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2022 Literary Escapes Challenge

- Alabama (1)
- Alaska (1)
- Arizona (1)
- Arkansas
- California (4)
- Colorado (1)
- Connecticut
- Delaware
- Florida
- Georgia (1)
- Hawaii (1)
- Idaho
- Illinois (1)
- Indiana (1)
- Iowa (1)
- Kansas
- Kentucky
- Louisiana
- Maine (1)
- Maryland (2)
- Massachusetts (4)
- Michigan (2)
- Minnesota (1)
- Mississippi (1)
- Missouri
- Montana
- Nebraska (1)
- Nevada
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York (7)
- North Carolina (3)
- North Dakota
- Ohio (1)
- Oklahoma
- Oregon
- Pennsylvania (2)
- Rhode Island (1)
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- Tennessee (1)
- Texas (2)
- Utah (2)
- Vermont (2)
- Virginia (1)
- Washington (4)
- West Virginia
- Wisconsin (1)
- Wyoming
- Washington, D.C.* (1)

International:

Antarctica (1)
Australia (2)
Egypt (2)
England (11)
Greece (1)
Italy (1)
Nepal (1)
Romania (1)
Scotland (3)
Sweden (1)
Wales (1)

My Progress:


29 / 51 states. 57% done!

2022 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

My Progress:


19 / 50 books. 38% done!

2022 Craving for Cozies Reading Challenge

My Progress:


20 / 25 books. 80% done!

2022 Cloak and Dagger Reading Challenge

My Progress:


47 / 53 books. 89% done!

Booklist Queen's 2022 Reading Challenge

My Progress:


40 / 52 books. 77% done!

Aussie Author Reading Challenge 2022


1 / 24 books. 4% done!

2022 Nonfiction Reader Challenge


3 / 20 books. 15% done!

2022 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge

My Progress:


31 / 50 books. 62% done!

The 52 Book Club's Reading Challenge 2022

The 52 Book Club's Reading Challenge 2022

My Progress:


39 / 52 books. 75% done!

2022 Build Your Library Reading Challenge

My Progress:


34 / 50 books. 68% done!

2022 Support Book Bloggers Challenge

2022 Medical Examiner's Mystery Reading Challenge

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Top Ten Tuesday: Ready for a Reading Challenge? Ready for a Reading Challenge!


I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend. Ours was busy but also relaxed. It was nice to have all four of my kids together for a few days. Now that it's over, we're in full Christmas mode. We have lights on the outside of the house, all of our decorations are out of the garage waiting to be put up, I've ordered my Christmas cards, I'm attending my book club's yearly lunch/book exchange this afternoon, and we'll be doing our annual decorating of a neighborhood tree tonight. Our usual tree was cut down in the middle of the night a couple years ago—the vandal disappeared with not only the tree but also all of our decorations! Good thing they were mostly bought at Goodwill. Hopefully, the thieving Grinch doesn't appear this year so everyone can enjoy the festive tree as they're driving past. 

Today's TTT prompt—Top Ten Bookish Memories—is a great one. Unfortunately, although I've been a reader all my life, I can't think of any really interesting memories to share. So, I'm going to go rogue once again and talk about something else today. 

Most of you know I love reading challenges. Historically, I've been awesome about signing up for a bunch of them and awful about actually completing them! I happen to be rocking my challenges this year, so I'm getting excited about which I want to take on in 2022. Last year, when my favorite reading challenge blog went dark, I even decided to create my own so that there would be a central place to find the many new challenges that are posted every year. Apparently, I have been a little too enthusiastic, as I copied and pasted challenge posts into my blog. I got two cease and desist emails from two separate bloggers accusing me of plagiarism over the weekend! Oops. Since my posts were clearly marked with links to the blogs that had made the posts and it was obvious I was not hosting all of the challenges, I figured it was all good. Wrong! If I "plagiarized" your challenge post, I am so sorry. I didn't intend to do anything offensive and certainly not anything illegal. The posts from this year have all been rewritten in my own word (I'm leaving the posts from last year as is since I got no complaints on them, the year is almost over, and it would be a big pain to do so). So, if you're interested in reading challenges for 2022, take a look at Ready for a Reading Challenge. I'll be updating it constantly as I come across more challenges, so keep checking back. If you're hosting a reading challenge in 2022, let me know. I'd love to advertise it for you (in my own words, with clear links to your post, of course). I haven't entirely decided which challenges I will be doing in the new year, but I've listed ten I'm either planning on or considering. 

