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What Are You Reading? > Reviews: August 2018 - Book Lover's Day

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message 1: by Book Concierge (new)

Book Concierge (tessabookconcierge) | 2449 comments Mod

Read any good books lately that fit our monthly theme? Here's the place to share your opinions / reactions / recommendations.

This month's theme was suggested by Dyln -
Book Lover's Day: Read a book that has been on your TBR for at least 6 months.

Be sure to tell us WHEN you first added the book to your TBR.

Happy reading!

message 2: by Book Concierge (new)

Book Concierge (tessabookconcierge) | 2449 comments Mod
I don't keep my tbr on Goodreads, so it's not always easy to tell exactly when I added it... This one is on the oldest excel spreadsheet, so pre-dates 2011.

Someone Knows My Name by Lawrence Hill
Someone Knows My Name – Lawrence Hill – 5*****
Originally published in Canada as The Book of Negroes , Hill’s novel tells the story of Aminata Diallo from 1745 to 1802. What marvelous story telling! I was engaged and interested from beginning to end. It’s a thought-provoking, informative and inspiring tale.
LINK to my review

message 3: by Book Concierge (new)

Book Concierge (tessabookconcierge) | 2449 comments Mod
The Fiery Cross (Outlander, #5) by Diana Gabaldon
The Fiery Cross – Diana Gabaldon – 3***
Book number five in the popular Outlander series continues the saga of Claire Randall and Jamie Fraser. There’s plenty of drama and intrigue in these tales … personal and political. It’s a ripping good yarn that moves at a quick pace and held my interest throughout.
LINK to my review

message 4: by SouthWestZippy (new)

SouthWestZippy | 127 comments Put on TBR, February 12, 2016 – Shelved
Beyond the Killing Tree A Journey of Discovery by Stephen Reynolds
2 stars
Stephen Reynolds was a game warden in the Gila Wilderness of New Mexico and the Kenai Fjords, Brooks Rande and Yukon Delta of Alaska. Here is a quote from the cover of the book that explains the premise of this Nonfiction book. "His is the heritage of a boy raised as a hunter, drawn to the excitement of the kill, but whose experiences transform him into an outspoken protector." Stephen Reynolds is not an over the top get in your face conservationist but does try to get his point across on why we need to start to care about the earth.

message 5: by Lynn (new)

Lynn I have had this book collecting virtual dust on my Kindle for over 4 years now!! Yikes. It was way past time to read it.

ORGANIZE! The Secrets to a Spotless Life by Ben Night

ORGANIZE! The Secrets to a Spotless Life by Ben Night - 2**

I was looking for a step-by-step organizational manual and this really wasn't it. It was instructional without the actual instructions part. The author told us why we should fix up our houses but not how to do so - not in depth anyway. I can see why the book doesn't have a lot of high marks here on Goodreads. I was disappointed. But it was free so I really can't complain. Too much.

message 6: by Donna (new)

Donna | 340 comments I decided during July to read a stack of books that have gathered on my library table (my TBR shelf) --- a wonderful coincidence when August's theme was chosen.

Ella Minnow Pea A Novel in Letters by Mark Dunn Ella Minnow Pea is the first book from this stack that I have read in August. Written by Mark Dunn, the Goodreads Summary for the book is as follows:

Ella Minnow Pea is a girl living happily on the fictional island of Nollop off the coast of South Carolina. Nollop was named after Nevin Nollop, author of the immortal pangram,* "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog." Now Ella finds herself acting to save her friends, family, and fellow citizens from the encroaching totalitarianism of the island's Council, which has banned the use of certain letters of the alphabet as they fall from a memorial statue of Nevin Nollop. As the letters progressively drop from the statue they also disappear from the novel. The result is both a hilarious and moving story of one girl's fight for freedom of expression, as well as a linguistic tour de force sure to delight word lovers everywhere.

