Blog Tour and Giveaway: Shelter of the Most High by Connilyn Cossette

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  p1 About the Book

 

Book: Shelter of the Most High

Author: Connilyn Cossette

Genre: Christian Biblical Fiction

Release Date: October, 2018

The daughter of a pagan high priest, Sofea finds solace from her troubles in the freedom of the ocean. But when marauders attack her village on the island of Sicily, she and her cousin are taken across the sea to the shores of Canaan.

Eitan has lived in Kedesh, a city of refuge, for the last eleven years, haunted by a tragedy in his childhood, yet chafing at the boundaries placed on him. He is immediately captivated by Sofea, but revealing his most guarded secret could mean drawing her into the danger of his past.

As threats from outside the walls loom and traitors are uncovered within, Sofea and Eitan are plunged into the midst of a murder plot. Can they uncover the betrayal in time to save their lives and the lives of those they love?

Click here to purchase your copy!

About the Authorp2

Connilyn Cossette is the CBA bestselling author of the Out From Egypt series. Her debut novel, Counted with the Stars, was a finalist for the Christy Award, the INSPY Award, and the Christian Retailing’s Best Award. She lives in North Carolina with her husband of twenty years and a son and a daughter who fill her days with joy, inspiration, and laughter. Connect with her at www.ConnilynCossette.com.

My Thoughts

First, let me start by saying that this is the first book of Connilyn’s I have read, and I really enjoyed it. It was interesting to read a book set in one of the Levitical cities of refuge, especially since it is something I have wondered about how it worked, whether they actually implemented that part of the law, etc. The author does a good job of making this world come alive and made me feel as if I were there.

I also loved the characters, I loved reading about Sofea and Prezi’s life before they ended up in the Kedesh and how they adjust to life in a different place where almost no one speaks the language. I also liked getting to know Eitan, Moriyah, Darek and Nadir throughout the course of the novel and how they ended up in the city of refuge. The plot is great and I love how it kept me on my toes when I was reading. I am looking forward to reading more from Connilyn Cossette in the future.

I was given a copy of this book for free in exchange for an honest review. I was not asked to give a favorable review or given money in exchange for it. All opinions expressed in my review are my own.

Guest Post from Connilyn

Shelter of the Most High, the second book in my Cities of Refuge Series, will be the first I’ve written to have been influenced by my trip to Israel last year. When I started writing Biblical fiction almost nine years ago, I was limited to exploring the Land of Promise via Google Earth, books, and through a plethora of photos on the good ol’ world wide web, but of course nothing can compare to actually experiencing the atmosphere and scenery for yourself.

So although I’d already written Shelter of the Most High by the time I hopped on a plane to join fellow author Cliff Graham’s GoodBattle Tour, once I returned my editing was filtered through the sights and sounds I’d witnessed for myself. It had been a life-long dream to go to Israel and it did not disappoint, in fact it just went way too fast!

One of my greatest fears was that I would see the places I’d written about in my books and realize I totally messed up my descriptions, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that for the most part I’d been fairly accurate (although I did tweak a few things here and there).

Standing on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee I was able to envision Eitan, our hero in Shelter of the Most High, sitting on one of the black boulders there, defeated and weary as he searched for his love. I was able to look toward the snowy peaks of Mount Hermon in the north and over the fertile Hula Valley just below the ancient ruins of Kedesh, the city of refuge, and consider how Sofea must have felt as she experienced the landscape of her new home for the first time, both the fear and the awe.

One of my favorite sites was Tel Dan and although it does not feature in Shelter of the Most High it’s lush greenness and dense forest gave me a better sense of what Israel must have been in the past before deforestation, war, and shifts in climate have done to the fertile land God himself called a land of milk and honey. Since I was so affected by Tel Dan (or Laish in ancient times) that city will be one of the settings in my upcoming third installment of the Cities of Refuge Series, Until the Mountains Fall.

Being a super visual person who is highly sensitive to sensory input, I took great pleasure in absorbing with all my senses as we walked paths, climbed mountains (yes, mountains), slogged through a long, cold, and wet tunnel deep beneath Jerusalem, hiked up to the secret oasis of Ein Gedi where David hid from Saul, and rocked along on a boat over the glassy surface of the Galilee. I felt like a sponge just soaking up every little detail and every grand vista.

Smelling the salty breeze off the Mediterranean and hearing the waves crash against the sandy beach in Tel Aviv and Caesarea Phillipi made me imagine our heroine Sofea looking over that enormous, blue expanse and wondering what sort of god had control of such a powerful thing.

Feeling the timeworn cobblestones beneath my feet gave me a sense of what it must have been like for Eitan and Sofea to walk through the streets of Kedesh, their own sandals scuffing against the rough-hewn stone as they went about their daily activities.

Running my fingers along the pitted surfaces of ancient buildings and tracing the chisel marks from craftsmen of the Bronze Age wrapped me in a whirl of imagination about who the people were that hefted those same rocks into place and the ingenuity it took to create structures that have lasted so long.

Tasting the unique spices and flavors of the Middle East gave me a sense of the passion Moryiah (our hero’s mother) has for creating delicious new dishes to feed her growing family and the guests at her inn.

Although I write fiction, my stories are woven into Biblical accounts so going to Israel was a perfect reminder for me that the people that lived between the pages of Genesis to Revelations were real. They breathed, they cried, they loved, they mourned, they suffered, and they celebrated with their families. I am so grateful to have gleaned some great new insight into the Land and its resilient, vibrant people and hope that through Shelter of the Most High readers get a small sense of the beauty and wonder I experienced there. I cannot wait to go back!

