Challenges · Currently Reading · Recommendations · Wrap-ups

Monthly Wrap-up: January 2019

Total Books Read in January: 5

Total Books Read in 2019: 5

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The World’s Best Jokes for Kids Volume II: Every Single One Illustrated
By: Swerling & Lazar

Genre: Childrens, Humor
Rating: 3/5

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Murder at the Flamingo (A Van Buren and Deluca Mystery, #1)
By: Rachel McMillan

Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery, Series
Rating: 3/5
Note: I was sent a copy of Murder at the Flamingo from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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The Years Before “Anne”
By: Francis W.P. Bolger

Genre: Non-fiction, Biography
Rating: 3.5/5
Quick Thoughts: I enjoyed this book about the early career of Lucy Maud Montgomery, more than I anticipated.

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Everything, Everything
By: Nicola Yoon

Genre: YA Lit
Rating: 4/5

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Murder in the City of Liberty
(Van Buren and DeLuca Mystery, #2)

By: Rachel McMillan

Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery, Series
Rating: 3/5
Note: I was sent a copy of Murder in the City of Liberty from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Stats

Total Number of Books Read: 5
Total Number of Fiction: 3
Total Number of Non-Fiction: 2
Total Books Sent for Review: 2
Total Books Read from My Shelves: 2
Total Library Books Read: 1

Challenge Update

2019 New Release Challenge: 2
2019 TBR Jar Challenge: 1

Formats Read

Physical Books: 2
eBooks: 2
Audio Books: 1

February TBR

From my TBR Jar:

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Sent for Review:

Currently Reading

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Book Reviews · Character Spotlight · Recommendations

Character Spotlight: Hamish DeLuca

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Murder at the Flamingo
A Van Buren and DeLuca Mystery, #1)
By Rachel McMillan

Published: July 2018
Published by: Thomas Nelson on Brilliance Audio
Format Read: Audio Book, Audible
Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery, Series

Rating: 3/5

Synopsis

If Hamish DeLuca spent less time with his nose in a history book or studying for the bar exam, he might finally have the courage to ask a girl to dance at the Palais Royale. But despite his romantic nature, Hamish has always been shy and lacking the confidence of his friend and cousin, Luca Valari, who has invited Hamish to join him in Boston for the summer. Luca has just purchased a new dance club, The Flamingo, and could use Hamish’s math and accounting skills to keep the books alongside Luca’s “right hand man” Reggie Van Buren.

Regina “Reggie” Van Buren, daughter of a wealthy pastor and heir to a New Haven fortune, is determined to make a life as the self-sufficient city girl she sees in her favorite Jean Arthur and Katharine Hepburn pictures. After a humiliating tea party, Reggie bids goodbye to fine china and the man her parents expect her to marry and escapes to Boston. Finding an easy secretarial job with the suave Luca Valari and a room at Miss Clara’s Boarding house in the North End, Reggie soon adapts to a world beyond servants and ironed linens. Her romantic prospects alight, too, when she sets eyes on Luca’s cousin Hamish.

When a corpse is discovered at The Flamingo, Hamish and Reggie trade ledgers and book-keeping for sleuthing skills. But the truth comes at a high price for Hamish who discovers a dark side to his beloved cousin and is forced to choose between loyalty and his conscience.

-Goodreads

Character Spotlight

It is quite rare that I come across a character in a book who shines far above the rest. This is especially true in one with two main characters, like Murder at the Flamingo. However in this first installment of Rachel Mcmillan’s series, Hamish Deluca did just that. 

I was pleasantly surprised to be introduced to a male character who isn’t portrayed as the typical alpha male. Instead Hamish had a vulnerability that was endearing. His anxiety problems was something I could empathize with and the way the author described his symptoms was very realistic. 
Despite his ailments that kept him sheltered, Hamish was quite an intelligent man. I really enjoyed the sections from his perspective and exploring 1930s Boston through his eyes. The way he turned to the Hunchback of Notre Dame as if it were a compass or the Bible, made me want to read that book. Hamish also showed immense growth throughout the story. Above all it was his fierce loyalty that captivated him to me the most. 

Although Murder at the Flamingo on a whole, garnered a 3 star rating from me, Hamish DeLuca himself would earn 5 stars. I look forward to reading more about this character in the second installment of the Van Buren and DeLuca mysteries. 

