi scheme, the two sisters decide to have gay, 20-something-year-old Anthony move in to help with the rent.  The three roommates become good friends as they try to help each other improve their lives.  This was my first Lipman novel and will probably be my last.  While Lipman is considered to be an author of “humorous novels” I didn’t think this book was that funny.

5 Stars

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Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling – During our summer travel around New York state we finally finished listening to Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince on CD.  I had previously only ever read up to the Order of the Phoenix, so this was new to me.  Wow, did so much happen in this book!  Once we got home, we had to immediately get the last book on CD and start it.

What are you currently reading?

 

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July 2017 Reads

It is time once again for Steph and Jana’s monthly Show Us Your Books linkup!  With summer upon us, I would have thought that I’d have a lot more books read.  However, we did a lot of traveling and I just didn’t get in a lot of reading time.  Here are my five July 2017 reads.  I’m happy that two of them are books from my own bookshelf that I’ve had forever!  Looking forward to checking out everyone’s posts and adding to my to read list!

3 Stars

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Independence Hall (I.Q. #1) by Roland Smith – I found this book when researching books for my Visit Philadelphia Through Children’s Books post.  Based on the title, you’d think this book would be more focused on Independence Hall…..but it’s not.  However, it’s a decent spy/thriller book (and series) for middle grade readers.  I wasn’t a fan of the terrorist theme, especially for the targeted age group and it was just so unrealistic for my liking.  My 11-year-old daughter read the book too though and enjoyed it enough to want to continue the series.
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The Summer I Dared by Barbara Delinsky – This book takes place in Big Sawyer Island, Maine, a small island where lobstering is the main source of income for many of the families.  Julia is traveling on a boat with several others from the mainland to the island when it gets in an accident.  As one of three survivors, the accident makes her evaluate the life she was living.  She and Noah, a lobsterman and one of the other survivors who lost his father in the accident, end up forming a close friendship as he also makes life-changing decisions.  I’ve read several other of Delinsky’s books and have enjoyed them more than this one.   This was a book off my own shelf that I’ve had for years, which I can now give away (……and make room for a new book!).

4 Stars
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The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid – I know many of us are big TJR fans.  I found her newest book to be a bit different than her other books that I’ve read.  I found this one enjoyable, but it wasn’t my fave.

5 Stars
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Beartown by Fredrik Backman – After hearing so many good things about this book, I finally decided to give it a try.  Ice hockey isn’t really my thing, so I went in thinking I wasn’t going to like it.  Boy was I surprised.  Backman’s writing drew me right in and he took me on quite an emotional ride.  Although this was my first book of his, I will be reading his other books ASAP!  A Man Called Ove will be my next read of his.

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Handle With Care by Jodi Picoult – Picoult is one of my favorite authors.  I’ve had this book for years on my bookshelf and am so glad that I finally read it.  This book is about Willow, a 5-year-old born with Osteogenisis Imperfecta (OI), a collagen defect that causes her bones to be brittle.  At such a young age, she’s already broken almost every bone in her body, at least once.  Of course it wouldn’t be a Picoult book without moral and ethical issues being brought up.  I had never heard of OI before reading this and as a parent, I’m lucky that I’ve never had to think about  some of the questions Charlotte and Sean face. I have now read all of Picoult’s novels, except for the YA books she co-wrote with her daughter (which I own).

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June 2017 Reads

It’s the second Tuesday of the month, which means that it’s time to link up with Steph and Jana for another edition of Show Us Your Books. While May was disappointing in quality of books, June definitely made up for it!  The majority of my reads were 4 stars and I even had a 5 star book this month!  Here are my June 2017 reads:

3 Stars:

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Always by Sarah Jio – Cade and Kailey were young, in love and planned to get married.  But one day, he disappears, never to be seen from again.  10 years later, Kailey is leaving a restaurant with her fiance when she sees a homeless man and realizes that it’s Cade.  She feels compelled to help him and she tries to figure out what happened since they last saw each other.  The book is told in alternating chapters between the past and present. I had previously read Bungalow by Jio and loved it.  So, when I saw this book at the library, I picked it up.  Unfortunately, I was a bit disappointed by this one. I felt like some of the character decisions seemed so unlikely and unrealistic.

