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Look what was just published!

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It is here! An epic tale of the white man and Indians as told by Andrew Joyce. I have already read this book (lucky me!) and can tell you I give it a full five stars. It captured my interest and imagination from the very beginning and even though it is a bit longer than most books I read, it kept that interest throughout the entire book.

If you enjoy historical books (and even if you don’t), you should grab this book today – it would make a great weekend read.

Then, you should follow Andrew’s blog – and read his other books (they are all great reads).

May and June Book Reviews

A few books I read and their reviews. If you are looking for a good book to read this summer, I can’t say enough good things about both The Butterfly Garden and The Paris Key. They were both excellent. I’m sure The Butterfly Garden will be on my top 5 list or 2016. I did read a couple of stinkers though and wish I hadn’t wasted my time with them.

Midsummer at Eyre Hall by Luccia Gray – 4 stars

This was the third book in the trilogy. While the first two were wonderful, this third book seemed a bit forced. But I usually feel that way with a series so it may not be the author, but me! This concluded (with a wrap up in the epilogue) the books about Jane Eyre after Jane Eyre. This has been a good series, well written and imagined. I would think that the author will give us more stories about some of the other characters. Definitely well worth reading (although I would recommend starting at the beginning of the trilogy). I was inspired through this series to read Jane Eyre which I had somehow never read, and for that the author should be commended.

City of Dreams by Harriet Steel – 3 stars

While the story was good, there were too many typos and grammatical errors for my liking.

How to Color by Ionia Froment – 4 stars

While the title says “How”, this is more of a “Why” to color book. It explains some of the reasoning behind adults coloring today and the benefits. It also goes into the “how” to achieve those benefits. In order to achieve the relaxation that coloring can provide, this short book illustrates the best ways to relax through coloring. I would have liked to have seen a couple of illustrations though (just to keep it more interesting). But, overall a good book for those who may be wondering what this adult coloring craze is all about.

The Muralist by B. A. Shapiro – 4 stars

I really enjoyed this book. It covered two time periods, but didn’t do much with the current time period. However, if that had been covered in more detail, the book would have been far too long. I immersed myself into the life of Alizee and her cohorts and loved following along her journey.

Hiccupotamus by Aaron Zenz – 5 stars

I loved this book and am perplexed by some of the 1 star reviews. The made up words are delightful and make for a great rhyming story. I wish it had been a bit longer, but for a preschool age child, it was the perfect length. The cadence was good, the illustrations were good. I loved this book.

A Poetic Engagement by Julian Froment – 5 stars

As someone who has dabbled in poetry, particularly love poetry, I found these poems both rhythmically soothing and inspiring. The love that pours forth from the author can’t help but bring love out in the reader. I especially liked Once a upon a Time, Me With You, and When I Wake

The Drowning Season by Alice Hoffman – 3 stars

Quite frankly, I thought this was a boring book. I couldn’t connect with the characters and it all felt like it was happening in quicksand.

End of Watch by Stephen King – 5 stars

I felt like this was the best of the 3 books in the trilogy. I read this basically in one sitting and couldn’t put it down. While it wasn’t old-style Stephen King horror, it was a great book with a great plot and told in a way that only Stephen King could tell it. This is why he is one of the best contemporary authors there is.

City of Mirrors by Justin Cronin – 4 stars

The author has made us wait a very long time for the final book in this trilogy. While this wasn’t my typical genre, I had enjoyed the first two books enough that I was really excited this one was finally released. However, the beginning was slow moving and I almost quit reading. I’m glad I hung in with it because it ended up being a good book. I had a little trouble following parts of it though.

Eating Bull by Carrie Ruben – 4 stars

Well written thriller – page turner that was hard to put down once I got into the book.

Drifter by ML Gardner – 3 stars

The author should have ended the series sooner. I felt like this was forced and not nearly as engaging as the first book.

