July Reading Round-Up!

Is it August already? This summer is flying by and I feel like as hard as I try, I can never get enough reading time! We had our anniversary trip this month, and I did get the opportunity to enjoy some quiet reading time on the beautiful and serene back porch of our vacation tree-house. I sure wish I was back there right now. Life can be so busy and chaotic, and vacations, especially those in secluded surroundings always remind me that we (I) need to take more time for quiet, stillness and reading!

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See? Doesn’t that look all sorts of serene? Sigh.🙂

Anyway…back to my month of reading. I’ve actually not kept track of how many books I’ve read this month, though I’m really hoping it was more than FIVE! I’m going to take a look right now…

Drum roll please…..

Well, it’s higher than five, by one! I’ll take that though! So, for the month of July I read 6 books. They are as follows:

So…let’s see here, the first three reads of the month were actually selections that were leftover from last month’s “Read a debut novel” challenge. (Yeah, I went a little overboard selecting debuts!) A Girl Like You, Keep Me Posted and The Nest were all from new authors. Of those three, A Girl Like You was my favorite. This is fortunate for me, because as far as I know, it’s the only one of the three that is the beginning of a new series! The other two were okay, with Keep Me Posted being a bit better than The Nest. The Wolf Road was actually my one and only review book of the month. I had mixed feelings on it, and my review can be found HERE. Pretty Baby was my spontaneous read this month. I picked it up at the last second on one of our many trips to the library. I’m glad I did, because I enjoyed it a lot. I could criticize a few things here and there, but for the most part, it was a solid read. And, actually, I’m currently reading another book by the same author! And, last but not least, I have to admit I came very close to forgetting to do my monthly Reading Challenge for July. (That’s what vacation will do to you!) Fortunately, the challenge for this month was to read a book in a genre you’ve never read before. This was a tough one to figure out, until discussing it with my graphic-novel-lovin’ husband! I had never read a graphic novel and it was the perfect choice for accomplishing my goal at the last moment of the month! And, for the record, I really enjoyed it. More than I expected. It helped that it was a Walking Dead graphic novel, but I have to say that I was really impressed with the art and detail in it. I may have to revisit the graphic novel genre again someday!

In closing (I know I’m rambly tonight!) my total books read for the year is 37 and I am at 49% of my goal for the year. Yeah, I know, I’m still behind! That being said, I’m off to read! G’night all!

The Wolf Road by Beth Lewis: A Book Review

9781101906125ABOUT THE WOLF ROAD

ELKA BARELY REMEMBERS a time before she knew Trapper. She was just seven years old, wandering lost and hungry in the wilderness, when the solitary hunter took her in. In the years since then, he’s taught her how to survive in this desolate land where civilization has been destroyed and men are at the mercy of the elements and each other.

But the man Elka thought she knew has been harboring a terrible secret. He’s a killer. A monster. And now that Elka knows the truth, she may be his next victim.

Armed with nothing but her knife and the hard lessons Trapper’s drilled into her, Elka flees into the frozen north in search of her real parents. But judging by the trail of blood dogging her footsteps, she hasn’t left Trapper behind—and he won’t be letting his little girl go without a fight. If she’s going to survive, Elka will have to turn and confront not just him, but the truth about the dark road she’s been set on.

The Wolf Road is an intimate cat-and-mouse tale of revenge and redemption, played out against a vast, unforgiving landscape—told by an indomitable young heroine fighting to escape her past and rejoin humanity.

My Review: I have mixed feelings about this one. I felt like it had a really unique premise, but from the start I wasn’t sure what direction it was going to take. There were several times I expected it to go a different way than it ended up.

One of my biggest issues with this book is that it felt very unclear and at times confusing. We aren’t given enough background information to understand where and when it takes place or what exactly happened to bring us to this point. The main character, Elka also talked a lot in her head and made a lot of foreshadowing statements, that I found kind of annoying.

I enjoyed the kind of “cat and mouse” theme that was throughout this book.  I also loved that the villain was so behind the scenes and in the shadows, but we knew that he was to be feared. I loved the character of Penelope and I loved the friendship that forms between her and Elka. I wish Penelope had been developed even more. I also would have liked to know more about Elka’s parents.