Blog Stops

A Baker’s Perspective, November 20

The Power of Words, November 20

Among the Reads, November 21

Gensis 5020, November 21

God’s Little Bookworm, November 22

Book by Book, November 22

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, November 22

Remembrancy, November 23

Real World Bible Study, November 23

Inklings and notions, November 23

The Becca Files, November 24

Christian Centered book Reviews, November 24

Baker Kella, November 24

Bibliophile Reviews, November 25

The Meanderings of a Bookworm, November 25

By The Book, November 26

Reading Is My SuperPower, November 26

Aryn The Libraryan, November 27

All-of-a-kind Mom, November 27

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, November 27

Abbas Prayer Warrior Princess, November 28

Christian Author, J.E. Grace, November 28

Simple Harvest Reads, November 29 (Guest post from Mindy Houng)

For the Love of Literature, November 29

Janices book reviews, November 29

The Lit Addict, November 30

Texas Book-aholic, November 30

Just the Write Escape, December 1

A Good Book and Cup of Tea, December 1

Connect in Fiction, December 2

The Christian Fiction Girl, December 2

Bigreadersite, December 2

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, December 3

Purposeful Learning, December 3

Carpe Diem, December 3

Giveaway

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To celebrate her tour, Connilyn is giving away

Grand Prize: All five of Conni’s novels, including Shelter of the Most High, plus AHAVA Dead Sea Bath Salts

Three other winners will receive a copy of Shelter of the Most High!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter. https://promosimple.com/ps/d66d/shelter-of-the-most-high-celebration-tour-giveaway

 

 

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Book Review: Since You’ve Been Gone

Hello Everyone!

Today’s review is on Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson.

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Summary:

It was Sloane who yanked Emily out of her shell and made life 100% interesting. But right before what should have been the most epic summer, Sloane just…disappears. All she leaves behind is a to-do list.

On it, thirteen Sloane-inspired tasks that Emily would normally never try. But what if they could bring her best friend back?

Apple picking at night? Okay, easy enough.

Dance until dawn? Sure. Why not?

Kiss a stranger? Um…

Emily now has this unexpected summer, and the help of Frank Porter (totally unexpected), to check things off Sloane’s list. Who knows what she’ll find? 

Go skinny-dipping? Wait…What? 

My Thoughts: 

I’ll admit that when I first picked up this book, I was skeptical about whether or not I would like it because some of Morgan Matson’s books have been pretty hit-or-miss with me. However, Since You’ve Been Gone has changed my mind – I LOVED IT!

At first I struggled to get into it because I was going through a minor reading slump when I started it, but once I got past the 100-page mark I flew through it! I loved the concept of the list of “challenges” that Emily has to complete – although I hated how Sloane just ditched her.

I enjoyed getting to know Emily and her family – I loved watching her grow as a person while the list. I also liked how in some ways she starts to find autonomy a part from Sloane. Then there is Frank Porter…he is such a cute character and I love him, he is an adorable cinnamon roll and I wish there were some actual guys like this in reality!

I also enjoyed getting to know Dawn and Collins and seeing how they, along with Frank, try  to help Emily on her quest. I liked Sloane, however I also disliked her because of how she basically drops out of Emily’s life without saying goodbye, but  the explanation that is given for this makes sense.

I really liked the playlists that appear throughout the book are awesome – I wish there were more. And I also liked how each chapter jumps back to the past to explain certain items on the list, or even just certain things that happen in the present day.

I really loved it, and it made me want to pick up her latest release, Save the Date, right away. 5/5 Stars.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Book Review: Once and For All

Hello Everyone!

Today’s review is on Once and For All by Sarah Dessen.

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Summary: 

As bubbly as champagne and delectable as wedding cake, Once and for All, Sarah Dessen’s thirteenth novel, is set in the world of wedding planning, where crises are routine.

Louna, daughter of famed wedding planner Natalie Barrett, has seen every sort of wedding: on the beach, at historic mansions, in fancy hotels and clubs. Perhaps that’s why she’s cynical about happily-ever-after endings, especially since her own first love ended tragically. When Louna meets charming, happy-go-lucky serial dater Ambrose, she holds him at arm’s length. But Ambrose isn’t about to be discouraged, now that he’s met the one girl he really wants.

Sarah Dessen’s many, many fans will adore her latest, a richly satisfying, enormously entertaining story that has everything—humor, romance, and an ending both happy and imperfect, just like life itself

My Thoughts: 

Sarah Dessen has a way of making readers feel all the feels in almost all of her books and Once and For All was no exception.

I like how we, along with Ambrose, were kept in the dark about Louna is so cynical when it comes to true love – the reason made sense and was very fitting with today’s current events and when it is revealed it is hard not to cry!

I liked all of the characters, although I found Louna to be a bit too mopey at times, although it did make sense. Ambrose was also interesting, although his way of trying to win Louna is ridiculous. I also enjoyed the side characters: Natalie (Louna’s mom) and William and their whole wedding planning business.

As I mentioned before, Sarah Dessen has a way of writing books that have readers tear up at some point, and there was scene towards the end of the book that had me in tears because of the build up to it, and Dessen makes the reader think that something similar happens to Ambrose that happened to Louna’s first love.

This was a good contemporary read that has  a lot of perfect fluffy moments, but yet still has scenes that are tear-jerkers, which is a perfect reminder that life isn’t all rainbows and unicorns, and that bad things do happen. 3.5/ 5 Stars.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Book Review: From Twinkle, With Love

Hello Everyone!

Today’s review is on From Twinkle, With Love by Sandhya Menon.

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Synopsis: 

 Aspiring filmmaker and wallflower Twinkle Mehra has stories she wants to tell and universes she wants to explore, if only the world would listen. So when fellow film geek Sahil Roy approaches her to direct a movie for the upcoming Summer Festival, Twinkle is all over it. The chance to publicly showcase her voice as a director? Dream come true. The fact that it gets her closer to her longtime crush, Neil Roy—a.k.a. Sahil’s twin brother? Dream come true x 2.

When mystery man “N” begins emailing her, Twinkle is sure it’s Neil, finally ready to begin their happily-ever-after. The only slightly inconvenient problem is that, in the course of movie-making, she’s fallen madly in love with the irresistibly adorkable Sahil.

Twinkle soon realizes that resistance is futile: The romance she’s got is not the one she’s scripted. But will it be enough?

