Monday Musings

Hello dear book friends and blog readers!

Putting together these blog posts takes time; more time then you would think. I am a busy homeschooling, hard-working momma with kids in a lot of activities. Time has a way of passing by quickly when you’re in the trenches of motherhood.

When I started this blog, I thought I would be able to create a whole community of readers that use my reviews as a source for new books to add to their bookshelves.
Then, I realized that blogs are somewhat a thing of the past. Not many people read blogs regularly anymore and they may soon become as relevant as MySpace.

As I worked on growing my blog, I started an Instagram account and I discovered there is a ginormous, amazing, fantabulous community of bibliophiles there. I have had a lot more interaction and built many new relationships in the Bookstagram community. Despite it’s member size, it is as tight-knit a community as you can get on social media.

With all that, I am going to be moving my book reviews to Instagram. They will still have the same characteristics and I will still be giving a quality review of each book. However, it is easier and quicker to write up a review and post it on Instagram then it is to go through the blog writing process and getting a post ready to go. I will still have the reviews post to Facebook as well so you can find them either way.

I will give it a trial time to see how it goes, but I have high hopes that my reviews will do well there. When I post, I always use hashtags for the book, the author and the publisher so it will be searchable on Instagram. Or, you can just be sure to go on over and follow me on Instagram. 🙂 If you want to use Facebook to follow my reviews, you will need to mark my page so that it shows up in your newsfeed first so you don’t miss any of my posts.

Links to find me and my book reviews.
I hope to see y’all over there! 🙂

Instagram~ reviewsandmusings

Facebook page~ Reviews and Musings

GoodReads~ Missy Reviews

Email~ reviewsandmusings@hotmail.com

 

Lone Wolf

Lone Wolf
By Jodi Picoult
Published: 2012, Emily Bestler Books
Genre: Literature, Fiction, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense

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Cara
Seconds before our truck slams into a tree, I remember the first time I tried to save a life.
I was thirteen, and I’d just moved back in with my father. Or, more accurately, my clothes were once again hanging in my former bedroom, but I was living out of a backpack in a trailer on the north end of Redmond’s Trading Post & Dinosaur World.

Jodi Picoult is one of my favorite authors. I have read almost every single one of her books. I love how she takes the hard stuff of life and meets them head on within the pages of a novel that represents some real life struggles. So when I saw this one on the shelves of Half Price Books, I realized that I hadn’t read it yet and knew that I needed it.

I felt that this one had quite a different feeling then her usual books. I liked the main story line, but the secondary story line was odd and I did not particularly care for it. This was not what I thought of as being one of her better books, but it could just be my own personal tastes.

The main story line is about the hard topic of letting your loved on stay on life support or deciding to end their life. It is entwined around the story of a broken family and how each of the mans’ children believes that their decision is the right one. The author delves into family relationships, a patient’s wishes, and what is defined as the value of a person’s life. It was a wonderful story that makes you think about your own family and their future decisions and plans in case of unexpected circumstances.

I ended up skimming the secondary story line and flipping past their pages and enjoyed the main story line. I do not know if it detracted from the story or not, but I still somewhat enjoyed the book; although it is most definitely not my favorite novel of hers to have read.

I used to believe everything my brother told me, because he was older and I figured he knew more about the world. But as it turns out, being a grown-up doesn’t mean you’re fearless.
It just means you fear different things.

Lone Wolf

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A Spool of Blue Thread

A Spool of Blue Thread: A Novel
By Anne Taylor
Published: 2016, Ballantine Books
Genre: Literature, Family Life

 

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Late one July evening in 1994, Red and Abby Whitshank had a phone call from their son Denny. They were getting ready for bed at the time.

I grabbed this book from Half Price Books because the cover intrigued me and the price was right. I had high hopes for it because it was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and it was a Pulitzer Prize winner.

I thought this novel was very soap opera like. To me, it felt like the characters and the story had no depth, that it was very much just a surface skimming novel. As I continued through the pages, I kept waiting and hoping for the author to dig in just a bit more and flesh out the characters, but alas, it never occurred. I felt that the pages were full of fluff and not enough meat.

It was certainly not all bad. It had its good moments. If you’re looking for a very easy, beachy, soap opera type of book, then this is certainly it. I was looking for a Pulitzer Prize winning book and I felt that it did not live up to that.  The ending did not leave me satisfied either.

Perhaps someone else out there has read this novel and has a different perspective? Please share in the comments if you do.

…… When he reached Linnie’s side he took hold of her hand, and the four of them climbed the steps. They crossed the porch. He unlocked the door. They walked into the house. Their lives began.

