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.

Challenges · Read-a-thons · Wrap-ups

Bout of Books 28 Read-a-thon Fail

Grab button for Bout of Books

The Bout of Books Read-a-thon ran from May 11-17. This is my wrap-up of my reading progress.

Total Books Read: 1

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My Lost Family
By: Danny Ben-Moshe and Dasha Lisitsina

Genre: Non-fiction, Audiobook
Rating: 5/5

Challenges

Day 1: Introduce yourself in 6 words.

Boy Mom, Cat Mom, Book Lover

….and unfortunately that is as far as I got. I had high hopes that I would make some great reading progress during this read-a-thon. Unfortunately life got in the way.

I did make decent progress on Nights in Rodanthe by Nicholas Sparks, but wasn’t able to get to An Awakened Heart (Orphan Train, 0.5) by Jody Hedlund.

I’m hoping for better luck in the next round of the Bout of Books Read-a-thon.

Book Reviews · Recommendations

Snowfall and Secrets (Omega Mu Alpha Brothers, 1) by Kimberly Loth

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Snowfall and Secrets
(Omega Mu Alpha Brothers, 1)
By: Kimberly Loth

Published: September 2016
Format Read: eBook, Kindle App
Genre: Romances, Contemporary Fiction, Series

Rating: 2.5/5

Synopsis

Tess escapes from Florida with a secret as big as Miami. She needs to find someplace to lay low and hide from her overbearing family. Mackinac Island, Michigan, should be the perfect place to hide out. However, her timing is a little off, it’s the dead of winter and she’s never been in temperatures below fifty degrees. Just her luck, her landlord, Lukas, is as hot as the sun. He’s also moody and hiding secrets as well. Which suits Tess fine. A man is the last complication she needs. A Michigan blizzard leaves them trapped in the same house together and things heat up, fast. Tess finds herself falling for Lukas, in spite of the secrets that could ruin everything before it even begins.

Source: Goodreads

My Thoughts

Snowfall and Secrets attracted my attention for two main reasons;

1. It is set during my favourite season: winter.

2. Mackinac Island is one of my bucket list locations.

I don’t usually pick up romance novels like this as they tend to be too over the top for my liking. And yes, Snowfall and Secrets did have those kind of moments, however I was pleasantly surprised that I enjoyed Tess and Lukas story as much as I did. The author got straight to the point with their attraction to each other. Although their individual circumstances kept boundaries in place.

As I anticipated, the setting, season and community on Mackinac Island were my favourite parts of this book. Now I want to visit there more than ever. The story behind the fraternity brother’s dogs and their names was a clever way to keep them connected so long after they finished college and thus giving a basis for this series.

I would recommend Snowfall and Secrets to fans of the romance genre. However I am not interested enough to continue on with the Omega Mu Alpha Brothers Series.

Challenges · Charlie's Corner · Read-a-thons · Recommendations · Wrap-ups

Charlie's Corner: Middle Grade March 2020 Wrap-up

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

This past month I participated in Middle Grade March. It is a genre I don’t read a lot of, but I really enjoyed participating and am looking forward to joining again next time. What made this read-a-thon special to me was that some of the books I shared with my son Charlie. He especially enjoyed listening to the audiobook Viva Durant.

Middle Grade March is hosted on YouTube by Life Between Words and Books and Jams. The prompts for the month included:

  • Books set in another country.
  • Book to screen adaptations.
  • Mystery books.
  • Books with illustrations.
  • Books about stories

My Middle Grade March Wrap-up

Total Books Read: 5

1. A Study in Scarlet (The Sherlock Holmes Children’s Collection 1) by Stephanie Baudet

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NOTE: I was sent a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.
Rating: 3/5
Prompts Covered: A book set in another country (England), Book to screen adaptation, Mystery book, a book with illustrations.

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

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Rating: 5/5
Prompts Covered: A book set in another country (USA), Mystery book.

