Book Reviews

Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐/5


Synopsis:

Rachel White is the consummate good girl. A hard-working attorney at a large Manhattan law firm and a diligent maid of honor to her charmed best friend Darcy, Rachel has always played by all the rules. Since grade school, she has watched Darcy shine, quietly accepting the sidekick role in their lopsided friendship. But that suddenly changes the night of her thirtieth birthday when Rachel finally confesses her feelings to Darcy’s fiance, and is both horrified and thrilled to discover that he feels the same way. As the wedding date draws near, events spiral out of control, and Rachel knows she must make a choice between her heart and conscience. In so doing, she discovers that the lines between right and wrong can be blurry, endings aren’t always neat, and sometimes you have to risk everything to be true to yourself.


My Review:

I had a lot of mixed feelings about this book. There was a lot sleeping around. But I have to say, some of the sleeping around kinda made sense. I mean Darcy was not cool and seriously – Rachel does not realize how she’s being used and degraded by her. Not that that makes it ok. But I dunno. I guess if you read the book that part will make a lot more sense.

It was really hard to see Rachel being so spineless with her relationship with her “BFF”. I mean this is definitely not a book you’d want to read for female empowerment because really… there is very little devoted to that kind of thinking.

I picked the book in the first place because I like reading books that’ll be made (or have already been made) into books or TV. This film came out in 2011 and starred Kate Hudson, Ginnifer Goodwin and John Krasinski. I guess you know what I’ll be watching next while I’m stuck here at home during quarantine.

I’d say this is a light summer read. Definitely not heavy. And easy to get through in one sitting. Not the best book I’ve ever read. But definitely not the worst either. Something just to relax and get lost in. And sure… I’d try #2 of the series Darcy & Rachel. I mean seriously… what did happen next?

This is definitely a book I’d love to get your opinions on. If you’ve read it – let me know in the comments below.

Book Reviews

The Holdout by Graham Moore

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐/5


Synopsis:

It’s the most sensational case of the decade. Fifteen-year-old Jessica Silver, heiress to a billion-dollar real estate fortune, vanishes on her way home from school, and her teacher, Bobby Nock, a twenty-five-year-old African American man, is the prime suspect. The subsequent trial taps straight into America’s most pressing preoccupations: race, class, sex, law enforcement, and the lurid sins of the rich and famous. It’s an open-and-shut case for the prosecution, and a quick conviction seems all but guaranteed—until Maya Seale, a young woman on the jury, convinced of Nock’s innocence, persuades the rest of the jurors to return the verdict of not guilty, a controversial decision that will change all their lives forever.

Flash forward ten years. A true-crime docuseries reassembles the jury, with particular focus on Maya, now a defense attorney herself. When one of the jurors is found dead in Maya’s hotel room, all evidence points to her as the killer. Now, she must prove her own innocence—by getting to the bottom of a case that is far from closed.

As the present-day murder investigation weaves together with the story of what really happened during their deliberation, told by each of the jurors in turn, the secrets they have all been keeping threaten to come out—with drastic consequences for all involved.


My Review:

I have to admit I wasn’t too sure about this book. While I absolutely LOVE psychological thrillers, legal thrillers are not my cup of tea. But this book was such a happy surprise. It was so much more than just a courtroom drama.

This story begins with a black teacher accused of an affair with his white 15 year old student. There is enough evidence to convict him. Or is there? Surprise….

Ten years later the twelve jurors meet again for a reunion. There is another murder. More secrets. And more surprises.

Moore just kept the reader guessing. Who dunnit? You’ll have to read it to find out. AND there are three deaths or murders(?) to investigate. It’s one of those kind of books. And I definitely recommend it to anyone who likes to read a thriller.

Book Reviews

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐/5


Synopsis:

In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is planned—from the layout of the winding roads, to the colors of the houses, to the successful lives its residents will go on to lead. And no one embodies this spirit more than Elena Richardson, whose guiding principle is playing by the rules.

Enter Mia Warren—an enigmatic artist and single mother—who arrives in this idyllic bubble with her teenaged daughter Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons. Soon Mia and Pearl become more than tenants: all four Richardson children are drawn to the mother-daughter pair. But Mia carries with her a mysterious past and a disregard for the status quo that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community.

When old family friends of the Richardsons attempt to adopt a Chinese-American baby, a custody battle erupts that dramatically divides the town—and puts Mia and Elena on opposing sides.  Suspicious of Mia and her motives, Elena is determined to uncover the secrets in Mia’s past. But her obsession will come at unexpected and devastating costs. 


