Saturday, August 31, 2019

Into the Wilderness (Wilderness #1) - Sara Donati

Into the Wilderness (Wilderness, #1)Into the Wilderness by Sara Donati
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Set in the 1790's, this book begins a series centering on a New York mountain village. Elizabeth Middleton returns to her father's home after being raised by here aunt in England. There she encounters a cast of characters that are set in their ways, especially as she's determined to establish a school that welcomes all. She also meets Nathaniel Bonner, a white man who lives like a Native American.

So, I'm not going to lie. I did pick up this book solely on the fact I listened to an Anne Bogel "What Should I Read Next" podcast where it comes up that some of the Outlander (Diana Gabaldon) characters make an appearance in this novel. The appearance is not in person but by mention, and definitely brief. Luckily, this book and its characters were interesting enough to hold my attention without that hook - that was towards the middle anyway.

Don't go into this expecting a book like Outlander though. Yes, it's historical fiction set in some of the same time frame. But the characters seemed more modern yet set in a historical time frame. It just didn't seem as satiated in the time period or even as accurate.

Elizabeth seemed fairly juvenile to me. I liked her, but kept thinking of her as 19 instead of a spinster of 29. The romance also seemed more lust than love and happened very quickly.

It took about 10 chapters to get into the plot, but then it seemed to pick up. I was engaged by that point though. In some places, the timeline or setting seemed to jump without any warning like a page break or a chapter change. That could have been issues with the ebook version though. There were also some inconsistencies and dropped story lines. Hoping some of those are picked up in the next book.

I will be reading book 2. If you plan to as well, do yourself a favor and don't read the summary of the book on Goodreads. I feel like it spoiled some of it before I even started.

Heads-Up: some steamy content - I skipped paragraphs here and there. I don't think there was as much as an Outlander book though.

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Ayesha at Last - Uzma Jalaluddin

Ayesha at LastAyesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was a "stay up too late reading" kind of book. Perfect for a binge.

Ayesha is a modern Muslim woman in Toronto. She works as a substitute teacher in a co-ed schoo. She wears her hijab but also more modern clothing. Her best friend isn't Muslim, and she's not a faithful attender of mosque prayers. Ayesha, meet Khalid. Khalid is conservative and fundamental. He wears his beard long as well as his robes. He looks to his mother to provide the perfect arranged marriage. But all is not as it seems in either of their lives.

So...I would say that the publishers did this book a disservice by calling it "A modern-day Muslim Pride & Prejudice." However, that is what compelled me to pick it up. So the marketing worked despite the fact there is little in common with P&P until towards the end.

I thoroughly enjoyed both Ayesha and Khalid. Even knowing they were going to get together in the end (not a spoiler due to the P&P connection), it was fun to watch them navigate it. I appreciated the nuance in pretty much all the characters. Except for maybe Khalid's mom. She wasn't a very nuanced villain.

Definitely worth a read, whether you're a P&P fan or not. I flew through it in less than 24 hours, despite my husband's grumblings about the light being on. :)

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Monday, August 26, 2019

The Forgotten Road (The Broken Road #2) - Richard Paul Evans

The Forgotten Road (The Broken Road, #2)The Forgotten Road by Richard Paul Evans
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The second book in the Broken Road series, Charles James is continuing his walk along Route 66.

This book was more of a 1.5 stars for me. I didn't not like it, but I didn't really like it either. While Charles moved along his route, the plot didn't really move along much at all. It was more a list of towns and roadside attractions than the introspection I'm used to from Evans's books and characters. Even The Walk series, which this one is reminding me more and more of - just a different route, had a lot more character development and interaction.

I'll read the third book just because it's not a huge time commitment, but I'm hoping that one is more than the travelogue this one seemed to be. And not a very engaging travelogue at that.

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Friday, August 23, 2019

The Mother-in-Law - Sally Hepworth

The Mother-In-LawThe Mother-In-Law by Sally Hepworth
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Lucas and her MIL, Diana, have always had a rocky relationship. So when Diana is found dead, suspicion abounds.

This book is told primarily from Lucy & Diana's perspectives, and alternates between past and present. I liked the back story pieces. It gave such understanding and depth to some of the characters.

Worth reading if you like domestic suspense.

I gave it 3 stars, but it was really more 3.5 for me. So take that with a grain of salt.

