Book Reviews

Finding Cinderella (Hopeless, 2.5) by Colleen Hoover

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Finding Cinderella
(Hopeless, 2.5)
By: Colleen Hoover

Published: October 2013
Published by: Atria Books
Format Read: eBook, Kindle
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Contemporary Fiction, Novella, Series

Rating: 2/5

Synopsis

A chance encounter in the dark leads eighteen-year-old Daniel and the girl who stumbles across him to profess their love for each other. But this love has conditions: they agree it will last only one hour, and it will be only make-believe.

When their hour is up and the girl rushes off like Cinderella, Daniel tries to convince himself that what happened between them seemed perfect only because they were pretending it was. Moments like that happen only in fairy tales.

One year and one bad relationship later, his disbelief in love-at-first-sight is stripped away the day he meets Six: a girl with a strange name and an even stranger personality. Unfortunately for Daniel, finding true love doesn”t guarantee a happily ever after… it only further threatens it.

Will an unbearable secret from the past jeopardize Daniel and Six’s only chance at saving each other?

Source: Goodreads

My Thoughts

For the past several years, Colleen Hoover has been one of the most hyped authors on the scene and I was curious to find out if I would join her fan bandwagon. So I picked up Hopeless, the first book in the series of the same name. And what do you know? I loved it! Sky’s story had me immediately hooked. This intense novel ended up being one of my favourite books that year. I was intrigued to hear that there was a second book in the series, however after hearing that it was basically the same story, but from Holder’s perspective I decided not to read it.

After reading Finding Cinderella, which is book 2.5, I wish I had read Losing Hope first because there were a lot of things I didn’t remember or missed out on. I was quite surprised how different the tone of this novella was from the first book in the series. Hopeless was serious and intense, whereas Finding Cinderella was a “meet cute” romance.

Unfortunately the ramblings of the male lead: Daniel became more annoying to me as I read on. However I did find his relationship with his Cinderella to be quite cute. They were a great pair and their individual sense of humor were so in sync.

Although Finding Cinderella didn’t live up to Hopeless, I do plan to read more from this author in the future. I would suggest to those who would like to read this novella, that they read the second book in the series first.

Book Reviews · Recommendations

Someone We Know by Shari Lapena

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Someone We Know
By: Shari Lapena

Published: July 2019
Published by: Pamela Dorman Books
Format Read: Trade Paperback
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Contemporary

Rating: 4/5

Synopsis

Maybe you don’t know your neighbors as well as you thought you did . . .

“This is a very difficult letter to write. I hope you will not hate us too much. . . My son broke into your home recently while you were out.”

In a quiet, leafy suburb in upstate New York, a teenager has been sneaking into houses–and into the owners’ computers as well–learning their secrets, and maybe sharing some of them, too.

Who is he, and what might he have uncovered? After two anonymous letters are received, whispers start to circulate, and suspicion mounts. And when a woman down the street is found murdered, the tension reaches the breaking point. Who killed her? Who knows more than they’re telling? And how far will all these very nice people go to protect their own secrets?

In this neighborhood, it’s not just the husbands and wives who play games. Here, everyone in the family has something to hide . . .

You never really know what people are capable of.

Source: Goodreads

My Thoughts

Someone We Know is the latest release from Canadian author Shari Lapena. I have been hearing a lot about her books and have been eagerly awaiting the chance to pick up one.

This thriller follows a community of people with a lot of secrets and an unsolved murder. The synopsis lead me to think that the plot would have had more to do with the secrets the teenage boy uncovers in the homes he breaks into. However it is more centered around the murder and those who were connected to the victim.

I enjoyed this mystery and found it to be a quick read. Some aspects of the plot I was able to predict, however there were details I didn’t see coming. Someone We Know might be light on suspense, but I would definitely recommend it to fans of the genre. I look forward to reading more from Shari Lapena in the near future.

Book Reviews · Charlie's Corner · Recommendations

Charlie’s Corner: Let it Snow!

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

Today I would like to share two library books we enjoyed, that had the same theme: snow!

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The Snow Day
By: Komako Sakai

Published: January 2009
Published by: Arthur A. Levine Books
Format Read: Hardcover
Genre: Children’s Books, Picture Books

Rating: 3/5

Quick Thoughts

The Snow Day follows a little bunny, who wakes up to discover that his city is covered in snow and school is closed. No only is he stuck inside, but his Father’s plane is cancelled and he can’t make it home due to the storm. The little bunny and his mother spend the day waiting for the snow to stop. Children who live in apartments and cities will be able to relate to the little bunny. As will those whose parents often travel for work. This setting was a different perspective than is normally seen in children’s books, which was refreshing. My toddler and I enjoyed reading this story over and over again. The illustrations were dreary in colour, however it fit with the tone of the snow storm.

