Book Reviews · Charlie's Corner · Recommendations

Charlie’s Corner: Waiting for Snow by Marsha Diane Arnold

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

Waiting for Snow
By: Marsha Diane Arnold
Illustrated by: Renata Liwska

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Published: November 2016
Published by: HMH Books for Young Readers
Format Read: eBook, Library book, Libby App.
Genre: Children’s fiction, Picture Book

Rating: 4/5

Synopsis

Badger cannot wait one more minute for it to snow. When his friend Hedgehog explains that everything comes in its time, Badger is as unconvinced and impatient as ever. But Badger’s friends have a few tricks up their sleeve to try to get the snow’s attention and distract their pal in the meantime. In the end, Badger sees there’s no trick—only waiting—until at last, it’s time. 

Source: Goodreads

My Thoughts

Badger can’t wait for snow so he and his animal friends try to think of ways they can bring on the weather. In this cute picture books, children are taught the importance of patients. Waiting for Snow by Marsha Diane Arnold and illustrated by Renata Liwska is the perfect read for those little ones who can’t wait to get out and build a snowman or go for a sled ride.

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.

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

Lumberjanes, Vol. 1: Beware the Kitten Holy

Lumberjanes
Vol. 1: Beware the Kitten Holy
By: Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, Shannon Watters, Brooklyn Allen, Maarta Laiho, Aubrey Aiese

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Published: April 2015
Published by: BOOM! Box
Format Read: eBook, Libby App.
Genre: Graphic Novel, Comics, Fantasy, Young Adult

Rating: 4/5

Synopsis

FRIENDSHIP TO THE MAX!

At Miss Qiunzilla Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet’s camp for hard-core lady-types, things are not what they seem. Three-eyed foxes. Secret caves. Anagrams. Luckily, Jo, April, Mal, Molly, and Ripley are five rad, butt-kicking best pals determined to have an awesome summer together… And they’re not gonna let a magical quest or an array of supernatural critters get in their way! The mystery keeps getting bigger, and it all begins here.

Collects Lumberjanes No. 1-4.

Source: Goodreads

My Thoughts

I picked up this graphic novel on a whim when I saw it was available at my local library via the Libby App. I had heard rave reviews about this first installment and the series as a whole, when it was released. However I didn’t pay much attention to it as I had never been interested in graphic novels before. Thankfully I decided to give it a shot as it was such a fun reading experience.

I was surprised that I enjoyed it as much as I did. Although you don’t get as much written detail in this format, the cast of characters are vibrant and unique. If I had to compare it, I would say that Lumberjanes is a combination of Percy Jackson meets a sarcastic troop of Girl Guides. It was clever and humorous, with some great themes. Although I felt it ended abruptly, I am really looking forward to reading the second installment of this series soon.

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

Anna’s Crossing (Amish Beginnings, 1) by Suzanne Woods Fisher

Anna’s Crossing
(Amish Beginnings, 1)
By: Suzanne Woods Fisher

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Published: February 2015
Published by: Revell
Format Read: eBook, Kindle
Genre: Historical Fiction, Christian Fiction

Rating: 3.5/5

Synopsis

When Anna König first meets Bairn, the Scottish ship carpenter of the Charming Nancy, their encounter is anything but pleasant. Anna is on the ship only to ensure the safe arrival of her loved ones to the New World. Hardened by years of living at sea, Bairn resents toting these naïve farmers–dubbed “Peculiars” by deckhands–across the ocean. As delays, storms, illness, and diminishing provisions afflict crew and passengers alike, Bairn finds himself drawn to Anna’s serene nature. For her part, Anna can’t seem to stay below deck and far away from the aloof ship’s carpenter, despite warnings.

When an act of sacrifice leaves Anna in a perilous situation, Bairn discovers he may not have left his faith as firmly in the past as he thought. But has the revelation come too late?

Amish fiction favorite Suzanne Woods Fisher brings her fans back to the beginning of Amish life in America with this fascinating glimpse into the first ocean crossing as seen through the eyes of a devout young woman and an irreverent man. Blending the worlds of Amish and historical fiction, Fisher is sure to delight her longtime fans even as she attracts new ones with her superb and always surprise-filled writing.

Source: Goodreads

My Thoughts

In this series, Suzanne Woods Fisher chronicles the journey early Amish settlers took to the New World in the 1730’s. Readers follow a young woman named Anna, who travels with members of her community aboard a ship called “Charming Nancy” bound for Pennsylvania. As the only person in their group who spoke English, Anna acts as translator finding herself often dealing with Bairn, the ships carpenter and third in command.

Suzanne Woods Fisher is one of my favourite Amish fiction writers; a genre I have cherished reading in recent years. While I have read many historical fiction books in the Christian genre, this is the first I’ve read that follows this particular group.

I was interested in learning how the Amish faith differed in this time period, compared to other more commonly practiced religions. Along with their fellow Mennonite passengers they were known as “the peculiars”. The Amish of the 1700’s stood out in appearance, much like they do today sporting different beards and prayer caps. Although the author wrote of their peaceful and giving nature, I didn’t feel that their was much of a comparison told.