Told through the letters Twinkle writes to her favorite female filmmakers, From Twinkle, with Love navigates big truths about friendship, family, and the unexpected places love can find you.

My Thoughts: 

Even though I liked When Dimple Met Rishi, I enjoyed this one a lot better, especially the ending. I loved getting to know Twinkle and how the format of this book is setup like her diary (I am a sucker for books like this). I also liked how her entries are written to different female movie directors that she looks up to. I  also loved how this read as  a good classic romantic comedy and it is the perfect summer read.

Sahil is the typical (but still awesome) hero of this rom-com. I loved how he was always trying to push Twinkle to be the best she could be, while also letting her figure out stuff on her own.

It was also interesting to see that in order to truly grow as a character, Twinkle had to become her worst self and realize that she had to change. It was also interesting to see all the different family dynamics that take place in the novel: Sahil and his inferiority to his twin brother Neil; Twinkle and her grandma, Twinkle and her parents who seem disinterested in her life. I also liked how it dealt with friendships and relationships in general: Maddie and Twinkle; Maddie and Hannah; Twinkle, Victoria and Francesca. I also liked how it dealt with some of the issues that people that immigrants face when they leave their home countries behind.

I am looking forward to seeing what Sandhya Menon writes text. 4.5/5 Stars.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Book Review: Fat Girl on the Plane

Hello Everyone!

Today’s review is on Fat Girl on a Plane  by Kelly deVos.

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Synopsis:

Fat.

High school senior Cookie Vonn’s post-graduation dreams include getting out of Phoenix, attending Parsons and becoming the next great fashion designer. But in the world of fashion, being fat is a cardinal sin. It doesn’t help that she’s constantly compared to her supermodel mother—and named after a dessert.

Thanks to her job at a fashion blog, Cookie scores a trip to New York to pitch her portfolio and appeal for a scholarship, but her plans are put on standby when she’s declared too fat to fly. Forced to turn to her BFF for cash, Cookie buys a second seat on the plane. She arrives in the city to find that she’s been replaced by the boss’s daughter, a girl who’s everything she’s not—ultrathin and superrich. Bowing to society’s pressure, she vows to lose weight, get out of the friend zone with her crush, and put her life on track.

Skinny.

Cookie expected sunshine and rainbows, but nothing about her new life is turning out like she planned. When the fashion designer of the moment offers her what she’s always wanted—an opportunity to live and study in New York—she finds herself in a world full of people more interested in putting women down than dressing them up. Her designs make waves, but her real dream of creating great clothes for people of all sizes seems to grow more distant by the day.

Will she realize that she’s always had the power to make her own dreams come true?

My Thoughts: 

Before I get started with my thoughts I am grateful to have received an ARC from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

This year there seems to be quite a few novels dealing with weight and body-positivity for teens, which I think is great! However, I honestly didn’t read through the synopsis thoroughly so I found the events that unfolded to be a surprise, which I guess is a good thing.

I found it weird that there were two story lines – the past when Cookie was fat and when she is skinny in the present. I liked how it explored some of the misguided reasons for losing weight. I liked how Cookie discovered that life doesn’t become all sunshine and roses when she is skinny.

In some ways I found “fat” Cookie to be relatable especially with the emotions she goes through when she starts her journey. I loved watching her pursue her dreams in fashion and comes to realize that no matter what size she is, it is still a cut-throat industry.

I hated her relationship with Gareth Miller, especially since she was 19 and he was 35…it was just weird – I found this to be one of the pitfalls of the novel. I also wanted to love Tommy, her ex-best friend and crush, but he kept messing up and was just an idiot.

I loved her grandma, her parents were just awful. I loved her best friend Piper and how she deals with Cookie and her antics.

I liked the ending although I wish there was more resolution with her parents. And I also wish there were not quite as many F-bombs. 3/5 Stars.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Book Review: Katie in Waiting

Hello Everyone!

Today’s review is on Katie in Waiting by Erynn Mangum.

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Synopsis: 

Katie McCoy has spent her whole life waiting for the right guy and he isn’t coming. After relocating to Carrington Springs, Missouri, Katie finds herself getting more and more frustrated. Can’t God see that she’s trying her best to meet someone? Doesn’t He care that she’s lonely? What is she doing that is making Him not bless her with this? With two new friends, Eliza and Ashten, by her side, Katie starts to realize that maybe God has bigger plans for her life than she could have ever imagined.

My Thoughts: 

There were so many jokes that were said in this novel that I feel like explain me to a “T”! Some of the things that Katie goes through, such has having become stagnant in her walk with the Lord is something that I myself have struggled with myself.

I liked how even though there was a possibility of romance it still ended up with Katie coming to terms with her singleness and finding contentment with the Lord. I also enjoyed getting to know Eliza and Ashten and I can’t wait to read each of their stories very soon. 4/5 Stars.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Book Review: Love Amid the Ashes

Hello Everyone!

Today’s review is on Love Amid the Ashes by Mesu Andrews.

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Synopsis: 

