Currently Reading · Recommendations · Wrap-ups

January 2022 Wrap-up

I kicked off 2022, with a very successful reading month. Fingers crossed I can keep up this momentum throughout the year. I decided to read whatever my heart desired this month and that paid off because I had a total of three 5-star books!

Total Books Read in January: 7
Total Books Read in 2022: 7

5 Star Reads of January

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Pumpkinheads
By: Rainbow Rowell & Faith Erin Hicks

Genre: Graphic Novel, YA
Rating: 5/5

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The Elite
(The Selection, 2)
By: Kiera Cass

Genre: Ya, Series, Dystopian
Rating: 5/5

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A Winter’s Tale
(The Wrecck of the Florizel)
By: Cassie Brown

Genre: Nonfiction, History
Rating: 5/5

Also Read

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The Thousand Dollar Tan Line
(Veronica Mars, 1)
By: Rob Thomas & Jennifer Graham
Narrated by: Kristen Bell

Genre: Mystery, Series, Audio book
Rating: 4/5

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Open Heart, Open Mind
By: Clara Hughes

Genre: Memoir, Autobiography, Nonfiction
Rating: 4/5

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An Unwanted Guest
By: Shari Lapena

Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Rating: 3/5

Sent for Review

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Bet on It
By: Jodie Slaughter

Genre: Romance
Rating: 2.5/5

The Stats

Total Number of Books Read: 7
Total Number of Fiction: 5
Total Number of Non-Fiction: 2
Total Books Sent for Review: 1
Total Books Read from My Shelves: 5
Total Library Books Read: 1

Formats Read

Physical Books: 5
eBooks:
 1
Audio Books: 
1

Currently Reading

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Challenges · Currently Reading · Memes · Personal Post · Recommendations · TBR · Wrap-ups

December 2021 Wrap-up

I hope that you all had a wonderful holiday season and wishing you a very happy new year!

Today I am sharing my final wrap-up for the year 2021. After a couple of months with very little progress, I am very pleased with the amount of reading I accomplished this month. I even surpassed my Goodreads Reading Challenge goal!

Total Books Read in December: 6
Total Books Read in 2021: 54/52

Reading My Favourite Authors

I started this TBR back in October and I am very pleased to say that I finally completed it this month. Although these books are from authors that I have loved in the past, unfortunately none of them earned 5 star ratings.

Favourite Authors Read: 3/3

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The Lake House
By: Kate Morton

Genre: Dual Timeline, Historical Fiction, Mystery
Rating: 4/5

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The Notebook
By: Nicholas Sparks

Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance
Rating: 2/5

Seasonal Reads

Two of the books I read in December were set near Christmas or were Christmas themed. The other book, features a winter sport.

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He Sees You When You’re Sleeping
By: Mary Higgins Clark & Carol Higgins Clark

Genre: Mystery
Rating: 3/5

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Ice Magic (Silver Blades 16)
By: Melissa Lowell

Genre: Middle Grade, Series
Rating: 3/5

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The Holiday Swap
By: Maggie Knox

Genre: Romance, Contemporary Fiction, ARC
Rating: 3.5/5
NOTE: I was sent a copy of Maggie Knox’s The Holiday Swap, from the publisher via Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

Additional Book Completed

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From Cradle to Stage
By: Virginia Hanlon Grohl

Genre: Non-fiction, Audio Book, Biography, Memoir, Music
Rating: 4/5

The Stats

Total Number of Books Read: 6
Total Number of Fiction: 5
Total Number of Non-Fiction: 1
Total Books Sent for Review: 1
Total Books Read from My Shelves: 5
Total Library Books Read: 0

Formats Read

Physical Books: 4
eBooks:
 1
Audio Books: 
1

Currently Reading

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Book Reviews · Recommendations

The Winter Sister by Megan Collins

The Winter Sister
By: Megan Collins
Narrated by: Rebekkah Ross

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Published: February 2019
Published by: Simon & Schuster Audio
Format Read: Audiobook, Audible
Genre: Mystery

Rating: 3.5/5

Note: I was sent a copy of Megan Collins The Winter Garden, from the publisher via Net Galley in exchange for an honest review. This is my review of the audio book.

