What I Read…

Happy Book Day! 📚 💛

I’ve noticed a pattern over the last few years where I read a bunch during the first half of the year, then fall off the wagon. This year it seems kind of opposite. Then again, nothing about this year is normal so that makes total sense. *shrug*

The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living by Louise Miller
★★★★/5; Fiction, Women’s Lit
This book was good, but it didn’t stick with me. I would label it as slightly predictable, too. An enjoyable and fairly light read, Olivia was a fun and flawed main character. All the supporting characters were fabulous, as was the setting. There were parts of the story that felt trite, but I looked forward to picking up where I left off each time and it was a nice story to get lost in- thus the four start rating. Are there deeper, more profound books in the world? Of course. But this was a perfect quaran-read. Also, the food descriptions made me D R O O L.
Read it? Sure, if you’re looking for something light. And you’re not on a diet 😉

The Guest List by Lucy Foley
★★★★★/5; Mystery, thriller
Man… every bit as good as people said it was. I love me a good locked room mystery. I felt for Jules and Hannah and Olivia at different times. And I easily hated the men- a true “boys will be boys” theme going on there. Grrrrr. Readers on GR noted some continuity issues- and I noticed some, too- but I could look past it for the sake of story. *shrug* When I read mysteries I’m always reading suspiciously and carefully to try and solve the crime. I figured out someone’s true identity before the end, but I didn’t solve the murder. I was as shocked as the victim. And I really loved that we didn’t know who the victim was until the last few chapters! I’m adding The Hunting Party to my library holds now!
Read it? Yeah!
*I have to know. Did anyone else notice the switched groomsmen in the bog? Hannah said that two of them found her, but then a few chapters later it was different groomsmen that mentioned finding her. A few readers on GR noticed, too. 

The Mermaids Melt at Dawn by Grendolyn Peach Soleil
★★★★/5; Fantasty/folklore
This is slightly difficult to review because it’s my sister-in-law’s sister’s book. Here’s what I said on Goodreads:

How to describe a book so rich in imagery? The Mermaids Melt at Dawn is a descriptive story about a rowdy Cajun man on a hunt to understand and tame the wild monsters that plague his family history. It weaves soft and beautiful French undertones with bold and brash bayou flavor. On top of that, a strong mythical and Cretan story comes to life and grabs the reader, pulling them down into the deep, dark, fantastically terrifying ocean from which the mermaids swim.

I really enjoyed this book, but it’s not something I would’ve found & read on my own. It’s very whimsical, magical, and folklore-y. Every time I’d start reading I’d think, ‘This isn’t for me’ but then I’d read one more paragraph and get lost in her whimsical world.
Read it? If it sounds like something you’d like, absolutely.

M’s Favorite Reads

*I mentioned last time that M is into eating and shaking books right now. Two of these are cloth books and linked to baby stores since GR doesn’t have them, lol.

Buddy Dog’s Busy Day – A Taggies Adventure
Or as we call it, “Bristol Dog’s Busy Day” lol

Peek-a-Boo Forest – Lamaze

Disney Princess The Little Book of Big Ideas
The girth of this book is a little inconvenient, but I love all the learning and colors. Minus Ariel. Stupid Ariel. LOL

Little One, God Made You Special by Amy Warren Hilliker, Polona Lovsin (illustrator)
Such an adorable little book.


Erin’s Challenge 13.0

| 5 p | Freebie: Coldhearted Boss (Grey)
| 10 p | Starts with “S”: Salt to the Sea (Sepetys)
| 10 p | A preposition in the title: The Marriage Bureau: The True Story of How Two Matchmakers Arranged Love in Wartime London (Halson)
| 15 p | An odd number in a series: The Bromance Book Club (Adams #1)
| 20 p | Set in a different country than yours: Bringing Down the Duke (Dunmore)
| 20 p | Female officer/detective: Murder at the Vicarage (Christie)
| 25 p | An immigrant as a m/c: Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet (Ford)
| 30 p | Words in the title… “anything”: Anything You Can Do (Grey)
| 30 p | October themed: HP & the Goblet of Fire (Rowling) – witches
| 35 p | Words in the title… “city” & “county”: The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living (Miller)

I have 35 out of 200 points.