A Spool of Blue Thread: A Novel

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salt to the sea

Salt to the Sea
By Ruta Sepetys
Published: 2017, Penguin Books
Genre: Historical Fiction, Literature, YA Fiction

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Joanna
Guilt is a hunter.
My conscience mocked me, picking fights like a petulant child.
It’s all your fault, the voice whispered.

The book begins with Joanna, but it twists and turns through the lives of three additonal individuals and how each of their journeys intersect with the others. This story takes place surrounding the greatest tragedy in maritime history. Each of the main characters is on a journey through World War II; a journey that will lead them to promises of safety and freedom aboard the Wilhelm Gustloff.

Before I read this novel, I had no knowledge of the Wilhelm Gustloff. This made me a little bit sad and a tiny bit angry that the greatest tragedy in maritime history is not widely known in our history books. Something that was this devastating should be remembered and known.

I loved how Ruta Sepetys was able to tell each person’s story from their perspective while still weaving the history and tragedy of the war. There are some hard things within the pages, but my opinion is that if we don’t know about the struggles, tragedy, mistakes and “yuckiness” of the past, then how are we to learn from it? If you have a teen who is sensitive to such things, I would recommend that they do not read this book. If they are not sensitive, then every teen should read this book; it is written from a realistic point of view and does not gloss over the tough stuff that happened because of the war. it gives you a new perspective on the war.

The author did a fantastic job of tying all of the characters together as their paths finally crossed. I loved how they weaved in and out of each others lives, adding a piece to each journey. I also liked that there was closure on each of their stories; I was not left wondering what their fate was after the story was over. I thought this a wonderful piece of historical fiction.

I turned the lid and lifted the rose petal jam to my nose, savoring the scent. I raised my face to the sun. My war had been so long, my winters so cold. But I had finally made it home. And for the first time in a long time, I was not afraid.

Salt to the Sea

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the mother’s promise

The Mother’s Promise: A Novel
By Sally Hepworth
Published: 2018, St. Martin’s Press
Genre: Literature, Fiction, Family Life, Mental Health

When the doctor gave Alice Stanhope the news, she was thinking about Zoe. Was she all right? Was today a bad day? What was she doing? In fact, Alice was so swept up in thoughts of Zoe that when the doctor cleared his throat she startled.

Imagine you are a relatively young mom, with a teenager daughter who has severe social anxiety, no husband, a difficult past. Your daughter has been your whole life; because of her anxiety, you have not had an opportunity to make connections with other adults, you are alone in the world, besides your daughter.

Imagine that you are a teenage girl, suffering from severe anxiety for most of your life. Because of your anxiety, the only friend you really have in the world is you mom; the only one who understands you completely, the only one who accepts you despite how your anxiety affects her life, the only one you could ever rely on and count on. Now imagine that one person, your whole world, has been diagnosed with cancer.

They have been a family of two for a very long time. They have only ever had each other to rely on. Now they face the possibility of losing each other. Now, they have to open themselves up to help, to relationships with other people, in order to survive this crisis.

I cannot say enough good things about this book. Sally Hepworth beautifully writes about the intricacies of a mother/daughter relationship. She has a fantastic way of capturing the positive and negative aspects of understanding and coping with anxiety from both the daughter’s viewpoint as well as the mother’s perspective.

The author was able to include and develop so many facets of life into one book. Mothers and daughters, being a single mother, dealing with social anxiety, cancer, finding your place in the world, life and death. It was a wonderfully, bittersweet story that I enjoyed reading. I definitely recommend it.

The truth is, I’ll never be normal. I’ll never be able to stand in front of a group and ad-lib a speech. I’ll probably never walk down the street without worrying if people are looking at me, I probably won’t be able to talk to a boy without sweating and shaking. But I’ll try to do these things anyway. So I won’t be by myself anymore. So I’ll be out in the world . . . with you.

The Mother’s Promise: A Novel

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Stone Fox

Stone Fox
By John Reynolds Gardiner
Illustrated by Greg Hargreaves
Published: 1980, Harper Collins
Genre: Children’s Literature

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One day Grandfather wouldn’t get out of bed. He just lay there and stared at he ceiling and looked sad.

Little Willy’s grandfather is ill which leaves 10 year old Willy and his dog, Searchlight, in charge of the farm. When the tax collector stops by and informs Willy that he needs to pay $500 in back taxes or they will lose the farm, he enters the local dogsled race. He needs to win the $500 cash prize to save the farm for his grandfather, but first he must beat Stone Fox, the local Native American who has never lost a race.
It is based on a Rocky Mountain Legend, told through the generations.

