Friday, September 30, 2016

September Wrap Up

Missing (The Secrets of Crittenden County #1)

I enjoyed listening to this book. It kept me listening and although there is an overlying mystery, there are other active storylines in this history. This book does not tie anything up neatly and you will have to continue on with Book 2 in the near future and I expect Book 3 as well. Also, although Shelley Shepard Gray is a Christian author, the story is not preachy and can be appreciated by non-Christians or those who do not enjoy a story with strong religious overtones.

A solid 3.5.

Small Great Things

I posted a review of Small Great Things here.  I really enjoyed this book and cared about the characters.  The author does a great job on the characterization of each of the characters.  Even though, you don't like what the parents stand for, she still is able to make you understand some of the feelings the parents are going through.  This is probably my favorite of the Jodi Picoult books that I have read.

5 stars.

Multiple Bles8ings: Surviving to Thriving with Twins and Sextuplets

Back when Jon and Kate Plus 8 was on TV, I enjoyed watching the show at first, but after awhile, although I liked seeing what the 8 kids were up to I just felt turned off by the parents. This book is the same way, except I started disliking John and Kate quicker. This book is all about their pregnancy up through the sextuplets 1st birthday. Nothing new, I'd be more interested in how the kids are doing now as pre-teens and the twins as teens. But I'm glad they are getting to live more or less normal lives and not be in the spotlight. There was really nothing that I hadn't read or seen before. I listened to this on audio and it was pretty short, not quite 5 hours.

2 stars

This Is Where It Ends

This book was marked DNF.  I tried to stay with the story and got almost a third through it but I just was not caring about any of the characters. There were many conflicting reviews, but it sounded like it still might be interesting and I wanted to judge for myself. But I just can't go on anymore. I of course won't give it a star rating since I did not complete the book. I do recommend Jodi Picoult's 19 Minutes for a fictional book about a school shooting and the non-fiction book, Colimbine.

Freedom: My Book of Firsts

I actually feel guilty about only giving this 2 stars, but I really only felt it was okay. When I was not reading this book, I did not feel that anxious to return to it and continue, except merely in order to get to my next book. The kidnapping and the years she was imprisoned were horrific and it is remarkable that she was able to survive and endure such a life and , but at the same time, I can not sugar coat my reading experience and say this book is 4 or 5 stars.

2 stars

Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis

2/3 to 3/4 of the book I found very interesting, but the remaining 33% to 25% was kind of boring, I still give the book 4 stars as for the most part I found it interesting all that he was able to overcome. It almost feels like 2 different people wrote this book. I do wish there would have been a couple photos of his family and the area.

4 stars

The News Sorority: Diane Sawyer, Katie Couric, Christiane Amanpour, and the (Ongoing, Imperfect, Complicated) Triumph of Women in TV News

When I started listening to this book, I found it interesting, but it just kind of went downhill after awhile. The narrator was good, but the length of the book was way too long. I feel like it took me forever to listen to this, partly because it was over 17 hours long and it did not call me to keep listening to it. By the time, I decided I wanted to quit the book, I was over half done and thought of all the time I would have wasted if I didn't finish, but now looking back I ended up wasting that much more time. Since I enjoyed hearing some of the backstory of when they were growing up and before they made it to the news, I will give it 1.5 stars. 

Christmas in Eternity Springs

I'm participating in the blog tour for this book.  I will be posting my review on that day along with an excerpt and a link to a coloring page.  Check on October 2nd for the blog post. 

The Underground Railroad

I finally got The Underground Railroad after waiting quite  awhile for this book.  Since this was an Oprah Book Club pick and Usually have not enjoyed the books Oprah chose for her book club, I had doubts on whether to even read this in the first place, but it sounded interesting and had lots of good reviews, so I decided to give it a try  and put it on reserve at several places.  Lately, I've seen quite a few reviews by people who did not enjoy the book and some who just DNF'ed it.  I started reading it yesterday and am not enjoying it for several of the reasons that others did not.  I am debating just DNF'ing it.  I do not care for his writing and have found myself re-reading paragraphs several times, which I rarely have the need to do.  I have a long list of other books that I want to read.  So many books, so little time!

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Books in my Future - The First Half of September

Most of the books I got the 1st part of September were ARCs from NetGalley. 

ARCs (Advanced Reader Copies)

Another Day in the Death of America by Gary Younge

Another Day in the Death of America

This sounds really interesting and relevant about all the gun violence in America and the loss of lives of so many children on one particular day in America. 