Synopsis

In this spellbinding and suspenseful debut, a young woman haunted by the past returns home to care for her ailing mother and begins to dig deeper into her sister’s unsolved murder.

Sixteen years ago, Sylvie’s sister Persephone never came home. Out too late with the boyfriend she was forbidden to see, Persephone was missing for three days before her body was found—and years later, her murder remains unsolved.

In the present day, Sylvie returns home to care for her estranged mother, Annie, as she undergoes treatment for cancer. Prone to unexplained “Dark Days” even before Persephone’s death, Annie’s once-close bond with Sylvie dissolved in the weeks after their loss, making for an uncomfortable reunion all these years later. Worse, Persephone’s former boyfriend, Ben, is now a nurse at the cancer center where Annie is being treated. Sylvie’s always believed Ben was responsible for the murder—but she carries her own guilt about that night, guilt that traps her in the past while the world goes on around her.

As she navigates the complicated relationship with her mother, Sylvie begins to uncover the secrets that fill their house—and what really happened the night Persephone died. As it turns out, the truth really will set you free, once you can bear to look at it.

The Winter Sister is a mesmerizing portrayal of the complex bond between sisters, between mothers and daughters alike, and forces us to ask ourselves—how well do we really know the people we love most?

My Thoughts

Megan Collins debut novel follows a woman who reluctantly returns to her hometown to care for her ailing mother, meanwhile the death of her older sister, years before still haunts and riddles her with grief. Can she get to the bottom of what really happened on that winter night?

The relationships in this book were as cold as its title. The way the characters spoke to each other was terrible and set an uncomfortable tone to all their interactions. The narrator especially did a great job of portraying the mother as a miserable and unfeeling person.

I enjoyed the pacing of this novel and while I did like the mystery, I didn’t find it as thrilling or suspenseful as I anticipated.

Although I was able to predict the outcome, it was a good read that I would recommend to fans of the genre.

Book Reviews · Recommendations

The Devoted (The Bishop’s Family, 3) by Suzanne Woods Fisher

The Devoted
(The Bishop’s Family, 3)
By: Suzanne Woods Fisher

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Published: October 2016
Published by: Fleming H. Revell Company
Format Read: Trade Paperback
Genre: Christian Fiction, Amish Fiction

Rating: 4/5

NOTE: I was sent a copy of Suzanne Woods Fisher’s The Devoted, from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis

Fan Favorite Suzanne Woods Fisher Offers Readers Tender Romance, Humor, and Plenty of Surprises
Bright, curious, and restless, Ruthie Stoltzfus loves her family but is stuck in a sea of indecision about her future: Should she stay Amish? Or should she leave? She’s done all she can to prepare to go–passed the GED, saved her money–but she can’t quite set her journey into motion.
Patrick Kelly is a young man on a journey of his own. He’s come to Stoney Ridge to convert to the Amish and has given himself thirty days to learn the language, drive a buggy, and adapt to “everything Plain.” Time, to Patrick, is of the essence. Every moment is to be cherished, especially the hours he spends with Ruthie, his Penn Dutch tutor.
Ruthie’s next-door neighbor and cunning ex-boyfriend, Luke Schrock, is drawn to trouble like a moth to a flame. Rebellious, headstrong, defiant, Luke will do anything to win Ruthie back–“anything”–and Patrick Kelly is getting in his way.
Bestselling author Suzanne Woods Fisher invites readers back to Stoney Ridge for a story of dreams deferred and hopes fulfilled–complete with Fisher’s signature twists that never fail to leave readers delighted.

Source: Goodreads

My Thoughts

The Devoted is the third and final book in Suzanne Woods Fisher’s The Bishop’s Family trilogy. In this installment readers follow the Bishop’s daughter Ruthie as she is trying to decide the right path to take in her life. As her troubled ex-boyfriend Luke unsuccessfully tries to win her back, a new young English man named Patrick comes to Stoney Ridge and catches her attention.