Before we get to that, though, I encourage you to join in the TTT fun. It's a good time, I promise! All you have to do is click on over to That Artsy Reader Girl, scan a few quick instructions, make your own list, and spend some happy hours visiting other fantastic blogs. What's not to love?

Top Ten Reading Challenges I'm Signing Up For And/Or Considering for 2022 


1.  2022 Literary Escapes Challenge (hosted by Lori/Dollycas @Escape With Dollycas Into a Good Book)—This challenge involves reading a book set in all of the 50 U.S. states. You get points for every country as well. It's my favorite reading challenge, so I do it every year. Naturally.


2.  2022 Reading Challenge (hosted by Goodreads)—I like to set a personal reading goal at Goodreads every year as well. It's been 200 books read for the past few years and this year, for the first time, it looks like I will not just reach that goal but actually surpass it. Only 16 more to go! I'm going to go for 200 again in 2022.


3.  2022 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge (hosted by POPSUGAR)—This annual prompt-based challenge is always a fun one. I don't think I've ever actually finished it, but I'm getting close this year with only 13 prompts left. The 2022 prompt list hasn't been released yet (which is why I'm using last year's logo). I'm excited to see what will be on it.

4.  Booklist Queen's 2022 Reading Challenge (hosted by Rachael @Booklist Queen)—I love prompt-based challenges and I've been having fun with this one this year (only 11 more to go), so I've signed up to do it again next year. Also, props to Rachael—although she did send me a cease and desist email, she was extremely nice about it!


5.  2022 Medical Examiner's Mystery Reading Challenge (hosted by Rick Mills @The Mystillery)—This challenge involves counting up the corpses in the mystery books you read. Sure, it's a little morbid, but it's also a lot of fun. Rick is a great challenge host and always has several running at a time. Check them all out since you can do several of them concurrently. The 2022 Medical Examiner's Mystery Reading Challenge officially opens on January 1, so stay tuned. You can get a feel for what the challenge is all about by checking out this year's challenge page. Be sure to note who's in 11th place :)


6.  2022 Craving for Cozies Reading Challenge (hosted by Lori/Dollycas @Escape With Dollycas Into a Good Book)—I enjoy a good cozy, so I've been doing this fun challenge this year. I've only read 11 cozies so far, fewer than I thought I would, but that's okay. I'll read more in the new year with this challenge. I'm signing up for the "Peckish" level.


7.  2022 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge (hosted by Marg @Intrepid Reader and Baker)—I love hist-fic, so this one is a no-brainer. You simply read as much in the genre as you can and post links to your review on the challenge site. Easy peasy. The 2022 challenge hasn't been officially announced yet (which is why I'm using the 2021 logo), but Marg says it will be up this week, so watch her blog for more info.


8.  The 52 Club's 2022 Reading Challenge (hosted by The 52 Club)—As its name indicates, this challenge involves a prompt for every week of the year. 52 prompts is a lot, but I've been enjoying this challenge as well (only 5 more to go). I'll probably sign up for it again in 2022. We'll see.


9.  The Nerdy Bookworm 50 Books a Year Reading Challenge 2022 (hosted by Emily @)Emily the Book Nerd)—I've probably overdone it with the prompt-based challenges already, but it seems like everyone is hosted one in 2022 and I do love them. This challenge *only* has 50 prompts, so I'm definitely considering it.


10.  2022 Nonfiction Reader Challenge (hosted by Shelleyrae @Book'd Out)—I didn't read a ton of non-fiction this year, but I enjoyed all the ones I did read, so I'm interested in expanding my NF horizons in 2022. This challenge would be a good way to motivate myself.

