Reading Blog/Slow & Steady (November 20)

I’m such a slow reader. I want to absorb every detail in the book, every step in the plot (or life event, since I’m in the middle of a non-fiction book). It usually means that my other reading plans are placed on hold, but for now I’m okay with that.

I’m over 70% through with Becoming. I’m at the stage when Michelle is adjusting to her new life as First Lady of the United States. I’m absolutely in awe at the amount of detail Barack Obama and his family received the moment he became President-Elect! Both Michelle, Barack, and their family deserved this treatment, since they were all about making positive changes in our country.

As for W. Bruce Cameron’s A Dog’s Purpose…I’m still at page 50! It’s not that I’m disinterested…I enjoy reading a book through a dog’s point of view! I’m just so absorbed in reading the first book. I certainly need to develop a routine in reading multiple books at once. I was successful in reading 2 stories at once last month, so I’m not sure how reading multiple books is difficult this time around!

I feel like I’ll coming around and figure something out. It’s just the process of overcoming this predicament is annoying! I’m definitely aiming to be finished with Becoming by tomorrow, since my book group will be talking about it. I should be able to complete it!

WWW Wednesday: November 13

WWW Wednesday was originally hosted by A Daily Rhythm, and now maintained by Taking on a World of Words.

There are three prompts for WWW Wednesday:
–What are you currently reading?
–What did you finish recently reading?
–What do you think you’ll read next?

Becoming by Michelle Obama
I’m really enjoying this story! It’s a tell-all about Michelle Obama’s life growing up in Chicago, and the joys/challenges she experiences with her family. Michelle is such a headstrong person!

A Dog’s Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron
I’m about 50 pages in with ‘A Dog’s Purpose’, and I’m so in love with it! Following life through a dog’s perspective. It just melts your heart!

Deadly Deceit by Natalie Waters
I had a fun time reading ‘Deadly Deceit’! I’m becoming newly aware of Romantic Suspense stories, with Christian overtones. It was a very good read!

The Silvered Serpents by Roshani Chokshi
I received this story through NetGalley a couple weeks ago. I can’t wait to finally begin this sequel!

I hope everyone’s week is going well so far!


Goodreads Monday: November 11

Good morning everyone!

I’m taking part in Goodreads Monday. This was started by Lauren’s Page Turners, in which you choose a book listed on your Goodreads TBR and talk about it.

This week’s post:

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Synopsis:
The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night.

But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway—a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love—a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands.

True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus performers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead.

Written in rich, seductive prose, this spell-casting novel is a feast for the senses and the heart.

Why I Want to Read It:
I’ve wanted to read ‘The Night Circus’ since it has such a mysterious premise. I heard mixed reviews about this story, but the idea of a book set in a traveling circus gets me very interested. Hopefully I can get to this book before the year ends!

Four Favorite Harry Potter Spells/Blogtober Day 27

I’m participating in The Library Looter & Anniek’s Library Blogtober challenge!

Today the prompt is ‘Name 4 of your favorite spells from the Harry Potter universe’.

Here are four of my faves:

Lumos (a flash of light emanating from the tip of one’s wand)

Wingardium Leviosa (a charm used to make objects fly in the air)

Polyjuice Potion (a complex potion that allows someone to change into someone else when consumed)

Obliviate (a charm used to erase certain memories from someone else’s mind)

The Reading Rush: Days 2 & 3

I’m currently visiting family in Northern NJ for a couple days, but I had time to get some reading in for The Reading Rush!

Yesterday I began the challenge of reading a book with at least 5 words on the cover. I chose ‘The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane’ by Lisa See. It centers around a family honoring deep rooted traditions within the Akha people, focusing on the deep bonds of a group of women within the community.

Today I fulfilled the challenge ‘Read a book with a non-human character in a lead role. I chose to read ‘The Tea Dragon Society’ by Katie O’ Neill. This is a graphic novel filled with adorable non-human characters, and lovable dragons with special abilities!

July 2019 Book Releases

Although it’s now the beginning of July, here are some of the book releases that are happening this month. I’m very excited to see these selections!