What did you read this month?

Linking up with Steph & Jana for Show Us Your Books!

Life According to Steph

What I Read…

Happy Happy Happy Book Day!

I’m going to throw in a shameless plug for my new book/travel instagram 🙂 If you’d like to follow along, I will be posting at To Read & To Roam (linked here!).

FINALLY linking up with the fabulous Jana & Steph today for Show Us Your Books!

I skipped the last few months because I’ve been a lazy reader & a lazy blogger.

Her Royal Spyness by Rhys Bowen
★★★/5; Mystery
I was bored with the beginning of this book and was feeling a solid two stars… then it got better and by the end I was at four stars. So we landed at three. It’s a slow start; I guess most series starters are… but I was so close to quitting. I’ve been meaning to start this series for a while & I was determined to get through the first book. By the end I was glad I did!
Georgie is an adult woman with no clear path. Her family can’t afford to support her as a spinster but she’s horrified at the idea of marrying a distant royal relative, just to appease the Queen. She she takes it upon herself to move to London and winds up in the middle of a murder case. It was quite dull at first, but I guess Bowen was laying the groundwork. By the end I liked Georgie- but I don’t think this series is for me.
Read it? Maybe? But probably not.

A Danger Engagement by Ashley Weaver
★★★★/5; Mystery
Apparently I’m on a mystery kick right now.
I’m a big fan of Weaver’s Amory. I love her improving relationship with Milo, I love her spunk and determination and courage, & I love the flow of these mysteries. This is the sixth in the series and I’ve read them all, so obviously I’m a fan. This one was set in NYC in the 1930s with a sprinkle of mobsters and prohibition. I always judge mysteries on whether or not I solve it before the m/c (which I did, but just barely) and if the author gave me enough info to have done so without giving it all away. I don’t need to solve it, but I need to the clues to have been presented. Does that makes sense? I feel like that’s the true sign of a star mystery writer.
Read it? Yes, but start at the beginning of the series.

A Heart So Fierce and Broken by Brigid Kemmerer
★★★★★/5; Fantasy
I was afraid I wouldn’t like this one. The first in the series was awesome & I thought this one would lack. I wasn’t sucked in from the start, which made me worry even more. But before I hit page 50 I was hooked. I think many readers had beef with the changing personalities of Rhen & Harper, but this story focused on Grey & Lia Mara… so it seems natural and right that those two characters would view R&H differently than R&H view themselves… ya know? Also. I still love Grey. And Lia Mara, too. (She is the daughter of the enemy queen, fyi.)
I know a fantasy story (or any story) is good when I think about it outside of reading. And I imagine it like a tv show or movie that I can’t wait to get back to- then I have to remind myself that it’s a book, not a visual medium.
Once again, the ending has me going, “Ehhh….” but I felt that way after book #1 so I’m going to give the author and series the benefit of the doubt when moving on to book #3 (in freaking Jan. 2021 WHYYY).
Read it? Start at the beginning of the series.

M’s Favorite Reads

Truthfully, M is more into eating books than reading books… but we’ve gotten through a few without her nomming on the pages…

Bloom by Deborah Diesen, Mary Lundquist (illustrator)
M’s sweet and kind aunt sent her this beautiful book about plants & growing! (This is the same author who pens The Pout-Pout Fish books.)

Take Heart, My Child by Ainsley Earhardt, Kathryn Cristaldi, Jaime Kim (illustrator)
This book is a soft rhyming lullaby that is easy to read to M when we’re winding down. We have the board book and normal book, I think.
*Want to hear something fun? Ainsley & Katheryn were both on the name shortlist before we picked one for M.


