Book Review: Funny Feelings by Tarah Dewitt

Hello Everyone,

Today’s review is on Funny Feelings by Tarah Dewitt, which was one of my favorite reads from last year.

Date Read: October 4th, 2022

About the Book

Farley Jones is being forced to date Meyer Harrigan, the man she has come to love, in order to make all of her stand-up dreams come true.

It’s agony— a tragedy, even. In lieu of flowers, please send cash…

Meyer and his daughter Hazel have been everything to her since they came into her life three years ago. So, all joking aside, the stakes really are high when it’s not only her career, but both of those relationships on the line.

A former stand-up star himself, Meyer has helped the trajectory of her career take off since he began managing her… Since he became her closest and most treasured friend, in the process.

This is the only reason why, when the biggest opportunity of Farley’s career includes thrusting him back into the spotlight to stir up publicity, he agrees— despite his grumpiness, his protectiveness over Hazel, and his disdain for public attention.

When helping her includes taking those barriers down, all those funny feelings start coming out into the open, and it quickly begins to feel like anything but a joke.

Funny Feelings is a swoony story about friendship, love, and looking for the laugh in life. It touches on the creative spirit and all that comes with sharing that gift, and how oftentimes the comedians in our lives are the most sensitive, or struggling. It features two friends, one incredible little girl, and a kaleidoscope of feelings along the way.

My Thoughts

I am so happy I stumbled across Funny Feelings while browsing Barnes and Noble’s website, I’m also happy that ended up purchasing it.

First off, this cover is gorgeous and screams Fall to me. Second, I really enjoyed reading it and I think to many people are sleeping on it. With that being said, this is not the book for you if you aren’t a fan of strong language and some spicy scenes.

I loved getting to know Farley and Meyer, as well as seeing the tension and chemistry between the two of them. I also really liked that while they both looked out for their own well-being, they both also looked out for Hazel (Meyer’s daughter) was affected by certain decisions. I also loved the focus on mental health that is explored to some extent.

I loved Farley, but also wished she would just be more open with Meyer, but I also get why she wasn’t because she also wants to protect their friendship. I also enjoyed getting to know Meyer and seeing his relationship to Hazel. I liked that he was protective of Farley, but yet not in an alpha male sort of way (which is personally not my thing).

I really liked how this was kind of a split timeline and we get to see their friendship blossom from when they met 3 years prior to the story.

There is a lot that I really enjoyed about Funny Feelings. I liked the inclusion of Hazel being deaf, but yet also showing how full and rich her life is. I liked the angst. And I really liked the spicy scenes that were pretty spicy.

I really enjoyed Funny Feelings and how it explores the life of a stand-up comedian getting her big break while also being a romance. I definitely plan on reading more of Tarah Dewitt’s work in the future. 4.5/5 Stars.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Book Haul #5

Hello everyone,

Today I am going to share the books that I hauled from October of last year through January of this year. There is a lot, so I will only be sharing briefly where I got the books from (if I can remember) so that this post doesn’t end up being too long.


The following I got on a trip to Colorado to visit my best friend Allison. She gave me 3 books as gifts, and the rest I hauled from 2nd & Charles, Mile High Thrift, The Tattered Book, and a library sale.

  • People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry
  • The Winter of the Witch by Katherine Arden
  • From Blood and Ash by Jennifer L. Armentrout
  • Yerba Buena by Nina LaCour
  • Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid
  • Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
  • Tash Hearts Tolstoy by Kathryn Ormsbee
  • Mammoth by Julie Baguchinsky
  • The Fountain of Silence by Ruta Sepetys
  • The One to Watch by Kate Stayman-London
  • Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour
  • Life’s Too Short by Abby Jimenez
  • Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare
  • A Tyranny of Petticoats edited by Jessica Spotswood
  • The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenger
  • Ramon and Julieta by Alana Albertson
  • The Poppy War by R. F. Kuang
  • The Unraveling of Cassidy Holmes by Ellisa R. Sloan
  • Back in the Burbs by Tracy Wolff and Avery Flynn
  • The Wilder Life by Wendy McClure


The first two books on this list are pre-orders, the third was my Book of the Month pick and then the last two were books I got off of Amazon.

  • Ship Wrecked by Olivia Dade
  • Heart of the Sun Warrior by Sue Lynn Tan
  • The Heart Principle by Helen Hoang
  • Spoiler Alert by Olivia Dade
  • All the Feels by Olivia Dade


The first book was my Book of the Month pick, the second was a gift to myself, and the rest of the books I bought at Barnes & Nobles’ “50% of all Hardcovers” sale.

  • Babel by R. F. Kuang
  • Weather Girl by Rachel Lynn Solomon
  • Just Haven’t Met You Yet by Sophie Cousens
  • A Court of Silver Flames by Sarah J. Maas
  • The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
  • I’m Glad My Mom Died by Jenette McCurdy

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Movie Review: Citizen Kane (1941)

Hello Everyone,

Today I will be reviewing the classic film, Citizen Kane starring Orson Welles.

By William Rose – Scan via Heritage Auctions. Cropped from the original image., Public Domain,

I’ll admit, I have been reluctant to watch Citizen Kane since it is considered to be one of the best films of all time. I also didn’t really know very much about it until my husband happened to watch it on a flight a few months ago. First, I was intrigued that my husband had enjoyed it so much, and second, that it was partially inspired by William Randolph Hearst, who I’ll be honest I only knew who he was because of Hearst Castle.

One of my main worries going into a movie like Citizen Kane is whether I will enjoy it or not. Will it live up to the “hype” and expectations I have set in my head? Or will I be left sorely disappointed and wondering why it is considered one of the best films of all time. However, I am pleased to say that I enjoyed the movie. While it isn’t a movie that you can just sit back and enjoy, it does have a lot of weight to it. In fact, some of the symbolism that appears near the end of the film made my inner English major nerd get really excited. This doesn’t necessarily mean that every movie I watch will have this affect, in fact, I’d argue that I have several ways I enjoy a movie. Sometimes it’s just that they’re fun and/or entertaining to watch, other times it is because of the depth of the movie and in some ways the hidden meanings that are in a film. I would say that Citizen Kane is definitely the latter.

Before I continue, I would just like to give a warning that there will be major spoilers for the film, as well as an acknowledgement that while these are my thoughts, I do acknowledge that there are many others who have come to similar conclusions or have had similar thoughts.

First, I should start with a brief summary of what Citizen Kane is about. Citizen Kane follows the life of newspaper magnate Charles Foster Kane, starting with his death in 1941, and then working backwards to show viewers his life as a child to man he was before he died. However, we discover this along with a reporter who is interviewing various people who were close to Kane to find out what his dying word, “Rosebud” meant. Through these interviews we learn that Kane spent some of his childhood in Colorado before being sent to live with his guardian, Thatcher, who also oversees his trust fund, which has been set up by his mother. When he turns 25, he has come of age to take over all of his assets, however Kane informs Thatcher that he only wants possession of one of the newspapers, the New York Inquirer, which is languishing. However, with is friend Jed Leland, and manager, Mr. Bernstein, they soon turn things around, overtaking the most successful paper, the Chronicle. He then marries. However, over the years he and his wife drift apart, and while running for governor, he becomes involved with a young woman named Susan Alexander. He is outed by his competitor and his marriage is destroyed by his willingness to bring his affair to the public. After his divorce from his first wife, he marries Susan. Early in their relationship she had expressed the desire to become a singer, and helps her pursue those dreams despite the fact that she is not that good.

I think it’s interesting to see how Kane treats his “guardian”, Mr. Thatcher, with almost contempt. And in some ways I wonder if it is almost and Oedipal reaction. His resentment and contempt to Thatcher is not just because he had to grow up in privilege but in order to do so he was ripped away from his mother, who, from the few minutes she is on screen, we see he loves very much. However, it is interesting that while she is trying to give him the best life possible, she rather sets him up for the misery he experiences later on in life.

Next, there is the topic of “Rosebud”, which in the end we discover is the name of his sleigh. I think it’s also interesting that his memory of Rosebud was triggered by the snow globe he found in Susan’s room after she left him. It’s almost as if in the midst of some of the deepest hurt, he comes across something that reminds him of not only his childhood home in Colorado, but also of his sleigh. I would argue it reminds him of the carefree and innocent days of his youth before he was sent away with Thatcher to live a life of luxury. In remembering Rosebud, I think he wishes he could go back to those days where he wasn’t alone, wasn’t craving to be loved, and he hadn’t in a sense lost who he was as a person. I believe it also makes both Kane, as well as the viewers, wonder what he would have been like as a man if he had been allowed to stay with his parents, and Rosebud. Would he have turned into the aloof, callous and taciturn man he dies as, or would he have still had more of his innocence, or rather had gotten to experience life with more innocence. In a way, while his mother meant well, I don’t think she ever intended his wealth to corrupt him the way it does. She just simply wanted a better life for her boy, but her preconceived notions of better, ended up making him a bitter man.

One last element of the film that I would like to touch on is the scene right after Kane has ransacked Susan’s room, and he walks past a mirror. And as he walks past we see endless reflections of of him. In some ways, I believe that represents the different versions of himself he has been over the years. From a young boy playing in the snow, to the eager college dropout who wanted to have the best newspaper in the city while still sticking to his principles, to callous and lonely old man who has lost everything do to his power and his greed. Although, it could be argued that his power and greed were a substitute, albeit a poor one, for the love he craved all his life. As a viewer, I felt sorry for him. But I could also relate. In my own life there have been times where I have felt like I needed to earn love from others, or rather try and force them to love me, which Kane does in the case of Susan. However, thankfully I have learned that it is impossible to force people to love you, because eventually they grow to resent you. Not that I’ve had any relationships get to this stage, but it is something that can be seen on the screen. Again, we see Susan, who is forced into isolation in Xanadu with Kane, longing for the exciting life of New York, but not allowed to leave. Eventually her isolation brings her to the point where she feels controlled by Kane and it causes her to look on him with contempt and resentment. Despite all his wealth, he once again loses the most important thing to him, love. Then there is the fact that there is a version of Charles Foster Kane that no one, not even himself will know, and that is the version that never left Colorado. As I mentioned before, who knows how different he would have been if he had been allowed to continue to grow-up with his parents, as opposed to a world of riches.

Overall, Citizen Kane is a film rich with symbolism and meaning. I can see why some refer to it as the greatest movie of all time. Visually, it is a great film. The score captures the essence of every scene. And the actors portray their characters very well, especially Orson Welles, who made me believe that Charles Foster Kane was a real person. I think this is a movie that is worthy of many people’s time and is definitely one to add to your list if you haven’t seen it yet.

Book Review: The Magnolia Palace by Fiona Davis

Hello everyone,

Today’s review is on The Magnolia Palace by Fiona Davis.

Date read: February 28, 2022

About the Book

Fiona Davis, New York Times bestselling author of The Lions of Fifth Avenue, returns with a tantalizing novel about the secrets, betrayal, and murder within one of New York City’s most impressive Gilded Age mansions.

Eight months since losing her mother in the Spanish flu outbreak of 1919, twenty-one-year-old Lillian Carter’s life has completely fallen apart. For the past six years, under the moniker Angelica, Lillian was one of the most sought-after artists’ models in New York City, with statues based on her figure gracing landmarks from the Plaza Hotel to the Brooklyn Bridge. But with her mother gone, a grieving Lillian is rudderless and desperate—the work has dried up and a looming scandal has left her entirely without a safe haven. So when she stumbles upon an employment opportunity at the Frick mansion—a building that, ironically, bears her own visage—Lillian jumps at the chance. But the longer she works as a private secretary to the imperious and demanding Helen Frick, the daughter and heiress of industrialist and art patron Henry Clay Frick, the more deeply her life gets intertwined with that of the family—pulling her into a tangled web of romantic trysts, stolen jewels, and family drama that runs so deep, the stakes just may be life or death.