Readers often think of Job sitting on the ash heap, his life in shambles. But how did he get there? What was Job’s life like before tragedy struck? What did he think as his world came crashing down around him? And what was life like after God restored his wealth, health, and family? Through painstaking research and a writer’s creative mind, Mesu Andrews weaves an emotional and stirring account of this well-known story told through the eyes of the women who loved him. Drawing together the account of Job with those of Esau’s tribe and Jacob’s daughter Dinah, Love Amid the Ashes breathes life, romance, and passion into the classic biblical story of suffering and steadfast faith.
My Thoughts: 
I really enjoyed this book. It was interesting to see how Andrews combined two pieces of biblical history together into a work of fiction. She puts together Job and Dinah, Jacob’s daughter who’s brothers killed an entire city for her honor. It definitely provided some insights into that text that I never thought of before. Plus, recalling a couple of lectures I listened to from Dr. Chou,  professor at my alma mater, mentioned that Job was a descendant of Abraham.
I liked how this book was a constant reminder of God’s love and mercy and how when we are truly repentant He forgives us, as in the case of Dinah, and even Job. I also enjoyed the reminder of how once we have confessed our sin and asked for forgiveness, we need to let go of the past and move on, which is something I struggle with.
I loved getting to know Dinah and Job besides just what is written in Scripture, even if it is just fiction. I also liked how Job’s affliction was given a human dimension, which is also possible. I enjoyed watching Sitis’ (Job’s wife) redemption through the novel, I also enjyoed getting to know Aban, Elihi, and Neghlahu. The one character that I’m not sure I liked the direction the author took was Jacob, I felt like he came across as bitter and harsh towards Dinah.
I loved the author’s note explaining why she did what she did with the characters and attempting to tell Job’s story in fiction. I had also just finished reading Genesis when I read this and I loved seeing a possibility of what happened beyond the text, even though it was fictional.
Overall I loved that this book was that it dealt with not just romantic love, but also God’s love amidst the trials of life. 4/5 Stars.
Happy Reading,
Janelle L. C.

June Wrap-up

Hello Everyone!

Welcome to my June Wrap-up! I know my blog posts lately haven’t been the greatest but I am trying to change that, once again I am sorry for the half finished posts that have appeared here in the last couple of months, but from now on I am going to make sure all my posts are complete before I schedule them. On that note, here are the books that I read in June:

1. Remember by Karen Kingsbury with Gary Smalley 

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I enjoyed re-reading this one. It is definitely a tear-jerker! Longer review to come. 4/5 Stars.

2. Assassination Classroom Volume 6: Swim Time by Yusei Matsui 

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A good continuation of plot. I am only 6 volumes in and I excited to see where the rest of the series goes from here. 3.5/5 Stars.

3. The Queen’s Rising by Rebecca Ross

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This was an okay read. I felt like a lot of the action happened too quickly and I kept having to flip back to find out what I missed. 3/5 Stars.

4. In Conclusion, Don’t Worry About It by Lauren Graham 

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This was a good, quick read based on the speech that Lauren Graham gave to the 2017 graduating class at her old high school. She gives good advice and it is perfect for anyone who has just graduated from high school or college, as well as anyone who is starting a new job or starting a new stage of life. 5/5 Stars.

5. Assassination Classroom Volume 7 by Yusei Matsui 

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Another great installment in the series. 3.5/5 Stars.

6. The Austen Escape by Katherine Reay 

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This was an okay read. I highly recommend it for Jane Austen fans who are looking for a light contemporary read. Longer review to come. 3/5 Stars.

7. Assassination Classroom Volume 8:  Time for an Opportunity by Yusei Matsui 

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A good continuation of the story, however I found  a couple of the villains introduced in this story to be very weird. 3/5 Stars.

8. Return by Karen Kingsbury with Gary Smalley 

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This was a good book, but it didn’t seem to hold my attention as much as the other two, however I am enjoying my reread of the series. 3/5 Stars.

9. Assassination Classroom Volume 9: A Shocking Time by Yusei Matsui 

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Enjoyed this volume a lot better than the last one. I also like that we got some of the back story on several of the minor characters. 3.5/5 Stars.

10. Assassination Classroom Volume 10: Time for Robbery by Yusei Matsui 

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The story keeps getting better and better. 4/5 Stars.

11. Lumberjanes/Gotham Academy #1 by Chynna Clugston Flores 

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A somewhat decent introduction to this crossover series. 3/5 Stars.

12. Assassination Classroom Volume 11: Time for Sports Day by Yusei Matsui 

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A good continuation of the story, seemed to take a more slice of life approach in this volume. 3.5/5 Stars.

13. Lumberjanes/ Gotham Academy #2 by Chynna Clugston Flores 

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The plot starts to thicken. 3.5/5 Stars.

14. Lumberjanes/ Gotham Academy #3 by Chynna Clugston Flores 

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The story just keeps getting better! 4/5 Stars.

15. Lumberjanes/ Gotham Academy #4 by Chynna Clugston Flores

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Good. 4/5 Stars.

16. Lumberjanes/ Gotham Academy #5 by Chynna Clugston Flores

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Some good action in this one. I was sad to see it end in the next installment. 4/5 Stars.

17. Lumberjanes/ Gotham Academy #6 by Chynna Clugston Flores 

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A good conclusion to the series. 4/5 Stars.

18. Lumberjanes Issue #1  by Shannon Watters, Grace Ellis and Noelle Stevenson

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Great introduction to the series! 4/5 Stars.

19. Lumberjanes Issue #2 by Shannon Watters, Grace Ellis and Noelle Stevenson 

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Good! 3/5 Stars.

20. Lumberjanes Issue #3 by Shannon Watters, Grace Ellis and Noelle Stevenson 

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Good! 3/5 Stars.

21. Lumberjanes Issue #4 by Shannon Watters, Grace Ellis and Noelle Stevenson 

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The plot thickens in this installment! 4/5 Stars.

22. Rejoice by Karen Kingsbury with Gary Smalley 

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Another great installment in this series! I am glad I have decided to revisit it after 6 year. 4/5 Stars.

23. Lumberjanes Issue #5 by Shannon Watters, Grace Ellis and Noelle Stevenson 

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Good! 3/5 Stars.

24. Lumberjanes Issue #6 by Shannon Watters, Grace Ellis and Noelle Stevenson 

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The story keeps getting better! 4/5 Stars.

25. Lumberjanes Issue #7 by Shannon Watters, Grace Ellis and Noelle Stevenson 

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Good! 3/5 Stars.

26. Lumberjanes Issue #8 by Shannon Watters, Grace Ellis and Noelle Stevenson 

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Good! 3/5 Stars.

27. Goldie Vance Issue #1 by Hope Larsen

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This was a good introduction to this comic series. I am looking forward to following Goldie Vance on more of her adventures! 3/5 Stars.

