Tuesday, November 28, 2017

TLC Book Tours: Little Broken Things by Nicole Baart

Title: Little Broken Things
Author: Nicole Baart
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Atria Books
Publish Date: November 21, 2017
Source: TLC Book Tours

What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "I have something for you. When Quinn Cruz receives that cryptic text message from her older sister Nora, she doesn’t think much of it. They haven’t seen each other in nearly a year and thanks to Nora’s fierce aloofness, their relationship consists mostly of infrequent phone calls and an occasional email or text. But when a haunted Nora shows up at the lake near Quinn's house just hours later, a chain reaction is set into motion that will change both of their lives forever.

Nora’s “something” is more shocking than Quinn could have ever imagined: a little girl, cowering, wide-eyed, and tight-lipped. Nora hands her over to Quinn with instructions to keep her safe, and not to utter a word about the child to anyone, especially not their buttoned-up mother who seems determined to pretend everything is perfect. But before Quinn can ask even one of the million questions swirling around her head, Nora disappears, and Quinn finds herself the unlikely caretaker of a girl introduced simply as Lucy.

While Quinn struggles to honor her sister’s desperate request and care for the lost, scared Lucy, she fears that Nora may have gotten involved in something way over her head—something that will threaten them all. But Quinn’s worries are nothing compared to the firestorm that Nora is facing. It’s a matter of life and death, of family and freedom, and ultimately, about the lengths a woman will go to protect the ones she loves."

My Two Cents:

"Little Broken Things" is the story of family secrets and how powerful the love of a mother can be. Nora and her sister, Quinn, have never been close so when Nora drops off a child with Quinn and her husband, Quinn doesn't know what to do. Nora leaves very simple directions: keep Lucy safe and Quinn is driven to do just that even when she has no idea what or who she is up against.

I love when thrillers can keep me guessing and while this one certainly did, the way things were carried out made me want to know a little bit more about motivations of the various characters. For instance, why did it take so long for anyone to get the police involved? Why was Nora so much more committed to her friend, Tiffany, who seemed to make a mess of things over and over again, than she was to her own family? I really don't want to give anything away but I really was confused about some of the stuff that Tiffany did throughout the book. What drove her?

What the author does well here is gives you just enough to want to keep reading and trying to figure out what was actually going on. The author does this quite artfully and is great at making readers guess what will happen next. I kept thinking that I knew what was going on and then the story line would take a turn that I didn't see coming.

While I wanted to be able to understand things better, the storytelling was solid. I would love to see what else the author has written.  

Friday, November 24, 2017

Review: Meet Me at Beachcomber Bay by Jill Mansell

Title: Meet Me at Beachcomber Bay
Author: Jill Mansell
Format: Ebook
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Publish Date: May 2, 2017
Source: Owned

What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "1. A brief encounter that could have become so much more...if only everything were different
2. Step-sisters, bitter rivals in every area except one--by unbreakable pact neither will ever steal a man from the other
3. A love triangle that starts out as a mess of secrets and mix-ups, and only gets worse from there

Friendship, family ties, crossed wires and self-discovery, second chances and first impressions."

My Two Cents:

"Meet Me at Beachcomber Bay" is yet another release by Jill Mansell. Mansell is one of my go to authors for when I'm looking for a light read with great characters to relax with. That is exactly what you get with this book. This is the story of a town where everything seems to be everyone else's business, which causes some friction in this book.

Beachcomber bay is a tightly tightknit community filled with lots of different people doing with lots of different things. There is two sisters fighting over a gentleman. When Clem meets Sam on a plane, sparks fly and then he just happens to show up to Beachcomber Bay with her stepsister (who she hates) on his arm. There's a man he finds out his birthmother maybe closer than he ever thought she was. These are the two main stories in the book and I really enjoyed both.

Both their primary and secondary characters in this book are memorable and make for a very fun read. I love books about small towns with quirky characters in this book definitely fits that bill. Overall this was a great book to relax with and definitely had me laughing and as well as really feeling for some of the characters. This was a good read.


Thursday, November 23, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving! May your day be filled with friends, family, tasty food, and, of course, really good books to read!

I'll be back tomorrow with more bookish fun for you!

