Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday: New Authors, Old Year


It's Tuesday and you know what that means!  Time for my favorite weekly meme, Top Ten Tuesday.  Today's prompt is all about new authors you discovered in 2018, which will be a fun one.  Before we get to that, though, here are the deets on how to join in the TTT fun.  It's simple:  click on over to That Artsy Reader Girl, read a few guidelines, make and share your own list, then hop around the book blogosphere visiting other people's posts.  It's a great way to spread the bookish love by revisiting favorite blogs, discovering new ones, and, of course, adding great-sounding books to your toppling TBR pile.  What's not to love?

Okay, here we go with Top Ten New (to Me) Authors I Discovered in 2018:


1.  Emily Carpenter—You know I love me a good Gothic yarn, especially when it involves family secrets, creepy old houses, and some nail-biting suspense.  Emily Carpenter's books deliver on all accounts.  She only has three out so far (with another one coming in March) and I read all of them in 2018.  My favorite:  The Weight of Lies.


2.  Lori Rader-Day—I'm a big psychological thriller fan, so Rader-Day's books definitely caught my attention.  I read three out of her four this year and enjoyed two of them.  My favorite:  Under a Dark Sky.


3.  Dervla McTiernan—I loved this Irish author's debut, The Ruin.  It's a dark, but very compelling mystery.  A sequel, The Scholar, will be out on May 14.  I can't wait!


4.  Kristina McMorris—I'm a sucker for historical fiction and I find books about orphans and children in crisis especially moving.  Naturally, then, I wanted to read Sold On a Monday as soon as I heard about it.  I enjoyed it and plan to read more of McMorris' work.


5.  Hester Fox—Fox's ghostly, atmospheric debut, The Witch of Willow Hall, earned lots of buzz last year.  And deservedly so.  I can't wait to see what Fox does next!


6.  Elizabeth Byler YountsThe Solace of Water, Younts' most recent novel, was one of my favorite 2018 reads.  It convinced me to start Younts' Promise of Sunrise trilogy, which is about how World War II affects an Amish community in Delaware.  Having been raised Amish, Younts has a unique perspective on the culture/religion, which gives her books a refreshing authenticity.  My favorite:  The Solace of Water.


7.  Alison Gaylin—Domestic thrillers are my jam, so I had to give Gaylin's books a go in 2018.  I read and enjoyed two of hers.  My favorite:  And She Was.


8.  Emma Berquist—I loved Devils Unto Dust, Berquist's debut novel.  It's a Western/horror mash-up that satisfies on every level.  I can't wait for her newest, Missing, Presumed Dead, which comes out in May.


9.  Joanna Barker—Regency romance is far from my favorite genre, but I do count on them for light, amusing entertainment that I can sandwich between heavier reads.  It's rare for me to really love a book in this genre, but Barker's debut, The Truth About Miss Ashbourne, really charmed me with its tight prose, engaging plot line, and well-developed characters.  I'm definitely keeping an eye out to see what this talented newcomer does next.


10.  Sarah Maine—The first book I read in 2018 was The House Between Tides, Maine's atmospheric debut.  I enjoyed it and have been meaning to try the author's other two novels ever since.

So, there you go—ten authors I discovered last year.  Hm, I just realized that they're all white women and most of them are debut authors.  Interesting.  Perhaps I need to work on diversifying my reading this year?  Anyway, have you read any of these authors?  What do you think of their work?  Which new-to-you authors did you discover in 2018?  I'd truly love to know.  Leave me a comment on this post and I will happily return the favor.

Happy TTT!

Martha's Vineyard Rom Com Dull and Unsatisfying

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

When her aging, cantankerous uncle injures himself in a fall, Joanna Howes is drawn home to Martha's Vineyard to take care of him.  She's anticipating a short visit, but as Henry's leg refuses to heal, Joanna fears she may be in town for the long haul.  As her bank balance dwindles, the freelance journalist agrees to take a job writing for one of the two local newspapers.  When it becomes obvious she won't be able to pay her bills on the part-time gig, she begins working for the rival paper as well.  Publishing articles under two different names, she hopes to keep her separate identities ... separate.  The more undercover she tries to delve, however, the more complicated her already messy life seems to get.

Things become even more chaotic when Joanna accepts a date with a handsome stranger only to realize he's at the center of a controversy that's got locals (including her Uncle Henry) hot and bothered.  Joanna can't tell her uncle—or either of her editors-in-chief—that her objectivity is being more and more compromised with every minute she spends with Orion Smith.  How can she keep the professional distance she needs in order to report fairly on Orion while she's falling so hopelessly in love with him?  The last thing Joanna needs is more knots in her already tangled-up life, but that's what she's getting.  Can she get herself sorted before she loses everything that's important to her?

On the Same Page, a romantic comedy by N.D. Galland, has a fun premise with lots of potential.  Unfortunately, that potential just isn't realized.  While I enjoyed learning about Martha's Vineyard's dual personality, that's about the only thing in this novel that intrigued me.  For me, the story ran on and on, with so much extraneous detail that it felt
overly long and dull.  In addition, I just didn't care for Joanna.  Selfish and dishonest, she doesn't ever risk enough to cause enough tension and suspense to make her tale interesting.  She doesn't grow as a character, which makes the novel feel unsatisfying.  In the end, then, I didn't love this one.  Bummer.

(Readalikes:  Hm, I can't really think of anything.  Can you?)

Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for language and sexual innuendo

To the FTC, with love:  I received a finished copy of On the Same Page from the generous folks at HarperCollins via those at TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.  Thank you!

