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!

Articles · Challenges · TBR

October TBR: Reading My Favourite Authors

Over the summer I made it a point to focus on all of the back-list books I had either been sent for review or had won via giveaways. Afterwards I decided that I would reward myself by spending a month reading books I own by my favourite authors.

Three of those authors include; Nicholas Sparks, Kate Morton and Mitch Albom. Here are the books I will be focusing on during the month of October.

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The Notebook
By: Nicholas Sparks

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The Lake House
By Kate Morton

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The First Phone Call From Heaven
By: Mitch Albom

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

Book Cover

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 · 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.

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.

Book Reviews · Read-a-thons · Recommendations

Charlie's Corner: Book Review: Viva Durant and the Secret of the Silver Buttons

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

Published: October 2019
Published by: Audible Original

Format: Audiobook, Audible
Genre: Middle Grade, Mystery, Series

Rating: 5/5

Synopsis

Viva Durant, New Orleans’ youngest detective, is on a quest to solve a jazzy mystery involving hidden treasure, while exploring the city’s unique culture, history, and music. This family-friendly audio original features original jazz music from the creator, Ashli St. Armant, and an enthusiastic performance from Audible Hall of Fame narrator, Bahni Turpin.

Plucky 14-year-old Viva Durant heads to New Orleans every summer to spend time with her loving but stern grandmother, known as Gram. After Gram reads Viva an article in the local paper about a missing treasure related to the world-famous song, “Miss Mary Mack,” Viva traverses the Crescent City on an epic adventure to solve the mystery. Along the way she meets some of the city’s most colorful characters as her journey takes her to the French Quarter, a jazz club, a creepy cemetery, and even the circus. Can Viva rise to the occasion and solve this musical mystery? Listeners will find Viva Durant and the Secret of the Silver Buttons a joy to listen to!

Source: Goodreads

My Thoughts

I came across Ashli St. Armant’s, Viva Durant and the Secret of the Silver Buttons when searching Audible Originals. I thought it would be a cute story to listen to for the Middle Grade March Read-a-thon. Surprisingly, I ended up loving Viva’s story and it became my second 5 star book of .

California girl Viva is given her first taste of freedom, while visiting her grandmother in New Orleans. She is taken by a newspaper article about a missing treasure, connected to the children’s song Miss Mary Mack. Using the article and the song lyrics, Viva goes on a treasure hunt that takes her into the French Quarter, on a discovery of music history and even to circus school. Additionally, it is all set to a soundtrack of some great Jazz music.

I thought that a mystery involving such a widely known song as Miss Mary Mack, was so clever. It features a stellar audio production and Banhi Turpin’s performance brought Viva to life. The setting felt authentic and vibrant. This audio book will also introduce a whole new generation to the Jazz genre, including those who may not have had the opportunity otherwise.

Viva Durant is a wonderfully put together audio book that can be enjoyed by the whole family.

Book Reviews · Recommendations

Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

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Daisy Jones and the Six
By: Taylor Jenkins Reid

Published: March 2019
Published by: Random House Audio
Format Read: Audiobook, Audible
Genre: Historical Fiction

Rating: 5/5

Synopsis

Everyone knows Daisy Jones & The Six, but nobody knows the reason behind their split at the absolute height of their popularity . . . until now.

Daisy is a girl coming of age in L.A. in the late sixties, sneaking into clubs on the Sunset Strip, sleeping with rock stars, and dreaming of singing at the Whisky a Go Go. The sex and drugs are thrilling, but it’s the rock and roll she loves most. By the time she’s twenty, her voice is getting noticed, and she has the kind of heedless beauty that makes people do crazy things.

Also getting noticed is The Six, a band led by the brooding Billy Dunne. On the eve of their first tour, his girlfriend Camila finds out she’s pregnant, and with the pressure of impending fatherhood and fame, Billy goes a little wild on the road.

Daisy and Billy cross paths when a producer realizes that the key to supercharged success is to put the two together. What happens next will become the stuff of legend.

The making of that legend is chronicled in this riveting and unforgettable novel, written as an oral history of one of the biggest bands of the seventies. Taylor Jenkins Reid is a talented writer who takes her work to a new level with Daisy Jones & The Six, brilliantly capturing a place and time in an utterly distinctive voice.

Cast List: Daisy Jones, read by Jennifer Beals; Billy Dunne, read by Pablo Schreiber; Graham Dunne, read by Benjamin Bratt; Eddie Loving, read by Fred Berman; Warren Rhodes, read by Ari Fliakos; Karen Karen, read by Judy Greer; Camila Dunne, read by January LaVoy; Simone Jackson, read by Robinne Lee; Narrator/Author, read by Julia Whelan; Jim Blades, read by Jonathan Davis; Rod Reyes, read by Henry Leyva; Artie Snyder, read by Oliver Wyman; Elaine Chang, read by Nancy Wu; Freddie Mendoza, read by P.J. Ochlan; Nick Harris, read by Arthur Bishop; Jonah Berg, read by Holter Graham; Greg McGuinness, read by Brendan Wayne; Pete Loving, read by Pete Larkin; Wyatt Stone, read by Alex Jenkins Reid; Hank Allen, read by Robert Petkoff; Opal Cunningham, read by Sara Arrington

Source: Goodreads

My Thoughts

Daisy Jones and the Six was one of the most hyped up releases of 2019 and as soon as I read its synopsis, I knew it was the book for me. A music related novel about a band from the 1970s was right up my alley. It is safe to say that with a 5 star rating, Taylor Jenkins Reid, didn’t disappoint.