The Chelsea Girls by Fiona Davis
Length: 368 pages
Publisher: Dutton Books
Genre: Historical Fiction
Release Date: July 30, 2019

I’m so excited for this story, since it’s set in one of my favorite areas in New York City. When I lived in New York for seven years, I used to hang around the Chelsea neighborhood often. Although it’s set between the 40s and 60s, I feel like I’m going to enjoy learning about the rich history that New York City contains during this period.

Synopsis (From Goodreads):

From the dramatic redbrick facade to the sweeping staircase dripping with art, the Chelsea Hotel has long been New York City’s creative oasis for the many artists, writers, musicians, actors, filmmakers, and poets who have called it home—a scene playwright Hazel Riley and actress Maxine Mead are determined to use to their advantage. Yet they soon discover that the greatest obstacle to putting up a show on Broadway has nothing to do with their art, and everything to do with politics. A Red scare is sweeping across America, and Senator Joseph McCarthy has started a witch hunt for Communists, with those in the entertainment industry in the crosshairs. As the pressure builds to name names, it is more than Hazel and Maxine’s Broadway dreams that may suffer as they grapple with the terrible consequences, but also their livelihood, their friendship, and even their freedom.

Spanning from the 1940s to the 1960s, The Chelsea Girls deftly pulls back the curtain on the desperate political pressures of McCarthyism, the complicated bonds of female friendship, and the siren call of the uninhibited Chelsea Hotel.

Someone to Honor by Mary Balogh
Part of the Westcott Series
Length: 336 pages
Genre: Historical Romance
Publisher: Berkeley Books
Release Date: July 2, 2019

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

Abigail Westcott’s dreams for her future were lost when her father died and she discovered her parents were not legally married. But now, six years later, she enjoys the independence a life without expectation provides a wealthy single woman. Indeed, she’s grown confident enough to scold the careless servant chopping wood outside without his shirt on in the proximity of ladies.

But the man is not a servant. He is Gilbert Bennington, the lieutenant colonel and superior officer who has escorted her wounded brother, Harry, home from the wars with Napoleon. Gil has come to help his friend and junior officer recover, and he doesn’t take lightly to being condescended to–secretly because of his own humble beginnings.

If at first Gil and Abigail seem to embody what the other most despises, each will soon discover how wrong first impressions can be. For behind the appearances of the once-grand lady and the once-humble man are two people who share an understanding of what true honor means, and how only with it can one find love.

The Wedding Party by Jasmine Guillory
Length: 352 pages
Genre: Women’s Fiction/Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Berkeley Books
Release Date: July 16, 2019

This book is written by the same author who published The Proposal, a Reese Witherspoon book club pick. It was also on Book of the Month a while back. While I wasn’t immediately gravitated toward The Proposal, I appreciate books that feature women living life on her own terms. I’m very curious in seeing how The Wedding Party fares, especially since I’m currently planning my own wedding!

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

     Maddie and Theo have two things in common:

1. Alexa is their best friend
2. They hate each other
After an “oops, we made a mistake” night together, neither one can stop thinking about the other. With Alexa’s wedding rapidly approaching, Maddie and Theo both share bridal party responsibilities that require more interaction with each other than they’re comfortable with. Underneath the sharp barbs they toss at each other is a simmering attraction that won’t fade. It builds until they find themselves sneaking off together to release some tension when Alexa isn’t looking, agreeing they would end it once the wedding is over. When it’s suddenly pushed up and they only have a few months left of secret rendezvouses, they find themselves regretting that the end is near. Two people this different can’t possibly have a connection other than the purely physical, right?

But as with any engagement with a nemesis, there are unspoken rules that must be abided by. First and foremost, don’t fall in love.

The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abby Waxman
Length: 351 pages
Genre: Women’s Fiction/Contemporary
Publisher: Penguin Group
Release Date: July 9, 2019

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

The only child of a single mother, Nina has her life just as she wants it: a job in a bookstore, a kick-butt trivia team, a world-class planner and a cat named Phil. If she sometimes suspects there might be more to life than reading, she just shrugs and picks up a new book.

