Challenges · Currently Reading · Recommendations · Wrap-ups

Monthly Wrap-up: August 2021

Total Books Read in August: 6
Total Books Read in 2021: 38

Backlist Catch-up TBR: 7 /7

I am happy to have completed all the books in my backlist catch up in the month of August.

Backlist Catch-up Books Read in August:

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

Genre: Amish Fiction, Christian Fiction, Series
Rating: 4/5
NOTE: I was sent a copy of The Devoted by Suzanne Woods Fisher, from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Trouble and Strife
By: Johanne Levesque

Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: 2/5

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The Winter Sister
By: Megan Collins

Genre: Mystery
Rating: 3.5/5
NOTE: I was sent an ebook ARC of The Winter Sister by Megan Collins, from the publisher via Netgalley. I alternated between reading the ebook and listening to the audiobook.

Additional Books Read:

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Alone with the Stars
By: David R. Gillham

Genre: Historical Fiction, Audiobook
Rating: 4/5

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Clap When You Land
By: Elizabeth Acevedo

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

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Muddy Bottom
(Palmetto Island 1)
By: Ashley Farley

Genre: Contemporary fiction, novella
Rating: 3/5

The Stats

Total Number of Books Read: 6
Total Number of Fiction: 6
Total Number of Non-Fiction: 0
Total Books Sent for Review: 3
Total Books Read from My Shelves: 2
Total Library Books Read: 1

Formats Read

Physical Books: 2
eBooks:
 2
Audio Books: 
2

Currently Reading

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Challenges · Currently Reading · Recommendations · Wrap-ups

Monthly Wrap-up: July 2021

Total Books Read in July: 4
Total Books Read in 2021: 32

Backlist Catch-up TBR: 4/7

Backlist Catch-up TBR Books Read in July:

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The Lake of Dreams
By: Kim Edwards

Genre: Literary Fiction, Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 3/5
NOTE: I won a copy of The Lake of Dreams by Kim Edwards, from Goodreads and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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The Lieutenant’s Nurse
By: Sara Ackerman

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.

Additional Books Read:

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Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
By: Roald Dahl

Genre: Children’s Books, Children’s Fiction, Classics, Chapter Books
Rating: 3/5

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Murder at Blackhead
By: MK Staple

Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: 1/5

DNF

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All My Love, Detrick
By: Roberta Kagan

Genre: Historical Fiction

The Stats

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

Formats Read

Physical Books: 3
eBooks:
 0
Audio Books: 
1

Currently Reading

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Challenges · Currently Reading · Memes · Recommendations · Wrap-ups

Monthly Wrap-up: June 2021

Total Books Read in June: 5
Total Books Read in 2021: 28

I am officially over half way to my goal of reading 52 books in 2021! If I can keep up with the pace I am reading, I believe I will meet my goal, which is so exciting. Did you set any reading goals this year? How are they going?

In a previous post, I shared my current TBR, which was to my backlist books that I have been sent. Below is the progress I made this month:

Backlist Catch-up TBR: 2/7

Backlist Catch-up TBR Books Read in June:

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Inheriting Edith
By: Zoe Fishman

Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 3/5
Note: I won a copy of Inheriting Edith from Goodreads and plan to share my honest review in a future post.

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Dear Haiti, Love Alaine
By: Maika Moulite and Maritza Moulite

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Rating: 4/5
NOTE: I won a copy of Dear Haiti, Love Alaine by Maika Moulite and Maritza Moulite from Goodreads and plan to share my honest review in a future post.

Additional Books Read:

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Lumberjanes, Vol. 1: Beware the Kitten Holy
By: Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, Shannon Watters, Brooklyn Allen

Genre: Graphic Novel, Young Adult, Contemporary, Fantasy
Rating: 4/5

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For the Love of Friends
By: Sara Goodman Confino

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 Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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The Vanishing Half
By: Britt Bennett

Genre: Historical Fiction, Audiobook
Rating: 4/5

DNF

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Cut and Run
By: Ben Acker & Ben Blacker

Narrated by: Meg Ryan, et. Al.
Genre: Audiobook, Comedy
Reason for DNF: The concept of a comedic presentation about organ harvesters, was interesting, however I found it rushed and wasn’t invested enough to keep track of the characters.

The Stats

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

Formats Read

Physical Books: 2
eBooks:
 2
Audio Books: 
1

Currently Reading

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Book Reviews · Recommendations

The Final Revival of Opal & Nev by Dawnie Walton

The Final Revival of Opal & Nev
By: Dawnie Walton

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Published: March 2021
Published By: Simon & Schuster
Format Read: eBook, Kindle, ARC, NetGalley
Genre: Historical Fiction

Rating: 3.5/5

NOTE: I was sent a copy of The Final Revival of Opal & Nev by Dawnie Walton, from the publisher via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis

A poignant fictional oral history of the beloved rock ‘n’ roll duo who shot to fame in the 1970s New York, and the dark, fraught secret that lies at the peak of their stardom.