Book Reviews · Charlie's Corner · Recommendations

Charlie’s Corner: Book Review: The World’s Best Jokes for Kids Volume I & II


Welcome to Charlie’s Corner, named after my little boy. Here I will share baby/children’s product and book reviews.
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The World’s Best Jokes for Kids
Volume I: Every Single One Illustrated
By: Lisa Swerling & Ralph Lazar

Expected Publication Date: February 2019
Published By: Andrews McMeel Publishing
Format Read: ARC, eBook
Genre: Children’s Books, Non-fiction, Humor

Rating: 3/5

I received a copy of The World’s Best Jokes for Kids, Volume I, from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis

“Do you want to hear a bad cat joke? Just kitten.”  Illustrations bring the silliness to a whole new level in this book of jokes kids will adore.  Every joke is illustrated!


This illustrated book by the New York Times–bestselling creators of the Happiness Is . . . project will leave your family in stitches. The World’s Best Jokes for Kids Volume 1 is filled with hundreds of corny, brilliant, and silly jokes—each paired with a small drawing that’s a sweet comic gem in itself. It’s the perfect book for road trips, rainy days, or those special moments when kids and parents can laugh together. 

-Goodreads
40011281

The World’s Best Jokes for Kids
Volume II: Every single one illustrated
By: Lisa Swerling & Ralph Lazar

Published: March 2018
Published by: Last Lemon
Format Read: PDF File, ARC, eBook
Genre: Children’s, Non-fiction, Humor

Rating: 3/5

I received a copy of The World’s Best Jokes for Kids Volume II by Lisa Swerling & Ralph Lazar, from the publisher via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.

My Thoughts

Sterling and Lazar’s compilation for kids is chalk full of fun jokes. These two volumes, really brought me back to my childhood and reminded me of a book I had growing up. 


Some of the jokes included in the first book, I had heard before. However I was pleasantly surprised to read so many that were new to me. The modern references that mentioned such examples as: current technology and pop culture, will appeal to the children of today. 


The World’s Best Jokes for Kids Volumes I & II would be ideal to share with the whole family. Teachers could share them with their students and these books would also make for great gifts. 


I would highly recommend these volumes for ages 8 and up. 


Book Reviews · Recommendations

Shattered (Alaskan Courage, #2) by Dani Pettrey

Shattered
(Alaskan Courage, #2)
By Dani Pettrey

Published: February 2013
Published by: Bethany House
Format Read: eBook, Library Book, Libby App
Genre: Suspense, Christian Fiction, Romance, Contemporary, Mystery

Rating: 4/5
♥♥♥♥

Synopsis

Piper McKenna couldn’t be more thrilled that her prodigal brother, Reef, has returned to Yancey, Alaska, after five years. But her happiness is short-lived when Reef appears at her house covered in blood. A fellow snowboarder has been killed–but despite the evidence, Reef swears he’s innocent. And Piper believes him.

Deputy Landon Grainger loves the McKennas like family, but he’s also sworn to find the truth. Piper is frustrated with his need for facts over faith, but he knows those closest to you have the power to deceive you the most. With his sheriff pushing for a quick conviction, some unexpected leads complicate the investigation, and pursuing the truth may mean risking Landon’s career.

With Piper waging her own search, the two head deep into Canada’s rugged backcountry–and unexpected complications. Not only does their long friendship seem to be turning into something more, but this dangerous case is becoming deadlier with each step.

My Thoughts

In 2015 I read and loved the first book in Dani Pettrey’s Alaskan Courage series; Submerged. So naturally I was highly anticipating book 2; Shattered. As with book 1, I was hooked on this story from the start.

Shattered was a fast paced Christian suspense that focused on the death of a professional snowboarder and a family trying to prove their brother’s innocence. I enjoyed the adventure Piper and Landon went on to solve the mystery.

Unfortunately I didn’t love Piper as a main character, like I did with the couple from Submerged. Her need for adventure and her curiosity overshadowed the real reason why they were investigating. In fact her brother Reef (the main suspect) played a very small role in the story.

Although Shattered wasn’t as action packed as the first installment, I would still recommend it. I would suggest that readers begin with Submerged as it better explores the family’s history. I look forward to reading the next book in the Alaskan Courage series.