So, there you go. I'm definitely going to do 1-7. We'll see about the rest. I'm also still looking for a fun challenge that is not prompt-based. Any recommendations? What about you? Are you a reading challenge addict? Which ones have you done this year? Which are you planning to conquer in 2022? I'd truly love to know. Leave me a comment on this post and I will gladly return the favor on your blog.

Happy TTT!

Saturday, November 27, 2021

YA Romantic Adventure a Fun, Exciting Read

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

The Texas River Odyssey is a grueling, 265-mile competition that pits canoers against every kind of danger—from raging rapids to snapping alligators to paralyzing exhaustion to agonizing injuries. Sadie Scofield can't wait to tackle the race. Not only is the 17-year-old out to prove that she, like competitors from the past three generations of her family, can finish the race but she also has to redeem herself after last year's debacle. Because of her, her father's 20 year finishing streak ended. Their relationship hasn't been the same since and Sadie can't stand it. This year, she's teamed up with her older brother, Tanner. Despite some tough competition, she knows they have an excellent chance of finishing the race, maybe even winning. If she can just make her dad proud, maybe things will go back to normal between them.

When Tanner joins another team at the last minute, Sadie is shocked. And desperate. Her only option is to team up with John "Culley" Cullen, the boy she once called her best friend. She hasn't spoken to him in six years, not since a bitter family feud turned them into enemies. With no other choice, the two form a tense, awkward partnership. Out of synch from the get-go, it seems unlikely the pair will make it through the next hour, let alone through three days of forced closeness while competing in a punishing race against dozens of well-oiled teams. Can they set aside their differences long enough to finish? As the competition intensifies, tempers flare, and truths from the past are revealed. Will the tension break the uneasy duo? Or will it bring them together in ways neither of them could ever have imagined?  

Contemporary YA isn't my usual genre, but In the Same Boat—a debut novel by Holly Green—sounded like a fun change of pace, so I decided to give it a whirl. The story features competitive canoeing, something I've never read about before. It may be a little over-focused on the race at its core, but the story offers lots of interesting details about canoeing and the canoeing community, which helps bring the setting to vivid life. Although a lot of unfamiliar terms are used in the novel, which sometimes made it tough for me to picture exactly what was happening, I got the drift enough to become engaged in the story. It's got plenty of action, tension, and conflict to keep the reader burning through the pages. While I'm not a competitive person and really can't understand the kind of drive that would make anyone want to compete in an exhausting, dangerous river race, Green created convincing motivations for the main characters so I got while they were all in. Sadie and Cully are both sympathetic and determined, which made me root for them, even though I didn't really love the former. All in all, though, I enjoyed this book. It's a quick, entertaining read that teaches some good lessons about friendship, family, being enough, and working to accomplish one's goals. 

(Readalikes: I don't read much in this genre, so I'm not sure what to compare In the Same Boat to. Any ideas?)

Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for language (a dozen or so F-bombs, plus milder expletives), violence, and innuendo

To the FTC, with love: I received an ARC of In the Same Boat from the generous folks at Scholastic in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Wildlife Mystery Series Opener a Sluggish Read

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

After a face-off with an angry gunman at a Boston ceremony celebrating a controversial wetlands preservation project, wildlife biologist Alex Carter is only too happy to get away. The chance to track wolverines in the Montana wilderness is a dream come true. She's eager to study the elusive animals, working to save the dying species. Not all of the locals are thrilled with her presence, however, and they're letting her know it. Determined not to bow to their scare tactics, she stays on at the abandoned ski lodge where she lives by herself. 

When Alex's wolverine-watching cameras catch movements of a different kind of animal on film, she's puzzled. Why is a man who's clearly suffering from a severe injury roaming around in the woods looking dazed and confused? When Alex reports her findings, she's even more stunned at the authorities' dismissive response. Refusing to let it go, she soon finds herself caught in the crosshairs of a dangerous predator. Just what has Alex stumbled upon? And how far will someone go to keep the curious scientist from sticking her nose where it doesn't belong?

