Thursday, June 21, 2018

Heaven Adjacent - Fiction Review

Rating: Very Good
Source:  Little Bird Publicity

Roseanna Chaldecott spent her life as a high-powered lawyer in Manhattan. But when her best friend and law partner dies suddenly, something snaps. Unsure of her future, Roseanna heads upstate on one tank of gas and with no plans to return.

In the foothills of the Adirondacks, Roseanna discovers the perfect hideout in a ramshackle farm. Its seventy-six acres are rich with possibilities and full of surprises, including a mother and daughter squatting on the property. Although company is the last thing Roseanna wants, she reluctantly lets them stay.

Roseanna and the young girl begin sculpting junk found around the farm into zoo animals, drawing more newcomers—including her estranged son, Lance. He pleads with Roseanna to return to the city, but she’s finally discovered where she belongs. It may not provide the solitude she originally sought, but her heart has found room for much more.

Genre: Fiction

Why I Picked This Book:
  I've seen this author around for quite some time but never managed to actually read her.  This book really appealed to me with the main character upending her life and whatnot.

My Impression:
  I love books where the main character is taking a long look at their life and determining what really makes them happy and this was a very interesting take on that. This isn't a unicorn and rainbows kind of book.  The author doesn't wave a magic wand and make Roseanna likable and happy and things are not always easy.  I enjoyed how perplexed she was by the influx of squatters and visitors all looking for their own peace as she's trying to hold on to the bit she's found for herself.

The developing relationship between Roseanna and her son Lance was interesting and felt very genuine.  It wasn't always smooth and there were some step backs or plateaus.  As well her own self-discovery isn't always smooth.  Her epiphanies don't always stick and sometimes it takes her awhile to really process stuff.

This a kind of a quiet book.  There aren't big events for the most part and while there is conflict that isn't the real meat of the book.  The focus is on relationships, development, and self discovery but in a subtle way that feels incredibly genuine.  This is my first Catherine Ryan Hyde book but it definitely won't be my last!

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?
  Absolutely!  I really enjoyed this one. 

Would I Recommend this Book?
  Definitely!  This was a really lovely read.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Caroline - Historical Fiction Review

About Caroline

• Paperback: 400 pages • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Reprint edition (June 12, 2018) USA Today Bestseller! One of Refinery29's Best Reads of September In this novel authorized by the Little House Heritage Trust, Sarah Miller vividly recreates the beauty, hardship, and joys of the frontier in a dazzling work of historical fiction, a captivating story that illuminates one courageous, resilient, and loving pioneer woman as never before—Caroline Ingalls, "Ma" in Laura Ingalls Wilder’s beloved Little House books. In the frigid days of February, 1870, Caroline Ingalls and her family leave the familiar comforts of the Big Woods of Wisconsin and the warm bosom of her family, for a new life in Kansas Indian Territory. Packing what they can carry in their wagon, Caroline, her husband Charles, and their little girls, Mary and Laura, head west to settle in a beautiful, unpredictable land full of promise and peril. The pioneer life is a hard one, especially for a pregnant woman with no friends or kin to turn to for comfort or help. The burden of work must be shouldered alone, sickness tended without the aid of doctors, and babies birthed without the accustomed hands of mothers or sisters. But Caroline’s new world is also full of tender joys. In adapting to this strange new place and transforming a rough log house built by Charles’ hands into a home, Caroline must draw on untapped wells of strength she does not know she possesses. For more than eighty years, generations of readers have been enchanted by the adventures of the American frontier’s most famous child, Laura Ingalls Wilder, in the Little House books. Now, that familiar story is retold in this captivating tale of family, fidelity, hardship, love, and survival that vividly reimagines our past.