Another challenge from Erin has begun. Here are my picks:

| 5 p | Freebie: Coldhearted Boss (Grey)
| 10 p | Starts with “S”: Salt to the Sea (Sepetys)
| 10 p | A preposition in the title: The Marriage Bureau: The True Story of How Two Matchmakers Arranged Love in Wartime London (Halson)
| 15 p | An odd number in a series: The Bromance Book Club (Adams #1)
| 20 p | Set in a different country than yours: Bringing Down the Duke (Dunmore)
| 20 p | Female officer/detective: Murder at the Vicarage (Christie)
| 25 p | An immigrant as a m/c: Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet (Ford)
| 30 p | Words in the title… “anything”: Anything You Can Do (Grey)
| 30 p | October themed: HP & the Goblet of Fire (Rowling) – witches
| 35 p | Words in the title… “city” & “county”: The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living (Miller)

And there we have it. A new book update 😉 What have you been reading?

What I Read…

Before I get in to what I read, I have a huge book-related THANK YOU to say to Alexandra, Olya, Stephanie, and Amber. My super sweet blogger pen pals friends sent baby & me some bookish goodies and they are TOO perfect not to share.

Everything is so ME (and, I hope, so HER)! I am so in love with all these items. Thank you, ladies ♥ I returned home from a business trip to this package and I think it’s made my entire week. You girls are so sweet and I’m so glad we’re friends!

I had another low number reading month. My brain and body are so damn tired in the summer (mostly from work) and this year is no different- possible a little more intense (mostly from growing a human). That said, I finished up 2 books (and they were both 4 stars so silver lining, I guess!).

Linking up with Steph & Jana for Show Us Your Books!

Columbine by Dave Cullen
★★★★/5; Nonfiction, True Crime
Never in my life would I have picked up this book on my own. Frankly, I avoid death and terror when it comes to entertainment- there’s enough in real life. But I don’t regret reading this book for a second. Cullen did his research and unturned every stone to expose the shooters & the kids, teachers, and parents affected & the law enforcement protocol that happened at Columbine before the shooting, during the attack, and years afterward. He also wasn’t too graphic, which I appreciated. Obviously this book can be triggering and he doesn’t shy away from the havoc inflicted by Harris and Klebold, but he does everything (as) tastefully (as possible when talking about children being killed).
Honestly, I  don’t remember Columbine. I have a vivid memory of 9/11 just two and half years later, though. I would’ve been 8 when Columbine happened and I’m guessing my parents worked hard to shield me from it. (My husband, who is older than me, said he remembers.) The only thing I do remember was the circulating question, “If someone put a gun to your head and asked if you believed in God, would you say yes?” Turns out, that story wasn’t entirely correct anyway.
Read it? Yes. It was a difficult read, but it shines a well-researched light on psychopaths and the building blocks of violent disaster.
*I read this for Influenced the Podcast’s book club

A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer
★★★★/5; Fantasy
I saw this rec on Alexandra’s blog and I am SO glad I did. I devoured this book. I’ve always loved fantasy but it’s been a while since I picked up a book from this genre. Harper, Rhen, and Grey were SO incredibly likable and relatable while still being flawed and complicated. The love story, the good vs evil story, and the pulling ones self up from failure story were all so well done and engaging. I hated the bad guys, loved the good guys, and laughed outloud at the snark. Two things bothered me, thus the four stars. First of all, it almost felt like there was a forced love triangle between three characters. I didn’t see that; I only saw a friendship between two of them. (Highlight that if you want to- not a true spoiler but kind of.) Secondly, the ending (epilogue) was odd. I know it’s a precursor for the next book in the series- which comes out in January, UGH-, but it felt just a little out of character.
Read it? If YA fantasy is your thing, YES.

