Memes · Recommendations · Uncategorized

Top 10 Tuesday: Extraordinary Book Titles

Top 10 Tuesday is a weekly meme, hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl

This week for Top 10 Tuesday bloggers are sharing their favourite extraordinary book titles. Here are some of my favourites..

From the books I have Read

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1. Visions of Sugar Plums by Janet Evanovich
Although I didn’t particularly enjoy this short novel, I did find the title and its play on words to be great. You see, the main character in this series is named Stephanie Plum. Other titles in these “between numbers” books include: Plum Lovin’ and Plum Spooky.

2. A Steak in the Drawer: Recollections of a Teenage Cruise Ship Waiter by Eric Conroy
I came across this book in a gift shop after touring the ship the S.S. Keewatin. The title is definitely intriguing. Why would a steak be put in a drawer anyway?

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3. The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick
I found the title of this book to be more intriguing than the actual story.

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4. The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared by Jonan Jonasson
And what an adventure he had!

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5. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel by Deborah Moggach
Sounds like a wonderful getaway!

From the books I want to read

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1. Chronicles of Avonlea by L.M. Montgomery
Because Avonlea is my idea of paradise.

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2. Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day by Winifred Watson
This sounds like an adventure is in store.

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3. Serendipity by Louise Shaffer
The word serendipity itself is extraordinary.

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4. Waiting for Tom Hanks by Kerry Winfrey
As a lifelong fan of Tom Hanks, this one caught my attention immediately.

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5. Dance Upon the Air by Nora Roberts
Doesn’t that title sound so whimsical?

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Book Reviews · Recommendations

Winter at the Beach (Moonlight Harbor, 2) by Sheila Roberts

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Winter at the Beach
(Moonlight Harbor, 2)
By: Sheila Roberts

Published: October 2018
Published by: MIRA
Format Read: Paperback
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Holiday Story

Rating: 3/5

Synopsis

USA TODAY bestselling author Sheila Roberts takes readers on a wintry trip to the harbor in her latest holiday novel…

The town of Moonlight Harbor needs to convince tourists that the beach is still the place to be—even when the sunshine goes south for the winter. Jenna Jones, new proprietor of The Driftwood Inn, has the perfect idea: a holiday festival called Seaside with Santa.

Jenna is happy to throw herself into planning the event. With all the decorating, preparation and extra reservations at the inn because of the festival—and with two wonderful but very different men hoping to claim more of her time and her heart—Jenna is busy. Busy, but happy. Even with her troublesome ex in the picture, life feels as close to perfect as she’s ever known.

Until the weather turns her festival into a farce. Suddenly Mother Nature is not only raining on Jenna’s parade, the old bat’s trying to blow the floats and their princesses out to sea. Soon everyone is without power and the road out of town is blocked. And Jenna has a full motel.

After the generator conks out, she’s not so sure she and her guests will make it through to the New Year in one piece. But with a little pulling together and a lot of holiday spirit, everyone might find that life—and Christmas—is always good at the beach.

My Thoughts

The Holiday season is fast approaching, in this second installment of Sheila Roberts Moonlight Harbor series. In desperate need to bring more guests to her Inn, during the off season, Jenna comes up with an idea for another festival.

It was nice to be reunited with the characters in the small town of Moonlight Harbor, picking up only a couple of months after book one left off. With Christmas fast approaching, Jenna presents the towns business people with the idea of hosting a Seaside with Santa festival which would include; a Santa Claus parade, vendors on the pier and contests. Naturally they think her idea is brilliant and set to work making the arrangements.

This was a cute story, although predictable. My favourite character Aunt Edie, is the heart of this series and anyone would be lucky to be stranded in her home. Reading about all the delicious food she would make, made me long for the holiday season. And readers can try out some of the tasty treats for themselves with the inclusion of several recipes at the back of the book.

Unfortunately, I liked the main character Jenna less in book two than I did in the first installment. It was as if she was the first person to ever suggest Christmas festivities. Her so-called “love triangle” was so uneventful that it became boring when it was mentioned over and over again. However there were some sweet moments and the novel did keep my attention.

Winter at the Beach was a quick and cozy holiday novel that I would recommend to those who enjoy stories in the Hallmark style.

