Currently Reading · Recommendations · Wrap-ups

January 2022 Wrap-up

I kicked off 2022, with a very successful reading month. Fingers crossed I can keep up this momentum throughout the year. I decided to read whatever my heart desired this month and that paid off because I had a total of three 5-star books!

Total Books Read in January: 7
Total Books Read in 2022: 7

5 Star Reads of January

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Pumpkinheads
By: Rainbow Rowell & Faith Erin Hicks

Genre: Graphic Novel, YA
Rating: 5/5

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The Elite
(The Selection, 2)
By: Kiera Cass

Genre: Ya, Series, Dystopian
Rating: 5/5

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A Winter’s Tale
(The Wrecck of the Florizel)
By: Cassie Brown

Genre: Nonfiction, History
Rating: 5/5

Also Read

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

Genre: Mystery, Series, Audio book
Rating: 4/5

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Open Heart, Open Mind
By: Clara Hughes

Genre: Memoir, Autobiography, Nonfiction
Rating: 4/5

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An Unwanted Guest
By: Shari Lapena

Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Rating: 3/5

Sent for Review

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Bet on It
By: Jodie Slaughter

Genre: Romance
Rating: 2.5/5

The Stats

Total Number of Books Read: 7
Total Number of Fiction: 5
Total Number of Non-Fiction: 2
Total Books Sent for Review: 1
Total Books Read from My Shelves: 5
Total Library Books Read: 1

Formats Read

Physical Books: 5
eBooks:
 1
Audio Books: 
1

Currently Reading

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Articles · Recommendations · Wrap-ups

My Top 6 Books Read in 2021

Over the year of 2021, I read only 6 books that I gave 5 star ratings to. This isn’t to say that I didn’t enjoy the majority of the books I read, I did. I actually allowed myself to read more according to my mood, rather than a more strict schedule I have stuck to in the past. There were several books I read this past year that I had very high expectations for. Many of which were from authors that I have rated highly in the past. Oddly enough none of those books made this Top 6 list. Instead the books that ended up on this list were ones I randomly picked up on a whim. I wonder how this will play out during 2022.

Here are my favourite books that I read in 2021:

Good Luck With That by Kristan Higgins

Verity by Colleen Hoover

Buried Deep by Margot Hunt

The Wives by Tarryn Fisher

Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo

Fly Away (Firefly Lane, 2) by Kristin Hannah

Have you read any of these books? What were your favourite books you read in 2021?

Wishing you all a very happy holidays and a happy new year!

Book Reviews · Recommendations

Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo

Clap When You Land
By: Elizabeth Acevedo

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Published: May 2020
Published by: HarperTeen
Format Read: eBook, Libby App.
Genre: YA Lit, Contemporary, Poetry

Rating: 5/5

Synopsis

In a novel-in-verse that brims with grief and love, National Book Award-winning and New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Acevedo writes about the devastation of loss, the difficulty of forgiveness, and the bittersweet bonds that shape our lives.

Camino Rios lives for the summers when her father visits her in the Dominican Republic. But this time, on the day when his plane is supposed to land, Camino arrives at the airport to see crowds of crying people…

In New York City, Yahaira Rios is called to the principal’s office, where her mother is waiting to tell her that her father, her hero, has died in a plane crash.

Separated by distance—and Papi’s secrets—the two girls are forced to face a new reality in which their father is dead and their lives are forever altered.

And then, when it seems like they’ve lost everything of their father, they learn of each other.

Source: Goodreads

My Thoughts

Books written in verse isn’t a style I generally gravitate to, however I have heard rave reviews about this author and this novel, so I decided to borrow it from my library.

Clap When You Land is an emotional story of two sisters meeting for the first time after the tragic death of their father. Elizabeth Acevedo took inspiration for this book from a real life tragedy; the crash of flight AA587 in November 2001, which shook the Dominican community in New York. As the two young women wrestle with their grief and the aftermath of their discoveries, I too wrestled with how I felt about their father’s duplicitous life. This moral dilemma would make for a great discussion for book clubs.

I appreciate the diversity that Camino and Yahaira’s story presents, as well as the stark contrast between life in America and the slums of the Dominican Republic. Yet at the same time the author highlighted the traditions and beliefs that were brought to America by immigrants from their homeland. I also found the customs and traditions of the mourning in this culture to be interesting. The meaning behind passengers clapping when they land was profound and made for a great title for the novel.

I would highly recommend Elizabeth Acevedo’s Clap When You Land to fans of the genre who enjoy reading about diverse characters. For those who may be leery to read a book in verse, I say give this one a try. You might be pleasantly surprised.

Note: Content warning for those who may be triggered by such things as; sexual assault and grief.