4 Stars:

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Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver – This YA book had been on my to read list for awhile.  I wanted to read the book before I saw the movie, which was what finally got me to read it.  Although I never watched the movie Groundhog Day, I believe this book is similar in which Samantha relives the same day seven different times.  Each do-over she is able to manipulate and make changes based on her past experiences.  The book has been nominated for a bunch of awards and I can see why.  I enjoyed the storyline and Samantha’s character as she evolves through the book. And my own personal rant, there was one character in particular that I couldn’t stand and couldn’t understand how Sam was friends with her….rant over!  BTW, as usual, the book is so much better than the movie.

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The Garden of Small Beginnings by Abbi Waxman –  After her husband dies in a car accident, Lilian Girvan is left to raise their two young daughters.  As an illustrator, she’s given the job of working on a vegetable gardening book.  But, she must take a gardening class which her two children and sister accompany her to.  During the six week class, the students form friendships and help each other through difficult times.  In between chapters, vegetable gardening tips are provided.  I enjoyed Waxman’s writing style and even though the topic of being a widow is heavy, I found her writing style to be fun and engaging.

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The Hope Chest by Viola Shipman –  Mattie Tice was once a famous garden designer.  Diagnosed with ALS, the time has come where her husband Don of almost 50 years needs some help in taking care of her.  Enter Rose, Mattie’s new caretaker and her daughter Jeri.  In the move to a new house, Mattie discovers her hope chest and shares the contents and the memories they bring with Rose.  This is the second book in the “heirloom novel” series.  I read the first book, The Charm Bracelet and enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed this book.  What I find so interesting is that Viola Shipman is a pen name for the author, Wade Rouse.  I am surprised at how well he writes from a a female perspective.

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In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware – Leonora (Lee/Nora) is unexpectedly invited to her friend Clare’s hen party.  Surprised since she hasn’t seen her in over 10 years, Nora decides to go with their friend Nina.  They drive to the country to find a glass house set in the middle of the woods, where they will stay for the weekend.  But during that weekend Nora wakes up in a hospital and learns that someone has died.  She has no recollection of how she got in the hospital and she tries to piece together her memories of the past couple of day’s events to figure out what is going on.  I was a fan of The Woman in Cabin 10 and had heard that this book was even better.  This was an enjoyable, suspenseful read, even though I had it figured out before the big reveal.

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This Is How it Always Is by Laurie Frankel – Rosie and Penn have five boys.  But their youngest, 5-year-old Claude prefers wearing dresses and wants to be a girl when he grows up.  What ensues is the family having to keep secrets as they navigate raising a transgender child.  This is a beautiful, well-written story that is very relevant in today’s times. This is not a “light” summer read, but in my opinion, a book definitely worth picking up.

5 Stars:

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The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas – 16-year-old Starr lives in the poor and drug-ridden neighborhood of Garden Heights where her father runs a store.  But she goes to a school an hour away where she’s one of 2 black kids in her grade.  She’s with an old friend Khalil on their way home from a party when Khalil is pulled over by a white cop and shot to death.  Starr is the only witness and when the shooting makes national headlines she has some tough choices to make.  This YA book handles a serious, relevant topic but is so well written.

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My 2017 Summer Reading List

If you haven’t realized it by now, I love to read.  However, I’m really bad about making a reading list and sticking to it.  My usual book reading habit is to put all the new releases that I want to read on hold at the library and then try to keep up reading them as they come in.  Forget about the tons of unread books collecting dust on my bookshelf.  Forget about the over 700 books on my Goodreads to-read list.  Fortunately, my reading habits will have to change this summer.  Earlier this month I wrote about the different road trips around New York state that I’m taking with the kids this summer.  I prefer not to take piles of library books with me.  So, this summer reading list includes six books off my own bookshelf!  Some of these books have been on my to read list for YEARS!  Several of the books I chose had “summer” right in the title and were seasonally appropriate.  Other books were YA, chick lit,  or suspense-type thrillers, since I prefer to read “lighter” books in the summer.  Here is my 2017 summer reading list, in alphabetical order:

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia –  This is A YA paranormal/fantasy book.  Not my normal genre, but it’s won several literary awards.  It was made into a movie in 2013 and is probably why I added it to my to read list back then, since I prefer to read the book before seeing the movie.