This was a dark story and it had some disturbing and gross themes, but it was also at times suspenseful and intriguing. I found the characters interesting and I enjoyed a good amount of this book, but I think it could have been shorter, faster-paced and a bit clearer in spots.

All in all, a decent read.

*I received a copy of this book from Blogging for Books free of charge in exchange for my honest review.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Beth Lewis is a managing editor at Titan Books in London. She was raised in the wilds of Cornwall and split her childhood between books and the beach. She has traveled extensively throughout the world and has had close encounters with black bears, killer whales, and great white sharks. She has been a bank cashier, a fire performer, and a juggler.

June Reading Round-Up!

I’m a few days late getting this posted. The holiday weekend was a busy one!

So…remember how I’ve been averaging about 5 books a month, but really, really wanted to do better?

Guess what? I read 5 AGAIN this month! I suppose that’s better than decreasing my total, but I know I can do better!

I won’t promise an increase in July, but I sure hope that I do have one to report by the end of this month!

The following are the books I have completed for the month of June:

Me Before You, I read in preparation for the film adaptation. I only finished half before I saw the movie, but I thoroughly enjoyed both the film and the book, which I finished shortly thereafter. June was a book review book. I enjoyed it, but it wasn’t a favorite. My review for that can be found HERE. Nightime is My Time was a book on my shelf that I’ve been wanting to get to. I had some free time, so I dived into that. I think that it was one of my favorite Mary Higgins Clark novels thus far. The Girl in the Red Coat and The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper were both books by debut authors. My Reading Challenge for this month was to read a book by a new author, and I ended up with two! Both of these books were really good and I was impressed by their authors first offerings.

In choosing a favorite book of the month, I’m torn. I think I may go with Me Before You, though The Girl in the Red Coat may finish a close second. The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper deserves a lot of recognition too. It was unique, inspiring and whimsical. June was definitely my least favorite, though that doesn’t make it a bad read.

All in all, I very enjoyable reading month! I’ve already dived headfirst into my first July book, so hopefully that bodes well for my end count.

Until next month, Happy Reading!!

June a Novel by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore: A Book Review

May Reading Round-Up!

I am woefully behind schedule in posting this, and sadly, also behind schedule in my reading. I’ve been trying to keep a steady pace in my reading, but life has been so busy lately! No excuses, I know! I had fully intended to read more in May, but once again I am at five books for the month. And, truth be told, I technically finished book five today, but it is going to count as a May read because I read the majority of it in May and it is my monthly challenge book.

And so, for May my five books read were:

Two out of my five books were for review purposes. They were: The Longing in Me and The Girl from the Paradise Ballroom. Orphan Train was a book on my shelf that I recently picked up from the local library book sale. Murder in Morningside heights is a book from a favorite author and series that I’ve been following from the beginning. Wild fulfilled my May Reading Challenge as a book based on a true story.

My favorite book of the month was probably Orphan Train, though I enjoyed them all. The Longing in Me was non-fiction (my review can be read here) , and Wild I would classify as autobiography/memoir. This is a book I’ve wanted to read for a while. It’s about a woman who loses her mom at a young age and how it affects her life and her choices. She decides to hike the Pacific Crest Trail and she tells her story about that. It’s an incredible book and an incredible journey that she took. I can relate so much to a lot of the feelings she dealt with and I’m really glad I read this book. There is also a lot that I can’t relate to in how she chose to handle her grief, but the very core of it…that deep loss and the effect it had on her life, I can completely relate to. Anyway… Murder in Morningside Heights was very good, and so comfortably familiar. I’ve been reading this series from the beginning (and this was book 19!) so the characters have become like old friends and their story is comfortable and relaxing, but as always enjoyable and suspenseful. Lastly, The Girl from the Paradise Ballroom. My review for that can be read here.

I know I keep saying this, but I’m planning to read more in June! I need to pick up the pace to reach my yearly goal. I have read 26 or 75 so far, and according to Goodreads, that puts me 5 books behind schedule!