You Can't Touch My Hair by Phoebe Robinson

You Can't Touch My Hair: And Other Things I Still Have to Explain

An essay collection about race, gender, and pop culture from celebrated stand-up comedian and WNYC podcaster Phoebe Robinson.  I look forward to reading this it sounds like it could be funny, while also discussing relevant topics.

The Chibok Girls by Helon Habila

The Chibok Girls: The Boko Haram Kidnappings and Islamist Militancy in Nigeria

In April 2014, over 200 Nigerian school girls were kidnapped by Boko Haram.  Helon Habila, an author and journalist born in Nigeria tells the story of the girls and their parents and the background of BokoHaram.  This is a short book of about 128 pages, so I think I will be reading this sooner rather than later.

Substitute: Going to School With a Thousand Kids by Nicholson Baker

Substitute: Going to School With a Thousand Kids

This is about the experiences of the author, who appears to be a best-selling author  of non-fiction, as a substitute teacher in Maine.  After getting approved to read this ARC, I' ve noticed a couple things on Goodreads.  The reviews on this are mixed with more 1 and 2 star ratings and reviews than 4 and 5 star reviews and ratings.  Also it shows the page count as over 700 pages!!Hopefully, this is an error; I can't imagine that a book on this subject is worthy of this length.  Because of this, I don't think I'll be in much of a rush to read this in the immediate future.

The Most Wonderful Time by Fern Michael, Stacy Finz, Sarah Title and Shirlee McCoy

The Most Wonderful Time

Christmas will be here before we know it and Novenber is a perfect time to start your holiday reading.  I wanted to read this mainly for the story by Stacy Finz, which is suppose to launch her new series.  This book comes out near the end of October, so I may be starting my holiday reading early.

Welcome Home for Christmas by Annie Rains

Welcome Home for Christmas (Hero's Welcome, #4)

Another ARC for the holiday season  by my newest favorite author and also the last book in her Hero's Welcome series, which I am very excited to read.

Christmas In Eternity Springs by Emily March

Christmas in Eternity Springs: An Eternity Springs Novel

I've been reading and review Emily March's Eternity Spring series for the past 3 years or so.  Recently, I've been asked to participate in the Christmas in Eternity Springs blog tour.  I'll be participating on Sunday, October 2nd on this blog.  I'll be reading this as soon as I finish my current book.  Guess that means my holiday reading will start real early this year!


This Is Where It Ends by Marieke Njikamp

This Is Where It Ends

I had waited on the reserve list for so long for this book and finally got the book on Kindle from Overdrive.  Well, I had seen so many mixed reviews and wanted to decide for myself.  You'll need to check my September wrap-up to see what I thought.

Hillbilly Effigy by J.D. Vance

Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance

I am currently reading this for #DiverseAThon, which is a read-a-thon to encourage reading diverse books.  I did not think I was going to be able to participate in #DiverseAThon, since I knew I had to read this book before the library loan ended  and I had requested this awhile ago , but the wait list is even longer now than it was when I first got on it.  I did not think this book would be considered diverse, but after watching someone's video discussing what #DiverseAThon is, I decided that since this book talks about a sub-culture of America and the lower socioeconomic class, it could actually be included in this readathon.  I am only 20% into it and it is quite interesting, but you'll have to wait for my September Wrap-Up post to find out what I think of it.  Here is the Goodreads link if you want more info about it.  Maybe it's not the most diverse book I could have read for #Diverse AThon, but one I read a goodvariety of diverse books and this was where I had to read this or lose the oppiortunity to read this book anytime in the near future.


The Key by Jennifer Anne Davis (True Reign #1)

The Key (True Reign, #1)

I was watching a Booktube video by one of my favorite Booktubers at Sarah's Nightstand.  She had just read the entire trilogy and really enjoyed it.  The first book was free as of the other day (it still may be, but I'm not sure).  I've been wanting to try fantasy, since I can't really think of any that I have read (unless you count Miss Perregrine's Home for Peculiar Children) and since she recommended it and the first book was free, I thought why not

Hopefully, I won't get anymore books this month.  I'm getting close on a couple reserves, but I think it will be more like next month.  I suspended a couple holds for a couple weeks, so I think i'll be okay.  My biggest problem, if you really consider it a problem, is requesting and being approved for more ARCs on NetGalley.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Top 10 Favorite Books I Would Read for #Diverseathon, if I Had Not Already Read Them or Had Time to Re-Read Them

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. This feature was created because they are particularly fond of lists at The Broke and the Bookish. They’d love to share their lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your top ten lists!