Nearly fifty years later, mod English model Veronica Weber has her own chance to make her career—and with it, earn the money she needs to support her family back home—within the walls of the former Frick residence, now converted into one of New York City’s most impressive museums. But when she—along with a charming intern/budding art curator named Joshua—is dismissed from the Vogue shoot taking place at the Frick Collection, she chances upon a series of hidden messages in the museum: messages that will lead her and Joshua on a hunt that could not only solve Veronica’s financial woes, but could finally reveal the truth behind a decades-old murder in the infamous Frick family.

My Thoughts

This was an interesting read, although I found the pacing to be kind of slow at times. I liked how it had a split timeline between 1919 and 1966. I wish we had gotten to know Veronica and John a bit more. I felt like their sections were rushed. I think there could have been more exploration of John as an African-American wanting to work in the field of fine arts. The author touches on it, but also just over it, but I can also understand why.

I found most of the characters unlikable, especially Helen, but she is also based on a real person who I guess was that ornery. I found Richard Danforth to be a lily-livered man. I don’t know why he was appealing also (slight spoiler) is it implied that Mr. Frick paid him to marry Helen?

Lillian was an okay character, I felt like there could have been more exploration of her character, especially since she serves as a sort of foil to Helen.

Overall, I liked The Magnolia Palace, however I expected there to be more of a mystery than there actually is (based on the synopsis), it just seemed to be tacked on. The writing held my attention, but not necessarily to the point where I felt like I couldn’t put it down. However, I might try some of Fiona Davis’ other novels in the future. 3/5 Stars.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Mini-Reviews #15

Hello everyone,

Welcome to another installment of mini-reviews, where I share my brief thoughts on some of the books I have read.

Fruits Basket Collector’s Edition, Vol. 1 by Natsuki Takaya

This was so cute and I plan on reading the whole series as soon as I can get my hands on each volume. This is the perfect follow-up to Kamisama Kiss. I definitely enjoyed reading this first part the second time around. 4/5 Stars.

Ms. Marvel Vol. 1: No Normal by G. Willow Wilson

This was a re-read for me, but I loved it! It was great to see how much of it was used for the TV show, but I also really liked the differences. I am looking forward to continuing on with the series. 4/5 Stars.

Below Zero by Ali Hazelwood

I’ll keep my review short and sweet since this is what this novella was. I really did like it. I just found Hannah to be a little full of herself, and I also felt she should have given Ian the benefit of the doubt instead of just assuming he was a herk. I did enjoy their chemistry and I loved the steam. 3.5/5 Stars.

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

I finally read this. It has to be one of the most hyped romances in the book community. I liked it. I did find Stella a little annoying, but I also had to keep reminding myself that she is on the autism spectrum. I also wish Michael was more upfront with Stella , and didn’t make assumptions about how she would react to who his father is. I loved Michael’s family and I hope we get to see more of them in the companion books (which I plan on reading). This is steaminess, but in some ways I wish there had been more. 3/5 Stars.

The Apothecary Diaries, Volume 1 by Natsu Hyuuga

This was a cute manga I came across while scrolling through the Libby app. I loved that we get to follow a young woman who has been forced to serve the Emperor’s wives and concubines. I also liked that there was a mystery element to it. 4/5 Stars.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Book Review: How High We Go in the Dark by Sequoia Nagamatsu

Hello Everyone,

Today’s review is on How High We Go in the Dark by Sequoia Nagamatsu.

Date Read: February 12, 2023

About the Book

For fans of Cloud Atlas and Station Eleven, a spellbinding and profoundly prescient debut that follows a cast of intricately linked characters over hundreds of years as humanity struggles to rebuild itself in the aftermath of a climate plague—a daring and deeply heartfelt work of mind-bending imagination from a singular new voice.

Beginning in 2030, a grieving archeologist arrives in the Arctic Circle to continue the work of his recently deceased daughter at the Batagaika crater, where researchers are studying long-buried secrets now revealed in melting permafrost, including the perfectly preserved remains of a girl who appears to have died of an ancient virus.

Once unleashed, the Arctic Plague will reshape life on earth for generations to come, quickly traversing the globe, forcing humanity to devise a myriad of moving and inventive ways to embrace possibility in the face of tragedy. In a theme park designed for terminally ill children, a cynical employee falls in love with a mother desperate to hold on to her infected son. A heartbroken scientist searching for a cure finds a second chance at fatherhood when one of his test subjects—a pig—develops the capacity for human speech. A widowed painter and her teenaged granddaughter embark on a cosmic quest to locate a new home planet.

From funerary skyscrapers to hotels for the dead to interstellar starships, Sequoia Nagamatsu takes readers on a wildly original and compassionate journey, spanning continents, centuries, and even celestial bodies to tell a story about the resiliency of the human spirit, our infinite capacity to dream, and the connective threads that tie us all together in the universe.

My Thoughts

I’ll be honest, I don’t know how to review this book without giving away too much, because everyone needs to experience this book – okay, maybe everyone is too broad but I do think more people need to read it!

It was phenomenal and it is definitely on my list of top books of 2023! Before I get into my semi-coherent review, I do want give trigger warnings for pandemics, death, grief, suicide, euthanasia and the effects of climate change.

I guess I should say that when I first heard of this book I kind of didn’t give it a second thought. I should also mention that that was a t a time when a lot of my views were starting to change on issues such as climate change, and maybe reading How High We Go in the Dark would have helped. But at the same time it might not have had the same impact on my reading life.

Fast forward to the end of 2022 when several BookTubers had it on their favorites list. The more I heard about it, the more I was intrigued. I finally picked it up on a trip back from L.A. and I was hooked! If I hadn’t had to work the next day, I would have stayed up late to finish it. It has been a long time since a book has made me feel that way. Each time I put it down – and when I finished it – I could not stop thinking about it. It is thought-provoking and definitely packs a punch.

How High We Go in the Dark is told through a series of interconnected stories, with the common thread of this Arctic virus ravaging the world and the continual effects of climate change. While the novel deals with death and grief in a multitude of ways, there is an underlying thread of hope in each story.

I’ll admit that some of the stories were a little out there, but in the grand scheme of the novel they made sense. The last story brings everything full-circle and oh my gosh it is so freaking good!!! This book made me feel things in the best possible way and had me sobbing at some points.

I don’t know what else to say without spoiling the book, but if you can handle it, please read this book! Also, if you have any suggestions of books that are similar, please let me know. I am planning on picking up Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell and Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel soon.

I am looking forward to reading more from Sequoia Nagamatsu in the future!

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Book Review: Secretly Yours by Tessa Bailey

Hello Everyone,

Today’s review is on Secretly Yours by Tessa Bailey.

Date Read: February 10th, 2023

About the Book

A steamy new rom-com about a starchy professor and the bubbly neighbor he clashes with at every turn…

Hallie Welch fell hard for Julian Vos at fourteen, after they almost kissed in the dark vineyards of his family’s winery. Now the prodigal hottie has returned to their small town. When Hallie is hired to revamp the gardens on the Vos estate, she wonders if she’ll finally get that smooch. But the grumpy professor isn’t the teenager she remembers and their polar opposite personalities clash spectacularly. One wine-fueled girls’ night later, Hallie can’t shake the sense that she did something reckless–and then she remembers the drunken secret admirer letter she left for Julian. Oh shit.

On sabbatical from his ivy league job, Julian plans to write a novel. But having Hallie gardening right outside his window is the ultimate distraction. She’s eccentric, chronically late, often literally covered in dirt–and so unbelievably beautiful, he can’t focus on anything else. Until he finds an anonymous letter sent by a woman from his past. Even as Julian wonders about this admirer, he’s sucked further into Hallie’s orbit. Like the flowers she plants all over town, Hallie is a burst of color in Julian’s gray-scale life. For a man who irons his socks and runs on tight schedules, her sunny chaotic energy makes zero sense. But there’s something so familiar about her… and her very presence is turning his world upside down.

My Thoughts

Thank you to HarperCollins and Netgalley for giving me an eARC of this book in exchange for my honest review.

This was a really cute rom-com that I honestly think is one of Tessa Bailey’s better books!

I loved Hallie and how she wants to save her late grandmother’s favorite store, but yet she is also adrift and self-destructing in some ways. But she was a lovable character and while some of the things she does are kind of juvenile, once you find out more about her upbringing it makes sense. I really liked that her and Julien were good foils to each other, while seeming to be a good couple.

Julien was also great, although he was a little slow when it came to making a move, especially in the third act. I will say though that I do appreciate that he wasn’t as alpha as some of Tessa Bailey’s other male characters that I have encountered so far. Yes, he did have some alpha tendencies, especially in the steamy scenes, but he wasn’t borderline controlling.

Another aspect that I appreciated about the novel is when we see Hallie struggle with her body image – which is a little strange because she comes off as super confident – but it was also comforting in some ways. I think because it is a reminder that most women struggle with their body image.

I also really liked the romance. I thought it was sweet and I also liked how there was a little bit of time for them to get to know each other. The third act break-up was ling of ridiculous. They both should have tried to talk to the other person, instead of assuming the worst.

Overall, I really liked Secretly Yours and I can’t wait to read the companion book – Unfortunately Yours – which comes out later this year and follows Julien’s sister, Natalie. 4/5 Stars.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Book Review: The Unsinkable Greta James by Jennifer E. Smith

Hello everyone,

Today’s review is on The Unsinkable Greta James by Jennifer E. Smith.

Date Read: March 9, 2022

About the Book

Greta James’s meteoric rise to indie stardom was hard-won. Before she graced magazine covers and sold out venues, she spent her girlhood strumming her guitar in the family garage. Her first fan was her mother, Helen, whose face shone bright in the dusty downtown bars where she got her start—but not everyone encouraged Greta to follow her dreams. While many daydream about a crowd chanting their name, her father, Conrad, saw only a precarious life ahead for his daughter.

Greta has spent her life trying to prove him wrong, but three months after Helen’s sudden death, and weeks before the launch of her high-stakes sophomore album, Greta has an onstage meltdown that goes viral. Attempting to outrun the humiliation and heartbreak, she reluctantly agrees to accompany her father on a week-long Alaskan cruise, the very one that her parents had booked to celebrate their fortieth anniversary.

This could be the James family’s last chance to heal old wounds and will prove to be a voyage of discovery for them, as well as for Ben Wilder, a historian also struggling with a major upheaval in his life. Ben is on board to lecture about Jack London’s The Call of the Wild, the adventure story Greta’s mother adored, and he captures Greta’s attention after her streak of dating hanger-ons. As Greta works to build up her confidence and heal, and Ben confronts his uncertain future, they must rely on one another to make sense of life’s difficult choices. In the end, Greta must make the most challenging decision of all: to listen to the song within her or make peace with those who love her.

An indie musician reeling from tragedy reconnects with her estranged father on a week-long cruise in this tale of grief, fame, and love from bestselling author Jennifer E. Smith.

My Thoughts

I was really happy when I found out that Jennifer E. Smith was coming out with her debut adult novel. I had been a fan of her work ever since I picked up This Is What Happy Looks Like in 2015. I will admit that I was a little nervous going into it because I really wanted to like it. And I am happy to say that I really enjoyed it and iti is definitely a book I plan on revisiting.

I enjoyed getting to know Greta and reading her sort of re-coming-of-age story as she tries to reignite her passion for music. I also liked that we get to see her grapple with grief as well as having to confront her estranged relationship with her father. There were definitely a few things that I found unlikable about Greta, however I think that they also made her more three-dimensional, and they also serve as a reminder that we are all flawed in one way or another.