My Review:

Little Fires Everywhere tackled so many subjects in just the space of just one book. In one family there is the white mother, Elena, who is a stickler for the rules. She conforms to what society expects of her. And she expects her family to fall in line with those same expectations. Then there is the black mother, Mia. She is an artist. She’s more free – with her time, her expectations and with her rules for her daughter.

With these two families interacting in this book there is obviously going to be some great reading. Each mother tries to parent the other’s child (because obviously she can do it so much better) – and you can only imagine the fireworks this leads to.

I did enjoy the book a lot. The reason I just couldn’t give it 5 ⭐s is because it felt like the last part of the book was just put in for extra drama. And honestly, would a father let his wife and 3 kids treat his youngest daughter the way they did? Especially when he knew the reason behind his wife’s treatment. This was such a popular book so I’m curious what you’re thoughts are on Little Fires Everywhere.

Book Reviews

Sons of Blackbird Mountain by Joanne Bischof

  • Title: Sons of Blackbird Mountain
  • Author: Joanne Bischof
  • Genre: Historical Christian Romance
  • Pages: 352 pgs.
  • Published: July 2018
  • Series: Blackbird Mountain
  • Series #: Book 1 – can be read as a stand-alone

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐/5


Synopsis:

After the tragic death of her husband, Aven Norgaard is beckoned to give up her life in Norway to become a housekeeper in the rugged hills of nineteenth-century Appalachia. Upon arrival, she finds herself in the home of her late husband’s cousins—three brothers who make a living by brewing hard cider on their three-hundred-acre farm. Yet even as a stranger in a foreign land, Aven has hope to build a new life in this tight-knit family.

But her unassuming beauty disrupts the bond between the brothers. The youngest two both desire her hand, and Aven is caught in the middle, unsure where—and whether—to offer her affection. While Haakon is bold and passionate, it is Thor who casts the greatest spell upon her. Though Deaf, mute, and dependent on hard drink to cope with his silent pain, Thor possesses a sobering strength.

As autumn ushers in the apple harvest, the rift between Thor and Haakon deepens and Aven faces a choice that risks hearts. Will two brothers’ longing for her quiet spirit tear apart a family? Can she find a tender belonging in this remote, rugged, and unfamiliar world?

A haunting tale of struggle and redemption, Sons of Blackbird Mountain is a portrait of grace in a world where the broken may find new life through the healing mercy of love. 


Review:

This book was pretty amazing. It offered so much for the reader to consider. I loved having Thor be a Deaf man during the late 1800s. Not only does it show how much tenacity Thor and his family had to get through this during this time period but it shows the fierce love that Aven had when she came into this home. The home wasn’t only filled with three men, but one of the men had a disability that made communication almost impossible.

This isn’t only a love story between Aven and a brother. It also shows the love between the three brothers. Their parents had died years before, leaving them alone with just their aunt and a housekeeper. These men may have fought among themselves but they knew that family came first and they didn’t stand behind each other but next to each other, when it mattered most.

This book was a selection for my book club and it was one of those times that everyone of us loved the book. And that doesn’t happen very often. Usually there is at least one of us that just isn’t feeling it. We had already read another book by this author The Lady and the Lionheart and that one was also mutually loved by all. This book was such a winner for us that we decided to go ahead and read the next one for an upcoming month, so stay tuned for the review of Daughters of Northern Shores.

Book Reviews

A Year of Extraordinary Moments by Bette Lee Crosby

My Rating: My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐/5

Synopsis:

Tracy Briggs has finally gotten her act together. She’s focusing on her own life and helping her hearing-impaired son learn to talk. With her sister married and exploring a new career, Tracy has begun to run the family’s magazine business and feels her life is pretty much perfect. That is, until her son’s deadbeat dad shows up in Magnolia Grove asking for a second chance.

Now that her son is getting the help he needs and a promising new romance with his teacher is in bloom, Tracy wants to keep her life just as it is. But her ex isn’t taking no for an answer. And when a spirited elderly woman enters Tracy’s life in an unexpected way, she’ll have to work harder than ever to keep her new life on track.

Torn between the past she knows and the uncertain future, Tracy must decide what is best for both her and her son, learning along the way that ordinary choices can bring extraordinary possibilities.

Review:

I have to admit it took me awhile to get into this book. It starts out really slow. But once it got going it was very good. There were some things that I had a tough time relating to though. Alice, the grandmother, thought her grandson could do no wrong. I have some family like this and it blows my mind how people can be like this. It doesn’t do the child any good at all. OK. Enough of my rant on that.