It's no secret that I dig immersive, atmospheric mysteries set in isolated places. From the looks of A Solitude of Wolverines, the first book in a new series by Alice Henderson, it appears to be just this sort of read. Is it? Well...I did like the setting, not just mountainous Montana but also the creepy lodge, which adds an eerie vibe to the story (always a plus in my book). I also appreciate that Henderson's passion for nature, animals, and the conservation of both really comes through in this novel. In fact, her prose (which is pretty humdrum otherwise) shines brightest when she's writing about these subjects. Unfortunately, the author has a tendency to drone on and on, adding so many unnecessary details that the plot drags under them. Add in a storyline that's contrived and convoluted, characters that are bland and unlikable, and narration that's melodramatic and wordy, and you've got yourself one sluggish novel. I persevered with A Solitude of Wolverines (which is saying something, I guess), but it ended up being, for me, an average read at best. Needless to say, I won't be continuing with the series. Bummer.


Grade:




If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for language (a half-dozen or so F-bombs, plus milder expletives), violence, blood/gore, and disturbing subject matter

To the FTC, with love: Another library fine find

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

TTT: Top Ten Reasons I'm Grateful for YOU



Today's Top Ten Tuesday prompt is about Characters I'd Love an Update On (Where are they now that the book is over?). This topic wasn't really lighting a fire under me, so I decided to go rogue and talk about Thanksgiving, which Americans will be celebrating on Thursday, instead. Although Christmas is my favorite holiday, Thanksgiving comes in at a close second. I love that it's a day centered around gratitude. It's not about getting anything (except really, REALLY full), but about giving thanks. There's a hymn members of my church sing regularly that says, "Count your many blessings, name them one by one. Count your many blessings, see what God has done." Thanksgiving is the perfect time to do this, to really focus on all the people and things that make my life so abundantly rich and beautiful. I hope you know that you are among the former. Your support, encouragement, and friendship means a great deal to me. So much so that I'm going to make a whole TTT list devoted to why I'm grateful for everyone who reads this blog.

First, though, I want to encourage you to join in the TTT fun. Hop on over to That Artsy Reader Girl for all the details.

Top Ten Reasons I'm Grateful for YOU, My Readers

1.  Seeing your comments always makes me smile.
2.  You have the best reading recommendations!
3.  You give me a place to talk about my favorite subject—books. It's nice to be able to have conversations with other readers instead of just talking to myself.
4.  The fact that you take time out of your busy lives to visit my little blog makes me feel good about myself and the many hours I log trying to make BBB a fun, helpful place to be.
5.  Through your comments (and your blogs), you've helped expose me to new book genres, thus helping me open my mind and expand my reading interests.
6.  Your blogs give me even more places to hang out and geek out about our favorite hobby.
7.  You help make up a great and wondrous online community that I have always found to be warm, welcoming, and empowering.
8.  I'm always inspired by visiting your awesome blogs. There are so many talented writers, reviewers, and designers in the book blogosphere!
9.  You encourage me to use my own talents to make BBB the best it can be.
10.  Your kindness and loyalty make me feel appreciated and loved—and who doesn't need more of that in their lives? 

Thank you, thank you, thank you for reading my little blog. It has truly been a blessing to get to know all of you through your blogs and through the wonderful comments you leave me here at BBB. 

For those of you who celebrate, have a wonderful Thanksgiving. My aunt-in-law does the majority of the cooking for our annual family feast. She doesn't love fighting the crowds at Costco for pies, though, so that's my yearly task. I'm writing this on Monday, just in case I don't make it out alive. Wish me luck!

Happy TTT!

Saturday, November 20, 2021

There's Lots to Love in Gothic-y Series Opener

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Growing up in a New York City orphanage has given scrappy Amelia Matthew the pluck to survive in a rough time and place. Combining moxie with a modicum of psychic talent, she manages to earn enough to create a decent life for herself and her beloved foster brother, Jonas. When a knock on the head changes Amelia's mild ability into something far more powerful, she's shocked. As she grapples to understand her newfound skills, a strange vision in a public park assaults her. The next thing she knows, she's waking up in a city insane asylum on isolated Blackwell's Island. Despite her protests, Amelia is unable to leave. Even Jonas can't find a way to free her. 