The book was not as great as I expected, but I did like it. The title is a play on the letters of the alphabet "L-M-N-O-P". I give it 3 stars.

message 7: by Lynn (new)

Lynn I know this book has been on my TBR shelf collecting dust for at least 2 years, but in reality, it's probably been there even longer than that! lol

Cry of My Heart (Montana Skies, #1) by Linda Ford
Cry of My Heart by Linda Ford - 4****

This is a Christian romance novel so while yes, it had some manner of religious preaching, it was not the typical knock-you-over-the-head-with-the-Bible stuff that appears in some of these books. It was actually a really good story about a man and a woman who had to overcome their own insecurities and fears to be able to commit to a life together. I thought the writing was really good - maybe a tad simplistic, but yet effective, and also enjoyable. I am definitely not opposed to reading this author again.

message 8: by Donna (new)

Donna | 340 comments Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin by Ann M. Martin

I've had this book on my TBR shelf for a long time, and enjoyed reading it. The following review is from Amazon:

This New York Times Best Seller, is about Rose Howard. Rose Howard is obsessed with homonyms. She's thrilled that her own name is a homonym, and she purposely gave her dog Rain a name with two homonyms (Reign, Rein), which, according to Rose's rules of homonyms, is very special. Not everyone understands Rose's obsessions, her rules, and the other things that make her different – not her teachers, not other kids, and not her single father.

When a storm hits their rural town, rivers overflow, the roads are flooded, and Rain goes missing. Rose's father shouldn't have let Rain out. Now Rose has to find her dog, even if it means leaving her routines and safe places to search.

Hearts will break and spirits will soar for this powerful story, brilliantly told from Rose's point of view.

message 9: by Jaret (new)

Jaret | 210 comments Plain Paradise by Beth Wiseman by Beth Wiseman
3 stars
on my TBR for about 8 years
from my library's catalog: Josephine will discover more than she bargained for as her world collides with the Plain people of Lancaster County. Josephine Dronberger was a scared teenager when she left her baby in the care of an Old Order Amish couple. But seventeen years have passed and Josie longs to reconnect with her daughter. Linda -- as the couple named the child -- is promised to Stephen Ebersol, the bishop's grandson. They plan to marry in the fall. When her birth mother comes to Paradise, Linda is drawn to a world she's never known. Will the direction she's been heading since birth be suddenly derailed, and who will stand by her convictions -- mother or daughter?

my thoughts: I enjoyed this story about faith and family. It was sweet, touching, and at moments heartbreaking. It was an interesting look at two very different ways of life through the connection of an adopted daughter. A lot of different family dynamics are covered in one well-woven storyline.

message 10: by Book Concierge (new)

Book Concierge (tessabookconcierge) | 2449 comments Mod
On my TBR since it was first released in 2009 ...

Island Beneath the Sea by Isabel Allende
Island Beneath the Sea – Isabel Allende – 4****
In a bit of a departure from her usual emphasis on Hispano-American history, Allende gives us a story of an 18th-century slave in French-occupied Saint-Domingue (later to become Haiti). We follow Zarité from her childhood through age forty, Saint-Domingue to Cuba and on to New Orleans. Allende is more than up to the task of relating the historical events that frame this family drama. I loved Zarité. She’s intelligent, resourceful, courageous, and wily. Violette is also a richly drawn character – willful, intelligent, confident, loyal and loving. None of the men in her life are a match for her.
LINK to my review

message 11: by Jaret (last edited Aug 11, 2018 05:16PM) (new)

Jaret | 210 comments Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo by Kate DiCamillo
5 stars
on my TBR since 2015

from my library's catalog: Ten-year-old India Opal Buloni describes her first summer in the town of Naomi, Florida, and all the good things that happen to her because of her big ugly dog Winn-Dixie.

my thoughts: This is a wonderful middle grades/young adult story about growing up. A girl has to deal with a variety of issues with the help of her faithful dog. The reader is taken on a wonderful journey through the eyes of a 10 year old. Have 3 copies on my classroom shelf, but they never stay there long. Cherry Jones is an excellent narrator who made the story come alive.

message 12: by Book Concierge (new)

Book Concierge (tessabookconcierge) | 2449 comments Mod
Jaret wrote: "Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo by Kate DiCamillo
5 stars
on my TBR since 2015

I love this book (and basically everything DiCamillo writes).

message 13: by Book Concierge (new)

Book Concierge (tessabookconcierge) | 2449 comments Mod
Added this one when it was released in 2007...

