Book Reviews · Charlie's Corner · Recommendations

Charlie’s Corner: Hit and Run by Norah McClintock

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

Hit and Run
(Mike and Riel, 1)
By: Norah McClintock

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Published: May 2003
Published by: Scholastic Canada
Format Read: Paperback
Genre: Middle Grade Fiction, Young Adult, Mystery, Thriller, Canadian Fiction

Rating: 3/5

Synopsis

Fifteen-year-old Mike McGill has lived with his Uncle Billy since his mother’s death. Only ten years older than Mike, Billy loves to party, and he doesn’t pay much attention when Mike starts getting in trouble. But nothing gets by Mike’s history teacher, an ex-cop named Riel especially not long-hidden information about Mike’s mother. Her death might not have been an accident after all! 

Source: Goodreads

My Thoughts

Recently I came across a listing online for a large bag of books for sale. It included over 50 middle grade- early young adult books. Most of which were from the 1990’s and early 2000’s. Norah McClintock’s Hit and Run was the first book I pulled from that bag.

This first installment in the Mike and Riel series follows a young teenage boy as he navigates life in the years following his mother’s tragic death. This story instantly felt familiar but, I can’t recall if I’ve read it before or not.

I enjoyed the Toronto setting and the pop culture references from thee time period. As a winner of the Red Maple Award, Hit and Run felt very Canadian. Even the character names i.e,: Riel, McGill etc. were symbolic.

This series is a great introduction to thrillers for the middle grade audience. I would highly recommend it to fans of the genre and I hope to be able to track down book two.

Currently Reading · Recommendations · Wrap-ups

Monthly Wrap-up: December 2020

I hope you all had a great holiday season and sending you best wishes for the New Year! Here is my final monthly wrap-up for the year 2020.

Total Books Read in December: 2
Total Books Read in 2020: 42

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The Ghost of Christmas Eve: A Christmas Romance
By: Vanessa Kittle

Genre: ??? I don’t even know.
Rating: 1/5
Quick Thoughts: I’m not sure how this could be classified as a romance. It wasn’t. Would not recommend.

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On the Come Up
By: Angie Thomas

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

The Stats

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

Formats Read

Physical Books: 1
eBooks:
 1
Audio Books: 
0

Currently Reading

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Articles · Book Reviews · Challenges · Wrap-ups

2020 Wrap-up: Goal Check-in

As I wrap up my posts for the year 2020, I decided to look back on my goals for the past twelve months and see how much progress I made.

At the end of 2019, I posted the following image of the books I was looking forward to reading.

Here is how I did:

Number of books read in 2020: 5/10

Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid
The Victory Garden by Rhys Bowen
The Land Beneath Us by Sarah Sundin
Conviction by Denise Mina
On the Come Up by Angie Thomas

How did you do with your reading goals for 2020? Let me know in the comments.

Articles · Wrap-ups

2020 Wrap-up: Cover Love

Although some of these books weren’t necessarily my top books that I read in 2020 but they did make it to one of my favourites posts due in part to their awesome covers.

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I thought this was a good depiction of the main character Daisy Jones.

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This cover screams autumn. And what a beautiful view.

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The cover photo for this book shows women fighting fires after the attack on Pearl Harbor. It is a perfect image to introduce a book about courageous women.

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What better way to represent Nashville and country music than with an image of a rhinestone cowboy boot?

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I love a book set in a ship and this cover was done beautifully.

Which of these covers do you like the most? Do you have a favourite cover from the books you read in 2020? Let me know in the comments.

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.

Currently Reading · Recommendations · Wrap-ups

Monthly Wrap-up: November 2020

Total Books Read in November: 3
Total Books Read in 2020: 40

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A Scandal in Bohemia
(The Sherlock Holmes Children’s Collection, 11)
By: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Adapted by: Stephanie Baudet

Genre: Middle Grade, Adapted Classics, Classics, Mystery, Series
Rating: 3/5
My Review

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Conviction
By: Denise Mina

Genre: Mystery, Contemporary, Audiobook, Audible
Rating: 3/5

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The Christmas Pact
By: Vi Keeland & Penelope Ward

Genre: Romance, Audiobook, Novella, Contemporary, Novella, Short Story
Rating: 5/5

The Stats

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

Formats Read

Physical Books: 0
eBooks:
 1
Audio Books: 
2

Currently Reading

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Currently Reading · Recommendations · Wrap-ups

Another Late Monthly Wrap-up: October 2020

Total Books Read in October: 2
Total Books Read in 2020: 37

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The Last Bathing Beauty
By: Amy Sue Nathan

Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance
Rating: 2.5/5
NOTE: I was sent a copy of The Last Bathing Beauty by Amy Sue Nathan, from the publisher, via Net Galley, in exchange for an honest review.

