Friday, August 16, 2019

Recent 5 Star Reads

The last three books I’ve read I’ve given 5 stars on goodreads.  I used to be more lenient with my 5 stars but in the last few years I’ve gotten stricter with what I deem a 5 star read.  And I’m not hoity toity about writing or any of that.  Basically, if it keeps me hooked and I enjoyed it, I give it a 5 star so it could be a James Patterson or a F. Scott Fitzgerald, literature snobs may be offended.

On the Come Up by Angie Thomas WAS AMAZING.  It is a YA book about a teenager girl, Bri, who wants to be a professional rapper.  She lives in an inner city with her mom and her older brother.  Her older brother graduated from a HBCU (Historically Black College/University) and is back home working at a pizza parlor.  This frustrates him (obviously) and Bri, because she can see that he did ALL the things he was supposed to do and is still back home delivering pizzas.  Her mom, Jay, is a former drug addict, who is working at their church as a secretary and putting herself through school to become a social worker. 

Bri takes a bus every day to attend a special performing arts high school.  Her school only recently started attracting minorities because of grant funding.  Bri and other students have issues with the security guards employed with the school because of their treatment of black/brown students.
Bri is trying to get her rap career off with the help of her drug dealer aunt.  She comes up against many obstacles and has to fight against other people’s perceptions of her.  She is just trying to help pull her family out of their current situation and ‘save’ them but as a teenager keeps butting up against adults and prejudices that interfere with what she wants to accomplish.

What I liked most about this book is that it’s real.  There is struggle, heartbreak, perseverance, failures, and growth.  I also liked that it was written by a person of color about a person of color.  It was just so well written and relevant to young adults that I highly recommend it if you haven’t read it, and if you are not a young adult, because I also clearly enjoyed it.

The Midwife of Hope River by Patricia Harman was another 5 star captivating novel! And it couldn’t be more different than the last book.  It is set in the Depression in rural West Virginia.  It’s the first in a series about a local midwife, Patience Murphy.

The book is written in Patience perspective and includes anecdotes from births she attends and hits on her troubled past.  She is definitely more than the local midwife.  It also touches on the political and social landscape of the time period.

It amazes me how people lived on so little in the past.  Obviously, they also had more skills than I possess in the ‘life skills’ category! But it was interesting reading her stories of the births and how she got paid. Sometimes she was down to only 5 quarters to her name.  Like HOLY MOLY.  Perspective here people.  Or when she would run out of flour.

The other aspect to the book is the racial tensions that heated up after the local coal mines went bankrupt and so many people were out of jobs.  Patience takes on an “assistant” that is black which causes some controversy in town because she moves in to Patience’s house and lives like an equal with her.  This story was just riveting and kept me up late to finish.  I can’t wait until the second book in the series is checked back in to the library!

Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate was our August book club pick and I had been looking forward to reading it for a while.  It did not disappoint.  It is based off the true story of how Georgia Tann manipulated many adoptions and trafficked children using the Tennessee Children’s Home Society.  That history in itself is disgusting and I really am glad we’ve come a long way in realizing the importance and value of children.

However, the book is fiction and tells the story of the Foss family who was disrupted by this evil woman.  It goes back and forth from the past to the present with two different story tellers.  There is Rill Foss who tells about her life on the riverboat before it is disrupted and what happened to her and her siblings after Tann’s minions took them off their riverboat.  Present day is narrated by Avery Stafford, who is a 30 year old from a well to do southern family who comes across an older woman, May, when she is visiting a nursing home with her senator father.  May takes Avery’s bracelet and when Avery returns to retrieve it she notices a photo that has similarities to someone close to her.

This book did start out slow and I was starting to get worried, but it quickly picked up the pace and I devoured most of it in one day.  I of course, love the South Carolina setting, the different perspectives, the touch of truth to the fiction and the likable characters.  I would love to read a spinoff of the other Foss children or more about the real life stories of those affected by Georgia Tann and the Tennessee Children’s Home Society.

Now for the weekend, I’ve started Toxic Toffee by Amanda Flower which is the latest in the Amish Candy Shop series.  The 8 year old and I started and new book together as well, The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo.

What was the last 5 star book you read? What are you reading this weekend?

Friday, August 9, 2019


I have had a very busy week of organizing/throwing crap out! I will be 33 weeks tomorrow and slightly freaking out.  Our house is getting painted in 2 weeks and we've started taking stuff off the walls/getting rid of things we don't want up.  I also had to go through my kids room because even though she's been cleaning it, she's a hoarder and hiding things in places.  My mom came over and we threw a bag away and donated a bag of stuff.  Plus, I sold a Vera Bradley bag, a Jelly the Pug outfit, and a wall hanging that I didn't want anymore.  Its tricky to get things out of my house because both my child and my husband will find something for them to be used again. Ugh.. Today's adventure will include getting rid of a broken tote, ripped snow boots and two kitchen rugs without anyone noticing. :)

watching the fireworks last weekend at the festival downtown

My favorite picture from the week:  

She made her own pillow case at sewing camp!

The high of my week was getting stuff out of the house.  So much more to go. 

The low of my week was stupid sciatica! Been a huge problem this week, usually at night.

The book I’m reading is The Queen of the Big Time by Adriana Trigiani.  I just started it last night but it seems really good so far! I usually enjoy her shorter books and this is one of them. Before that I read Front Desk by Kelly Yang and The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen and both were really good!

