Articles · Recommendations · Wrap-ups

My Top 6 Books Read in 2021

Over the year of 2021, I read only 6 books that I gave 5 star ratings to. This isn’t to say that I didn’t enjoy the majority of the books I read, I did. I actually allowed myself to read more according to my mood, rather than a more strict schedule I have stuck to in the past. There were several books I read this past year that I had very high expectations for. Many of which were from authors that I have rated highly in the past. Oddly enough none of those books made this Top 6 list. Instead the books that ended up on this list were ones I randomly picked up on a whim. I wonder how this will play out during 2022.

Here are my favourite books that I read in 2021:

Good Luck With That by Kristan Higgins

Verity by Colleen Hoover

Buried Deep by Margot Hunt

The Wives by Tarryn Fisher

Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo

Fly Away (Firefly Lane, 2) by Kristin Hannah

Have you read any of these books? What were your favourite books you read in 2021?

Wishing you all a very happy holidays and a happy new year!

Articles · Challenges

On the Fence Try a Chapter 2: Historical Fiction Kindle Edition

Back in March, I decided to sort through my Kindle library and weed out some books that I was on the fence about. I read the first chapter of three eBooks and got rid of those that didn’t catch my interest.

Click here to see that post and to recap, my results were as follows:

Book: Snowfall and Secrets (Omega Mu Alpha Brothers, 1) by Kimberly Loth
Verdict: Keep
Status: Read & Reviewed
Rating: 2.5/5

Book: Bundle of Trouble (Maternal Instincts Mystery, 1) by Diana Orgain
Verdict: Keep
Status: Read and Reviewed
Rating: 2.5/5

Book: Murder on the SS Rosa (Ginger Rose Mysteries 1) by Lee Strauss
Verdict: Toss
Status: Deleted

Although both of the books I decided to keep had their positive points, they both didn’t garner a very high rating. Hopefully this second round of On the Fence, Try a Chapter will uncover some more enjoyable stories.

For this edition I will be sampling historical fiction books from my Kindle library. Here are the three books I considered:

The Engagement Party
By: Kimberly Freeman

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Synopsis

Flora Honeychurch-Black awakens on the day of her engagement party excited yet somehow unsettled. Throughout the day, despite the well-meaning attention of her friend Liberty and the distraction of the household’s many preparations for the night’s celebration, Flora’s unease grows. Her much-loved, erratic brother Sam unwittingly adds to the tension, behaving oddly and drawing mirth from her suave fiance Tony and derision from some of his sophisticated coterie of friends.
As the storm clouds gather outside and the engagement party begins, Flora realises that something is amiss. Where is Sam? What secret is he hiding? The answers may be more than Flora – and her new relationships and loyalties – can bear.

Source: Goodreads

First Impression

This short story opens on the day of our main character Flora’s engagement party. I like that this is set in a country I haven’t read a lot from (Australia) and the 1920s time period.

Keep or Toss?

Keep! Although this short story isn’t highly rated, I think it will be a good introduction to Kimberly Freeman’s writing. I am interested in learning how all the details in the synopsis will fit into just 36 pages.

Waiting for Summer’s Return (Heart of the Prairie)
By: Kim Vogel Sawyer

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Synopsis

All alone on the Kansas prairie, Summer Steadman has few options. With her husband and children lost to illness, she has no desire to continue on farther west to where she and her husband planned to build their future. Instead, she seeks employment in a small Mennonite community in order to be near the graves of her family.
Widower Peter Ollenburger, the local gristmill owner, needs someone to teach his young son. When he hears of a “learned woman” in town, he believes she is the answer to his prayers. He soon discovers, however, that helping this outsider may have troublesome consequences.
There is little this father will not do for his son, but as the boy begins to look at Summer as more than a teacher, Peter must make a choice. Does he marry this woman to give his son a new mother, or does he marry only for love?Will Summer’s broken heart ever be able to love again?

Soource: Goodreads

First Impression

In the first chapter we are introduced to a woman named Sumer who has recently lost her husband and four children. She is stranded in an unfamiliar town and seeking employment. Readers are also introduced to a widower name Peter, who is in search for a tutor for his son. Both of these characters have seen tragedy in their lives and I anticipate this novel will be their heartwarming love story. This chapter, although long was interesting and so it didn’t take long to fly through.

Keep or Toss?

Definitely keep! The first chapter has made me really eager to bump this up on my TBR.

