Let’s just say this is an overdue wrap-up!

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Personal life:

The holidays got super crazy and  I couldn’t keep up here.  I am so sorry guys!  The O’hana descended on Mo. in mass and we just had a ball.  We saw the Christmas light display that a church in Carthage does every year (Grandma loves this), went bowling, and Surprised my sister with an early birthday on Christmas.  We all drove down in Dad’s party bus (seats 15- I think he got it at an auction), gave her the TV everyone went together into and saw a movie.  Bentonville has a superb theater!  The plush chairs recline, there was more than enough leg room and not a sticky spot or speck of trash.  I was seriously impressed!  We went to see Downsizing…. which I have to say I was less impressed with.  My sister thought it was going to be hilarious- it wasn’t.  My cousin hoped it would be more of a commentary on how we need to be better on our planet- yeah… no.  It had it’s funny moments, and interesting moments…. but mostly it was just okay.

We did Secret Santa and (keep it clean) Dirty Santa on Christmas Eve.  I got a pair of plumeria earrings. My Secret Santa couldn’t make it, so my sweet husband ordered two books for me in hardback- The Speaker by Traci Chee which I haven’t read yet, and my favorite book of the year: Reincarnation Blues by Michael Poore.  I love that book and would revisit chapters every time I went to the library.  Due to space constraints and my inability to give up books easily I have to be very selective in what I get a hardcopy of but I knew I wanted this one.  When my niece was down we had what my sister jokingly refers to as second Christmas where we gave each other all the gifts we didn’t want to do at the big celebration.  Warren got a PS 4 from the family and has already ordered Rock Band, his favorite game.  I got a new shirt (above) and a good winter coat.  My sister Mei and her husband Scott surprised me with a used copy of The Illustration of Life written by two of my favorite Animators for Disney.  I love the older works, the animation and care of detail.  Apparently it used to belong to Scott’s uncle before he passed.  I am honored.  I actually cried- not only is this an indulgence I would never buy myself, but it belonged to someone he cared about.  I feel like used books have a history and this one was is in spectacular condition.

Bookish Life:

I read several Sofie Ryan books in preparation for my eARC of The Fast and the Furriest coming out soon.  I am also reading a book called A Land of Permanent Goodbyes by Atia Abawi.  It is fantastic, but very hard hitting and I have to take breaks.  I love it though!

So that’s it for me, what’s up with you?

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Telling Tails, Sofie Ryan

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Title: Telling Tails

Author: Sofie Ryan

Pages: 304

Genre: cozy mystery

Is this part of a series?  Yes.  This is book four of the Second Chance Cat Mysteries.

Published:  January 3rd, 2017

Summary:

Sarah’s back with Elvis and Charlotte’s Angels (her grandmother’s friends; this is the name they gave their detective agency that works out of Second Chance Shop).  Rose, making an unapproved delivery to a house, stumbles upon what looks like a dead body being moved.  Before she can be sure she’s hit on the head and wakes up a few houses down being cared for by a large black lab.  What happened?  And where’s the body?

There seems to be no sign of anything untoward and the police think that maybe this was a stroke.   Leesa has proof on her cell that her husband was planning to leave her, and empty bank accounts.  Seems like case closed, right?  But Rose knows what she saw and she is far from feeble- the Angels will figure this out.    With a few false starts and a lot of laughs, we follow the ladies and their compatriot Mr. P.  through the twists and turns of investigating a murder that may never have happened.

My thoughts:

The more I read this series the more I realize that this is just what I need.  Sweet, well developed characters, and good clean fun.  The characters love each other, even those that are at times overprotective.  The series isn’t overly sexualized and there isn’t a lot of foul language like in other mystery genres- nor gore for shock’s sake.  These are just really great, clean reads that are fantastic palate cleansers for after I finish a harsher book- or any time really.

