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2021 Literary Escapes Challenge

- Alabama
- Alaska
- Arizona (1)
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- California (4)
- Colorado (1)
- Connecticut (1)
- Delaware
- Florida
- Georgia
- Hawaii (1)
- Idaho
- Illinois (4)
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- Kentucky (1)
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- *Washington, D.C.

International:
Australia (2)
Canada (3)
England (6)
France (1)
Ireland (1)
Switzerland (1)
The Philippines (1)
Wales (1)

My Progress:


28 / 51 states. 55% done!

2021 Fall Into Reading Challenge

My Progress:


0 / 24 books. 0% done!

2021 Children's Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

2021 Children's Historical Fiction Reading Challenge
(Hosted by Yours Truly!)

My Progress:


6 / 25 books. 24% done!

2021 Popsugar Reading Challenge

My Progress:


33 / 50 books. 66% done!

Booklist Queen's 2021 Reading Challenge

My Progress:


35 / 52 books. 67% done!

2021 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

2021 Craving for Cozies Reading Challenge

The 52 Club's 2021 Reading Challenge

My Progress:


39 / 52 books. 75% done!
Monday, October 29, 2018

"Locked Room" Family Saga Sharp, But Dull

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

For the first time in recent memory, the four members of the Birch Family will be together for Christmas.  Since Olivia—a medical doctor who's been fighting the virulent Haag virus in Liberia— must be quarantined for seven days to avoid contaminating the public, the family will be closeted together for a week at their home in the Norfolk countryside.  No one will be allowed to leave the property, and no one will be allowed to enter.  It will be only the Birches, 24/7.  

To make things even more difficult, each of the Birches is hiding a secret from the others.  No one wants to ruin the upcoming holiday with troubling revelations, so the quartet will be walking on eggshells to avoid any unwanted disclosures.  Nerves are already starting to fray when Andrew Birch's secret comes knocking on the door.  As tension nears fever pitch for the housebound residents of Weyfield Hall, an implosion becomes inevitable.  What will happen when everyone's secrets are finally out in the open?  Will the Birch Family survive their catastrophic holiday intact? 

I'm always up for a sweeping family saga that promises the outing of juicy secrets that will test the bonds that tie people together.  Add in a "locked room" situation and I'm a goner.  Naturally, then, I was excited to give Seven Days of Us, a debut novel by journalist Francesca Hornak, a go.  I went in expecting a sharp, funny story and the novel delivered.  Kind of.  Through her authentic, very flawed cast, Hornak makes some fascinating observations about family dynamics.  I recognized parts of myself in the ways each of the characters interacted with each other.  While I enjoyed that aspect of the book, I did grow bored with the plot, which seems to wander all over the place without really going anywhere.  The ending didn't help, as it left me thinking, "What was the point of that?"  Overall, then, Seven Days of Us turned out to be just an okay read for me. 

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

Grade:  


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for strong language, sexual content, violence, and references to illegal drug use

To the FTC, with love:  I received a finished copy of Seven Days of Us from the generous folks at Penguin Random House in exchange for an honest review.  Thank you!

Newest Kate Morton Saga Not Quite Up to Snuff

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

"It occurs to me that this house is like that, too.  It remembers, just as I do.  It remembers everything."

When London archivist Elodie Winslow discovers an old leather satchel at work, she thinks little of it.  Until she finds two remarkable items within.  She's intrigued by the old photo of an arresting woman wearing Victorian-era clothes, but she's completely mesmerized by an artist's sketch of a riverside country manor that appears to be straight out of a storybook.  Although Elodie's never actually seen such a place, she's intimately familiar with the twin-gabled home nestled in a bend of the river.  Somehow, the artist has drawn the exact place where Elodie's mother set all the fanciful bedtime stories with which she enchanted her young daughter.   

As Elodie peers into the past in search of answers, she discovers that Birchwood Manor is, indeed, a real place.  Built in the 1500s, it's been an artists' retreat, a boarding school for girls, even a refuge for children fleeing London during World War II.  Its residents have experienced every emotion—grief, joy, fear, comfort, triumph, and tragedy.  The estate houses ghosts and the key to solving at least one mystery.  When Elodie learns of the mysterious events of 1862, when one woman was shot to death and another went missing from a summer artists' getaway, she knows she won't be able to rest until she finds out what really happened.  She hopes her search for the truth will reveal the answer to the most unsettling question of all—What does Elodie's mother have to do with the many sorrows of Birchwood Manor? 

It's no secret that I'm a raving Kate Morton fan.  I adore her eloquent, atmospheric dual-timeline novels featuring crumbling mansions, mysterious heirlooms, and juicy family secrets.  I've read—and loved—all of her books.  Since they only come out every 2-3 years, I wait with bated breath for new sagas from this talented Australian author.  So, to say I was excited for the emergence of The Clockmaker's Daughter would be a vast understatement.  Did Morton's newest live up to my (admittedly very high) expectations?  No, actually.  While I liked it overall, it's my least favorite of the author's books.  Why?  The story had a little different format from Morton's others, which left it feeling overly long, unfocused, and dull in places.  I loved learning about Birchwood Manor's long history, but with so many characters over so much time, I got a tad lost.  So, while I found the mystery at the novel's center compelling, the plot felt a bit loosey-goosey and a little confusing.  On the whole, I still enjoyed The Clockmaker's Daughter—just not nearly as much as I've loved all Morton's others.  


Grade:  


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for mild language (no F-bombs), violence, and mild sexual content

To the FTC, with love:  I received an e-ARC of The Clockmaker's Daughter from the generous folks at Simon & Schuster via those at NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  Thank you!
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The Gold in These Hills by Joanne Bischof

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Glass Houses by Louise Penny



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