All My Love, Detrick
By: Roberta Kagan

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Synopsis

True love is difficult to come by. What would you sacrifice for love? Your home? Your material possessions? Your family and friends? Your principles? Your life?
Prologue
Detrick, a seven-year-old Aryan boy, with blonde hair that shines like the rays of the sun rides his brand new bicycle down a main street of Berlin in 1923. Young and carefree, he’s fully experiencing freedom for the first time. It is mid-day and the street is filled with humanity. Vendors hawk their wares and haggle with potential shoppers, while a few of the new inventions called automoblies honk as make their way through the crowded roads. There is so much to look at, to smell, and to take in, the fresh baked bread, the chocolate candy, the fresh fruit. Detrick is swept away by all of the activities surrounding him, so he is not paying attention when suddenly a horse drawn cart appears causing him to fall. Embarrassed and upset he decides to walk his damaged bicycle home by a different path, one where he is unlikely to be forced to face his friends. A path through the Jewish sector of town. It is here that he meets Jacob Abdenstern, a lovable Jewish bicycle repair man who offers to help the little boy. Detrick having an alcoholic, anti-Semitic father finds a friend and much-needed paternal figure in Jacob. A relationship flourishes between the two of them that will alter both of their lives forever.

Source: Goodreads

First Impression

Whew another long first chapter, or in this case prologue. We are introduced to a young boy named Detrick who befriends a Jewish bicycle salesman. Beginning in Berlin 1923, I anticipate this will be a heartbreaking story.

Keep or Toss?

Keep. In the past I read a fair bit of historical fiction centered around the Holocaust, but it has been quite a while since I’ve visited that time period. It is a topic that I have to be in the mood for. I’ve decided to save this book for another time.

So that makes for 3 books that I will be keeping on my TBR. Two of these titles I hope to read in the near future.

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.

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 · 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?

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 · Memes · Tags · Wrap-ups

#Top10of2k19 Books I’m Looking Forward to in 2020

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.

Today marks the end of #Top10of2k19. I have really enjoyed participating and seeing the other responses for the prompts. I will also be sharing my answers on Instagram. You can follow me at @melissalessredhousereviews.

Before I begin, I would like to share my answers for this prompt, last year.

Books I Wanted to Read in 2019

  1. Light a Penny Candle by Maeve Binchy
  2. The Simple Wild by K.A. Tucker
  3. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
  4. The First Phone Call from Heaven by Mitch Albom
  5. Birds of a Feather (Maisie Dobbs, #2) by Jacqueline Winspear
  6. The Lost Girls of Paris by Pan Jenoff
  7. Lies by T.M. Logan
  8. Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy
  9. The Accidental Beauty Queen by Teri Wilson

Unfortunately I only read 1 of those books in 2019: Birds of a Feather (Maisie Dobbs, #2) by Jacqueline Winspear. Fortunately it was one of my favourite books of the year. Once again I do hope to get those the remaining books on that list this year. Or at least some of them. Here are the other books I’d like to read in 2020:

Are any of these books on your radar? Did you participate in #Top10of2k19? If so leave me your link in the comments.

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

Challenges · Memes · Wrap-ups

Top 10 of 2019

Its that time of year again when all of the wrap-ups are being posted and we reflect on the past twelve months in reading.

Last year I really enjoyed participating in Kimberly Faye’s Top 10 in 2018 and I am excited to be joining up for her 2019 event. It will run from December 25-31.

Top 10 of 2019

This year, she will have a co-host; Ginger ( @greadsbooks) and they will be posting both on the blog and Instagram. Here are the prompts:

If you would like to participate, you can sign up at Kimberly Faye Reads.

Challenges · Currently Reading · Recommendations · Wrap-ups

Monthly Wrap-up: November 2019

Total Books Read in November: 3
Total Books Read in 2019: 34

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Scarlet Feather
By: Maeve Binchy

Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 3.5/5
Quick Thoughts: I was surprised how much I enjoyed reading this book as the last book I attempted by this author, I decided not to finish. I liked following along the ups of downs of starting a catering company with Tom and Cathy. The inclusion of the twins story gave some much needed comic relief to the book. I would recommend Scarlet Feather to fans of the author Maeve Binchy.

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Body of Proof
By: Darrell Brown & Sophie Ellis

Genre: True Crime, Non-fiction
Rating: 5/5

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

Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery, Romance
Rating: 3.5/5

DNF

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The Summer Retreat (Moonlight Harbor, 3)
By Sheila Roberts

Genre: Contemporary fiction, Series
NOTE: I was sent a copy of The Summer Retreat by Sheila Roberts, from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Stats

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

Formats Read

Physical Books: 2
eBooks: 0
Audio Books: 1

Challenge Update

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

December TBR

I recently moved into my new home and all of my books including my TBR Jar books that I haven’t read yet, are still packed away. I’m hoping to dig them out as soon as I have a chance, but as of now I’m not 100% sure of when that will be. I do hope to get to some holiday books this month and to finish up my Goodreads Reading Challenge.

Currently Reading

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