The Senator by Ken Fite – 2 stars

While the story/plot was good and engaging, I was distracted by all of the typos (which started in the very beginning of the book).

The Butterfly Garden by Dot Hutchison – 5 stars

I would like to give this more than 5 stars! It was a beautifully written, haunting book that after many other books and several weeks, has stuck with me. It will definitely end up being one of my favorite books from this year I’m sure. I found this book frightening, while still remaining hopeful and beautiful. Definitely a recommended book.

The Memory Closet by Ninie Hammon – 5 stars

Be careful what you wish for – or try to remember. This psychological thriller held my interest as I turned page after page

Goldilocks and the Werebear by Ionia Froment – 5 stars

The beautiful cover drew me in and then the story captivated me. A short retelling of a classic fairy tale that felt like a classic in its own right. A twist at the end completed this charming story. I recommend it for all ages.

The Paris Key by Julie Blackwell – 5 stars

I read this book in a day because I couldn’t put it down. I was drawn into the lives of Genevieve and her new friends (I loved Sylviane) and now that I’m done, I’m sad. There was a little mystery, although I really felt like this was just extraordinary literary fiction. I fell in love with Paris through the words of the author. I fell in love with Genevieve. I fell in love with Philippe. What a romantic place Paris must be – every book I read that is set there makes me fall in love. I typically get confused when authors go back and forth with different time periods and/or people. But this book was an exception – it worked and I didn’t get confused. It was the perfect way to tell the story of Angela and Dave. I highly recommend this book for anyone looking for a book to fall into and to transport you to another time and place.

The Litigators by John Grisham – 4 stars

This was an entertaining book but felt like a boiler plate legal thriller. It was good and I read it in a very short time, but I don’t feel like it was all that memorable.

The Lost Concerto by Helaine Mario – 4 stars

A fast paced book filled with intrigue. I had trouble putting this book down.

The Children by Ann Leary – 3 stars

I just can’t say much about this book, other than it was okay. Just okay. A take it or leave it kind of okay. I finished it, but didn’t ever feel a part of the book or the characters. I can’t say anything was particularly bad about the book – it was okay. But I can’t say anything was particularly good about the book either. Not my book, I guess.

Bad Review(er)

I have been a very bad book reviewer – I just can’t seem to get back into writing reviews. And this post will be no different – I will given them a star rating (based on five stars) and that’s it (except for a couple of standouts). This is March’s and April’s books. You can leave a comment with a question about a specific book and I will answer.

Breakdown by Jonathan Kellerman – 5 stars

The Third Girl by Nell Goddin – 5 stars

The Light of the Fireflies by Paul Pen – 3 stars

Descent by Kristina Stanley – 2 stars

Storm Clouds Rolling In by Ginny Dye – 4 stars

The Steel Kiss by Jeffrey Deaver – 5 stars

The Nest by Cynthia Sweeney – 5 stars

I would give The Nest more stars if I could – I loved this book (you can read the blurb yourself). It is a great read about family dynamics and brought a smile to my face often. I highly recommend everyone read this book.

Hinterland Veil by Sarah Cradit – 5 stars

The next book in the House of Crimson and Clover series takes us deeper into the lives of Finn, Ana, and all the others. Ms. Cradit knows how to weave a tale and keep us interested. There are so many parts of the history that keep unfolding. I really recommend reading these books in order, but definitely read them!

Resolution by Andrew Joyce – 5 stars

Huck Finn and Molly Lee depart on an adventure in the Yukon. I was captivated by every twist and turn and couldn’t read fast enough to find out what was going to happen next. This is the third book about Huck Finn, Tom Sawyer and Molly Lee. They can certainly be read independently of each other, but I always think you should start at the beginning. Huck and Molly make new friends, dog sled, brave the frigid temperatures and race against the elements. I highly recommend all of these books, but this one kept me on the edge of my seat.