3. The Canary Caper (A to Z Mysteries, 3) by Ron Roy

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Rating: 3/5
Prompts Covered: A book set in another country (USA), Mystery book, A book with illustrations.

4. The Deadly Dungeon (A to Z Mysteries, 4) by Ron Roy

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Rating: 2/5
Prompts Covered: A book set in another country (USA), Mystery book, A book with illustrations.

5. The Empty Envelope (A to Z Mysteries, 5) by Ron Roy

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Rating: 3/5
Prompts Covered: A book set in another country (USA), Mystery book, A book with illustrations.

Challenges · Charlie's Corner · Read-a-thons

Charlie’s Corner: Middle Grade March Read-a-thon

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

During the month of March, the book community is celebrating the middle grade genre. This is a genre I don’t pick up very often, so I am not as familiar with the popular books released in the past several years. I am looking forward to discovering some new (or new to me) authors and their stories. This will also be a great opportunity for me to revisit some books from my childhood. And even though my son is still several years from this age-group, I hope to share some books with him too.

I will be participating in the Middle Grade March Read-a-thon, which is hosted by Life Between Words and Books and Jams. It is a month long read-a-thon and the prompts are as follows:

  • Books set in another country.
  • Book to screen adaptations.
  • Mystery books.
  • Books with illustrations.
  • Books about stories

My TBR

Funny enough, I recently came across a box of old books from my childhood, at my parents. Which was great timing as there were several that would fit the bill. I’m also looking forward to gathering some books from my library.

As of this posting, I have two definite books that I intend to read this months. Those include:

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NOTE: I was sent a copy of A Study in Scarlet, created by Stephanie Baudet and Illustrated by Arianna Belucci, from the publisher via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.
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I will be sharing my reading progress on my Instagram page. You can follow me @melissaleesredhousereviews .

Will you be reading any middle grade during the month of March? Let me know in the comments.

Challenges · Currently Reading · Read-a-thons · Recommendations · Wrap-ups

Monthly Wrap-up: February 2020

I hope that you all had a wonderful February. I was happy to have participated in my second read-a-thon for the year. (I’m hoping to participate in one a month, if possible). It was my first time joining the Contemporary-a-thon and I managed to complete some of the prompts. You can see my wrap-up here.

Total Books Read in February: 5
Total Books Read in 2020: 9

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The Book of Gutsy Women
By: Hillary Rodham Clinton and Chelsea Clinton

Genre: Non-fiction
Rating: 4/5

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The Victory Garden
By: Rhys Bowen
Narrated by: Saaskia Marleveld

Genre: Historical Fiction, Audiobook, Audible
Rating: 3/5

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The Flatshare
By: Beth O’Leary

Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Romance
Rating: 3.5/5

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Snowfall and Secrets (Omega Mu Alpha Brothers 1)
By Kimberly Loth

Genre: Romance, Contemporary, Series
Rating: 2.5/5

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Shopaholic Takes Manhattan (Confessions of a Shopaholic 2)
By: Sophie Kinsella

Genre: Contemporary fiction, Romance, Series
Rating: 3/5

DNF

Crashing the A-List

Crashing the A-List
By: Summer Heacock

Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Romance
NOTE: I was sent a copy of Crashing the A-List by Summer Heacock, from the publisher via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.

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Tinaca Jones
By: Matt Boren
Narrated by: Retta

Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Audiobook, Audible Original
Note: Unfortunately I wasn’t able to get into the plot of this audiobook and decided to move on.

The Stats

Total Number of Books Read: 5
Total Number of Fiction: 4
Total Number of Non-Fiction: 1
Total Books Sent for Review: 0
Total Books Read from My Shelves: 3
Total Library Books Read: 2

Formats Read

Physical Books: 3
eBooks:
1
Audio Books:
1

Currently Reading

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March TBR

March is Mystery Madness Month. I’m not signing up for any groups or a read-a-thon for this theme, in particular. However I do hope to read some books from the mystery genre over the next 4 weeks.

