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December 2017 Reads

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It’s the second Tuesday of the month and time to share my December 2017 reads in Steph and Jana’s monthly Show Us Your Books linkup.  December was a good reading month for me.  I only read seven books but all except one were four or five stars.  January has gotten off to a good reading start, so I hope to continue the trend!

3 Stars

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The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood – I had always thought that this was a historical fiction book that I wouldn’t be interested in.  Then, a friend told me about how good the show was on Hulu.  I’m all about reading the book before I see the movie or show, so I had to read it. In a dystopian future, where births are declining,  Offred and the other Handmaids have one job – to become pregnant.  The book delves into Offred’s past in random flashbacks.  I have to say overall the book has an interesting premise.  However, I felt like there was too much unanswered that left me unsatisfied as a reader.  I am curious to see the show now though!

4 Stars

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Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate –  This book has two consecutive story lines taking place as you read.  There’s present day South Carolina where Avery Stafford, raised in wealth and privilege discovers information about her grandmother that sends her digging into the family’s past.  Then there’s 1939 Memphis, Tennessee, where 12-year-old Rill Foss’ family is torn apart when she and her siblings are taken to the Tennessee Children’s Home Society Orphanage.  I had no idea what this book was about before I started reading, just that it was the winner of the Goodreads Choice Award for Historical Fiction.  And I like a good historical fiction book.  It was more horrifying to learn that this book is based on actual events that I had no idea about.

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The Good Daughter by Karin Slaughter – Two sisters, Charlotte and Samantha, are brutally attacked and one is left for dead.  This is after they witness the intruders shoot and kill their mother.  Twenty-eight years later, the sisters barely speak, living separate lives.  Charlotte is witness to a school violence incident that rattles her enough for her husband to call Samantha to come.  I am fairly new to Karin Slaughter.  While I don’t want to start either of her series, I did read Pretty Girls and enjoyed it.  Although this one had a slow start for me, about half-way through I couldn’t put it down.

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Seven Days of Us by Francesca Hornak – The Birch family is spending Christmas in quarantine Emma and Andrew’s oldest daughter Olivia is returning after helping to treat a Haag (ebola-like) epidemic in Liberia.  Younger sister Phoebe has just become engaged. The family of four, have not been together in years and are not used to the close proximity.  Each of them is harboring a secret that of course ends up coming out during the seven days of quarantine.  The book is told from alternating points of view, in short chapters.  Overall, I found this to be an engaging, family drama read.

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This Is Not a Love Letter by Kim Purcell – (c/o netgalley)  Jessie wants a one week break from her boyfriend Chris.  The he ends up vanishing.  Since they started dating, Chris has written her a love letter every week.  This book is a note that she writes to him as she tries to find him.  We get a history of their relationship and discover why she wanted the break.  There’s some racial issues (she’s Caucasian, Chris is African-American) and mental illness issues addressed (hoarding, depression). This was a decent YA read, but a bit heavy.  I just wish that more time was spent addressing some of the serious issues touched upon (don’t want to go into more detail and reveal spoilers!).

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Winter Street by Elin Hilderbrand –  Every year in December I try to read a couple of holiday-themed reads.  I’ve heard such good things about the Winter series.  This is the first book, and is about a bed and breakfast that shares the name of the title of the book.  Right before Christmas, Kelley Quinn, owner of Winter Street, discovers that his wife Mitzi is having an affair.  His four grown children are all dealing with their own issues.  They all end up together on Christmas, which is of course filled with drama.  Despite the drama, this is a heart-warming holiday read that leaves off unfinished.  Luckily, I know that this book is part of a series and the story continues. But if I had read this when it first came out I’d be unsatisfied with the ending.

5 Stars

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Dear Martin by Nic Stone – Justyce McAllister is arrested by a white cop when helping his drunk girlfriend.  After experiencing this racial injustice, he turns to the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for some answers.  He tries to live like Dr. King would and writes him letters.  But when Justyce and his best friend Manny end up involved in a shooting, he doesn’t know if he can live like Martin.  Fans of The Hate U Give will most likely enjoy this book.  It touches upon the same powerful issues of police brutality, racial profiling and racism that is too prevalent in today’s society.