In spite of himself, Andrew Cavanaugh, a young doctor from Philadelphia, finds himself quite taken with the pretty new patient. Naturally, he doesn't believe her when she claims to see spirits—until she proves it to him. As Andrew works to release Amelia from care, he's approached by a desperate mother searching for the daughter she believes is being hidden in the asylum. With Amelia's help, he looks into the case, uncovering a shocking trail of corruption and cruelty at his workplace. Powerful people rule the asylum. What can a lowly doctor and his imprisoned patient possibly do for their helpless victims? Especially when Amelia's dubious gift is still so uncontrollable and she's not entirely sure she doesn't belong on Blackwell's Island herself...

There are so many things to love about A Deadly Fortune, a debut novel by Stacie Murphy, that I'm not even sure where to start. How about with its unique setting? Lots of novels are set in insane asylums, but this is the first I've encountered that takes place in the notorious facility on Blackwell's Island. Atmospheric and Gothic-y, the locale makes a perfect backdrop for this shivery tale. The characters are also appealing. Amelia, Jonas, and Andrew are all sympathetic, kind-hearted, and courageous. Plot-wise, A Deadly Fortune is a gripping story. It does start off slowly, but there's enough going on to keep it interesting while it builds to a pulse-pounding climax. As for the supernatural aspect of this novel, it's nicely balanced. There's enough of the ghostly to satisfy without overwhelming the story. I also appreciate the book's (mostly) clean content, making it a novel I'd be comfortable handing to almost anyone. For all these reasons and more, I very much enjoyed this series opener. Needless to say, I can't wait to see what happens next to Amelia and her friends.


Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for brief, mild language (1 F-bomb, plus milder expletives), violence, mild sexual content, and disturbing subject matter

To the FTC, with love: Another library fine find

Friday, November 19, 2021

Historical Southern Novel Is Absorbing, Atmospheric, and Assured

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Until 16-year-old Ada Morgan ran away with her boyfriend, she had never known true freedom. The last thing she wants to do now is return home to the squalor of her stilt house on the swamp. She knows her father—a coarse and cruel trapper—will be thrilled to have her back. Not only will he have someone to wait on him again, but he will also delight in punishing her for leaving him. If she had any other option, she would never return to him. With nowhere else to go, she has no choice but to go back to Mississippi, back to the Trace, back to her father. 

Matilda Patterson is also anxious to leave her home on the Natchez Trace. The Black teen is the daughter of poor sharecroppers who eke out a meager living in a place that will never allow them to get ahead. With local bootleggers making things even more difficult for the family, Matilda's ready to take her secrets and run. A more promising future awaits her in the north; she just has to make it there.

When their lives converge one fateful night, Ada and Matilda are shocked to find themselves partners in crime. Literally. Their tenuous bond is the only thing keeping both of them safe, but it's a tenuous sisterhood that could break at any moment. As their linked past becomes more apparent, the two begin to realize just how much danger they're really in. When more trouble comes calling, it's up to them to protect themselves and each other against deadly odds.

It's no secret that I love me an absorbing historical story, the more atmospheric the better. The Girls in the Stilt House, a debut novel by Kelly Mustian, ticks all these boxes. Its vivid, visceral setting is a character in its own right, exhibiting all the beauty, danger, and contradiction inherent in every human. As untamed as the swampland surrounding them, our heroines are sympathetic because of their impoverished, hardscrabble lives. What makes them admirable is the fiery grit that burns deep inside them, giving them strength, courage, and the will to keep fighting. Plot-wise, this is a slow-burning tale. While this device takes a little patience, it also ensures that by the time the story's action really amps up, the reader cares deeply about what's going to happen and to whom. Although it's not a happy, all-tied-up-with-a-bow story, The Girls in the Stilt House is compelling, moving, and beautifully written. I loved this assured debut.

(Readalikes: The Girls in the Stilt House reminds me a bit of  Emily Carpenter's novels. I've also seen it compared to Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens and If the Creek Don't Rise by Leah Weiss.)

Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for language (no F-bombs), violence, blood/gore, and disturbing subject matter

To the FTC, with love: I received an e-ARC of The Girls in the Stilt House from the generous folks at Sourcebooks via those at NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Top Ten Tuesday: A Thanksgiving S.O.S.

