Book Reviews · Recommendations

The Devoted (The Bishop’s Family, 3) by Suzanne Woods Fisher

The Devoted
(The Bishop’s Family, 3)
By: Suzanne Woods Fisher

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Published: October 2016
Published by: Fleming H. Revell Company
Format Read: Trade Paperback
Genre: Christian Fiction, Amish Fiction

Rating: 4/5

NOTE: I was sent a copy of Suzanne Woods Fisher’s The Devoted, from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis

Fan Favorite Suzanne Woods Fisher Offers Readers Tender Romance, Humor, and Plenty of Surprises
Bright, curious, and restless, Ruthie Stoltzfus loves her family but is stuck in a sea of indecision about her future: Should she stay Amish? Or should she leave? She’s done all she can to prepare to go–passed the GED, saved her money–but she can’t quite set her journey into motion.
Patrick Kelly is a young man on a journey of his own. He’s come to Stoney Ridge to convert to the Amish and has given himself thirty days to learn the language, drive a buggy, and adapt to “everything Plain.” Time, to Patrick, is of the essence. Every moment is to be cherished, especially the hours he spends with Ruthie, his Penn Dutch tutor.
Ruthie’s next-door neighbor and cunning ex-boyfriend, Luke Schrock, is drawn to trouble like a moth to a flame. Rebellious, headstrong, defiant, Luke will do anything to win Ruthie back–“anything”–and Patrick Kelly is getting in his way.
Bestselling author Suzanne Woods Fisher invites readers back to Stoney Ridge for a story of dreams deferred and hopes fulfilled–complete with Fisher’s signature twists that never fail to leave readers delighted.

Source: Goodreads

My Thoughts

The Devoted is the third and final book in Suzanne Woods Fisher’s The Bishop’s Family trilogy. In this installment readers follow the Bishop’s daughter Ruthie as she is trying to decide the right path to take in her life. As her troubled ex-boyfriend Luke unsuccessfully tries to win her back, a new young English man named Patrick comes to Stoney Ridge and catches her attention.

As with the previous books in this trilogy, The Devoted presented a story chalk-full of life lessons and profound messages. It has been some time since I read The Imposter (book1) and The Quieting (book 2), and the father David still remains one of my favourite characters. Even though his part in this third book was smaller, I appreciate how much growth he makes with each hurdle and moral dilemma he meets.

This story kept me interested through out. I was surprised that Luke’s troubles were depicted in a way that was as dark as it was, considering the Christian and Amish fiction genre. It really added an extra emotional layer to the plot.

I highly recommend Suzanne Woods Fisher, as she is one of my favourite auto-read authors. I suggest that those who may be interested in reading The Devoted, begin with the first book in the series, as there is quite a detailed backstory.

Books Hauls · TBR

October 2021 Book Haul

Today I would like to share the physical books I added to my collection during the month of October.

The first three books I got a great deal on, at Value Village.

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My Story: Voyage on the Great Titanic: The Diary of Margaret Anne Brady, 1912
By: Ellen Emerson White

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Dear Canada: Orphan at My Door: The Home Child Diary of Victoria Cope
By: Jean Little

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Beartown
By: Fredrik Backman

And finally when visiting my local Newfie store, I found a rare book that has been on my TBR for quite a while.

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Death at the Harbourview Cafe
By: Fred Humber

Book Reviews · Recommendations

The Lake of Dreams by Kim Edwards

The Lake of Dreams
By: Kim Edwards

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Published: November 2010
Published by: Penguin Books
Format Read: Trade Paperback
Genre: Contemporary fiction, Literary fiction

Rating: 3/5

Note: I won a copy of Kim Edwards The Lake of Dreams from the publisher via Goodreads Giveaways. This is my honest review.

Synopsis

From Kim Edwards, the author of the #1 New York Times bestseller The Memory Keeper’s Daughter, an arresting novel of one family’s secret history

Imbued with all the lyricism, compassion, and suspense of her bestselling novel, The Memory Keeper’s Daughter, Kim Edwards’s The Lake of Dreams is a powerful family drama and an unforgettable story of love lost and found.

Lucy Jarrett is at a crossroads in her life, still haunted by her father’s unresolved death a decade earlier. She returns to her hometown in Upstate New York, The Lake of Dreams, and, late one night, she cracks the lock of a window seat and discovers a collection of objects. They appear to be idle curiosities, but soon Lucy realizes that she has stumbled across a dark secret from her family’s past, one that will radically change her—and the future of her family—forever.

The Lake of Dreams 
will delight those who loved The Memory Keeper’s Daughter, as well as fans of Anna Quindlen and Sue Miller.