1929 by M. L. Gardner – 5 stars

Elizabeth’s Heart by M. L. Gardner – 4 stars

1930 by M. L. Gardner – 4 stars

These three books are the first three books in a six book series. 1929, as the name would imply is set in 1929 from the stock market crash forward and chronicles the lives of three couples as they navigate life after they have literally lost everything. Elizabeth’s Heart continued the saga from a totally different angle, yet it brought it back together. 1930 continued with the 1929 story. I was so engaged by the story that I read these books back to back (and I never do that). However, I was quite disappointed with 1930 and the lack of proofreading – it was full of typos and errors and it detracted from my reading enjoyment. I decided I needed a break before continuing with books 4-6.

The Rejected Writer’s Book Club by Suzanne Kelman – 4 stars

 

February Book Reviews

I read several books in February and those reviews are below. I included the review I wrote for a couple of children’s books, as well. If you aren’t reading children’s books, you should. The picture books are delightful and so well illustrated – you won’t be sorry. But the stand out book this month was The Feathered Bone. I can’t recommend it enough (in fact, I have recommended it to everyone who tells me they are looking for a book to read). It caught me by surprise – but I’m so glad I read it. I’m sure this is a book I will read again and again.

 

Salad Pie by Wendy BooydeGraff, illustrated by Bryan Langdon

5 stars

I loved this children’s picture book. It was not only entertaining, but also had a moral to the story. With a spin on a mud pie and making and trusting a new friend at the same time. The illustrations were absolutely wonderful. Certainly a book to recommend for young children.

 

 

Appleblossom the Possum by Holly Goldberg Sloan

5 stars

What a truly delightful book for children. I, mistakenly, bought this thinking it was a picture book. It was not. It is a chapter book that would be perfect for read aloud time with parents. At first I thought some of the words were too grown up and children wouldn’t know what they meant. But then two sentences later, the word would be explained. Appleblossum has adventures galore all while explaining some habits of a possum. I highly recommend this for all ages of children.

 

The Devil’s Wire by Deborah Rogers

2 stars

The plot sounded like it would be a good psychological thriller. However, it was never fully developed. The characters were too flat and it just never went where it had the potential to go.

 

Plus, the book just plain needed to be edited…and proofread. It was disappointing.

 

Musiville by Nicholas Rossis, illustrated by Dimitris Fousekas

5 stars

A clever story featuring animals who have evolved with musical instruments. Each animal is also an instrument – such as a flassoon (Flamingo/bassoon) and a Trumpephant (elephant/trumpet). There is a handy appendix in the back of the book which gives a brief description of each animal.

The animals save their city, Musiville, by playing together and creating music collaborativey rather than by themselves.

I would have preferred that a pronunciation had been added to the descriptions, as well as the type of animal. I may be slow, but I didn’t know what the Trumpetoon was supposed to be (Babboon/trumpet) while I was reading the book.

This is a book to be read aloud or for more advanced readers. I don’t envision beginning readers trying to pronounce the names of the animals (and I have trouble imagining some lower level reading parents being able to read this without struggling.

The illustrations were adorable and really helped this story come to life.

 

All the Lasting Things by David Hopson– 3 stars

Not a memorable book at all. Seemed like a silly read and I found it difficult to get into the book until the second half. And, even then, it wasn’t memorable. Not my book I think.

 

 

Murder at the Lighthouse by Frances Evesham – 4 stars

A light read with a little mystery and a little romance.

 

Killing Me Softly by Bianca Sloane – 5 stars

Filled with suspense that kept my attention and kept me reading. This is definitely a book I couldn’t put down. Suspenseful and frightening. Even when I thought I was sure I had it all figured out, the book continued to show me how it was done. I highly recommend reading this to anyone who enjoys suspense.

Twain’s End by Lynn Cullen – 5 stars

I started reading this earlier and just couldn’t get into it. But when I gave it another go, I decided I must not have been in the right mood the first time. True to Cullen’s other historical fiction, Twain’s End weaves a tale based on facts. I was fascinated throughout the entire book.

