The Mountains Sing by Nguyen Phan Que Mai

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BOOK BLURB

The story of the Tran family in Vietnam from 1930-1980

QUICK GLANCE

  • Family
  • Vietnam War
  • Kindness
  • Hope

LOVE IT OR LOATHE IT

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The writing of The Mountains Sing was very lyrical and beautiful. This book covers difficult themes of life in a war torn country and a country struggling among much conflict. But often those themes were not difficult to read about and I think it was because the writing was so lyrical. It was like the writing didn’t fit the subject. I don’t think that made me dislike the book but did make it hard for me to feel connected to the characters. I wanted to feel the anguish they must have felt but I didn’t really. 

I really enjoyed learning about Vietnam. This book takes place in Vietnam and is about the people of Vietnam. Their history, their culture, their traditions. I really enjoyed learning about Vietnam and the struggles that country has faced. I also enjoyed learning about the Vietnam War through the perspective of the Vietnamese people. 

Though I didn’t feel connected to the characters and wanted to feel more emotion to the events that were happening, and wanted to be shown things instead of told, I enjoyed my experience reading The Mountains Sing. The writing and the history I learned made up for the things I didn’t feel. 

My copy of The Mountains Sing was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review

The Yellow Bird Sings by Jennifer Rosner

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BOOK BLURB

The story of Roza and her five year old daughter who are Jews in Poland during World War II

QUICK GLANCE

  • Bond between mother and child
  • Historical fiction
  • Hope
  • Love
  • World War II

LOVE IT OR LOATHE IT

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The Yellow Bird Sings is a really unique look at World War II. I have heard many stories of Jews hiding from Nazi soldiers. Hiding in attics, or basements, or closets.  I have never heard of people hiding in a hayloft, burrowing deep into the hay to avoid being seen. Or hiding in the woods and digging deep into the dirt to sleep and hide. I was captivated by the ways people tried to survive. 

At the heart of this book is the relationship between Roza and her daughter Shira. The bond, the difficulty and the love of these two felt real and at times was heartbreaking. 

My copy of The Yellow Bird Sings was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

The Lost Girls of Paris by Pam Jenoff

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BOOK BLURB

The story of a group of women sent to German occupied France during World War II as couriers and radio operators to aid the resistance. However, many of these women were never seen again. What happened to them? 

QUICK GLANCE

  • Historical fiction
  • World War II
  • Friendship
  • Loyalty
  • Betrayal

LOVE IT OR LOATHE IT

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I really enjoyed the plot and the history of The Lost Girls of Paris. The story follows three girls, Marie and Eleanor, in 1944 aiding the resistance in Europe, and Grace living in 1946 in New York City. I enjoyed learning about Marie and Eleanor alongside Grace. The story of these women and the risks they took to help was fascinating. I had to push through the beginning a bit as a couple of the girls felt very whiny to me. I listened to this on audiobook which may have been the cause. There is a bit of a mystery as we are left to wonder for much of the book what happened to the girls. Did they survive? If so where are they? I was intrigued and curious and found the ending surprising and fulfilling. 

My copy of The Lost Girls of Paris was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review

And Then There Were Crumbs by Eve Calder

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BOOK BLURB

Wanting to escape New York and her lost job and fiancé, Kate finds herself in a small island town in Florida hoping for a new start. She finds that new start at the Cookie House where she also finds herself solving a murder. 

QUICK GLANCE

#1 in A Cookie House Mystery series

Cozy mystery

LOVE IT OR LOATHE IT

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I read And Then There Were Crumbs while also reading a very heavy book. It was just what I needed to offset the other depressing things I was reading. The plot moved nicely with an ending that was unexpected and where everything turns out good. The town is full of eccentric small town business owners who look out for each other. They are all happy and don’t really seem to have any flaws. I would have liked a bit more realness to the characters. No town has that many happy, perfect people! But for the time when I was reading it I really didn’t mind that much. This is a light, fun read that is best read while eating cookies. 

Us Against You by Fredrik Backman

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BOOK BLURB

In Beartown, a town where hockey is everything, a star hockey player does something and the town must decide who to believe and what it is going to do next. In Us Against You the town faces the consequences of the choices made in Beartown. 

QUICK GLANCE

  • #2 in the Beartown trilogy
  • Heavy
  • Heartbreaking
  • Profanity
  • Character driven

LOVE IT OR LOATHE IT

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Us Against You was such a heavy, at many times, depressing read. So often I would think, “Life is so hard in Beartown.” Backman’s writing is powerful and though few words are written there is so much emotion behind those words. When I would begin to wonder if I could continue reading because nothing good happened to anyone in that town, a character would do something that gave me hope. 

I found myself cheering on each and every character. Backman writes in a way that I came to understand each character, their motives, what drives those motives, their fears and their loves.  Understanding each character like that might be what made the book so heavy and at times hard to read. This book touched on so many themes and I think having so many themes showed that these were complex characters with complex backgrounds and lives. I would cringe at some of the decisions made by the characters but I also could see why they made it and sometimes wondered if they had any other choices. 

Us against You is about a town where hockey is everything. But really it is about people. I feel that the first book Beartown must be read first to truly understand the people and the town. 