When the father Nina never knew existed suddenly dies, leaving behind innumerable sisters, brothers, nieces, and nephews, Nina is horrified. They all live close by! They’re all—or mostly all—excited to meet her! She’ll have to Speak. To. Strangers. It’s a disaster! And as if that wasn’t enough, Tom, her trivia nemesis, has turned out to be cute, funny, and deeply interested in getting to know her. Doesn’t he realize what a terrible idea that is?
 
Nina considers her options.
1. Completely change her name and appearance. (Too drastic, plus she likes her hair.)
2. Flee to a deserted island. (Hard pass, see: coffee).
3. Hide in a corner of her apartment and rock back and forth. (Already doing it.)
 
It’s time for Nina to come out of her comfortable shell, but she isn’t convinced real life could ever live up to fiction. It’s going to take a brand-new family, a persistent suitor, and the combined effects of ice cream and trivia to make her turn her own fresh page.

The McAvoy Sisters Book of Secrets by Molly Fader
Length: 368 pages
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Publisher: Graydon House
Release Date: July 16, 2019

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

It’s been seventeen years since the tragic summer the McAvoy sisters fell apart. Lindy, the wild one, left home, carved out a new life in the city and never looked back. Delia, the sister who stayed, became a mother herself, raising her daughters and running the family shop in their small Ohio hometown on the shores of Lake Erie.

But now, with their mother’s ailing health and a rebellious teenager to rein in, Delia has no choice but to welcome Lindy home. As the two sisters try to put their family back in order, they finally have the chance to reclaim what’s been lost over the years: for Delia, professional dreams and a happy marriage, and for Lindy, a sense of home and an old flame—and best of all, each other. But when one turbulent night leads to a shocking revelation, the women must face the past they’ve avoided for a decade. And there’s nothing like an old secret to bring the McAvoy women back together and stronger than ever.

With warm affection and wry wit, Molly Fader’s The McAvoy Sisters Book of Secrets is about the ties that bind family and the power of secrets to hold us back or set us free.

Someone We Know by Shari Lapena
Genre: Suspense/Thriller
Length: 304 pages
Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books
Release Date: July 30, 2019

Synopsis (from Amazon):

Maybe you don’t know your neighbors as well as you thought you did . . .
“This is a very difficult letter to write. I hope you will not hate us too much. . . My son broke into your home recently while you were out.”

In a quiet, leafy suburb in upstate New York, a teenager has been sneaking into houses–and into the owners’ computers as well–learning their secrets, and maybe sharing some of them, too.

Who is he, and what might he have uncovered? After two anonymous letters are received, whispers start to circulate, and suspicion mounts. And when a woman down the street is found murdered, the tension reaches the breaking point. Who killed her? Who knows more than they’re telling? And how far will all these very nice people go to protect their own secrets?

In this neighborhood, it’s not just the husbands and wives who play games. Here, everyone in the family has something to hide . . .

You never really know what people are capable of.

June Reading Wrap-Up

This wrap-up is very underwhelming, since I only completed two books this month. I very much wanted to read sooo much more (I was looking forward to reading Lisa See this month!), but June has been a stressful mess of job transitions and wedding planning. The drama of these two factors have not lessened by any means, so I’m thrilled that I completed reading anything! My poetry page was also pretty dismal this month. I can count the number of poems written this month on one hand. Stress really does a number on creativity!

I read one Children’s Literature book, and one Adult novel. Both books are fictional works. The genres were Middle Grade and Historical Fiction.