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Just a Snowman
(Little Critter)
By: Mercer Mayer

Published: September 2004
Published by: HarperFestival
Format Read: Paperback
Genre: Children’s Books, Picture Books, Series

Rating: 4/5

Quick Thoughts

My toddler and I enjoyed being back in the world of Mercer Mayer’s Little Critter series. In this installment, Little Critter is enjoying a snow day and his one goal is to just make a snowman. However his friends and family keep him busy with other fun activities including: skating and snowball fights. As to be expected, this story is delightful and chalk full of funny irony. We look forward to reading more Little Critter books in the future.

Articles · Personal Post · Wrap-ups

2019 in Review

Welcome to my 2019 Year in Review, where I will look back on my reading progress and the posts I’ve made over the past 12 months. But first I would like to take a moment to thank everyone who followed my blog. I really appreciate your support, whether you left me a comment or just popped on to read a post. I hope that you all had a wonderful holiday season and wishing you a very happy new year.

Reflecting on My Blogging in 2019

I took a bit of a different approach to my posts, this past year, as I have had less time and found myself dealing with major writers block. I was becoming very frustrated by my lack of content ideas and I even considered giving it all up. I felt so stuck and uninspired. However I talked myself into pushing through and decided on focusing on making a minimum of 1 post a week. This took a lot of the self-inflicted stress off my shoulders and in time I began to enjoy blogging again. This allowed me to be more consistent and then add additional posts as they came to my mind.

Reflecting on my Reading by Month

As you can see from my chart below, I started off the year well, reading 4 books per month. This is a pace I hoped to keep up, unfortunately that didn’t happen. Over the summer my reading slowed down, due in part to some books that I was less than interested in. I should have given those books up and moved on, but I did struggle through as long as I could. This put me in such a reading slump. Thankfully for the last few months of 2019 I got back on track and averaged 3 books per month.

Reflecting on Audiobooks

I listened to more audiobooks this year, especially since I signed up for Audible. It has introduced me to books that I wouldn’t have heard about otherwise.

Total Audiobooks listened to in 2019: 9

Reflecting on Total of Books Read

My Goodreads goal for the year was to read 40 books. At the time I thought that this was a reasonable number. Unfortunately I couldn’t predict how things would go, nor did I expect to have such sluggish summer. Although I didn’t quite make my goal, I did come close reading 37 books.

Reflecting on Formats Read

One of my main goals for 2019 was to make a dent on the books I owned. Many of these have been sitting on my shelves for years. After totaling up the different formats read, I was surprised by how many eBooks I read throughout the year. I thought that my physical books read would have been much higher.

Reflecting on the Sources of Books Read

This chart shows better the amount of books I read from my own shelves. I am also pleased by the amount of library books I read. We are big fans of our local library and I love being able to support them as much as I can.

Challenges · Currently Reading · Recommendations · Wrap-ups

Monthly Wrap-up: December 2019

Total Books Read in November: 3
Total Books Read in 2019: 37

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Someone We Know by
Shari Lapena

Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Mystery, Suspense, Thriller
Rating: 4/5

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Philomena: A Mother, Her Son and a Fifty Year Search
By: Martin Sixsmith

Narrated by: John Curless
Genre: Nonfiction, Audiobook
Rating: 3.5/5

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Finding Cinderella (Hopeless, 2.5)
By: Colleen Hoover

Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Romance, Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 2.5/5

The Stats

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

Formats Read

Physical Books: 1
eBooks: 1
Audio Books: 1

Challenge Update

2019 New Release Challenge: 1
2019 TBR Jar Challenge:
0

January TBR

I haven’t decided what my TBR for January will be as I’m hoping to pick up whenever books interest me.

Currently Reading

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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 · Character Spotlight · Memes · Tags · Wrap-ups

#Top10of2k19 Captivating Characters

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.

It’s day 3 for #Top102k19 and we are talking about our favourite characters. I will also be posting my responses on Instagram. You can follow me @melissaleesredhousereviews.

1. Hamish DeLuca (Van Buren and DeLuca Mysteries by Rachel McMillan)

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It is quite rare that I come across a character in a book who shines far above the rest. In this series, Hamish DeLuca does just that. I was pleasantly surprised to be introduced to a male character who isn’t portrayed as the typical alpha male. Instead Hamish had a vulnerability that was endearing. His anxiety problems was something I could empathize with and the way the author described his symptoms was very realistic. Despite his ailments that kept him sheltered, Hamish was quite an intelligent man and one of my favourite literary characters.

