American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins

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The journey of Lydia and her son Luca.

QUICK GLANCE

Hope

Motherhood

Searching

Perseverance 

New beginnings

Friendship

LOVE IT OR LOATHE IT

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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

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

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BOOK BLURB

The Russian story of Vasilisa who goes from hearing folklore tales throughout her childhood to living them in order to protect her family and home. 

QUICK GLANCE

#1 in the Winternight Trilogy

Fantasy

Honor

Good vs. evil

Faith vs. superstition 

LOVE IT OR LOATHE IT

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This beautiful, atmospheric story captured me from the very beginning. The setting was captivating. The characters deep and intriguing. I especially loved Vasilisa, who was carefree yet strong and spirited. She had a love and compassion for all that I admired. Yet a strength to stand up for what she knew to be right. 

The Stationery Shop by Marjan Kamali

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BOOK BLURB

The Stationery Shop is the story of Roya. Of her life in Iran as a young girl. Of her life in America. Of her loves and losses. 

QUICK GLANCE

Begins in the 1950’s in Iran and goes through to present times in America

Love

Adapting to a new country and culture 

Loss

Grief

Motherhood

Mental illness

Rebirth/renewal

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I loved the experience of reading The Stationery Shop. I was immediately caught up in the life of Roya as she lived in Iran. I loved reading about her experiences and her fears in a country in political turmoil. I loved reading about her life, how she spent her time, and especially about the foods she ate. I continued to be caught up in her life as she moved to America and tried to adjust to a new culture. I rejoiced with her, I mourned with her, I feared with her and I felt like a lived with her. 

My copy of The Stationery Shop was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris

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BOOK BLURB

Lale, a Slovakian Jew, is imprisoned in the concentration camp Auschwitz for two and a half years. While there he serves as the Tatowierer, tattooing numbers on his fellow prisoners. The story shows his experiences in the camp and what life was like for him as a prisoner in a concentration camp. 

QUICK GLANCE

Hope

The goodness of people among terrible circumstances

Historical fiction

World War II concentration camp

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The premise of this book really intrigued me. I cannot imagine what it would have been like to permanently number another human in a concentration camp. I found Lale’s experience at Auschwitz interesting and very different from other stories I have read that took place in a concentration camp. Though it felt somewhat slow in pacing there was enough happening that I did not get bored. 

I did have trouble connecting with Lale, or any of the characters. For such an emotional premise and experience I wanted to feel more for the character and I just didn’t. By the end, I didn’t really care what happened to him. I think part of that was because I didn’t feel like the camp was that awful for him. I get that he was trying to be positive and have hope and make the best of his experience so he would survive. But, I didn’t really feel like anything that awful happened to him and when something did happen that would be awful I didn’t feel like he was that affected by it. I really wanted to ache and cry for him but instead I didn’t care.  

Death Wears a Mask by Ashley Weaver

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BOOK BLURB

 Amory and her playboy husband have had a reconciliation and as they try to mend their relationship Amory finds herself first helping a friend catch a jewelry thief and then helping the friend find who killed her nephew. 

QUICK GLANCE

#2 in the Amory Ames mystery series

Set in 1930 London

Cozy mystery

LOVE IT OR LOATHE IT

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I’m not sure why I like Amory and her husband Milo so much. I feel like they have awful communication. I don’t like how Milo has treated Amory and I don’t like how Amory has let Milo treat her the way he has. Yet, I find myself rooting for them. I catch glimpses of what kind of relationship they could have and I think they are cute and fun together. I guess I have hope that they can work through their troubles.

The mystery had me scratching my head a bit. I did not understand the whole plan of catching the jewelry thief and why Amory chose to get involved. Actually, most of what Amory did in this book had me scratching my head but I still really enjoyed the book despite that. It was fun and quick moving. 

Long Bright River by Liz Moore

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BOOK BLURB

The story of two sisters, Kacey and Mickey, their childhood and the mysterious disappearance of Kacey. Kacey is an opioid addict living on the streets that her sister Mickey patrols as a cop. 