Additional Notes

Moonlight Harbor Series by Sheila Roberts

1. Welcome to Moonlight Harbor

Challenges · Currently Reading · Recommendations · Wrap-ups

Monthly Wrap-up: September 2019

In my last post, I mentioned how I was in quite a bad reading slump over the summer. Well this past month I feel as if I’ve finally came out of that rut and I’m enjoying reading once again. Hopefully I will be able to keep up a good momentum for the month of October. Here is my reading progress..

Total Books Read in September: 3
Total Books Read in 2019: 28

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The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
By: Deborah Moggach
Narrated by: Nina Wadia

Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Audiobook
Rating: 3/5

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A Slight Trick of the Mind
By: Mitch Cullin

Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: 3/5

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Winter at the Beach (Moonlight Harbor,2)
By: Sheila Roberts

Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Romance
Rating: 3/5

The Stats

Total Number of Books Read: 3
Total Number of Fiction: 3
Total Number of Non-Fiction: 0
Total Books Sent for Review: 0
Total Books Read from My Shelves: 2
Total Library Books Read: 1

Challenge Update

2019 New Release Challenge: 0
2019 TBR Jar Challenge:
1

October TBR

From My TBR Jar

I am quite behind with my TBR Jar selections. I have yet to read August and Septembers books, so those will be my priority.

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October TBR Jar

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Sent for Review

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Currently Reading

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Book Reviews · Challenges · Recommendations · Wrap-ups

Monthly Wrap-up: July-August 2019

The past couple of months have been very busy for me and unfortunately I fell into quite a reading slump. So I decided to hold off on posting my wrap-ups for both July and August. Thankfully I have been much more productive (reading wise) during the month of September, so I have decided to do a catch-up post.

Total Books Read in July: 1
Total Books Read in August: 2
Total Books Read in 2019 (at the end of August): 25

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L.A Candy (L.A. Candy, 1)
By: Lauren Conrad

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Rating: 2.5/5

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A Family of Strangers
By: Emilie Richards

Genre: Mystery, Contemporary
Rating: 3.5/5
Note: I was sent a copy of A Family of Strangers by Emilie Richards, from the publisher, via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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It’s Not What It Looks Like
By: Molly Burke

Genre: Non-fiction, Memoir
Rating: 4/5

DNF

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The Red Queen
By: Philippa Gregory

Genre: Historical Fiction
Quick Thoughts: I was so disappointed to have to discontinue reading The Red Queen. I have really enjoyed reading previous books by this author and began with high expectations. Unfortunately the time line didn’t interest me and I was quite bored by the main character.

Challenge Update

2019 New Release Challenge: 1
2019 TBR Jar Challenge: 1

August/ September TBR Jar Picks

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Book Reviews · Recommendations

Mini Audio Book Reviews: August-September 2019

Today I am sharing my quick thoughts on the audiobooks I listened to during the months of August and September.

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It’s Not What It Looks Like
By: Molly Burke
Narrated by: Molly Burke
Published: August 2019
Published by: Audible Original
Genre: Memoir
Format Read: Audiobook, Audible
Rating: 4/5

Synopsis:

Listening Length: 3 hours and 5 minutes

In an audiobook like none you’ve ever heard before, blind YouTube star Molly Burke speaks with authenticity and candor about being a purple-haired, pink-loving fashion and makeup lover in a seeing world.

Diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa, Burke has been legally blind since age five, and became completely sightless as a teenager. Here, she tackles the preconceived notions we have around blindness, her struggles with bullying and anxiety, inclusivity, how she built her successful influencer business (with over 1.8 million followers), and what it’s really like to travel the globe with her service dog, Gallop, now that everyone has an emotional support animal. (Hint: Really hard!)

This is a beautifully voiced, honest, and rousing journey of a young woman who has made it her mission to make us see her and the disability community in a totally new way.

Quick Thoughts

I came across Molly Burke’s It’s Not What It Looks Like, when perusing Audible one day. I had not heard of the YouTube star and motivational speaker before, but was instantly intrigued by her story. Despite her medical problems and struggle with mental health, this was quite an upbeat and optimistic memoir. I especially found it interesting learning about the process of obtaining a service dog. I would highly recommend It’s Not What It Looks Like to those who enjoy memoirs. This would also be a great book for young people and their parents who may be struggling with health problems.

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The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
By: Deborah Moggach
Narrated by: Nina Wadia
Published: February 2012
Published by: W.F. Howes
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Format Read: Audiobook, Audible App.
Rating: 3/5

Synopsis:

When Ravi Kapoor, an over-worked London doctor, is driven beyond endurance by his disgusting and difficult father-in-law, he asks his wife: ‘Can’t we just send him away somewhere?

