Monthly Wrap-Up

Monthly Reading Wrap-Up: June 2020

Halfway through the year!

I’m really happy I read 7 books this month! Things are still moving slowly, and that’s okay. I’m getting the books read that I need too and enjoying a handful of others. Excited for the second half of the year.

Favorites of the month: Beach Read and Drums of Autumn
Least favorite this month: Dawn till Dusk

  • Time of Ours Lives by Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka – (☆☆☆ 1/2)
  • We Hunt the Flame (Sands of Arawiya #1) by Hafsah Faizal – (☆☆☆ 1/2)
  • Beach Read by Emily Henry – (☆☆☆☆☆)
  • [ARC] The Damned (The Beautiful #1) by Renee Ahdieh – (☆☆☆ 1/2)
  • Dawn till Dusk (Genesis Crystal Saga #1) by Tyffany Hackett and Becky Moynihan – (☆☆ 1/2)
  • My Calamity Jane (The Lady Janies #3) by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows – (☆☆☆)
  • Drums of Autumn (Outlander #4) by Diana Gabaldon – (☆☆☆☆☆)

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Book Review

ARC Book Review: The Last Train to Key West by Chanel Cleeton

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Historical fiction + romance
Length: 320 pages
Author: Chanel Cleeton
Publisher: Berkley Books
Release Date: June 16th, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

In 1935 three women are forever changed when one of the most powerful hurricanes in history barrels toward the Florida Keys in New York Times bestselling author Chanel Cleeton’s captivating new novel.

Everyone journeys to Key West searching for something. For the tourists traveling on Henry Flagler’s legendary Overseas Railroad, Labor Day weekend is an opportunity to forget the economic depression gripping the nation. But one person’s paradise can be another’s prison, and Key West-native Helen Berner yearns to escape.

The Cuban Revolution of 1933 left Mirta Perez’s family in a precarious position. After an arranged wedding in Havana, Mirta arrives in the Keys on her honeymoon. While she can’t deny the growing attraction to the stranger she’s married, her new husband’s illicit business interests may threaten not only her relationship, but her life.

Elizabeth Preston’s trip from New York to Key West is a chance to save her once-wealthy family from their troubles as a result of the Wall Street crash. Her quest takes her to the camps occupied by veterans of the Great War and pairs her with an unlikely ally on a treacherous hunt of his own.

Over the course of the holiday weekend, the women’s paths cross unexpectedly, and the danger swirling around them is matched only by the terrifying force of the deadly storm threatening the Keys.

Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for the eARC. All opinions are my own!

FOREVER A CLEETON FAN.

This is the third historical fiction book I’ve read of Cleeton’s and I am HOOKED. I love the story set-up and strength of the women in her books. It’s all captivating and I have a hard time putting them down.

I initially wasn’t sure where this book was going with the length + three different women’s stories together. While I still felt like a direct plot was missing, the three women’s stories moved me each in their own way.

What’s incredible impressive to me is how easy I fall for the romance plot lines in Cleeton’s works. Her writing makes the love story seem magical and real all together. This book literally happens over 3 days (with some increased time differences towards the end) and I was shipping every single couple with all that I was worth. I wanted their happiness, and their choices to matter. I wanted Helen, Mirta and Elizabeth to get the ending they wanted and it was delivered.

I love the way each women’s story also had connections between them. It’s an interesting thought to consider how small interactions with those around us may influence and effect our entire lives. I was also smitten with the men of this book too. How could I not mention them? I just love how each character stood out. I was never confused as to what chapter I was reading and who was speaking. Everything flowed and wove together beautifully and I will sit here and impatiently wait for Cleeton’s next book.

Overall audience notes:

  • Historical fiction + romance
  • Language: very little
  • Romance: kisses, some closed door scenes with little detail
  • Violence: guns, murder, hurricane, physical
  • Trigger warnings: a physically abusive husband, an incredibly destructive hurricane, attempted assault and robbery, brief mentions of a characters two family members committing suicide

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Book Review

Book Review: The Bone Houses by Emily Lloyd-Jones

Rating: ☆☆☆
Audience: YA Fantasy / Horror
Length: 352 pages
Author: Emily Lloyd-Jones
Publisher: Little, Brown Books
Release Date: September 24th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Seventeen-year-old Aderyn (“Ryn”) only cares about two things: her family, and her family’s graveyard. And right now, both are in dire straits. Since the death of their parents, Ryn and her siblings have been scraping together a meager existence as gravediggers in the remote village of Colbren, which sits at the foot of a harsh and deadly mountain range that was once home to the fae. The problem with being a gravedigger in Colbren, though, is that the dead don’t always stay dead.

The risen corpses are known as “bone houses,” and legend says that they’re the result of a decades-old curse. When Ellis, an apprentice mapmaker with a mysterious past, arrives in town, the bone houses attack with new ferocity. What is it that draws them near? And more importantly, how can they be stopped for good?