I also liked getting to know Ben, however there were times that I found him kind of flaky and two-faced. One minute he would be consoling Greta for something self-deprecating she said, and the next moment he would be criticizing her of the very thing he just assured her she isn’t. I also felt like h strung her along and was unfair to her at times. I get he had other things going on in his life, but stull, I just wish a few things had gone differently, but also get that that is life sometimes.

There were times when the interactions with her father were hard to read because he is so hard on her and doesn’t view her music as a career. However, I also liked that over the course of the novel they start tot talk through their issues.

I also liked the backdrop of an Alaskan cruise and seeing how that is used to help Greta rediscover who she is. I also liked how Stella the sea eagle that her and her father see symbolizes how things are going to get better for them – since they are considered to be lucky.

Overall, I really enjoyed The Unsinkable Greta James and I hope that Jennifer E. Smith writes more adult fiction in the future. 4/5 Stars.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Mini-Reviews #14

Hello everyone,

Welcome to another installment of mini-reviews. There will probably be a lot more of these posts through the year, especially since I am trying to get in the habit of writing reviews for each book I read this year, whether it’s short and sweet, or longer in length. This installment is the first batch of mini-reviews of books that I read in 2022.

Gilead by Marilynne Robinson

I had no idea what to expect going into Gilead, I didn’t even know if I would like it. However, I enjoyed this novel which is framed as a letter from an aging pastor to his young son. We go along the journey in learning more about the various people of Gilead, as well as the life of our narrator – John Ames – from boyhood to his position as one of the town ministers. I think one of the things I enjoyed most about the book is that the author doesn’t shy away from showing John Ames as a multifaceted man who struggles with his own doubts, and even has his own questions when it comes to theology. I appreciated that he doesn’t have all the answers, and even admits that there are aspects of theology – such as predestination, and the concept of hell – he doesn’t necessarily agree with the popular consensus. I just appreciated that we see a man of God who is flawed, but isn’t afraid to reveal it. I would love to go back and reread Gilead someday and see if there is anything else that I didn’t catch the first time I read it. 4/5 Stars.

Elsie’s Girlhood by Martha Finley

For whatever reason I continued my reread of the Elsie books. I don’t know why, they’re not good. They promote a version of Christianity that is extremely legalistic. In this one, we see Elsie grow into a young woman and experience love for the first time. Once again, I found Elsie’s father to be overly controlling and unreasonable, especially once she reaches adulthood. I also found her extremely naïve and I fully blame the fact that her father was so strict on her. I did not have the energy to do a fuller reaction review to this installment because I read it very late one night when I struggled to sleep. The ending is disturbing, especially since it seems a bit clearer that her relationship with Mr. Travilla was somewhat a grooming one. I can’t believe when I was a lot longer I thought it was sweet!!! As with the previous books, I am not giving it a rating.

Elsie’s Womanhood by Martha Finley

Okay, this was the last book in the Elsie series I picked up. I started it right after reading the previous book in the series. This installment was a tad bit better than the previous one, however I can’t get over the fact that Elsie ends up with Mr. Travilla who is her father’s age and best friend. I know it was a different time, but with how close they were, it’s hard not to view this as a grooming relationship. One aspect of this installment is that it does cover the Civil War and doesn’t shy away from exploring the feelings that characters would have experienced. However, I did decide that I needed to abandon my reread of this series. There are just a lot of other books I would love to read, and I can’t get to them if I’m spending my time reading this series. I will say one thing, I will never let my kids read these books, if they do, I will be having a lot discussions about legalism and abuse and racism.

The Golden Braid by Melanie Dickerson

I picked up The Golden Braid because I am trying to read some of the eBooks that I have had sitting on my Kindle for years. But I was also intrigued to read this retelling on Rapunzel. I have read some of the author’s other retellings and have liked them. I honestly did not know if I would enjoy this particular retelling, however, I really enjoyed it. I loved how the author not only retells the original fairy tale, but also uses a couple of elements from Tangled. I did find Rapunzel a little bit annoying at times, and I also had a hard time buying Gothel’s motives for what she does, but at the same time, I still felt it was a good retelling set in medieval Germany. I am looking forward to reading more of Melanie Dickerson’s retellings in the future! 4/5 Stars.

Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly

Lilac Girls was a hard book to read at times, but it makes sense that it would because it is dealing with the topic of war. I really liked this novel and it took me on a journey of emotions, of both grief and anger. I appreciated how the author depicts the lives of three different women during this time: an American who is on the Homefront, a Polish prisoner at Ravensbruck, and a young German doctor who has bought into the Nazi dogma. It was fascinating reading from Herta’s (the German doctor) perspective, it was angering to read how she convinced herself that the cruelty she inflicted on others was okay, and in some ways kept losing her humanity as long as she continued doing what she did. I do recommend Lilac Girls for fans of World War II and historical fiction, but it is not an easy read! 4/5 Stars.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

All the Books on My Physical TBR

Hello everyone,

Today I’m going to share all the books on my physical TBR. As of posting this I have 108 books (including the 4 that I have already read at the time of writing this post). My plan is to get this down to at least 75 books, whether that’s reading 33 book from this list, or unhauling books that I am no longer interested in. These books are in no particular order, except the order that I wrote them down in my reading journal.

  1. Just Haven’t Met You Yet by Sophie Cousens
  2. A Court of Silver Flames by Sarah J. Maas
  3. The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
  4. Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell
  5. The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo
  6. A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer
  7. Maud by Melanie J. Fishbane
  8. Perfect by Cecelia Ahern
  9. The Dollmaker of Krakow by R. M. Romero

10. The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan

11. The Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan

12. The Truth According to Us by Annie Barrow

13. The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith

14. A Sloth’s Guide to Taking it Easy by Sarah Jackson

15. Southern Lady, Yankee Spy by Elizabeth R. Varon

16. Jane’s Fame by Claire Harman

17. Rainbow Valley by L. M. Montgomery

18. Rilla of Ingleside by L. M. Montgomery

19. Little Town on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder

20. These Happy Golden Years by Laura Ingalls Wilder

21. The First Four Years by Laura Ingalls Wilder

22. From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankeweiler by E. L. Konigsburg

23. We Have Always Lived in a Castle by Shirley Jackson

24. The Word Exchange by Alena Graedon

25. The Camel Bookmobile by Masha Hamilton

26. The Alice Network by Kate Quinn

27. Babel by R. F. Kaung

28. Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

29. A Whole New World by Liz Braswell

30. Skin of the Sea by Natasha Bowen

31. Mammoth by Jill Baguchinsky

32. Ramon and Julieta by Alana Quintana Albertson

33. Life’s Too Short by Abby Jimenez

34. Tallgrass by Sandra Dallas

35. The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson

36. Blood Heir by Amelie Wen Zhao

37. The Blackbird Girls by Anne Blankman

38. From Blood and Ash by Jennifer L. Armentrout

39. Yerba Buena by Nina LaCour

40. Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

41. Heart of the Sun Warrior by Sue Lynn Tan

42. Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik

43. Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg: The Letters edited by Bill Morgan and David Stanford

44. The Invasion of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

45. As Long As the Lemon Trees Grow by Zoulfa Katouh

46. The Wind-up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Marukami

47. Daisy Darker by Alice Feeney

48. A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

49. The Heart Principle by Hellen Hoang

50. The Fountain of Silence by Ruta Sepetys

52. The Bodyguard by Katherine Center

53. Tash Hearts Tolstoy by Kathryn Ormsbee

54. The Wilder Life by Wendy McClure

55. Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour

56. A Tyranny of Petticoats edited by Jessica Spotswood

57. The Winter of the Witchn by Katherine Arden

58. Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

59. The Blue Castle by L. M. Montgomery

60. Kilmeny of the Orchard by L. M. Montgomery

61. Part of Your World by Liz Braswell

62. Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

63. Forever, Interrupted by Taylor Jenkins Reid

64. Back in the Burbs by Tracy Wolff and Avery Flynn

65. Deathnote, Volume 1 by Tusgumi Ohba

66. When We Were Them by Laura Taylor Namey

67.The Little Giant of Aberdeen County by Tiffany Baker

68. Dear Mrs. Bird by AJ Pearce

69. The Unraveling of Cassidy Holmes by Elissa R. Sloan

70. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

71. The Arsonists’ City by Hala Alyan

72. Walt Disney by Neal Gabler

73. The Readers’ of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katrina Bivald

74. The Last Little Blue Envelope by Maureen Johnson

75. Princess Academy by Shannon Hale

76. The Edge of Town by Dorothy Garlock

77. Much Ado About Mean Girls by Ian Doescher

78. More of Me by Kathryn Evans

79. Wings of Ebony by J. Elle

80. The Diabolic by S. J. Kincaid

81. Cloak of Deception by James Luceno

82. Emmy in the Key of Code by Aimee Lucido

83. Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas

84. Tower of Dawn by Sarah J. Maas

85. Coo by Kaela Noel

86. A Forgery of Roses by Jessica S. Olson

87. The Space Between Lost and Found by Sandy Stark-McGinnis

88. Full Flight by Ashley Schumacher

89. Starsight by Brandon Sanderson

90. The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney

91. Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict by Laurie Viera Rigler

92. The Jane Austen Writers’ Club by Rebecca Smith

93. I Work At a Public Library by Gina Sheridan

94. The Mysterious World of Agatha Christie by Jeffrey Feinman

95. The Landscapes of Anne of Green Gables by Catherine Reid

96. The Subversive Copy Editor by Carol Fisher Saller

97. Mistress Pat by L. M. Montgomery

98. Pat of Silver Bush by L. M. Montgomery

99. Jane of Lantern Hill by L. M. Montgomery

100. Chronicles of Avonlea by L. M. Montgomery

101. The Matchmaker’s List by Sonya Lalli

102. This Time Next Year by Sophie Cousens

103. Love & Other Words by Christina Lauren

104. Furyborn by Claire Legrand

105. The Dating Plan by Sara Desai

106. The Dragon Republic by R. F. Kuang

107. Lunar Love by Lauren Kung Jessen

108. The Reunion by Kayla Olson

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Reading Journal: Elsie’s Holidays at Roselands

Hello everyone,

Today’s post is a reading journal for the next installment in the Elsie Dinsmore series which I started re-reading last year. This is the last post, because I re-read books 3 and 4 at a rapid pace I didn’t get much time to write down thoughts while reading them. Let’s just say that after book 4 I had had my fill and couldn’t stand to read any more. Check out my review of book 1, Elsie Dinsmore before continuing with this post. I also want to note that some of the thoughts and beliefs I mention in this post are not ones that I still hold to.

*Sorry for the blurry cover picture, every version of this cover is tiny and when I enlarge it it comes out very pixelated.*

January 24th, 2022

I don’t like this book. It seems to be, if I remember correctly the worst book in the series. Once again, we have Elsie being too legalistic, but also her father being to harsh on her for sticking to her obedience to God…although again there is the whole issue that she is being disobedient to her father. But her father is definitely a tyrant and it’s almost as if he baits her in some ways. He needs to realize that he is to blame for how strictly she holds to her beliefs because he was out of her life for 8 years.

I do feel it unjust that her family blames her for his illness getting worse, I’m even shocked at Aunt Adelaide being one of them. I don’t know it’s just horrible. I get it’s supposed to be moralistic fiction but the cruelty Elsie experiences is awful. Also her crying, yes, I get that she is sensitive, I consider myself to be too, but she definitely cries too much to the point that I don’t know if some of it is manipulative (if I can say that) to the readers on how they need to be “better Christians” because they aren’t “grieved over their sins” like she is…I have a lot of thoughts on that that I won’t get into here, except that sometimes there is too much of a focus on sin that people miss that they have been saved by the blood of Christ and can also experience joy.


