Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The Reluctant Midwife by Patricia Harman

I love companion novels. I'm one of those readers who loves to have a story continue, but not necessarily follow the main character. Typically, unless the book is part of a series, the main character has had her story told and the ending is there for a reason, but there are always secondary characters I'm interested in and would love to see expanded upon. 


Sometime last year, my book club read The Midwife of Hope River and I thoroughly enjoyed it, but was left wanting to know more about Becky. I apparently just needed some patience. The Reluctant Midwife follows Becky as she returns to Hope River during the Great Depression, accompanying Dr. Blum to help care for the poor. 


The characters are well-formed and detailed, as in Harman's previous novel, and I enjoyed this one very much. I really loved all the bits of American history woven into the story and it was obvious the author did an immense amount of research before creating this story. It was believable and felt like it could have been out of the pages of a diary of a midwife in the early 1930's. 

Highly recommended for fans of historical fiction or Call the Midwife.

You can find Patricia Harman on Twitter, Facebook, and at her website. You can find the rest of the TLC Book Tour here.


Monday, March 16, 2015

Silent Alarm by Jennifer Banash

Alys has a pretty typical high school life. Boyfriend, best friend, good grades, etc. She's a talented musician with a hopeful future and not much to truly worry about. Then her older brother walks into their high school and kills fifteen people and then himself. Her friends, her classmates, her teachers are dead. Her brother is gone.

Alys must deal with the aftermath of her brother's decision, all while grieving the loss of her sibling. She is shunned by people she thought loved her, her parents can't stop arguing, and she can't help but feel she should have known something was going to happen and have been able to prevent such a horrible tragedy.

This is a dark, gritty, novel filled with hard stuff. So close to reality for too many people. The writing is beautiful and haunting and I felt an instant connection to Alys. She was just a girl who went to school one day and her sibling made a horrific decision, forever changing her entire life.  Her brokenness after the shooting was expected, but the way Banash put it on the page felt real and honest.

I finished this a week ago, but I can't stop thinking about it. The perspective was unique and the emotion was just pure and raw. A hard read, but a good one.

Thank you to Penguin for the review copy.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

The Tell-Tale Heart by Jill Dawson is out!

After years of excessive drink and sex, Patrick has suffered a massive heart attack. Although he's only fifty, he's got just months to live. But a tragic accident involving a teenager and a motorcycle gives the university professor a second chance. He receives the boy's heart in a transplant, and by this miracle of science, two strangers are forever linked.

Though Patrick's body accepts his new heart, his old life seems to reject him. Bored by the things that once enticed him, he begins to look for meaning in his experience. Discovering that his donor was a local boy named Drew Beamish, he becomes intensely curious about Drew's life and the influences that shaped him--from the eighteenth-century ancestor involved in a labor riot to the bleak beauty of the Cambridgeshire countryside in which he was raised. Patrick longs to know the story of this heart that is now his own. (publisher) 

Out now, go check it out!



You can find the rest of the stops on the tour here


Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Beautiful Daughters (giveaway)

If you've been with me since the beginning (7 years -- can you believe it?!) you'll know that I've been a huge fan of Nicole Baart since her very first book, After the Leaves Fall came out. It was the first in a trilogy and I absolutely loved it and gave it as gifts to all my girlfriends. Since then, Nicole has published several other books and I've loved them all, so when I had the chance to read an early copy of her latest book, The Beautiful Daughters, I jumped at the chance.

A story about family and best friends and first loves, and what it means to help mend the hearts of people you love. The characters were the shining star of the entire book and I felt connections with all of them -- despite also wanting to shake them sometimes. Adri had her moments of being incredibly frustrating with her consistently stoic behavior and Harper was just a hot mess, but understandably so. Trust me, pick up this book and you'll become invested in the lives of these women and the men in their lives. It was enthralling.

I'll add a finished copy to my shelves once the book is published (April!!), so I'd love to share my advanced reader copy with one of you. Whether it's your first Nicole Baart novel or you've been following her for years as I have, you should enter! Leave a comment on this post by Friday night and I'll pick a winner Saturday morning. It's definitely worth a read!