There were so many relationships that were explored during the pages of this book; sibling, new love, married, old love, parent/child, grandparent/grandchild. Then there was also the sensitive subjects of substance abuse, alcoholism, domestic violence, and terminal illness. So be prepared. With not just one – but 2 boxes of tissues. You’ll need them.

The author, Crosby, did a great job of tying up all the loose ends by the end, which I personally think is important. I hate reading a book and there are things left that I’m wondering about. And by the end of the book I really felt like I knew each of the characters. She really allowed each of the people to be explored and slowly revealed to the reader. Which is another thing I appreciated. I felt like I was living in Magnolia Grove with Tracy, Alice, Meghan, Lila and the rest.

I do recommend this book. It’s a beautiful story of how love and strength can really overcome a lot of adversity.

I won this book through a Giveaway, however, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Other Fun Stuff

Romance Weekend

I want all of you, forever, you and me, every day.

Nicholas Sparks, “The Notebook”

So it’s Valentines weekend and for whatever reason maybe you need a little more romance in your weekend. Check out these books for some added love.

  • Title: Gone With the Wind
  • Author: Margaret Mitchell
  • Genre: Historical Fiction
  • Pages: 1056 pgs.
  • Published: June 1936

What romance books are your go-to choices?

Other Fun Stuff

Starting a Book Club

“When I have a little money, I buy books; and if I have any left, I buy food and clothes.”

– Erasmus
Photo by r._.f from Pexels

A couple of my favorite things are books and family and friends. Some of my favorite memories are spent with some sweet friends of mine as we discuss our latest book. We have a book club that meets once a month and the friendships, discussions, and ideas that have grown from this are extremely wonderful.

What if you want to begin a book club of your own. Where do you even start?


Find Some Members

A book club doesn’t need a lot of people. Some say that it’s ideal, for discussion purposes, to have 8-15 people for some good conversations about the books. My book club though is small, with only 4-6 people and we’ve always had great discussions. So I’d say to make sure you know the people you’re approaching. Know if they’re going to be dependable. Know if they’re going to participate in the discussions. Then judge your ideal number from there.


Choose a Meeting Place

If your book club is small it might be easy to switch hosting between the members homes. Larger clubs may have to find a larger venue, like a community room at a library, a church, or even a restaurant. My bookclub almost always meets at a restaurant because of the reason we like to eat along with discuss the books. It’s kind of like friends doing lunch together too. We are careful though to find places that accommodate us tying up the table for 2 hours.


Choose Your Time

You’ll also need to choose how often and when your book club is going to meet. The minimum amount should be monthly. If you’re meeting monthly then definitely discuss the entire book. There are clubs that meet weekly or bi-weekly. In that case, you could choose to discuss a book each time but if that’s too much there are other options – like you could discuss a certain amount of chapters each time.


Pick Your First Book

This could be the toughest part. You want something that’s engaging enough so that everyone will stick with it, but it also needs to have enough talking points. After all, personal opinions from the members inspire some great discussions. If you need some help, look at sites like Goodreads, LitLovers, and Booklist. They will have some reviews and new titles to help you sort through choices. Also the local library and the American Library Association can also help.


Prepare for the Discussion

Before the meeting, create some questions and topics that you can use to guide the discussion. These can be based on your own reading, a list from the publisher, or from online discussions. You don’t have to follow these guides exactly. Just be ready to redirect any conversations or discussions that have gone off-course from the book.


Most of all, you need to have fun. And of course read some great books.

Book Reviews

News of the World by Paulette Jiles

  • Book: News of the World
  • Author: Paulette Jiles
  • Genre: Action & Adventure, Historical Fiction
  • Pages: 220
  • Published: October 2016

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐/ 5


Synopsis:

Captain Kidd is an elderly widower enjoying or at least living his life of moving from town to town, reading stories from different newspapers. One day he is stopped and asked if he would return a 10 year old girl back to her aunt & uncle for $50. She’s been held by the Kiowa since she was 6 and they slaughtered her entire family. She now doesn’t remember anything but her life with the Kiowas and she’s now wild and uncivilized. But as the miles go on the two form a bond of trust in each other.


Review:

It took me a while to get into this book (and now looking from hindsight) I know two reasons. First, it is written in a completely different style then what I’m used to. None of the “speaking” was placed in quotes. Because of this there was a few times it was left to the reader to decipher if it was the character speaking or just thinking the words. To me it just made the reading more confusing than it needed to be. Second, the storyline was very easy to predict. There really were no surprises with plot or anything along those lines.