Been There, Married That by Gigi Levangie

BOOK BLURB

Agnes, the wife to a Hollywood producer is shocked when he wants a divorce. She feels unprepared for a Hollywood divorce and struggles to figure out what her future holds.

QUICK GLANCE

Light hearted

Profanity

Women’s fiction

LOVE IT OR LOATHE IT

⭐️⭐️⭐️

It took me awhile to get into the book. I had a hard time with the narration in the beginning but after I got used to Agnes’ snark and sense of humor it fell into place. I actually didn’t really like the main character Agnes and it wasn’t until the very end that I really cared what happened to her. I’m not sure I ever really cared what happened to her but by the end I at least was curious to see. She does grow and do some good self discovery In the end and that really improves the book for me.

There is quite a bit of profanity and a few lines that were a bit vulgar which added nothing and had no purpose.

Been There, Married That is a light hearted look at what a life looks like when you are focused on yourself and material things.

I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan

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BOOK BLURB

The first person American Bex meets when she gets to Oxford for a study aboard turns out to be Prince Nicholas, the future king of Great Britain. They become close friends and then fall in love. It isn’t easy being in love with a future king. It’s even harder when you know nothing of the life of royalty. 

QUICK GLANCE

Romantic comedy feel

Tears

Family

Forgiveness

LOVE IT OR LOATHE IT

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I usually save a 5 star rating for a book that I really connected with and where I also learned something, or come away improved some in some way. Usually, a “serious” book. I’m not sure I learned anything profound or am now a better person after reading The Royal We. But I had so much fun reading this book I had to give it 5 stars. I listened to it on audio and found myself turning it on every chance I got and even creating opportunities to turn it on. I listened every chance I got. 

I was sucked into these characters lives. I found myself caring about them, crying with them, laughing with them, and yelling at them as they made decisions I knew were going to end badly. And they made a lot of really bad decisions. 

I have never trusted the media much, especially when it comes to the lives of celebrities but I trust it even less now. I don’t even want to look at a headline now. This book is a great look into the person behind the celebrity. 

I also really love the theme of family. There are many different kinds of families represented in The Royal We. Families have secrets, hard times, disagreements and they also have love and forgiveness. 

I listened to this on audiobook and recommend it. It is by far the best audiobook I have listened to. The narrator was excellent and may have been part of what made the book fly by. When she laughed I laughed, when she cried I cried. I loved every minute of The Royal We and am already looking forward to reading it again.

Liars’ Paradox by Taylor Stevens

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BOOK BLURB

Twin brother and sister have had a very unusual childhood. Their mother trained them in espionage and survival to protect them. Is the danger in her head or are they really in danger? After her suspicious disappearance they begin to worry that it was to protect them as they rush to find her, protect her and hopefully get some answers.

QUICK GLANCE

#1 in the Jack and Jill Thriller series

Dysfunctional family

Plot driven

Violent

LOVE IT OR LOATHE IT

⭐️⭐️⭐️

Liars’ Paradox was action packed and put a whole new spin to dysfunctional family. Though this was the most dysfunctional family I have ever encountered the story was about protecting family and the love that a family has. Sometimes that love means you protect them before you show love. I really enjoyed the premise of the book and am looking forward to getting to know the characters better as the series progresses. It was pretty violent with lots of deaths. For these characters human life is not as important as family. It would be a good book to discuss the lengths you would go to to protect your family. 

Camino Island by John Grisham

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BOOK BLURB

Camino Island begins with the heist of 5 original F. Scott Fitzgerald manuscripts. The story follows the thieves and the investigation. 

QUICK GLANCE

  • Quick read
  • Would make a fun beach read
  • Right vs wrong

LOVE IT OR LOATHE IT

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I had a lot of fun reading Camino Island. I love a good heist so the book starting off with the heist was perfect. I loved all the inner details of the heist and was fascinated by them. There are a lot of characters that we follow in this book but I did not feel confused about who was who or what was going on. A large part of the book takes place on Camino Island where we follow a young writer trying to write her next novel. She becomes involved in the writing scene on the island and it was fun watching the writers and an independent bookstore owner interact. Kind of a behind the scene look at writers. I didn’t know until the end what happened to the manuscripts or what their fate would be. 

There was a part in the book where I felt the need to shout that women are more than just bodies and that took the fun I was having with the book down a couple of notches. The novel plays with the question of right vs wrong and this good definitely fit with that discussion.

I thought Camino Island was a fun read and also had some themes that could be discussed. 

American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins

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BOOK BLURB

The journey of Lydia and her son Luca.

QUICK GLANCE

Hope

Motherhood

Searching

Perseverance 

New beginnings

Friendship

LOVE IT OR LOATHE IT

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I was drawn into the story that was Lydia and Luca’s. I’m aware this is not everyone’s story that travels from Mexico to the United States. But I felt for Lydia and Luca. Not only for the experiences they had but also for the changes they went through as people. I loved the lasting  friendships they made along the way. We are all on a journey and it is always made more beautiful by the friendships we make along the way and the kindness we show to others. 

My copy of American Dirt was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review