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Review: The Death of Josseline: Immigration Stories from the Arizona-Mexico Borderlands by Margaret Regan

Title: The Death of Josseline: Immigration Stories from the Arizona-Mexico Borderlands
Author: Margaret Regan
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Beacon Press
Publish Date: February 1, 2010
Source: Library

What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "For the last decade, Margaret Regan has reported on the escalating chaos along the Arizona-Mexico border, ground zero for immigration since 2000. Undocumented migrants cross into Arizona in overwhelming numbers, a state whose anti-immigrant laws are the most stringent in the nation. And Arizona has the highest number of migrant deaths. Fourteen-year-old Josseline, a young girl from El Salvador who was left to die alone on the migrant trail, was just one of thousands to perish in its deserts and mountains.

With a sweeping perspective and vivid on-the-ground reportage, Regan tells the stories of the people caught up in this international tragedy. Traveling back and forth across the border, she visits migrants stranded in Mexican shelters and rides shotgun with Border Patrol agents in Arizona, hiking with them for hours in the scorching desert; she camps out in the thorny wilderness with No More Deaths activists and meets with angry ranchers and vigilantes. Using Arizona as a microcosm, Regan explores a host of urgent issues: the border militarization that threatens the rights of U.S. citizens, the environmental damage wrought by the border wall, the desperation that compels migrants to come north, and the human tragedy of the unidentified dead in Arizona’s morgues."

My Two Cents:

"The Death of Josseline" was written several years ago but in our current political climate, this remains an incredibly important read. Immigration, both legal and illegal, has become an increasingly popular topic to rail over. There are many different sides and thoughts to consider. This book tries to capture many of these sides.

This heart-wrenching books opens with the death of a young teenager who is traveling through the harsh deserts of Northern Mexico with her little brother in order to reunite with their mother who lives in California. The author explores how she got to where she was and where she was going. The author also shows things from a different angle. Not only does she seek to show the migrants' point of view but also from the Border Patrol angle.

I know that immigration is one of the topics that I have been mulling over and I feel like this book helped me to understand things a little bit better. This is a hugely complicated issue. I know how I would handle it but as this book shows: there are a ton of different opinions and points of view that are incredibly difficult to reconcile!

This book is relatively short but it packs a punch!


Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Giveaway Winner: The City Baker's Guide to Country Living

Congrats to the winner of "The City Baker's Guide to Country Living:"
Danielle H.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Giveaway at Novel Expressions!

Novel Expressions is a brand new online book promotion and blog tour company that will be opening in January. It's run by two book bloggers with tons of experience so you know that your book is going to be treated right!

To get people excited for this new venture, they are giving away a $100 Amazon gift certificate. Just head to their Facebook page for instructions!

Friday, November 17, 2017

zulily and Penguin Random House Help Hurricane Victims!

zulily and Penguin Random House Host Interactive Book Fair to Benefit Communities Impacted by Recent Hurricanes 

It's easy to get wrapped up in the season. You've got a thousand gifts to buy and a tight timeline to do it in. zulily and Penguin Random House are making it easy to buy all the kids books you need while doing good for the victims of the recent hurricanes. Check out more information here!

I know I've already picked out several books for my daughters. While we try really hard not to spoil them, I always love getting them gifts that help support causes we care about!

Shop the sale here! 

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Review: The Smartest Guys in the Room: The Amazing Rise and Scandalous Fall of Enron by Bethany McLean, Peter Elkind

Title: The Smartest Guys in the Room: The Amazing Rise and Scandalous Fall of Enron
Authors: Bethany McLean, Peter Elkind 
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Portfolio Trade
Publish Date: 2004
Source: Library

What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "Meticulously researched and character driven, Smartest Guys in the Room takes the reader deep into Enron's past—and behind the closed doors of private meetings. Drawing on a wide range of unique sources, the book follows Enron's rise from obscurity to the top of the business world to its disastrous demise. It reveals as never before major characters such as Ken Lay, Jeff Skilling, and Andy Fastow, as well as lesser known players like Cliff Baxter and Rebecca Mark. Smartest Guys in the Room is a story of greed, arrogance, and deceit—a microcosm of all that is wrong with American business today. Above all, it's a fascinating human drama that will prove to be the authoritative account of the Enron scandal."