Some of Horace’s words about getting Elsie to submit sound as if he was talking about breaking a horse or some other type of animal. It’s honestly shocking language to use. Again, I know this is set during a different time, but it is still appalling, I know that the author is doing this intentionally, but at the same time it is horrifying. His blatant neglect of his daughter because she wouldn’t read him a particular story is so absurd. And her reads all of her correspondence. It’s so controlling.


Oh my gosh, this is abuse!!! Telling her that no one will love her anymore because of her “willful temper,” sure I don’t agree with her for not obeying her father, but she is doing everything that she can to make amends without doing what she thinks would be sinful. Horace Dinsmore is an abusive oaf! Sure, Elsie isn’t my favorite, but the way he talks to her and controls her you’d think she is out of control, when she isn’t. Good gravy!! Again, I know that the author is using this as a device for something that happens to his character later on, but still it is awful. I want to cry on her behalf because of how badly she is being treated.


The audacity that her grandfather judged her when she hasn’t really done anything wrong, meanwhile his own children are little devils. Good grief, the levels of abuse that this girl has to endure is astounding.


Whelp, I finished it. There was so much I disliked about the book, particularly how Elsie is treated and how it takes her almost dying for people to start treating her right. Also, what is up with the author finishing the book on a cliffhanger of sorts? It’s kind of annoying that the first two books ended like this, I’m curious to see if the same thing happens in the next book. I don’t know why I keep reading these. Onward and upward…sort of. Onto the next one.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Book Review: Love on the Brain by Ali Hazelwood

Hello everyone,

Today’s review is on Love on the Brain by Ali Hazelwood.

About the Book

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Love Hypothesis comes a new STEMinist rom-com in which a scientist is forced to work on a project with her nemesis—with explosive results.

Bee Königswasser lives by a simple code: What would Marie Curie do? If NASA offered her the lead on a neuroengineering project – a literal dream come true – Marie would accept without hesitation. Duh. But the mother of modern physics never had to co-lead with Levi Ward.

Sure, Levi is attractive in a tall, dark, and piercing-eyes kind of way. But Levi made his feelings toward Bee very clear in grad school – archenemies work best employed in their own galaxies far, far away.

But when her equipment starts to go missing and the staff ignore her, Bee could swear she sees Levi softening into an ally, backing her plays, seconding her ideas… devouring her with those eyes. The possibilities have all her neurons firing.

But when it comes time to actually make a move and put her heart on the line, there’s only one question that matters: What will Bee Königswasser do? 

My Thoughts

I really enjoyed Love on the Brain, however I didn’t love it as much as The Love Hypothesis, and that’s probably on me for reading them so close together. It probably didn’t help either that I jumped into it right about reading a pretty heavy book.

I really liked the backdrop of NASA, however, there are some things that happen in the book where you have to suspend your disbelief because they would have been way bigger issues than they are made out to be in the book. I did also really like the commentary on standardized testing that is made throughout the book, and I highly agree that standardized testing in any capacity is an absolute crock! I also liked how each chapter was titled with a specific part of the brain, it was really cohesive.

One thing that I did not like was how a lot of things had a TM next to it, I get that the author was trying to be funny, quirky erven, but it did get to be annoying after a while.

I did really like both main characters, although I kind of wish they’d cleared up their differences closer to the start of the book, because it got a little annoying that Levi wouldn’t clearly communicate that he doesn’t hate Bee. I did like the complexities of both characters, especially Be who has dealt with a lot of crap in her life, particularly with people close to her leaving. I also really loved her obsession with Marie Curie! I did also like Levi and finding out why he seems so taciturn. I loved their chemistry and how it was noticeable from the first time they interacted.

There are other things that I would love to touch upon but I shouldn’t because spoilers. My only other critique is that the ending was kind of rushed and I wish there’d been at least 10-20 pages more to help answer the questions that I still had. But I still really enjoyed Love on the Brain, and I can’t wait to see what Ali Hazelwood puts out next. 4/5 Stars.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Book Review: Carrie Soto Is Back by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Hello Everyone,

Today’s review is on Carrie Soto Is Back by Taylor Jenkins Reid.

About the Book

In this powerful novel about the cost of greatness, a legendary athlete attempts a comeback when the world considers her past her prime—from the New York Times bestselling author of Malibu Rising.

Carrie Soto is fierce, and her determination to win at any cost has not made her popular. But by the time she retires from tennis, she is the best player the world has ever seen. She has shattered every record and claimed twenty Grand Slam titles. And if you ask Carrie, she is entitled to every one. She sacrificed nearly everything to become the best, with her father, Javier, as her coach. A former champion himself, Javier has trained her since the age of two.

But six years after her retirement, Carrie finds herself sitting in the stands of the 1994 US Open, watching her record be taken from her by a brutal, stunning player named Nicki Chan.

At thirty-seven years old, Carrie makes the monumental decision to come out of retirement and be coached by her father for one last year in an attempt to reclaim her record. Even if the sports media says that they never liked “the Battle-Axe” anyway. Even if her body doesn’t move as fast as it did. And even if it means swallowing her pride to train with a man she once almost opened her heart to: Bowe Huntley. Like her, he has something to prove before he gives up the game forever.

My Thoughts \

I’ll admit that I was a little hesitant going into this whether I would like it because I know it would be heavy on the tennis aspect. However, Taylor Jenkins Reid once again has brought forth a novel that I think all fans will love, whether they are into pro tennis or not. I think that is the beauty of her writing – she can take something mundane and make it gripping and exciting. I didn’t know what to expect going in because I really didn’t like Carrie Soto in Malibu Rising. However, even though she is somewhat unlikable, readers get to know her over the course of the novel and find that there are a lot of layers to her.

I also really liked seeing her relationship with her father and their father-daughter dynamic, and that of coach and player. I appreciated how her father is able to do both almost seamlessly. Speaking of her dad, he was one of my favorite characters. I loved how supportive he was of Carrie and how he isn’t afraid to speak the truth to her, even though it could mean she never talks to him gain.

I really liked Carrie’s character development over the course of the novel, even though she is 36/37. I also really liked how we had articles and transcripts scattered throughout the book, it just added a little something extra to the plot. One thing I do wish is that we got a longer epilogue, however I think it was also a perfect ending.

I don’t know what else to say about the book without giving too much away. Definitely give this one a read if you are a fan of Taylor Jenkins Reid. I look forward to seeing what she puts out next. 4.5/5 Stars.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Book Review: Ship Wrecked by Olivia Dade

Hello everyone,

Today’s review is on Ship Wrecked by Olivia Dade, which was my most favorite read of 2022. I loved it so much, that I’ve read it three times already. This review has two sections, my initial review when I read it in November 2022, and some additional thoughts from when I read it for a third time in January.

About the Book

After All the Feels and Spoiler Alert, Olivia Dade once again delivers a warm and wonderful romantic comedy about two co-stars who once had an incredible one-night stand–and after years of filming on the same remote island, are finally ready to yield to temptation again…

Maria’s one-night-stand–the thick-thighed, sexy Viking of a man she left without a word or a note–just reappeared. Apparently, Peter’s her surly Gods of the Gates co-star, and they’re about to spend the next six years filming on a desolate Irish island together. She still wants him…but he now wants nothing to do with her.

Peter knows this role could finally transform him from a forgettable character actor into a leading man. He also knows a failed relationship with Maria could poison the set, and he won’t sabotage his career for a woman who’s already walked away from him once. Given time, maybe they can be cooperative colleagues or friends–possibly even best friends–but not lovers again. No matter how much he aches for her.

For years, they don’t touch off-camera. But on their last night of filming, their mutual restraint finally shatters, and all their pent-up desire explodes into renewed passion. Too bad they still don’t have a future together, since Peter’s going back to Hollywood, while Maria’s returning to her native Sweden. She thinks she needs more than he can give her, but he’s determined to change her mind, and he’s spent the last six years waiting. Watching. Wanting.

My Thoughts

So this is going to be one long gush on why I loved Ship Wrecked! I should mention that my love it is such that I immediately re-read it after finishing it the first time. I’ve never done that before, at least not that I can remember. I loved it so much that the first time I took my time with it – I didn’t want it to end! – and the second time I read it in a span of 24-hours. I also went and ordered the first two companion books in the Spoiler Alert series – which I read early this year and loved, and I reread them as soon as I got them because I can’t get enough of Olivia Dade’s writing.

I can’t get enough of the fat representation in romance, especially as someone who is and was told for the longest time by some that romance would never be a possibility because of my body. This is a side tangent, and I’ll move back to my thoughts on the actual book. But I need to say that romance is possible! Every person is deserving of a love story (if that is what they want). Love isn’t always easy and it’s messy, but love is possible for those of us who are plus-sized, And I don’t say that glibly. I never thought I would find someone who accepts my body as is, not based on some unrealistic standard the world tells us it needs to be. And that is why books like Ship Wrecked are so important – yes, they’re romances that pack a punch, but they also let those of us who are on the plus-sized side that we are just of deserving of love; of steam , spicy romance; of passion. And I guess that is a huge reason why I love Ship Wrecked and other two books.

I think Ship Wrecked is my all-time favorite because instead of just a fat heroine, we also have a fat love interest, both of whom love each pother’s bodies and love other things about each other. I honestly love how comfortable both Maria and Peter are in their bodies, and in a lot of ways I aspire to have that. It is also refreshing to see on th3e page how their initial attraction to each other was their bodies. I could go on, but it was really neat. We need more romances where both leads are fat! Someone please make this happen.

I think where some might be turned off is on the second page where we are reading from Peter’s perspective and he mentioned them both being fat, however it isn’t in a negative way. It is in a sensual way – especially since it is in the middle of the spicy scene that the book opens up with. Fat doesn’t have to be a dirty word, when used in the right context it can be damn sexy to hear. But that could just be me and I might have issues.

Also, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that Maria has body hair (shocker) but it is so normalized – I love that, we need more of this in media! I also loved and appreciated the agency Maria has over her and body, and how Peter comes to respect that.

I also need to mention that I love how this is one-night-stand-lovers to enemies to colleagues to friends to lovers. Oh my gosh, I loved it so much! (If that wasn’t obvious).

Both characters were great and I loved the depth to both of their characters. On the one had you have Maria who experienced a lot of pain in her childhood, was left broken hearted and goes into relationships wanting all or nothing. Then there is Peter who has spent most of his life trying to prove himself to his father, as well as jilted by an ex-fiancée who left without a word. I liked how both characters work through their issues, as well as recognizing how it affects their relationship in the third act.

Again, I loved the spiciness, I’ll admit I wasn’t expecting the book to literally open with a bang, but it did and it didn’t disappoint. And the sexual tension between Peter and Maria felt intense, and the mutual pining . Yes, they have to work together on a remote island for 6 years where nothing really happens, except they become best friends who are deeply attracted to each other. And finally after 6 years (about 150 pages in) their feelings for each other bubble to the surface. it was worth the wait because I loved seeing the friendship between them blossom, but also how much they wanted each other. And I loved seeing their relationship take off from there and it didn’t disappoint.

I’ll admit that the third act conflict seemed a little silly, however after more thought it seems pretty realistic. It could happen. And I love dhow both of them realized their own mistakes that they made that to it.

As I mentioned before, I loved both characters, although Peter was a but of an ass near the beginning – although understandably so. I also loved that the book included text messages between Peter and Maria, and their costars, and snippets of fan fiction written about the two of them.

I think I’ve shared everything I wanted to say, expect that Olivia Dade hit it out of the park and I can’t wait to read what she puts out next. Now, if you will excuse me, I need to go spend sometime with my own thick-thighed Viking.