That being said, Jiles did an excellent job of putting down on the pages the emotions felt by the characters. Even though the lack of quotation marks drove me nuts and I knew what was going to happen, the excellent writing still held me captive. As I turned each page, I could feel what the character was going through. Not just what Jiles wanted me to feel. What the character would feel if they were an actual person. Let me tell you. Paulette Jiles has a way with words.

A movie is slated to come out based on this book Christmas Day 2020 – it looks like they are in post-production now. Tom Hanks is starring as Captain Kidd and and a cutie, Helena Zengel is taking on the role of Johanna. I can’t wait to watch it and see how it compares with this book.

Overall, I feel this book deserves 4 out of 5 stars. The emotional impact of the writing was really outstanding. Even though it had a predictable plot and I felt had a lack of punctation, the writing was still worthy of ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Hey!!! If you’ve read this book or decide to read it – I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Book Reviews

A Motherland’s Daughter, A Fatherland’s Son by Ellie Midwood

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐/ 5

Snyopsis:

Poland, 1939. A country, torn by the occupation of two unlikely allies – Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. On the border of this newly divided territory, a young Wehrmacht Unteroffizier, Werner and a Soviet Military Interpreter, Kira meet and fall in love against all odds. Both forced into the military against their will, they wish for one thing only – a peaceful life together. Everything is set for Kira to defect and marry Werner… But the German army invades the Soviet Union, and now the two lovers are forced to fight against each other on the opposite sides of the frontline; trying to keep their humanity as more and more atrocities are committed by both armies. They have to decide if their love is stronger than the devastation surrounding them or succumb to the hate as sworn enemies should. Partially based on true events, this novel will take you on the unforgettable journey through war-torn countries, where hope can be lost in no-man’s-land, and one will have to go to great lengths not to lose sight of it.


Review:

Ellie Midwood doesn’t hold back in her writing. She does a ton of research on the historical aspects of her books so she is able to just weave the fictional storyline in through the real history. Those are the kinds of books I absolutely love. It really makes history come to life. At least for me.

Reading the heartbreaking emotions of Ellie and Werner as they had to go through the different aspects of the war was so hard. Even some of the small decisions they made were pretty life altering in our lives today.

All those small decisions that each of them made during WWII, that we read about were made by real people like this fictional couple. Real people had to live with the consequences of their decisions for the rest of their lives.

I definitely recommend you grab a copy of this book ASAP. And to help you out with your copy… Keep an eye out for a giveaway I’m having with a signed copy that’s starting later in the week!!!

Book Reviews

Mademoiselle Chanel by C.W. Gortner

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐/5

Synopsis:

Born into rural poverty, Gabrielle Chanel and her siblings are sent to orphanage after their mother’s death. The sisters nurture Gabrielle’s exceptional sewing skills, a talent that will propel the willful young woman into a life far removed from the drudgery of her childhood.

Transforming herself into Coco—a seamstress and sometime torch singer—the petite brunette burns with ambition, an incandescence that draws a wealthy gentleman who will become the love of her life. She immerses herself in his world of money and luxury, discovering a freedom that sparks her creativity. But it is only when her lover takes her to Paris that Coco discovers her destiny. 

Rejecting the frilly, corseted silhouette of the past, her sleek, minimalist styles reflect the youthful ease and confidence of the 1920s modern woman. As Coco’s reputation spreads, her couturier business explodes, taking her into rarefied society circles and bohemian salons. But her fame and fortune cannot save her from heartbreak as the years pass. And when Paris falls to the Nazis, Coco is forced to make choices that will haunt her.


Review:

Everyone knows who Coco Chanel is. The lovely clothes. With simple clean lines. And understated colors. And of course… Chanel No. 5 – the perfume that’s been around forever.

The author, Gortner tells the Coco Chanel’s story in such a beautiful way. From the time she was a young girl with absolutely no money and then through the discovery of her amazing ability building her empire. Her brand even withstood TWO wars.

There is so much that can be said about this book. To find out how someone so respected and admired accomplished what they did was super interesting. The lady worked hard for what she had.

I think one of my favorite parts was finding out where the scent for Chanel No. 5 came from! So Fascinating!!! In my opinion it’s worth reading just for that!! But seriously – you’ll love the entire book.

Chanel proved that styles in fashion will come and go but a classic look will always be appropriate.