I have come to realize that most fiction in this genre centers around faith being tested. Usually one character is a strong believer, while the other struggles with it. Anna’s Crossing is no different, so I did find the story to be predictable, but I am happy to say that I still appreciated the message it tells.

I highly recommend Suzanne Woods Fisher’s Anna’s Crossing. I am looking forward to reading more about the early Amish settlers and how they began to plant their roots in the New World.

Challenges · Currently Reading · Memes · Recommendations · Wrap-ups

Monthly Wrap-up: June 2021

Total Books Read in June: 5
Total Books Read in 2021: 28

I am officially over half way to my goal of reading 52 books in 2021! If I can keep up with the pace I am reading, I believe I will meet my goal, which is so exciting. Did you set any reading goals this year? How are they going?

In a previous post, I shared my current TBR, which was to my backlist books that I have been sent. Below is the progress I made this month:

Backlist Catch-up TBR: 2/7

Backlist Catch-up TBR Books Read in June:

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Inheriting Edith
By: Zoe Fishman

Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 3/5
Note: I won a copy of Inheriting Edith from Goodreads and plan to share my honest review in a future post.

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

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Rating: 4/5
NOTE: I won a copy of Dear Haiti, Love Alaine by Maika Moulite and Maritza Moulite from Goodreads and plan to share my honest review in a future post.

Additional Books Read:

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Lumberjanes, Vol. 1: Beware the Kitten Holy
By: Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, Shannon Watters, Brooklyn Allen

Genre: Graphic Novel, Young Adult, Contemporary, Fantasy
Rating: 4/5

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For the Love of Friends
By: Sara Goodman Confino

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 Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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The Vanishing Half
By: Britt Bennett

Genre: Historical Fiction, Audiobook
Rating: 4/5

DNF

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Cut and Run
By: Ben Acker & Ben Blacker

Narrated by: Meg Ryan, et. Al.
Genre: Audiobook, Comedy
Reason for DNF: The concept of a comedic presentation about organ harvesters, was interesting, however I found it rushed and wasn’t invested enough to keep track of the characters.

The Stats

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

Formats Read

Physical Books: 2
eBooks:
 2
Audio Books: 
1

Currently Reading

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Book Reviews · Recommendations

The Final Revival of Opal & Nev by Dawnie Walton

The Final Revival of Opal & Nev
By: Dawnie Walton

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Published: March 2021
Published By: Simon & Schuster
Format Read: eBook, Kindle, ARC, NetGalley
Genre: Historical Fiction

Rating: 3.5/5

NOTE: I was sent a copy of The Final Revival of Opal & Nev by Dawnie Walton, from the publisher via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis

A poignant fictional oral history of the beloved rock ‘n’ roll duo who shot to fame in the 1970s New York, and the dark, fraught secret that lies at the peak of their stardom.

Opal is a fiercely independent young woman pushing against the grain in her style and attitude, Afro-punk before that term existed. Coming of age in Detroit, she can’t imagine settling for a 9-to-5 job—despite her unusual looks, Opal believes she can be a star. So when the aspiring British singer/songwriter Neville Charles discovers her at a bar’s amateur night, she takes him up on his offer to make rock music together for the fledgling Rivington Records.

In early seventies New York City, just as she’s finding her niche as part of a flamboyant and funky creative scene, a rival band signed to her label brandishes a Confederate flag at a promotional concert. Opal’s bold protest and the violence that ensues set off a chain of events that will not only change the lives of those she loves, but also be a deadly reminder that repercussions are always harsher for women, especially black women, who dare to speak their truth.

Decades later, as Opal considers a 2016 reunion with Nev, music journalist S. Sunny Shelton seizes the chance to curate an oral history about her idols. Sunny thought she knew most of the stories leading up to the cult duo’s most politicized chapter. But as her interviews dig deeper, a nasty new allegation from an unexpected source threatens to blow up everything.

Provocative and chilling, The Final Revival of Opal & Nev features a backup chorus of unforgettable voices, a heroine the likes of which we’ve not seen in storytelling, and a daring structure, and introduces a bold new voice in contemporary fiction.

My Thoughts

Like many other readers, I was intrigued to read The Final Revival of Opal and Nev, after seeing it being compared to Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid. Like that book, Dawnie Walton tells this story in an interview format. However where Daisy Jones and the Six focuses on emotional lyrics, Opal and Nev explores more of a social justice point of view.

While I don’t think that the music this unlikely pair would have released would have been my cup of tea, I could definitely appreciate how they would have made an impression with their originality. Opal especially was a strong character, although she wasn’t perfect. I liked how she became a leader for those who were seen as different and not accepted by society.

Author Dawnie Walton did not shy away from tackling difficult topics including; feminism and racial injustices. I would recommend it to readers who are looking for an impactful book that explores those topics.