Young Adult

The Turtle Pirates: Beneath the Sunrise by Ben Swiercz

The Turtle Pirates: Beneath the Sunrise by Ben Swiercz

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When my sister-in-law told me about a new middle grade book that was just published by a friend, I was excited to read it and see what it was about. Having read quite a few long, heavy novels recently, I could use some reprieve with a lighthearted middle grade tale.

I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed The Turtle Pirates: Beneath the Sunrise. It is the tale of a young girl spending the summer at her grandpa’s house on the lake when she stumbles upon the story of a pirate that used to inhabit the area. Her and her friends go on an adventure to find the secrets the pirate left behind.

Some of the things I really enjoyed:
1. Loved the character development of the girl, Evey, and her friend Archer. Evey has a speech disorder and I found her dialogue endearing. I think it’s refreshing when an author creates a character that endures some form of adversity, particularly in the middle grade genre. I found Archer to be hysterical and his rambling put a smile on my face.
2. The undertones of bullying and standing up to bullies were well placed and, again, important messages for middle grade that I felt the author tackled really well.
3. There was a fair bit of education for the younger generation on reading maps, solving problems, the basics of sailing a boat, etc. that were good thought-provokers for those who have never been introduced to those skills.
4. Although I was waiting to learn more about the secrets of the pirate, I appreciated the way the author left the story on a cliffhanger. I guess I’ll just have to wait for The Turtle Pirates 2: Blacksmith Mansion!

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Historical Fiction

The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah

The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Let me preface this review with a couple things:

1. Kristin Hannah is hands down my favorite author! This woman’s stories are gorgeously written, heart-wrenching, and so vividly executed. I just adore her.
2. The Nightingale is my favorite book of all time.
3. Favorite author + author of favorite book = very excited for The Four Winds

Now, all of that being said, here’s the let down. This was not my favorite Kristin Hannah novel. It wasn’t even in my top 5. It was beautifully written (as always). This woman knows how to string words together in a way that makes people feel something. And I particularly liked being immersed in the Dust Bowl during the Great Depression era. But the story itself dragged and dragged and dragged. Perhaps this was intentional to make the reader feel the monotony, despair, and hopelessness the migrants felt during this period. Mission accomplished. Once I got closer to the end, I felt the story start to pick up (yay!) but it took a somewhat strange direction and then ended rather abruptly. The story didn’t feel resolved and I didn’t love the direction it took toward the end.

All in all, I liked this one but did not love it. I won’t be raving about it like I have with so many other of Hannah’s works. I’m confident that her following will continue to sing her praises though even if The Four Winds isn’t their favorite book in her collection.

-I received an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to NetGalley, Kristin Hannah, and St. Martin’s Press for the opportunity to review.-

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Top Books of the Year

Top 20 Books of 2020

Ok…. so this year was weird. I think we can all agree with that. Not our typical year. I didn’t write as many reviews as I normally do. But give me a break. I had a baby. During a pandemic.

Anywho…. even though I may not have written a ton of reviews, that doesn’t mean I haven’t been reading my pants off in between working, momming, and wifing. A total of 73 for the year. So here’s what you’re waiting for. The top 20 of 2020 (in no particular order).

Intensity by Dean Koontz

What in the name of holy hell? I read the first chapter of this book and almost put it down.  Like for good.  Because I couldn’t take it anymore.  Read at your own risk, but if you do, make sure you have some oxygen nearby because you might stop breathing.

The Gifted School by Bruce Holsinger

Burbs. Proud parents. Academic competition.  Upper middle-class suburbia at its finest (or lowest).  You decide.

The Last Train to Key West by Chanel Cleeton

If you’ve ready any of Cleeton’s other books, you’ll know why she’s on the list again this year.  She usually screams Cuba, but this time she screamed Key West and I wasn’t mad about it.

The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne

SECOND. FAVORITE. BOOK. OF. ALL. TIME!  Read it right now.  You can thank me later.

American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins

Follow the struggles of a Mexican woman attempting to seek safety for her and her son from the cartels by making it onto American soil.  Lots of controversy surrounding this book, but it opened my eyes in a way they weren’t before.

This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger

This felt very Tom Sawyer.  Coming of age tale.  Epic journey.  Loved.

All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood

The strangest romance novel you may ever read.  Does age matter when it comes to love?  Your answer may change after reading this one.

Untamed by Glennon Doyle

All the quotes.  So much highlighting.  Every woman.  Every mother.  Every person.  Read this book and enjoy its greatness.

The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes by Diane Chamberlain

I fell in love with these characters.  I loved this concept.  Diane is such an epic writer and this one was no exception.