Michael Tolliver Lives (Tales of the City, #7) by Armistead Maupin
Michael Tolliver Lives – Armistead Maupin – 3***
Eighteen years after “finishing” his Tales of the City Series in 1989, Maupin returned to the beloved characters and gave readers a 7th installment. Michael has a landscaping business and a new husband. He’s dealing with what many middle-aged people face – the decline of our elderly parents. I really like the way these characters support and love one another. However, readers who are offended by gay sex scenes should beware. I’m not usually shocked, but a couple of scenes made me uncomfortable.
LINK to my review

message 14: by Jaret (new)

Jaret | 210 comments Book Concierge wrote: "Jaret wrote: "Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo by Kate DiCamillo
5 stars
on my TBR since 2015

I love this book (and basically everything DiCamillo writes)."

Me, too.

message 15: by Donna (last edited Aug 15, 2018 04:42AM) (new)

Donna | 340 comments The Camel Club by David Baldacci has been on my TBR shelf for a long time. I tend to prefer books that are not as long as this one. It was a great book, however, full of political maneuvering, world events, and adventure.

message 16: by Lynn (new)

Lynn Added this one to my Kindle in June 2017, I believe...

Habit Development Habit Forming Guide Get Into Your Mind and Form the Habits That Will Improve Your Life, Break Bad Habits and Replace Them With Good Once! (Self Improvements Book 1) by Josh David


I feel I'm being very generous giving this book 2 stars. Not only was it *mostly* lacking in any new, helpful information (ie. stuff I didn't already know!), the editing was very, very poor. In fact, I am willing to believe it was a first draft. The grammar and spelling were bad and the formatting was worse. I don't recommend this. The only reason I did give it 2 stars?! I feel the writer was actually sincere in wanting to help people form good habits. I just think the delivery was severely lacking. Fortunately, I got this for free way back when so I just ended up wasting my precious time and not my hard-earned $$$.

message 17: by Book Concierge (new)

Book Concierge (tessabookconcierge) | 2449 comments Mod
Added to TBR when it was released in 2006 ...

Digging to America by Anne Tyler
Digging to America – Anne Tyler – 4****
A story of the immigrant experience and two families united by the decision to adopt. Tyler writes so well about family dynamics, about all the little events in our lives that both form and show who we are. As I got to know these characters, I grew to love them. And I wanted to give them all a big hug at the end.
LINK to my review

message 18: by Koren (new)

Koren  (koren56) | 471 comments Got this book at a used book sale last Sept:

Breaking Blue by Timothy Egan
Breaking Blue by Timothy Egan
3 stars

This book is about crooked cops in Spokane, Washington during the depression and the cop who uncovered a murder by a cop during that time while doing a college thesis in the 1980's. Most of the players have passed on but there is one still living....

There were some interesting moments during this book but there were also some times that were slow going. Worth a read to see how (hopefully) times have changed.

This is a much earlier work by the author that wrote The Worst Hard Time The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl by Timothy Egan

message 19: by Donna (new)

Donna | 340 comments Britt-Marie Was Here by Fredrik Backman

I've had this book on my TBR shelf since it first came out. I enjoyed it a lot, and am already looking forward to his next novel, Us Against You, to be released in 2019.

message 20: by SouthWestZippy (new)

SouthWestZippy | 127 comments August 23, 2015 – Shelved

Thunder Dog The True Story of a Blind Man, His Guide Dog, and the Triumph of Trust at Ground Zero by Michael Hingson
2 stars
If you are going to make the title about the dog then the book should be mostly about the Dog. It is an ok book about Michael Hingson but I was wanting and expecting more about his relationship with his guide Dog Roselle. The other turn off is he does come across arrogant at times. It is still an inspirational book about a dog and it's human who would not give up.

message 21: by Book Concierge (new)

Book Concierge (tessabookconcierge) | 2449 comments Mod
On my TBR since sometime in 2011

The Time in Between by María Dueñas
The Time In Between – María Dueñas – 4****
A sweeping historical novel about a young woman, who begins by cleaning the floors of the atelier where her mother is a seamstress and ends up as a sought-after fashion designer in World War II, and a spy for the British. What a fascinating and engaging read. Dueñas is an accomplished storyteller. I loved the way that Sira grew as a character, coming into her own while carefully observing and learning from her friends, neighbors and clients. Her relationships are wonderfully complex, and there are some scenes that had me on the edge of my seat. I recommend this to anyone who loves a fast-paced novel, with fascinating characters, and a strong female lead. The final scene when she decides to take matters into her own hands and go forward on her own terms is marvelous. I wanted to stand up and cheer!
LINK to my review

message 22: by SouthWestZippy (new)