This was a read-aloud I did with my 8 year old son; he happens to be my only child who doesn’t particularly enjoy reading. Because of that, I try to find short books to read to him that have enough action to keep him engaged. Stone Fox seemed to fit the bill.

When we made it to the end of the book, his first response was “That was short! There’s no more to read?” So I consider it a win, since he was hoping there was more chapters to read. The book was engaging and told the story quickly and precisely enough to keep him enthralled.
You may want to peruse it yourself first; there are some sensitive topics in the book that may affect some children.

It kept my active, can’t-sit-still 8 year old wanting to read the next pages so we definitely recommend it to everyone.

Stone Fox

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The Nightingale

The Nightingale
By Kritsin Hannah
Published: 2017, St. Martin’s Griffin
Genre: Historical Fiction, Literature

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If I have learned anything in this long life of mine, it is this: In love we find out who we want to be; in war we find out who we are. Today’s young people want to know everything about everyone. They think talking about a problem will solve it. I come from a quieter generation. We understand the value of forgetting, the lure of reinvention.

I have read Kristin Hannah’s book, firefly lane, and I absolutely loved it. So I was excited to see this recent book of hers getting a lot of accolades. I really love historical fiction so I knew that I needed to read it.

I cannot even begin to imagine what life was like during the war in places like France; right there on the front lines . Hatred, heartache, death, loss, starvation; just trying to find the strength within to survive and keep your loved ones safe. It’s devastating to read about those times but also quite eye-opening about what our world and the people within it are capable of.

Kristin Hannah takes us through the story of the women of the war; the brave and courageous “soldiers” who are often not talked about nor recognized. The women were, in their own way, the backbone of the war. They were not on the front lines; they were left behind, with the enemy in their homes, taking whatever they wanted and leaving behind brokenness. But these women were certainly fighting in ways we would never have imagined they capable of.

In The Nightingale, we follow the stories of two sisters; one leaves and ends up on the “battlefield” and one fights the battles from within her own home. They each save and change many lives of those that had no hope. As we work our way through their stories, each sister discovers what they are capable in times of tragedy; they change, they grow, they mature and they find out what they are truly made of.

Kristin Hannah has a way with words that takes you right into the heart of these women. She is able to place your thoughts as if you are standing right next to each of these sisters; fighting, loving and surviving. She weaves a beautiful story of both present time and of historical times; we do not know the identity of survivor at the beginning of the story until almost the very end.

This novel is a phenomenal piece of work. I cannot say enough good things about it. I wish I could tell you more about this epic novel, but I want you to read it and experience it on your own.
I highly, highly recommend it to everyone. It will leave you with a bigger understanding of the war as well as the unnoticed women who fought with the enemy sitting right beside them.

She was crying for all of it at last—for the pain and the loss and fear and anger, for the war and what it had done to her and to all of them, for the knowledge of evil she could never shake, for the horror of where she’d been and what she’d done to survive.

The Nightingale

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Little Fires Everywhere

.Little Fires Everywhere
By Celeste Ng
Published: 2017, Penguin Press
Genre: Literature, Fiction, Family Life

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Everyone in Shaker Heights was talking about it that summer: how Isabelle, the last of the Richardson children, had finally gone around the bend and burned the house down.

There has been a lot of talk about this recent release from Celeste Ng in the book community so I have been wanting to read it for quite some time. It finally came up to the top of the TBR stack.

The book, as you can see from the quote above, starts quite dramatically. The author commences with the ending and then works back through the novel illustrating how the characters got to this emotional finish.

As we work our way through the novel, we find out how Mia and Pearl’s history influences the Richardson family as well as their family friends, the McColloughs. Mia’s choices in the past have an impact on how she parents Pearl, how she interacts with the Richardson family and how she reacts to the situation with the McCollough family; which then creates circumstances that may have never occurred if Mia and Pearl had not just shown up one day.

The Shaker Heights neighborhood somewhat reminded me of The Stepford Wives; everything appeared perfect and neat with zero issues but behind closed doors was another story. With the addition of Mia and Pearl into this community, they start to realize that life is not as they always thought it was.

Some readers enjoy an ending in a book that is somewhat open; an ending that allows you to draw your own conclusions. I am not one of those people. I did not enjoy the ending. I need a book to tie up all the loose ends and to know what the finished product is. This book left me wanting more.

Overall, it was a great book and I enjoyed the story line; it was a well written novel. I would recommend it to those that don’t mind an ending that leaves you questioning.

Little Fires Everywhere

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