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Best Books of 2017

The best books that I read in 2017.

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If you are looking for some new books to read, today’s post is for you.  I’m sharing my best books of 2017 with Steph and Jana’s Show Us Your Books linkup.  I’m always looking for book recommendations and I can’t wait to add tons of books to my goodreads “want to read” list after checking out everyone’s posts! According to Goodreads, I read 89 books this year, but I may get in one more read before the 31st.  These are my five star reads of the year. I’ve listed them in alphabetical order.  If you’re a regular reader of my monthly book reviews, you know that my favorite genre is suspense/thrillers.  However, I’m not sure I’ve ever read a 5 star book in this genre.  I don’t give many 5 star ratings.  The books that I give 5 stars to have to make me think, make me feel, and/or make me cry.  I have less than 10 books here, that I consider my best books of 2017.

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Beartown by Fredrik Backman – I think readers either love or hate this book.  I am definitely a lover.  This was the first Backman book I read.  I had heard others rave about it but was hesitant since it’s about hockey.  I’m not a huge hockey fan and didn’t think I’d love a book about it.  But it’s so much more than hockey.  Backman is a great storyteller. The only other book I’ve read of his so far is A Man Called Ove, which I enjoyed.  I plan to read more of his books next year.

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Dear Martin by Nic Stone – This was one of the last books that I read this month.  While it has a similar story line to The Hate U Give (see below), it was still a well-written, emotional and powerful read.  Authors tend to write about relevant topics, and it is sad to see that the shootings of unarmed black teenagers has become a norm.

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Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner – This is a YA book that was an emotional, all the feels, read.  It touches upon the importance of not texting and driving but is so much more.

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Handle with Care by Jodi Picoult – Picoult has been and continues to be one of my favorite authors. Her books tackle controversial issues and are told through the different points of view of multiple characters.  This is the first of two of her books that made my best of 2017 list.  This book is about a young girl with Osteogenisis Imperfecta (OI) a defect that causes her to have brittle bones and the lengths that her family will go to to protect her.

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The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas – Although this is a YA book, it is a powerful and relevant read on race.  Like Dear Martin, this is another book where an unarmed black youth is shot by a police officer.

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Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling – We listened to this book on audio over the summer when we were traveling.  Not much to say about this one since almost everyone has probably read it.

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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling – We did it!  We finally finished the Harry Potter series this summer.  I don’t know what took me so long to finish the series, but I’m glad that I was able to read this last book with my son.  Rowling is a master storyteller and this was such a great series!

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One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid – I think I have read all of TJR’s books now and this one has been my favorite.

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Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult –   Another book that focuses on race and racism in America.  This is a powerful and thought-provoking read.

 

What was your favorite book of the year?

 

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November 2017 Reads

Happy Tuesday.  I want to wish all my Jewish readers a Happy Hanukkah! It is also time once again to share my November 2017 Reads.  As usual, I’m joining Steph and Jana’s monthly Show Us Your Books linkup.  November was a slow reading month.  I just had very little motivation to read.  So, unfortunately, there’s not much to share this month.  However, I’m looking forward to checking out all of the other posts in the link up to add to my to read list!

3 Stars

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Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier –  This review was posted in my new monthly The Tweens Read post, since both my kids read this book last month.  This is a graphic novel with a telling title, since the book is about ghosts. Catrina’s little sister Maya has cystic fibrosis.  Their family moves to Northern California for Maya’s health.  As they explore their new neighborhood they discover that there are ghosts all around them.  This book was inspired by Dia de Los Muertos.  This was the first children’s book that I’ve read that has a character with cystic fibrosis.  I thought the author did a good job of describing the illness.  There has been some controversy over the accuracy of how Dia de Los Muertos is depicted in the book. If this is a child’s first book about the Day of the Dead, they make get a skewed idea of what the day is really about. This book is different than Telgemeier’s other graphic novels,  like Smile and Sisters, which are more realistic fiction based.  Both my kids enjoyed this book.