Further Thoughts After Third Re-read:

I loved re-reading Ship Wrecked. I had so many new thoughts about it, but my mind is a sieve.

Again, I loved the development of Maria and Peter’s relationship and how it grew over time. I definitely noticed more of the pining this time around, and I loved it. I also noticed more instances of Maria’s body being described and how sensual they were.

I loved Maria’s confidence, and how she takes a stand for what is right. I really liked seeing how as they both get to know each more, they grow to love each other. I also liked how between the tow characters we see a contrast of two somewhat different cultures, Swedish and American, how that impacts their relationship. I also liked how going to therapy and working on their mental health was mentioned and in some ways so normal. Taking care of one’s mental health needs to be more normalized!

My only gripe is that when they go to Madison, WI, Peter wants to take Maria to Culver’s to have cheese curds…okay, Culver’s is good, but Madison has some other non-chain places that have better cheese curds. Again, a very minor gripe, and I still love Culver’s.

In conclusion, I loved Ship Wrecked, and I love Olivia Dade’s work, and I need to read through her backlist. 5/5 Stars (but really all the stars…1000 stars).

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Book Review: Orphan Island by Laurel Snyder

Hello everyone,

Today’s review is on Orphan Island by Laurel Snyder.

About the Book

On the island, everything is perfect. The sun rises in a sky filled with dancing shapes; the wind, water, and trees shelter and protect those who live there; when the nine children go to sleep in their cabins, it is with full stomachs and joy in their hearts. And only one thing ever changes: on that day, each year, when a boat appears from the mist upon the ocean carrying one young child to join them—and taking the eldest one away, never to be seen again.

Today’s Changing is no different. The boat arrives, taking away Jinny’s best friend, Deen, replacing him with a new little girl named Ess, and leaving Jinny as the new Elder. Jinny knows her responsibility now—to teach Ess everything she needs to know about the island, to keep things as they’ve always been. But will she be ready for the inevitable day when the boat will come back—and take her away forever from the only home she’s known?

My Thoughts

Let me start by saying that this cover is absolutely gorgeous. However, I found the story itself just okay. I get it is supposed to be about the joys and sorrows of growing up and entering adolescence. I really can’t think of much else to say, except that I do wish we found out why the children were sent to the island. Also, what happens to them after they leave? Maybe that’s part of the point, that growing up comes with a lot of unknown, but still I felt like I didn’t get the answers I wanted. 3/5 Stars.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Book Review: Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder (Little House #3)

Hello everyone,

Today’s review is on Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder.

About the Book

Growing up on his family’s farm in New York, Almanzo Wilder wishes for just one thing — his very own horse. But Father doesn’t yet trust him with such a big responsibility. Almanzo needs to prove himself — but how?

My Thoughts

After having put off my reread of the Little House series, I’m back at it. I remember the first time I read Farmer Boy I wasn’t a huge fan of it. However, rereading it as an adult, I really enjoyed it.

Obviously, it is different from the previous books because we are following Almanzo Wilder, the boy who would grow up to marry Laura Ingalls. It was interesting to read about his life as a child in rural New York, and the contrast of his life compared to that of the Ingalls family who had to live with less because of trying to settle on the prairies.

Like the other Little House books, there isn’t much of an overarching plot, it is more a series of vignettes of the different things the Wilder family do around the farm, as well as their life. In some ways, it is also a coming of age story in which we see Almanzo over the course of a year or so realize that he wants to be a farmer just like his dad.

There isn’t much else for me to say about Farmer Boy, except that it is a good addition to the series, and I definitely enjoyed it a lot more than I did the first time I read it. 4/5 Stars.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Book Review: Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Hello everyone,

Today’s review is on Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder.

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Little House on the Prairie follows the Ingalls family as they leave their little house in the woods of Wisconsin – which were starting to get over crowded – for the prairie lands of Kansas, also referred to as Indian country in the book (Yes, it’s not politically correct, but this a historical fiction novel that is discussing a part of history that happened from the perspective of one party, and it doesn’t try to sugarcoat the not-so-good parts of this history). Unlike the first book, which was more of a series of vignettes, this installment is more linear when it comes to its storyline.

Once they find a piece of land, we get a detailed account of Pa making the house, we are also introduced to Mr. Edwards, who is an interesting and quirky character.

I love some of the descriptions that appear throughout the book, especially this particular one that describes early evening on the prairie, “Outside, and far, far away to the pink edge of the sky, the wind went blowing and the wild grasses waved” (119). It sounds so peaceful and serene.

Throughout the book we see the inquisitiveness of a child through both Laura and Mary as they explore the area surrounding their new home. We also see that life on the prairies isn’t all pleasant when there is a mosquito infestation at the end of the summer and most of the Ingalls get malaria. Through this incident we are introduced to Dr. Tan, and African-American doctor who takes care of the Ingalls, as well as the other settlers and Mrs. Scott. I wish that we got to know Dr. Tan more, but I also understand why he only makes a brief appearance. I also loved how Mrs. Scott blames the watermelon growing at the bottom of the creek , but it makes sense because as the author states, “No one knew in those days that fever ‘n’ ague was malaria, and that some mosquitoes give it to people when they bite them” (198).

Overall, I enjoyed rereading this book. While it does contain prejudice towards Native Americans, I think it is important to remember that this is an accurate portrayal of what the settlers thought during that time period. I do like how towards the end we do see Pa learn to respect the Native Americans a lot more, as well as start to change some of his views that he previously held to. While reading about this subject matter might be jarring to the modern reader, we need to realize that these attitudes are apart of American history, even though they are wrong. We should use literature like this to remind ourselves as to why prejudice and racism are bad, as well as some of the more horrific parts of our history – instead of trying to rid ourselves of it. Plus there is more to this book besides its references to Native Americans, it is also a book about a family learning to live in a new place and survive with the little that they have. 4/5 Stars.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Book Review: Little House in the Big Woods (Little House #1) by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Hello everyone,

Today’s review is on Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder.


I have been wanting to reread the Little House books because I only read the first six books growing up and I decided that it was time reread the series and finally read the last three books in the series. I plan on having reviews for each book, so stay tuned for those.

Little House in the Big Woods is the first book in the beloved series that explores the life of the Ingalls family during their time living in the woods in Wisconsin in the 1870s. It describes a lot of the various chorse and activities they have to do to stay alive, especially in winter.

I enjoyed reading the different stories that Pa tells Laura and Mary and how they appear within a chapter. It is very reminiscent of being a child and listening to the stories that adults tell them, it reminded me a lot of the stories that my parents – and my grandparents – would tell my brother and I. It also shows the timeless tradition of storytelling, which, unfortunately, has started to die out over the years, especially since we live in a society where we have information at our fingertips.

During the chapter about Christmas, I enjoyed this quote that is from Laura’s perspective about gifts and the childlike wonder it has, “Santa Claus did not give grown people presents, but that was not because they had not been good. Pa and Ma were good. It was because they were grown up, and grown people must give each other presents” (78-79). It was jsut so cute and it stuck out as just an interesting explanation.

I loved being reacquainted with the Ingalls family and life in the latter half of the 1800s in Wisconsin. I loved the different thigns we see them go through through the year – from the cold winters ti the busy days of summer. It is very descriptive of the various ways of doing things, but I personally found it fascinating and educational. I also enjoyed reading about the culture and life in the Big Woods, as well as the different customs they held to, especially concerning keeping the Sabbath.

While Laura and Mary are the main characters, they are not the main focus of the book, rather the main focus is their day-to-day lives. Pa is probably my favorite character in this first book because of the different stories he tells his daughters and the songs that he sings to his family.

The themes throughout the book are that family, the benefits of hard work, listening to your parents, and capturing the nostalgia of what seemed to be a simpler time in the author’s life.

Overall, I enjoyed my reread, in fact it made me want to find a cabin in the woods – with my husband – and make a life for myself out there, however I also know I probably wouldn’t last very long. I’m looking forward to continuin with my reread the books. I personally think they are timeless classicss and I can’t wait to pass them onto my kids someday. 4/5 Stars.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Book Review: Walking on Water by Richard Paul Evans

Hello Everyone,

Today’s review is on Walking on Water by Richard Paul Evans.

About the Book

In this fifth New York Times bestseller in the Walk series, Richard Paul Evans’s hero Alan Christoffersen must say some painful goodbyes and learn some important lessons as he comes to the end of his cross-country walk to Key West.

After the death of his beloved wife, after the loss of his advertising business to his once-trusted partner, after bankruptcy forced him from his home, Alan Christoffersen’s daring cross-country journey—a walk across America, from Seattle to Key West, with only the pack on his back—has taught him lessons about love, forgiveness and, most of all, hope.

Now Alan must again return west to face yet another crisis, one that threatens to upend his world just as he had begun to heal from so much loss, leaving him unsure of whether he can reach the end his journey. It will take the love of a new friend, and the wisdom of an old friend, to help him to finally leave the past behind and find the strength and hope to live again. 

My Thoughts

Welp! I ended up binging this whole series, but I am not even upset about that. I had a great time rereading it, and I felt like I was in a place in my life where this was a series that in some ways I needed to read.

This is the last book in the series, and it was a good conclusion. However, again, it was kind of formulaic, except this time it’s Alan’s father that something happened to. Don’t get me wrong, that section still packed an emotional punch, it just also seemed formulaic. Am I allowed to say that? I did love that we got to know more about his life, and his family tree. I loved that along with Alan we get to read the family history that his dad compiled. Another section that I was a little annoyed by was when Falene tells Alan that she isn’t the kind of woman he should be with. But, then again, I do kind of understand.

I also feel like in this installment Alan doesn’t meet as many interesting characters during the last section of his walk. If anything the ones he does meet were just creepy.

Overall, I enjoyed Walking on Water and The Walk series. I did feel like this was a little bit of an anticlimactic conclusion to the series, but it was still good. 4/5 Stars.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Book Review: A Step of Faith by Richard Paul Evans

Hello Everyone,

Today’s review is on A Step of Faith by Richard Paul Evans.


Following the New York Times bestseller The Road to Grace, Richard Paul Evans’s hero Alan Christoffersen faces a life-changing crisis on his journey to grace.

After the death of his beloved wife, after the loss of his advertising business to his once-trusted partner, after bankruptcy forced him from his home, Alan Christoffersen is a broken man. Leaving everything he knows, he sets out on an extraordinary cross-country journey; with only the pack on his back, he is walking from Seattle to Key West—the end of the map.

Along the way, Alan begins to heal, meeting people who teach him lessons about love, sacrifice, and forgiveness. But in St. Louis, Alan faces another life-changing crisis, and now the journey is in jeopardy.

My Thoughts:

A Step of Faith is probably my least favorite installment in the series, but it is still good. However, the books are kind of formulaic in that something is always happening to Alan that takes him away from his walk and then he goes back to it. This time he has a brain tumor that has to be removed and he is forced to move in with his dad during this time. I also didn’t like that he finds himself in a love triangle of sort between Falene and Nicole. I also found found Falene’s actions to be somewhat childish, although I guess it makes sense since she has experienced so much trauma in her life.

I did like that Alan starts to think more about what life has in store for him when he completes his walk, or rather how he wants to live.

I found the chapters about that cult – AhnEl – to be disturbing and uncomfortable, which I guess was the point of having it in the novel, and in some ways adds unexpected layer of grit to the story.

Overall, A Step of Faith was okay. I see it’s purpose in the overarching plot, and I loved reading about the different small towns Alan goes through. But it also seemed to drag on at times, and I personally see it as the weakest installment in the series. 4/5 Stars.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Book Review: The Road to Grace by Richard Paul Evans

Hello Everyone,

Today’s review is on The Road to Grace by Richard Paul Evans.


