Challenges · Charlie's Corner · Read-a-thons · Recommendations · Wrap-ups

Charlie's Corner: Middle Grade March 2020 Wrap-up

Welcome to Charlie’s Corner, named after my little boy. Here I will share baby/children’s product and book reviews.

This past month I participated in Middle Grade March. It is a genre I don’t read a lot of, but I really enjoyed participating and am looking forward to joining again next time. What made this read-a-thon special to me was that some of the books I shared with my son Charlie. He especially enjoyed listening to the audiobook Viva Durant.

Middle Grade March is hosted on YouTube by Life Between Words and Books and Jams. The prompts for the month included:

  • Books set in another country.
  • Book to screen adaptations.
  • Mystery books.
  • Books with illustrations.
  • Books about stories

My Middle Grade March Wrap-up

Total Books Read: 5

1. A Study in Scarlet (The Sherlock Holmes Children’s Collection 1) by Stephanie Baudet

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NOTE: I was sent a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.
Rating: 3/5
Prompts Covered: A book set in another country (England), Book to screen adaptation, Mystery book, a book with illustrations.

2. Viva Durant and the Secret of the Silver Buttons by: Ashli St. Armant
Narrated by: Bahni Turpin

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Rating: 5/5
Prompts Covered: A book set in another country (USA), Mystery book.

3. The Canary Caper (A to Z Mysteries, 3) by Ron Roy

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Rating: 3/5
Prompts Covered: A book set in another country (USA), Mystery book, A book with illustrations.

4. The Deadly Dungeon (A to Z Mysteries, 4) by Ron Roy

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Rating: 2/5
Prompts Covered: A book set in another country (USA), Mystery book, A book with illustrations.

5. The Empty Envelope (A to Z Mysteries, 5) by Ron Roy

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Rating: 3/5
Prompts Covered: A book set in another country (USA), Mystery book, A book with illustrations.

Book Reviews · Recommendations

Family Tree (Switchback, Vermont 1) by Susan Wiggs

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Family Tree
(Switchback, Vermont 1)
By: Susan Wiggs

Published: July 2016
Published by: William Morrow
Format Read: Paperback
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Romance

Rating: 3/5

Synopsis

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author comes a powerful, emotionally complex story of love, loss, the pain of the past—and the promise of the future.

Sometimes the greatest dream starts with the smallest element. A single cell, joining with another. And then dividing. And just like that, the world changes. Annie Harlow knows how lucky she is. The producer of a popular television cooking show, she loves her handsome husband and the beautiful Los Angeles home they share. And now, she’s pregnant with their first child. But in an instant, her life is shattered. And when Annie awakes from a yearlong coma, she discovers that time isn’t the only thing she’s lost.

Grieving and wounded, Annie retreats to her old family home in Switchback, Vermont, a maple farm generations old. There, surrounded by her free-spirited brother, their divorced mother, and four young nieces and nephews, Annie slowly emerges into a world she left behind years ago: the town where she grew up, the people she knew before, the high-school boyfriend turned judge. And with the discovery of a cookbook her grandmother wrote in the distant past, Annie unearths an age-old mystery that might prove the salvation of the family farm.

Family Tree is the story of one woman’s triumph over betrayal, and how she eventually comes to terms with her past. It is the story of joys unrealized and opportunities regained. Complex, clear-eyed and big-hearted, funny, sad, and wise, it is a novel to cherish and to remember. 

Source: Goodreads

My Thoughts

Family Tree is a dual time period contemporary romance which is set in Vermont, New York and Los Angeles. The setting goes back an forth between the beginning of Annie and Fletcher’s romance in high school, to the present day as adults leading separate lives.

I had a love/hate connection with these characters. I had trouble warming up to Annie and felt that Fletcher deserved better. However, her career as a producer of a cooking show and her baking abilities were fascinating. The connection she had with her grandmother was a wonderful addition to the story. On the other hand, I loved Fletcher’s character and admired him for his devotion to his father in the face of tragedy.

The setting was by far my favourite aspect of Family Tree and more specifically the parts that took place in the early years of Annie and Fletcher’s relationship. The family sugar bush operation in Vermont, was a character itself. I loved learning of their daily tasks during the sap season. The steps Annie took to develop what would become her television show, during university was quite interesting as well.

The aftermath of Annie’s unfortunate accident was done well in the beginning. It even sparked memories of my own medical traumas. However I found that her recovery was brushed over in favor of her future. In fact it felt as if it was rushed to the point of it being unbelievable and affected my overall rating.

Although I had some issues with the way the story played out Family Tree was a contemporary romance that I would recommend to fans of the genre. Readers who enjoy books with culinary aspects may also enjoy this novel.