28. Once and For All by Sarah Dessen

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This was a good contemporary read, however there was a long build up to the actual plot and it only seemed to take up 100 pages of the book. But Sarah Dessen is good at writing tear-jerker scenes, especially one scene towards the end that really got me! I highly recommend this for anyone who is looking for a light, but heavy, YA contemporary to read this summer. 3.5/5 Stars.

29. Lumberjanes Issue #9 by Shannon Watters, Grace Ellis and Noelle Stevenson

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I enjoyed the different “scary” stories that the Lumberjanes tells in this issue! 4/5 Stars.

30. Lumberjanes Issue #10 by Shannon Watters, Grace Ellis and Noelle Stevenson 

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Loved this introduction to the new story arc in this series. 4/5 Stars.

31. Reunion by Karen Kingsbury with Gary Smalley

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The conclusion to the first series in the overarching Baxter Family Drama series (there are currently 6 series in the saga!). This one was a tear-jerker! It was good, but it was hard to get through at the same time. 4/5 Stars.

32. Lumberjanes Issue #11 by Shannon Watters, Grace Ellis and Noelle Stevenson 

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Good! 3/5 Stars.

33. Fame by Karen Kingsbury

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Always a good time catching up with the Baxter family and I love the new characters that readers will get to know throughout the Firstborn series.

34. Lumberjanes Issue #12 by Shannon Watters, Grace Ellis and Noelle Stevenson 

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Good! 3/5 Stars.

35. Lumberjanes Issue #13 by Shannon Watters, Grace Ellis and Noelle Stevenson 

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Good! 3/5 Stars.

36. Lumberjanes Issue #14 by Shannon Watters, Grace Ellis and Noelle Stevenson 

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Good! 3/5 Stars.

37. Love, Life, and the List by Kasie West 

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This was a cute, contemporary read and it is perfect for summer! 4/5 Stars.

DNF’d 

Emergency Contact by Mary H. K. Choi 

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Even though I have been looking forward to this book for months, I just couldn’t get into it. I might try reading it again in a few months.

And those are all the books I read in June!

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

 

 

2018 Bookish Goals

Hello Everyone!

Today’s post is all about my bookish goals for 2018. I don’t have many goals, but the ones I did set are ones that I think I can achieve over the course of the year. Here are my goals:

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1. Read 52 Books 

I set it my Goodreads goal for 52 books because even though I want to read everything in sight, I also want to slow down and enjoy what I read! Last year I read a lot, but I honestly can’t remember what half of them were about.

2. Complete the Around in 52 Books 2018 Challenge.

I attempted to do this challenge last year, and even though I was only a couple books short of completing it, this year I want to make more of an effort to complete all 52 challenges. If you would like to see what the challenges are for this year, check out my blog post all about it!

3. Complete the Beat the Backlist Challenge. 

If you would like to find out more about the Beat the Backlist challenge, check out my blog post from a couple of days ago where I talk more about it. I am going to attempt to read 20 books that were published before 2018 throughout the year, I might be able to read more, but right now I feel like this is the most attainable goal.

4. Read my Bible every day. 

One of my goals last year was to read through the Bible in a year, however I completely slacked off on this for most of 2017. However, this year I am determined to stick to a plan and do it for the whole year!

5. Write a review for every book I read (long or short). 

The only exception to this rule is going to be Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows because I haven’t done a review for the rest of the series. But every other book is going to get a review this year, it just might take a while for it to go live on the blog.

6. Post consistently on my blog. 

The second half of 2017 was somewhat disastrous posting wise because I didn’t really have much of a schedule and I would take several weeks off at time. However, this year I am planning on posting three times a week (Monday, Wednesday, Friday), with a few extra posts on a Saturday. There will also be certain times (like the first two weeks of January) where I will be posting five days a week just to keep up with all the content I want to post this year!

7. Post consistently on Instagram. 

Over the past several months my Instagram account has primarily been a Bookstagram account (apart from several personal posts) and I am looking forward to uploading more Bookstagram photos. My plan is to try and upload a photo every day (at least for this month), and to just be consistent with it.

8. Try to gain 100 followers for my blog. 

9. Try a genre I wouldn’t normally read. 

For this goal I am thinking of trying out either Thriller or Horror, but nothing to scary. I am thinking of picking up either The Shining or Carrie by Stephen King in order to complete this goal.

10. Try different kinds of content on my blog. 

I am still working on what exactly this is going to be, but I am looking forward to sharing some of the ideas I have with all of you soon.

And those are my goals for 2018! What are some of your bookish goals for the year?

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

P.S. If you haven’t done so already, don’t forget to click the blue “Follow” button. You can also follow me on my other social media profiles: Twitter (@Jlc0904Janelle), Instagram (@jazzyjan101), GoodReads, and The Meanderings of a Bookworm Facebook page! 🙂

The Name Change

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Hello everyone!

It has been about a week since I moved from Blogger to WordPress, and The Scribbler became Meanderings of a Bookworm.

The reason for the change is that I felt like it was time to give my blog a makeover and I was finding it difficult to use Blogger in more innovative ways to improve my blog. I had heard in the past that WordPress was better than Blogger, however I wanted to do my own thing and refused to accept it. But since I felt that a change was needed on my blog I decided to check it out and see whether or not I wanted to use it as the new home of my blog.

After spending a few hours of playing around with WordPress, I discovered that it was easier to use and make changes than on Blogger. I also decided that if I changed to WordPress then maybe it was time to change the name as well; for a while I have been wanting to change for a while.

I also felt like a change was necessary since I started The Scribbler back when I had just finished my senior of high school and two years later I decided to turn it into a book blog. However, now that I have graduated from college and I am a little bit older I also wanted my blog to reflect the changes I have been going through.

For those of you who read The Scribbler, welcome to Meanderings of a Bookworm and I hope you enjoy the content of this blog as much as you enjoyed the old blog! To my new readers, welcome! I hope you enjoy my ramblings about books and anything book related! 🙂

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

P.S. Don’t forget to follow the blog and like the Facebook page. You can also follow me on Twitter (@Jlc0904Janelle) and Instagram (@jazzyjan101).