I love Thanksgiving, so I always make a point not to decorate for Christmas or even listen to carols until after the turkey's been eaten. While I was taking my Sunday nap the other day, however, my husband set up our Christmas tree (ostensibly to see if the new lights he bought for it looked good or if he needed to return them—uh huh). With the tree up and lit, I've had to succumb(ish) to the start of the Christmas crazy (I do love Christmas, just not too early), so I'm officially changing over to the holiday Top Ten Tuesday banner. It's festive and fun, so there you go.

Today's TTT topic—Books to Read If You Love/Loved X (X can be a genre, specific book, author, movie/TV show, etc.)—is one I've been looking forward to, even though it's had me wracking my brain for the perfect topic. The one I came up with is a little...grim, especially considering we're in the season of gratitude, merrymaking, comfort, joy, and so on. Still, it's one that always appeals to me for some strange reason. Call me morbid, but I'm going to go with Top Ten Books to Read If You Love Stories About Maritime Disasters. Honestly, I don't know why I'm so fascinated with this subject. Something about catastrophe striking in the middle of the sea and people trying to survive in such desperate circumstances just intrigues me.

Before we get to that, though, I encourage you to join the TTT party. It's a fun way to spread some love across the book blogosphere, discover new sites, and—of course—get some great reading recs. Click on over to That Artsy Reader Girl for all the info.

Top Ten Books to Read If You Love Stories About Maritime Disasters


1.  The Watch That Ends the Night by Allan WolfOf the many books I've read about the Titanic, this is the one that stands out most in my mind. It's a haunting novel-in-verse that's engrossing and memorable.


2.  Dead Wake by Erik Larson—One of my favorite reads of 2021, this non-fiction account tells the story of the Lusitania from the perspectives of not just its passengers and crew but also from that of the operators of the U-boat which torpedoed the ocean liner.


3.  Lifeboat 12 by Susan Hood—I recently reviewed this middle-grade book, also a verse novel, which is about the S.S. City of Benares, a luxury ship that was torpedoed while ferrying young WWII evacuees out of London.


4.  Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys—I'd never heard of the M.S. Wilhelm Gustloff—a re-purposed German pleasure cruiser that was packed with civilian war refugees from East Prussia when it was attacked by a Soviet sub in 1945—until I read this gripping YA novel.


5.  The Glass Ocean by Beatriz Williams, Lauren Willig, and Karen White—This dual-timeline novel features three intriguing narrators, two of whom are passengers on the Lusitania when it sinks. It's an engrossing, twisty, and absorbing read.


6.  On a Cold, Dark Sea by Elizabeth Blackwell—Told from the alternating perspectives of three women who are huddled together on Lifeboat 21 watching Titanic sink, this novel is more about their lives before and after the disaster. Still, it tells an intriguing tale.


7.  My Last Continent by Midge Raymond—When a marine biologist doing research in Antarctica receives a distress signal from the boat carrying the man she loves, she launches a rescue mission that will require her to risk everything in order to save him.


8.  Surviving Savannah by Patti Callahan—Although I didn't love this novel, I did find it interesting. It concerns Pulaski, a luxury steamship that runs into trouble when an onboard explosion interrupts its journey from South Carolina to Maryland. I'd never heard of this 1838 disaster before, so the book made for interesting reading.


9.  The Midnight Watch by David Dyer—Another Titanic story, this novel focuses on the Californian, which was positioned only a few miles south of Titanic when she went down. Although crew members saw the doomed ship's distress rockets and subsequently woke their captain assuming he would order them to go to her aid, the man simply returned to bed. Could he have saved hundreds of lives if only he had acted instead of going back to sleep?
  

10.  Endurance by Alfred Lansing—Okay, this is a cheat since I haven't actually finished Endurance. Yet. I started listening to it on audio, but soon realized it was so detail-filled that I wanted to read it instead of listening so that I wouldn't miss anything. I'm hoping to tackle it soon as I find the story of the Endurance, which became trapped in polar ice in 1915 stranding its crew in deadly circumstances, absolutely fascinating.  