Articles

On the Fence, Try a Chapter: Book Series (Kindle Edition)

In a bid to sort through the numerous ebooks I have downloaded to my Kindle app, over the last couple of years, I have decided to adapt the BookTube series “Try a Chapter” into a blog post.

I will read the first chapter of 3 books to decide if I should keep it and continue reading or delete it from my collection. Each of these books are number 1 in their own respective series.

Here are my results..

Snowfall and Secrets (Omega Mu Alpha Brothers, 1)
By: Kimbrrly Loth

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Synopsis

Tess escapes from Florida with a secret as big as Miami. She needs to find someplace to lay low and hide from her overbearing family. Mackinac Island, Michigan, should be the perfect place to hide out. However, her timing is a little off, it’s the dead of winter and she’s never been in temperatures below fifty degrees. Just her luck, her landlord, Lukas, is as hot as the sun. He’s also moody and hiding secrets as well. Which suits Tess fine. A man is the last complication she needs. A Michigan blizzard leaves them trapped in the same house together and things heat up, fast. Tess finds herself falling for Lukas, in spite of the secrets that could ruin everything before it even begins.

Source: Goodreads

First Impression

I don’t read a lot from the romance genre, however the Mackinac Island setting caught my attention. The first chapter was quick and I expect the rest of the novel will follow in this fashion. It sounds as if this will be a damsel in distress type of story which will turn into a steamy love affair.

Keep or Toss?

I have decided to keep Snowfall and Secrets, as I think it will be a quick contemporary, perfect for Valentines Day.

Bundle of Trouble (Maternal Instincts Mystery, 1)
By: Diana Orgain

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Synopsis

From Publishers Weekly
In Orgain’s charming debut thriller, office manager Kate Connolly becomes a supersleuth and a new mom in the same week. From the moment she and newborn Laurie lock eyes, Kate can’t imagine returning to work after her six-week maternity leave, but in expensive San Francisco, she and her ad exec husband, Jim, need every bit of both incomes. Then a dead body is fished out of the bay and linked to Jim’s estranged brother, George. Both the police and PI Albert Galigani, hired by the dead man’s mother, believe that Jim and Kate know more than they’re revealing. Kate is determined to find the elusive George and get some answers, but she soon gets in over her head. Galigani serves as a charming mentor as Kate navigates the twists of motherhood and an uncomplicated but engaging plot.

Source: Goodreads

First Impression

Two days overdue and the telephone rings saying that her brother in-law might be dead. One chapter in and I am intrigued to find out where this mystery goes.

Keep or Toss?

Keep! Although I have so many series started and unfinished, I will be adding this one to my TBR pile.

Murder on the SS Rosa (Ginger Gold Mysteries 1)
By: Lee Strauss

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Synopsis

From a USA TODAY Bestselling author, the first book in the acclaimed Ginger Gold Mystery series.
Murder’s a pain in the bow!
It’s 1923 and bright young thing Ginger Gold makes a cross-Atlantic journey from Boston to London, England. When the ship’s captain is found dead in a most intriguing fashion, Ginger is only too happy to lend her assistance to the handsome Chief Inspector Basil Reed. This fun, jazz-age whodunit has readers saying “Lady Gold is a charming heroine” and “can’t stop reading!”
Murder on the SS Rosa will have you laughing, crying, and guessing until the last page. 

Source: Goodreads

First Impressions

My first impression was that the characters felt true to the time period. The setting on a ship was something I thought would be right up my alley, however the first chapter didn’t capture my attention like the first two books in this list, did.

Keep or Toss?

Unfortunately I have decided to toss this eBook after completing the first chapter.

In conclusion I have decided to keep 2/3 of the books I sampled for this post. Hopefully I will complete these two selections during 2020.

Stay tuned for another Try a Chapter installment in the future.

Books Hauls · Memes

February 2020 Book Haul

Thanks to a local library book haul, I brought in more books than normal. I couldn’t help myself and this sale only happens twice a year, afterall.

Here are the books I’ve added to my shelf during the month of February

This first book was given to me by my mom. We were digging through some old boxes one day and she found it and remembered enjoying it years ago. What made this novel even more special, was my grandmother’s initials inside the front cover, which meant she too had read it possibly in the late 1980’s.