In no particular order

Small Great Things

The Girl with Seven Names: A North Korean Defector's Story

Finding Zoe: A Deaf Woman's Story of Identity, Love, and Adoption

The Book of Unknown Americans

Red Blood, Yellow Skin: A Young Girl's Survival in War-Torn Vietnam

Mother and the Tiger: A Memoir of the Killing Fields

The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration

Shanghai Girls (Shanghai Girls #1)


Sundown Towns: A Hidden Dimension Of American Racism

Friday, September 9, 2016

Book Review: Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult

Small Great Things

Small Great Things
Jodi Picoult

Random House/Ballantine Books (expected publication date October 11, 2016)
480 pages
5 stars


Ruth, an African-American nurse, has worked at a CT hospital for nearly twenty years as a labor and delivery nurse. So when a young couple, Turk and Brittany, come into the hospital to have their baby, it is business as usual -- until Turk calls in Ruth’s white supervisor after the birth. He says, “I don’t want her or anyone like her to touch my boy,” and pulls up his sleeve to reveal a swastika tattoo: he and his wife are Skinheads. The hospital is used to making patient requests -- they have women who request female OBs, and others who don’t want be cared for by a resident. So a note is placed on the baby’s file and all African-American staff are exempted from caring from that patient -- meaning Ruth, who is the only Black nurse on the ward. The baby is taken to the nursery a day after its birth so circumcision can be done. However, Ruth’s nursing colleague is called away on an emergency C section and Ruth is the only person in the nursery when the baby has cardiac/respiratory failure. After a brief hesitation – she intervenes – and yet, the baby dies. Not long after that, Ruth learns she has been charged with negligent homicide by the state.

Ruth’s attorney is a white woman -Kennedy McQuarrie- who would not consider herself a racist by any means. Like Ruth, she has a child. But unlike Ruth, her family has never had to think about race on a daily basis. In spite of the evidence and the request of a Skinhead barring Ruth from doing her job, Kennedy knows she won’t talk about race in court, because she’d run the risk of polarizing the jury or the judge and losing the case. But to Ruth, that’s not justice.

As the two women form an alliance, and then an unlikely friendship, Kennedy begins to see that racism isn’t just about intent, but power. That even if Skinheads like Turk did not exist, Ruth would still be fighting an uphill battle. And she begins to seek a way to make a predominantly white jury see that they are responsible for the house they did not build…but in which they live.

My view of the book:

This is a fantastic novel and one of the best books that I read this year. Jodi Picoult's books always delve into controversial and relevant topics and in Small Great Things, the topics of racism, prejudice, white supremacy and white privilege among others are discussed. In my opinion, the ending was too neatly tied up, but I still find this an excellent book and I highly recommend it.

I received an Advanced Reader Copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to NetGalley, Random House/Ballantine, and Jodi Picoult.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

August Wrap Up

The month of August is ARC August and Octavia and Shelly at Read Sleep and Repeat are hosting #ARCAugust to catch up on reading our ARCS.  Unfortunately sign-ups ended on July 31st and I did not hear about it until August 1st, but although I am not formally signed up to participate, I'm still trying to read mainly ARCs this month.  I am reading/have read 4 ARCS this month. 

Welcoming the Bad Boy by Annie Rains

I really enjoyed this book.  I've read and enjoyed all 3 books in this series, but this one is my favorite.  Great storyline, likeable characters, a real pleasure to read. I look forward to the next book in the series.

The one and only thing, I did not care for was our hero", Griffin was adopted as a baby and his mother never told him. When he found out about being adopted, which he did not find out until he was out of high school, he hightailed it out of town and joined the Marines. Now he is trying to make amends to his mother, who now has Alzheimer's, but he thinks of her as not his "real" mother. Being that I am an adoptive mother, I find referring to her as "not his real mother" is incorrect; she may not be his "biological mother", but as she has loved him and raised him since he was an infant, she is definitely a "real" mother, more so than the biological mother, who I believe abandoned him. Most people would probably not even have noticed the language used, but an adopted person or parent of an adopted child may find exception with the terms used.

Other than the "real mother" references, I loved this book and would give it 4.75 stars on Goodreads.