My Thoughts:  I loved this book.  This is a hard review to write because I loved so much about it I have a hard time limiting all I want to say to a paragraph or two!  As a child I loved the Little House on the Prairie books.  I read and reread them so many times and Alonzo Wilder was probably my first fictional crush.  But when I think back on the books Caroline kind of fades into the background.  She's kind and never cruel but she is the one who instills order in the house and reminds Laura to act like a lady.  Because of this it surprised me just how much I connected to her as I read.  She loves her family fiercely but is somewhat constrained by both the upbringing and the time she lived in.  Her relationship with her husband Charles was so realistically sweet it at times brought tears to my eyes.  He is still Laura's beloved Pa but through Caroline's eyes he's a more fully flushed out character with flaws and even greater strengths.  One thing that really shocked me was the intense vulnerability of the family both on the journey and even when they settle in Kansas.  I don't think I truly realized just how truly alone the settlers were until reading this book and my sympathy and admiration for Caroline increased tenfold. This was an emotional and interesting book that made me appreciate and have more affection for the Ingalls family.  If you are ready to see the world of Little House through adult eyes than this book is a must read.  This is one of my best reads of 2018!  Rating: Loved It!

Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

About Sarah Miller

Sarah Miller began writing her first novel at the age of ten, and has spent the last two decades working in libraries and bookstores. She is the author of two previous historical novels, Miss Spitfire: Reaching Helen Keller and The Lost Crown. Her nonfiction debut, The Borden Murders: Lizzie Borden and the Trial of the Century, was hailed by the New York Times as "a historical version of Law & Order." She lives in Michigan. Find out more about Sarah at her website, and connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday - Summer TBR

This week's Top Ten Tuesday topic from  That Artsy Reader Girl   is 10 Books in my Summer TBR.  I love these TBR posts because I get to make a list of what I want to read.  Of course I very rarely stick to the list but it's fun to pretend.  Plus, it's always fun to see what everyone else wants to read as well.

1. No River to Wide by Emilie Richards - Richards is one of my favorite authors and I've had this review book sitting on my shelves gathering dust since 2014.  I'm been in the mood for women's fiction with a touch of heart lately and this sounds perfect.

2.  Beach Town by Mary Kay Andrews - Mary Kay Andrews books have such summery covers and every summer I say I'm going to read one but this summer I actually am!

3.  Meet Me in Atlantis by Mark Adams - I love travel/project type books and this one all about the different Atlantis myths and theories looks really fun.

4.  Staged 4 Murder by J.C. Eaton - This is one of my favorite cozy mystery series so I'm excited to read this latest addition.

5.  Shelved Under Murder by Victoria Gilbert - The first book in this cozy series centered around a former academic turned public librarian was full of history and mystery so I'm excited to continue with the series.

6.  Beautiful Exiles by Meg Waite Clayton - This is an author I've been wanting to read for awhile and I'm fascinated by the life of Ernest Hemingway and this historical fiction set around his relationship with Martha Gellhorn seemed like the perfect read.

7.  The Masterpiece by Fiona Davis - This is another author I've been wanting to read and I love a dual timeline historical fiction.  This book that centers around New York's Grand Central Station sounds fascinating.

8.  Read and Gone by Allison Brook - This is the 2nd book in the Haunted Library cozy mystery series and even if I hadn't really enjoyed the 1st book I don't think I could resist this book because - Haunted Library!  The potential is just crazy amazing.

9.  The Likeness by Tana French - I read the first Dublin Squad Murders book last year and really enjoyed it though the ending frustrated me.  I'm really looking forward to reading this one though!

10. Reading People by Anne Bogel - I'm a big fan of Anne Bogel's podcast and blog and have been meaning to read this book since it came out.  I'm hoping to get my hands on a copy soon.

What books are you hoping to read this summer?

Monday, June 18, 2018

Ramblings from the Stacks - Reading Slumps and How to Fix Them

My reading has been on the meh side lately which was confusing as the books I was reading were actually really good.  I realized that I was actually in a slump which got me thinking about the different kind of slumps, their causes, and the solutions that I have found kind of work for me.

The Slump:  I hate this book, this author, the cover, the people the book is dedicated to, everyone mentioned in the acknowledgements and everyone even vaguely connected with the publishing of the book.