Opal is a fiercely independent young woman pushing against the grain in her style and attitude, Afro-punk before that term existed. Coming of age in Detroit, she can’t imagine settling for a 9-to-5 job—despite her unusual looks, Opal believes she can be a star. So when the aspiring British singer/songwriter Neville Charles discovers her at a bar’s amateur night, she takes him up on his offer to make rock music together for the fledgling Rivington Records.

In early seventies New York City, just as she’s finding her niche as part of a flamboyant and funky creative scene, a rival band signed to her label brandishes a Confederate flag at a promotional concert. Opal’s bold protest and the violence that ensues set off a chain of events that will not only change the lives of those she loves, but also be a deadly reminder that repercussions are always harsher for women, especially black women, who dare to speak their truth.

Decades later, as Opal considers a 2016 reunion with Nev, music journalist S. Sunny Shelton seizes the chance to curate an oral history about her idols. Sunny thought she knew most of the stories leading up to the cult duo’s most politicized chapter. But as her interviews dig deeper, a nasty new allegation from an unexpected source threatens to blow up everything.

Provocative and chilling, The Final Revival of Opal & Nev features a backup chorus of unforgettable voices, a heroine the likes of which we’ve not seen in storytelling, and a daring structure, and introduces a bold new voice in contemporary fiction.

My Thoughts

Like many other readers, I was intrigued to read The Final Revival of Opal and Nev, after seeing it being compared to Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid. Like that book, Dawnie Walton tells this story in an interview format. However where Daisy Jones and the Six focuses on emotional lyrics, Opal and Nev explores more of a social justice point of view.

While I don’t think that the music this unlikely pair would have released would have been my cup of tea, I could definitely appreciate how they would have made an impression with their originality. Opal especially was a strong character, although she wasn’t perfect. I liked how she became a leader for those who were seen as different and not accepted by society.

Author Dawnie Walton did not shy away from tackling difficult topics including; feminism and racial injustices. I would recommend it to readers who are looking for an impactful book that explores those topics.

Challenges · Currently Reading · TBR

TBR: Backlist Catch-up

Note: I have been trying to use my Instagram more for book posts, so the following is one I shared a couple of weeks ago. If you aren’t following me on Instagram, you can find me at this link: Melissa Lee Spurrell (@melissaleesredhousereviews) • Instagram photos and videos

Additional Note: I can never tell if I’m correctly inserting IG photos onto my blog posts. If you are seeing this, could you comment below if you are able to see the image. Thank you! Happy reading.

Book Reviews · Charlie's Corner · Recommendations

Charlie’s Corner: The Missing Potty

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

Forgive me if this topic is TMI for anyone reading this post, but today we are going to talk about that time in every toddlers life where its time to crack down on potty training. That time is upon us in my household and I am hoping that some fun picture books about the topic will help to encourage Charlie in this endeavor. Today I’d like to share Anita Bijsterbosch’s The Missing Potty.

The Missing Potty
By: Anita Bijsterbosch

The Missing Potty
Source: Barnes & Nobel

To be Published: May 2021
Published by: Clavis
Format Read: ARC, eBook, Kindle
Genre: Children’s Books, Picture Books

NOTE: I was sent a copy of The Missing Potty by Anita Bijsterbosch, from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis

A happy book to help toddlers with potty training, with surprising flaps! For toddlers ages 30 months and up.
Bunny loves her potty. She likes to sit on it all the time. But one day, Bunny can’t find it. And Bunny really needs to go potty! What will she do now? She can’t hold it anymore! Will using the real potty be as scary as it looks?

Source: Barnes & Nobel

My Thoughts

While perusing NetGalley one day I came across Anita Bijesterbosch’s The Missing Potty and it couldn’t have caught my eye at a better time. As the mother of a very stubborn toddler, I am looking for any way to encourage my little boy to ditch the diapers. The fact that this picture book follows his favourite animal; a bunny, made me jump at the chance to share this with him.

As Bunny goes around searching for her potty at the houses of her friends, she asks “Are you using the potty?” and readers are asked to open a flap to see who is there. Although this is a cute idea to show children that they aren’t the only one who has to go, I think that this might give them the idea that they can barge in on anyone using the facilities. However I liked that Bunny’s friends encourage her to use the toilet instead because as they say in the story “You can never lose a real potty.”