--

Want more opinions of On the Same Page?  Follow along on the book's blog tour by clicking on the links below:

Instagram Features

Monday, December 31st: Instagram: @oddandbookish
Wednesday, January 2nd: Instagram: @laceybooklovers
Thursday, January 3rd: Instagram: @giuliland
Saturday, January 5th: Instagram: @sjwonderlandz
Sunday, January 6th: Instagram: @somekindofalibrary
Monday, January 7th: Instagram: @books.tea.quotes

Review Stops

Monday, December 31st: BookNAround
Wednesday, January 2nd: Tales of a Book Addict
Thursday, January 3rd: Instagram: @diaryofaclosetreader
Monday, January 7th: Ms. Nose in a Book
Tuesday, January 8th: Instagram: @megabunnyreads
Wednesday, January 9th: No More Grumpy Bookseller
Monday, January 14th: What Is That Book About
Tuesday, January 15th: Bloggin’ ‘Bout Books
Wednesday, January 16th: Literary Quicksand
Thursday, January 17th: From the TBR Pile

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Riveting Psychological Thriller An Intriguing Debut

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

If V. C. Andrews and Kate Morton had a literary love child, Emma Rous' The Au Pair would be it.

Seraphine Mayes and her twin brother, Danny, were born in the middle of summer at their family's estate on the Norfolk coast. Within hours of their birth, their mother threw herself from the cliffs, the au pair fled, and the village thrilled with whispers of dark cloaks, changelings, and the aloof couple who drew a young nanny into their inner circle.

Now an adult, Seraphine mourns the recent death of her father. While going through his belongings, she uncovers a family photograph that raises dangerous questions. It was taken on the day the twins were born, and in the photo, their mother, surrounded by her husband and her young son, is smiling serenely and holding just one baby.

 
Who is the child, and what really happened that day?

Only one person knows the truth, if only Seraphine can find her. 

I usually write my own plot summaries, but no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't come up with one as succinct but evocative as the one that appears on The Au Pair's back cover.  The professionally-written copy captures the book perfectly. 

You know I love me a psychological thriller, especially one with Gothic vibes that hints at dark family secrets coming to light, so this one definitely appealed to me from the moment I heard about it.  And you know what?  It delivered.  With an intriguing premise, complex characters, and a tautly-plotted storyline, the novel kept me riveted throughout.  Although I saw some of the twists coming, I didn't figure everything out until the very end.  Even if The Au Pair gets a little predictable, it's still an engrossing read that I could not put down.  This is Rous' first novel and I cannot wait to see what she does next!

(Readalikes:  Reminds me of books by Carol Goodman and Kate Morton.  Also a little of In the Shadow of Lakecrest by Elizabeth Blackwell.)

Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for brief, mild language (no F-bombs), violence, disturbing subject matter, and mild sexual content

To the FTC, with love:  I received an ARC of The Au Pair from the generous folks at Penguin Random House in exchange for an honest review.  Thank you!

Tuesday, January 08, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday: Bright, Shiny, And New


Traditionally, January and February are slow months for me as far as scheduled reviews go.  Not so in 2019!  My winter calendar is already bulging with books that need to be read and reviewed.  All of these are new (and new-ish)  releases and yet, there are still more bright, shiny 2019 books that I'd like to get to in the near future.  I'm going to hit you with a list of 10 (okay, 12) in just a sec, but first ... If you want to join in this week's Top Ten Tuesday fun (and you totally do), click on over to That Artsy Reader Girl, read up on a few TTT guidelines, make your own list, and spend some happy hours visiting other people's blogs to peruse their lists.  It's a good time!  Not to mention a great way to discover new blogs, drop in on old favorites, and of course, add great-looking books to your TBR list. 

Okay, here we go with my Top Ten (Ahem, 12) Most Anticipated Book Releases for the First Half of 2019:


1.  The Last Year of the War by Susan Meissner (available March 19)—I'm actually almost finished with this dual timeline novel about an 81-year-old woman with Alzheimer's who's desperate to find and thank an old friend she met at the Crystal City, Texas, internment camp during World War II before her disease erases all her memories for good.  It's an intriguing novel, although it actually reads more like a memoir.


2.  Within These Lines by Stephanie Morrill (available March 5)—In the same vein as Meissner's WWII novel is this one about an Italian-American teen who falls in love with a Japanese-American boy.  A romance between them would be scandalous, not to mention illegal.  When the boy is sent to an internment camp, his hope is kept alive by letters from his secret girlfriend, whose not so subtle support of Japanese-Americans could get her into some big trouble.


3.  Lovely War by Julie Berry (available March 5)—I enjoy Julie Berry's books, so I'm excited about her newest which concerns four young people torn apart by World War I.


4.  The Lost Girls of Paris by Pam Jenoff (available February 5)—Jenoff's World War II novels are excellent.  This based-on-a-true-story novel about a ring of female secret agents who operated during the war sounds thrilling.


5.  Inheritance by Dani Shapiro (available January 15)—As a genealogy buff, I'm intrigued by stories like Shapiro's and the questions they raise.  This memoir is about the shock Shapiro receives when a DNA test she takes on a whim reveals that her father is not her biological parent and her subsequent search for her true identity. 


6.  The Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker (available January 15)—This novel, about a troubling sleeping disease that descends on a California college town and the chaos that follows in its wake, sounds riveting.


7.  The Bell Rang by James E. Ransome (available January 15)—I love historical MG novels and this one, about a slave family whose son runs away from the plantation, sounds intriguing.


