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. 

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#2 in the Alex Delaware series

Thriller

Sexual content

LOVE IT OR LOATHE IT

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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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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

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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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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. 

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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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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. 

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1st book in the Konrad Sejar series a Norwegian

Book in translation

Crime mystery

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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. 

Death On The Downs by Simon Brett

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Carole out exploring comes upon the bones of a human skeleton. Once again she and her friend Jude take up their own sleuthing. 

QUICK GLANCE

#2 in the Fethering Mystery series

Cozy mystery

Friendship

Odd couple vibe

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I loved the character development more than the mystery in Death on the Downs. There were a lot of characters introduced briefly and I didn’t get a strong handle on who they were. So when they reappeared I couldn’t remember who was who and who had which background. As the mystery is coming to an end Carole and Jude are coming up with answers that they aren’t sharing with the reader. I knew they knew, but just weren’t sharing and I’m not sure how I felt about that. 

I loved the continued look into the friendship of Carole and Jude. For me, the book was about friendship and the mystery was just a way to show this friendship. Friendship isn’t always easy . Especially new friendships with their insecurities and I liked that look into friendship.  Carole and Jude are both growing individually in this book and I really liked watching that development. It’s also interesting to me that Carole seems like such an open book and Jude is very much a mystery. Though there were times in this second book where they surprised me. 

Stress-Free Small Talk by Richard S. Gallagher, LMFT

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A guide to managing social anxiety and making conversation

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Nonfiction

Easy to read

Exercises to practice

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Sometimes engaging in conversation can be hard. Though this book deals more with those who struggle with social anxiety and therefore struggle with conversation, I felt that many of the  skills taught benefit all. Though I don’t suffer with social anxiety I have had my share of conversations that have not gone well. Often it is the small talk conversations that seem the most difficult for me and I found the suggestions very helpful. 

The book discusses what small talk is, why it is important and how it is used in society.

Explains shyness, introversion and anxiety.

Includes skills and exercises to prepare for social situations

Includes skills to handle social situations where small talk takes place. Even includes small details like how to stand and where to look. Lots of exercises are given to practice and use when in social situations.

Author includes personal experiences and experiences of other people to help show skills.

My copy of Stress-Free Small Talk was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions by Mario Giordano

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After the death of her husband Auntie Poldi retires to Sicily to grieve and relax. But those plans are interrupted with the disappearance and death of her handyman.

QUICK GLANCE

– 1st Book in the Auntie Poldi series

– Cozy mystery

– Beautiful setting

– Slow read

– Book in translation

– Strong older female main character

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Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions started off very slowly for me. It took me a few chapters to get into it and I struggled a bit with the narration. But once I got used to it, it became a really fun book and there were parts I really enjoyed. Though I did find the Italian words thrown in throughout to be confusing and I never really did get used to that.

I loved the wide range of eccentric characters and Auntie Poldi’s relationship to them. Auntie Poldi being the most eccentric character. She goes through a wide range of emotions, from grief and depression to being feisty and strong willed. I also loved the minor characters Death and Inspector Chance.

The plot was a little slower moving than I was expecting, even for a cozy mystery. But the ending and the erupting volcano saved it for me.

I felt like the best part of the book was the setting. The descriptions of Sicily were gorgeous. I may never go to Sicily but I feel like I know exactly what it looks like.

A Shared Grandmother’s Journal by Marianne Waggoner Day

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Writing prompts for a grandparent and grandchild to share stories, feelings, likes, dislikes, dreams, etc. 

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  • Colorful pages
  • Easy to respond to prompt

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I really love the idea. I think the prompt ideas were all great and it could be a great way to learn more about one another. However, as I think about it, I think I would have trouble finishing it. I can see myself starting off great and being excited about it but as life happens I can see it getting pushed to the bottom of things to do. I also think a grandparent would like this a lot more than a child. Though I loved the prompts, I think they are pretty similar to prompts kids are writing in school and I can see kids not being very excited for yet another writing assignment.

My copy of A Shared Grandmother’s Journal was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review

 

The Mindfulness Journal for Teens by Jennie Marie Battistin,MA, LMFT

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Mindfulness is being fully present in the moment. It means being aware of what you are doing and how you are feeling. This is a book that teaches mindfulness with a teenage perspective through prompts and journal ideas. 

QUICK GLANCE

  • Prompts are quick and easy
  • Book is easy to understand
  • Beautiful pages

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Even though I am an adult I have really enjoyed reading through this book. Even though this is a journal for teenagers I felt it could easily be applied to any age. In fact I plan on going through the journal more slowly and really thinking through the ideas and prompts. The prompts dealt with everyday issues like self-esteem, personal growth and relationships.

My copy of The Mindfulness Journal for Teens was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley

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Flavia de Luce is an eleven year old girl who lives in the grand estate of Buckshaw in England in the 1950’s. She lives there with her widowed father, and her two older sisters. She spends her days antagonizing her sisters and doing chemistry experiments. Until one day, when a dead bird is found on the back doorstep with a postage stamp stuck to its beak, then the next morning she finds a man dead in the cucumber patch.

QUICK GLANCE

– #1 in the Flavia de Luce series

– Cozy mystery

– References to chemistry, stamp collecting, books

LOVE IT OR LOATHE IT

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I often struggle with books when the main character is a child because so often I don’t feel like the child acts, or talks, or behaves like a child. In The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, Flavia definitely does not act, or behave like any children I know. She is extremely smart, loves chemistry and knows more about chemistry than anyone I know. She is extremely independent, to the point of continually leaving her home on her bike and riding to different towns miles away with no one in her home having any idea where she is. She is forward and has no problem speaking to adults. She has no fear and thinks she can solve all the problems she faces. She is a character I really should not like but for some reason she works for me and I really enjoyed her. I didn’t always like her, she was so mean to her sisters and sometimes to others. She had a complete disregard for adults and authority. And there were some situations that didn’t seem very feasible. But I found the story and the mystery a fun read anyway. Maybe because Flavia isn’t ever suppose to be like most children her age. I enjoyed the setting of England in 1950 and the small country towns. I enjoyed the bits of English history and I learned about stamp collecting and lots about chemistry, which to be honest went right over my head. I liked the looks at a home when a mother has died and though this wasn’t a huge part of the book I think it did have an affect on the characters. I actually look forward to continuing with the series.