My Thoughts

Estranged from her Upstate New York home, Lucy returns after years spent abroad. After all the time that had passed the same animosities and grief remains. However the small lakeside town has advanced with the times, much to her dismay. While Lucy struggles with her guilt, she uncovers a missing link in her families history that might result in further upsetting changes.

The Lake of Dreams read (to me) like a literary fiction; a genre I don’t normally read. I feel that this contributed to why I struggled to connect with the main character. The tone of this novel was very melancholy, as was Lucy.

My favourite aspect was the uncovering of the Jarrett family genealogy. I thought the environmental storyline that was presented at the beginning of the novel could have taken the plot down an interesting path. Lucy even had to knowledge to stand up and fight more to protect the marshland from being developed. However I was disappointed that this potential was lost.

Although I wasn’t able to connect with The Lake of Dreams like I hoped, I would still recommend this book to those who like literary fiction.

Book Reviews · Recommendations

For the Love of Friends by Sara Goodman Confino

For the Love of Friends
By: Sara Goodman Confino

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Published: August 2021
Published by: Lake Union Publishing
Format Read: ebook, Net Galley, Kindle
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Romance

Rating: 3/5

Note: I was sent a copy of For the Love of Friends by Sara Goodman Confino, from the publisher via Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis

A sharp and hilariously relatable novel about the business of weddings, the toll they can take, and the lengths one exasperated bridesmaid will go to for the love of friends.

Lily Weiss is her mother’s worst nightmare: thirty-two and single—the horror! She’s also a talented writer but hides behind a boring job at a science foundation. To her friends, she’s reliable and selfless, which is how she winds up a bridesmaid in five weddings in six weeks. Anything for her three best friends and two (younger) siblings, right? Even if her own love life is…well, she’d rather not talk about it. To keep her sanity, Lily needs a safe place to vent.

And so her anonymous blog, Bridesmania, is born. The posts start pouring out of her: all the feels about mom-zillas, her vanishing bank balance, the wicked bridesmaids of the west, high-strung brides-to-be, body-shaming dress clerks, bachelorette parties, and Spanx for days, not to mention being deemed guardian of eighty-eight-year-old Granny (who enjoys morning mimosas in the nude) for her brother’s destination wedding.

So far the blog has stayed anonymous. But as everyone knows, few things online remain secret forever…

When all is said and done, can Lily help all five couples make it to happily ever after? And will her own happy ending be close behind?

Source: Goodreads

My Thoughts

32 years old, single and stuck in a job beneath her talent; that describes Lily, the main character in Sara Goodman Confino’s debut novel. Life was pretty uneventful until she agrees to be in, not one, but five different weddings! That’s five weddings in the span of only 6 weeks! Piece of cake, right? Wrong! Especially when you throw in numerous celebrations, commitments, bridesmaids from hell and a nearly non-existent budget.

Anyone who has ever planned or been in a wedding party can relate to the chaos that occurs in For the Love of Friends. I’ve had the pleasure of standing in two weddings to date and while it was an honor, they were anxiety inducing experiences for sure. I couldn’t imagine juggling five at once, like Lily. This was a character I was able to easily relate to.

The author did a great job of conveying the emotions Lily experienced including; feeling overwhelmed and exhausted. Although the blogging of the mania would get her into hot water, I enjoyed reading about this aspect. Although this is a lighthearted contemporary, I appreciate and was able to relate to the inclusion of body shaming in the wedding industry. Sure, it sounds nice for all the bridesmaids to wear the same dress, but not every women has the same body type. Some of the demands the brides made in this story were way over the top. The hectic pace of this book reminded me of The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger.

I would recommend For the Love of Friends by Sara Goodman Confino to fans of humorous contemporaries with a dash of romance.

Book Reviews · Recommendations

Inheriting Edith by Zoe Fishman

Inheriting Edith
By: Zoe Fishman

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Published: January 2016
Published by: William Morrow Paperbacks

Format Read: Trade Paperback
Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Rating: 3/5

Note: I won a copy of Inheriting Edith by Zoe Fishman, from the publisher via Goodreads Giveaways. This is my honest review.

Synopsis

A poignant breakout novel, for fans of J. Courtney Sullivan and Elin Hilderbrand, about a single mother who inherits a beautiful beach house with a caveat—she must take care of the ornery elderly woman who lives in it.

For years, Maggie Sheets has been an invisible hand in the glittering homes of wealthy New York City clients, scrubbing, dusting, mopping, and doing all she can to keep her head above water as a single mother. Everything changes when a former employer dies leaving Maggie a staggering inheritance. A house in Sag Harbor. The catch? It comes with an inhabitant: The deceased’s eighty-two-year old mother Edith.