The Crush by Sandra Brown –  I used to read a lot more of Sandra Brown’s books but haven’t picked one up in a long time.  This one has been on my shelf forever and the only suspense/thriller out of my six books.

Handle with Care by Jodi Picoult – Picoult is one of my favorite authors.  This is one of the few books of hers that I haven’t read yet, even though it’s been on my shelf for years.  I know this book isn’t a light read, but I’m almost positive it will be a great read.

The Last Summer by Ann Brashares – I’m going to admit that I don’t have high hopes for this book.  I loved Brashares Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series.  But I haven’t been a fan of the few YA stand-alones of hers that I’ve read.  This is a summer book and I get it off my shelf, so I’m going to give it a go.

One Summer by David Baldacci – I know Baldacci usually writes suspense/thriller books.  I’ve never read any of them, which is probably good.  I can read this book without expectations.  I’ve heard this book has been compared to those of Nicholas Sparks, and I usually love his books.

The Summer I Dared by Barbara Delinsky – I know very little about this book.  But I’ve read several of Delinsky’s other books and have enjoyed them.

Have you read any of these books?  What is on your summer reading list?

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May 2017 Reads

It’s one of my favorite times of the month, Steph and Jana’s Show Us Your Books link up!  This is perfect timing for me as I’m starting to compile a summer reading list.  No better day to get great reading recommendations!  As I wrote this post I realized that I didn’t have the best of reading months.  I read seven books in May, but only one of them rated 4 stars.  Hopefully June will turn out to be a better month of reading! Here are my May 2017 reads:

3 Stars:

 

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The Circle by Dave Eggers –  With the help of her friend Annie, Mae Holland goes to work at the Circle, a powerful internet company.  As she works there, Mae sees the Circle is very Big Brotherish and only getting bigger and more powerful.  As she becomes more involved with the Circle, she has less contact with the outside world.  Should there be worldwide transparency?  At what cost will one go to have privacy?  These are some of the questions that arise in this book.  The book had me totally engaged, but I was super disappointed with the ending.  This book was a book of the month pick for one of the Goodreads groups I’m in.  Otherwise, I probably would have never even known about this book.  It was also made into a movie, starring Tom Hanks and Emma Watson that I want to see, once it comes out on DVD.

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A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles – This book opens in 1922 Russia, when Count Alexander Rostov is placed under house arrest at the hotel Metropol.  The book follows him over the next thirty years as he lives in the hotel, meeting in a interesting cast of characters.  This was another book of the month pick for a Goodreads group that I wouldn’t have otherwise picked up on my own.  It was slow in spots but engrossing in others.  Overall, I think it was an okay historical fiction read.

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Into the Water by Paula Hawkins –  Unfortunately, when you write a bestseller like The Girl on the Train, there’s no doubt that your next book will be compared to it.  While I loved The Girl on the Train, I really didn’t like this book. The beginning is very confusing with all of the different characters.  And the storyline just didn’t interest me.   I honestly couldn’t care why the river has been the source of the deaths of several women.

3 Stars

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Never Let You Go by Chevy Stevens – Lindsey Nash takes her six-year-old daughter Sophie and escapes from her abusive husband.  Fast forward ten years later where Lindsey has created a new life with her now teenage daughter. But she learns that Andrew, the ex, has been released from jail, and she keeps sensing someone watching her.  Her home is invaded and her daughter is followed.  Is it Andrew, coming back for revenge?  I’ve read a couple of Stevens other books and have had mixed reviews, liking some better than others.  In this book I feel like the author purposefully set it up to throw the reader off track, which annoyed me.  This was an okay thriller/suspense read.

