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

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

Quick Thoughts on Recent Short Listens

Today I am going to share some quick thoughts on two of my most recent short stories that I listened to in audiobook format.

Tinaca Jones
By: Matt Boren
Narrated by: Retta

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Published: January 2020
Published by: Audible Audio
Format Read: Audio book, Audible
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Audio Book, Humor

Rating: 2/5

Quick Thoughts: Told in interview format, cashier and entrepreneur-to-be Tinaca Jones discovers that her identity has been stolen by a women seeking fame. This short Audible Original chronicles Tinaca’s humorous testimony. Although it had some laugh out loud moments, and I enjoyed the pop culture references, I did find it to be quite long winded. Still, I think that there is an audience for this audiobook, and I would recommend listening to it.

100 Ways to Motivate Yourself
By: Steve Chandler

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Published: January 2006
Published by: HighBridge Company
Format Read: Audiobook, Libby App
Genre: Self-help, Non-fiction

Rating: 3/5

Quick Thoughts: We can all use some extra motivation from time to time. This is especially true for me as I can be quite the procrastinator. Steve Chandler, offers 100 ways to motivate yourself .Several tips I found to be of interest and I enjoyed the quotes that were included, especially the story about Arnold Schwarzenegger and the importance of creating a vision of yourself and then living your life accordingly. One specific tip that has helped me to be more productive was, aside from writing a to-do list, also make a list of your accomplishments. Although I found this book to be helpful, I found the narration to be less than captivating and would therefore recommend reading a physical copy.

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 · Charlie's Corner · Recommendations

Charlie’s Corner: Catla and the Vikings by: Mary Elizabeth Nelson

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

Catla and the Vikings
By: Mary Elizabeth Nelson

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Published: March 2012
Published by: Orca Book Publishers
Format Read: eBook, Libby App
Genre: Historical Fiction, Middle Grade

Rating: 3/5

Synopsis

In the fall of 1066, a thirteen-year-old Anglo-Saxon girl named Catla watches from afar as Viking raiders burn her village and imprison her family and the other villagers. No one sees her as she flees toward Aigber, the closest village, praying the people there will help.

Catla must ignore her terror as she makes her way to the standing stones, a place of refuge, where she meets Sven, an older boy from her village. Together, they continue toward Aigber and are able to alert the village of the coming peril. Catla and Sven rally the villagers of Aigber, and with Catla’s help, a plan is put in place that will save both villages from the Nord-devils.

Source: Goodreads

My Thoughts

Catla and the Vikings introduces young readers to a brave girl as she attempts to save her Saxon village from a Viking invasion. Mary Elizabeth Nelson presents an exciting adventure about a time in history I had not yet explored. While I appreciated how women were portrayed as warriors amoung men, I was disappointed by how abruptly the book ended. Another aspect of this book that I found to be well done, was in the way such a violent event as an invasion, was presented, so that it was appropriate for its younger audience.

Although it didn’t conclude to my satisfaction, I would still recommend Catla and the Vikings to fans of middle grade historical fiction.

Book Reviews · Recommendations

Birds of a Feather (Maisie Dobbs, 2) by Jacqueline Winspear

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Birds of a Feather
(Maisie Dobbs, #2)

By: Jacqueline Winspear
Read by: Kim Hicks

Published: January 2004
Published by: Audiogo
Format Read: Audiobook, Library Book
Genre: Historical Fiction

Rating: 5/5

Synopsis

It is the spring of 1930, and Maisie has been hired to find a runaway heiress. When three of the heiress’s old friends are found dead, Maisie must race to find out who would want to kill these seemingly respectable young women before it’s too late. As Maisie investigates, she discovers that the answers lie in the unforgettable agony of the Great War.

Goodreads

My Thoughts

Private investigator Maisie Dobbs is back in the second installment of Jacqueline WInspear’s series. Like the first book, she is on the case of a mystery linking to World War I.

This series is of great interest to me as it is explores the aftermath of the first world war and the lasting affect it had on those who lived through it. Although 15 years have passed, the roles that some played during those terrible years, still haunt them.

One of the many reasons why I liked the Maisie Dobbs, book one so much was due in part to the methods of deduction used in solving the mysteries. This method was even more compelling to me in Birds of a Feather and in the end I enjoyed it more than the first.

Initially I was disappointed that Rita Barrington wasn’t the narrator, but as I listened I realized that that Kim Hicks was a great fit for the role as well.