I had a hard time deciding whether to read this book or listen to it in audio format. After seeing many reviews from other readers, I decided that listening to it would be the best choice for me. Although I do plan to eventually purchase a physical copy, because it was just that good. The all star cast did an incredible job of bringing these characters to life. In fact, I often got so lost in the audio that I forgot I was listening to a fictional story, and not a behind the scenes feature on a real band. It felt so real, raw and took this listener on an emotional roller coaster. The song lyrics were so captivating and made me long to be able to really listen to them.

Weeks after completing Daisy Jones and the Six, I still feel hung over as it is one of the best books I’ve listened to/ read in a long time. I would highly recommend listening to the audiobook and I can’t wait to read more from Taylor Jenkins Reid. Somebody make this into a movie, already!

Challenges · Memes · Recommendations · Tags · Wrap-ups

#Top10of2k19 Best of the Best

Top 10 of 2019


Top 10 of 2019 is a meme that looks back on the books read throughout the year. It is hosted by Kimberly Faye Reads and @greadsbooks. It runs from December 25-31.

Todays #Top10of2k19, prompt is The Best of the Best. In other words, our favourite books of 2019. I will also be sharing my responses on Instagram. You can follow me at @melissaleesredhousereviews .

5 Star Reads of 2019

To the Farthest Shores by Elizabeth Camden
Serious Moonlight by Jenn Bennett
Mending Fences (The Deacon’s Family, #1) by Suzanne Woods Fisher
Birds of a Feather (Maisie Dobbs, #2) by Jacqueline Winspear
The Sea Before Us (Sunrise at Normandy, #1) by Sarah Sundin
The Gilded Years by Karin Tanabe
Body of Proof by Darrell Brown & Sophie Ellis

Honorable Mentions

Me Before You (Me Before You, 1) by Jojo Moyes
The Bungalow Mystery (Nancy Drew 3) by Carolyn Keene
Philomena: A Mother, Her Son and a Fifty-Year Search by Martin Sixsmith

Articles · Recommendations · Uncategorized

My Favourite Podcasts

In my most recent posts I have mentioned that I went through a reading slump over the summer. This lead me to become more interested in audiobooks and get a subscription to Audible. Well around this time I also got into listening to podcasts. So today I want to share the current shows that had caught my attention.

Murder, Eh Podcast

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Source: Facebook


This is the one that kicked off my recent interest in listening to podcasts. Its focus is True Crime, most of which is Canadian in origin. It is hosted by my childhood friend Elyse Pearson and although it is currently (as of the creation of this post) on hiatus, I am looking forward to hearing more from her soon. Click on the link above or search Murder, Eh! on Spotifiy to listen to her episodes.

My Favorite Murder

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Source: Facebook

My Favorite Murder is (obviously) another true crime podcast and I was introduced to it by Elyse (from Murder, Eh!). It is hosted by comedians Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark and although it focuses on disturbing topics, they share the stories with their individual trademark wit.

The Dollop

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Source: Facebook

I learned about The Dollop podcast, from the ladies at My Favorite Murder. The two shows have even collaborated. Like the previous show, this one is also hosted by two comedians; Dave Anthony and Gareth Reynolds. They take a hilarious look at American history.

Do you listen to any podcasts? Leave me a message below. I’d love some more recommendations on any topic.

Book Reviews · Recommendations

Serious Moonlight by Jenn Bennett

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Serious Moonlight
By: Jenn Bennett

Published: April 2019
Published by: Simon Pulse
Format Read: ARC, eBook, Kindle App
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Rating: 5/5

NOTE: I was sent a copy of Serious Moonlight by Jenn Bennett, from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis

After an awkward first encounter, Birdie and Daniel are forced to work together in a Seattle hotel where a famous author leads a mysterious and secluded life in this romantic contemporary novel from the author of Alex, Approximately.

Mystery-book aficionado Birdie Lindberg has an overactive imagination. Raised in isolation and homeschooled by strict grandparents, she’s cultivated a whimsical fantasy life in which she plays the heroic detective and every stranger is a suspect. But her solitary world expands when she takes a job the summer before college, working the graveyard shift at a historic Seattle hotel.

In her new job, Birdie hopes to blossom from introverted dreamer to brave pioneer, and gregarious Daniel Aoki volunteers to be her guide. The hotel’s charismatic young van driver shares the same nocturnal shift and patronizes the waterfront Moonlight Diner where she waits for the early morning ferry after work. Daniel also shares her appetite for intrigue, and he’s stumbled upon a real-life mystery: a famous reclusive writer—never before seen in public—might be secretly meeting someone at the hotel.

To uncover the writer’s puzzling identity, Birdie must come out of her shell…discovering that the most confounding mystery of all may be her growing feelings for the elusive riddle that is Daniel.

-Goodreads

My Thoughts

Serious Moonlight was a surprise 5 star read for me and among my favourites, that I’ve read this year to date. Set in the beautifully described Seattle, readers follow as two young people navigate a new romance and try to solve a mystery of a reclusive author.

There were so many things that I loved about this book including; the mystery and pop culture references and quotes, the diversity of the characters and the chemistry they had together. I found both Birdie and Daniel to be very relatable. I appreciate how the author chose to represent two very different health afflictions with a character who was deaf in one ear, and another who suffered narcolepsy. Both of which I hadn’t previously read about in young adult fiction.

I found Daniel to be especially charming and loved how he worked to win over Birdie’s affections.

Jenn Bennett’s Serious Moonlight was a wonderful romance with a touch of mystery, that I would highly recommend. I look forward to reading more from this author in the future.