 

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The Perfect Stranger by Megan Miranda – I have not read Miranda’s recent book All the Missing Girls, so I was unfamiliar with her writing. This was a pretty good suspense read that had me guessing until the end.  No one is who they seem, which adds to the suspense of the book.  However, I felt like there was almost too much going on.

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The Whole Thing Together by Ann Brashares – Sasha and Ray share a room in the family’s Long Island beach house.  They have just have never met each other.  Ray’s mom and Sasha’s dad used to be married and had three daughters before a bitter divorce.  They both remarried, and had children with their new spouses (Ray and Sasha) but neither were willing to give up the house. (Not sure I explained the complicated family tree well there!)  This summer, the families lives intersect as drama occurs and secrets are revealed.  While I enjoyed Brashares YA Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series, this book was a bit disappointing.

4 Stars

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I Found You by Lisa Jewell –  Alice finds a man sitting on the beach in the pouring rain.  He has no memory of who he is or how he got there.  In a London suburb, Lily’s husband doesn’t return home from work one night.  Back in 1993, siblings Gray and Kirsty are vacationing with their family when Kirsty meets a guy who just doesn’t sit right with Gray.  Told between the past and present, with multiple points of view, the three different storylines intertwine. This was a suspenseful read that had me guessing until the end.

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April 2017 Reads

Life According to Steph

It’s the second Tuesday of the month, which means that it’s time for Steph and Jana’s Show Us Your Books link up!  I love being able to showcase the books that I read this past month as well as get lots of book recommendations  to add to my already too long to read list!  April was a slow month of reading for me.   Like, only five books read slow.  Fortunately, they were almost all great reads!  I realize now that most of them dealt with death and grieving, which did not make for light reading.  In order from least to most liked, here are my April 2017 reads:

3 Stars:

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The Crooked Sixpence (The Uncommoners #1) by Jennifer Bell – Imagine an underground world where ordinary objects have special powers.  This is where siblings Ivy and Seb find themselves after they escape from intruders who are looking for something in their grandmother’s house.  Down in Lundinor the two must try to save their parents who have been kidnapped by producing the Great Uncommon Good.  This is a fantasy, middle-grade fiction read that is being dubbed “part Tim Burton, part J.K. Rowling.”  While I wasn’t a huge fan of this one myself, I think it may appeal to middle school readers who enjoy fantasy, adventure books.

4 Stars:

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Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough –  Louise meets David at a bar one night and they kiss.  A couple of days later she discovers he’s her new boss.  Soon after that Louise meets Adele and the two become quick friends.  But Adele is David’s wife.  There’s a twisted triangle of secrets that kept me interested in reading.  This was a quick, suspenseful read.  I debated between a 3 1/2 and 4 star rating but don’t want to give spoilers as to my reasoning.

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Forever, Interrupted by Taylor Jenkins Reid – Elsie is married to Ben less than 10 days, when he is killed in an accident.  Throughout their whirlwind romance of less than six months, she never met Ben’s mother, Susan.  Susan actually never knew that Ben was married or that there was an Elsie.  Susan and Elsie get off to a rocky start as they come to terms with Ben’s death.  The book is told in alternating chapters between the past and present.  Out of all the books about death that I read this month, this was the hardest for me to read.  I think Ben’s young age and the unexpectedness of his death had me freaking myself out imagining myself in this situation.  I am now caught up on reading all of TJR’s books and am looking forward to her new one coming out this summer!

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I Liked My Life by Abby Fabiaschi – Maddy is a stay-at-home mom to 16 year-old Eve and wife to workaholic, Brady.  As the book begins we learn that Maddy committed suicide and is looking for a replacement for herself.  With no note or reasons why, Eve and Brady grieve and try to come to terms with Maddy’s death.  I enjoyed that each chapter is told through Maddy (narrating from the beyond), Eve and Brady’s perspectives, so you get to see all the characters’ perspectives.

5 Stars:

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Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner – Carver Brigg sends a text to his three best friends that might have been the cause of the texting and driving accident that kills them.  Filled with guilt, he then discovers that he may be facing criminal charges.  Feeling alone, he and his friend Eli’s girlfriend Jesmyn become close as they grieve.  This was an emotional, YA read.  I think it sends an important message about the dangers of texting and driving.  I also love the concept of Goodbye Days.