Nick is still being stubborn about the whole detective agency thing- let’s be honest, I wouldn’t be thrilled with one of my elderly relatives getting caught up in murder investigations either.  When he hears about everything that happened to his mom’s friend, he immediately wants her to go to the hospital and get every test imaginable done.    No body, no sign of struggle… just an old woman he cares about on the ground outside.  Sarah’s worried too, but she knows better than to push.  She stays close to the girls and tries as always to lessen danger.  I love her for that.  I love that these characters try to hard to support one another even when they firmly believe they’re off their rockers.    Sarah and Nick’s relationship is still going slower than a sloth in a marathon race- it hasn’t really even started.  There have been a kiss or two…. but that’s it.  Even she is starting to wonder why she isn’t more serious.  I have hopes for our other contender (team Mac all the way!).  There haven’t been any real overtures, but I know these guys are perfect for one another.  For me, this is a five star book.  normal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star rating

On the adult content scale, there really isn’t any.  Some violence (this is a murder mystery after all) but mild.  I would definitely give this series to my niece without qualm.  I give it a two tops.  General.svg

The book is out!  Catch up so that you are ready for the next book coming out early 2018!

Link to book:

Amazon

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The Wedding Date, Jasmine Guillory

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Title: The Wedding Date

Author: Jasmine Guillory

Pages: 320

Genre: romantic comedy

Is this part of a series?  While this is the author’s debut novel, I would not say no to a book surrounding some of the support characters here…. but nothing is being said yet.

Release Date: January 30th, 2018

Summary:

Sometimes the most surprising moments can change your life.  Dreading a weekend of wedding festivities where the bride is his ex and the groom one of his best friends, Drew is cursing his luck.  He doesn’t even have a date!!!  Getting stuck in the hotel elevator is the last thing he needs right now…. or is it?

Alexa is bringing champagne and snacks to her sister’s hotel room to celebrate Olivia’s promotion. Hard working and driven, she doesn’t have time for dating and things.  When the elevator taking her to Olivia looses power, she meets a guy that makes her stand up and pay attention.  As the two get to know each other over cheese and crackers Alexa finds herself agreeing to a really crazy idea.  She is going to go to the wedding with Drew, posing as his girlfriend.  She knows he doesn’t do relationships- they talked about it.  So what’s wrong with a fun weekend with a hot guy?

At the end of the weekend the two can’t seem to let go.  Text messages and weekend trips to see one another keep them together…. but together how?  Alexa doesn’t know and she’s afraid to ask.  Drew seems like the best guy in the world, but she knows he doesn’t do relationships…. so what are they doing?   A misunderstanding becomes the blowup that could break them.  Can Drew find a way to get over his hang ups and keep Alexa- and does he even want to?

My thoughts:

I loved this book.  It dealt with some racial issues- Alexa being African
American and Drew… well, not…. but it didn’t linger on this issue and I felt like it was handled respectfully.  I loved these characters and their support characters.  Maddie and Carlos were especially great and I wouldn’t mind a new book centering on either of them.  The story was engaging and well written, if a bit cliché at times.  As with every good romance there were several times where I wanted to shake either character.  For me, this shows that I can invest myself in this book and that’s a good thing.  It was a charming, fast paced read with great characters and interesting plot.  I give it a four.  normal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star rating

On the adult content scale, there was language and sexual content- not mild but not too terribly explicit.  I would give it a five.  mature audience.

I received an eARK from First to Read in exchange for an honest review.  My thanks.  first to read

The book comes out 01/30/2018, I recommend it for those who like romantic comedies.

Link to book:

Amazon

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Mini Reviews- Second Chance Cat Mysteries, Sofie Ryan

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Titles: Buy a Whisker, A Whisker of Trouble

Author: Sofie Ryan

Pages:336, 343

Genre: Cozy Mysteries

Are these part of a series?  Yes, these are books two and three of The Second Chance Cat Mysteries.

Release dates: April 7th, 2015; February 2nd, 2016

Summary:

In Buy a Whisker we revisit Sarah and her Grandmother’s friends in North Harbor.  There is a developer in town that wants to develop the waterfront, thus bringing in more tourists.  The town is divided on this, and Sarah is caught in the middle of two friends.  There is one person in town, though, that is firmly against the development- Lilly will not sell her bakery, and the construction cannot begin without it.  When she is found dead there is an uproar, and Liz- who had been strongly for the development to the point of trying to sway Lilly, becomes a suspect.  Though Sarah does what she can to keep the girls out of trouble, Charlottes Angels are on the case to clear their friend and find the true killer.