Edith has Alzheimer’s—or so the doctors tell her—but she remembers exactly how her daughter Liza could light up a room, or bring dark clouds in her wake. And now Liza’s gone, by her own hand, and Edith has been left—like a chaise or strand of pearls—to a poorly dressed young woman with a toddler in tow.

Maggie and Edith are both certain this arrangement will be an utter disaster. But as summer days wane, a tenuous bond forms, and Edith, who feels the urgency of her diagnosis, shares a secret that she’s held close for five decades, launching Maggie on a mission that might just lead them each to what they are looking for.

Source: Goodreads

My Thoughts

Inheriting Edith follows a single hardworking mother who un-expectantly inherits a house, after the death of a former friend. The only stipulation is that she must become a caregiver for the woman’s elderly mother.

This was a quick contemporary fiction that I flew through. It was exactly the pace I was looking for at the time. I could easily relate to the main character Maggie, as she dedicated herself to making a better life for her child. Newly diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease, Edith was rightly frustrated with her situation and I thought that she was aptly depicted. The brief glimpses of her backstory were interesting as well.

The author presented a story with many points that covered difficult subject matter. Things that could have made for a very emotional reading experience. Unfortunately, in the end, I found this novel just fell flat in those aspects. Issues and potential storylines that could have been more deeply explored, were only briefly touched on. The ideas were there and I believe the author possesses the ability to craft a more in-depth novel, however this was not the case here.

While I enjoyed Finding Edith for the quick story it was, it did leave me somewhat unfulfilled. This book touches on the following topics that might triggers some readers; suicide, grief and mental illness. However they aren’t deeply explored and might not have the impact heavier books with the same topics, might have.

Challenges · Currently Reading · Recommendations · Wrap-ups

Monthly Wrap-up: September 2021

Total Books Read in September: 6
Total Books Read in 2021: 44

Series September Challenge

For the month of September I challenged myself to read books from series that I have in progress. I was able to get to all of the physical books I mentioned in my TBR post. However I wasn’t able to finish A Royal Pain in time.

Series Books Read:

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Royal Wedding (Princess Diaries 11)
By: Meg Cabot

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

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The Bookshop on the Shore
(Scottish Bookshop 2)
By: Jenny Colgan

Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Series
Rating: 3.5/5

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Fly Away
(Firefly Lane 2)
By: Kristin Hannah

Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Series
Rating: 5/5

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Sweet Little Lies
(L.A. Candy 2)
By: Lauren Conrad

Preformed by: Jenna Lamia
Genre: YA Lit, Series
Rating: 3/5

Also Completed:

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Of Mice and Men
By: John Steinbeck
Read by: Gary Sinise

Genre: Classics, Audiobook
Rating: 4/5

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Flight from the Fortress
By: Lyn Cook

Genre: Middle Grade, Historical Fiction
Rating: 2.5/5

The Stats

Total Number of Books Read: 6
Total Number of Fiction: 6
Total Number of Non-Fiction: 0
Total Books Sent for Review: 0
Total Books Read from My Shelves: 3
Total Library Books Read: 3

Formats Read

Physical Books: 3
eBooks:
 1
Audio Books: 
2

Currently Reading

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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

Dear Haiti, Love Alaine by Maika Moulite & Maritza Moulite

Dear Haiti, Love Alaine
By: Maika Moulite & Maritza Moulite

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Published: September 2019
Published by: Inkyard Press
Format Read: Trade Paperback
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary Fiction

Rating: 4/5

NOTE: I won a copy of Maika Moulite and Maritza Moutlie’s Dear Haiti, Love Alaine, from the publisher via Goodreads Giveaways. This is my honest review.

Synopsis

Co-written by sisters Maika and Maritza Moulite, and told in epistolary style through letters, articles, emails, and diary entries, this exceptional debut novel captures a sparkling new voice and irrepressible heroine in a celebration of storytelling sure to thrill fans of Nicola Yoon, Ibi Zoboi and Jenna Evans Welch!

When a school presentation goes very wrong, Alaine Beauparlant finds herself suspended, shipped off to Haiti and writing the report of a lifetime…

You might ask the obvious question: What do I, a seventeen-year-old Haitian American from Miami with way too little life experience, have to say about anything?

Actually, a lot.

Thanks to “the incident” (don’t ask), I’m spending the next two months doing what my school is calling a “spring volunteer immersion project.” It’s definitely no vacation. I’m toiling away under the ever-watchful eyes of Tati Estelle at her new nonprofit. And my lean-in queen of a mother is even here to make sure I do things right. Or she might just be lying low to dodge the media sharks after a much more public incident of her own…and to hide a rather devastating secret.