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You Can Thank Me Later a Novella
By: Kelly Harms

Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Novella, Audiobook
Rating: 4/5

The Stats

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

Formats Read

Physical Books: 0
eBooks:
 1
Audio Books: 
1

Currently Reading

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Book Reviews · Recommendations

The Last Bathing Beauty by: Amy Sue Nathan

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The Last Bathing Beauty
By: Amy Sue Nathan

Published: April, 2020
Published by: Lake Union Publishing
Format Read: ARC, Kindle, eBook
Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance

Rating: 2.5/5

NOTE: I was sent a copy of The Last Bathing Beauty y Amy Sue Nathan, from the publisher, via Net Galley, in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis

A former beauty queen faces the secrets of her past—for herself and the sake of her family’s future—in a heartfelt novel about fate, choices, and second chances.
Everything seemed possible in the summer of 1951. Back then Betty Stern was an eighteen-year-old knockout working at her grandparents’ lakeside resort. The “Catskills of the Midwest” was the perfect place for Betty to prepare for bigger things. She’d head to college in New York City. Her career as a fashion editor would flourish. But first, she’d enjoy a wondrous last summer at the beach falling deeply in love with an irresistible college boy and competing in the annual Miss South Haven pageant. On the precipice of a well-planned life, Betty’s future was limitless.
Decades later, the choices of that long-ago season still reverberate for Betty, now known as Boop. Especially when her granddaughter comes to her with a dilemma that echoes Boop’s memories of first love, broken hearts, and faraway dreams. It’s time to finally face the past—for the sake of her family and her own happiness. Maybe in reconciling the life she once imagined with the life she’s lived, Boop will discover it’s never too late for a second chance.

Source: Goodreads

My Thoughts

Eighteen year old Betty “Boop” Stern wants more than a husband and children. She has dreams of being a fashion editor and having a full career. This is rare for a women in 1950’s America. The Last Bathing Beauty is a dual timeline novel that follows present day senior citizen “Boop” as she reminisces about the life changing events of the summer of 1951.

Fans of the movie Dirty Dancing will appreciate the summer resort setting. Readers will be transported back to a time that is often described as more simple. Although Betty would be faced with some life changing events, this book was chalk full of all things stereotypical of the 1950s. While I enjoyed these aspects, I often found our young main character to be too sugar sweet.

The Last Bathing Beauty showed an interesting comparison between the past and present differences in society, family values and scandal. While I did enjoy the 1950s setting, I liked present day “Boop” more than the naïve beauty queen of her adolescence. I struggled to finish this book as I didn’t feel motivated to read and I felt that too much of the plot was given away too soon.

Although my experience reading Amy Sue Nathan’s The Last Bathing Beauty, garnered a 2.5 rating, I would recommend it to fans of light historical romance.

Book Reviews · Recommendations

Quick Thoughts on NYC Historical Fiction

Today I would like to share my quick thoughts on two historical fiction novels that are set in New York City. Both of these novels are set in the 1800’s and compare life in high society with that of the lower classes.

An Awakened Heart
(Orphan Train Novella 0.5)
By: Jody Hedlund

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Published: April 2017
Published by: Bethany House Publishers
Format Read: eBook, Kindle
Genre: Historical Fiction, Christian Fiction

Rating: 2.5/5

Synopsis

Trying to heal the ache she feels in her empty life, wealthy Christine Pendleton decides to volunteer at Centre Street Chapel. Ministering to one of the most deprived parts of New York City, the chapel aims at making a difference in the lives of the impoverished immigrants flooding the city. After seeing firsthand the hopelessness of the poor women and orphans, Christine is convinced more can be done to help them.

Guy Bedell has been serving at the chapel and pouring his heart out for the people he’s grown to care about. When Christine begins to challenge his methods and offers a new vision for reaching out to the community, can he trust that perhaps God has bigger plans in store for him–plans that may include this feisty socialite?