The Longing in Me by Sheila Walsh: A Book Review

_140_245_Book.1919.coverDo your desires have you going around in circles? You may be looking for fulfillment in all the wrong places.

You vowed you’d never repeat the same mistakes—yet you find yourself right where you started. What is it that keeps drawing you back into the same old traps? The fact is, your longings are built from the blueprint of your needs: for protection, for love, for God. And those needs aren’t going anywhere.

Sheila speaks candidly about the trials in her life, including the heartache of her first marriage, and intertwines her story with the biblical saga of King David. As both Sheila’s and David’s stories make clear, some cravings are misguided, but they all stem from the same hunger—and they will haunt you until that hunger gets satisfied properly.

If you keep reaching out to the wrong people at the wrong times in your own life, The Longing in Me will help you understand that your cravings are not the problem. It’s where they lead you that makes all the difference.

My Review: This was my first time reading a book by Sheila Walsh, but I have had the opportunity to hear her speak on several occasions and I’ve always been touched by her openness, honesty and humility. These qualities definitely translate well in her latest book.

The Longing in Me is a book about all of us. We all crave things in this life and many times those cravings lead us down dangerous roads with hard consequences. This book weaves together bits of personal experience from Sheila’s life and the well known stories from David’s.

It reminds us that we all stumble and fall. We all become misguided in our steps. We all follow things that lead us down wrong paths. We are all broken people in need of a savior.

I love the honesty in this book. Sheila bravely shares some of her most intimate life struggles with us so that we can know that we aren’t alone in our battles. Sometimes we think that we are the only ones who mess up. The only ones who are weak, broken and flawed. This book is such a great reminder that we are not alone. David, known as a man after God’s own heart, stumbled and fell many times, in many ways, yet he still belonged to God.

At the heart of all of us, is a longing that can only be filled by God. No matter what your story is, or mine, ultimately we need him to fill us. Nothing else can heal our brokenness, mend our shattered hearts or redeem our situations.

Excellent book, and highly recommended read.

*I received a copy of this book free of charge from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for my honest review.

The Girl from the Paradise Ballroom by Alison Love: A Book Review

9781101904510ABOUT THE GIRL FROM THE PARADISE BALLROOM

The first meeting between Antonio and Olivia at the Paradise Ballroom is brief, but electric.

Years later, on the dawn of World War II, when struggling Italian singer Antonio meets the wife of his wealthy new patron, he recognizes her instantly: it is Olivia, the captivating dance hostess he once encountered in the seedy Paradise Ballroom. Olivia fears Antonio will betray the secrets of her past, but little by little they are drawn together, outsiders in a glittering world to which they do not belong. At last, with conflict looming across Europe, the attraction between them becomes impossible to resist–but when Italy declares war on England, the impact threatens to separate them forever.

The Girl from the Paradise Ballroom is a story of forbidden love and family loyalties amid the most devastating war in human history.

My Review:

I can’t recall if I’ve ever read a book set during World War II, but I definitely enjoyed the setting of this book as well as the perspective. I love historical fiction, but I prefer if a book focuses more on the characters and uses the historical aspect as more of a backdrop. I feel like this book did a pretty good job of that.

There were, however moments that dragged for me, and were just a little dull. Other than that, the story held my interest and the characters were well-developed. I really liked the characters of Olivia and Antonio, but I felt sorry for them. Their story seemed so tragic. In actuality, I believe at the heart of the story, was Filomena. I know this book was primarily about Olivia and Antonio, but I really loved the character of Filomena. She was strong and smart and loving. Her story with Stan was what captivated me most in this book.

In a lot of ways, this book was quite beautiful, but I don’t feel like it was as captivating as it set out to be. I enjoyed it, but I don’t think it will stay with me for a long time to come.

*I received a copy of this book free of charge from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

ALISON LOVE’s short stories have appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies, and in 2013 her story Sophie Stops the Clock was shortlisted for the Bristol Short Story Prize. Alison has worked in the theater, television, and public relations. The Girl from the Paradise Ballroom is her American fiction debut.