All things considered, there are some pretty nice perks…like flirting with Tati’s distractingly cute intern, getting actual face time with my mom and experiencing Haiti for the first time. I’m even exploring my family’s history—which happens to be loaded with betrayals, superstitions and possibly even a family curse.

You know, typical drama. But it’s nothing I can’t handle.

My Thoughts

Sister writing duo Maika Moulite and Maritza Moulite draw inspiration from their own Haitian-American upbringing in their debut novel. Readers follow high school senior Alaine as she is sent to her family’s homeland of Haiti after a political scandal and suspension from school.

I had never read a book set in Haiti before, nor did I know much about that culture. I also learned more about the separation (and lack thereof) between the wealthy and those living in poverty in this island country. The vibrant descriptions of the setting were fascinating.

Alaine was a strong female lead with a personality and sarcastic sense of humor, that I could relate to. The multi-media format this book was told in (included; emails, messages, articles and written assignments) made for a quick and enjoyable reading experience.

I was initially leery about the storyline involving the family curse and its historical significance, as this isn’t something that generally interests me. However my curiosity about the final outcome and how it all came together really drew me in.

I would highly recommend Dear Haiti, Love Alaine to those who enjoy reading about strong young women who are intelligent and ambitious. I look forward to reading more from these authors in the future.

Book Reviews · Recommendations

Mother/Daughter Buddy Read 1: Secrets of the Lighthouse

Growing up reading was a big part of my childhood. In fact I would say that my love for books came from both of my parents, although my reading taste is more similar to that of my Mom’s. One of our favourite things to do together is to share and talk about books.

While unpacking my numerous boxes of books I discovered that I had two copies of Santa Montefiore’s Secrets of the Lighthouse. I gave one copy to my mom and kept the other for myself. We decided to both read it at the same time and so we officially did our first Mother/Daughter buddy read.

Secrets of the Lighthouse
By: Santa Montefiore

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Published: January 2013
Published by: Simon Schuster
Format Read: Hardcover
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Romance

Rating: 3.5/5

Synopsis

Ellen Trawton is running away from it all—quite literally. She is due to get married to a man she doesn’t love, her job is dragging her down, and her interfering mother is getting on her nerves. So she escapes to the one place she know her mother won’t follow her—to her aunt’s house in rural Ireland. Once there, she uncovers a dark family secret—and a future she never knew she might have.

Meanwhile, Caitlin Macausland is mourning the future she can never have. She died tragically in what the village thinks is suspicious circumstances, and now she is stuck in a limbo, unable to move on.

And between the two of them is an old lighthouse—the scene of so much tragedy. Can each woman find the peace she so desperately longs for? And can they find the way to live again?

Source: Goodreads

My Thoughts

Secrets of the Lighthouse follows Ellen Trawton, a privileged woman who runs away to Ireland and discovers a family she didn’t know she had. Meanwhile the rural seaside town she escapes to is defined by family loyalty and tradition.

My Mom and I have both read Santa Montefiore in the past. While we both enjoyed The Girl in the Castle, I did find it to be drawn out. Thankfully I did not find this novel to be this way. We found the descriptions of the small Irish village to be beautiful and the reading experience was made even more enjoyable by being able to discuss it as we read along.

There is a supernatural element to this storyline that I was unsure of at first. However in the end I thought that the author presented it in a way that was thought provoking.

My Mom and I both recommend Secrets of the Lighthouse by Santa Montefiore to fans of contemporary fiction, with a pinch of magical realism. We both look forward to reading more from this author and sharing more buddy reads in the future.

Challenges · Currently Reading · Recommendations · Wrap-ups

Monthly Wrap-up: July 2021

Total Books Read in July: 4
Total Books Read in 2021: 32

Backlist Catch-up TBR: 4/7

Backlist Catch-up TBR Books Read in July:

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The Lake of Dreams
By: Kim Edwards

Genre: Literary Fiction, Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 3/5
NOTE: I won a copy of The Lake of Dreams by Kim Edwards, from Goodreads and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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The Lieutenant’s Nurse
By: Sara Ackerman

Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: 3/5
NOTE: I was sent a copy of Sara Ackerman’s The Lieutenant’s Nurse, from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Additional Books Read:

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Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
By: Roald Dahl

Genre: Children’s Books, Children’s Fiction, Classics, Chapter Books
Rating: 3/5

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Murder at Blackhead
By: MK Staple

Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: 1/5

DNF

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All My Love, Detrick
By: Roberta Kagan

Genre: Historical Fiction

The Stats

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

Formats Read

Physical Books: 3
eBooks:
 0
Audio Books: 
1

Currently Reading

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