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I Totally Meant to Do That by Jane Borden – I’ve had this memoir on my shelf for so long.  Borden is from North Carolina but moves to New York City.  It’s basically living in two different worlds.  Some parts of the book were humorous and others dragged on.  Overall, just an “eh” read for me.  Now that it’s read though it’s getting donated!

4 Stars

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Far From the Tree by Robin Benway – This YA book is about three adopted siblings living in different families.  They end up meeting each other in their late teens.  Each of them is going through their own issues but end up supporting each other.  This book really takes a look at adoption and what defines family.  It’s an emotional but really good read.

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The Last Mrs Parrish by Liv Constantine – Amber Patterson is a nobody, but she has a plan to make herself into a somebody….doing whatever she has to to get there.  This suspense/thriller book got me out of my recent reading slump.  Although it’s slow in the middle, it picked up at the end.  I found it interesting that this book was co-authored by sisters (Liv Constantine is their pen name).

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Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng – This book is a family drama with a LOT going on.  Everyone has secrets and nothing is as it appears.  I enjoyed Ng’s storytelling  even though it took me awhile to get into the book.  This is the 2017 Goodreads Choice Award Winner for Fiction. Ng’s other book, Everything I Never Told You has been on my to read list for awhile now.  Since I enjoyed this one so much, I may have to read it sooner than later.

 

 

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October 2017 Reads

A review of my October 2017 Reads with ratings.

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It’s time once again for Steph and Jana’s monthly Show Us Your Books link up.  It’s a time where I get to show off my October 2017 reads as well as see what other bloggers have been reading this past month.  My to-read list grows significantly today! October was a decent reading month for me.  I read seven books last month, with about half being really good reads.  I’ve been in a reading slump lately and even though it’s mid-November, I have only book read so far this month.  I’m hoping that some recommendations from this link-up will help get me reading again!

3 Stars

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The Art of Hiding by Amanda Prowse (c/o NetGalley) – Nina is happily married and a stay-at-home mom to two boys, living a life of luxury.  When her husband Finn dies in a car accident, she discovers that he has been hiding their huge financial problems.  Her house is repossessed and she must start a new life with her sons.  She moves closer to her sister and begins to find herself, discovering that she’s stronger than she believed.  I didn’t hate this book.  It just was a very slow read for me.  I didn’t realize that Prowse has written so many other books.  I am not giving up on her as an author yet and may try some of her other books.

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Scarlet by Marissa Meyer – I finally read the second book in the YA Lunar Chronicles series and I’m kind of disappointed.  I read Cinder so long ago and don’t remember much of it.  I do know that I enjoyed it a lot more than this second book.  For those of you unfamiliar with this series, the books are futuristic, fantasy takes on familiar fairy tales.  Scarlet is a retelling of Little Red Riding Hood with references to grandmother and the Wolf.  There’s a lot of action and adventure in this book, but I haven’t been into this genre recently.  I’m not sure yet if I’ll finish up the series.

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Words in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley – A book that revolves around a bookstore where people leave notes to each other in the pages of books sounds like a book that I’d love.  I just didn’t. I found this to be a very slow read until the end.  And it was just so sad and depressing.  I know a couple other Show Us Your Book bloggers have read this book which is where I think I got the recommendation.  It just wasn’t a fave of mine.

4 Stars

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Class Mom by Laurie Gelman – Jen Dixon is an older mom with two grown daughters in college and a son Max, in Kindergarten.  Her friend Nina convinces her to be the class mom for Max’s class.  Jen sends out snarky, but hilarious, e-mails to the other parents.  One of the dad’s in the class is a former high school crush of hers.  She also trains for a mud run and has to deal with some parent and teacher drama.  This is a light, funny read.  While I am involved in the PTA (Parent Teacher Association) at my kids’ schools, I have never volunteered for the role of class parent.  This book totally reminds me why!