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March 2017 Reads

Life According to Steph

It’s the second Tuesday of the month which means that it’s time for Steph and Jana’s monthly Show Us Your Books link up.  This is where I share my monthly reads, visit a bunch of other blogs and add to my ever-growing to read list! I have to say I had a pretty good month of reading, with almost all of my reads being 4 stars.  However, after writing the summaries, I realized I read a lot of depressing, but good books!  LOL!    Here are my March 2017 reads listed in order of least to most liked.

3 Stars

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It’s Not Okay by Andi Dorfman – If you have not seen Andi Dorfman on The Bachelor and then on The Bachelorette, then this book is not for you!  If you are a fan of the shows, then I recommend this read.  Dorfman spills about her broken engagement with Josh (#26).  I enjoyed learning about what happened to her relationship with Josh after The Bachelorette and getting behind the scenes info about the show production itself.

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Westminster Abby by Micol Ostow – Abby is a high school student spending a semester studying in London.  She has overprotective parents and after a breakup with a cheating ex-boyfriend she’s looking for a little adventure.  This book is part of the YA series Students Across the Seven Seas (S.A.S.S.).  This was the first book I’ve read in the series and my daughter is currently reading the book now.  I felt it was a good intro to English culture but could have been more descriptive of places instead of being what felt like a laundry list of tourist stops.

4 Stars

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Booked by Kwame Alexander – Told in verse,  this book is about 8th grader Nick Hall who loves soccer.  His parents are having marital problems, he competes against his best friend in a soccer league and he’s trying to impress April, a girl he has a crush on.  So, normal middle school stuff.  The poetry format makes for a quick read.  I’m always on the search for new books for my kids to read.  Although he’s only 8 1/2, I got this book with my son in mind, since he enjoys playing soccer.  While he didn’t enjoy the book as much as I did, I think it’s a great book for middle grade readers.

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Close Enough To Touch by Colleen Oakley – Jubilee Jenkins suffers from a rare medical condition in which she is allergic to human touch.  For nine years she has lived alone, never leaving her house. When she’s forced to get a job she ends up working at the town library.  It’s there that she meets Eric and his adopted son Aja, whom she forms a special connection with.  I knew nothing about this book before starting to read it, so went in with no expectations.  Some of the characters were definitely quirky but endearing, especially after learning their backstories.  It was an enjoyable read that interested me enough that I want to read Oakley’s other book Before I Go.  She also gets bonus points for commenting on my Instagram post!

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Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein – The new town library is opening and 12, twelve-year-old children will be chosen for a library lock-in experience before it officially opens to the public. It turns out the lock-in is actually a game.  Using clues, the children have to find a way to escape from the library (not using the same way they came in), with big prizes for the winner. The book is filled with puzzles and lots of book references.  This book will appeal to children who love puzzles and reading!  My daughter owns this book and has read it several times.  My son and I read this book together over a course of about a month and we both really enjoyed it.  There are two other books in this series that we will be checking out soon!

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Maybe In Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid – At 29, not sure of what she wants to do with herself, Hannah returns to her hometown of Los Angeles where her best friend Gabby lives.  At a bar one evening she bumps into her old high school boyfriend, Ethan.  He offers to give her a ride home at the end of the night.  From there, two different story lines play out in alternating chapters.  One where she goes home with Gabby as planned and the other where she leaves with Ethan.  This was my third Taylor Jenkins Reid book.  I really enjoy her storytelling and she’s become a favorite author.  This wasn’t my favorite book of hers but was entertaining, nonetheless.

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The Memory Book by Lara Avery – High school senior Sammie McCoy is valedictorian and a star member of the debate team.  She’s planning to attend NYU in the fall and life is looking pretty good.  But then she discovers that she has a rare genetic disorder Niemann-Peck (NPK) which will lead to her losing her memory, motor function and eventually death.  So, she creates this memory book to help her remember her life.  While coming to terms with her diagnosis she also navigates friendships and romantic relationships while trying to beat the disease.  This was another engaging, emotional YA read.