8.  Genesis Begins Again by Alicia D. Williams (available January 15)—As the adoptive mother of a bi-racial child, I'm always interested in books like this one.  It's about a young girl who struggles with her chaotic family life, the fact that her skin's not as light as she would like it to be, and her own journey to find out who she really is. 


9.  The Storm Keeper's Island by Catherine Doyle (January 22)—Another MG novel, this one concerns a magical island and the brewing fight over who will inherit the power to control it.


10.  The Current by Tim Johnston (available January 22)—I'm always up for a good murder mystery/small town secrets novel and this one sounds like just the ticket.  The story revolves around an "accident" that kills a young college student.  The incident bears an uncanny resemblance to another murderous event from the past, which propels a young woman to investigate both—to her own peril.


11.  The Lost Man by Jane Harper (available February 5)—I enjoyed both of the books in Harper's Aaron Falk series.  Her newest is a standalone, which is a little disappointing but still intriguing.  The plot summary on this one doesn't give away much, but it looks like another murder mystery set in the Australian outback.  I'm in!


12.  The Paragon Hotel by Lyndsay Faye (available January 8)—This historical thriller centers around a white woman from New York City who is on the run after an illicit deal gone wrong.  When she befriends a Pullman porter, who helps her find refuge at a blacks-only hotel in Portland, Oregon, she finds herself in the middle of a dangerous, racially-charged situation that will leave her smack in the middle of another tangled mess.

There you go, twelve new releases I'm excited to read.  What about you?  Which 2019 books are you looking forward to?  I'd truly love to know.  Leave me a comment on this post and I will gladly return the favor.

Happy TTT!   

Saturday, January 05, 2019

Funny, Authentic YA Debut Preaches Loving Yourself and Your Body, No Matter What Size You Are

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Ever since a bitter divorce propelled her mother to audition for a weight loss reality show, things at Savannah Alverson's home have been a little rough.  Her mom is still obsessed with the extreme diet/exercise methods she learned on the show and she won't stop harping on Savannah about her own extra weight.  Savannah could ignore the jabs more easily when Ashley, her sister and best friend, was by her side; now that Ashley has gone away for college, Savannah has to deal with it on her own.  She's never felt more alone.  

Savannah's senior year of high school is supposed to be magical, and it does start perking up when she meets "dorky-hot" George Smith.  She feels instantly comfortable with the kind band nerd, who seems to reciprocate her growing feelings.  Except sometimes, he runs a bit hot and cold.  What's up with that?  While Savannah tries to sort her George problem, she also has to deal with her mom's increasingly dangerous behavior, her sister's gaping absence, her boiling anger toward her dad, and a shocking news story that just might lead her to the college path that's meant to be hers.  Dealing with it all won't be easy.  In fact, this just might be the toughest year of Savannah's life ...

To Be Honest, a debut novel by Maggie Ann Martin, is a quick YA read that's entertaining and authentic.  Savannah is an admirable heroine—she's smart, funny, and confident but she also has some flaws and issues to keep her real.  The story she tells isn't anything fresh or original.  However, the tale definitely promotes having a positive body image.  Unlike her mom, Savannah isn't trying to lose weight; she's not even that concerned about being chubby.  She knows she's a little overweight, but that doesn't stop her from dating, being involved at school, getting top marks, or putting body-shamers in their places.  I love that about this book and hope that teen girls will get the message loud and clear.  Overall, then, I enjoyed this read that stays funny and positive even when Savannah's dealing with hard things.  

(Readalikes:  Reminds me of Plus by Veronica Chambers, What I Lost by Alexandra Ballard, and Purge by Sarah Darer Littman)

Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for language (1 F-bomb, plus occasional, milder expletives), depictions of underage drinking, and mild innuendo

To the FTC, with love:  Another library fine find

Friday, January 04, 2019

Honeymoon-Gone-Wrong Thriller an Exciting, Engrossing Read

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

After living together for four years, Erin Locke and Mark Roberts are finally tying the knot.  They're both excited about their upcoming nuptials, but when Mark loses his lucrative banking job and money worries start to creep in, tension seeps in to their comfortable relationship.  Their planned honeymoon in Bora Bora (trimmed down from three weeks to two) seems like just the thing to restore their balance, bring them closer together, and maybe even jump start the family they've always wanted to have.  The R&R seems to be working until the pair finds something shocking in the ocean during a scuba diving excursion.  Should they tell the authorities what they've discovered?  Or keep mum?

Choosing the second option propels the newlyweds on a terrifying, unalterable course that will keep them looking over their shoulders, jumping at every sound, and seeing malevolence in every stranger's glance.  Who can they trust in this deadly game of cat and mouse?  And where will it end?  How far will the couple go to give themselves the life they've always wanted?

Something in the Water, a debut novel by British actress Catherine Steadman (best known for playing Mabel Lane Fox on Downton Abbey), is a tense, taut thriller that kept me mesmerized from Page One.  With an intriguing premise, complex characters, and non-stop suspense, it's the kind of book that you just can't stop reading.  I saw where the story was going from early on, so I wasn't surprised by the ending.  Disappointed, yes, because I had hoped for a dénouement with a little more complexity and freshness.  Overall, though, I enjoyed this engrossing, fast-and-furious read.  I'm very interested to see what this skilled new author does next.

(Readalikes:  Reminds me of books by Ruth Ware)

Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for strong language, violence, blood/gore, and sexual content

To the FTC, with love:  I bought a copy of Something in the Water from Barnes & Noble with a portion of the millions I make from my lucrative career as a book blogger.  