Time Steps by Charlotte Vale Allen

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From the Library Book Sale

The Endless Beach (Summer Seaside Kitchen 2) by Jenny Colgan

Shopaholic Ties the Knot (Shopaholic, 3) by Sophie Kinsella
Shopaholic and Sister (Shopaholic, 4) by Sophie Kinsella

Something Real by Heather Demetrios

When in Doubt, Add Butter by Beth Harbison

Kindle Download

Verity by Colleen Hoover

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Sent for Review

The Land Beneath Us (Sunrise at Normandy, 3) by Sarah Sundin
(I was sent a copy of The Land Beneath Us by Sarah Sundin, from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.)

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Have you read any of these books? Let me know in the comments.

Books Hauls

Audiobook Haul (January-February 2020)

Today I would like to share the Audiobooks I added to my Audible library during the first two months of the year.

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Cut and Run
By: Ben Acker & Ben Blacker
Narrated by: Meg Ryan et. al.

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Alone with the Stars
By: David R. Gillham
Narrated by: Hillary Huber & Emily Bauer

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The Thousand Dollar Tan Line (Veronica Mars 1)
By: Rob Thomas & Jennifer Graham
Narrated by: Kristen Bell

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The Alice Network
By: Kate Quinn
Narrated by: Saskia Maarleveld

Have you read of listened to any of the books I mentioned above? Let me know in the comments.

Book Reviews · Recommendations

The Book of Gutsy Women by Hillary Rodham Clinton and Chelsea Clinton

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The Book of Gutsy Women
Favorite Stories of Courage and Resilience
By: Hillary Rodham Clinton and Chelsea Clinton

Published: October 2019
Published By: Simon Schuster
Format Read: Hardcover, Library Book
Genre: Non-fiction

Rating: 4/5

Synopsis

Hillary Rodham Clinton and her daughter, Chelsea, share the stories of the gutsy women who have inspired them—women with the courage to stand up to the status quo, ask hard questions, and get the job done.

She couldn’t have been more than seven or eight years old. “Go ahead, ask your question,” her father urged, nudging her forward. She smiled shyly and said, “You’re my hero. Who’s yours?”

Many people—especially girls—have asked us that same question over the years. It’s one of our favorite topics.

HILLARY: Growing up, I knew hardly any women who worked outside the home. So I looked to my mother, my teachers, and the pages of Life magazine for inspiration. After learning that Amelia Earhart kept a scrapbook with newspaper articles about successful women in male-dominated jobs, I started a scrapbook of my own. Long after I stopped clipping articles, I continued to seek out stories of women who seemed to be redefining what was possible.

CHELSEA: This book is the continuation of a conversation the two of us have been having since I was little. For me, too, my mom was a hero; so were my grandmothers. My early teachers were also women. But I grew up in a world very different from theirs. My pediatrician was a woman, and so was the first mayor of Little Rock who I remember from my childhood. Most of my close friends’ moms worked outside the home as nurses, doctors, teachers, professors, and in business. And women were going into space and breaking records here on Earth.

Ensuring the rights and opportunities of women and girls remains a big piece of the unfinished business of the twenty-first century. While there’s a lot of work to do, we know that throughout history and around the globe women have overcome the toughest resistance imaginable to win victories that have made progress possible for all of us. That is the achievement of each of the women in this book.

So how did they do it? The answers are as unique as the women themselves. Civil rights activist Dorothy Height, LGBTQ trailblazer Edie Windsor, and swimmer Diana Nyad kept pushing forward, no matter what. Writers like Rachel Carson and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie named something no one had dared talk about before. Historian Mary Beard used wit to open doors that were once closed, and Wangari Maathai, who sparked a movement to plant trees, understood the power of role modeling. Harriet Tubman and Malala Yousafzai looked fear in the face and persevered. Nearly every single one of these women was fiercely optimistic—they had faith that their actions could make a difference. And they were right.

To us, they are all gutsy women—leaders with the courage to stand up to the status quo, ask hard questions, and get the job done. So in the moments when the long haul seems awfully long, we hope you will draw strength from these stories. We do. Because if history shows one thing, it’s that the world needs gutsy women.

-Goodreads

My Thoughts

The Book of Gutsy Women was a fascinating journey through history, profiling women who fought for their rights in a world run by men. From politics to sports and science, Hillary Rodham Clinton and Chelsea Clinton shine a light on those who have paved the way for future generations.

This was a true mother-daughter project, with each author injecting their own personal thoughts and connections with woman being discussed. Some of which I had heard of before, but many I had not. It was a great learning experience for me and I feel encouraged to do more research into history making women, myself.

I was pleasantly surprised that this book didn’t shy away from noting the less than glamorous aspects of American history and included women from around all around the world. Unfortunately I was disappointed that there wasn’t mention of Canadian historical figures.