Time After Time by Lisa Grunwald
Genre: Historical Fiction
Length: 417 pages
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Source: Kindle (via NetGalley)
Standalone novel

Published on June 11, 2019

I received Time After Time through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I loved reading this story centered within a slice of New York City life in the midst of tension and tragedy. Throughout the story, Joe and Nora navigate their relationship while enduring the effects of World War II. Since I enjoy reading anything involving New York City, I dove right in. Even though this novel was set in the 1930s, it brought back memories of me travelling through Manhattan and The Bronx while living there.
Rating: 4/5 Stars

Synopsis (from Goodreads):
On a clear December morning in 1937, at the famous gold clock in Grand Central Terminal, Joe Reynolds, a hardworking railroad man from Queens, meets a vibrant young woman who seems mysteriously out of place. Nora Lansing is a Manhattan socialite whose flapper clothing, pearl earrings, and talk of the Roaring Twenties don’t seem to match the bleak mood of Depression-era New York. Captivated by Nora from her first electric touch, Joe despairs when he tries to walk her home and she disappears. Finding her again—and again—will become the focus of his love and his life.

Nora, an aspiring artist and fiercely independent, is shocked to find she’s somehow been trapped, her presence in the terminal governed by rules she cannot fathom. It isn’t until she meets Joe that she begins to understand the effect that time is having on her, and the possible connections to the workings of Grand Central and the solar phenomenon known as Manhattanhenge, when the sun rises or sets between the city’s skyscrapers, aligned perfectly with the streets below.

As thousands of visitors pass under the famous celestial blue ceiling each day, Joe and Nora create a life unlike any they could have imagined. With infinite love in a finite space, they take full advantage of the “Terminal City” within a city, dining at the Oyster Bar, visiting the Whispering Gallery, and making a home at the Biltmore Hotel. But when the construction of another landmark threatens their future, Nora and Joe are forced to test the limits of freedom and love.

Delving into Grand Central Terminal’s rich past, Lisa Grunwald crafts a masterful historical novel about a love affair that defies age, class, place, and even time.

Wish by Barbara O’Connor
Genre: Children’s Literature (Middle Grade)
Publisher: Farrar Straus & Giroux
Length: 236 pages
Source: Acquired from HC Library (Flemington, NJ)
Standalone novel
Published on August 30, 2016

I fell in love with Wish the moment I viewed the cover. Who doesn’t love a deep bond between a child and her furry friend? In the novel, Charlie is struggling to come to terms with being removed from her dysfunctional family, living with her loving aunt and uncle in Colby, North Carolina. As Charlie reluctantly endures daily life within a quiet community, she slowly realizes that ‘Home’ can be discovered in the most unlikeliest of areas. This book also tackles the uncomfortable topic of neglect in a tasteful manner for younger audiences.
Rating: 4/5 Stars

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

Eleven-year-old Charlie Reese has been making the same secret wish every day since fourth grade. She even has a list of all the ways there are to make the wish, such as cutting off the pointed end of a slice of pie and wishing on it as she takes the last bite. But when she is sent to the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina to live with family she barely knows, it seems unlikely that her wish will ever come true. That is until she meets
Wishbone, a skinny stray dog who captures her heart, and Howard, a neighbor boy who proves surprising in lots of ways. Suddenly Charlie is in serious danger of discovering that what she thought she wanted may not be what she needs at all.

Professional Reader

My OwlCrate for June 2019: Libraries of Wonder

This month’s OwlCrate theme for June is ‘Libraries of Wonder’. I couldn’t wait to see what this box reveals for me, and I absolutely love my items:

OwlCrate Libraries of Wonder spoiler card
Coffee provided by Book Beau, inspired by Beauty and the Beast
Tote bag designed by Stella Bookish Art, inspired by Strange the Dreamer
Two metal bookends designed by Hey Atlas Creative, inspired by The Chronicles of Narnia
Team Owl Crate key gel pen
Coaster set designed by KDP Letters
A closer look of the KDP Letters coaster set, along with the Team OwlCrate Key Gel Pen
June enamel pin designed by Brio and Brandish, inspired by Sorcery of Thorns
OwlCrate exclusive book for June, Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson, signed by the author herself
Letter from Margaret Roberson, along with a sticker decal

Time After Time by Lisa Grunwald/A Review

Time After Time by Lisa Grunwald
Length: 416 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction/Romance
Source: Acquired from NetGalley
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Series or Standalone: Standalone