Somewhere far, far away.’ His prayer seems to have been answered when his entrepreneurial cousin, Sonny, sets up a retirement home, recreating a lost corner of England in a converted guesthouse in Bangalore. Travel and set-up are inexpensive, staff willing and plentiful – and the British pensioners can enjoy the hot weather and take mango juice with their gin.

These Foolish Things is a brilliant comedy of manners, mixing acute observation with a deeper message about how different cultures cope in the modern world…

Quick Thoughts

A few years ago I saw the movie adaptation of Deborah Moggach’s The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and absolutely loved it. I was happy to have found the audio version on Audible and was eager to find out if I loved the book as much. Like in the movie, it compares the British culture to that of the Indian, in a way that was both humorous and touching. I enjoyed reading of these comparisons and found the differences to be quite fascinating. Unfortunately, however I didn’t love the book as much as the film, as I had a hard time keeping track of the numerous characters. Still I think it is a good representation of how the older generations are affected by the modern world and I would recommend to those interested in learning about different cultures.


Books Hauls

Audio Book Haul: Summer 2019

Over the past couple of months I have been struggling with a major reading slump. So I decided to turn to audio books in a bid to revive my interest and signed up for an Audible account. Here are the books I have recently added to my library:

It’s Not What It Looks Like by Molly Burke
Narrated by: Molly Burke

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The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel by Deborah Moggach
Narrated by: Nina Wadia

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Philomena by Martin Sixsmith
Narrated by: John Curless

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Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis
Narrated by: Rachel Hollis

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Daisy Jones & the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Narrated by: Jennifer Beals et al.

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Tags

Tudor Queens Book Tag

The Tudor Queens Book Tag was created by Jess at Jessticulates. All images were created by her.

It has been a long time since I’ve read any Tudor fiction, however I recently picked up The Red Queen by Philippa Gregory. So I thought it would be a great time to do this tag.

Elizabeth of York

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A Family of Strangers by Emilie Richards

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Katherine of Aragon

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The Complete Illustrated Novels of Jane Austen, Volume I by Jane Austen

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Anne Boleyn

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Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

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Jane Seymour

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The Woman Who Wouldn’t by Gene Wilder

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Anne of Cleves

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A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler

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Kathryn Howard

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The Luxe (Luxe, 1) by Anna Godbersen

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Katherine Parr

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The Bridge by Karen Kingsbury

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Lady Jane Grey

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Summer Baby: A Novella (The Summer Series Book 3) by Beth Labonte

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Mary I

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Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut

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Elizabeth I

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The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory

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Book Reviews · Recommendations

A Family of Strangers by Emilie Richards

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A Family of Strangers
By: Emilie Richards

Published: June 2019
Published by: Kindle Edition
Format Read: ARC, Net Galley, eBook, Kindle App
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Mystery

Rating: 3.5/5

NOTE: I was sent a copy of A Family of Strangers by Emilie Richards from the publisher, via Net Galley, in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis

Could a lifetime of memories…be a lifetime of lies?

All her life Ryan Gracey watched her perfect older sister from afar. Knowing she could never top Wendy’s achievements, she didn’t even try. Instead Ryan forged her own path while her family barely seemed to notice.

Now Wendy shares two little girls with her perfect husband while Ryan mourns the man she lost after a nearly fatal mistake in judgment. The sisters’ choices have taken them in different directions, which is why Ryan is stunned when Wendy calls, begging for her help. There’s been a murder—and Wendy believes she’ll be wrongfully accused.

While Wendy lays low, Ryan moves back to their hometown to care for the nieces she hardly knows. The sleuthing skills she’s refined as a true-crime podcaster quickly rise to the surface as she digs for answers with the help of an unexpected ally. Yet the trail of clues Wendy’s left behind lead to nothing but questions. Blood may be thicker than water, but what does Ryan owe a sister who, with every revelation, becomes more and more a stranger?

Is Wendy, who always seemed so perfect, just a perfect liar—or worse?

-Goodreads

My Thoughts

What would you do if your sibling was in trouble and turned to you for help, no questions asked? What if you learned that your loved one wasn’t the person you thought you were? That is exactly what happens to Ryan Gracey, the main character in Emilie Richards novel A Family of Strangers.

Although I found this story to be predictable, reading as the mystery of Ryan’s sister Wendy unfolded, kept my attention.