Together, Ellis and Ryn embark on a journey that will take them deep into the heart of the mountains, where they will have to face both the curse and the long-hidden truths about themselves. 

A BIT SCATTERED.

That’s what I remember about the plot. I was 3 hours into a 9 hour book and wasn’t sure where I was supposed to even look. I’m glad that by halfway I was finally pointed in a direction that made sense and I could actually follow along.

Audio info: I didn’t have any issues with the audio. Was able to listen to it at x1.75 speed and the narrator did a great job.

Alright, here we go. I had a very close bookish friend give this 2 stars and I was wondering why because this had been so high on my releases this year! Lo and behold I get it. I did like it better than her, but I see the issues. Namely, the first one I mentioned, the plot. I didn’t know if the focus was about Ellis, or Ryn, or the Bone Houses, getting rid of them, saving Ryn’s house, finding Ellis’ family. So many things trying to happen at once in a standalone book. I will say these things all did come together and made sense by the end, but it took a folklore tale side story to connect all of the dots.

The romance between Ellis and Ryn was cute. I liked that it didn’t go past what it should have for a small time together. It made it a thousand times more believable. The slow to warm up to each other style is usually a winner and it worked out here too. It added an extra touch to the happy ending.

I thought the bone houses were definitely creepy. I liked this play on what a zombie is. They were a sinister bunch with ulterior motives and yet weren’t all at the same time. They were probably the most complex beings in this story.

Aside from the goat, who honestly felt like a Disney movie animal sidekick (Pascal, Pua, Mushu, etc.). Goat brought a lighter touch to the story, but at the same time, wasn’t necessary to much of anything.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy / horror
  • Language: maybe a word
  • Romance: a kiss
  • Violence: zombie attacks/reanimated corpses, murdered animals, physical

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Book Review

Book Review: Outlander (Outlander #1) by Diana Gabaldon

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Historical fiction romance
Length: 630 pages
Author: Diana Gabaldon
Publisher: Dell Publishing Company
Release Date: June 1st, 1991
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

The year is 1945. Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, is just back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon when she walks through a standing stone in one of the ancient circles that dot the British Isles. Suddenly she is a Sassenach—an “outlander”—in a Scotland torn by war and raiding border clans in the year of Our Lord…1743.

Hurled back in time by forces she cannot understand, Claire is catapulted into the intrigues of lairds and spies that may threaten her life, and shatter her heart. For here James Fraser, a gallant young Scots warrior, shows her a love so absolute that Claire becomes a woman torn between fidelity and desire—and between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives.

WHERE DO I BEGIN?

One of my closest friendships began over a discussion of Outlander. I wasn’t super open to trying it out, she was a huge fan. Thus, worlds collided. After some great discussion (and the fact she got this book for me for my birthday), I can now say, I’m a fan.

This book can be a lot for others and I know it has turned away a lot of people. It’s definitely not for the feint of heart because it discusses many hard subjects and in a different time period. If you are okay with reading about difficult topics (see Trigger Warnings for a full list) I would recommend this book because the story itself is only beginning. I will also say (as I was warned) you must give this book 200 pages. It takes that long to set-up the story and give you the necessary background to start to understand the history. Once I made it there things really picked up and I was swept up in the romance between Jamie and Claire.

I think Claire has got to be one of the most level-headed people to be dropped into a different time period and to just go with the flow so well was awe-inspiring. I loved her personality, practicality and stubbornness. She is such a match for Jamie. Speaking of Jamie, my sweet soul, he took awhile to grow on me. I struggled with some of his scenes, but the further I got to know him [and understand the time period] the more things made sense. He’s a strong character with so many good qualities. Gabaldon doesn’t shy away from hard conversations and takes the times to explain them out through the characters.

The setting caught my attention too. I have not read any books set in the Scottish Highlands of 1743. What a time to choose. This has made me really interested in looking up more information about the time period too. The rolling hills and castles, soldiers and kilts, it’s all has an air of romanticism with a reality dose of war. The villain in this story with have your blood boiling and angry at everything. I was surprised at the amount of animosity I felt towards him. I do love when a book can bring out a wide range of emotions.

I am completely caught up in where this will go next. I loved the progression of Jamie and Claire’s love story and can’t wait to get more of them. There’s plenty of action, politics, romance [of course] and backstabbing to make you keep flipping pages. It’s a hardy book, but worthy of the time.

Overall audience notes:

  • Historical fiction romance
  • Language: a little
  • Romance: many love scenes that are more descriptive (but only a little explicit) in nature
  • Violence: skirmishes, guns, knives, words, poison, torture, animal attacks, physical
  • Trigger warnings: rape, attempted rape, suicide, suicide ideation, sexual assault, domestic abuse (I apologize if I missed any, there are a lot so please research before reading this!)

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