QUICK GLANCE

Sisters

Drug addiction

Hope

No quotation marks

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I enjoyed this story of sisters. I can’t say I always liked the characters and I didn’t like most of what they chose to do but their story still pulled me in. I loved the resiliency of their relationship and how they looked out for one another. 

Blood Test by Jonathan Kellerman

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A little boy with cancer has disappeared from the hospital and Alex races to find him. 

QUICK GLANCE

#2 in the Alex Delaware series

Thriller

Sexual content

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 I found the plot of Blood Test interesting. It moved quickly and kept me wondering where the boy was and who took him and why. For most of the book I felt it was an average read. While the plot was interesting I felt the dialogue was weak. There were a few times I rolled my eyes over it. Then towards the end the book took a really weird turn that I just couldn’t get behind. I’m not sure of the point and it felt way to over the top for me. 

While the dialogue was weak and the plot took a weird turn, I do have to say the descriptions were great. It is very easy to picture and I felt like I was where Alex was. Which in some cases was not at all where I wanted to be. 

The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae by Stephanie Butland

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BOOK BLURB

The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae is the story of a twenty-eight year old women just learning how to live. Born with a heart defect Ailsa Rae has just had a life saving heart transplant. She has lived her life carefully, always aware of her heart defect. Now that her heart is perfect she discovers she has to take chances in order to really live this new life she has been given

QUICK GLANCE

Setting in Scotland

Organ transplant

Relationships

Hope

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The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae was a fun read that moved quickly yet also dealt with difficult themes. We come to know the story of Ailsa Rae through her blog, emails, flashbacks and 3rd person narration. We meet her right before she receives her new heart and so are with her as she navigates what it means to be given a second chance at life. I did not know a lot about organ transplant and enjoyed seeing the impact they make for those needing them. Ailsa Rae is cute and funny and while having the maturity of a twenty-eight year old also had a naiveness to her. Now that she knows she will be around for a long time she learns more about relationships and begins forming deeper ones while also taking time to learn about herself. 

My copy of The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes

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BOOK BLURB

The story of a group of women known as the Packhorse Librarians of Kentucky. During The Depression these women rode horses through the Appalachian wilderness delivering books to those living in the hills who would have no other way of obtaining books. 

QUICK GLANCE

Strength of women

Friendship

Love

Kindness

Community

Emotional

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I loved The Giver of Stars! 

The characters quickly pulled me in and I found myself very attached to them. Each character was unique and complicated and I could not pick a favorite. I felt like I knew them and I felt like I lived in that small community.

There were so many themes shown that are favorites of mine. I loved the friendship that these women who begin as coworkers develop. I loved the examples of kindness and love that are shown. This is the story of strong women but it is also the story of a community. A community that is not perfect and makes mistakes and does awful things to others. But it is also a community that rises above that and helps one another. 

For me a great book is not only a good story but writing that engages me and makes me feel. This was a great book. 

Eva’s Eye by Karin Fossum

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BOOK BLURB

Eva’s Eye begins with Eva walking with her young daughter by the river where they spot a body. The first part of the story follows Inspector Sejar’s investigation into the dead body. The second part details the events leading up to the murder of the man found in the river. The story is told from the alternating points of view of Eva and Inspector Sejar. 

QUICK GLANCE

1st book in the Konrad Sejar series a Norwegian

Book in translation

Crime mystery

LOVE IT OR LOATHE IT

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I found Eva’s Eye to be a good book. The characters were interesting and the plot was engaging. I liked the format of the book. Following the inspector as he worked to solved the case and then going back to the events leading up to the murder. The way everything unfolded at the end was a shock and I was pretty stunned by something that was revealed. 

The book had a slow feel to it. While I enjoyed reading it, I didn’t feel a huge push of momentum. I felt like a kept waiting to be left breathless.