My Two Cents:

"The Smartest Guys in the Room" is the story of Enron, which was a dynamo company in the late 80s and early 90s known for blowing expectations out of the water at every turn. Alas, what seems too good to be true often is as was the case with Enron. Enron is now known as a cautionary tale for many businesses. This book almost feels Shakespeare-like with a huge cast of characters that would be at home in any soap opera.

I was pretty young when the Enron ordeal actually happened so I didn't really understand the implications at the time. I went for my Master's in business and time after time, Enron seemed to come up as a case study of exactly what not to do. I was drawn to this book by getting a full picture of how shady business and finance practices were able to infect a company that once had so much promise. What I had kind of lost by only being old enough to sort of remember the scandal is that at one time, Enron was a top, well-respected business. The hindsight always does seem to overshadow that but appreciating just how far Enron fell makes the story all that much more stunning.

This book came out relatively soon after the scandal and before all of the punishments had been handed out. Drawing on extensive interviews and reporting that was done both before, during, and after the scandal, this book gives a rich picture of exactly what went wrong and how everything fell apart. The writing is very thorough but still entertaining. The author does a great job of bringing everything to light.


Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Review: Rice, Noodle, Fish: Deep Travels Through Japan's Food Culture by Matt Goulding

Title: Rice, Noodle, Fish: Deep Travels Through Japan's Food Culture
Author: Matt Goulding
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Harper Wave/ Anthony Bourdain
Publish Date: October 27, 2016
Source: Library

What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "An innovative new take on the travel guide, Rice, Noodle, Fish decodes Japan's extraordinary food culture through a mix of in-depth narrative and insider advice, along with 195 color photographs. In this 5000-mile journey through the noodle shops, tempura temples, and teahouses of Japan, Matt Goulding, co-creator of the enormously popular Eat This, Not That! book series, navigates the intersection between food, history, and culture, creating one of the most ambitious and complete books ever written about Japanese culinary culture from the Western perspective.

Written in the same evocative voice that drives the award-winning magazine Roads & Kingdoms, Rice, Noodle, Fish explores Japan's most intriguing culinary disciplines in seven key regions, from the kaiseki tradition of Kyoto and the sushi masters of Tokyo to the street food of Osaka and the ramen culture of Fukuoka. You won't find hotel recommendations or bus schedules; you will find a brilliant narrative that interweaves immersive food journalism with intimate portraits of the cities and the people who shape Japan's food culture.

This is not your typical guidebook. Rice, Noodle, Fish is a rare blend of inspiration and information, perfect for the intrepid and armchair traveler alike. Combining literary storytelling, indispensable insider information, and world-class design and photography, the end result is the first ever guidebook for the new age of culinary tourism."

My Two Cents:

"Rice, Noodle, Fish" is a travelogue through the delicious and fascinating food culture of Japan. When I travel, one of my favorite things to do is to explore the new place through their food. This is a gorgeous book that takes us to many different parts of Japan to show us how the Japanese prepare and eat their food. One word of warning: do not read this book while you are hungry. If you do and you don't have quick access to authentic Japanese food, you're probably going to eat the book and that's really frowned upon! So count yourself warned...

This is not only a book about food but a book about the culture around the food. In many different cultures, food brings people together. It's no different in Japan. This book was published under Anthony Bourdain's publishing imprint and that's no surprise: this book feels like a readable version of "Parts Unknown," a show I absolutely love! The author talks not only about the food but about the people who make the food and the people that eat the food. This whole book is a treat for the senses and could only be made better if it actually came with the food that the book talks about.

I have never been to Japan before but it is definitely on my list of places to visit someday. I really, really want to visit now after reading this book!


Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Review: Connor's Gambit by Z. Gottlieb

Title: Connor's Gambit
Author: Z. Gottlieb
Format: Ebook
Publisher: Self-published
Publish Date: January 22, 2017
Source: Author

What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "Brad Johnson is the lone witness to a UFO sighting. The sighting, while odd in itself, is not the only incident that occurs that evening. The incident is followed up with the alien targeting him and his family. The firefight with the alien destroys everything Brad thought he knew about his family and pulls him into an intergalactic battle between two space faring aliens. Brad quickly finds himself leaving Earth struggling to understand his role with the aliens on both sides of the conflict. One group threatens Earth's security, the other group wants something from him. All Brad wants to do is to survive and return home to his family, but not until he embarks on the greatest adventure of his life."