There you have it, ten (well, nine) books about maritime disasters that I enjoyed and highly recommend. How about you? Do you enjoy reading these kinds of books? Which would you suggest I check out next? What's on your TTT list today? I'd truly love to know. Leave me a comment on this post and I will gladly return the favor on your blog.

Happy TTT!

Friday, November 12, 2021

1 Tiny Baby + 1 Big-Hearted Nurse = A Powerful, Personal Historical Novel

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

1926—As a nurse working in the adrenaline-fueled, male-dominated field of emergency medicine, 24-year-old Althea Anderson is used to taking orders from the doctors, obeying their commands without question. When another premature baby dies at her hospital because a physician determines it to be "God's will" that only the strongest infants survive, Althea can no longer stay quiet. She knows tiny babies are being saved every day at nearby Coney Island. Yes, they're on public display, another lurid attraction to entertain gawking tourists, but the admission fees are used to employ nurses who cuddle and care for the children, giving them a chance to not just survive but also thrive. "Doctor" Martin Couney's medical credentials might be a bit murky, but Althea knows he's working miracles with his boardwalk babies. Althea's superiors scoff when she suggests sending their newest struggling infant to Couney, so she takes matters into her own hands, changing the course of her life—and the baby's—forever.

1950—While Stella Wright isn't sure she wants children of her own, she pours her heart and soul into nurturing the students she teaches in her special education class. School administrators believe the kids aren't worth the effort; Stella is determined to prove them wrong. By day, she battles for their rights while by night, she helps her veteran husband fight the demons that haunt him night after night. When her beloved mother dies, Stella is wracked with grief. A curious letter found among the dead woman's things mystifies Stella, sending her on a puzzling journey into her mother's past. As old secrets are revealed, she learns shocking truths about her mother—and herself.

I read The Light of Luna Park, a debut novel by Addison Armstrong, back in June, but it's appropriate that I'm reviewing it in November as my two preemies were born this month. Both of my sons made sudden arrivals at 29 weeks, weighed less than 3 1/2 pounds, and spent at least a month in the Newborn Intensive Care Unit (NICU) fighting for their lives. My teensy-tiny babies seemed incapable of living through the night, let alone growing up to be the strong, healthy young men they are now. If they had been born 100 years ago, would their doctor have deemed them worthy of saving? 

Because of my experience with premature birth, I have always found Martin Couney's work fascinating. I've never read a novel about the subject, so I was keen to give Armstrong's a go. The Light of Luna Park features sympathetic characters who are admirable for their kindness, compassion, and bravery. Althea is likable, while I had a harder time with Stella, although she did grow on me as her story progressed. As usual with dual-timeline setups, I enjoyed the past story in this book better than the present one. Still, both are compelling in their own way. Plot-wise, it's obvious from the get-go how the novel's two storylines are going to merge, but that really doesn't make the tale less engrossing. There are a few holes that make the story less believable. On the whole, though, The Light of Luna Park is an engaging, thought-provoking novel that brings to light an interesting piece of history most people probably don't know about. Even though I knew the basics, I still found the novel to be a fascinating, enjoyable read.

(Readalikes: Reminds me of The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards as well as books by Susan Meissner and Diane Chamberlain)

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 e-ARC of The Light of Luna Park from the generous folks at Penguin via those at NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!

Thursday, November 11, 2021

Love Christian Historical Fiction? Check Out This Giveaway!

Lark recommended this series on her blog. I'm so glad she did as I am loving it! I enjoyed the first two books and am looking forward to the third. Since some of you have expressed interest in the series, I thought I'd share: 

On Tour with Prism Book Tours

Regina is celebrating the end of her American Wonders Collection series
with a huge giveaway! Check out her note, series, and giveaway below.

Note from the Author

I’m so excited for the conclusion of my American Wonders series! I have always loved the wonder and majesty of our national parks, in part because my father introduced me to them. He would have been tickled with A View Most Glorious, set on Mt. Rainier, because that was his mountain. We hiked or camped on it nearly every weekend when I was growing up, and I live 45 minutes from the gates of the national park today. In celebration of the release of this third volume, I’m delighted to offer this prize pack, with each of the books in the series in paperback, a collection of nine vintage-style postcards from the parks featured (the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, and Mt. Rainier), and a poster that speaks to the heart of the story: The best view comes after the hardest climb. May all your views be glorious!