Book Reviews · Recommendations

The Enigma by T.C. Badcock

The Enigma

By T.C. Badcock

Published: May 2009

Published by: DRC Publishing

Format Read: Trade Paperback

Genre: Historical Fiction

Rating: 3.5/5

♥♥♥.5

Synopsis

In September 1942 a German submarine left its home base of St. Nazaire bound for the tiny Newfoundland outport of Three Rock Harbour. The Enigma is Tom Badcock’s compelling story of what happens when the Germans meet up with the Newfoundlanders and the events that changed all of their lives forever. Tom is a five-time decorated retired air force officer who began his career as a cryptographer at the former Fort Pepperrell American base in St. John’s, Newfoundland. He says equipment he used throughout his career functioned nearly exactly like the German Enigma Machine which, at the outbreak of WW2, was considered to be the best and safest mechanical cipher machine available to any country.

My Thoughts

I picked up TC Badcock’s The Enigma by accident, mistaking it for another book about a German U-boat in Labrador. Thankfully I gave this book a try as it turned out to be equally as fascinating.

Badcock begins stating that this was based on a true story that was told to him by a woman on her deathbed. However upon some research I learned that the events that take place aren’t exactly fact. Still there were aspects of the book that may well have been true. Could an isolated Newfoundland community have unknowingly played host to a German U-boat crew? It may well be true, but I chose to read The Enigma as a work of fiction.

The authors knowledgeable of the operations on U-boats and the fishery was quite interesting to me. The deception on behalf of the merchants and the inflation that was the result really gave a good idea of how fishermen and their families lived.

I would recommend TC Badcocks The Enigma to be read with a grain of salt. And maybe a good feed of jigs dinner.

Books Hauls

December 2018 Book Haul

Christmas Gifts

Audible

Sent for review:

Murder-A-Go-Go’s edited by Holly West

Linking up with..

Book Reviews · Recommendations

The Lightkeeper’s Daughters by Jean E. Pendziwol

 

The Lightkeeper’s Daughters
By Jean E. Pendziwol

Published: July 2017
Published by: Harper
Format Read: eBook, Library Book, Libby App
Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery, Contemporary

Rating: 5/5
♥♥♥♥♥

 

Synopsis

Though her mind is still sharp, Elizabeth’s eyes have failed. No longer able to linger over her beloved books or gaze at the paintings that move her spirit, she fills the void with music and memories of her family—a past that suddenly becomes all too present when her late father’s journals are found amid the ruins of an old shipwreck.

With the help of Morgan, a delinquent teenager performing community service, Elizabeth goes through the diaries, a journey through time that brings the two women closer together. Entry by entry, these unlikely friends are drawn deep into a world far removed from their own—to Porphyry Island on Lake Superior, where Elizabeth’s father manned the lighthouse seventy years before.

As the words on these musty pages come alive, Elizabeth and Morgan begin to realize that their fates are connected to the isolated island in ways they never dreamed. While the discovery of Morgan’s connection sheds light onto her own family mysteries, the faded pages of the journals hold more questions than answers for Elizabeth, and threaten the very core of who she is.

My Thoughts

Historical fiction, set in a place I’ve visited, with a nautical element: three of my favourite things to read about. Jean E. Pendziwol’s The Lighthouse Keepers Daughters is worthy of a 5 star rating.

It follows an unlikely pair of characters as they revisit the past with the help of the Lighthouse Keepers old log books. This story was the perfect book to read during the fall, as the atmospheric tale set a haunting tone.

The premise initially reminded me of the book Perdita by Hilary Scharper with its dual timeline, lighthouse setting and artistic elements. However I did enjoy this book far more. Other books it has been related to include The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield and The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh, which I have also read and would agree with.

I would highly recommend The Lighthouse Keepers Daughters by Jean E Pendziwol to fans of Canadian historical fiction.

Book Reviews

A Pro’s and Con’s Review of A Christmas Cracker by Trisha Ashley

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A Christmas Cracker
By: Trisha Ashley 

Published: October, 2015
Published By: Avon
Format Read: Trade Paperback
Genre: Contemporary Fiction 

Rating: 3/5

Synopsis


Get into the festive spirit with this heart-warming, funny and simply gorgeous Christmas read.