Thursday, January 03, 2019

Royal Wedding Novel Interesting and Engaging

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

London, 1947—World War II ended two years ago, but the English are still living with ration books and food shortages, to say nothing of the sorrow that will forever haunt their hearts.  The announcement of a royal wedding between Princess Elizabeth and Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten is just the thing to lift spirits.  From drawing rooms to boardrooms to classrooms, everyone is abuzz with excitement.  For Ann Hughes and Miriam Dassin, both embroiderers at Norman Hartnell's Mayfair fashion house, the event is also causing more than a little stress.  Tasked with helping to create a wedding gown fit for a princess, they're working feverishly to finish the sumptuous, embroidery-laden dress in time.  When they're not laboring at work, they're falling in love, learning each other's secrets, and making decisions that will impact the rest of their lives and beyond.

Canada, 2016—When her beloved Nan dies, Heather MacKenzie inherits a box of beautiful, hand-stitched flowers.  Although they're exquisite, Heather can't imagine why Nan saved them or why she gifted them to her granddaughter.  What did the pieces mean to Nan, who Heather often saw knitting, but never embroidering?  Heather soon discovers that the flowers she's been given match those that were sewn on Queen Elizabeth's wedding dress in 1947, which is even more perplexing.  Did Nan, who never spoke about her past, have something to do with the famous gown?  If she did, why did she not mention it?  Realizing how little she really knew about her grandmother, Heather embarks on a quest to find out everything she can about the woman's mysterious past.

Dual timeline novels that explore interesting bits of history are my jam, so I couldn't wait to read The Gown, Jennifer Robson's newest.  It's an engaging novel with an intriguing setting, inlaid with fascinating details about the making of a luxurious wedding gown.  Neither of these elements overwhelm the story, which is, at its heart, really a tale of friendship between two women from different backgrounds who come together through their job.  Plotwise, the tale is very straightforward—a little too much so, really, since I kept waiting for a surprising twist to liven things up.  That didn't happen, which left me longing for a bit more development, both in plot and character.  Still, The Gown remains an easy, appealing read that I enjoyed overall.  

(Readalikes:  Reminds me of dual timeline novels by Susan Meissner and Kate Morton)

Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for brief, mild language (no F-bombs), violence (including a fairly graphic rape scene), mild innuendo

To the FTC, with love:  I received an ARC of The Gown from the generous folks at HarperCollins in exchange for an honest review.  Thank you!

-- 

Interested in more opinions of The Gown?  Follow along on its book tour, organized by TLC Book Tours, by clicking on the following links:

Monday, December 31st: Instagram: @ladyofthelibrary
Wednesday, January 2nd: Instagram: @my_book_journey_
Wednesday, January 2nd: 5 Minutes For Books
Thursday, January 3rd: As I turn the pages
Thursday, January 3rd: Bloggin' 'Bout Books
Friday, January 4th: Into the Hall of Books
Friday, January 4th: Laura's Reviews
Monday, January 7th: BookNAround
Monday, January 7th: InkyMoments
Tuesday, January 8th: Jessicamap Reviews
Wednesday, January 9th: Instagram: @giuliland
Thursday, January 10th: A Chick Who Reads
Friday, January 11th: Lindsay's Book Reviews
Monday, January 14th: Instagram: @ciannereads
Tuesday, January 15th: Instagram: @sjwonderlandz
Tuesday, January 15th: Based on a True Story
Wednesday, January 16th: Always With a Book
Wednesday, January 16th: Instagram: @tbretc
Thursday, January 17th: Instagram: @somekindofalibrary
Thursday, January 17th: Doing Dewey
Thursday, January 17th: Instagram: @theunreadshelf
Friday, January 18th: Broken Teepee
Tuesday, January 22nd: A Bookish Way of Life

Tuesday, January 01, 2019

I'm Up For a Challenge!

I love reading challenges, even though I never really seem to complete them.  It's just fun to think about what I could read this year and then track my progress (on the right sidebar of my blog).  If I don't complete them, I don't.  No stress.  Here are the ones I'm joining this year:



2019 Literary Escapes Challenge
Hosted By:  Escape With Dollycas Into a Good Book
Goal:  Read books set in all 50 states, plus Washington, D.C.  You get bonus points for each different country as well.  I got 38 states and 10 countries in 2018.  Let's see if I can beat that in 2019!
List:  I'm not going to make a list for this one, at least not until the middle of the year when I need to be more focused about finishing the challenge.


Pioneer Books Reading Challenge
Hosted By:  Pioneer Books in Provo, Utah
Goal:  Read from a list of prompts.  Complete all 44 prompts by the end of the year and you get a $50 gift certificate to the store.
List:  I can't find a printable version of the prompt list, but you can see it by going to the bookstore's Facebook page.  I'll post the prompts on my sidebar.


