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

 

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

*Post contains affiliate links. Purchasing from these links helps to stock my library shelf*

The Westing Game

The Westing Game
By Ellen Raskin 
Published: 2004, Dutton Children’s Books
Genre: Children’s Literature, Mystery

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The sun sets in the west (just about everyone knows that), but Sunset Towers faced east. Strange!
Sunset Towers faced east and had no towers. This glittery, glassy apartment house stood alone on the Lake Michigan shower, five stories high. Five empty stories high.
Then one day (it happened to e the Fourth of July), a most uncommon-looking delivery boy rode around town slipping letters under the doors of the chosen tenants-to-be. The letters were signed Barney Northrup.

And so the mystery begins……

I will be teaching a literature class next fall at my homeschool co-op for 6th-8th graders and I was in search of some “unknown” books to present; this book came as a recommendation to me by a couple of people, so I thought I would give it a read and see what I thought.

I was a little leery at first about a book that revolved around a murder mystery but I was pleasantly surprised with the plot. Ellen Raskin did a great job and kept everything in the book quite clean. Some of the mystery was predictable to me, as an adult, however I did think that the author kept us guessing in a few ways and did a fabulous job of dropping clues through the pages.

I enjoyed how the author wrote from each suspects perspective throughout the book so that we could delve into each of the characters and make our own conclusions. I loved the word puzzles and “games” throughout the book as well. I felt that she also did a great job of tying up all of the loose ends in the final chapters so that you weren’t left guessing or wondering about the characters or the story.

It was a fun mystery novel to read. I definitely recommend it and I have decided to use it in my literature class next year.

I gave it to my 14 year old son to read and see what he thought and he enjoyed the book as well. He said he would certainly recommend it to people and that I should use it for my class next year.

The Westing Game

*Post contains affiliate links. Purchasing from these links helps to stock my library shelf*

Turtles All The Way Down

Turtles All the Way Down
By John Green
Published: 2017, Dutton Books
Genre: YA Fiction, Social & Family Issues, Mental Health

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Man can do what he wills, but he cannot will what he wills
~Arthur Schopenhauer~

There has been a lot of chatter about this latest book from John Green all over the book world. Seeing that the subject matter was mental health, a subject that is surrounded by shame and stigma, I knew that I needed to get my hands on it and read it.

Throughout the book, we get to experience Aza’s life as she learns to live with anxiety. The author gives us a bird’s eye view on how it affects everything in her life; family relationships, friendships, romantic interests, school, physical health and even her grief.

The fear had mostly sweated out of me, but as I walked from the cafeteria to history class, I couldn’t stop myself from taking out my phone and rereading the horror story that is the “Human Microbiota” Wikipedia article.

Everyone experiences moments of fear and feelings of being anxious. Not everyone can turn off those moments and feelings. John Green describes the experiences of those that cannot turn off those moments and how it affects every single minute of your life.

Everyone in the entire world needs to read this eye-opening book.
John Green does a phenomenal job of giving an inside look into the mind of someone who struggles daily with mental health. He does it beautifully with compassion, understanding, and grace. As someone who struggles with mental health issues (anxiety and depression), it was refreshing to see a book written from MY perspective. Many people often do not understand the struggles and what truly goes on within the mind of someone who fights mental health illness every single day. John Green finally gives us that viewpoint; and he does it in a way that anyone can understand, from teenagers to 90 year old grandparents.

As I washed and rebandaged it in the bathroom, I started at myself. I would always be like this, always have this within me. There was no beating it. I would never slay the dragon, because the dragon was also me. My self and the disease were knotted together for life.

I will be doing a giveaway for my copy of the book on my Instagram account. Be sure to follow me HERE, for your chance to win my “signed copy” of Turtles All The Way Down by John Green.

Turtles All the Way Down

*Post contains affiliate links. Purchasing from these links helps to stock my library shelf*

 

the strange and beautiful sorrows of ava lavender

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender
By Leslye Walton

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This book was so fantastic and so phenomenal that I had to read it twice.
Ava Lavender was the book club pick for this month. The first time I read it, I had it done in just 2 days.
I thought I should read it a second time before our monthly meeting to make sure I did not miss anything since I devoured it the first time. I took a little bit longer to read it the second round so I could grasp more of the details; 4 days.