They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera

What would you do if you knew you were going to die in the next 24 hours and there was nothing you to do to stop it?  Why would somebody create that kind of technology?  Sounds awful, right?  Buckle up and enjoy.

Red, White, & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

Looking for an epic romance for Pride Month?  Royalty meets romance meets wit and humor meets LGBTQ.  F.A.B.U.L.O.U.S.

The Sun Does Shine by Anthony Ray Hinton

Agree with the death penalty?  Tell me how you feel after you read this book.  How did it make me feel?  Angry. Angry. Angry.

Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah

How could I get through this list without including Kristin Hannah?  She’s my girl.  Here she is with an oldie but a goodie. 

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

Book of the Year winner from BOTM.  Light skinned black twins go their separate ways.  One lives as a black woman.  One “passes” as a white woman.  Feast your eyes in fascination on how the evolution of their lives differs based on the perceived color of their skin. 

The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Dare

I don’t know how Abi Dare even wrote this book, because the main character’s voice felt so incredibly authentic.  One of the top 5 Book of the Year finalists for BOTM and it sure deserved it.  Want to understand African poverty?  Here’s your chance.

28 Summers by Elin Hilderbrand

The main character pissed me off…. because… well…. independent women and all that stuff.  But I would pick this book up again just to read the nostalgic first paragraph of every chapter. 

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab

In a book rut?  Tired of reading the same old stuff?  If you’re looking for a book that is totally unique and lyrically beautiful, this is it.  Major hangover when it was over.  One of the 5 Book of the Year finalists for BOTM. 

Anxious People by Frederk Backman

Here’s what I know about Frederik Backman.  The dude’s books are hit or miss for me.  But when he hits, he’s a f*cking genius.  While I was reading this book, I can’t tell you how many times I thought, “Only a special type of brain could have put this all together this way.”  Yet another top 5 finalist for Book of the Year. 

The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell by Robert Dugoni

Underrated and underrepresented throughout the bookish community, this is a hidden gem.  And it’s free on Prime Reading.  Don’t say I never gave you anything.    

One to Watch by Kate Stayman-London

This is the final rose tonight.  Where are my Bachelor/Bachelorette/Bachelor in Paradise fans at?  If you just raised your hand, this is your next read. 


There you have it. Now, we can’t afford to start 2021 on the wrong foot, so go catapult yourself into a read you already know is going to be great.

General Fiction (Adult), Mystery, Thriller

The Perfect Daughter by D.J. Palmer

The Perfect Daughter by D.J. Palmer

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Out April 20, 2021!

I have such mixed feelings about this book. Here are a collection of my feelings:

1. I though the twist was pleasantly unexpected, which is difficult to do with today’s thrillers.
2. The middle of the story was a little bit slow, and it felt like the characters were having the exact same conversation 3 or 4 or 5 or 6 times, which got a little monotonous as the reader.
3. I typically enjoy stories told from multiple perspectives, but I struggled a bit with it here. Without titling the chapters or being clearer at the outset of each chapter, it sometimes took me a bit to figure out who’s perspective I was reading. And to be honest, the entire perspective told by Jack seemed unnecessary and misplaced.
4. I wasn’t really sure what Jack’s film had to do with anything. It was an odd detail that never really developed.
5. At times, I felt like Grace was being a little overzealous about really small discoveries that she felt might change the course of the case. But to me as the reader, those discoveries were completely insignificant and their ability to impact the case was kind of a stretch.
5. I really enjoyed the concept of multiple personalities and the philosophical question about whether or not somebody should be held accountable to something one of their other personalities did or didn’t do.

Overall, solid 3 star read. I think I’m in the minority here as others seem to have loved it so read it and decide for yourself.

-I received an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to NetGalley, D.J. Palmer, and St. Martin’s Press for the opportunity to review.-

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Fantasy, General Fiction (Adult), Science Fiction

The Future Is Yours by Dan Frey

The Future Is Yours by Dan Frey

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Out February 9, 2021!

Love love love the format of this book. I’m always drawn to books that are written as letters, emails, text messages, and any other format other than typical prose.

I have seen some say that they had a hard time connecting with the characters because of the format, but I had the opposite effect. I really enjoyed getting to know these characters in a different way and seeing how their relationships evolved over the course of the story.

I am always on board for a book about time travel or bending time. It makes my brain hurt in a wonderful way, trying to think through the repercussions, and this book was no exception. It gave me a Black Crouch type of feel which I love.

-I received an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to NetGalley, Dan Frey, and Random House Publishing for the opportunity to review.-

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