 

The House of Closed Doors by Jane Steen – 4 stars

I enjoy books about strong women. This book was definitely that. Nell defies her stepfather in a time when men controlled the women in their household. Her journey was interesting to read. I do recommend this book.

 

A Friend of Mr. Lincoln by Stephen Harrigan – 4 stars

This started out slowly and I almost gave up. But the book turned around and became much more interesting as I got into it. Mr. Lincoln was a secondary character and the book really was about his friend, Cage. It seemed to have a strong basis in facts which I like for my historical fiction books.

 

The Feathered Bone by Julie Cantrell – 5 stars

This book grabbed me from the beginning. It started out feeling like a YA book, but dealt with some pretty heavy and dark subjects. It did bring out some tearful moments while I was reading. This book has stayed with me weeks after I finished it though and I highly recommend this book.

 

Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys – 4 stars

A WW2 era book that follows some young people as they try to escape to a better life. I was engaged with the characters in the book and felt myself wanting them to succeed, even as there were tragedies along the way.

January book reviews

Obviously I’m not doing a very good job of reviews – but at least I have been keeping track of the books and my ratings – in some cases, I have posted an actual review but not in all. I most recommend What Alice Forgot, The Reach of the Banyan Tree and The Things We Keep though. Oh, and Christmas Bells also!

In short, 16 books (and another one half done already) for January – not bad. Especially when most people don’t read 16 books in a year! But then I have been cooped up inside and had some extra days off this month.

What Alice Forgot – 5 stars

The Watchmaker of Filigree Street – 2 stars

I can’t believe I actually read this entire book – I kept waiting for it to have a point or make sense to me. Maybe it was just too cerebral for me and I just didn’t “get it.” But I thought this was one of the dumbest things I’ve ever read.

The Reach of the Banyan Tree – 5 stars

This was a terrific novel set in Vietnam. Rich boy meets local girl – but with lots of twists.

The Letter Writer – 4 stars

Do Not Wash Hands in Plates –  5 stars

Love the author’s sense of humor coupled with the travelogue/memoir of her trip with girlfriends to India. This was a very quick read and will spark an interest in India. But, more importantly, it kept me laughing out loud throughout the book.

Ochoco Reach – 5 stars

I read this on the recommendation of a friend – and I was not disappointed.I hope this is going to be a series. I loved that it kept me interested in “what would happen next.” There were parts that may have been unbelievable, but it didn’t matter because I still wanted to know what was next and how they were going to get out of their next situation.

Christmas Bells – 5 stars

I would give this more stars if I could. I loved it. Chiaverini has a way with historical novels. I fell in love with all the characters in this book. And, no, you really don’t need to only read this at Christmas – it transcends a particular holiday.

Mrs. Roosevelt’s Confidante – 4 stars

His Majesty’s Hope – 5 stars

The Prime Minister’s Secret Agent –  4 stars

Olive Branches Don’t Grow on Trees – 4 stars

And this is why I typically don’t read reviews before I read a book. I really enjoyed this book and so many of the other reviews have not been good. I got wrapped up in the characters and felt like I was living the same life. There were some places it was a little slow, but I still finished it in a day – I just couldn’t put it down. And then I found out this was just the first book!

Regarding Anna – 3 stars

A Paris Apartment – 3 ½ stars

I would really like to give this 3 ½ stars – but I rounded up. I felt like April was a spoiled brat and grew tired of her rather quickly. I would like to have read more about the pieces and the auction she was setting up, instead of her whining.

Fields of Wrath – 5 stars

There wasn’t as much undercover as the blurb led me to believe. BUT this was still a very good book and an easy read. I read this quickly and couldn’t put it down.

The Things We Keep –  5 stars

I was drawn into this book – into a world of dementia. I wanted to help Young Guy out. I felt compassion for Anna. In short, I didn’t want this book to end.