To many, I was a myth incarnate, the embodiment of a most superb legend, a fairy tale. Some considered me a monster, a mutation. To my great misfortune, I was once mistaken for an angel. To my mother, I was everything. To my father, nothing at all. To my grandmother, I was a daily reminder of loves long lost. But I knew the truth–deep down, I always did.
I was just a girl.

Myth incarnate……but just a girl.

The book follows 3 generations of women through life; we walk with each of them through their journey with love, loss, tragedy, understanding and redemption. It is unique, however, in the fact that the story is told from the narrative of Ava Lavender, the 3rd generation in this line of women.

I loved the background story the author gives us so we can understand what makes Ava who she is and how the women before her fit into her story. Emmilienne seeks to forgive, Viviane seeks love and Ava seeks normalcy and acceptance.

Lesyle Walton, in her debut novel, weaves just enough realism within the story that there are moments that you have to check in with your mind to remember that it is magical realism and pure fantasy. She makes it easy to get so wrapped up inside the pages and the characters that you tune out the world around you and forget that it is just the result of a brilliant imagination and extraordinary writing.

The writing, the words, the language, the flow of the story of Ava Lavender is quite captivating. It is poetic, it is whimsical and it is exceptionally enchanting to read.

Just a girl……normal…..accepted…….is that not what we all want, wings or not?

*************

There is some adult content. While it is a YA book, I recommend this for older teens and for you to pre-read it to gauge what fits into your family’s level of acceptable literature.

This next section is where I usually add to my review after my book club meets and include some thoughts and opinions of the other ladies, but I do not want to ruin the magic of this book for you by giving away spoilers. 

The majority of the ladies enjoyed the book, although magical realism is quite different from what we typically read.

I highly recommend this book and it is definitely one I could see myself reading multiple more times.

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The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender

*Post contains affiliate links. Purchasing from these links helps to stock my library shelf*

The Wish Granter

The Wish Granter (Ravenspire)
By C.J. Redwine

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Once upon a time…

Humans were pathetically predictable. Always longing for more. Always desperate to get their way. Shamelessly grasping for what remained out of reach, even when it cost them dearly.
He despised them.

Does that just not grip you right from the beginning?!?

This tale is not your usual Cinderella-happily-ever-after fairy tale. This story holds more true to The Original Folk and Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm.

C.J. Redwine does a fantastic job of weaving bits and pieces of the authentic story of Rumpelstiltskin while giving it a fresh twist to create a compelling and unique modern fairy tale. While this novel is geared towards young adults, those of us who are “old” adults that enjoy fantasy fiction and fairy tales can lose ourselves in this quirky fable as well.

The Wish Granter is filled with magic, adventure, mystery, murder, revenge, hatred, innocence, greed, family strife and even contains a minor love story. However, C.J. Redwine does it in a way that I feel comfortable with having my 13 year old son read it. There are a couple of scenes that may be a little more graphic for some of your teens. Be cautious of their sensitivity level and stay true to your own family values. My son has been reading fantasy, sci-fi and mythology books for quite some time and I am not concerned about his ability to handle the content.

The author does a marvelous job of giving depth to each of the characters as she weaves you in and out of their lives. I loved that she gives each of the main characters their own voice by telling part of the story from their perspective.
The heroine in the book, Ari, is written as a more “real” kind of princess. She doesn’t treat the staff as if they are beneath her, she loves to still go into the kitchen and cook, and also is a little more plump then your average princess. I think Ari is a character that many teens, especially girls, will be able to relate to and it gives the fairy tale authenticity.

I thoroughly enjoyed The Wish Granter and recommend it to anyone who is looking for a stellar fantasy novel to indulge in. I look forward to her next installment of the series.

The Shadow Queen (Ravenspire) is the predecessor to The Wish Granter.
It is a novel that also gives a unique twist to a well-loved fairy tale.
You do not need to read the books in order and one does not rely upon the other for their stories.

 

“I have survived betrayal, exile, and the miserable pretense of obeying human law, and you can be sure I will survive you.”

The Wish Granter (Ravenspire)

*post contains affiliate links. Purchasing from these links helps to stock my library shelf*