**I received Time After Time through NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review**

I really enjoy stories that focus on New York City in earlier times. When I came across ‘Time After Time’ on Net Galley, I was so happy to learn that this tale focuses on New York between the 20s and 40s.
Time After Time begins during the mid 1930s in Grand Central Terminal. It follows a man named Joe Reynolds, a hard working leverman who ensures that the trains in the terminal run smoothly. Joe encounters a young woman named Nora Lansing, who appears strikingly out of place in her demeanor and appearance, in a lovely way. Joe is taken by her immediately, yet when he tries to walk her home in Turtle Bay, she mysteriously disappears. Their encounters are similar in several occasions, which occur on the same time of year.
After some investigating, Joe learns about a chaotic subway accident in the 1920s that hold strong significance in Nora’s life. The story then goes into Nora’s earlier years in Paris before returning to New York City, as well her life over the 30s and 40s with Joe, as they navigate their new life with one another. Their desire for each other is tempered, as the reality of America’s involvement in World War II makes Joe and Nora realize that change is constant, and a normal part of life.
Grunwald also creates a active tapestry of life in Grand Central Terminal. She vividly portrays the ‘city within a city’, with Joe and Nora frequenting the shops, restaurants and lodgings that’s a stone’s throw away from commuter life. My memories of Grand Central Terminal still walk through my mind regularly, although I moved out of the area a few years ago. I recall how busy the terminal was each and every day, as well as the beauty of the star-lit ceiling, and the famous clock in the center. Grunwald also describes the changing landscape of terminal as the war enters the American landscape, as many men and families enter the metropolis, entering a major point in their lives.
Time After Time is equally moving and intense, as this story follows two people coming to grips with their identity within a changing world. I really appreciated this window of a reimagined New York City life, and the love two people share within it.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

My Thoughts on ‘Wish’ by Barbara O’ Connor

‘Wish’ by Barbara O’ Connor
Length: 227 pgs.
Genre: Children (Middle Grade)
Publisher: Farrar Straus & Giroux
Standalone or Series: Standalone

I discovered ‘Wish’ while searching for another story at a local department store. When I walk into this location, the first stop I always head to is the large table of books that’s on display. It’s usually a mix of new releases and titles that have been out for a while. I didn’t come across what I was searching for, but my eyes fell on a cover with a young girl with an adorable dog. Being a dog lover, I immediately fell in love with the book cover! I made a note of the title, and reserved a copy at the library.
‘Wish’ by Barbara O’ Connor is about a young girl named Charlie, reluctantly placed to live with her aunt Bertha and Uncle Gus in Colby, North Carolina. Charlie feels very bitter and resentful about being removed from her home in Raleigh, despite the fact that her father is incarcerated and her mother was deemed unfit to care for both her and her sister Jackie. The peaceful, countryside surroundings is a world away from Raleigh’s city life, yet Bertha and Gus go to great lengths to make Charlie’s life as comfortable as possible. She also reluctantly befriends a classmate named Howard, a studious child who gets ridiculed due to his manner of walking, yet never lets that interfere with his life.
The story describes Charlie’s journey in socializing with new friends and community members while experiencing the internal struggle of missing her family. She goes to great lengths to make wishes whenever she comes upon a treasured color, a certain animal, or the first star in a twilight sky. Charlie hides her pain with anger, yet Howard expertly finds a bridge to communicate her fears so clearly by describing a ‘clothesline of troubles’ that everyone tends to in life. O’Connor refers to this phrase frequently in this story as Charlie learns how to trust Bertha and Gus, Howard and his family.
Charlie also discovers a stray dog near her home that she names Wishbone. Like Charlie, Wishbone also endures a journey to trust Charlie and her loved ones. Over time, Wishbone and Charlie experience the joys of good company, while uplifting one another. The story of Wishbone is a small piece of Charlie’s journey in her growth, yet the family and friends in her Colby community teach her that a loving home is not a distant dream.
‘Wish’ by Barbara O’ Connor is a Middle Grade children’s book (appropriate for children ages 8-12), so if you’re seeking a story for children about community, strength through struggles, and loving animals, then this book is for you. It was a very endearing read!

Rating: 4/5 Stars