2019 Monthly Motif Reading Challenge
Hosted By:  Girl X0X0
Goal:  Read a book from a monthly prompt selected by the host.
List:  Here's what I'm thinking:

January—New to You Author:  The Gown by Jennifer Robson
February—Cover Love:  Song for a Whale by Lynne Kelly
March—Royalty, Kingdoms, Empires, Governments:   The Romanov Empress by C.W. Gortner
April—Crack the Case:  A Batter of Life and Death by Ellie Alexander
May—One Sitting Reads:  Because of the Rabbit by Cynthia Lord
June—Diversify Your Reading:  All You Can Ever Know by Nicole Chung
July—Through the Years:  The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris
August—Mode of Transportation:  The Ocean Liner by Marius Gabriel
September—Animal, Number, Color, Name:  Woman 99 by Greer Macallister
October—Tricks and Trades—The Spellbook of Katrina Van Tassel by Alyssa Palombo
November—Seasons, Elements, and Weather—The Summer of Secrets by Barbara Hannay
December—Last Chance—Life Without Limits by Nic Vujicic


2019 Reading Challenge
Hosted By:  Linz the Bookworm
Goal:  Read as many books as you can from a selected set of categories in increasingly more challenging levels, although you don't have to read in any order.
List:  Again, I'm not going to pre-plan this one, at least not yet.  I'll keep track of categories I finish on my sidebar.

Another Year Over, A New One Just Begun ...


Happy New Year!  I always love the freshness of January 1, even when the previous year has been good to me, like 2018 was.  Nevertheless, I'm looking forward to a new year full of promise and potential.  I'm not going to make any blogging resolutions except that I'm going to try to read 200 books, which is a goal I would really like to fulfill one of these days.  Wish me luck!  What are your blogging/reading resolutions for 2019?  I'd love to know.

As far as my reading for 2018 went, I didn't discover a lot of really amazing books.  I read some good ones and I found several new authors to love, but 2018 still felt like kind of a humdrum reading year. Here's hoping 2019 brings some better reads my way.

2018 broke down this way:

Total Books Read:  149 (9 less than 2017; 37 fewer than my highest of 186 in 2011; 34 more than my lowest of 115 in 2008)

Number of fiction books read:  137 (92%) 
Number of non-fiction books read:  12 (8%)
Number of adult books read:  116 (78%)
Number of young adult books read:  12 (8%)
Number of middle grade/chapter books read:  21 (14%)
Number of books by female authors:  128 (86%) 
Number of books by male authors:  12 (8%)
Number of books by multiple authors, female and male:  9 (6%)
Number of books by Latter-day Saint authors:  38 (26%)
Number of books read, personal collection:  41 (26%)
Number of books read, review copies:  63 (42%)
Number of books read, borrowed from library:  45 (30%)
Number of reading challenges joined:  3
Number of reading challenges completed:  0 (although I got closer than I ever have on reading a book from every state + Washington, D.C.)

Speaking of tracking where the books I read are set, here are the Top 3 states and the Top 3 countries I "visited" this year:

1.  New York (9)
2.  California (7)
3.  Massachusetts (5)

1.  The United States (85 + some that were in U.S. but didn't specify a state)
2.  England (21)
3.  Canada (4), Italy (4)

Observations:

- I'm reading fewer and fewer YA books every year.  I read mostly adult books in 2018, with a sprinkling of YA and more MG than usual.

- I'm doing better about reading books from the library, even though I feel like I spent A LOT more on books this year than I have in the past.  It's an addiction!

- I need to read more books by male authors.

How did your reading year turn out?

Thanks for making 2018 another great blogging year for me!  I truly appreciate you taking the time out of your busy lives to visit my little corner of the book blogosphere, leave comments, and give me reading recommendations.  Chatting with like-minded people about my love of books/reading just makes me happy.  I hope you'll come by BBB even more often in 2019.  Here's to an awesome reading year ahead!

Just for my records, here are the books I read in 2018:

  • 149. THE BOOK OF MORMON BY VARIOUS AUTHORS* (DEC)
  • 148. HOPE WAS HERE BY JOAN BAUER (DEC)
  • 147. THE LIBRARY BOOK BY SUSAN ORLEAN (DEC)
  • 146. FREEFALL BY JESSICA BARRY (DEC)
  • 145. THE MIDWIFE OF HOPE RIVER BY PATRICIA HARMAN (DEC)
  • 144. THE PINT OF NO RETURN BY ELLIE ALEXANDER (DEC)
  • 143. THE INVITED BY JENNIFER MCMAHON (DEC)
  • 142. CARRIED BY MICHELLE SCHMIDT (NOV)
  • 141. THE GOOD LIAR BY CATHERINE MCKENZIE (NOV)
  • 140. CHRISTMAS BY ACCIDENT BY CAMRON WRIGHT (NOV)
  • 139. HEART LAND BY KIMBERLY STUART (NOV)
  • 138. NINE PERFECT STRANGERS BY LIANE MORIARTY (NOV)
  • 137. I REMEMBER YOU BY HOLLY SCHINDLER (NOV)
  • 136. LITTLE PRETTY THINGS BY LORI RADER-DAY (NOV)
  • 135. THE DAY I DIED BY LORI RADER-DAY (NOV)
  • 134. THE POACHER'S SON BY PAUL DOIRON (NOV)
  • 133. THE TRUTH ABOUT MISS ASHBOURNE BY JOANNA BARKER* (NOV)
  • 132. UNDER A DARK SKY BY LORI RADER-DAY (NOV)
  • 131. WEDDING BELLES BY MELANIE JACOBSON, BECCA WILHITE, BRITTANY LARSON, AND JENNY PROCTOR (NOV)
  • 130. A BORROWING OF BONES BY PAULA MUNIER (NOV)
  • 129. THE RUIN BY DERVLA MCTIERNAN* (NOV)
  • 128. THE GLASS OCEAN BY BEATRIZ WILLIAMS, LAUREN WILLIG, AND KAREN WHITE* (OCT)
  • 127. FRONT DESK BY KELLY YANG (OCT)
  • 126. BURYING THE HONEYSUCKLE GIRLS BY EMILY CARPENTER (OCT)
  • 125. A CHRISTMAS COURTING BY VARIOUS AUTHORS (OCT)
  • 124. SOLD ON A MONDAY BY KRISTINA MCMORRIS* (OCT)
  • 123. THE STABLE MASTER'S DAUGHTER BY SARA CARDON (OCT)
  • 122. THE WITCH OF WILLOW HALL BY HESTER FOX* (OCT)
  • 121. THE COLLECTOR'S APPRENTICE BY B.A. SHAPIRO (OCT)
  • 120. SQUINT BY CHAD MORRIS AND SHELLY BROWN (OCT)
  • 119. THE GIRL WITH SEVEN NAMES: ESCAPE FROM NORTH KOREA BY HYEONSEO LEE (OCT)
  • 118. SEVEN DAYS OF US BY FRANCESCA HORNAK (OCT)
  • 117. I AM STILL ALIVE BY KATE ALICE MARSHALL (OCT)
  • 116. LEAVE NO TRACE BY MINDY MEJIA* (SEP)
  • 115. PROMISES AND PRIMROSES BY JOSI S. KILPACK (SEP)
  • 114. LOVE UNSCRIPTED BY TIFFANY ODEKIRK (SEP)
  • 113. RAPTURE OF THE DEEP BY L.A. MEYER* (SEP)
  • 112. THE WEIGHT OF LIES BY EMILY CARPENTER (SEP)
  • 111. EVERY SINGLE SECRET BY EMILY CARPENTER (SEP)
  • 110. PROMISE TO RETURN BY ELIZABETH BYLER YOUNTS (SEP)
  • 109. IN THE SHADOW OF LAKECREST BY ELIZABETH BLACKWELL (SEP)
  • 108. SAINTS BY VARIOUS AUTHORS* (SEP)
  • 107. RESISTANCE BY JENNIFER A. NIELSEN (SEP)
  • 106. THE BEEKEEPER'S APPRENTICE BY LAURIE R. KING (SEP)
  • 105. SLAVE STEALERS BY TIMOTHY BALLARD (SEP)
  • 104. MURDER ON ASTOR PLACE BY VICTORIA THOMPSON (SEP)
  • 103. SADIE BY COURTNEY SUMMERS (AUG)
  • 102. THE LOST GIRLS BY HEATHER YOUNG (AUG)
  • 101. THE HOUSE ON PRIMROSE POND BY YONA ZELDIS MCDONOUGH (AUG)
  • 100. PLAIN GIRL BY VIRGINIA SORENSEN (AUG)
  • 99. A STRANGER IN THE HOUSE BY SHARI LAPENA (AUG)
  • 98. THE COUPLE NEXT DOOR BY SHARI LAPENA (AUG)
  • 97. I KNOW YOU KNOW BY GILLY MACMILLAN (AUG)
  • 96. WOMEN OF THE BLUE & GRAY BY MARIANNE MONSON (AUG)
  • 95. TILT-A-WHIRL BY CHRIS GRABENSTEIN (AUG)
  • 94. FROM THE MIXED-UP FILES OF MRS. BASIL E. FRANKWEILER BY E.L. KONIGSBURG (AUG)
  • 93. FIND NAMES FOR THE TEMPLE BY NICOLE DYER (JUL)
  • 92. SHAKESPEARE SAVED MY LIFE BY LAURA BATES (JUL)
  • 91. THE SOLACE OF WATER BY ELIZABETH BYLER YOUNTS* (JUL)
  • 90. ON A COLD DARK SEA BY ELIZABETH BLACKWELL* (JUL)
  • 89. THE GIRL WHO CAME HOME BY HAZEL GAYNOR (JUL)
  • 88. AND SHE WAS BY ALISON GAYLIN (JUL)
  • 87. THE FRENCH GIRL BY LEXIE ELLIOTT (JUL)
  • 86. IF I DIE TONIGHT BY ALISON GAYLIN (JUL)
  • 85. WITH YOU ALWAYS BY JODY HEDLUND (JUL)
  • 84. THE WITCH ELM BY TANA FRENCH (JUL)
  • 83. THE WINTER OVER BY MATTHEW IDEN (JUL)
  • 82. THE CRAFTSMAN BY SHARON BOLTON* (JUN)
  • 81. THE BOOK OF ESSIE BY MEGHAN MACLEAN WEIR (JUN)
  • 80. OUR HOUSE BY LOUISE CANDLISH (JUN)
  • 79. UNSHATTERED CAROL J. DECKER (JUN)
  • 78. MISSING BY KELLEY ARMSTRONG (JUN)
  • 77. DREAMS OF FALLING BY KAREN WHITE (JUN)