Book Reviews · Recommendations

The Wives by Tarryn Fisher

The Wives
By: Tarryn Fisher

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Published: December 2019
Published by: Graydon House
Format Read: eBook, Libby App
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Suspense

Rating: 5/5

Synopsis

New York Times bestselling author Tarryn Fisher delivers a pulse-pounding, fast-paced suspense novel that will leave you breathless. A thriller you won’t be able to put down!

Thursday’s husband, Seth, has two other wives. She’s never met them, and she doesn’t know anything about them. She agreed to this unusual arrangement because she’s so crazy about him.

But one day, she finds something. Something that tells a very different—and horrifying—story about the man she married.

What follows is one of the most twisted, shocking thrillers you’ll ever read.

You’ll have to grab a copy to find out why.

My Thoughts

In 2019 when Tarryn Fisher’s The Wives was released, I remember other bloggers and BookTubers mentioning it, but it didn’t really catch my attention at the time. If I hadn’t joined a local book club, I would have missed out on one of the most binge-worthy books I’ve read in a long time.

I couldn’t put this psychological suspense down! Tarryn Fisher had me captivated from the start. Although some readers felt unsatisfied with the ending, I thought it was still 5 star worthy. I highly recommend The Wives and can’t wait to read more from this author.

Book Reviews · Recommendations

Good Luck With That by Kristan Higgins

Good Luck With That
By: Kristan Higgins
Narrated by: Xe Sands, Lori Gardner & Suzy Jackson

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Published: August 2018
Published by: Audible Audio
Format Read: Audiobook. Audible App
Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Rating: 5/5

Synopsis

New York Times bestselling author Kristan Higgins is beloved for her heartfelt novels filled with humor and wisdom. Now, in her newest novel, GOOD LUCK WITH THAT, she tackles an issue every woman deals with: body image and self-acceptance.

Emerson, Georgia, and Marley have been best friends ever since they met at a weight-loss camp as teens. When Emerson tragically passes away, she leaves one final wish for her best friends: to conquer the fears they still carry as adults.

For each of them, that means something different. For Marley, it’s coming to terms with the survivor’s guilt she’s carried around since her twin sister’s death, which has left her blind to the real chance for romance in her life. For Georgia, it’s about learning to stop trying to live up to her mother’s and brother’s ridiculous standards, and learning to accept the love her ex-husband has tried to give her.

But as Marley and Georgia grow stronger, the real meaning of Emerson’s dying wish becomes truly clear: more than anything, she wanted her friends to love themselves.
A novel of compassion and insight, GOOD LUCK WITH THAT tells the story of two women who learn to embrace themselves just the way they are.

Source: Goodreads

My Thoughts

This 5 star read was one of the most relatable books I have read in a long time. I loved the bond the three women forged and how they supported each other during their individual life tribulations. Some readers may find that the characters constant obsession with their weight is repetitive, but I felt that it was accurately portrayed. Their lifelong struggle had consumed every aspect of their lives and was only compounded by stigmas towards body images in popular culture and those around them who only added fuel to the fire. I appreciate how the author explored, not only the physical issues that come with being overweight, but the psychological aspects that contribute to obesity as well. This contemporary fiction tells a heartwarming story with an empowering message; be yourself!

I enjoyed the narration and thought that the voice actors did an excellent job of depicting the individual personalities of the three friends.

I would highly recommend Kristin Higgins Good Luck with That to those who may struggle with their body image and are in need of a pick-me-up. I am looking forward to reading more from this author in the future. 

Book Reviews · Charlie's Corner · Recommendations

Charlie’s Corner: Berenstain Bears on Audio

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

Charlie and I have enjoyed reading books from The Berenstain Bears series for a couple of years now. However discovering that there were books about one of our favourite bear families in audio format gave us access to titles we had not heard of before. At approximately 7 minutes in length, we borrowed these audiobooks from our library using the Libby App. Charlie loved being able to hear the different voices and actually retained the stories as he played with his toys while listening to book after book. After listening to the entire catalogue of audio books in this series, he was eager to start again. This Mommy sure hopes more will be added soon. As an adult it was nice to take a trip down memory lane with the same characters from my own childhood, but with all new stories. As an adult, I found some of the voices, which were narrated by Lance Rubin to be over the top, but they only served to make my son laugh and enjoy it even more. I think that children would also enjoy the audio books in this series even more, if they are able to follow along with a physical book to assist them.

Here are some of the The Berenstain Bears audio books we enjoyed the most:

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Rating: 4/5

In The Berenstain Bears and the Wishing Star, Mama teaches the Cubs that the first star in the night sky is the wishing star. Sister makes a wish, but does it come true? This story teaches children that they can’t always get what they wish for.

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Rating: 4/5

In the Berenstain Bears and the Shaggy Little Pony, Brother Bear and Sister Bear help take care of an old shaggy pony named Oscar. They even get to ride him in a show.

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Rating: 5/5

In the Berenstain Bears Out West, the Bear family take a plane to go visit their Uncle Tex on his ranch. The rhyming humour made this story one of our favourite Berenstain Bears audio books.