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

Hello Everyone,

Today’s review is on The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

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I had been curious to read this book ever since I heard the title. I was further intrigued when I watched the trailer for the Netflix movie based on the book, and then I watched the movie and knew I had to read the book. Another big selling point after I got a copy was the fact that it was told in epistolary style, which is one of my favorite novel formats.

The novel follows Juliet Ashton, a writer in London in 1946. She is struggling to come up with an idea for her next book, until she receives a letter from a Mr. Dawsey Adams telling her that he enjoyed reading her used copy of a book that used to belong to her. Through this letter she discovers the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society that was created in order to keep a secret from Nazi soldiers during the Nazi occupation of the island of Guernsey. After hearing about the birth of this society, Juliet is instantly fascinated by it and won’t rest until she knows every single detail about it and decides to go to Guernsey to meet with all of the society’s members.

I really enjoyed this book, it was short but it packed a punch. I loved that the authors chose to tell the story in a series of letters, because not enough books are written in that way! I appreciated that the letters were not just from Juliet’s perspective, but we got it from a series of other characters as well, which made for the story to be more reliable.

As far as characters go, I really enjoyed getting to know Juliet, especially since she is a book lover. Also, minor spoiler alert, I loved how she broke off an engagement because her ex-fiance moved all of her books into the basement! I honestly don’t blame her, no one messes with my books! I loved watching her develop as a character, especially as she tries to move on from the horrific events of the war, and growth as a writer. And then there is Dawsey, who I honestly wish we got more from because I really wanted him to be more swoon-worthy than he wasas and that was partly because we don’t get enough from his perspective. I also loved getting to know all the other society members, even the tragic story of Elizabeth McKenna who stood up for what was right.

Concerning the plot, I really liked it, although there were certain areas where it seemed to slow down quite significantly. However, readers will appreciate that we get to learn about the society along with Juliet as she continues to make new discoveries up until the very end. One thing that I wish could have been featured a lot more is the romance, however, I guess that is also a selling point for a lot of readers is that it isn’t so romance heavy.

Overall, this is the perfect book if you are into Post-World War II fiction, fiction told in letters and books about books. 4/5 Stars.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Hello Everyone!

Today’s review is on The Shape of Water by Guillermo Del Toro and Daniel Kraus.

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Set in 1962, the novel follows Elisa Esposito, who has been mute since birth, who works as a janitor a government facility in Baltimore. One night, while she is cleaning, she sees a glimpse of a top secret asset that is being kept secret by those in charge. However, she finds herself drawn to the strange creature especially as she tries to communicate with it through sign language. Over time she grows to love the creature and tries to come up with a plan to free it from its captivity before it is forced to undergo some nasty experiments. But she is also up against a crazed soldier who will stop at nothing to make sure that the creature remains under his care, even if it results in its death, in order to prove himself to his general.

I’ll admit that these kinds of books are not something that I would generally gravitate towards, however I was intrigued by the synopsis of this particular book. I both enjoyed it, but also disliked certain aspects of it for reasons that I am still unsure about, but overall I do think it was good.

When it comes to characters, Elisa was interesting to get to know and follow around throughout the book, especially because she was mute and couldn’t talk. It was interesting to see her interact with various characters and how some of them tried to understand her. Her relationship with the creature was also interesting to watch grow and develop into something more passionate. The creature itself was interesting, although I do wish that we had gotten more from his perspective besides the two short section that we do get. I also enjoyed learning more about Richard Strickland and how the reader follows him as he tries to prove his humaness by becoming more of a monster than the Creature is, and how in the end his madness consumes to the point that he is beyond all rationality. I also enjoyed getting to know some of the other characters and their backstories and struggles that they face throughout the novel, each of which is necessary to the plot’s development in some way or other.

Plot-wise this book was okay, except it got slow in some sections, but it also tries to deal with a multitude of different issues such as research during the Cold War, muteness, the Civil Rights Era, the whole exploration of otherness, as well as ableism and abuse that is seen throughout the novel. I think readers will enjoy this, especially if they are fans of the movie because it does had some extra scenes and perspectives that fleshes it out even more. 3.5/5 Stars.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Book Review: The Shape of Water

Book Review: Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

Hello Everyone!

Today’s review is on Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng.

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Mia Warren and her daughter Pearl move to Shaker Heights, Ohio, which is the picture perfect community in the mid-90s’. They rent a house from the Richardsons, who are an example in the community of what the perfect family ought to be, except for their youngest daughter Izzy. But Mia further shakes things up when she gets involved with a court case regarding  child custody battle, which pits her against the Richardsons. Her involvement also leads Mrs. Richardson to dig into Mia’s past and she discovers that not everything is as it seems.

It was interesting reading a book set in the mid-90s’ because it seems so far in the past, but yet also feels like we are not that far removed from it. It was interesting see the reactions to different major events that took place during that era, especially the Bill Clinton scandal, etc.

I liked how each of the characters is developed, especially Mia and Pearl and the secrets that Mia has hidden from everyone, including her daughter. Pearl, however, was the complete opposite and just wants to settle down after living a nomadic life with her mother, for reasons that she does not understand. She especially wants to plant down roots after finding good friends in the Richardson children. It was also interesting to see her relationship with them and how they start to change as a result of Pearl’s entrance into their life.

Mrs. Richardson was also an interesting character and it was interesting to see how she desperately tries to keep in control of everything in Shaker Heights. It was also interesting to see how mistrustful she is of Mia when she starts to see that her kids like her more than their own mother.

Plot-wise, Little Fires Everywhere was interesting because it causes readers to think about uestiosn regarding motherhood, parenthood, custody, etc. In fact, they are issues that will stay with readers for several days after the finish the book.