Another genre I am hoping to read from is middle grade fiction. So, I have decided to participate in the Middle Grade March Read-a-thon. This is a month long challenge, that is hosted on YouTube by Life Between Words and Books And Jams. I will make a separate post announcing my intentions soon.

Challenges · Read-a-thons · Wrap-ups

A Better Late than Never Contemporary-a-thon Wrap-up

From February 10 until the 16, I participated in the Contemporary-a-thon. This is the first time I participated in this read-a-thon and quite enjoyed connecting with the other participants. I even found several new bloggers to follow. My overall goal was to complete at least 1 book during the week long event. I picked 3 books to chose from. My TBR included:

The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary
Tinaca Jones by Matt Boren
Crashing the A List by Summer Heacock

Unfortunately I decided to DNF Tinaca Jones and Crashing the A List, as I couldn’t get into their plots. So I decided to pick up:

Snowfall and Secrets (Omega Mu Alpha Brothers, 1) by Kimberly Loth

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Books Completed: 1

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I completed The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary during the read-a-thon and I also made great progress on Snowfall and Secrets by Kimberly Loth.

Prompts Covered

1. Read a contemporary book with green on the cover. (See plant and green door)
2. Read a contemporary book from a new to you author.
3. Read a diverse contemporary. (Although we don’t learn exactly what background Leon is, it is mentioned that he is multicultural.)
6. Read a contemporary with an illustrated cover.
7. Read a contemporary that is beloved by a member of the book community. (Beloved by Heather: Bookables.)

I am looking forward to participating in the Contemporary-a-thon, again next year.

Did you do this read-a-thon? If so how did you do?

Book Reviews · Read-a-thons · Recommendations

The Mother-In-Law by Sally Hepworth

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The Mother-in-Law
By: Sally Hepworth

Published: January 2019
Published by: St. Martin’s Press
Format Read: Hardcover
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Mystery

Rating: 3.5/5

Synopsis

A twisty, compelling novel about one woman’s complicated relationship with her mother-in-law that ends in murder…

From the moment Lucy met her husband’s mother, Diana, she was kept at arm’s length. Diana was exquisitely polite, and properly friendly, but Lucy knew that she was not what Diana envisioned. But who could fault Diana? She was a pillar of the community, an advocate for social justice who helped female refugees assimilate to their new country. Diana was happily married to Tom, and lived in wedded bliss for decades. Lucy wanted so much to please her new mother-in-law.

That was five years ago.

Now, Diana has been found dead, a suicide note near her body. Diana claims that she no longer wanted to live because of a battle with cancer.

But the autopsy finds no cancer.

The autopsy does find traces of poison and suffocation.

Who could possibly want Diana dead?

Why was her will changed at the eleventh hour to disinherit both of her adult children and their spouses?

With Lucy’s secrets getting deeper and her relationship with her mother-in-law growing more complex as the pages turn, this new novel from Sally Hepworth is sure to add to her growing legion of fans.

Source: Goodreads

My Thoughts

I picked up Sally Hepworth’s The Mother-in-Law, expecting it to be a fast mystery thriller. The cover describes the characters in this book to all have something to hide, so I anticipated suspenseful reveals. In reality, I would categorize this novel as more of a contemporary, family drama. It was however, a quick read and made for a good selection for a read-a-thon.

Discovering the truth behind Diana’s death kept me engrossed, but I found the interactions and reactions of the characters throughout to have been strange. It was hard to figure out which character we (as the reader) were supposed to sympathize with, as there were questionable qualities about every single one. I welcomed the Australian setting, as I have read very few books from that country.

My thoughts are conflicted about The Mother-in-Law, even though I couldn’t put it down. I’m interested in reading reviews from other readers to see if they felt the same as I do. I would recommend it to those who enjoy family dramas and I would consider reading more from Sally Hepworth.

Challenges · Read-a-thons

Contemporary-a-thon TBR

Are you participating in Contemporary-a-thon? If so what do you hope to read this week?