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The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon – Natasha’s family is being deported back to Jamaica later in the evening and she’s doing everything she can including making a trip to an immigration attorney to plead her case.  Daniel is on his way to get his hair cut for an alumni admission interview for Yale  later that day when he first notices Natasha.  Of course, possibly by fate?, the two end up meeting and spending a perfect day together.  The story is told from multiple points of view over the course of the day.  While the idea of instant love is hard to believe, this story is so much more than a teen romance.  The book deals with immigration, race, having different life expectations from your parents and more.  A quick, enjoyable YA read.

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When We Collided by Emery Lord – Jonah, one of six siblings, is helping to take care of his younger brothers and sisters.  Since their dad died, their mom rarely leaves her bedroom.  So, the older siblings have to juggle running the family restaurant and taking care of the house.  Vivi has moved to Verona Cove from Seattle and works in the local pottery shop.  It is here that she meets Jonah and his youngest sister.  The two form a relationship, with Vivi bringing spontaneity and fun to his life.  This YA book was a quick, emotional read. Although I’m not very familiar with bipolar disorder, I feel like Lord did a good job of depicting mental illness and the impact it has on others.

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With Love From the Inside by Angela Pisel – Grace Bradshaw has been on death row for 17 years after being found guilty for murdering her baby son.  With her execution date set, her one wish is to reconnect with her estranged daughter Sophie.  But Sophie has created a new life for herself where even her husband knows nothing about her past.  When Sophie finally visits her mother, she has a lot of soul searching and decisions to make.  This was an emotional tearjerker of a read that had me engaged from the start.

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February Reads {2017}

Life According to Steph

It’s time once again to link up with Steph and Jana for their monthly Show Us Your Books linkup.  I love seeing what everyone’s been reading and add a gazillion books to my ever growing to-read list.  Here is look at my February reads.  I only read seven books, however, the majority of them were four stars, which I’m okay with!  Quality definitely rules quantity for me any day.

3 Stars

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Everything You Want Me to Be by Mindy Mejia – When Hattie Hoffman dies many secrets are uncovered about the high school girl when trying to find her killer.  Although this suspense book had the requisite twist at the end, I found it overall to be a slow read.

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The Hating Game by Sally Thorne – Lucy and Josh work together at the same publishing company.  They are bitter rivals…..until of course, they weren’t.  This was an easy chick lit/contemporary romance read.  I wanted to like it more than I did…….but I didn’t.  It’s an okay read, especially for those who like the genre.

4 Stars

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The Girl Before by J.P. Delaney – This psychological suspense book is told via two different girls, Emma (the past) and Jane (the present).  Both women end up living in the same house at One Folgate Street.  Living at the modern, minimalist house comes with lots of rules, which the women accepted after needing fresh starts in their lives.  Although the book wasn’t great, I gave it four stars since it had me guessing until the very end.  It’s also being turned into a movie but a release date hasn’t been announced yet.

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I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh – This book is centers around a hit and run, and is told from the POV of main protagonist, Jenna Gray and the lead detective. I’m hating that every new suspense book has been dubbed the best thriller since Gone Girl or The Girl on the Train.  This book is one of them. I honestly almost gave up on this book since it started off so slow.  It picked up mid-way through and then became a page-turner, so I’m glad I stuck with it.

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The One Thing by Gary Keeler –   I first listened to a couple of episodes of the podcast that is based on this book.  This is a great book on time management and productivity, focused more for those in the business sector.  However, I feel like I learned a lot from it and even recommended my husband read it.  The big take-away, no surprise here, is to focus on one thing and get it done.  They apply this to all different areas in your life – family, job, home, etc.

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Unbelievable by Sara Shepard – This is book number four in the Pretty Little Liars series.  I am continuing to read this series, managing about a book a month.  Not much to say about this one except that it’s total brain candy.

5 Stars

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Small Great Things
by Jodi Picoult – Jodi Picoult is one of my favorite authors.  I hadn’t read a book of hers in awhile and after a long wait, finally got this book from the library.  This book is such a thought-provoking read about race and racism in America.  While race is a difficult subject it seems even more relevant in the current tumultuous times we are experiencing.  I highly recommend this read.