As far as audiobooks go, this was an okay one to listen to. The narrator didn’t do to bad of a job keeping my interest in the story, however there were times that her voice was nasally which is one of my personal pet peeves when it comes to audiobook narrators.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

October and November Wrap-Up

  1. Dead Before Dying by Deon Meyer 
  2. Worried about the Wrong Things by Jacqueline Ryan Vickery 
  3. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
  4. Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
  5. Take Four by Karen Kingsbury 
  6. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Schaeffer and Annie Barrows
  7. Merchandising Made Simple by Jenny LaPerriere and Trish Christiansen
  8. Ah-Ha by Jeff Mack
  9. The Shape of Water by Guillermo del Toro and Daniel Kraus
  10. Sourdough by Robin Sloan
  11. The End We Start From by Megan Hunter
  12. Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire
  13.  Binti
  14. Law of the Desert Born
  15. What We Lose by Zinzi Clemmons
  16. Before We Visit the Goddess
  17. Quinn’s Promise Rock 
  18. ABC: What Can She Be? 
  19. Owl Love You
  20. A Hundred Kisses Before Bedtime 
  21. The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin
  22. Shelter of the Most High by Connilyn Cossette 
  23. Ozy and Millie by Dana Simpson

December TBR

Hello Everyone!

Welcome back to another TBR post. This month I have a lot of books that I am excited to get to, especially since my classes are almost over and I will hopefully have a little bit more time to read.

I also want to apologize for some of the incomplete posts that have gone up in the last few months, I am trying to get better at making sure all my posts are finished when they go up, but a lot of stuff has happened in my personal life the past month or so that I am just now being able to catch my breath and figure out what it is I need to do. So to sum up, I am going to try and have my blog posts complete before they go up as scheduled, even if it means I have to post it later on in the day.

And now, without further ado, here are the top five books I am hoping to read in the month of December:

  1. Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas28260587
  2.  Wundersmith by Jessica Townsend36260006
  3. Legacy of Mercy by Lynn Austin
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  4. Just for Clicks by Kara McDowell38349296
  5. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling820343

 

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Book Review: All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Hello Everyone!

Today’s review is on All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr.

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All the Light We Cannot See follows Marie-Laure, a young blind woman, who lives with her father in Paris just before the German invasion. Once the Germans invade her and her father are forced to flee to the town of Saint-Malo, however her father also has a prized possession from the Natural History museum in Paris that could eventually cause trouble for them. The novel also follows a young German boy, Werner, who gets caught up in the idealism that the Nazi party seems to offer him, however he also starts to see the cracks in this seemingly perfect system, but also realizes that there is very little he can do if he wants to stay alive. The novel follows these two characters throughout the duration of World War II and how their paths eventually collide.

I enjoyed All the Light We Cannot See, although I went through a slight slump with my reading kind of in the middle of it, but I switched to the audiobook and enjoyed it all the same. Anthony Doerr has a lyrical way of writing that it is beautiful, but yet still captures the somberness of the era that he writes about.

The characters were really fascinating to get to know, especially Marie-Laure and Werner. It was interesting to get the perspective that we  do from Marie-Laure who is at a disadvantage of being physically blind, but yet there is Werner who is, as a young boy, blinded by the idealism of the Nazi party. While Marie-Laure comes to terms with her blindness and learns to adapt to her surroundings and day-to-day life, Werner comes to a realization the inhumanity of what the Nazi party stands for, but also realizes that in order to stay alive he needs to go with the flow.

Some of the other side characters that are mentioned in this book were interesting, some of the most notable ones were Frederick, Marie-Laure’s father, her uncle, Madame Manec and Werner’s sister, Jutta. It was good to read from their perspectives and everything they went through during the war, and even some of their experiences afterwards.

The plot moves steadily, although there are some slight lags that will probably make some readers frustrated. But overall, it was a really good book and I highly recommend it for anyone that enjoys historical fiction set in World War II.  3.75/5 Stars

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Book Review: A Simple Favor by Darcey Bell

Hello Everyone!

Today’s review is on A Simple Favor by Darcey Bell.

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I chose to read A Simple Favor because I wanted to find out what happened without going to see the movie. It sounded interesting, and I wanted to see what happened to make it suspenseful. Plus the whole idea that it involves a mommy blogger who ends up being harassed by her supposedly dead friend was also intriguing.

Mommy blogger, Stephanie’s world is turned upside down when her best friend Emily disappears one night, with only one request, that her son spend the night at her place. Stephanie tries to use her blog to help get any clues as to the whereabouts of Emily, and also stands by Emily’s husband’s side as they try to figure out what happened. However, Emily’s body is soon found and the case is closed, or so they think! Several weeks after the discovery of Emily’s body Sean and Stephanie start sleeping with each other, and soon after that Stephanie receives a phone call from someone claiming to be Emily. Is her friend still alive, or is it someone playing a sick trick on her? Plus she is also scared of some secrets from her past being exposed if Emily chooses to exact revenge on her.

I really wanted to love A Simple Favor, however it just didn’t draw me in. The only reason I kept reading was so that I could find out what really happened to Emily, and even that was kind of anticlimatic. I didn’t like any of the characters, Stephanie is awful and Emily is even worse. And then there is the whole back story of how Stephanie’s son was not her husband’s child, but rather her half brother’s and that she was having an affair with him when both he and her husband were killed in the same car accident (which may or may not have been a suicide/murder). It was just disturbing! And then Stephanie goes and sleeps with her best friend’s husband and tries to justify it!

Then there is Emily, who granted we are not supposed to like, but she is an awful, manipulative person who puts her husband and son through a great trauma and expects everything to be okay when they are reunited after they get the insurance money that she faked her death for. Sean is also despicable because when he discovers that she is alive, he holds onto that information and plays along, although she does kind of blackmail him into lying about her death. Also, her backstory was interesting and sad.

I did like the inclusions of Stephanie’s blog posts scattered throughout the novel. It did add something extra to the novel, even though the plot was seriously lacking in good pacing. It had the potential to be a great novel, but it fell flat in several areas. But then again I am beginning to think that suspense novels are just not my thing because this is the second one I have read and I didn’t like the first one I read. Even though I did not like it, there are many who will eagerly lap up this popular offering, especially with the recent release of the film last month. 2/5 Stars.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Book Review: Cottage by the Sea by Debbie Macomber

Hello Everyone!