As with the previous books in this trilogy, The Devoted presented a story chalk-full of life lessons and profound messages. It has been some time since I read The Imposter (book1) and The Quieting (book 2), and the father David still remains one of my favourite characters. Even though his part in this third book was smaller, I appreciate how much growth he makes with each hurdle and moral dilemma he meets.

This story kept me interested through out. I was surprised that Luke’s troubles were depicted in a way that was as dark as it was, considering the Christian and Amish fiction genre. It really added an extra emotional layer to the plot.

I highly recommend Suzanne Woods Fisher, as she is one of my favourite auto-read authors. I suggest that those who may be interested in reading The Devoted, begin with the first book in the series, as there is quite a detailed backstory.

Book Reviews · Recommendations

The Lieutenant’s Nurse by Sara Ackerman

The Lieutenant’s Nurse
By: Sara Ackerman
Narrated by: Lauren Ezzo

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Published: March 2019
Published by: Harlequin Audio
Format Read: Audio book, Audible
Genre: Historical Fiction

Rating: 3/5

Note: I was sent a copy of Sara Ackerman’s The Lieutenant’s Nurse, from the publisher via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. However I wasn’t able to read the eBook, so this is my review of the Audiobook.

Synopsis

November, 1941. She’s never even seen the ocean before, but Eva Cassidy has her reasons for making the crossing to Hawaii, and they run a lot deeper than escaping a harsh Michigan winter. Newly enlisted as an Army Corps nurse, Eva is stunned by the splendor she experiences aboard the steamship SS Lurline; even more so by Lt. Clark Spencer, a man she is drawn to but who clearly has secrets of his own. But Eva’s past—and the future she’s trying to create—means that she’s not free to follow her heart. Clark is a navy intelligence officer, and he warns her that the United States won’t be able to hold off joining the war for long, but nothing can prepare them for the surprise attack that will change the world they know.
In the wake of the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Eva and her fellow nurses band together for the immense duty of keeping the American wounded alive. And the danger that finds Eva threatens everything she holds dear. Amid the chaos and heartbreak, Eva will have to decide whom to trust and how far she will go to protect those she loves.
Set in the vibrant tropical surroundings of the Pacific, The Lieutenant’s Nurse is an evocative, emotional WWII story of love, friendship and the resilient spirit of the heroic nurses of Pearl Harbor.

Source: Goodreads

My Thoughts

Army Corps nurse Eva Cassidy is eager to get away from a difficult situation in her home state of Michigan and embarks on a journey to her assigned station in Hawaii. While aboard the S.S. Lurline, she befriends a Lt. Spencer and becomes accidentally privy to some classified information. However, it isn’t long after they arrive in paradise that the unimaginable happens; Pearl Harbor is attacked by the Japanese.

I have been looking for a historical fiction set in Pearl Harbor for quite some time. When I read the synopsis for The Lieutenants Nurse, I jumped at the change to add it to my TBR list.

Not only was the island setting absolutely beautiful, but I really enjoyed Eva’s trip aboard the steamship as well.

Although I didn’t have any particular issued with the narration of this novel, at times my interest in listening to it waned and I found myself wishing I could turn to a physical copy or eBook version to read.

My final impression of The Lieutenants Nurse was that it was interesting and at times fast paced. I would recommend it to those who enjoy historical fiction with romance.

Challenges · Recommendations · TBR · Wrap-ups

Monthly Wrap-up: October 2021

Total Books Read in October: 2
Total Books Read in 2021: 46

Reading My Favourite Authors

During the month of October, I chose three books from my favorite authors to read. Unfortunately October was a very hectic month for me and I completely dropped the ball on my reading. Out of the three books I picked out, I only got to one of them and I wasn’t able to finish it before the end of the month, so I will be continuing on this TBR for the month of November.

Favourite Authors Read: 0 /3

Additional Books Read:

While I wasn’t able to complete my actual TBR for the month, I did manage to finish two books during the month.