From one of America’s most beloved storytellers comes the inspiring third installment of the bestselling series, The Walk, the ongoing story of one man’s unrelenting search for hope.

Join one of America’s beloved storytellers on a walk like no other: one man’s unrelenting search for hope.

Reeling from the sudden loss of his wife, his home, and his business, Alan Christoffersen, a once-successful advertising executive, has left everything he knew behind and set off on an extraordinary cross-country journey. Carrying only a backpack, he is walking from Seattle to Key West, the farthest destination on his map.

Now almost halfway through his trek, Alan sets out to walk the nearly 1,000 miles between South Dakota and St. Louis, but it’s the people he meets along the way who give the journey its true meaning: a mysterious woman who follows Alan’s walk for close to a hundred miles, the ghost hunter searching graveyards for his wife, and the elderly Polish man who gives Alan a ride and shares a story that Alan will never forget.

Full of hard-won wisdom and truth, The Road to Grace is a compelling and inspiring novel about hope, healing, grace, and the meaning of life

My Thoughts:

This installment in The Walk series definitely packs more of an emotional punch, especially since in this installment Alan deals with several aspects of grace, both towards himself and others. I also liked that he is confronted with his hatred towards his former business partner, and he learns the importance of forgiveness. I loved that he learns of this through Lescek, a Holocaust survivor, who survived the death camp Sobibor, which I hadn’t really heard of before. Lescek’s story of his time there is horrifying and sobering, but how he learned to forgive is even more amazing.

I think one of the things I love most about these books is what Alan learns along the way, especially through the different individuals he meets. I also liked getting to know the various places he walks through, especially since some of the seem to become characters as well.

Overall, I think this might be my favorite installment in the series, mainly because of the themes of grace and forgiveness that are woven throughout it in various ways. 5/5 Stars.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Book Review: Miles to Go by Richard Paul Evans

Hello Everyone,

Today’s review is on Miles to Go by Richard Paul Evans.


Alan Christoffersen, a once-successful advertising executive, wakes one morning to find himself injured, alone, and confined to a hospital bed in Spokane, Washington. Sixteen days earlier, reeling from the sudden loss of his wife, his home, and his business, Alan left everything he knew behind and set off on an extraordinary cross-country journey. Carrying only a backpack, he planned to walk to Key West, the farthest destination on his map. But a vicious roadside stabbing has interrupted Alan’s trek and robbed him of his one source of solace: the ability to walk. Homeless and facing months of difficult recovery, Alan has nowhere to turn—until a mysterious woman enters his life and invites him into her home. Generous and kind, Angel seems almost too good to be true, but all is not as it appears. Alan soon realizes that before he can return to his own journey, he must first help Angel with hers. From one of America’s most beloved and bestselling storytellers comes an astonishing tale of life and death, love and second chances, and why sometimes the best way to heal your own suffering is by helping to heal someone else’s. Inspiring, moving, and full of wisdom, Miles to Go picks up where the bestseller The Walk left off, continuing the unforgettable series about one man’s unrelenting search for hope. 

My Thoughts:

I forgot how this book deals with deep issues, including suicide. While it is dealt with quickly and tied up with a bow in some ways, I still appreciate how the author touches on the topic. I liked how Alan, because of what he has gone through and is able to help Angel/Nicole discover that life is worth living after tragedy.

I loved getting to know Angel/Novel, her life was filled with so much hardship and tragedy and I could understand the despair she feels, however I loved seeing her character development. My only complaint is that her change from despair to more hopeful seemed to happen very quickly, but maybe that does occur for some people.

I also like getting to know Kailami and just how positive she is about life despite the hardship and trauma she has experienced. I liked how she was a foil to both Alan and Nicole.

My only complaint about this book is that we spent more than half of it in Spokane, rather than on Alan’s walk. However, I did still enjoy this section, especially with how Alan and Nicole help each other in various ways.

Overall, I really enjoyed my reread of Miles to Go. Although this was not my favorite instalment in the series, I still loved it. 4/5 Stars.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Book Review: The Walk by Richard Paul Evans

Hello Everyone,

Today’s review is on The Walk by Richard Paul Evans.


“My name is Alan Christoffersen. You don’t know me. ‘Just another book in the library,’ my father would say. ‘Unopened and unread.’ You have no idea how far I’ve come or what I’ve lost. More important, you have no idea what I’ve found.” —Prologue

What would you do if you lost everything—your job, your home, and the love of your life—all at the same time? When it happens to Seattle ad executive Alan Christoffersen, he’s tempted by his darkest thoughts. A bottle of pills in his hand and nothing left to live for, he plans to end his misery. Instead, he decides to take a walk. But not any ordinary walk. Taking with him only the barest of essentials, Al leaves behind all that he’s known and heads for the farthest point on his map: Key West, Florida. The people he encounters along the way, and the lessons they share with him, will save his life—and inspire yours.

Richard Paul Evans’s extraordinary New York Times bestsellers have made him one of the world’s most beloved storytellers. A life-changing journey, both physical and spiritual, The Walk is the first of an unforgettable series of books about one man’s search for hope. 

My Thoughts:

(Note: I reread The Walk in January 2022, so the first paragraph is from then).

I had no intention of rereading The Walk, at least not yet. In fact, I forgot that we owned a copy of it. However, throw in a slight reading slump and a bout of the ‘Rona, and I decided I wanted to read something that I knew I would enjoy. And I was not disappointed.

I really enjoyed my reread of The Walk and in some ways it was the perfect book to read after being sick and having picked up a book in a week. It is a melancholy book, but in some ways I enjoyed joining Alan as he recounts the tragedy that led to him to start his walk. One thing I remembered a little to late is the emotional punch the first 100 pages or so packs.

I enjoyed this exploration of grief and one man’s journey learning to live when everything he had to live for has been stripped away.

Even though this is only the first part of his journey, it is still good. I also love the various people he meets along the way.

Overall, this was a great reread. I am still unsure if I will keep rereading the rest of the series, but I know I will have no regrets if I do. To me, this is a timeless story that I often find myself think about. 5/5 Stars.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Book Review: What We Make It by Elisabet Velasquez

Hello everyone,

Today’s review is on What We Make It by Elisabet Velasquez.

About the Book

An unforgettable, torrential, and hopeful debut young adult novel-in-verse that redefines what it means to “make it,” for readers of Nicholasa Mohr and Elizabeth Acevedo.

Sarai is a first-generation Puerto Rican eighth grader who can see with clarity the truth, pain, and beauty of the world both inside and outside her Bushwick apartment. Together with her older sister Estrella, she navigates the strain of family traumas and the systemic pressures of toxic masculinity and housing insecurity in a rapidly gentrifying Brooklyn. Sarai questions the society around her, her Boricua identity, and the life she lives with determination and an open heart, learning to celebrate herself in a way that she has been denied.

When We Make It is a love letter to anyone who was taught to believe that they would not make it. To those who feel their emotions before they can name them. To those who still may not have all the language but they have their story. Velasquez’ debut novel is sure to leave an indelible mark on all who read it.

My Thoughts

I really liked this novel-in-verse and getting to know Sarai who feels like she is disconnected from her Puerto Rican roots, and doesn’t quite fit in the country of her birth. This was hard to read at times because the author does not shy away from showing what poverty looks like. She doesn’t shy away from the nitty gritty of Sarai’s life, even when she is turned away from the very people she needs help from. Overall, I really liked it and I hope to read more from Elisabet Velasquez in the future. 3.5/5 Stars.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

23 Books I Need to Read in 2023

Hello everyone,

Today I’m going to be sharing the 23 Books I Need to Read in 2023. I did this last year and managed to read most of the books on my 2022 list. I will only be sharing the titles in this post, because I want to write at least a short review (or longer) for each of these books.

1.Babel by R. F. Kuang

2. The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

3. A Court of Silver Flames by Sarah J. Maas

4. A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

5.The Bromance Book Club by Lyssa Kay Adams

6. Empire of Storms + Tower of Dawn by Sarah J. Maas (yes, I know that that’s two books).

7. Forever, Interrupted by Taylor Jenkins Reid

8. Heart of the Sun Warrior by Sue Lynn Tan

9. The Bodyguard by Katherine Center

10. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

11. Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

12. The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

13. The Wind-up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Marukami

14. The Arsonists’ City by Hala Alyan

15. Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert

16. The Word Exchange by Alena Graedon

17. Walt Disney by Neal Gabler

18. Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi

19. The Blue Castle by L. M. Montgomery

20. The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work by John M. Gottman and Nan Silver

21. The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan

22. From Blood and Ash by Jennifer L. Armentrout

23. Scythe by Neal Shusterman

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Top 22 Books of 2022

Hello everyone,

Today I am going to share my top 22 books of 2022. I am so excited to share this list. These are the best of the best. They are mostly in order, however, the book in my number 1 spot blew every other book out of the water (at least for me). I will share the links to the reviews of the ones I already have reviews up for, some of them are still forthcoming. This list will start from the bottom of the list and go all the way to my number 1 favorite book.

22. Funny Feelings by Tarah Dewitt

I discovered this book while browsing the Barnes and Noble website, and I will admit that this was entirely a cover buy. However, I really enjoyed it. I loved following Farley and Meyer, amidst the backdrop of Farley being an up-and-coming stand-up comedian. It was funny and steamy, and I will have a review sharing all my thoughts up in a few weeks.

21. Kamisama Kiss by Julietta Suzuki (Manga series).

I knew very little going into this series, and I’m kind of glad I didn’t because I ended up loving this series. I loved learning more Japanese spirituality, as well as the legends of the yokai. It had some great pining. There were times it seemed a little to angsty, but the ending was satisfying.

20. Love Her or Lose Her by Tessa Bailey

This was a surprise addition to this list considering it was 1) my last read of 2022, and 2) Tessa Bailey has been hit or miss for me. I loved Love Her or Lose Her, it was a great second chance romance featuring an already married couple, and I loved watching Rosie and Dominic work through their strained relationship. I will have a longer review up for it next month.

19. The Hacienda by Isabel Canas

I loved this Rebecca-inspired gothic tale set in Mexico. It was creepy and I loved how religion played into the storyline. I highly recommend this if you loved Rebecca or if you are wanting to dip your toes into some mild horror.

18. The Unsinkable Greta James by Jennifer E. Smith

I was surprised by this book because it is Jennifer E. Smith’s debut. I was a little nervous going into it, but I loved how it follows our main character who not only must learn to find her passion for music again, but also work on reconnecting with her estranged father. I will have a longer (and much overdue) review up sometime next month.

17. Spoiler Alert and All the Feels by Olivia Dade.

Okay, so technically this is two books, but I couldn’t decide which one to include on the list. I loved both of these books. I loved reading about a fat main character finding love in both of these. I just love both of them so much and I can’t wait to read more from her soon. I will have a review up for both of these books in the next month or so.

16. Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie

This was my second Agatha Christie mystery and I loved it. I couldn’t put it down! I loved following Hercule Poirot put all the clues together. Unfortunately, the movie that came out last year was not good.

15. Before I Do by Sophie Cousens

Yet another book I read in December that ended up making it’s way onto this list. I’ll admit the synopsis had me a little skeptical. But this was a cute read that had some somber moments. It has some great discussions about figuring out your place in this world and what love looks like, and whether soul mates do exist. Also, have you ever wondered what the worst case scenario could occur on your wedding day? Then pick up Before I Do. I will have a longer review up next month!

14. A Lover’s Discourse by Xiaolu Guo

This was a beautiful novel following a young Chinese immigrant woman who moves to London to start over. While there, she meets an architect and starts a relationship with him. Together they explore what love is, is it worth it. The novel also explores language and language barriers, as well as Brexit. It was beautiful, and I want to read more of Xiaolu Guo in the future.