My Two Cents:

"Connor's Gambit" is a sci fi story about a fairly ordinary man going on a very extraordinary adventure. Imagine this - you are a man married with a wife and a kid. You are close to your inlaws and although life is not particularly exciting, it is good. One day you find out that your wife, brother in law, and sister in law may be hiding a deep secret about where they came from and what they were put on earth to do. As Brad finds out, they're aliens on a top secret mission and they will take him on the best adventure of his life.

This book reminded me a lot of The Twilight Zone (still one of my very favorite series) where things at first seem very normal until everything gets turned on its head. Some of the best stories involve ordinary people put in interesting and unique situations. Everyman Brad finding himself suddenly on a super high tech spaceship with a bunch of aliens certainly counts as one of those scenes. Not only does Brad have to contend with his personal life (why would his beloved wife lie to him for so long? what does this mean for his young son? can he ever forgive his wife or his brother in law?)

The characters were great. I loved seeing how Brad confronts the difficulties that he is now facing as he tries to navigate his new lives with aliens. I really liked learning about what the aliens were doing on earth and why they felt that they needed to hide their true intentions from Brad. The story line unfolds nicely as the author puts everything together.

While the writing of the story line was good and will appeal to many, the way that the characters speak was slightly off. Even Brad, a native English speaker, spoke in a very stilted way. I could understand sort of why the aliens' speaking would be a little less natural although perhaps not with the way that the aliens essentially download information to include language in their heads (cool concept by the way!). The stilted language was a little distracting but overall, the story was quite good!


Monday, November 13, 2017

Giveaway: The City Baker's Guide to Country Living by Louise Miller

Hello and happy Monday! Today I am very excited to be able to give away a copy of The City Baker's Guide to Country Living by Louise Miller. This book was nice, cozy read! Check out my review here!

Want to win your own copy? Just fill out the form below (U.S. only, please!).

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Review: Beartown by Fredrik Backman

Title: Beartown
Author: Fredrik Backman
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Atria Books
Publish Date: April 25, 2017
Source: Library

What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "People say Beartown is finished. A tiny community nestled deep in the forest, it is slowly losing ground to the ever-encroaching trees. But down by the lake stands an old ice rink, built generations ago by the working men who founded this town. And in that ice rink is the reason people in Beartown believe tomorrow will be better than today. Their junior ice hockey team is about to compete in the national semi-finals, and they actually have a shot at winning. All the hopes and dreams of this place now rest on the shoulders of a handful of teenage boys.

Being responsible for the hopes of an entire town is a heavy burden, and the semi-final match is the catalyst for a violent act that will leave a young girl traumatized and a town in turmoil. Accusations are made and, like ripples on a pond, they travel through all of Beartown, leaving no resident unaffected.

Beartown explores the hopes that bring a small community together, the secrets that tear it apart, and the courage it takes for an individual to go against the grain. In this story of a small forest town, Fredrik Backman has found the entire world.

My Two Cents: 

"Beartown" is the story of a small town where the whole town seems to find hope in the kids' hockey league. There is also a darker aspect to this book that I was not expecting; this isn't exactly a feel-good story. For my fellow Americans, the hockey team has very much the same feel as a high school football team in a small American town. The hockey team brings the town hope but they also run the town and get away with a lot that they would not get away with if it weren't for the team.

Fredrik Backman is definitely on my auto-read list after reading books like "A Man Called Ove." I picked up this book automatically from my library without knowing what the book was about. This book is markedly different than "A Man Called Ove" and "Britt Marie Was Here." Different isn't bad; Backman's great writing and memorable characters are still present but don't expect a super uplifting book.

The characters in this book are very different. Some of them are hiding things throughout the book and the action is often driven by what is being hidden. The story follows both the adults and the teenagers in the book, which I really liked as you get a multi-faceted look at what makes the town as a whole tick and what brings it to its knees.

Overall, the story was good but much darker than what I was expecting. It makes me interested to see where Backman goes in the future with his books!


Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Review: Island Beneath the Sea by Isabel Allende

Title: Island Beneath the Sea
Author: Isabel Allende
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Harper
Publish Date: April 27, 2010
Source: Library

What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "Born a slave on the island of Saint-Domingue, Zarité -- known as Tété -- is the daughter of an African mother she never knew and one of the white sailors who brought her into bondage. Though her childhood is one of brutality and fear, Tété finds solace in the traditional rhythms of African drums and in the voodoo loas she discovers through her fellow slaves.
When twenty-year-old Toulouse Valmorain arrives on the island in 1770, it’s with powdered wigs in his baggage and dreams of financial success in his mind. But running his father’s plantation, Saint-Lazare, is neither glamorous nor easy. It will be eight years before he brings home a bride -- but marriage, too, proves more difficult than he imagined. And Valmorain remains dependent on the services of his teenaged slave.
Spanning four decades, Island Beneath the Sea is the moving story of the intertwined lives of Tété and Valmorain, and of one woman’s determination to find love amid loss, to offer humanity though her own has been battered, and to forge her own identity in the cruellest of circumstances."
My Two Cents:
"Island Beneath the Sea" is the story of Zarite (called Tete), a slave on the island that becomes Haiti. It covers over four decades in her life as she witnesses massive shifts in history on both Haiti and in New Orleans. All the while her life is tangled up with Valmorain, a rich man whose life will turn out in ways he can't imagine in the beginning.

Isabel Allende is definitely one of my favorite writers. If she writes a book, I will read it. I was so pleased to see her write about the revolution in Haiti, as it is a subject that I only know the very, very basic facts about. I really liked how she brought the events to life through a character like Tete. Tete is a great character. We get to see her from many angles due to Allende's brilliant storytelling structure.

Much of the story is tied up in the story between Valmorain and Tete. Valmorain is the master and has control over Tete. He fathers children with her but seems unable to form a true connection to her or the children. A lot of this seems to come from his position where he can basically do anything he wants since Tete belongs to him as his slave. Seeing how both of them navigate this strange world between a true bond and a bond by ownership that they inhabit was fascinating.

Allende's storytelling is always wonderful to me. I like how she includes magical realism in many of her books. It is slightly present in the way that she describes some of the rituals that Tete does and some of the things she believes in (voodoo, etc.). The way she changes point of view throughout the book was really interesting and attention grabbing. The book does drag in a few places and could have been streamlined but it is still a good story.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Review: I See You by Clare Mackintosh

Title: I See You
Author: Clare Mackintosh
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Sphere
Publish Date: April 4, 2017

What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "Every morning and evening, Zoe Walker takes the same route to the train station, waits at a certain place on the platform, finds her favorite spot in the car, never suspecting that someone is watching her...

It all starts with a classified ad. During her commute home one night, while glancing through her local paper, Zoe sees her own face staring back at her, a grainy photo along with a phone number and listing for a website called findtheone.com.

Other women begin appearing in the same ad, a different one every day, and Zoe realizes they've become the victims of increasingly violent crimes—including rape and murder. With the help of a determined cop, she uncovers the ad's twisted purpose...a discovery that turns her paranoia into full-blown panic. For now Zoe is sure that someone close to her has set her up as the next target.

And now that man on the train—the one smiling at Zoe from across the car—could be more than just a friendly stranger. He could be someone who has deliberately chosen her and is ready to make his next move…

My Two Cents: 

"I See You" is a new thriller by Clare Mackintosh. If you're anything like me, your commute is not particular exciting. You take the same mode, go the same way, and generally follow the same schedule. You probably don't notice much as you're in your own world trying to mentally prepare for your day. If someone were following you, you'd be an extremely easy target. This book explores how something as mundane as a routine can actually be dangerous.

This thriller definitely freaked me out. While I don't take the train anymore (the train in my city is not really reliable), I know something about routine. In D.C., if you leave a few minutes later than your normal time, your entire commute can be upended so we all grasp onto our routine. Zoe does this in this book. One day she notices what seems to be a picture of herself in the local commuter rag. It freaks her out enough to contact the police, which seems to lead to a bigger issue of women being targeted on London's Underground all because of their routines.

I want thrillers to be surprising and this certainly was to me. I thought I knew early on who was involved in the crimes but I was very happy to be surprised (it's no fun when you can guess what's going to happen!). I don't want to give anything away but I did want to know more about the motivations of the people behind the crimes. I kind of got it but there was still a good deal of gray that I would have liked answered.