Challenges · Currently Reading · Recommendations · Wrap-ups

Monthly Wrap-up: March 2021

Total Books Read in March: 5
Total Books Read in 2021: 12

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The Perfect Couple
By: Elin Hilderbrand

Read by: Erin Bennett
Genre: Contemporary fiction, Mystery, Romance
Rating: 4/5

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Catla and the Vikings
By: Mary Elizabeth Nelson

Genre: Historical Fiction, Middle Grade
Rating: 3/5

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Abduction!
By: Peg Kehret

Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Rating: 3/5
NOTE: This book was listed as middle grade because of the age of the children involved. but it wasn’t written that way. Therefore I have decided to just list the genre as mystery/thriller.

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The Mystery at Lilac Inn
(Nancy Drew, 4)
By: Carolyn Keene
Read by: Laura Linney

Genre: Mystery, Middle Grade, YA Lit
Rating: 2.5/5

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The Final Revival of Opal & Nev
By: Dawnie Walton

Genre: Historical Fiction, Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 4/5
NOTE: I was sent a copy of The Final Revival of Opal and Nev by Dawnie Walton from the publisher via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.


The Stats

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

Formats Read

Physical Books: 0
eBooks:
 2
Audio Books: 
3

Currently Reading

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Challenges · Currently Reading · Recommendations · Wrap-ups

Monthly Wrap-up: January 2021

Total Books Read in January: 4
Total Books Read in 2021: 4

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We Came Here to Shine
By: Susie Orman Schnall

Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: 3/5
Note: I was sent a copy of Susie Orman Schnall’s We Came Here to Shine, from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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The Cheerleaders
By: Kara Thomas

Genre: YA Lit, Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
Rating: 4/5

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Double-Dare O’Toole
By: Constance C. Greene

Genre: Middle Grade
Rating: 2/5

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64th Man
By: Bryan Tucker

Genre: Audiobook, Audible Original, Humor, Sports fiction
Rating: 3/5

The Stats

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

Formats Read

Physical Books: 2
eBooks:
 1
Audio Books: 
1

Currently Reading

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Book Reviews · Recommendations

We Came Here to Shine by Susie Orman Schnall

We Came Here to Shine
By: Susie Orman Schnall

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Published: June 2020
Published by: St. Martin’s Griffin
Format Read: eBook, ARC, Kindle
Genre: Historical Fiction

Rating: 3/5

NOTE: I was sent a copy of Susie Orman Schnall’s We Came Here to Shine, from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis

At the iconic 1939 New York World’s Fair, two ambitious young women—a down-on-her-luck actress and an aspiring journalist—form an unlikely friendship as they navigate a world of possibility and find out what they are truly made of during a glorious summer of spectacle and potential…
Gorgeous Vivi is about to begin filming her first starring role in a Hollywood picture when the studio head ships her off to New York as a favor to a friend. She’s assigned the leading role in the heralded Aquacade synchronized swimming spectacular at the World’s Fair, a fate she believes will destroy her film career. If she performs well, she’ll have another chance at stardom, but with everything working against her, will her summer lead to opportunity or failure?
Plucky Max dreams of becoming a serious journalist, but when her job at the New York Times doesn’t pan out, she finds herself begrudgingly working for the daily paper of the World’s Fair. As her ideas are continually overlooked by her male counterparts and her career prospects are put in jeopardy, Max must risk everything to change the course of her life.
When Max and Vivi’s worlds collide, they forge an enduring friendship. One that teaches them to go after what matters most during the most meaningful summer of their lives.

Source: Goodreads

My Thoughts

The 1939 World’s Fair was held in New York City and what a spectacle it was! When the grand plans for two young women fall through, they both find themselves reluctantly immersed in the festivities. Max, a N.Y.U, journalism student, lost out on her dream internship and is assigned to work at the fair newspaper. Meanwhile Vivi, a budding Hollywood starlet is passed over for a leading role in a film and is sent to New York City to preform in the Aquacade production. We Came Here to Shine explores sexism in the publication and show businesses. Both women struggle to advance their careers that are being ruled by the iron fists of their male superiors.

The theme for the fair was “The World of Tomorrow”, which is the perfect fit for the theme of the novel, as both Max and Vivi were working towards their future careers and successes.

The descriptions of the exhibits, attractions and concessionaires made me wish I could have experienced the fair myself. And the Aquacade show alone sounded spectacular! The newspaper articles at the end of Max’s chapters helped to assist in the world building and describe the state of the world (America specifically) as it hovers between the Great Depression and World War II.

We Came Here to Shine hooked me immediately and I really enjoyed a behind the scenes look at the two industries. I also cheered our heroines along as they stood up for themselves. However, I found some inconsistencies in the writing tense. The individual chapters felt more strong to me than those that followed both Max and Vivi at the same time. I also felt that too much foreshadowing was used, which in turn slightly dulled those moments for me when they were revealed.

Aside from the minor points I mentioned above, We Came Here to Shine tells an important story of women’s equality and friendship. I would recommend this novel to those who enjoy the historical fiction genre.

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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