13. Book Lovers by Emily Henry

I loved Book Lovers, it is probably my favorite out of Emily Henry’s adult fiction offerings so far. I loved the setting of the small town, and I enjoyed getting to know both Nora and Charlie and watching their relationship go from enemies to lovers. If you would like to read more of my thoughts on Book Lovers, please check out my review for it.

12. Roxy by Neal Shusterman and Jarrod Shusterman

Roxy is a somewhat controversial novel because it deals with addiction, but it also deals with adderall. I really appreciate how the novel is told in verse, and is told from the perspective of various drugs who are presented as immortal beings. More specifically we follow Oxytocin and Adderall, and a bet they make with each other to see who can cause a human to overdose first. We then follow two siblings, who both deal with addiction in some capacity. I loved how this was told almost like a Greek tragedy/ play. I highly recommend.

11. The Swimmers by Julie Otsuka

The Swimmers is a short, poignant novel that starts at a community pool that eventually shuts down, it then moves onto one of the swimmers and her battle with dementia and the effect it has on her daughter. It is beautiful and heart-wrenching and definitely worth a read.

10. Ghost Forest by Pik-Shuen Fung

A beautiful novel following a young woman who immigrated to Canada with her mother and her father stays behind in Hong Kong and the effect that has on their relationship which continues to strain. I loved this look at father-daughter relationships, especially one fraught with cultural differences. If you would like to know more of my thoughts, check out my review.

9. Normal People by Sally Rooney

Normal People surprised me. I fully expected to end up DNFing it because I’d read a lot of different reviews about it. However, it was an interesting character study of growing up, friendship, love, and how destructive behaviors can affect one’s life. The characters aren’t likable, but it is still worth a read. I definitely plan on rereading this sometime and annotating it. Click here if you’d like to read more of my thoughts.

8. The Woman They Could Not Silence by Kate Moore

This was a gripping non-fiction about a woman wrongly placed in an asylum because she dared to assert herself. It also looks at misogyny and what happened to women in the Gilded Age who didn’t not fit in the box that their society expected them to fit into. It also takes a look at the whole concept of insane asylums and how they were awful institutions. If you would like to know of more my thoughts, check out my review.

7. All Your Perfects by Colleen Hoover

This is the first and only Colleen Hoover book I have ever read. And I loved it. It takes a look at a couple who’s relationship becomes strained and what led to that. Even though it is kind of spoiler, trigger warning for infertility, which is a major theme of All Your Perfects.

6. The Heartstopper series by Alice Oseman

I am a little late to the party, but my friend Allison told me I had to read this series, and I am so glad I did. It is so cute and heartwarming, and it is like a warm hug. I wish the world was filled with acceptance like is depicted in this series. I am not ready for the final volume of the series that is supposed to come out this year.

5. Lore Olympus by Rachel Smythe

This is a gorgeous graphic novel retelling of Hades and Persephone, as well as the other deities of Greek mythology. The artwork is beautiful and I love the angst and pining. I can’t wait for volume 4 to come out in April.

4. Dear Fahrenheit 451 by Annie Spencer

Dear Fahrenheit 451 is a quirky collection of letters written to various books from a public librarian. It was a quick, laugh-out-loud read and I need to re-read it soon!

3. The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood

I loved this book! It had some great, funny quotes and I loved getting to know Olive and Adam. I loved the backdrop of STEM research, and it was just a fun read. Click here to read more of my thoughts.

2. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Technically this was a re-read for me, but I loved it the second time around. It is a beautiful story of an glamourous movie star and the many marriages that helped shape her into the woman she becomes. If you would like to know more of my thoughts, check out my review.


And the number 1 book I read this year is…


Ship Wrecked was my most anticipated read for the latter half of 2022. I was excited to read it because both characters are plus-sized. And it didn’t disappoint. I became obsessed with Peter and Maria’s love story to the point that I re-read Ship Wrecked as soon as I finished it the first time. I loved it so much, and it is my favorite book of all time. I plan on re-reading it this month, and I will have a longer review up on February 1st, with my semi-coherent thoughts. I will never stop loving this book!

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

My 2022 Reading Year Statistics

Hello everyone,

Today I am going to share some statistics based on my reading from last year. I will also include some graphs that were generated on the spreadsheet I used to track my reading.

Before I get started, I want to thank BookTuber, Brock Roberts who created the spreadsheet that I have been using for the past few years. It’s a great spreadsheet. However, in 2023 I am going to try my hand at making my own spreadsheet, because I want to learn more about Excel, and by doing this I have a project where I can practically learn some of what I want to know.

Alright, let’s jump into the statistics.

Total Books Read: 246 (7 DNFs)

Total Pages Read: 71,199 pages

Here is a chart that breaks down how many books I read each month:

In this chart you can see that I read 20 + books over 8 months of the year. The exceptions being April, October, November and December. I read the most books in June and August. In June I read 33 books and in August I read 34. I think the reason for this is that in Summer I tend to read a lot of graphic novels and manga, and especially in June and August I found myself reading a lot.

December was my “worst” month. Although, I don’t want to view it that way because I still read 7 books and that is still a big accomplishment. One thing I want to focus on in 2023 is not focusing on the numbers so much because that takes the fun out of both reading and blogging for me.

Next let’s look at the age categories that I read in this year:

Last year I definitely branched out and read a lot more Adult books. Most of the YA books I read were from the manga series that I read last year. However, I’m still surprised that more than half the books I read in 2022 were in the adult age category.

In 2022, half of the books I read were standalones and the other half were part of a series. Most of the books that I read that were part of a series were graphic novels/manga. In the second chart you can see that I have a good amount of ongoing series that I need to complete.

Next, this chart shows the status of books. I DNF’d 7 books, I re-read 36 books, and I read 203 new-to-me books last year. I know that in 2022 I really got into re-reading books, especially with re-reading books that I had already read that year and I loved it and I definitely plan on doing that more as we go into 2023.

The next two charts show where I got the books that I read, whether they were from the library, my shelf, or if I purchased them, etc.

Based on these two charts, I read a lot of library books – both physical and digital (161 books) . Second, was books from my shelf that owned at the beginning of the year (37 books), followed by books I purchased throughout the year (26 books). The rest were all from other categories.

I plan on continuing to use the library a lot this year. However, I also want to read off my TBR some more. As I mentioned in my 2023 reading goals post, I would like to read at least 30 books from physical TBR (as it is at the start of the year).

Next up is format. This doesn’t really matter, but it’s fun to look and see at what formats I predominantly read in. Hardback is number 1, not surprising since a lot of library books are hardcovers. This is followed by trade paperback, which again, isn’t surprising since a lot of the books I own are in trade paperback, as well as a number of books from the library. I think the one that surprised me the most was the percentage of ebooks I read last year. I felt like I didn’t read that much. But I also remember that for at least the first three months of 2022, any library books I checked out were ebooks, and then as soon as I started working in April, that shifted to more physical books.

Page length is not surprising. Most of the books I read were 300-399 pages, followed by 200-299. The books in the 200-299 range were mostly graphic novels and manga, since most mange tend to be roughly 190-200 pages long.

Years that the books were published is probably the more surprising to me because in 2022 I read over 76 books published in 2022. Followed by 52 books published in 2021. Usually I don’t read that many new releases for the current year, but there were a lot of fantastic new releases that caught my eye and that I was able to find at the library.

Lastly, here is a break down by genre of the books I read in 2022.

Of course, the biggest chunk of this chart is graphic novels and manga. However, I also read a lot of general/contemporary fiction (although if I’m being honest there are probably a handful of books in this segment that are there because I wasn’t quite sure how to categorize it). The third biggest segment is Romance, which isn’t surprising since the last month and a half of 2022 I read mainly romance novels. This is still a big shift for me, because before last year I had maybe read the occasional romance, and now I’ve read at least 41 romance novels. I’m also thrilled to see that Horror actually has a sliver on this chart, since that is not a genre I tend to read a lot of. And I also read a good number of fantasy and non-fiction books this year.

And that concludes my reading statistics and charts for 2022. In an upcoming post I will share my 22 favorite books from last year.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

My Year in Books

Hello eveyone,

Today I am going to share all 239 books I read in 2022. I am just going to share the covers of the books, because if I talked about all of them, this post would be extremely long, and it is already pretty long. I divided the books up by the months that I read them in. I read a lot of good books last year, and I read some not-so-good books last year. What is also interesting is seeing my tastes change throughout the year.

Here are all the books I read in 2022.













Stay tuned for my next few posts where I will share my reading statistics, my top 22 books of 2022, as well as the worst books and the ones that I DNF’d.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Happy New Year and 2023 Reading Goals

Hello everyone,

Happy New Year! I don’t know about you, but 2022 ended up being a little bit of a rollercoaster outside of my reading life. However, things are finally starting to settle down.

Photo by Tirachard Kumtanom on

It has been a year of change and growth, and probably one of the biggest changes is that I started working full-time at a local public library. I’m loving it, but I am still getting adjusted to my new schedule and figuring out my routine. Another big change is that my husband and I moved into a house, and December was filled for the most part with getting settled into our new place. Hopefully, this is the last time we move for a very long time.

Even though I’ve still had posts going up, I haven’t had as much time to dedicate to my blog since I started working full time. This is why I haven’t posted a wrap-up or TBR in a while. I plan on keeping up with the blog as much as possible, especially since I have a lot of reviews in the pipeline. However, I also want to experiment with some different content, such as movie reviews, critical analysis (maybe), and share some travel blogs of places I visit this year.

Right now I plan on sticking to posting 3 times a week, but there might be some weeks where I only post once or twice a week. I don’t know if I will continue doing monthly TBRs and Wrap-ups, however, if the fancy strikes me to do one I will.

All that to say, The Meanderings of a Bookworm will be changing a little bit, but I’m not planning on going anywhere any time soon.

Before I end off, I would like to share my reading goals for the upcoming year.

  1. Read 100 books

I think I can do this, considering that I read over 200 books last year. But I also haven’t had as much time to read since I started working full time so I definitely don’t see myself reading more than 100 this year.

2. Write a review for every book I read

This is something I started doing in September 2022, and I have been mostly successful. It doesn’t have to be a long review, but I need to write at least a sentence or two. The only exception is anything that I DNF.

3. Be more intentional with what I read

In September 2022 I started trying to slow down my reading and to enjoy and savor what I’m reading. Along with writing reviews for each book in my reading journal, I also started annotating and tabbing books I read – I mostly just tab since a lot of the books I read are from the library. I have also been writing down favorite quotes from almost all the books I read, which is why I tab them.

4. Do a reading retreat.

I first came across this idea on the Modern Mrs. Darcy website, and I have been meaning to do something like this for a while. Basically, I’ll take a day or two and just spend most of it reading, so kind of like a read-a-thon, but more chill.

5. Finish 4 series (or get caught up on series).

I am guilty of starting series and taking my time to continue with them. However, I do want to try and finish series that I’ve started. I plan on finishing the Poppy War series, the Throne of Glass series, and getting caught up on the A Court of Thorns and Roses series (I just have to read A Court of Silver Flames).

6. Post every book I read on Instagram

This is something I’ve done off and on for several years, however I am determined that I will post a picture of each book I read on Instagram.

7. DNF books.

I’ve gotten better at DNF’ing books, however there were definitely a couple of books last year that I wish I had DNF’d instead of trying to push through to the end.

8. Complete my challenges.

I have about three challenges I am planning on taking part in which I will post more about later this month.

9. Get my physical TBR down to 75 books.

Right now, I have about 105 books on my TBR and I would like to knockoff 30 by the end of the year.