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A Royal Pain
(Her Royal Spyness Mystery 2)
By: Rhys Bowen

Genre: Historical Fiction, Series, Mystery
Rating: 4/5

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The Secrets of Latimer House
By: Jules Wake

Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: 3.5/5
NOTE: I was sent a copy of Jules Wake’s The Secrets of Latimer House, from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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: .5
eBooks:
 1
Audio Books: 
.5

Currently Reading

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Book Reviews · Recommendations

The Lake of Dreams by Kim Edwards

The Lake of Dreams
By: Kim Edwards

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Published: November 2010
Published by: Penguin Books
Format Read: Trade Paperback
Genre: Contemporary fiction, Literary fiction

Rating: 3/5

Note: I won a copy of Kim Edwards The Lake of Dreams from the publisher via Goodreads Giveaways. This is my honest review.

Synopsis

From Kim Edwards, the author of the #1 New York Times bestseller The Memory Keeper’s Daughter, an arresting novel of one family’s secret history

Imbued with all the lyricism, compassion, and suspense of her bestselling novel, The Memory Keeper’s Daughter, Kim Edwards’s The Lake of Dreams is a powerful family drama and an unforgettable story of love lost and found.

Lucy Jarrett is at a crossroads in her life, still haunted by her father’s unresolved death a decade earlier. She returns to her hometown in Upstate New York, The Lake of Dreams, and, late one night, she cracks the lock of a window seat and discovers a collection of objects. They appear to be idle curiosities, but soon Lucy realizes that she has stumbled across a dark secret from her family’s past, one that will radically change her—and the future of her family—forever.

The Lake of Dreams 
will delight those who loved The Memory Keeper’s Daughter, as well as fans of Anna Quindlen and Sue Miller.

My Thoughts

Estranged from her Upstate New York home, Lucy returns after years spent abroad. After all the time that had passed the same animosities and grief remains. However the small lakeside town has advanced with the times, much to her dismay. While Lucy struggles with her guilt, she uncovers a missing link in her families history that might result in further upsetting changes.

The Lake of Dreams read (to me) like a literary fiction; a genre I don’t normally read. I feel that this contributed to why I struggled to connect with the main character. The tone of this novel was very melancholy, as was Lucy.

My favourite aspect was the uncovering of the Jarrett family genealogy. I thought the environmental storyline that was presented at the beginning of the novel could have taken the plot down an interesting path. Lucy even had to knowledge to stand up and fight more to protect the marshland from being developed. However I was disappointed that this potential was lost.

Although I wasn’t able to connect with The Lake of Dreams like I hoped, I would still recommend this book to those who like literary fiction.

Book Reviews · Recommendations

For the Love of Friends by Sara Goodman Confino

For the Love of Friends
By: Sara Goodman Confino

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Published: August 2021
Published by: Lake Union Publishing
Format Read: ebook, Net Galley, Kindle
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Romance

Rating: 3/5

Note: I was sent a copy of For the Love of Friends by Sara Goodman Confino, from the publisher via Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis

A sharp and hilariously relatable novel about the business of weddings, the toll they can take, and the lengths one exasperated bridesmaid will go to for the love of friends.

Lily Weiss is her mother’s worst nightmare: thirty-two and single—the horror! She’s also a talented writer but hides behind a boring job at a science foundation. To her friends, she’s reliable and selfless, which is how she winds up a bridesmaid in five weddings in six weeks. Anything for her three best friends and two (younger) siblings, right? Even if her own love life is…well, she’d rather not talk about it. To keep her sanity, Lily needs a safe place to vent.

And so her anonymous blog, Bridesmania, is born. The posts start pouring out of her: all the feels about mom-zillas, her vanishing bank balance, the wicked bridesmaids of the west, high-strung brides-to-be, body-shaming dress clerks, bachelorette parties, and Spanx for days, not to mention being deemed guardian of eighty-eight-year-old Granny (who enjoys morning mimosas in the nude) for her brother’s destination wedding.

So far the blog has stayed anonymous. But as everyone knows, few things online remain secret forever…

When all is said and done, can Lily help all five couples make it to happily ever after? And will her own happy ending be close behind?