—Regina

A View Most Glorious
(American Wonders Collection #3)
By Regina Scott
Christian Historical Romance
Paperback, E-book & Audiobook, 368 Pages
October 5, 2021 by Revell

Reluctant socialite Coraline Baxter longs to live a life of significance and leave her mark on the world. When her local suffragette group asks her to climb Mount Rainier to raise awareness of their cause, she jumps at the chance, even though she has absolutely no climbing experience. If she can do it, any woman can do it. And after her mother issues an ultimatum--that Cora marry the man of her mother's choosing if she is not successful--Cora must do it. But she can't do it alone.

Noted mountain guide Nathan Hardee initially refuses to help Cora, but has a change of heart when he sees what is at stake. He knows enough about the man Cora's mother has chosen to know that the headstrong young woman should have nothing to do with him, much less marry him.

Climbing Rainier will require all of Cora's fortitude and will lead her and Nathan to rediscover their faith in God and humanity. These two loners make unlikely partners in righting a wrong and may just discover that only together is the view most glorious.

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Other Books in the Series

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About the Author


Regina Scott started writing novels in the third grade. Thankfully for literature as we know it, she didn’t sell her first novel until she learned a bit more about writing. Since her first book was published, her stories have traveled the globe, with translations in many languages, including Dutch, German, Italian, and Portuguese. She now has had published more than fifty works of warm, witty historical romance. Regina Scott and her husband of more than 30 years reside in the Puget Sound area of Washington State on the way to Mt. Rainier. She has dressed as a Regency dandy, learned to fence, driven four-in-hand, and sailed on a tall ship, all in the name of research, of course. Learn more about her at her website.
 

Tour Giveaway


One winner will receive print copies of all three books in the American Wonders Collection, a collection of nine vintage-style postcards from the parks featured (the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, and Mt. Rainier), and a poster that speaks to the heart of the story: The best view comes after the hardest climb. (US only)

Ends November 19, 2021

 
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Tuesday, November 09, 2021

Top Ten Tuesday: Five Fictional Favorites, Ten Great Quotes


One of the many pleasures of reading is coming across great quotes. I love skillfully-crafted paragraphs, vividly-described passages, and cleverly-worded dialogue. They thrill me, truly, but I'm not good at remembering them or writing them down, which makes TTT topics like today's—Top Ten Memorable Things Book Characters Have Said—a bit difficult. So, I apologize in advance because the quotes I'm sharing today are very well-known and most of them will probably appear on other people's lists. Also, I had to Google all of them so if they're incorrect, you know who to blame! 

Want to join in the TTT fun? Click on over to That Artsy Reader Girl for all the details.

Top Ten Memorable Things Five of My Favorite Book Characters Have Said

Atticus Finch
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee


“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view...Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.”

“I think there's just one kind of folks. Folks.”


Jo March
Little Women series by Louisa May Alcott


“I keep turning over new leaves, and spoiling them, as I used to spoil my copybooks; and I make so many beginnings there never will be an end.”

“I want to do something splendid before I go into my castle--something heroic, or wonderful--that won't be forgotten after I'm dead. I don't know what, but I'm on the watch for it, and mean to astonish you all, some day. I think I shall write books, and get rich and famous; that would suit me, so that is my favorite dream.”

Albus Dumbledore
Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling



"But you know, happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light."

"It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities."

Anne Shirley
Anne of Green Gables series by L.M. Montgomery


“Life is worth living as long as there's a laugh in it.”

“The world calls them its singers and poets and artists and storytellers; but they are just people who have never forgotten the way to fairyland.”

Hermione Granger
Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling


"Books! And cleverness! There are more important things—friendship and bravery."


There you go, ten quotes I love by five of my favorite fictional people. What are your favorites? Who did you choose to highlight today? I'd truly love to know. Leave me a comment on this post and I will gladly return the favor on your blog.

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Reading

<i>Reading</i>
Farm to Trouble by Amanda Flower

Listening

<i>Listening</i>
The Lost and Found Bookshop by Susan Wiggs



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