The Hypnotist’s Love Story – 4 stars

There wasn’t anything wrong with this book. It was just okay. I never really felt like I just had to finish it though.

Children’s Book Review Bonanza

You know how much I love children’s picture books. Here are a few I have just received that I wanted to review.

Friendshape by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Tom Lichtenheld

3 stars

I was hoping that this would be a book about friends with some emphasis on the shapes as characters. It wasn’t. It was, however, a clever collection of things friends do for each other. I can use the book to explain about each of the shapes though as I read through it. I think it could have been better though.

 

Misty Zebracorn by Russ Towne, illustrated by Jessica Catarino

5 stars

A cute story about a zebra/unicorn at the beach. I love the rhyming and the illustrations. Just one more book by Russ Towne for children that is delightful to read and provides ample opportunities for a picture walk.

 

T-Bone’s Traveling Circus by Janice Virant

5 stars

Great story – easy to read – cadence of the rhyming phrases is just delightful – illustrations are captivating. Charming read for young children.

 

Too Many Tables by Abraham Schroeder, illustrated by Micah Monkey

5 stars

I read this book to a preschool classroom. The children were engaged and loved looking at all of the tables (especially the table with roller skates!). The ending fell a bit flat for them because they couldn’t follow the concept through – I would expect that a little older child would be able to see a broader picture though.

 

Purple Fox and the Heebie Jeebies by Russ Towne and Josh Friedman, illustrated by Christina Cartwright

5 stars

What a clever tale about a boy dressed up in a Purple Fox costume for Halloween. The rhyming cadence was a little off in a couple of places, but mostly the story was cute and clever with great illustrations.

 

The Peddler’s Bed by Lauri Fortino, illustrated by Bong Redila

4 stars

Charming story of kindness. It shows that sometimes what we want most is right under our nose (pun intended). Beautifully illustrated. It gives the opportunity to explain new words to children (like peddler).

 

Flight of the Last Dragon by Robert Burleigh, illustrated by Mary GrandPre`

5 stars

The rhyme is easy to read, the illustrations are beautiful. The story explains the stars in the sky (at least one of them), but is still a little on the sad side.

Book Reading and Reviews Galore!

I have been doing much more reading than reviewing lately and it seems that I haven’t posted in quite awhile. I post my reviews (although they have been super short lately) to both Amazon and Goodreads. Lately I have not been finding books I wanted to read – I’ve started several and after a few pages or chapters, I quit – they just haven’t kept my interest. I have been disappointed with a couple in particular because I have either heard a lot about them or have read other books by the author (Girl on the Train made no sense to me and I just couldn’t keep going after about 30% of the book – also Twain’s End, although I may give that one another try later).

Anyway, if you want to know more about what I thought about a particular book, just ask. But, like I said the reviews on Amazon are really short this time – would rather spend my time reading.

In no particular order

A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler – 5 stars

Princess Elizabeth’s Spy by Susan Elia MacNeal- 4 stars

The Murderer’s Daughter by Jonathan Kellerman – 4 stars

Circling the Sun by Paul McClain – 5 stars

Pandora’s Box by Sarah M. Cradit – 5 stars

Fulcrum of Malice by Patrick O’Bryon – 5 stars

Threads of Betrayal by Monica Koldyke Miller – 3 stars (and that was generous)

The Shop on Main by Kay Correll – 4 stars

The Emancipator’s Wife by Barbara Hambly – 4 stars

If Love is a Crime by Mark Sasse – 5 stars

Cross Justice by James Patterson – 4 stars

Food For Poe by Mae Clair – 5 stars

Town Father by Kevin Brennan – 4 stars

Anne of Ingleside by Lucy Maud Montgomery – 4 stars

Along the Infinite Sea by Beatriz Williams – 5 stars

 

I particularly recommend Along the Infinite Sea, Town Father, Circling the Sun and Fulcrum of Malice.