Friday, February 13, 2015

Twitterature

One of my favorite bloggers, The Modern Mrs. Darcy, occasionally hosts a feature she calls Twitterature, where bloggers can share what they've been reading in short, casual reviews. Though she hasn't posted one in awhile, it's my favorite way to review lately as my time is short but my desire to share about my reading is high! I often review picture books this way, but I wanted to briefly fill you all in on my own reading and hopefully give you a few more titles to add to your own TBR piles.

First up, a couple of non-fiction titles.


The Smartest Kids in the World by Amanda Ripley

Absolutely fascinating. Traveling around the world, Ripley explores huge differences between American schools and other education systems. A lot of information was given on the lack of quality education in the U.S. and how other countries manage to achieve higher test scores with less (or more) work. As the parent of a child who will soon be school age, this was incredibly eye-opening. Highly recommended.


The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo

This one has been all over the place and I finally got my hands on one! If you follow me on Twitter, I talk a lot about simple living and not having a lot of stuff, and the author expands upon this idea, teaching readers just how to get rid of stuff and why we should do it. Some of her ideas are a little extreme (thank your bag or sweater for a "job well done" at the end of the day), but overall, a great resource for someone needing that extra push to start decluttering.





A couple of notes on books I haven't been loving lately. I rarely finish books I'm not loving, but I did finish these two and felt the need to chat about them.

Living Well, Spending Less by Ruth Soukoup

I really like the blog this book is based on, also titled Living Well, Spending Less, but I was disappointed in the book. This read more like a memoir (and not a well-written one) of how Soukoup got over her own spending addiction, than an actual guide on how to spend less money and still live well. There were very few actual frugal living tips, instead, briefly mentioning things in a very basic manner, like budgets and not buying things that aren't necessities, then going right back to her own personal story.  I was left wanting a lot more.


The Taste of Many Mountains by Bruce Wydick

This was a hard one to get through. Despite the fascinating topic of fair trade coffee (something I'm passionate about) it felt like reading a journal article or textbook every time the characters were speaking to each other. Flat, wooden dialogue with uninteresting characters. What was supposed to be a thrilling story was actually dry and boring. Such a bummer.

Both of these books were sent courtesy of BookLook Bloggers.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

National Readathon Day

I've participated in many readathons since I've started this blog, but jumping in today was a last minute decision. Penguin Random House has started this movement of National Readathon Day and they're encouraging readers all over the world to make time to stop and read for 4 hours today. 12pm-4pm in your own time zone. 

My pile:





Together, we can raise money for the National Book Foundation and remind ourselves that we can make #timetoread. Donate here

Friday, January 23, 2015

Migratory Animals


When Flannery, a young scientist, is forced to return to Austin from five years of research in Nigeria, she becomes torn between her two homes. Having left behind her loving fiance without knowing when she can return, Flan learns that her sister, Molly, has begun to show signs of the crippling genetic disease that slowly killed their mother. 


As their close-knit circle of friends struggles with Molly's diagnosis, Flannery must grapple with what her future will hold: an ambitious life of love and the pursuit of scientific discovery in West Africa, or the pull of a life surrounded by old friends, the comfort of an old flame, family obligations, and the home she's always known. But she is not the only one wrestling with uncertainty. Since their college days, each of her friends has faced unexpected challenges that make them reevaluate the lives they've always planned for themselves. (Goodreads)

I admit, I struggled to get into this. I'm in the middle of another book that contains several of the same themes (returning from Africa after 5 years, past secrets, difficult family relationships) and this one is not nearly as readable. It takes some patience to understand Flannery and the way the author wrote her story, but once I got into it, I wanted to see where the story would go. 

The effects of the disease Molly is diagnosed with are devastating to the family and the circle of friends, yet I didn't necessarily feel that emotion like I wanted to. The passages describing her downward turn were moving, yet not as powerful as I had hoped and I always closed a chapter wanting more. 


If you'd like to check out the rest of the stops on the tour, go here