  • 76. AFTERMATH BY KELLEY ARMSTRONG (JUN)
  • 75. THE DEATH OF MRS. WESTAWAY BY RUTH WARE* (JUN)
  • 74. THE BOOK OF UNKNOWN AMERICANS BY CRISTINA HENRIQUEZ (JUN)
  • 73. THE ELIZAS BY SARA SHEPARD (JUN)
  • 72. LITTLE BLOG ON THE PRAIRIE BY CATHLEEN DAVITT BELL (JUN)
  • 71. LOVING LIEUTENANT LANCASTER BY SARAH M. EDEN (JUN)
  • 70. SCANDAL ABOVE STAIRS BY JENNIFER ASHLEY (MAY)
  • 69. DEVILS UNTO DUST BY EMMA BERQUIST* (MAY)
  • 68. THE CLOCKMAKER'S DAUGHTER BY KATE MORTON (MAY)
  • 67. PERFECT SET BY MELANIE JACOBSON (MAY)
  • 66. BETWEEN EARTH AND SKY BY AMANDA SKENANDORE (MAY)
  • 65. BONE ON BONE BY JULIA KELLER (MAY)
  • 64. UNFORGETTABLE BY RONDA GIBB HINRICHSEN (MAY)
  • 63. THE CHILDREN'S BLIZZARD BY DAVID LASKIN (MAY)
  • 62. IF YOU FIND ME BY EMILY MURDOCH (MAY)
  • 61. ABSOLUTE DARKNESS BY KELLEY ARMSTRONG (MAY)
  • 60. BEYOND THE GREEN BY SHARLEE GLENN (MAY)
  • 59. AL CAPONE THROWS ME A CURVE BY GENNIFER CHOLDENKO* (MAY)
  • 58. CITY OF THE LOST BY KELLEY ARMSTRONG (MAY)
  • 57. SCARLET BY JEN GEIGLE JOHNSON (MAY)
  • 56. BLAME BY JEFF ABBOTT (MAY)
  • 55. SUBMERGED BY DANI PETTREY (MAY)
  • 54. A DEATH OF NO IMPORTANCE BY MARIA FREDERICKS (APR)
  • 53. THE PATCHWORK BRIDE BY SANDRA DALLAS (APR)
  • 52. STILL MINE BY AMY STUART (APR)
  • 51. I LIKED MY LIFE BY ABBY FABIASCHI (APR)
  • 50. THE SILVER SIX BY A.J. LIEBERMAN AND DARREN RAWLINGS (APR)
  • 49. CLOSE TO HOME BY CARA HUNTER (APR)
  • 48. NEVER THAT FAR BY CAROL LYNCH WILLIAMS (APR)
  • 47. MY DEAREST ENEMY BY JENNIFER MOORE (APR)
  • 46. THE DOLL FUNERAL BY KATE HAMER (APR)
  • 45. THE GIRL IN THE RED COAT BY KATE HAMER (APR)
  • 44. WORTH BY WENDY ELLISON (APR)
  • 43. FLIGHT PATTERNS BY KAREN WHITE (APR)
  • 42. THE WHOLE WORLD BY EMILY WINSLOW (MAR)
  • 41. FINGERPRINTS OF PREVIOUS OWNERS BY REBECCA ENTEL (MAR)
  • 40. THE OTHER MOTHER BY CAROL GOODMAN (MAR)
  • 39. DREAD NATION BY JUSTINA IRELAND* (MAR)
  • 38. OUTSHINE BY NICHOLE VAN (MAR)
  • 37. BRUSH WITH LOVE BY LISA MCKENDRICK (MAR)
  • 36. LIES JANE AUSTEN TOLD ME BY JULIE WRIGHT (MAR)
  • 35. MY SISTER'S BONES BY NUALA ELLWOOD (MAR)
  • 34. MEET YOUR BAKER BY ELLIE ALEXANDER (MAR)
  • 33. SOMEONE ELSE'S LOVE STORY BY JOSHILYN JACKSON (MAR)
  • 32. ISLAND OF SWEET PIES AND SOLDIERS BY SARA ACKERMAN (MAR)
  • 31. IN A BLINK BY KIKI THORPE (MAR)
  • 30. A SOUND AMONG THE TREES BY SUSAN MEISSNER (MAR)
  • 29. THE BROKEN GIRLS BY SIMONE ST. JAMES (MAR)
  • 28. FORCE OF NATURE BY JANE HARPER (FEB)
  • 27. STARS OVER SUNSET BOULEVARD BY SUSAN MEISSNER (FEB)
  • 26. CHECK ME OUT BY BECCA WILHITE* (FEB)
  • 25. THE MEMORY THIEF BY BRYCE MOORE (FEB)
  • 24. WRATH OF THE STORM BY JENNIFER A. NIELSEN (FEB)
  • 23. RISE OF THE WOLF BY JENNIFER A. NIELSEN (FEB)
  • 22. MARK OF THE THIEF BY JENNIFER A. NIELSEN (FEB)
  • 21. THE QUEEN OF HEARTS BY KIMMERY MARTIN (FEB)
  • 20. A GROWN-UP KIND OF PRETTY BY JOSHILYN JACKSON (FEB)
  • 19. MUTANT BUNNY ISLAND BY OBERT SKYE (FEB)
  • 18. UNDER LOCKER AND KEY BY ALLISON K. HYMAS (FEB)
  • 17. MUSTACHES FOR MADDIE BY CHAD MORRIS AND SHELLY BROWN* (FEB)
  • 16. TRULY DEVIOUS BY MAUREEN JOHNSON* (FEB)
  • 15. THE DUMBEST IDEA EVER BY JIMMY GOWNLEY (FEB)
  • 14. DEATH ON TAP BY ELLIE ALEXANDER (FEB)
  • 13. THE FISHERMAN'S DAUGHTER BY MELINDA SUE SANCHEZ (JAN)
  • 12. THE UNBEATABLE SQUIRREL GIRL BY SHANNON AND DEAN HALE (JAN)
  • 11. JUST BETWEEN US BY REBECCA DRAKE (JAN)
  • 10. I SHALL BE NEAR TO YOU BY ERIN LINDSAY MCCABE (JAN)
  • 9. KILLER LIBRARIAN BY MARY LOU KIRWIN (JAN)
  • 8. THE EMPEROR'S OSTRICH BY JULIE BERRY (JAN)
  • 7. PAPER CHAINS BY ELAINE VICKERS (JAN)
  • 6. A PIECE OF THE WORLD BY CHRISTINA BAKER KLINE (JAN)
  • 5. THE WOMAN IN THE WINDOW BY A.J. FINN* (JAN)
  • 4. HEART OF THE WEST BY CAROLYN TWEDE FRANK (JAN)
  • 3. THE WOLVES OF WINTER BY TYRELL JOHNSON (JAN)
  • 2. DEATH BELOW STAIRS BY JENNIFER ASHLEY* (JAN)
  • 1. THE HOUSE BETWEEN TIDES BY SARAH MAINE* (JAN)