2. Lincoln O’Neill (Attachments by Rainbow Rowell)

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Sure, reading Jennifer and Beth’s emails for so long wasn’t the most moral thing to do. But as this book went along and I got to know the character more, I began to really like him. In fact by the end I had a bit of a crush on him.

3. Great Aunt Edie (Moonlight Harbor Series by Sheila Roberts)

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Although I have decided not to continue past the second book in the Moonlight Harbor series, I still enjoyed the character Aunt Edie. She is the heart of this series and anyone would be lucky to be stranded in her home (like in the second installment). Reading about all the delicious food she would make, made me long for the holiday season.

4. Daniel (Serious Moonlight by Jenn Bennett)

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Another of my literary crushes from 2019, was Daniel from Serious Moonlight. I found him to be especially charming and loved how he worked to win over Birdie’s affections. Plus he took her on what I would call the perfect date! To a Murder Mystery dinner.

5. Molly Burke (It’s Not What It Looks Like by Molly Burke)

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Molly Burke isn’t a fictional character, but an author, motivational speaker and YouTuber. Despite losing her sight as a teenager, she travels the world sharing herstory and encouraging others with her optimism.

6. The Elderly Sherlock Holmes (A Slight Trick of the Mind by Mitch Cullin)

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Although this story of Sherlock Holmes, wasn’t written by the original author. I enjoyed this post-WWII version of the famed investigator which was written by Mitch Cullin.

Book Reviews · Recommendations

Pros vs. Cons Review: A Certain Age (A Certain Age, 1) by Beatriz Williams

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A Certain Age
(A Certain Age, #1)
By Beatriz Williams

Published: June 2016
Published by: William Morrow
Format Read: Hardcover
Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery, Romance

Rating: 3.5/5

Synopsis

The bestselling author of A Hundred Summers brings the Roaring Twenties brilliantly to life in this enchanting and compulsively readable tale of intrigue, romance, and scandal in New York Society, brimming with lush atmosphere, striking characters, and irresistible charm.

As the freedom of the Jazz Age transforms New York City, the iridescent Mrs. Theresa Marshall of Fifth Avenue and Southampton, Long Island, has done the unthinkable: she’s fallen in love with her young paramour, Captain Octavian Rofrano, a handsome aviator and hero of the Great War. An intense and deeply honorable man, Octavian is devoted to the beautiful socialite of a certain age and wants to marry her. While times are changing and she does adore the Boy, divorce for a woman of Theresa’s wealth and social standing is out of the question, and there is no need; she has an understanding with Sylvo, her generous and well-respected philanderer husband.

But their relationship subtly shifts when her bachelor brother, Ox, decides to tie the knot with the sweet younger daughter of a newly wealthy inventor. Engaging a longstanding family tradition, Theresa enlists the Boy to act as her brother’s cavalier, presenting the family’s diamond rose ring to Ox’s intended, Miss Sophie Fortescue—and to check into the background of the little-known Fortescue family. When Octavian meets Sophie, he falls under the spell of the pretty ingénue, even as he uncovers a shocking family secret. As the love triangle of Theresa, Octavian, and Sophie progresses, it transforms into a saga of divided loyalties, dangerous revelations, and surprising twists that will lead to a shocking transgression … and eventually force Theresa to make a bittersweet choice.

Full of the glamour, wit and delicious twists that are the hallmarks of Beatriz Williams’ fiction and alternating between Sophie’s spirited voice and Theresa’s vibrant timbre, A Certain Age is a beguiling reinterpretation of Richard Strauss’s comic opera Der Rosenkavalier, set against the sweeping decadence of Gatsby’s New York.

Source: Goodreads

My Thoughts: Pros vs. Cons

The Pros

  • I was instantly drawn in by the New York City high society plot, set in the 1920s.
  • The inclusion of newspaper columns in the style of a gossip writer reminded me of the Luxe Series by Anna Godbersen, only with an older cast of characters.
  • Theresa and Sophie’s characters were well written and complex. In fact they were each others opposite, which was interesting.
  • Theresa felt very authentic to the time period. From her style to her ideals and language, she was typical for a high society New Yorker of the era.
  • I liked how the quotes by Helen Rowland tied into each chapter.

The Cons

  • Theresa’s story was told in first person, whereas Sophie’s was not. I found this slightly irritating, however in the end I do understand why the author decided to tell the story this way.
  • I was captivated by the premise of the mystery and I thought that A Certain Age would garner 4 stars, however the way it unfolded turned out to be very anti-climatic, in my opinion.