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January 2017 Reads

Life According to Steph

Happy Valentine’s Day!  Today on the blog it’s all about book love!  I am linking up with Jana and Steph’s monthly Show Us Your Books link up to share my January 2017 reads.  This month I read 12 books.  It seems like a lot, but several of them were middle grade fiction books.  I’m looking forward to reading everyone’s posts and adding to my goodreads list!  And speaking of goodreads, you can friend me if you’d like to see what I’m reading or what I’ve read.  So in order of least to most liked, here are my January reads:

2 Stars

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Marvin and the Moths by Matthew Holm – This is a middle grade fiction book that I read and reviewed for Kiss the Book.  It involves a science experiment gone wrong and giant moths and a killer spider……yeah, not really my thing!

3 Stars

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Autumn’s Wish by Bella Thorne – This is another book that I read and reviewed for a Kiss The Book review.  It’s the third book in a YA series that I was just “eh” about.  Not having read the first two books in the series wasn’t really a problem.  They give enough back-story about what happened in the previous books.  My issues with the series is that it is written about a group of high school kids.  However, it’s kids my daughter’s age (almost 11/middle school) who are fans of Bella Thorne from her Disney show Shake It Up.

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Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo – Raymie starts taking baton lessons in hopes of winning the Little Miss Central Florida Tire competition.  If she wins, her picture will be in the newspaper and she’s hoping that her father, who left town with a dental hygenist, will come back home.  She meets two other girls at the baton lessons who form an unlikely friendship.  My daughter read this book.  Since we no longer read together, like my son and I do, I like to at least occasionally read some of the same books as her.  This won the Goodreads Choice 2016 for middle grade and children’s books and has been nominated for other awards as well.  Having read some of DiCamillo’s other books, this book was just an okay read for me.

4 Stars
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Home by Harlan Coben – Besides James Patterson, Coben is one of my go-to authors for quick, suspenseful reads. This is book number 11 in the Myron Bolitar series.  It had several unexpected twists.  While I prefer to read a series in order, I think that this book can be read as a stand-alone without feeling totally lost.

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The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis – I read this book with my son over the course of a couple of weeks.  Somehow I had missed ever reading this book on my own.  This is book #2 in the Chronicles of Narnia series, but I think the most popular?  Honestly I didn’t even realize there was a whole series and that I wasn’t reading the first book, until we had already started reading it.  This was a great fantasy read that we both enjoyed.  We then watched the movie which we both liked, even though it was a little different in parts.

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Nowhere Girl by A.J. Paquette – I received this book and read and reviewed it on my blog for Multicultural Children’s Book Day.  It tells the story of Luchi, girl born in a prison in Thailand.  It’s the only life she’s ever known.  But when her mother passes away, she is released into the real world.  As Luchi embarks on her journey, she learns secrets about her mother’s past.  This was a really great book that I had never heard of and would never have read if I hadn’t participated in Multicultural Children’s Book Day.  Our children need access to more diverse books, including this one!

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Only Ever You by Rebecca Drake –  3 year-old Sophia disappears from a playground for a few minutes, scaring her mother, Jill.  When she is found she has a tiny needle mark in her arm, which everyone convinces Jill is just a bug bite.  But then  Jill feels like she’s being watched and has someone been in her house?!  When Sophia is later taken from her own house, the blame is put on Jill and her husband, David.  Jill has to prove her innocence and find her daughter.  This was a suspenseful read that had me guessing until the end.

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Perfect by Sara Shepard – I finished the third book in the Pretty Little Liar series.  Since I started reading the series, it looks like I’m reading about one book a month.  These books are filled with lots of high school drama.  They are fun, brain-candy reads for me.

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Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick – I love Anna Kendrick!  In this book she talks about the beginning of her career, being a celebrity, romance and more.  It’s all told in her humorous, tell it like it is, down-to-earth style.  As I was reading, I could imagine her voice telling the stories.  If you’re a fan of hers, I recommend this book!