The writing of the book was taut. This is Mackintosh's second book (I definitely need to go back and read her first book now) and it is clear that she is going to continue to keep readers on the edge of their seats!


Monday, November 6, 2017

Book to Movie: The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

Title: The Glass Castle
Author: Jeannette Walls
Format: Book and DVD/ Blu-Ray
Publisher: Scribner
Publish Date: March 2005 (The movie is out on Blu-Ray now!)
Source: Borrowed the book/ Movie courtesy of the PR

What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "Jeannette Walls grew up with parents whose ideals and stubborn nonconformity were both their curse and their salvation. Rex and Rose Mary Walls had four children. In the beginning, they lived like nomads, moving among Southwest desert towns, camping in the mountains. Rex was a charismatic, brilliant man who, when sober, captured his children's imagination, teaching them physics, geology, and above all, how to embrace life fearlessly. Rose Mary, who painted and wrote and couldn't stand the responsibility of providing for her family, called herself an "excitement addict." Cooking a meal that would be consumed in fifteen minutes had no appeal when she could make a painting that might last forever.

Later, when the money ran out, or the romance of the wandering life faded, the Walls retreated to the dismal West Virginia mining town -- and the family -- Rex Walls had done everything he could to escape. He drank. He stole the grocery money and disappeared for days. As the dysfunction of the family escalated, Jeannette and her brother and sisters had to fend for themselves, supporting one another as they weathered their parents' betrayals and, finally, found the resources and will to leave home."

My Two Cents:

"The Glass Castle" is a memoir by Jeannette Walls, a well-known journalist. Her upbringing was anything but glamorous. Her parents moved her and her three siblings from place to place. They'd finally land somewhere where they think they could make a real home for themselves only to have the money run out, Jeannette's father lost his job, or some other calamity that would mean having to steal away into the night in order to not get caught. When they did find someplace to live, there was always something essential missing even when the Walls' parents had big dreams for a place, including Jeannette's father's ultimate dream of the Glass Castle.

I really like stories about dysfunctional families. I'm not sure if it is because I had a wonderfully warm upbringing within a tight knit family, that the contrast is what attracts me. I do know that I am in awe of people like Jeannette Walls. She is so resilient. Human resilience is the reason that I am always so drawn to stories of dysfunctional families. People can go through such amazingly tough things throughout life and still be okay. Walls is definitely one of those people. Eventually when she grows up and finally leaves home, she finally feels like she can have nice things and do nice things for herself. Even with these choices, she still keeps in touch with her parents even as she finds them living in the underbelly of NYC, squatting and dumpster diving for food.

The book was often hard to read because of some of the scenes that were described. The movie felt a little bit easier to swallow. Perhaps it was because I already knew what happened but I do think that Walls' words really did make things feel a bit worse. She has a way with descriptions! The movie has stars like Brie Larson as Jeannette and Woody Harrelson (he was really wonderful in this movie) and played Mr. Walls' brilliance mixed with an addictive personality so well.

As always, I suggest reading the book before watching the movie but you can't go wrong with either!


Friday, November 3, 2017

Review: Magic Hour by Kristin Hannah

Title: Magic Hour 
Author: Kristin Hannah 
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Publish Date: November 27, 2007
Source: Library

What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "Dr. Julia Cates was one of the country's preeminent child psychiatrists until a shocking tragedy ruined her career. Retreating to her small western Washington hometown, Julia meets an extraordinary six-year-old girl who has inexplicably emerged from the deep woods nearby--a child locked in a world of unimaginable fear and isolation. To Julia, nothing is more important than saving the girl she now calls Alice. But Julia will need help from others, including the sister she barely knows and a handsome doctor with secrets of his own. What follows will test the limits of Julia's faith and strength, as she struggles to find a home for Alice . . . and for herself."

My Two Cents:

"Magic Hour" is the story of Julia, a woman who is looking for a new beginning. After a issue ends up upending her career, she is left to pick up the pieces and it seems better to retreat back to the small town where she's from. This means reuniting with her sister with whom she has had a very rocky relationship with. It also means taking on the case of a young girl that she calls Alice and Alice changes everything.