SouthWestZippy | 127 comments Put on TBR, August 23, 2015 – Shelved

The Talker Stories by Mary Sojourner
2 stars
Collection of short stories. Stories are a mixture of drama, struggles with life choices and spiritual journeys. Nothing pulled me in nor will they stay with me, ok read.

message 23: by Lynn (new)

Lynn Book Concierge wrote: "On my TBR since sometime in 2011

The Time in Between by María Dueñas

The Time In Between
– María Dueñas – 4****
A sweeping historical novel about a young woman, who begins by cleaning t..."

I had not heard of this author until recently and suddenly I am seeing her name everywhere. I'll have to pick up a book by her - maybe this one :)

message 24: by Book Concierge (new)

Book Concierge (tessabookconcierge) | 2449 comments Mod
The Cruelest Month (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, #3) by Louise Penny
The Cruelest Month – Louise Penny – 3.5***
Book three in the Chief Inspector Armand Gamache series, set in the small town of Three Pines, Quebec, very near the US border. I like this series chiefly because of Gamache and his relationships with friends, and colleagues. I also am quite fond of the residents of Three Pines and their interactions. This is not a cozy series, despite the small-town setting and cast of eccentric residents. Rather it is more of a police procedural. Penny crafts the story from multiple points of view. The reader as well as Gamache must figure out the truth from bits of information gleaned from different witnesses / suspects.
LINK to my review

message 25: by Carol (last edited Aug 25, 2018 10:59AM) (new)

Carol | 2011 comments Dead Stop by Jamie Denton
Dead Stop by Jamie Denton

The recording that lands on reporter Ainsley Brennan's desk bears no postmark and no return address, only an ominous label - 'Day One' - and that agonised screams of a young woman. It's a sound Ainsley will never forget, and when a pretty coed's mutilated body is found in the nearby woods, she knows there's a connection. But convincing Serenity Heights' stubborn, sexy new deputy police chief, Beck Raines, that she's right is another matter.Nothing ever happens in Serenity Heights. That's precisely why Beck Raines transferred there from L.A.'s homicide division before the inevitable burnout set in. Now suddenly he's dealing with one dead freshman and another who has gone missing, not to mention a gorgeous, interfering reporter who's quickly becoming a professional and personal complication.As the attraction between Beck and Ainsley spirals out of control, so does the danger. Someone is torturing and killing the town's brightest and most beautiful students - someone determined to make them suffer for their lives of privilege and success. With each grisly murder, the serial killer grows bolder, braver, and more brutal. And his next victim will be the most shocking and personal of all.

The plot in this book was reasonable and believable but I thought the motivation of the killer was the one major weaknesses. I also wished the author had waited a little longer to reveal the identity of the killer. Otherwise it was an exciting, very well done story. Anyone who likes a good "who-done-it" type mystery with a little romance thrown in, will like "Dead Stop".

I believe this book has been my"guest" for at least 5 years.

message 26: by Donna (new)

Donna | 340 comments Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton

Ethan Frome, by Edith Wharton

I've had this classic on my TBR spreadsheet for 2 years, and also have her classic House of Mirth on my list. I hate to admit that this is the first book by Edith Wharton that I have read. It will not be the last. I read a bit about the author's life before I read the book, and was quite intrigued. According to Wikipedia, Edith (nee Jones) Wharton's family was so wealthy that this is where the phrase "keeping up with the Joneses" originated. Below is the summary of the book from Goodreads:

Ethan Frome works his unproductive farm and struggles to maintain a bearable existence with his difficult, suspicious, and hypochondriac wife, Zeena. But when Zeena's vivacious cousin enters their household as a "hired girl", Ethan finds himself obsessed with her and with the possibilities for happiness she comes to represent.

message 27: by Book Concierge (new)

Book Concierge (tessabookconcierge) | 2449 comments Mod
Added to tbr in 2013 ...