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Word of Mouse by James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein –  Isaiah, known as mouse #97 was raised in a laboratory along with his other 96 siblings.  In an escape attempt, he is the only one who makes it out of the laboratory.  He eventually meets Mikayla, another mouse who introduces him to her family.  Can he convince them to help save his family?  This is Patterson’s newest middle grade fiction book.  My son is fan of Patterson’s other middle grade fiction series.  He borrowed this book from the library and loved it so much that he insisted that I HAD to read it.  I thought this was a cute read and had good lessons on accepting differences.

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You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero – I’m going to be honest, this book isn’t for everyone.  But if you like self-help, inspiring books, then I recommend this one.  Sincero is a success coach who tells it like it is.  One of her biggest messages repeated throughout the book is “love yourself.”  This was a timely read for the new year as I try to figure my -ish out!

5 Stars

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One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid – I have seen this book reviewed on so many Show Us Your Books blog posts that I finally had to read it.  I’m sorry I waited so long!  If you want a book that gives you all the feels, this is one of them.  I won’t give a summary since I think almost everyone in the link up has already read it, but I loved this tear jerker of a read!

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December 2016 Reads

Life According to Steph

It’s time for Steph and Jana’s first Show Us Your Books linkup of 2017!  I especially loved reading last month’s best of 2016 books posts, which made me move up some of the books on my to read list!  Today I’m sharing my December 2016 reads.  I read 10 books which all rated 3 or 4 stars, so a pretty good reading month for me.

3 Stars:

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Flawless by Sara Shepard – I’ve been slowly making my way through the Pretty Liar series.  I’m not sure what took me so long to start this series but it’s perfect brain candy!  Plus, I’m enjoying watching the show on Netflix as well.  There’s only 16 books but 141 episodes and I’m already seeing how the show is different from the book. But, it’s fun!

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Happy Endings by Adele Geras – This is a YA book that I received for review for the Kiss the Book blog.  Set in London, 16 year-old Mel spends her summer rehearsing in a youth theater performance of Chekhov’s Three Sisters.  With a small cast, they become close and Mel navigates new friendships, drama and romance.   Although this is a short book, at 170 pages, I felt it read very slow.

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Sleep Smarter by Shawn Stevenson – This non-fiction book provides, “21 essential strategies to sleep your way to a better, body, better health, and bigger success.”  Shawn Stevenson provides useful tips and insights on getting better sleep  and why it’s so important.  I’ve been interested in getting more sleep and know that sleep is important.  I found this book to be informative.

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Today Will Be Different by Maria Semple – I wasn’t a fan of Where’d You Go Bernadette? so I probably shouldn’t have read this book.  This book is a quirky, family drama that I thought was okay.

4 Stars:

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A Boy Called Christmas by Matt Haig – A cute, middle grade fiction book about the origin of Santa Claus.  You can read my full review in my 25 Books of Christmas post.

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Matilda by Roald Dahl – Somehow, I never read this book until now!  My son and I read this book together over the course of a couple of weeks.  It’s a great Dahl read about a super smart little girl and her parents who don’t believe in reading or the importance of an education.  Luckily, her teacher Miss Honey realizes Matilda’s gift and encourages her learning.  We were unable to see the musical in NYC before it closed but will watch the movie soon.

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Paris For One and Other Short Stories by Jojo Moyes – I’m normally not a big fan of short stories.  However, I really like Moyes’ books and enjoyed this collection.  It’s a book of nine short stories all about relationships.

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Three Christmas Wishes by Sheila Roberts – I like to read Christmas books in December.  This was another book that I read for my 25 Books of Christmas feature.  You can read the review here.

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Two By Two by Nicholas Sparks – This book was a little different than Sparks’ normal love stories.  This was actually more of a story of a couple falling apart.  There were a couple of other side stories going on as well including Russell, the main character bonding with his young daughter as he basically raises her as a single parent.  This was a tear jerker, as Sparks’ books usually are.

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What Light by Jay Asher – I loved Asher’s 13 Reasons Why.  This book was very different but an enjoyable, holiday YA read.  This was another book I reviewed for my 25 Books of Christmas.