Kristin Hannah is quickly becoming one of my go-to authors when I need well drawn characters and an engaging story that usually tugs on the ol' heartstrings, which this book certainly does. It is so hard to not feel for Julia after a mistake ends up breaking her career. She is looking for redemption and it is clear that when she meets Alice that they need each other. I loved watching how their relationship unfolded and how they help each other to grow. Alice is almost feral when Julia first meets her. Julia makes it her personal mission to figure out where Alice came from and how she got the way that she is (Alice doesn't speak when they first meet).

Although the plot was a little predictable and the structure (big city girl goes back to her small town and everything changes) is also a little predictable, this was a good comfort read. It's the equivalent of a big mug of tea: you know exactly what you're getting but the known is still super comforting!


Thursday, November 2, 2017

Reading Challenges 2017 - October Check In!

Here's where I am with my reading challenges! 

Here's where I am with my reading challenges! 
Here is the original post about all of the reading challenges I'm taking on. The date listed after each book is the date I completed the book. 

PopSugar Monthly Challenge

  • January (A book with one of the four seasons in the title ): Winter's Bone by Daniel Woodrell (1/25)
  • February (A book by a person of color): Dragon Springs Road by Janie Chang (2/15) 
  • March: A book about an interesting woman: Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick (3/25) 
  • April (A book with an unreliable narrator): We Were Liars by E. Lockhart (4/6)
  • May (A novel set during wartime ): The Baker's Secret by Stephen P. Kiernan (5/6)
  • June (A book involving travel): News of the World by Paulette Jiles (6/18)
  • July: A book set in two different time periods : The Cottingley Secret by Hazel Gaynor (7/27) 
  • August: A book set in the wilderness: American Wolf by Nate Blankslee (8/27) 
  • September: Keep Me Posted by Lisa Beazley (9/2) 
  • October: A book with a mythical creature: Mermaid by Carolyn Turgeon (10/26) 

 PopSugar Ultimate Reading Challenge Basic

  •  A book recommended by a librarian: The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt (1/19)
  • A book you loved as a child: Matilda by Roald Dahl (1/12)
  • A book with a subtitle: Caught in the Revolution: Petrograd, Russia, 1917 – A World on the Edge  by Helen Rappaport (2/3)
  • A book that's published in 2017: The Impossible Fortress by Jason Rekulak (2/5)
  • A book with a red spine: Stalin's Daughter by Rosemary Sullivan (2/8)
  • A book of letters: 100 Love Notes by Hyong Yi (2/13) 
  • A book about food: A Square Meal by Jane Ziegelman, Andrew Coe (2/27)
  • A book written by someone you admire: The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher (3/1) 
  • A book by an author from a country you've never visited: Havana Real by Yoani Sanchez (3/5)
  • A book where the main character is a different ethnicity than you: Burn Baby Burn by Meg Medina (3/5) 
  • A novel set during wartime:The Orphan's Tale by Pam Jenoff (3/10) 
  • A book set in two different time periods: A Bridge Across the Ocean bySusan Meissner (3/12)
  • A book with a cat on the cover: A Few of the Girls by Maeve Binchy (3/14)
  • A book by or about a person who has a disability: The Secret Life of Ivan Isaenko by Scott Stambach (3/14)
  • A book about an interesting woman: Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton (3/22)
  • A book with pictures: Shockaholic by Carrie Fisher (3/28)
  • A book by a person of color: Born a Crime by Trevor Noah (3/31)
  • A book with a title that's a character's name: The Last Painting of Sara de Vos by Dominic Smith (4/1)
  • A book from a nonhuman perspective: Watership Down by Richard Adams (4/13)
  • A book involving travel: The Gods of Tango by Carolina de Robertis (4/19)
  • A book set in the wilderness: The Wolf Road by Beth Lewis
  • A book with multiple authors: I Hate Everyone but You by Gaby Dunn and Allison Raskin (8/23)
  • A book that's been on your TBR list for way too long: Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok (9/26) 
  • A book that is a story within a story: Glow by Megan E. Bryant (10/5) 
  • A book with one of the four seasons in the title: Summer Island by Kristin Hannah (10/8)
  • A book with an unreliable narrator: We Can't Be Friends by Cyndy Etler (10/8) 
  • A book set in a hotel: The Frangipani Hotel by Violet Kupersmith (10/13)
  • A bestseller from a genre you don't normally read: Good Me Bad Me by Ali Land (10/22)
  • A book involving a mythical creature: A Sea of Sorrow by The H Team (10/24)