Source: Goodreads

My Thoughts

I generally jump at the chance to read books set in New York City, especially those in the historical fiction genre. Unfortunately An Awakened Heart took me some time to get into. I did appreciate how dedicated Christine and Guy were to help the impoverished immigrants in the city. I am curious to continue on to the next book ‘With You Always”.

Murder on Astor Place
(A Gaslight Mystery)
By: Victoria Thompson

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Published: May 1999
Published by: Berkley
Format Read: eBook, Libby App
Genre: Historical fiction, Mystery

Rating: 5/5

Synopsis

After a routine delivery, midwife Sarah Brandt visits her patient in a rooming house and finds that another boarder, a young girl, has been killed. At the request of sergeant Frank Malloy, she searches the girl’s room and discovers that the victim is from one of the most prominent families in New York – and the sister of an old friend. The powerful family, fearful of scandal, refuses to permit an investigation. But with Malloy’s help, Sarah begins a dangerous quest to bring the killer to justice before death claims another victim.

Source: Goodreads

My Thoughts

Murder on Astor Place was an engrossing start to the Gaslight Mystery Series. Although I was able to correctly predict the outcome, I enjoyed the journey.

If I could compare it to a television series, I would pick Murdoch Mysteries, which is one of my favourites and follows a detective and female doctor. In Victoria Thompson’s book we follow a detective and a midwife.

I would highly recommend Murder on Astor Place and can’t wait to read the second book.

Book Reviews · Recommendations

Quick Thoughts on YA Audiobooks

Today I would like to share my quick thoughts on two young adult audiobooks, that I read for free from Audible Stories.

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The Unexpected Everything
By: Morgan Matson

Narrated by: Bailey Carr
Rating: 4/5

Synopsis

From Morgan Matson, the best-selling author of Since You’ve Been Gone, comes a feel-good story of friendship, finding yourself, and all the joys in life that happen while you’re busy making other plans.
Andie has a plan. And she always sticks to her plan.
Future? A top-tier medical school.Dad? Avoid him as much as possible (which isn’t that hard considering he’s a congressman and he’s never around).Friends? Palmer, Bri, and Toby – pretty much the most awesome people on the planet. Who needs anyone else?
Relationships? No one’s worth more than three weeks.
So it’s no surprise that Andie’s got her summer all planned out, too.
Until a political scandal costs Andie her summer premed internship and lands both her and Dad back in the same house together for the first time in years. Suddenly she’s doing things that aren’t Andie at all – working as a dog walker, doing an epic scavenger hunt with her dad, and maybe, just maybe, letting the super-cute Clark get closer than she expected. Palmer, Bri, and Toby tell her to embrace all the chaos, but can she really let go of her control?

-Source: Goodreads

Quick Thoughts

The Unexpected Everything was a great escape from dark times and was just what I needed. Although I found Andie and her friends to be a bit too “perfect”, I really enjoyed the innocence of this story. The romance was cute, but it was the father-daughter relationship that I loved the most. I would highly recommend Morgan Matson’s The Unexpected Everything to those who enjoy contemporary YA Lit.

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Titanic: The Long Night
By: Diane Hoh

Narrated by: Julia Whelan
Rating: 2.5/5

Synopsis

Two teenagers discover true love aboard the doomed ocean liner….
Elizabeth Farr never wanted to return to America. During her family’s vacation abroad, she has fallen in love with England, and is despondent when her father refuses to let her stay. Returning to New York means having her debut into society, and that means a swiftly arranged marriage. Elizabeth will never go to college, never learn to be a reporter – as she sees it, her life is over as soon as the Titanic reaches port. Of course, if she’s unlucky, her life will be over far sooner than that.
As Elizabeth and her family settle into their first-class cabins, Katie Hanrahan, a young Irish girl with dreams of finding fortune in America, makes her way to a steerage berth. Both girls have plans for the future, but love and death are about to intervene.

Source: Goodreads

Quick Thoughts

The tragedy of the so-called “Unsinkable” ocean liner has fascinated me for as long as I can remember, so when I saw this audiobook I jumped at the chance to listen to it. I liked how the author chose to feature characters in two different classes: first and third. Each character were at a turning point in their lives and experiencing their first loves, unfortunately I didn’t feel as if either story lines were portrayed as well as they could have been. While the concept of Titanic: The Long Night was interesting and the narration good, I felt the writing to be repetitive and there were so many missed opportunities to take the plot in better directions.