In A Whisker of Trouble Sarah and gang have been hired to go through Edison Hall’s home after his death.  An unequaled packrat, he had collections of everything from magazines to Spam.  It’s a big job, but they might find some good stuff to buy for the shop… and Edison’s sister is a friend.  When Elvis, Sarah’s cat, finds a body in the kitchen things get complicated.  A man that was hired to look at Hall’s wine collection (which Edison had hoped would be an inheritance for his son, but turned out to be worthless) is found dead and it’s up to the Angels to find the killer, and the people that have been swindling seniors!

My thoughts:

I am going to do this for both books at once.  I love these stories, but I have to admit I still like the Magical Cat series by Ryan better.  Sarah and company are great characters- sweet, charming and easy to love with just enough sass and kookiness to keep things lively.  Elvis is definitely an interesting character and really makes the books.  I liked the character development in the books as relationships move forward.  I do have to admit I was surprised by how hard the Angels are pushing Nicholas as a love interest for Sarah when I far prefer Mac, but I am biased.  Let’s face it, Mac’s intelligent, sweet, charming, and can fix anything.  This is a dream guy for me.  I like that the Angels are making a name for themselves, and that hacker extraordinaire Mr. P. actually got his detective license.  These are just fun, fantastic reads that fly by.  I adore them and cannot wait for the next book (coming out early next year- I actually got an advanced copy from First to Read).  I like how the characters interact with one another- the teen is kind and respectful, and the elderly don’t talk down to her.  There is a lot of love and kindness that makes me really happy.  I also like that there is no swearing really, and that while there are some jokes there’s no sexual content.  That makes this a perfect series for younger readers that are interested in more adult mysteries.  My niece, for instance, is fifteen now and I think she’d love these.  For me, these are five star books.  normal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star rating

On the adult content scale, there is some violence but nothing over the top.  I give a two at most.  General.svg

The books are out!  Have you read them?  What did you think?

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Wonder, R. J. Palacio

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Title: Wonder

Author: R. J. Palacio

Pages: 316

Genre:  Young Adult/ Children’s fiction

Is this book part of a series?  While it is technically a stand alone novel it has several companion pieces, I guess we could call them: Auggie and Me (Three Wonder Stories), 365 Days of Wonder, We’re All Wonders, and the choose kind journal that allows you to go through writing prompts geared toward helping the writer find ways to be kind every day.  And, of coarse, there’s a movie in theatres now!

Published:  February 14th, 2012.

Summary Courtesy of Goodreads:

I won’t describe what I look like. Whatever you’re thinking, it’s probably worse.

August Pullman was born with a facial difference that, up until now, has prevented him from going to a mainstream school. Starting 5th grade at Beecher Prep, he wants nothing more than to be treated as an ordinary kid—but his new classmates can’t get past Auggie’s extraordinary face. WONDER, now a #1 New York Times bestseller and included on the Texas Bluebonnet Award master list, begins from Auggie’s point of view, but soon switches to include his classmates, his sister, her boyfriend, and others. These perspectives converge in a portrait of one community’s struggle with empathy, compassion, and acceptance.

My thoughts:

So, I waffled about whether or not to read this book for years- literally.  I have this hang up about reading what I consider children’s books…. I still do of coarse, but it takes longer for me to convince myself it’s okay.  I am, after all, an adult.  I feel like I should be reading larger books, or at the very least books with a more grueling vocabulary.  The truth of the matter, though, is that there are a ton of books for young readers out there now that weren’t out when I was a kid- or I never knew about them.  Why should I miss out just because I’m old?

Then, of course, there are books that should have no age restrictions.  Books where the message is so necessary to everyday life and development that it ought to be required reading for all.  Wonder is one of those books.   Following Auggie through his days, and then the other narrators, I was quickly reminded how much just a little kindness and understanding can mean…. and how often it can be lacking these days.  We live in a world of anger, bullying, hurt and hatred; and we need a bit of softness… a little kindness.  I loved the characters so much.  I cried for them, and celebrated accomplishments.  This was just so beautifully written, I couldn’t put it down.  I want to be more like Summer, who fist came up to Auggie out of kindness but was able to see him- the nice and funny kid that’s just awesome.  I liked that she didn’t allow what other’s thought to sway her as to whom to hang out with- this is a big thing in middle school when peer pressure abounds and everyone wants to be accepted.  She showed a kindness and loyalty that I admire.  For me, this is a five star book plus one for creativity.  normal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star rating star-709689_960_720

On the adult content scale, there is some very minor language and miniscule violence.  It barely registers as a one really.  General.svg

The book is has been out for ages.  I want to get it for basically every kid I know and add the journal as well.  Have you read it?  What are your thoughts?