I’m not doing great with Erin’s Challenge but that’s because I had a bunch of books to finish up before I would let myself begin…

| 5 points| Freebie: Cocaine Blues by Kerry Greenwood
| 10 points | Starts with “F”: Fix Her Up by Tessa Bailey
| 10 points | With rain(s), thunder, lightning, or monsoon in the title: The Lightening Thiefby Rick Riordan
| 15 points | With a picture of a building: Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
| 20 points | The author uses an initial in name: Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
| 20 points | An article of clothing/accessory in the title: The Man in the Brown Suit by Agatha Christie
| 25 points | A book set in India: The Jungle Books by Rudyard Kipling
| 30 points | Has won/been shortlisted for the Booker Prize: Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
| 30 points | About a human with superpowers/supernatural powers: Archenemies by Marissa Meyer
| 35 points | Has the same title as a book of a different genre: Soulless by Gail Carriger

I’m reading to launch into these now so we’ll see how many I can get through!

A few weeks ago members of my family that read my blog asked how I pronounce the title of this reoccurring series: “What I Red” or “What I Reed”? I have always said it in my head as “red” but now I’m curious. How do you interpret my title each month? Lol

What I Read…

The first Show Us Your Books link-up of 2019!

In the past I’ve made big changes to my reading reviews at the start of the year. I’m making some minor adjustments for 2019, but I’m going to stick with my typically breakdown. I’ll share the title & author (the title is linked to GoodReads), my rating, the genre, and my thoughts on the book. Lastly, I’ll tell you if I think it’s worth the read (and to whom it might appeal).

Linking up with the spectacular Jana & Steph. A mere two books this time.

The Witch of Willow Hall by Hester Fox
★★★/5; Historical Fiction, Paranormal 
This was a solid three star book for me. When I was reading it I was interested, but then I’d set it down for long periods of time and felt no motivation to pick it back up. I actually returned it to the library (because there was a wait list) and re-borrowed it with no sense of urgency. I liked Lydia, although I grew tiresome of her self-depreciation. Also, I HATED how those close to her treated her- except Ada and Snip. They were lovely minor characters. Joe, too. And John Barrett… SWOON. Seriously. This wasn’t a saucy romance novel but I sure wished it were. Hahaha. It definitely had romance and love, but the focus was on Lydia and what she wanted.
This was the author’s debut novel and I’ll be interested in future things from her!
Read it? If you like the flow of historical fiction, yes.

Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty
★★★★/4; Contemporary Fiction 
This was my first ever Moriarty book so I can’t compare it to her other novels. I actually liked this book quite a bit. It kept me interested while I was reading, it made me think about it while I wasn’t, and the characters were real, flawed, and likable. I think that every reader could relate to one (or more) of the characters and his/her insecurities. I thought it was a little genius. I know I found myself nodding along every now and then. Tony, Zoe, and Ben were my favorite guests. Frances drove me a little nuts, but I think she was supposed to. The health resort director was a total loon. Quite honestly, her delusional arrogance reminded me of a certain 45th president. All in all, I liked this story and I’ll probably check out more of Liane’s books. Side question- do Australians say “hey” the same way Canadians say “eh”?
Read it? Sure.

I enjoyed both books and I wish I had more for ya. This SYUB came kinda early in the month and the holidays killed my reading vibe sooooo… just two. Erin’s 10.0 Book Challenge started this month so here’s where I’m at:

| 5 points | Freebie: Archenemies by Marissa Meyer
| 10 points | A book that was made into a movie: Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton
| 10 points | Set in Europe: The Alice Network by Kate Quinn
| 15 points | A Newberry Award winner: The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate
| 20 points | A friend or family member’s favorite: Song of the Sparrow by Lisa Ann Sandell
| 20 points | Published over 100 years ago: The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
| 25 points | Six words in the title: The Girl Who Knew Too Much by Amanda Quick
| 30 points | A compass or cardinal direction in the title: The North Water by Ian McGuire
| 30 points | Published in a different language: A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
| 35 points | Begins with the letter “N”: Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty

Tell me what you’ve been reading lately.

Life According to Steph