In Conclusion

A Certain Age had a lot of potential, unfortunately it didn’t quite live up to what I thought it would. I do believe that it is worthy of reading and I do plan on giving Beatriz Williams another try.

Book Reviews · Recommendations

Body of Proof by Darrell Brown & Sophie Ellis

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Body of Proof
By: Darrell Brown & Sophie Ellis

Published: September 2019
Published by: Audible Originals
Format Read: Audiobook, Audible
Genre: Non-fiction, True Crime

Rating: 5/5

Synopsis

A woman disappeared. A man was convicted. Case closed?

Body of Proof, a true crime podcast, examines the many unanswered questions surrounding the disappearance and death of Suzanne Pilley in Edinburgh in 2010 and the subsequent conviction of David Gilroy. Journalists and TV producers Darrell Brown and Sophie Ellis spent two years investigating the case and spoke exclusively to David Gilroy, who was convicted of murdering Suzanne Pilley and disposing of her body. Sentenced to life in a Scottish prison, Gilroy maintains his innocence. Although police believe they have the right man, key components of the prosecution’s case are missing: there is no body of the victim, no witnesses to the crime, and no physical evidence (no DNA, CCTV video, or murder weapon).

In this gripping, step-by-step investigation, Darrell Brown and Sophie Ellis uncover startling information not heard in court that might have changed the minds of the jurors. And they shine a light on aspects of the Scottish criminal justice system that might be keeping an innocent man behind bars.

A What’s the Story Films production for Audible.

Source: Goodreads

My Thoughts

Suzanne Pilley was last seen walking through the busy Edinburgh streets on her way to work one morning in 2010. Her coworker David Gilroy is charged with her murder and sentenced to life in prison. The only problem is that no body or evidence found. Documenters Darrell Brown and Sophie Ellis examine the case in the effort to uncover the truth and determine whether or not Gilroy is really guilty or innocent.

As I have recently become more interested in True Crime, I downloaded Body of Proof on a whim. I began listening not knowing that it would be presented in documentary format. While this may have irritated some listeners, I was intrigued by this case from the beginning. Even though I knew the outcome for David Gilroy, this audiobook had me hooked and I listened to it in one day.

The steps that were taken to investigate and put together the events of this case had me second-guessing my own verdict throughout. In the end I still do not have a definite answer and it made me definitely question the legal systems handling of this situation. I highly recommend listening to this Audible Original: Body of Proof.

Book Reviews · Recommendations

Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis

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Girl, Wash Your Face
By Rachel Hollis

Published: February 2018
Published by: Audible Audio
Format Read: Audiobook, Audible
Genre: Non-fiction, Memoir, Self-help

Rating: 4/5

Synopsis

With wry wit and hard-earned wisdom, popular online personality and founder of TheChicSite.com founder Rachel Hollis helps readers break free from the lies keeping them from the joy-filled and exuberant life they are meant to have.

Founder of the lifestyle website TheChicSite.com and CEO of her own media company, Chic Media, Rachel Hollis has created an online fan base of hundreds of thousands of fans by sharing tips for living a better life while fearlessly revealing the messiness of her own. Now comes her highly anticipated first book featuring her signature combination of honesty, humor, and direct, no-nonsense advice.

Each chapter of Girl, Wash Your Face begins with a specific lie Hollis once believed that left her feeling overwhelmed, unworthy, or ready to give up. As a working mother, a former foster parent, and a woman who has dealt with insecurities about her body and relationships, she speaks with the insight and kindness of a BFF, helping women unpack the limiting mind-sets that destroy their self-confidence and keep them from moving forward.

From her temporary obsession with marrying Matt Damon to a daydream involving hypnotic iguanas to her son’s request that she buy a necklace to “be like the other moms,” Hollis holds nothing back. With unflinching faith and tenacity, Hollis spurs other women to live with passion and hustle and to awaken their slumbering goals.

Source: Goodreads

My Thoughts

Girl, Wash Your Face is one of those books that I’ve heard both good reviews and bad reviews for. Basically it was one that I had to read (or in this case listen to) and form my own opinion.

Surprisingly this book drew me in immediately with the prologue or letter to the reader. I knew that if I could be so affected by the introduction that rest of the book is bound to be a worthwhile read. And what do you know, I was able to take a lot away after completing it. Perhaps it was because I read it at a time in my life when I was on the cusp of big change. It turned out to be exactly what I needed and the confidence and motivation I felt was a wonderful feeling.

While I was able to understand the points made in those negative reviews, I was able to take what I needed from Rachel Hollis’s story and turn it into a positive listening experience.