Link to book:

Amazon

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The Girl in the Tower, Katherine Arden

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Title: The Girl in the Tower

Author: Katherine Arden

Pages: 384

Genre: Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Adventure

Is this part of a series?  Yes!  This is book 2 of the Winternight Trilogy.  You can see my review for book one, The Bear and the Nightingale here.

Published: December 5th, 2017

 

Summary:

Vasya leaves her home after the events in The Bear and the Nightingale.  Determined to see the world, she disguises herself as a boy and sets off.  When she comes under the attention of the Grand Prince Dimitri, she knows this can’t last forever, but doesn’t know how to extract herself and remain free.  Other forces are awakening though, and would use Vasya and those dear to her for their own gain.  Helping stolen girls, fighting evil forces, and hated for being a “witch”…. it’s all par for the coarse.

My thoughts:

I loved this book so much!!! The first book gave me a small taste of life in historic Russia, the mythology and daily life.  I loved how the magic was enfolded into Vasya’s world, how she came to accept and embrace it.  The descriptions here were gorgeous, the characters well developed and interesting, and the pacing of the book was fast, with just a few slow points.  I loved the characters, especially getting to spend more time with the Winter King.  One thing I will say is that I wish I had a better understanding of Olga, the older sister.  We had a few chapters from her point of view, but even then it didn’t reveal much of her true feelings.  I know that was purposeful, but I would have liked the insight.  This is a five star book for me, with an extra one for creativity (I seriously love how the folklore was woven into the story).  normal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star rating star-709689_960_720

On the adult content scale, there is a lot of violence, and some language.  I still want to get it for my niece and can’t see this being an issue for young teen readers.  I give it a three.  General.svg

The book is out now.  Have you read it?

Link to book:

Amazon

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Everything Here is Beautiful, Mira T. Lee

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Title: Everything Here is Beautiful

Author: Mira T. Lee

Pages: 368

Genre: family life, contemporary fiction, mental health

Publish Date: January 16th, 2018

 

Summary:

   In the end what is owed family?  How far is it, before loyalty becomes interference?  Two very different sisters, Miranda and Lucia, make their way through life after the death of their mother.  Responsible, over-protective Miranda knows she has to look after Lucia who has been diagnosed with a slew of maladies including schizophrenia.   Lucia is free spirited, impulsive, and inquisitive; constantly searching for that beautiful life that will give her perfection and finally silence the “serpents” in her head.

Time and again the two butt heads as Lucia jumps head first into crazy situations, and Miranda tries to protect her from the aftermath.  Each woman tries to find love and their way in life, while trying to protect their relationship.  Love, anger, illness and loyalty.  This is a book of emotions and beautiful descriptions.

My thoughts:

I loved and hated this book in turn.  I wanted to shake each sister, to yell and scream.  The characters were so real to me, so beautifully flawed.  The description from place to place drew me around the world following Lucia.  I loved how the characters interacted to one another, and being allowed to truly see both sides.  I felt deeply for Lucia, even though I rarely agreed with her decision making.  More than anything, the nearly magical descriptions of people and places through Lucia’s eyes kept me turning pages far past my bed time.  The way she saw things and people was unique and beautiful- when she was well everything was beautiful- truly.  The highs and lows, roller coasters of the mentally ill, intrigued me.  My favorite character was probably Yonah with his enormous heart and constant love of Lucia, whether she deserved it or not.  I thought it was very well done, the way you had several different points of views, and the transition between each narrative.    For me, this was a five star book.  normal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star rating
On the adult content scale, there was sexual content, and language.  It could, at times get a little explicit, so I have to give it a seven.  mature audience.

I received this book from First to Read in exchange for an honest review.  My thanks.

The book comes out January 16th, 2018.  Is it on your TBR list?

Link to book:

Amazon

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