Jacqueline Winspear’s Maisie Dobbs series is a clever historical mystery that I would highly recommend.

Book Reviews · Recommendations

Mini 5 Star Historical Fiction Reviews: March 2019

I was fortunate enough to read two books that I rated 5 stars during the month of march. Both of these books were historical fiction. Here are my quick thoughts.

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The Gilded Years
By Karin Tanabe

Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: 5/5
Synopsis:

Passing meets The House of Mirth in this “utterly captivating” (Kathleen Grissom, New York Times bestselling author of The Kitchen House) historical novel based on the true story of Anita Hemmings, the first black student to attend Vassar, who successfully passed as white—until she let herself grow too attached to the wrong person.

My Thoughts: The setting of Karin Tanabe’s The Gilded Years was of great interest to me as I am really drawn to books set in New York (state or city) during this time period. Life for young women in college, during a time when very few had the opportunity was fascinating. However it was the importance of Anita Hemmings story that really captivated me. Not only did she make strides during a time of women’s suffrage, but in the civil rights of her own people as well. The Gilded Age would make for a great book club selection as it will open many opportunities for discussion.

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To the Farthest Shores
By: Elizabeth Camden

Read by: Angela Brazil
Synopsis:
It has been six years since army nurse Jenny Bennett’s heart was broken by a dashing naval officer. Now Lieutenant Ryan Gallagher has abruptly reappeared in her life at the Presidio army base but refuses to discuss the inexplicable behavior that destroyed their happiness. Ryan is in an impossible situation. One of the few men in the world qualified to carry out a daring assignment, he accepted a government mission overseas that caused his reputation to be destroyed and broke the heart of the only woman he ever loved. Honor bound never to reveal where he had been during those six years, he can’t tell Jenny the truth or it will endanger an ongoing mission and put thousands of lives at risk. Although Ryan thinks he may have finally found a solution, he can’t pull it off on his own. Loyalty to her country compels Jenny to help, but she never could have imagined the intrigue she and Ryan will have to face or the lengths to which they will have to go to succeed.

My Thoughts: I was pleasantly surprised as to how much I enjoyed Elizabeth Camden’s To The Farthest Shores. There are many different aspects to this story that some may find overwhelming, but I enjoyed each part. The characters were very diverse with very detailed histories including a strong female lead. I was especially intrigued by the comparisons between the American and Japanese cultures. Angela Brazil was a wonderful and optimistic narrator for this audiobook and I hope to listen to more from her in the future. I would highly recommend To the Farthest Shores to fans of Christian historical fiction.

Book Reviews · Uncategorized

The Tea House on Mulberry Street by Sharon Owens

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The Tea House on Mulberry Street
By: Sharon Owens
Narrated by: Caroline Winterson

Published: February 2005
Published by: Listen & Live Audio
Format Read: Audio book, Library book, Libby App
Genre: Women’s Fiction

Rating: 3/5

Synopsis

Muldoon’s Tea Rooms, beloved for the cozy atmosphere and luscious desserts, has started looking a bit outdated — and the same could be said about the proprietors, Penny and Daniel Stanley. After seventeen years, their marriage has started to fade and wear a little thin, even as their old shop bustles with the energy of the customers who seek refuge from their particular dilemmas: Housewife Sadie Smith comes to escape her diet and her husband’s stick-thin mistress. Struggling artist Brenda Brown sits and pens love letters to the actor Nicolas Cage. And Clare Fitzgerald returns after twenty years abroad to search for a long-lost someone. Behind the cherry cheesecakes, vanilla ice creams, and chocolate cappuccinos are the stirrings of a revolution that will define lives, heal troubled hearts, and rock the very foundation of the humble teahouse. And through it all, Penny and Daniel manage to discover what truly matters in life and love.

-Goodreads

My Thoughts

Set in 1999, Belfast; The Tea House on Mullberry Street follows the owners and customers of a small cafe. I was instantly reminded of a Maeve Binchy novel, what with a group of unrelated people with one common connection. This connection was the theme of the story and followed how each character dealt with their individual situations. 


It took some time for me to get into the story, but once the plot began to move along, I enjoyed it well enough. 


Caroline Winterson was a great narrator who did justice to the different dialects.


I would recommend it to those who enjoy women’s fiction, like Maeve Binchy.