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My Progress:


13 / 30 books. 43% done!

2024 Literary Escapes Challenge

- Alabama (1)
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My Progress:


34 / 51 states. 67% done!

2024 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

My Progress:


29 / 50 books. 58% done!

2024 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge


23 / 50 books. 46% done!

Booklist Queen's 2024 Reading Challenge

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50 / 52 books. 96% done!

2024 52 Club Reading Challenge

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42 / 52 books. 81% done!

2024 Build Your Library Reading Challenge

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29 / 40 books. 73% done!

2024 Pioneer Book Reading Challenge


16 / 40 books. 40% done!

2024 Craving for Cozies Reading Challenge

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11 / 25 books. 44% done!

2024 Medical Examiner's Mystery Reading Challenge

2024 Mystery Marathon Reading Challenge

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16 / 26.2 miles (2nd lap). 61% done!

Mount TBR Reading Challenge

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30 / 100 books. 30% done!

2024 Pick Your Poison Reading Challenge

My Progress:


74 / 104 books. 71% done!

Around the Year in 52 Books Reading Challenge

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50 / 52 books. 96% done!

Disney Animated Movies Reading Challenge

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83 / 165 books. 50% done!
Monday, December 16, 2019

Historical Novel Another Didn't-Love-It-Didn't-Hate-It Read

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

With an "English" father and a French mother, Maggie Hughes never knows quite who she's supposed to be.  She's well aware that her father does not want her to marry a French boy, but she can't help but be attracted to her neighbor, Gabriel Phénix.  Poor though he may be, he's kind and decent.  When Maggie finds herself pregnant at 15, she's given a choice—marry Gabriel and doom herself to a life of poverty or give up the baby.  She chooses the latter.  As she ages, Maggie's plagued by guilt and a longing to know how her child fared.  When she learns that her infant was placed in a Móntreal orphanage that is being turned into a mental institution, she knows it's time to find her daughter.  She must know what happened to baby Elodie, no matter how awful the truth is ...

I've always been drawn to stories about orphans, adoption, and foster care, even before I became an adoptive mother myself.  So, naturally, I found the premise of The Home for Unwanted Girls by Joanna Goodman intriguing.  I did find the subject of the early orphanage/foster care system in Canada interesting.  Heartbreaking, but interesting.  Unfortunately, most of the characters in this novel are some combination of cold, selfish, fickle, and just generally unlikeable, which makes it really tough to connect with them.  I did care what happened in the story, enough that I finished the book, but overall, I feel very ambivalent about the novel.  It ended up being another didn't-love-it-didn't-hate-it read.  

(Readalikes:  Reminds me of No Ocean Too Wide by Carrie Turansky and a little of The Quintland Sisters by Shelley Wood)

Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for language (a handful of F-bombs, plus milder expletives), violence, sexual content, and disturbing subject matter

To the FTC, with love:  I bought a copy of The Home for Unwanted Girls with a portion of the millions I make from my lucrative career as a book blogger.  Ha ha.

Bora-Bora World War II Novel Bland, Forgettable

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Anne Calloway longs for something more exciting than marrying her wealthy, but dull fiancé and settling down to a boring, predictable life.  So, when Gerard ships off to fight in Europe, the 21-year-old decides to do her part for the war effort.  She and her best friend, Kitty Morgan, join the Army Nurse Corps.  Serving together in Bora-Bora, the two soon realize that nursing on a far-off island in the middle of a bloody war is nowhere near as glamorous as it sounded when they signed up.  Picnics and outings with the soldiers are bright spots in the women's lives, but even those have a way of leading to trouble ...

Although Anne vows not to let the Army boys turn her head, she's immediately drawn to Westry Green.  In spite of herself, she falls for the enigmatic soldier.  As they work together to fix up a small, abandoned bungalow the Tahitians claim is cursed, they build a secret relationship that Anne knows will endure beyond the war.  Then they witness a brutal crime.  Before Anne knows it, she's become more than an innocent bystander and Westry's been shipped out suddenly.  With no communication from the soldier she's come to adore, Anne has no idea what's happened to him.  Where is Westry now?  Why isn't he writing her?  And what will become of the love that blossomed between them in their secret little bungalow?

I've heard good things about Sarah Jio's books, so I decided to give The Bungalow a try.  What did I think?  Meh.  The plot's melodramatic, the prose is stilted, and the characters are nothing special.  I'm especially confused by Anne and Wesley's big romance.  Both are bland characters, with no real personality, so I spent the whole book wondering what they saw in each other.  Although they are supposed to have this great, timeless love, there's no real spark between them.  Their relationship feels like a silly little wartime fling.  The mystery element did pique my interest.  Otherwise, The Bungalow just didn't do much for me.  It's an okay read, but nothing that will entice me to read more from Jio.  Oh well.

(Readalikes:  Reminds me of The Woman in the White Kimono by Ana Johns and Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford)

Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


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

To the FTC, with love:  Another library fine find

Marriage-Retreat-Gone-Wrong Thriller Just an Okay Read

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Is your marriage in trouble?  Give it two weeks at a luxurious resort on an isolated island in the Mayan Riviera under the influence of two celebrity therapists and, voilá!  You're back in business.  At least that's what couples are sold when they sign up to attend retreats at The Harmony Resort.  Some come reluctantly, some nervously, some with great faith in the abilities of the famous power couple who run the retreat.  It doesn't take long, though, for the newest Harmony recruits to realize that not everything at the resort is what it seems ... especially not their glamorous hosts.

In the wake of a fierce tropical storm that's rapidly swirling toward the island, everyone's secrets will be revealed—to the devastation of them all.

There's something about an isolated, closed-room situation that really amps up a mystery/thriller for me.  That's the main reason I was drawn to The Last Resort by Marissa Stapley.  It did turn out to be a compelling page-turner.  That being said, it also didn't feature the most likable of characters.  Plus, the story's sad and depressing, which seems to be the norm for these kinds of books.  There was enough happening with the plot that I kept turning pages, but in the end, The Last Resort was just an okay read for me.  

(Readalikes:  Reminds me of Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty and two books by Emily CarpenterEvery Single Secret and Until the Day I Die)

Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for language, violence, disturbing subject matter, and illegal drug use

To the FTC, with love:  I bought a copy of The Last Resort with a portion of the millions I make from my lucrative career as a book blogger.  Ha ha.
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Homecoming by Kate Morton

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The Good Neighbor by Maxwell King



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