The eagerly awaited new novel from the Sunday Times bestselling author.


This Christmas is about to go off with a bang!


Things can’t possibly get worse for Tabby. Framed for a crime she didn’t commit, she suddenly finds herself without a job. Then to make matters worse, Tabby’s boyfriend dumps her and gives her cat away to a shelter.


But rescue comes in the form of kindly Mercy. A master of saving waifs and strays, Mercy wants Tabby to breathe new flair into her ailing cracker business. Together, they’ll save Marwood’s Magical Christmas Crackers.


But someone has other ideas. Mercy’s nephew Randal thinks Tabby’s a fraudster. Stubborn, difficult and very attractive, her future depends upon winning him round. But it’s that time of the year when miracles really can happen. Standing under the mistletoe, Tabby’s Christmas is set to be one that she will never forget . . .

Goodreads

My Thoughts

First Impressions

The Cover and Tagline:
The Pro’s: A Christmas Cracker’s cover complete with a small town covered in a blanket of snow, really put me in the mood for a cozy Christmas story. The tagline “As the first snowflakes fall, anything is possible”, made me think of a romantic storyline.

The Con’s: Although there is a sprinkling of Christmas spirit throughout the story (as it is set in a cracker making factory), the holiday season only arrives in the last couple of chapters. I found the tagline to be misleading, as snow didn’t really play a factor in the story as a whole.

The Setting

The Pro’s: I am always drawn to books set in the United Kingdom and this was no exception. The history of Mote Farm and its Friendship mill, with Quaker roots was a detailed setting that showed the sharp contrast between city and country life. The operations of the cracker making business, with its colourful staff of characters would have been enough to warrant its own story. The descriptions of the rural town and surrounding area sounded beautiful.

The Characters

Tabby:
The Pro’s: Tabby was a hard working woman who initially had a lot of faith in those around her. She put her artistic abilities to good use, not only with her own papercut art, but with the development and renovations in the mill.

The Con’s: One of my biggest pet peeves with Tabby, was that she let people walk all over her. Instead of standing up for herself, she just let the terrible things that happened to her, slide.

Mercy:
The Pro’s: Mercy Marwood was a ray of sunshine. She was warm, optimistic and lively. Not only did she give a second chance to former cons (by hiring them in her cracker making factory), but she also took one under her root, to live in her home. Mercy was truly the best part of A Christmas Cracker and a memorable character indeed.


Overall Impression

The Pro’s: Trisha Ashley’s A Christmas Cracker had a unique setting with a wonderfully strong woman named Mercy at the helm. It brought to attention the importance of second chances and generosity, not only during the holiday season, but year round. Now that I am more familiar with this authors writing, I hope that I will go into her other books with different expectations.

The Con’s: Unfortunately I think that my expectations for a different type of story played a role in my enjoyment of this book. Although I was able to adjust to the tone of the writing as I read along, it wasn’t exactly the cozy read I thought it would be. I also found the main character Tabby to be quite uninteresting.


Book Reviews · Recommendations

The Shoe Box: A Christmas Story by Francine Rivers

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The Shoe Box: A Christmas Story
By: Francine Rivers 

Published: September 2011
Published By: Christian Audio Fiction 
Format Read: Audio Book, Libby App, Library Book
Genre: Christian Fiction 

Rating: 4/5
♥♥♥♥

Synopsis 

This Christmas novella tells the unforgettable story of little Timmy, a foster child with a very special and mysterious shoe box. Designed for gift-giving, this heartwarming book features new illustrations, updated content–including Francine Rivers’ favorite holiday recipes and Christmas traditions–and the complete Christmas story from the New Living Translation.

Goodreads 

My Thoughts

Author Francine Rivers found inspiration in her own prayer box, to write a story of a little boy and his special shoe box. 

This beautiful short story deeply touched me, as a mother with a young son of my own. Timmy’s unfortunate circumstances only served to strengthen his faith. In turn he shined a light on the true meaning of the Christmas season. 

This audiobook also included a version of the Christmas Story that I hadn’t heard before. 

The Shoe Box made for the perfect holiday listen and I would highly recommend it to those who enjoy inspirational Christmas stories.