The best money I spent was probably the Tucks pads I bought for post pregnancy. :) I need to look at curtains and curtain rods and get a dresser for this soon to be born child.  And a changing pad.  I think those are the things that I will need soon.  I'm trying to think of post birth items I may want for myself.  I've been baking muffins and freezing them for myself / the child's lunch.  I need to freeze a couple meals.  Time is flying.

My plans this weekend include  Karaoke party tonight! We are having some friends and fam over to sing karaoke, hang out and swim in the pool.  I need to make a bean dip for that this afternoon.  I spent an hour cleaning earlier and I'm taking a breather before I pick the kiddo up from camp.

What was the high of your week? What are you reading?

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

What I Read in July

July 2019 was probably the biggest reading month of my life.  I read 15 books! I was quite impressed with myself.  I thought I had read about 11 until I counted them up at the end of the month and I was shocked.

Father's Day by Simon Van Booy is a book that has been on my shelf for a few years.  It was the first book I read in July so it already seems so long ago! It was a cute story about a girl who grows up with her uncle who had a bit of a sketchy background.  It's about how they come together and make their unlikely living situation work for them.

The Final Revielle by Amanda Flower is a cozy mystery about a woman who runs a museum and on the busiest weekend of their summer their largest benefactor's nephew ends up dead on their premises.  In true cozy mystery form, she is a suspect but puts on her Angela Lansbury cap and solves the whodunnit while running her museum.  This is a first in the series and I'm not sure I will continue it. 

Maid of Murder by Amanda Flower is the first cozy mystery in the India Hayes series.  It is set in Ohio and India is a reference librarian at a small college.  Her childhood friend is in town for her wedding.  She convinced India to be a bridesmaid, even though they haven't really been friends in years and Olivia's mom hates India and her family.  When Olivia ends up dead, India's brother is the main suspect and she has to prove him innocent.

Surprise Island by Gertrude Chandler Warner is the 2nd Boxcar Children Mystery.  It was simple and nice.  My daughter loved it.  This was the last one I read with her.  She flew through the 4 book boxed set she got last year for Christmas.  We hit up the library for more and we randomly found more in our basement and she has been loving the Boxcar books.  It took some convincing on my part to her that she could read the series out of order. 

18th Abduction by James Patterson was the latest installment in the Women's Murder Club series.  I've been so so on this series in the last 8 books or so, but this was a good one.  It starts out in present time and then goes back to a past case and the book spends the majority of the time going over what happened during that case.  Fast paced and kept me interested!

The Mother-In-Law by Sally Hepworth was a great mystery about how well we really know the people in our lives.  It goes back in forth in time and perspective between Lucy (daughter-in-law) and Diana (mother-in-law).  I highly recommend this one, it went super fast.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern was okay.  It was our book club pick for July and I really wasn't excited to pick it up and that feeling never changed.  One, it is really long.  Two, I usually like books that switch time but this was a bit confusing to keep track of because I just wasn't interested and it was hard to keep the timeline straight.  The story was good, but I also think it could have knocked off 50 to 100 pages.

Mistress of The Ritz by Melanie Benjamin was awesome!  I flew through this one.  It is about the American wife of the director of the Ritz during World War II.  It is based on true events/people but highly fictionalized.  Blanche is not what she seems and neither is her husband, neither of them truly trusting the other until it is almost too late.

The Mighty Miss Malone by Christopher Paul Curtis is a middle grade novel set in the Great Depression.  The Malone family lives in Indiana where they are barely hanging by, but they have each other, their morals, and humor.  When a horrible accident changes their lives and makes them move, their adaptability and perseverance are on full display.  It was touches on the racism and prejudices of the time. 

The Brutal Telling by Louise Penney is part of the Inspector Gamache series.  This series is always hit or miss with me.  This one was okay.  A stranger was found dead in the woods, but was he a stranger to every one? Not so...

Shout by Laurie Halse Anderson is a poetic memoir that is geared towards young adults but completely on level as an adult reader.  It goes into details about her sexual assault as a teen and is a powerful book for those struggling with emotions dealing with abuse and assault.

A Plain Scandal by Amanda Flower is the second book of her Appleseed Creek series.  Someone is going around cutting the hair of Amish girls and the beards of Amish men, which is a huge disrespect to their faith.  It goes even further when someone ends up dead.  Chloe is of course on the case again and uses her Amish connections to help the police.

The Cruelest Month by Louise Penny is another Inspector Gamache book.  It is set near Easter time and a group of Three Pines village people decide to try to rid the Old Hadley place of the evil inside.  A surprise for them is when one of them dies in the house when they are all together.  Can you die of fright?

Oh Say Can You Fudge by Nancy Coco is part of the Fudge series.  It was quick, funny and a great addition to the series. 

A Plain Disappearance by Amanda Flower is the 3rd book in the Appleseed Creek series.  It's now Christmas time and she and her boyfriend find a dead body on their first date.  This of course gets her into the investigation but with the blessing of the police chief for once.

Going over the books I read this month definitely highlights by love of series and my current readings of many cozy mysteries! I need a break though because they can get annoyingly predictable.

I officially hit my 52 books over the month and I'm now close to 60 books read this year.

My child has been flying through books as well and her favorites are the Dork Diaries series and the Boxcar children currently.

I am reading The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen currently and have a stack of library books to pick from when I am done.

What was your favorite book read in July? Any suggestions for me?