We also enjoyed:

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Book Reviews · Recommendations

Verity by Colleen Hoover

Verity
By: Colleen Hoover

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Published: December 2018
Published by: Hoover Ink Inc.
Format Read: eBook, Kindle
Genre: Thriller, Suspense, Mystery

Rating: 5/5

Synopsis

Lowen Ashleigh is a struggling writer on the brink of financial ruin when she accepts the job offer of a lifetime. Jeremy Crawford, husband of bestselling author Verity Crawford, has hired Lowen to complete the remaining books in a successful series his injured wife is unable to finish.
Lowen arrives at the Crawford home, ready to sort through years of Verity’s notes and outlines, hoping to find enough material to get her started. What Lowen doesn’t expect to uncover in the chaotic office is an unfinished autobiography Verity never intended for anyone to read. Page after page of bone-chilling admissions, including Verity’s recollection of what really happened the day her daughter died.
Lowen decides to keep the manuscript hidden from Jeremy, knowing its contents would devastate the already grieving father. But as Lowen’s feelings for Jeremy begin to intensify, she recognizes all the ways she could benefit if he were to read his wife’s words. After all, no matter how devoted Jeremy is to his injured wife, a truth this horrifying would make it impossible for him to continue to love her.
A standalone romantic thriller from #1 New York Times bestselling author Colleen Hoover.

Source: Goodreads

My Thoughts

I admit that I was very apprehensive to read Verity by Colleen Hoover, after hearing all the hype about it in the book community and the comments about how twisted the story is. Needless to say, my curiosity got the best of me. I am glad that I gave it a chance because not only couldn’t I put it down, but it became my first 5 star read of 2021.

I wouldn’t describe Verity as a scary novel, but I would say it was disturbing. There was one part in particular that almost made me give up reading the book.

In the end I was able to predict how it would end, however that didn’t take away from the fact that this book was well written and captivating. I would highly recommend Verity by Colleen Hoover to fans of the thriller and suspense genres.

Book Reviews · Recommendations

Buried Deep by Margot Hunt

Buried Deep
By: Margot Hunt

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Published: December 2019
Published by: Audible Original
Format Read: Audio book, Audible
Genre: Mystery, Short Story

Rating: 5/5

Synopsis

In this pulse-pounding short thriller, Maggie Cabot refuses to sit by idly as police re-open an investigation into the mysterious death of a woman her husband used to know.

After two decades in a near-perfect marriage, Maggie and James Cabot are enjoying their first year as empty-nesters in their charming Florida suburb, until two detectives arrive at their front door and change their lives forever.

The remains of a young woman have been found at a campsite in the Florida Keys. Hannah Nilsson, only 21 at the time of her disappearance, was last seen on a camping trip with a group of friends—including James, who dated Hannah long before he and Maggie ever met. Shocked and heartbroken, everyone on the trip said they assumed Hannah had wandered off toward shore, intoxicated from a long night of partying, and drowned. But the discovery of her body 25 years later, half a mile away from the campsite and buried six feet deep, makes it clear that her death was not accidental.

As the police dig back into the case, Maggie begins her own investigation, desperate to piece together the truth and clear her husband’s name once and for all. 

Source: Goodreads

My Thoughts

Buried Deep is a short mystery available exclusively as an Audible Original. I was instantly drawn into the plot and was curious to find out the truth about what happened to Hannah Nilsson all those years ago.

I was surprised by the more contemporary tone to the narration by Therese Plummer. I think that this fit better with the length of the audio book, as it takes time to build up suspense.

I appreciate that the author compared how the justice system is portrayed on television and in movies, to that of real life. And I also liked how the story concluded in an unexpected way.

Other reviewers have compared this book to Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier, however I have never read that book so that could have played into my five star rating. Needless to say I really enjoyed this audio book.

I would highly recommend Buried Deep by Margot Hunt to audio book lovers who are looking for a quick mystery.

Challenges · Currently Reading · Recommendations · Wrap-ups

Monthly Wrap-up: February 2021

Total Books Read in February: 3
Total Books Read in 2021: 7

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Verity
By: Colleen Hoover

Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Suspense
Rating: 5/5

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Buried Deep
By: Margot Hunt

Genre: Audio book, Short Story, Mystery
Rating: 5/5

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After You
By: Jojo Moyes

Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Romance, Series
Rating: 3.5/5

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: 3
Total Library Books Read: 0

Formats Read

Physical Books: 1
eBooks:
 1
Audio Books: 
1

Currently Reading

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Articles · Recommendations · Wrap-ups

2020 Wrap-up: Best of the Best

The following are my favourite books that I read over the past twelve months.

Honorable Mentions: The Book of Gutsy Women by Hillary Rodham Clinton & Chelsea Clinton , Meet Cute by Helena Hunting

What was your favourite books of the year? Have you read any of the titles I mentioned? Leave me a message in the comments.