Pop Sugar Ultimate Reading Challenge Advanced 

  • A book about an immigrant or refugee: The Radius of Us by Marie Marquadt (1/23)
  • A book about a difficult topic: Windy City Blues by Renee Rosen (3/2) 
  • A book with an eccentric character: Eggshells by Catriona Lally (3/14)  
  • An audiobook: Identical by Ellen Hopkins (5/1)
  • A book recommended by an author you love: Fingersmith by Sarah Waters (6/28) 
  • A book from a genre/subgenre you've never heard of: Perilous Undertaking by Leanna Renee Hieber (7/12) 
  • A book that's more than 800 pages: A Column of Fire by Ken Follett (10/15)  

Book Riot's Read Harder Challenge

  • Read a debut novel: The Thousandth Floor by Katharine McGee (1/6)
  • Read an all ages comic: Scenes from an Impending Marriage by Adrian Tomine (1/14)
  • Read a book you've read before: The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood (1/19)
  • Read a book about war: Stolen Beauty by Laurie Lico Albanese (1/29)
  • Read a fantasy novel.: Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones (1/31)
  • Read a book that is set within 100 miles of your location.: The Wicked City by Beatriz Williams 2/9)
  • Read a book that is set more than 5000 miles from your location: Pachinko by Min Jin Lee (3/11)
  • Read a YA or middle grade novel by an author who identifies as LGBTQ+.: Our Own Private Universe by Robin Talley (3/23) 
  • Read a book about books: A World Between Two Covers by Ann Morgan (3/26) 
  • Read a book published by a micropress: Concepcion and the Baby Brokers by Deborah Clearman (4/6)
  • Read a travel memoir: Schadenfreude by Rebecca Schuman (4/18)
  • Read a book published between 1900 and 1950: I Change Worlds by Anna Louise Strong
  • Read a book by an immigrant or with a central immigration narrative: Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue
  • Read a book wherein all point-of-view characters are people of color.: China Rich Girlfriend by Kevin Kwan (5/5)
  •  Read a collection of poetry in translation on a theme other than love.: Odes to Common Things by Pablo Neruda (5/12) 
  • Read a book about sports: Moneyball by Michael Lewis (6/6)

Curious Iguana's Read Broader (COMPLETED OCTOBER!!!)
  • Peek into the Past: Putin Country by Anne Garrels (1/7)
  • Justice for All: Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance (2/1)
  • Justice for All: Excellent Daughters by Katherine Zoepf (2/6)
  • Choose Your Own Category (Global Voices): The Chosen Maiden (3/5) 
  • LGBTQ+ Perspectives: Becoming Nicole by Amy Ellis Nutt (3/20)
  • Choose Your Own Category (Global Voices): The Confessions of Young Nero by Margaret George (3/20)
  • Choose Your Own Category (Justice for All): One Child by Mei Fong
  • Choose Your Own Category (Justice for All): Half the Sky by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn
  • Armchair Adventures: Kindred by Octavia Butler (5/7)
  • Global Voices: Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi (6/1) 
  • Small Press Works in Translation: Before the Feast by Sara Stanisic (6/5)
  • Choose Your Own Category (Peek Into the Past): Bears in the Streets by Lisa Dickey (6/15) 
  • Armchair Adventures: Orhan's Inheritance by Aline Ohanesian (7/1) 
  • Collections Near and Far: Whatever happened to interracial love? By Kathleen Collins (7/22)
  • Peek into the Past: The Black Calhouns by Gail Lumet Buckley (7/23)
  • Global Voices: The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquez (7/24)
  • LGBTQ+ Perspectives: The Life and Death of Sophie Stark by Anna North (7/25)
  • Collections Near and Far: Sidewalks by Valeria Luiselli (7/26) 
  • Small Press Works in Translation: The Party Wall by Catherine Leroux (10/15)

Challenge Totals:
  • January: 10 books
  • February: 9 books
  • March: 19 books 
  • April: 11 books
  • May: 5 books
  • June: 6 books 
  • July: 8 books 
  • August: 2 books 
  • September: 2 books
  • October: 9 books

How did it go?

I finished my first challenge this past month: Curious Iguana's Read Broader challenge is done! Two more months to go and I can see the finish line. Hurray!
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