Crazy Rich Asians (Crazy Rich Asians, #1) by Kevin Kwan :
Crazy Rich Asians – Kevin Kwan – 2.5**
Okay I knew it was chick-lit going into it, and of course I’ve seen the incessant trailers for the movie. Sounded like a fun, quick, breezy beach-read kinda book. But I have to say that I really hated most of these characters. Rachel and Nick were okay but Kwan does little to really explore their relationship. I also got tired of all the “product placements” for designer this and designer that … much of which was lost on me. Not impressed. I’ll just put on my Walgreen’s sunglasses and Kohl’s sandals and enjoy a different book at the beach.
LINK to my review

message 28: by Donna (new)

Donna | 340 comments I tried reading Crazy Rich Asians and had the exact same thoughts. I gave up before the halfway point.

message 29: by Koren (new)

Koren  (koren56) | 471 comments On shelf since last summer:

Killing Yourself to Live: 85% of a True Story by Chuck Klosterman
1 star

This sounded pretty good. The author goes on a road trip in search of actual places that famous rock musicians died. He is a writer for Spin Magazine. If this was actually what the book was about I think it would have been interesting but he barely touches on his destinations and instead reverts to whining about the lost loves of his life and everything else that sucks in his life. He also frequently gives his opinion about music and musicians, most of whom I have never heard of. He tries to be humorous but it falls flat for me because so much of what he writes about is depressing or whining. Interesting concept for a book. I just think it could have been done better.

message 30: by Donna (new)

Donna | 340 comments The Count of Monte Cristo Alexandre Dumas

This book has been on my To Be Read shelf for years. I love to read, but I am intimidated by books that weigh as much as I do. Enter, the audio version of The Count of Monte Cristo!

I thoroughly enjoyed the story -- the double-cross, the jail break, intrigue, adventure, duels, murders --- this book has it all! That said, I was sick of the story before the end of it. It's a masterpiece, I just like shorter masterpieces. :-)

message 31: by Book Concierge (new)

Book Concierge (tessabookconcierge) | 2449 comments Mod
The Troublesome Offspring of Cardinal Guzmán by Louis de Bernières
The Troublesome Offspring of Cardinal Guzmán – Louis de Bernières –
The third and final installment in this author’s “Latin American Trilogy” returns to the village of Cochadebajo, in the mountains of an unnamed South American country. I love these books. I love de Bernières’s clever writing and vivid imagery, the outlandish plot points, and outrageous scenarios. The reader who can suspend disbelief and tolerate a great deal of magical occurrences will be delighted. However, I definitely recommend you begin with the first book in the trilogy: The War of Don Emmanuel's Nether Parts.
LINK to my review

message 32: by Book Concierge (new)

Book Concierge (tessabookconcierge) | 2449 comments Mod
Trying to catch up ... I am three weeks behind in writing / posting my reviews ...

Up the Down Staircase by Bel Kaufman
Up the Down Staircase – Bel Kaufman – 4****
An idealistic teacher clashes with school bureaucracy and struggles to reach her students in a large metropolitan high school. This is written in a kind of epistolary style – notes in the suggestion box, memos from the school principal or nurse or clerk, letters written to a college friend, messages from fellow teachers, items posted on the bulletin board, etc. It makes for a fast and very engaging read, and lends an air of verisimilitude. Hard to believe this was written in the ‘60s and still stands up today.
LINK to my review

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Moonraker (James Bond, #3) by Ian Fleming
Moonraker – Ian Fleming – 3***
Book three in the original James Bond series. This novel focuses on cold-war sensibilities about a decade post WW2. The reader gets what’s expected: danger, car chases, explosions, dastardly villains, beautiful women, and ever debonair, intelligent and resourceful Bond.
LINK to my review

message 33: by Jaret (new)

Jaret | 210 comments The Baker Street Letters by Michael Robertson by Michael Robertson
2 stars
been on my TBR since about 2009

from my library's catalog: Leasing office space on London's Baker Street that was also once occupied by Sherlock Holmes, brothers Reggie and Nigel Heath discover a lease stipulation that they receive letters sent to the famous detective, an arrangement that turns dangerous when Nigel disappears.

my thoughts: This book had a lot of potential for me. The characters were interesting, for the most part. The brothers were so aloof and arrogant, they were oblivious to the world around them. It made the story seem inane at times. My main complaint was the ending. You kind of got an idea of who was involved in the crime and the purpose, but the buildup did not match the finale. However, I do see a lot of potential with the series, and I did like the brothers, even though they acted like idiots a lot of the time. So, I will read the next one in the series to see if maturity and editing help the series any.

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