What fascinated me the most was Ryan’s podcast Out in the Cold and how she explored unsolved crimes. I wish that this would have played more into the overall story. In fact I think that this would have made for an interesting premise for a book on its own. Instead her sluthing skills, she gained in her career assisted her in uncovering the truth behind Wendy’s disappearance.

Although A Family of Strangers wasn’t as thrilling as I hoped, I would still recommend it to fans of the mystery genre.

Tags

Lowest Average Goodreads Ratings

I was inspired by Rebel Mommy Book Blog’s post titled “Books I’ve Read with the Lowest Average Goodreads Rating” to make my own post. So here are some books that I’ve read with low average ratings.

The Islands of Doctor Thomas by Franchise Enguehard

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Average Rating: 2.00

My Rating: 3.00

My Thoughts: I think the reason why The Islands of Doctor Thomas has such a low average rating on Goodreads, is because it isn’t very well known. In fact it was actually beautifully written and the setting of St. Pierre et Miquelon is one of my to visit bucket list locations.

The Secret Sister by Fotini Tsalikoglou

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Average Rating: 2.70
My Rating: 2.00

My Thoughts: I won a copy of The Secret Sister from Goodreads. My low rating for this book connects with the low average due to the confusing style of the writing.

Forty Love by Madeleine Wickham

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Average Rating: 2.92
My Rating: 2.50

My Thoughts: I was so disappointed that I didn’t enjoy Forty Love more as it is from an author I enjoy. The tone of the writing and the characters was so different than I have come to expect from this author and it seems as if others had the same problems with this book.

Book Reviews · Recommendations

L.A. Candy (L.A. Candy, #1) by Lauren Conrad

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L.A. Candy
(L.A. Candy, #1)
By: Lauren Conrad

Published: June 2009
Published by: HarperCollins
Format Read: Hardcover
Genre: YA Lit, Contemporary, Romance

Rating: 2.5/5

Synopsis

Los Angeles is all about the sweet life: hot clubs, cute guys, designer…everything. Nineteen-year-old Jane Roberts can’t wait to start living it up. She may be in L.A. for an internship, but Jane plans to play as hard as she works, and has enlisted her BFF Scarlett to join in the fun.

When Jane and Scarlett are approached by a producer who wants them to be on his new series, a “reality version of Sex and the City,” they can hardly believe their luck. Their own show? Yes, please!

Soon Jane is TV’s hottest star. Fame brings more than she ever imagined possible for a girl from Santa Barbara-free designer clothes, the choicest tables at the most exclusive clubs, invites to Hollywood premieres-and she’s lapping up the VIP treatment with her eclectic entourage of new pals. But those same friends who are always up for a wild night are also out for a piece of Jane’s spotlight.

In a city filled with people chasing after their dreams, it’s not long before Jane wakes up to the reality that everyone wants something from her, and nothing is what it seems to be.

-Goodreads

My Thoughts

Well.. you know what they say “write what you know”. And former reality television darling, Lauren Conrad did just that. Pulling from her own experiences on the MTV hit series Laguna Beach and The Hills, Lauren writes a “fictional” tale of being plucked from obscurity and put in the spotlight in front of millions of viewers.

As I was a fan of both of those shows in their hay-day, I remember being excited to hear that L.C. (as she was often referred to) had wrote her own book. Unfortunately I didn’t pick it up until ten years after it was released. And that greatly affected my reading experience and in turn resulted in my low rating. Because truth be told, my interests have changed a lot since then. I am no longer captivated by the lifestyles of the rich and famous, like I used to be. Although I once enjoyed watching reality television shows like the fictional L.A. Candy, now I wouldn’t call it my cup of tea. In fact I haven’t even watched a single episode of the recently re-vamped Hills series, nor do I plan to.

Had I read this book back when it was released in 2009, I guarantee that I would have enjoyed it much more. However 32 year old me found it boring. What should have been a quick read was dragged out because I fought to keep myself interested in the story.

L.A. Candy did give a behind the scenes peek into reality T.V, which was informative. Knowing Lauren’s story and how her life was depicted on the shows, it was easy to tell who had influenced her characters and the direction she took the book. Due to a somewhat cliffhanger of an ending, I feel curious to read the second novel in this series.

Even though the writing wasn’t fantastic and it didn’t hold my interest as much as I would have hoped, I would still recommend it to fans of Laguna Beach, The Hills and Lauren Conrad.