The Cause:  This is very much a case of "It's not you, it's me".  The book is normally absolutely fine but the problem is I'm usually forcing myself to read something that I'm just not feeling like reading for whatever reason.

The Solution:  A bit of yoga breathing to get all the annoyance out followed by a reread.  Barbara Michaels'  paranormal romantic suspense with all their ghostly Gothic-ness are usually the perfect fix but if I'm not in the mood for a bit of spookiness a short story collection from Rosamunde Pilcher, L.M. Montgomery or Agatha Christie will do the trick.

The Slump:  Are their words on this page?  I can't make my eyes actually focus on them.

The Cause:  This slump happens usually when summer starts.  Between crazy humidity and the shakeup in my schedule I'm distracted and a bit tired.

The Solution:  This slump is kind of annoying because it's hard to fix.  I've had the best luck with going through overdue review books and just picking what looks good but not forcing myself to keep reading if it isn't working because otherwise I'll get into the first slump.  Memoirs or other light nonfiction have worked well in the past.

The Slump:  The "meh" slump.  Everything is fine but nothing is really clicking.  I'm not really enjoying the actual act of reading.

The Cause:  Genre fatigue.  I'm reading a lot of one genre and not mixing it up much if it at all.

The Solution:  A random wander through the library or my collection of books and pick up and read any book that appeals to me even if it's not on my schedule.

The Slump:  Every time I sit down to read I doze off.

The Cause: Normally I'm burning the candle at both ends.

The Solution:  Take a bit of time off and just watch tv and try and go to bed early for a few nights.

What different slumps do you have?  What solutions have you found?

Sunday, June 17, 2018

This Week in Reading - June 17

It's Sunday Post time!  This is hosted by the awesome Caffeinated Book Reviewer and gives us all a chance to recap our week.

What I Got:

Season of Wonder by RaeAnne Thayne - I love RaeAnne Thayne's Christmas romances and there was no way I could resist that cover! (Publicist)

Rancher's Dream by B.J. Daniels - I've been enjoying this series by Daniels about the Cahill family in Montana so of course I had to grab this newest one. (Blog Tour)

The Guilty Dead by P.J. Tracy - This is more of a procedural than my usual cozy mystery and involves a suicide that may not be and all kinds of shadowy secrets (Publisher)

Dying up Loose Ends by Maggie Sefton - I had mixed feelings about the last book in this series but I'm hoping this newest book will convince me that this is a series for me (Publisher)

Poisoned Pages by Lorna Barret - I just read and enjoyed the previous book in the series so I'm looking forward to seeing what happens next.  (Publisher)


Reading:  The Cottages on Silver Beach by RaeAnne Thayne and Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen

Listening:  Anything is Possible by Elizabeth Strout.  I'm liking it pretty well and am about halfway done with it.

Watching:  I've been watching a lot of TV this week (more about that later) and have been enjoying some of the Hallmark Mystery movies like the Garage Sale Mysteries and the Fixer Upper series.  Also we've had the World Cup on the last few days.

Off the Blog:

I had big plans this week.  With the Tornado at Space Camp all week during the day I was going to get stuff cleared out and organized, create a filing system for my books and even get some reading done.  I did get some reading done but that was about it.  Monday morning just after I had dropped the Tornado off I was walking through the parking lot back to my car and somehow managed to step in a low spot and my ankle rolled and made a popping sound and it was about all I could do not to sit down in the parking lot and cry.  I made it home and then after a few attempts to walk which resulted in some involuntary screaming which scared the cat I ended up at the doctor.  It's not broken for which I'm very grateful.  I've broken this ankle before and no part of me wants to relive that.  However it is badly sprained with some extra ligament damage done just for fun.  I have an air cast and this massive boot and am supposed to rest it as much as possible.  So I did get a lot of reading done and I got a lot of TV watching done but this definitely wasn't the week I had in mind!  

I've been resting it and it is feeling better than it was that first day and it could have been so much worse.  But really if I have to injure myself can I at least get a better story?  The last time I hurt myself I missed the bottom step and broke my ankle.  I need to do more adventurous things.  I'll still get hurt but at least I'll have better stories!  