Monday, December 31, 2018

Sweet, Heartfelt YA Novel a Happy Way to End 2018

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

After the Brooklyn restaurant where they both work goes under thanks to its greedy owner, 16-year-old waitress Hope Yancey and her aunt Addie, a short-order cook, are forced to find new jobs.  Not to mention a more affordable home.  A diner owner in Mulhoney, Wisconsin, has offered Addie a job managing his restaurant.  Although Hope doesn't relish moving to a small, backwards town in the middle of nowhere, she can't deny that she and her aunt could really use a new start.

It's not long before Hope is doing a whole lot more than delivering entrees at the Welcome Stairways Diner.  She's also dishing out advice to the waitstaff, helping a cancer patient run for mayor, fighting corruption in Mulhoney, and falling in love for the first time.  As things grow more and more complicated, Hope has to find the courage to believe in the promise of the name she gave herself because what Mulhoney really needs is a big ole helping of Hope.

Someone (Lark?) mentioned Hope Was Here, a Newbery Honor Book by Joan Bauer, as being one of the most positive books they'd ever read.  Ending 2018 on a happy note seemed like a good idea, so I checked the novel out of the library.  Although this is technically a YA novel, it's sweet and upbeat, reading more like a MG book.  The plot meanders around a bit, but overall, this is a solid story that's uplifting and hopeful.  It teaches some powerful lessons about blooming where you're planted and using your unique talents for good.  I didn't love Hope Was Here, but I did enjoy it.

(Readalikes:  Um, nothing is really coming to mind.  Suggestions?)

Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for mild violence

To the FTC, with love:  Another library fine find

Despite Excited Buzz, The Library Book Is A Little Disappointing

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

The Library Book by journalist Susan Orlean has gotten so much buzz this year that you probably already know exactly what it's about.  Just in case you've been living in a remote cave on the edge of civilization, here's the blurb from the back of the book:

On the morning of April 29, 1986, a fire alarm sounded in the Los Angeles Public Library. As the moments passed, the patrons and staff who had been cleared out of the building realized this was not the usual fire alarm. As one fireman recounted, “Once that first stack got going, it was ‘Goodbye, Charlie.’” The fire was disastrous: it reached 2000 degrees and burned for more than seven hours. By the time it was extinguished, it had consumed four hundred thousand books and damaged seven hundred thousand more. Investigators descended on the scene, but more than thirty years later, the mystery remains: Did someone purposefully set fire to the library—and if so, who?

Weaving her lifelong love of books and reading into an investigation of the fire, award-winning New Yorker reporter and New York Times bestselling author Susan Orlean delivers a mesmerizing and uniquely compelling book that manages to tell the broader story of libraries and librarians in a way that has never been done before.

In The Library Book, Orlean chronicles the LAPL fire and its aftermath to showcase the larger, crucial role that libraries play in our lives; delves into the evolution of libraries across the country and around the world, from their humble beginnings as a metropolitan charitable initiative to their current status as a cornerstone of national identity; brings each department of the library to vivid life through on-the-ground reporting; studies arson and attempts to burn a copy of a book herself; reflects on her own experiences in libraries; and reexamines the case of Harry Peak, the blond-haired actor long suspected of setting fire to the LAPL more than thirty years ago.

Along the way, Orlean introduces us to an unforgettable cast of characters from libraries past and present—from Mary Foy, who in 1880 at eighteen years old was named the head of the Los Angeles Public Library at a time when men still dominated the role, to Dr. C.J.K. Jones, a pastor, citrus farmer, and polymath known as “The Human Encyclopedia” who roamed the library dispensing information; from Charles Lummis, a wildly eccentric journalist and adventurer who was determined to make the L.A. library one of the best in the world, to the current staff, who do heroic work every day to ensure that their institution remains a vital part of the city it serves.

Brimming with her signature wit, insight, compassion, and talent for deep research, The Library Book is Susan Orlean’s thrilling journey through the stacks that reveals how these beloved institutions provide much more than just books—and why they remain an essential part of the heart, mind, and soul of our country. It is also a master journalist’s reminder that, perhaps especially in the digital era, they are more necessary than ever. 

I love libraries and books about libraries and books about books, so naturally I was excited to read this one.  Orleans' examination of the devastating fire and her ruminations about books/reading in general are fascinating, but The Library Book still got dull for me in places.  It made for such slow reading that I actually put the volume down several times.  In the end, I enjoyed the read overall, but I didn't love it like I thought I would.  Bummer.

(Readalikes:  Hm, I can't think of anything.  Can you?)

Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for language (1 F-bomb, plus milder expletives), violence, and references to sex and illegal drug use

To the FTC, with love:  I bought a copy of The Library Book from Barnes & Noble with a portion of the millions I make from my lucrative career as a book blogger.  Ha ha.

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