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So Happiness to Meet You by Karin Esterhammer – (digital copy provided by Prospect Park Books) In 2008, during the recession, Karin and her husband leave LA with their young son.  They move abroad to Vietnam where they can live more cheaply.  We get an inside look at Vietnamese culture as they live among the locals for almost three years.  I found this to be such an interesting read.  Esterhammer gives a realistic account of what it’s like to live as an outsider in a new country and I loved learning about the Vietnamese culture.  It’s been awhile since I’ve read a non-fiction/memoir book and this was a good pick!

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Without Merit by Colleen Hoover – I am a huge Colleen Hoover fan and I think I’ve read most of her books.  I knew nothing about this book before reading it, just that it was her newest book.  Every character in this book had some pretty deep issues.  I felt like the issues were glossed over and never really addressed beneath a surface level.  So this wasn’t a favorite of Hoover’s.  However, I really enjoy her storytelling, so it still gets 4 stars!  If you’ve never read a Hoover book, don’t make this one your first!

5 Stars

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The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate – This is a middle-grade chapter book that I read with my son.  It’s told from the perspective of Ivan, a mighty silverback gorilla.  He lives in a mall with his friend Stella, an elephant and Bob, the dog.  When new baby elephant, Ruby, arrives, he is forced to reevaluate his situation and make some important decisions.  This book had me laughing and crying and was just an overall great story for both kids and adults!  This was my first book I read of Applegate’s, but now I’m going to have to check out some of her other children’s books.

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September 2017 Reads

 

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It’s time once again for Steph and Jana’s monthly Show Us Your Books linkup.  I love being able to share what I read during the past month as well as get lots of new reading recommendations. Most of my September 2017 reads are suspense/thrillers, which is my favorite genre to read.  Even though I didn’t get as many books as I would have liked read this month, the ones that I did read were pretty good.

3 Stars

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The Lying Game by Ruth Ware – Four girls meet at a boarding school and play “the Lying Game,” earning points for telling lies.  Fast forward to adults, and the women are summoned back to Salten when one of them texts the others, “I need you.” The girls were expelled their last year of school after being involved in an incident which now has them worried that it will be discovered.  It was really annoying being dragged along for so long with “the incident” being referred to, but not knowing what it was.  I found the ending to be pretty anti-climatic.  I’ve enjoyed Ware’s other books but wasn’t a big fan of this one.

4 Stars

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The Breakdown by B.A. Paris – On her way home from a night out, Cass takes a shortcut and drives through the woods.  She sees a car pulled over on the side of the road but doesn’t stop due to the pouring rain from a storm.  Only later she discovers that the woman in the car was killed.  Now she fills guilty for not stopping and starts forgetting things.  Then she starts receiving silent phone calls and thinks the killer is after her.  Although this had a slow start it turned into a suspenseful read.

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A Man Called Ove by Frederik Backman – After reading Beartown a couple of months ago I had to read another Frederik Backman book.  Ove is an eccentric old man who is used to his solitary life. A young family moves in next door, turning his world upside down. Backman is an excellent storyteller and I really liked Ove and other characters. I really liked this book but I loved Beartown more.

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The Marriage Pact by Michelle Richmond – The goal of the Pact is to keep couples happy and married.  While it sounds good in the beginning, Alice and Jake don’t realize what they have gotten themselves into when they sign up. When the two decide that this isn’t for them, they learn too late that the Pact is for life.  This was a great psychological suspense read.

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The Other Girl by Erica Spindler – Officer Miranda Rader is called to investigate the brutal murder of an esteemed college professor.  A newspaper clipping detailing a horrible night from her teenage years is found at the scene.  Then a retired cop who took her statement that night many years ago is found murdered. Miranda is unsure of who she can trust but knows that she has to prove her innocence.  This is the first book I’ve ready by Spindler, but I enjoyed this one enough to read more.

5 Stars

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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling – I finally read the last book in the Harry Potter series!  We started listening to this on CD and then my son and I finished reading it together. This book had me angry at times and crying at others.  I thought Rowling wrapped up the series nicely.  Now, we have to see the movies and then plan a trip to Universal Studios to visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

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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.

3

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.