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Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Everything Here Is Beautiful - Mira T. Lee

Everything Here Is BeautifulEverything Here Is Beautiful by Mira T. Lee
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is a book of lives intertwined. Sisters. Marriage. Lovers. Parents. Children. One's own self.

Lucia and Miranda Bok are Chinese American sisters who pop in and out of each other's lives. Lucia is free spirited and passionate while Miranda has always taken on the more protector, practical role. When Lucia starts hallucinating and hearing voices, Miranda tries to rescue her as she always has.

This book took many, many pages for me to get into. I think that had more to do with my brain space at the time than the book itself. I didn't become attached to any particular character but the highlight of the book for me was "watching" the ways the characters interacted. Not just their words but their internal monologues as well. I really wanted to not like Manny due to some of his choices. But even with him, you can see the reasons behind those choices because the chapters rotate through several alternating perspectives. It was well written overall. Choppy at times, but even that made sense.

Great for a book club to read together as there is a plethora of things to discuss and debate in this story.

Heads-up: language, sex

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Friday, August 9, 2019

The Broken Road (The Broken Road #1) - Richard Paul Evans

The Broken Road (The Broken Road, #1)The Broken Road by Richard Paul Evans
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Broken Road is the beginning of Evans' newest series. In it, we meet Charles James, a wealth seminar guru who might not be as happy with life as all his money would make him appear. In the beginning of the book, James encounters two individuals that cause him to rethink how he's living his life. But to sort it all out, he has to go back to the beginning.

Richard Paul Evans has long been a gifted story teller, from his Christmas novellas to his to his The Walk series. He paints powerful, multidimensional characters and places them in a novel where the reader can move through introspection and struggles with them.

Aside from the text, the format of the books are always great. "Quotes" from the characters at the start of each chapter. Textured pages. It's the whole package.

Looking forward to reading books 2 and 3 of this series.

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The Chalk Man - CJ Tudor

The Chalk ManThe Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Chalk Man is told in two story lines: 2016 and 1986. The story revolves around a group of kids who were friends in the 80's and then focuses on one of those friends (Eddie) in the more present day. The book begins with a tragic accident that helps shape one of the key story lines.

The book was pretty interesting. A little too creepy at parts for me. Some of the story lines kept me guessing until they were almost revealed. Others I figured out early. Pretty much everything was revealed by the end.

Everyone in my book club liked it or loved it. For me, it's probably a 2.5. I didn't really like it, but it was better than okay.

Definitely try to read it in larger chunks. I started out reading just a few pages or a chapter at a time as that's what my schedule allowed. And I think that caused me to be a bit confused at time. Once I sat down and read the last half in a long reading block, things clicked better for me.

Head's Up: Abuse, abortion, violence that got a bit descriptive

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Monday, August 5, 2019

All Is Fair - Dee Garretson

All Is FairAll Is Fair by Dee Garretson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Lady Mina Tretheway is wanting to do something more to help the war effort during WWI in England. She gets her wish when she receives a coded telegram summoning her from boarding school to help with a mission.

I liked the character of Mina. She was easy to root for and seemed realistic. There were parts with some of the other characters that got a bit confusing. Also, it seemed like there was a lot of ground laying, and then the book wrapped up quickly. I remember having about 20 pages left, and they weren't close to their end goal yet. And then it was all done.

Still worth the read. A nice, clean YA book. And I haven't read much about WWI. This was certainly light on the "historical" part but still some interesting tidbits.

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Sunday, August 4, 2019

Not If I Save You First - Ally Carter

Not If I Save You FirstNot If I Save You First by Ally Carter
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Maddie's father is a secret service agent and her best friend is the president's son. All seems good until there's a threat and Maddie's father relocates them to Alaska. However, trouble follows eventually.

I enjoyed the character of Maddie. She was equal parts girly and grit. And I really liked the story until towards the end. As it got closer to the end, I'm not sure if I was rushing to read and missed things. If it was because the formatting on the ebook I was reading got wonky. Or if the writing just got sloppy. But there were many things that just didn't make sense as things were supposed to be coming together instead. Without that, this probably would have been a 4 or 4.5 star book for me.

It was also a very clean book for YA, which I always appreciate. There was some violence, but it wasn't gruesome or graphic at all.

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