I would highly recommend The Book of Gutsy Women to those interested in women’s rights and female historical figures


Challenges · Memes · Recommendations

Top 10 Tuesday: Books with Single Word Titles

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

The last time I participated in Top 10 Tuesday, was back in October. So this post is definitely overdue. Today I am joining up with other bloggers to share my top books with single word titles. This was a tricky prompt for me, as I had fewer titles that fall into this category as I thought.

1. Hopeless (Hopeless, 1) by Colleen Hoover

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2. Pollyanna by Eleanor H. Porter

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3. Submerged (Alaskan Courage, 1) by Dani Pettrey

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4. Shattered (Alaskan Courage, 2) by Dani Pettrey

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5. Philomena by Martin Sixsmith

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6. Booky by Bernice Thurman Hunter

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7. Rumors (Luxe, 2) by Anna Godbersen

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8. Heidi by Johanna Spyri

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9. Perdita by Hilary Scharper

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10. Shadowland (The Mediator, 1) by Meg Cabot

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Challenges · Charlie's Corner · Read-a-thons

Charlie’s Corner: Middle Grade March Read-a-thon

Welcome to Charlie’s Corner, named after my little boy. Here I will share baby/children’s product and book reviews.

During the month of March, the book community is celebrating the middle grade genre. This is a genre I don’t pick up very often, so I am not as familiar with the popular books released in the past several years. I am looking forward to discovering some new (or new to me) authors and their stories. This will also be a great opportunity for me to revisit some books from my childhood. And even though my son is still several years from this age-group, I hope to share some books with him too.

I will be participating in the Middle Grade March Read-a-thon, which is hosted by Life Between Words and Books and Jams. It is a month long read-a-thon and the prompts are as follows:

  • Books set in another country.
  • Book to screen adaptations.
  • Mystery books.
  • Books with illustrations.
  • Books about stories

My TBR

Funny enough, I recently came across a box of old books from my childhood, at my parents. Which was great timing as there were several that would fit the bill. I’m also looking forward to gathering some books from my library.

As of this posting, I have two definite books that I intend to read this months. Those include:

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NOTE: I was sent a copy of A Study in Scarlet, created by Stephanie Baudet and Illustrated by Arianna Belucci, from the publisher via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.
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I will be sharing my reading progress on my Instagram page. You can follow me @melissaleesredhousereviews .

Will you be reading any middle grade during the month of March? Let me know in the comments.

Challenges · Currently Reading · Read-a-thons · Recommendations · Wrap-ups

Monthly Wrap-up: February 2020

I hope that you all had a wonderful February. I was happy to have participated in my second read-a-thon for the year. (I’m hoping to participate in one a month, if possible). It was my first time joining the Contemporary-a-thon and I managed to complete some of the prompts. You can see my wrap-up here.

Total Books Read in February: 5
Total Books Read in 2020: 9

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The Book of Gutsy Women
By: Hillary Rodham Clinton and Chelsea Clinton

Genre: Non-fiction
Rating: 4/5

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The Victory Garden
By: Rhys Bowen
Narrated by: Saaskia Marleveld

Genre: Historical Fiction, Audiobook, Audible
Rating: 3/5

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The Flatshare
By: Beth O’Leary

Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Romance
Rating: 3.5/5

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Snowfall and Secrets (Omega Mu Alpha Brothers 1)
By Kimberly Loth

Genre: Romance, Contemporary, Series
Rating: 2.5/5

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Shopaholic Takes Manhattan (Confessions of a Shopaholic 2)
By: Sophie Kinsella

Genre: Contemporary fiction, Romance, Series
Rating: 3/5

DNF

Crashing the A-List

Crashing the A-List
By: Summer Heacock

Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Romance
NOTE: I was sent a copy of Crashing the A-List by Summer Heacock, from the publisher via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.

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Tinaca Jones
By: Matt Boren
Narrated by: Retta

Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Audiobook, Audible Original
Note: Unfortunately I wasn’t able to get into the plot of this audiobook and decided to move on.

The Stats

Total Number of Books Read: 5
Total Number of Fiction: 4
Total Number of Non-Fiction: 1
Total Books Sent for Review: 0
Total Books Read from My Shelves: 3
Total Library Books Read: 2

Formats Read

Physical Books: 3
eBooks:
1
Audio Books:
1

Currently Reading

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March TBR

March is Mystery Madness Month. I’m not signing up for any groups or a read-a-thon for this theme, in particular. However I do hope to read some books from the mystery genre over the next 4 weeks.

Another genre I am hoping to read from is middle grade fiction. So, I have decided to participate in the Middle Grade March Read-a-thon. This is a month long challenge, that is hosted on YouTube by Life Between Words and Books And Jams. I will make a separate post announcing my intentions soon.