Source: Goodreads

My Thoughts

32 years old, single and stuck in a job beneath her talent; that describes Lily, the main character in Sara Goodman Confino’s debut novel. Life was pretty uneventful until she agrees to be in, not one, but five different weddings! That’s five weddings in the span of only 6 weeks! Piece of cake, right? Wrong! Especially when you throw in numerous celebrations, commitments, bridesmaids from hell and a nearly non-existent budget.

Anyone who has ever planned or been in a wedding party can relate to the chaos that occurs in For the Love of Friends. I’ve had the pleasure of standing in two weddings to date and while it was an honor, they were anxiety inducing experiences for sure. I couldn’t imagine juggling five at once, like Lily. This was a character I was able to easily relate to.

The author did a great job of conveying the emotions Lily experienced including; feeling overwhelmed and exhausted. Although the blogging of the mania would get her into hot water, I enjoyed reading about this aspect. Although this is a lighthearted contemporary, I appreciate and was able to relate to the inclusion of body shaming in the wedding industry. Sure, it sounds nice for all the bridesmaids to wear the same dress, but not every women has the same body type. Some of the demands the brides made in this story were way over the top. The hectic pace of this book reminded me of The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger.

I would recommend For the Love of Friends by Sara Goodman Confino to fans of humorous contemporaries with a dash of romance.

Book Reviews · Recommendations

Inheriting Edith by Zoe Fishman

Inheriting Edith
By: Zoe Fishman

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Published: January 2016
Published by: William Morrow Paperbacks

Format Read: Trade Paperback
Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Rating: 3/5

Note: I won a copy of Inheriting Edith by Zoe Fishman, from the publisher via Goodreads Giveaways. This is my honest review.

Synopsis

A poignant breakout novel, for fans of J. Courtney Sullivan and Elin Hilderbrand, about a single mother who inherits a beautiful beach house with a caveat—she must take care of the ornery elderly woman who lives in it.

For years, Maggie Sheets has been an invisible hand in the glittering homes of wealthy New York City clients, scrubbing, dusting, mopping, and doing all she can to keep her head above water as a single mother. Everything changes when a former employer dies leaving Maggie a staggering inheritance. A house in Sag Harbor. The catch? It comes with an inhabitant: The deceased’s eighty-two-year old mother Edith.

Edith has Alzheimer’s—or so the doctors tell her—but she remembers exactly how her daughter Liza could light up a room, or bring dark clouds in her wake. And now Liza’s gone, by her own hand, and Edith has been left—like a chaise or strand of pearls—to a poorly dressed young woman with a toddler in tow.

Maggie and Edith are both certain this arrangement will be an utter disaster. But as summer days wane, a tenuous bond forms, and Edith, who feels the urgency of her diagnosis, shares a secret that she’s held close for five decades, launching Maggie on a mission that might just lead them each to what they are looking for.

Source: Goodreads

My Thoughts

Inheriting Edith follows a single hardworking mother who un-expectantly inherits a house, after the death of a former friend. The only stipulation is that she must become a caregiver for the woman’s elderly mother.

This was a quick contemporary fiction that I flew through. It was exactly the pace I was looking for at the time. I could easily relate to the main character Maggie, as she dedicated herself to making a better life for her child. Newly diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease, Edith was rightly frustrated with her situation and I thought that she was aptly depicted. The brief glimpses of her backstory were interesting as well.

The author presented a story with many points that covered difficult subject matter. Things that could have made for a very emotional reading experience. Unfortunately, in the end, I found this novel just fell flat in those aspects. Issues and potential storylines that could have been more deeply explored, were only briefly touched on. The ideas were there and I believe the author possesses the ability to craft a more in-depth novel, however this was not the case here.

While I enjoyed Finding Edith for the quick story it was, it did leave me somewhat unfulfilled. This book touches on the following topics that might triggers some readers; suicide, grief and mental illness. However they aren’t deeply explored and might not have the impact heavier books with the same topics, might have.