Thanks so much for all the suggestions for books for J.  I got Empire Falls by Richard Russo and the first Jack Reacher book out of the library and we will see what he thinks of them!

On the Blog:

What Happened:

What's Coming Up:

Monday:  Ramblings from the Stacks - Reading Slumps and How to Fix Them
Tuesday:  Top Ten Tuesday - Summer TBR
Wednesday:  Caroline - Historical Fiction Review
Thursday:  Heaven Adjacent - Fiction Review
Friday:  Friday Linkups with Current Book
Saturday:  TBD

Have a great week and happy reading!

Saturday, June 16, 2018

A Just Clause - Cozy Mystery Review

Rating: Good
Source:  Publisher

Tricia Miles, mystery bookstore owner and amateur sleuth, is in for a surprise when her ne’er-do-well father, John, comes to town—and promptly becomes a prime suspect in the murder of a woman with her own scandalous past. Even Tricia’s faith in the old man is shaken when the Stoneham police break the news that her father is a known con man who has done jail time.

But what about bestselling thriller author Steven Richardson? Is it a coincidence that he arrived for a book signing just before the crime or that the victim was found with a signed copy of his latest bestseller?

From merlot to murder, Tricia is determined to clear the family name before another body shows up and ruins Stoneham’s first—and highly anticipated—wine and jazz festival.

Genre: Mystery - Cozy

Why I Picked This Book:
  I've read this series since the beginning though I have missed a few books.

My Impression: 
Stoneham is one of those fictional places I really wish were real.  A whole town filled with bookstores?  How amazing would that be!  I did miss the real bookish atmosphere of previous books.  Between the renovation at Tricia's mystery bookstore and her spending most of her time at either Angelica's inn or running after characters who didn't live in Stoneham there was only one visit to any of the local bookstores and not much real community feel.

The mystery was interesting with some startling revelations and an unexpected ending.  I would have liked both the motivations and the reveal to be a bit more developed.  There is quite a bit going on with Tricia and Angelica's parents, Tricia's assistant's upcoming marriage, and the mammoth renovation being done to Tricia's apartment.  With all that it felt like the ending of the actual murder investigation.

While I did have some issues with the book this was an enjoyable read.  Barrett's writing pulled me in from the beginning and I read the book in just two sittings.  I liked Tricia and Angelica as well as Pixie, Fred, and Mr. Everett and enjoyed spending time in their world.  I'm already looking forward to revisiting them!

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?
  I would.  I already have the next book in the series and am hoping for some more bookish fun and of course a murder or two.

Would I Recommend this Book?
  If you enjoy cozy mysteries than I think this is a series that you'd enjoy however starting with an earlier book so you can get the full bookish feel might be better.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Friday Linkups - A Just Clause

It's Friday linkup time!  I'm linking up with the Book Blogger Hop hosted by Coffee Addicted Writer, Book Beginnings of Fridays hosted by Rose City Reader, and the Friday 56 hosted by Freda's Voice

This Week's Book Blogger Hop Question:
You have just won a $100 Visa Gift Card.  Will you spend the entire amount on a rare collector's edition you have always wanted, or buy several newly published books?

My Answer:
I'd probably buy several newly published books.  I don't really collect certain editions of books so unless there was something like a signed Agatha Christie mystery I think I'd be more tempted by something shiny and new.

This week's book is A Just Clause by Lorna Barrett.  This is a series set in Booktown, Vermont which is a fictional city filled with different bookstores.  I like this series but because I hope that by reading it such a place will suddenly exist!  

The Beginning: 
Tricia Miles almost always felt a thrill to host a book signing at her bookstore, Haven't Got a Clue, especially when it involved a favorite author.

My Thoughts:
I think I'd be pretty excited for this too!

The 56:
Why upset Andrea?  She was upset enough for both of them.

My Thoughts:
I hate when I want to talk to someone about something but it's not worth upsetting them!

So what do you think?  Keep reading?