Today’s review is on Cottage by the Sea by Debbie Macomber.

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 I chose this because Debbie Macomber has long been a favorite author of mine and her books are usually good, clean romances. It is also set in a seaside town, which is one of my favorite settings.

Annie has been in funk ever since her family was killed in a tragic mudslide on Thanksgiving sixteen months before the opening of the book. One day she decides to take a trip to Oceanside, a small town that her family used to go to on vacation when she was in her teens. While there she starts to feel a peace that she hasn’t felt since she received the news about her family, so she decides to get a job and move to Oceanside to continue the healing process.

In Oceanside she comes to know Keaton, a shy artist and carpenter, Mellie, her reclusive landlord, and Britt, a teenager who has a troubled background. They all help her heal and make her realize what is important in life.

First, let me start off by saying that there is something about Debbie Macomber’s novels that is addictive, and once you have read one, it is hard to stop. Cottage by the Sea  was no exception, however it had a more serious tone than some of her other books, but I still appreciate how she tackled with the issue of grief and even long-lost love. I also loved the setting of the small town of Oceanside and I wish I could live there, Macomber needs to write more books set in this town!

I enjoyed getting to know the characters, especially Annie and watching how she was wracked with grief and guilt because she believes that she should have died with her family during the mud slide, instead of making the selfish decision to not go visit them for Thanksgiving. It was also interesting to see how she makes the major life decision to move to Oceanside in order to get over grief, because it was a place where she was at her happiest.

The love interest, Keaton, was also interesting to get to know. At first he is lovable, but he becomes super frustrating when he completely shuts Annie out when he finds out that she might be leaving Oceanside. He doesn’t even talk to her, he just blocks her out of his life – I get that he has issues with his father, but it still was not a good enough excuse to treat her that way.

I also enjoyed getting to know Mellie and finding out why she is a recluse and stays in her house all the time and doesn’t really talk to anyone except Keaton, and Preston. Preston was another good character, and I wish he could have talked some sense into the bull-headed Keaton at times, he is also a good influence on Mellie and his love for her, and her returned affections for him eventually cause her to leave the house. I like how it is shown how exasperated he gets after he is constantly trying to show her he cares, especially since he has been trying to win her heart since high school. Britt was another good character, and I liked getting to know about her rough home life, and her decision to give her baby up for adoption to a deserving couple in Oceanside.

Overall, this was a good novel about moving on and getting past an all-consuming grief, and reconnecting with a long-lost love. This is a perfect summer read for fans of clean romance and any of Debbie Macomber’s other works. 4/5 Stars.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Book Review: Dead Before Dying by Deon Meyer

Hello Everyone!

Today’s review is on Dead Before Dying by Deon Meyer.

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 I chose this book because it came up on a list on Novelist of thrillers to read. I was also intrigued by the fact that it was set in Cape Town, South Africa (where I grew up) and that it had been translated from Afrikaans. I was interested to see how some of the South African slang translated across into audiobook format, especially since the narrator is British, not South African.

Captain Mat Joubert is still grieving over the death of his wife from almost three years ago when he is called to investigate the murder of a businessman who has been shot with a century-old gun. While trying to crack the case, two more men end up dead, both with the same weapon as the first victim, but there is seemingly no connection between the three of them. It doesn’t help that while tracking down the serial killer, there is also a bank robber on the loose that is hitting various banks across the Cape. Are the killer and bank robber the same person? Will they be apprehended? These are the questions that will be answered by the end of Dead Before Dying. 

There were a lot of reasons why I expected to love this book, mainly because it is set in my home town and a lot of the landmarks mentioned throughout are areas that I am familiar with. The mystery was interesting, however there were some pretty graphic sex scenes, and a graphic rape scene towards the end of the novel that made me feel very uncomfortable. Especially since one of the scenes is a main character, who is 35, and his 18 year old neighbor (even though she isn’t a minor, it was honestly just gross). There was also a lot of unnecessary cussing, which is also a big turn off for me personally.

Again, the plot itself was pretty good, however there were flashback scenes and dream sequences that were never really identified as such and I was left trying to figure out how things had escalated so quickly when meanwhile it was just the character daydreaming. I also appreciated hearing the different places that were mentioned, and even some of the slang that was used that I haven’t heard in while, however there were certain names where it was obvious that the narrator was not South African because he overcompensated on the pronunciation.

Captain Mat Joubert was an interesting character, who had some redeeming qualities, but it also seemed like it was constantly thinking about sex, especially when there was a single female in his presence. It was interesting to see him grapple with his life starting to fall apart and striving to regain some control over it, even if it means going to see a psychologist and giving up cigarettes. In a lot of ways he is a good modern depiction of the hard-boiled detectives of old (e.g. Philip Marlowe), but his story is definitely not for everyone, especially those who don’t like reading constantly about the sexual desires of the character.

It was also interesting to see how, even though he is extremely flawed, he does look out for his friends, especially Benny Griesel who has a drinking problem. I also liked getting to know Hannah Norte (?) the psychologist who seemed very sweet and was shocked to find out how she was involved in the case.

I found it interesting that Meyer gave readers the bank robbery scenes, as well as some murder scenes to keep us guessing as to who was the killer, especially when one of the suspects ends up dead. I also appreciated a few scenes that we got from several of victim before they were murdered because it gave more dimension as to who they were and why they might have been murdered. In the end, it was interesting to see how it was a previously committed act of rape that was the motive behind the murders, which was shocking, and I felt like there was no necessity for all the gory details of that particular scene, which the author provides anyway.

Overall, while the majority of the plot is pretty decent, the novel suffers from an overload of sexual innuendos and descriptions that some might find disconcerting. However, maybe because I listened to the audiobook I was able to pick up on it more than if I was just simply reading the physical book. 2/5 Stars.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.