(I received this book through NetGalley from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

The Bridge to Brilliance: How One Principal in a Tough Community Is Inspiring the World

I received an ARC of The Bridge to Brilliance by Nadia Lopez from the publisher and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Very much enjoyed it. She is a principal at a middle school in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn, who opens a school and makes a huge difference in her "scholars" (students) lives and the community at large. It is an inspiration to read how one person's vision, along with the help of teachers and staff helped to make students who the public mostly expected to fail, ended up exceeding: getting their grades and test scores up, graduating not only middle school, but to go onto and finish high school and in many circumstances continue onto college.

3.5 to 4 stars

(I received this book through NetGalley from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)


I listened to this book on audio and it's narrated by Drew Barrymore herself. For the most part I liked this book; the stories that she includes in the book are not in chronological order though, which is somewhat confusing as to what happened when in her life. This book though is not highly memorable, but Drew does seem to have grown up and become responsible now that she is a mother to 2 young daughters, Olive and Frankie.

2.75 - 3.0 stars

A Dog's Gift: The Inspirational Story of Veterans and Children Healed by Man's Best Friend

I listened to this as an audiobook. This was not as good as I hoped, and some of it was not the most interesting. I wish there would have been more stories about the dogs and the people they were placed with. I did find it interesting how the dogs were trained by prisoners in a couple prisons, I believe in West Virginia and later how the dogs more or less picked the people they were to be match with. Some of the stories also just were not necessary to this book. For these reasons I feel this book should actually be 2.5 stars.

Still Lolo: A Spinning Propeller, a Horrific Accident, and a Family's Journey of Hope

Another book that I listened to on audio. I enjoyed this book and after reading some of the Goodread reviews I wasn't sure I would. It may not be the best book of the year, but it was an interesting and inspirational read (listen) about a young woman, who had a horrific accident but was able to persevere over the odds with her and her family's very strong faith in God.

3.5 stars.

Heating Up (Nugget, #7)

I really love this series. Most of these books just keep getting better and better. This one centered on two fairly new characters. Aidan, a fire fighter and fire investigator who sister, Sloane was in the last book and Dana, a real estate agent who was mentioned briefly in the last one or two books and you learn more of her back story.. I really enjoyed this story, there are a slew of fires that have been set in the small town of Nugget and there is a mystery behind who-dun-it. If you enjoyed Robyn Carr's Virgin River series, you will probably enjoy the Nugget series by Stacy Finz.

I received this an ARC through NetGalley from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

4.5 stars

(I received this book through NetGalley from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

Never Fall Down

This is an incredibly difficult book to rate and review. It is based on a true story of Arn Chorn-Pond who was still technically a child when the Khmer Rouge came to power in Cambodia and through miraculous odds survived the Cambodian genocide. He saw and did things in order to survive that no person, much less child should ever have to see or do. This book is labeled as young adult literature and with the subject matter and descriptions found in this book, I think that it is suited for older high school students. I am glad that I listened this rather than reading it, since the way it is written using phrases and incorrect grammar as if the story was being told by Arn himself, before he had a full grasp of the English language. Although I recommend this book, a better book was one I read a few years, Mother and the Tiger: A Memoir of the Killing Fields by Dana Hui Lim.

3 stars

Shades of Blue

This was my first book that I've read (listened to) by Karen Kingsbury; I have read quite a few other Christian fiction novels, though. The basic underlying story in Shades of Blue is good, but it is very preachy and took away from my enjoyment of the story.

2.5 stars

The Best of Me

I think this is the first Nicholas Spark book I read (listened to), although I know I saw the movie, The Notebook and possibly A Walk to Remember.  I loved this book.  The ending wasn't quite what I expected, but it was still pretty good.

4.75 stars.

I am currently reading the ARC of Jodi Picoult's newest book, Small Great Things, which is to be released in October.  I know that I won't be able to finish this before the end of August.  I also have 2 library books on my Kindle to read, This Is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp and Freedom: My Book of Firsts by Jaycee Dugard.  I've heard both good and bad about This Is Where It Ends, so I'm not sure what to expect.  This is the second book by Jaycee Dugard .  I read A Stolen Life over 4 years ago; can't believe it has been this long..  Also, have a few audiobooks from the library, An Invisible Thread by Laura Schroff and Missing by Shelley Shephard Gray.  I'll review these in September.  What else I'll read or listen to I'm not sure yet.  We'll see what I'm in the mood for.  What did you read in August?  Do you have any specific books for September?