10. Have fun reading.

Those are my reading goals for the year. Stay tuned for my 2022 reading wrap-ups, as well as some other fun content.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Why I DNF’d Dragonball Volume 1 by Akira Toriyama

Hello everyone,

Today’s post is about why I chose to DNF Dragonball Volume 1 by Akira Toriyama after about 91 pages.

I really wanted to like this, especially since I remember watching bits and pieces of the anime as a kid. However, early on there is some nudity, which is something that caught me off guard – but was not the ultimate reason for me putting this down.

There was also the objectification of Bulma (a female character) that made me extremely uncomfortable. There is a scene where Goku low key sexual assaults her while she’s sleeping. I get that it is made out to be “innocent” because he has never seen a woman before, but I was just very uncomfortable to see. And then there’s the perverted Turtle Hermit who convinces her to flash him a couple times.

It just wasn’t for me. I kept trying to go on, hoping that it would get better, but I just couldn’t. I finally gave up after chapter 5 and Oolong the demon pig objectifies her in a very crude way. I’m all for steaminess, but this wasn’t that, it was just uncomfortable.

I definitely see the appeal for teen boys and men in 1985, when this first came out and it very much is a product of it’s time when stuff like this was more acceptable.

If you have been thinking of picking this up, don’t waste your time. Unless you are okay with the things I mentioned above, then by all means go ahead.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Book Review: Dear Santa by Debbie Macomber

Hello Everyone,

Today’s review is on Dear Santa by Debbie Macomber.


A special holiday wish list brings about hope, love, and second chances in this nostalgic novel from the queen of Christmas stories, #1 New York Times bestselling author Debbie Macomber.

Lindy Carmichael isn’t feeling particularly joyful when she returns home to Wenatchee, Washington, for Christmas. The man she thought was “the one” has cheated on her with her best friend, and she feels completely devoid of creativity in her graphic-design job. Not even carolers or Christmas cookies can cheer her up–but Lindy’s mother, Ellen, remembers an old tradition that might lift her daughter’s spirits.

Reading through a box of childhood letters to Santa and reminiscing about what she’d wished for as a young girl may be just the inspiration Lindy needs. With Ellen’s encouragement, she decides to write a new letter to Santa, one that will encourage her to have faith and believe just as she’d done all those years ago. Little does Lindy know that this exercise in gratitude will cause her wishes to unfold before her in miraculous ways. And, thanks to some fateful twists of Christmas magic–especially an unexpected connection with a handsome former classmate–Lindy ultimately realizes that there is truly no place like home for the holidays.

In Dear Santa, Debbie Macomber celebrates the joys of Christmas blessings, old and new. 
– Taken from GoodReads.

My Thoughts:

For whatever reason, Debbie Macomber’s books had fallen of my radar, especially her Christmas books. However, I stumbled across her latest and it did not disappoint. Was it cheesy? Yes. Was it a fun, festive read? Yes. While the ending was somewhat predictable, it was a heart-warming novel capturing the magic of the holiday season. I loved how it was also a coming-of-age story for Lindy. I also liked the whole concept of writing letter to Santa as an adult. Overall, I really enjoyed Dear Santa and I am looking to see what Debbie Macomber puts out next. 4/5 Stars.

Book Review: Queen’s Shadow by E. K. Johnston

Hello everyone,

Today’s review is on Queen’s Shadow by E. K. Johnston.

About the Book

Written by the #1 New York Times best-selling author of Ahsoka! When Padmé Naberrie, “Queen Amidala” of Naboo, steps down from her position, she is asked by the newly-elected queen to become Naboo’s representative in the Galactic Senate. Padmé is unsure about taking on the new role, but cannot turn down the request to serve her people. Together with her most loyal handmaidens, Padmé must figure out how to navigate the treacherous waters of politics and forge a new identity beyond the queen’s shadow. 

My Thoughts

I am beginning to think that the Star Wars books are just not for me. So far all the ones I have read have been just okay. And maybe it’s just that I haven’t found one that gels with me. I was really looking forward to Queen’s Shadow, and it was just alright.

While I did like reading more about the politics of the Republic, as well as Padme’s adjustments to her role as senator, it just failed to keep me interested at times. And while it was interesting to read from Sabe’s perspective, it also felt jarring at times. I did like that we got to know Senator Bail Organa a bit more and his connection to Padme, which leads to his eventual adoption of her daughter after her death.

As of yet, I don’t know if I will continue with the rest of the Padme trilogy, but I do plan on reading Ahsoka soon and hopefully I’ll fare better with that. 3/5 Stars.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Book Reivew: Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan

Hello Everyone,

Today’s review is on Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan.

About the Book

Global conspiracy, complex code-breaking, high-tech data visualization, young love, the secret to eternal life. Mostly in a hole-in-the-wall San Francisco bookstore.

Clay Jannon tells how serendipity, sheer curiosity, and the ability to climb a ladder like a monkey has sent him from Web Drone to night shift at Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore. After just a few days on the job, Clay realizes just how curious this store is.

A few customers come in repeatedly without buying anything. Instead they “check out” obscure volumes from strange corners of the store. All runs according to some elaborate, long-standing arrangement with the gnomic Mr. Penumbra. The store must be a front for something larger, Clay concludes.

He embarks on a complex analysis of the customers’ behavior and ropes in friends to help. Once they bring their findings to Mr. Penumbra, it turns out the secrets extend far outside the walls of the bookstore. A quest to New York City dips in a world conspiracy for eternal life. The current of romance pulls Clay onward. 

My Thoughts

Maybe I had too high expectations for this book, especially since I have had Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore on my radar for over 5 years. And that’s more on me than on the actual content of this book.

I think one of my complaints is that the author seems to tackle several themes including books and technology. I don’t know, to me it seemed like an overload at times. It also seemed like it condoned the pirating of eBooks, which seemed odd. As well as condoning how technology is taking over a lot of things.

However, I did like the whole idea of a secret society trying to fined the secret to immortality. I also liked how Mr. Penumbra is open to trying new techniques to solving the code, whereas there are others within the society that believe the only way to solve the mystery is through the way its always been done.

The characters are mostly flawed, and although they definitely make questionable choices, I still found myself rooting for them. I especially liked Mr. Penumbra and his quirkiness and I liked seeing him in contrast to Corvina.

Overall, Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore was okay, but also disappoint for how my expectations were, but that’s on me. however, I do highly recommend the author’s follow-up, Sourdough. 3/5 Stars.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Book Review: The Phone Booth at the Edge of the World by Laura Imani Messina

Hello everyone,

Today’s review is on The Phone Booth at the Edge of the World by Laura Imani Messina.

About the Book

The international bestselling novel sold in 21 countries, about grief, mourning, and the joy of survival, inspired by a real phone booth in Japan with its disconnected “wind” phone, a place of pilgrimage and solace since the 2011 tsunami.

When Yui loses both her mother and her daughter in the tsunami, she begins to mark the passage of time from that date onward: Everything is relative to March 11, 2011, the day the tsunami tore Japan apart, and when grief took hold of her life. Yui struggles to continue on, alone with her pain.
Then, one day she hears about a man who has an old disused telephone booth in his garden. There, those who have lost loved ones find the strength to speak to them and begin to come to terms with their grief. As news of the phone booth spreads, people travel to it from miles around.
Soon Yui makes her own pilgrimage to the phone booth, too. But once there she cannot bring herself to speak into the receiver. Instead she finds Takeshi, a bereaved husband whose own daughter has stopped talking in the wake of her mother’s death.
Simultaneously heartbreaking and heartwarming, The Phone Booth at the Edge of the World is the signpost pointing to the healing that can come after.

My Thoughts

I liked this book. I appreciate how the author chooses to focus on those who lost loved ones, especially during the 2011 tsunami. I have vivid memories of watching the breaking news about what had happened.

I also appreciate how the novel deals with grief and finding hope and joy even when it feels impossible. Hope and joy are definitely the main themes of the book.

I loved following Yui as she learns more about the Wind Phone and gets to know Takeshi. I also loved how we got to know some of the other visitors, and even how their story continues. I also found it interesting that some of the chapters were short lists, or even simply the name of a book that was mentioned in the previous chapter.

Some of the writing was gorgeous, even though it was translated from Italian. I found myself writing down a number of quotes. Here are a couple that stood out to me:

“She just had a feeling that certain complex things like happiness had to be taught by example rather than words. We need to possess joy in abundance before we can bestow it upon somebody else.” (p. 44).

“She was also convinced that words, the ones you heard or read (not necessarily in the the Bible, but anywhere) came to you by chance but not without reason.” (p. 328).

“Yui didn’t like to talk about her own frailty. But in the end she had accepted it, and that was the start of her path toward taking care of herself again. Acknowledging it helped her connect to the truest part of the people, it was what made it possible to feel close to them, part of their lives.” (p.369).

While there was a lot I liked about this book, there was also something about it that failed to draw me in fully. It could’ve been that it was translated or anything else. Whatever the case, I am still glad I read it!

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Book Review: The Beach Trap by Ali Brady

Hello everyone,

Today’s review is on The Beach Trap by Ali Brady.

About the Book

Two best friends torn apart by a life-altering secret. They have one summer to set the record straight.

When twelve-year-olds Kat Steiner and Blake O’Neill meet at Camp Chickawah, they have an instant connection. But everything falls apart when they learn they’re not just best friends—they’re also half-sisters. Confused and betrayed, their friendship instantly crumbles.

Fifteen years later when their father dies suddenly, Kat and Blake discover he’s left them a joint inheritance: the family beach house in Destin, Florida. The two sisters are instantly at odds. Blake, who has recently been demoted from regular nanny to dog nanny, wants to sell the house, while social media influencer Kat is desperate to keep the place where she had so many happy childhood memories.

Kat and Blake reluctantly join forces to renovate the dilapidated house with the understanding that Kat will try to buy Blake out at the end of the summer. The women clash as Blake’s renovation plans conflict with Kat’s creative vision, and each sister finds herself drawn into a summer romance. As the weeks pass, the two women realize the most difficult project they face this summer will be coming to grips with their shared past, and learning how to become sisters.

My Thoughts

I need to start by saying that I did not realize that Ali Brady was actually the pen name of a writing duo until about 2/3 of the way through when I happened to glance at the About the Author blurb. They do a fantastic job and unless I’d discovered that I would have just assumed it was one writer. They do a great job of giving Blake and Kat their own voices, however the writing style is seamless.

I really liked this take on The Parent Trap, and how instead of twins, our main characters are half-sisters. I liked how we saw how different their lives were because of the decisions their father chose to make.

I found Kat to be unfairly angry at Blake, but it also makes sense that she would be, especially when her family is big on keeping up appearances. It was also interesting to see how both women processed their grief and anger towards their father, and learn that the other wasn’t to blame for his poor life choices. I loved seeing both of these characters grow, and also find love in the midst of a difficult time.

I also really liked how the novel briefly touches on how lonely and empty influencer culture can be and how it affects our standard of beauty. Here is a quote regarding beauty that I really liked:

“Happiness matters more than what someone else – influencer or not – decides is beautiful. Besides, there’s more to life than looking good on the outside. Especially if you’re just using make up and clothes to cover up how broken you are on the inside.” (p.219).

I also liked the banter between Blake and Noah when they first met, they both had some great lines that I ended up writing down.

I really enjoyed The Beach Trap and I plan on picking up more Ali Brady’s work in the future. 4/5 Stars.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Book Review: People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry

Hello everyone,

Today’s review is on People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry.

About the Book

Two best friends. Ten summer trips. One last chance to fall in love.

Poppy and Alex. Alex and Poppy. They have nothing in common. She’s a wild child; he wears khakis. She has insatiable wanderlust; he prefers to stay home with a book. And somehow, ever since a fateful car share home from college many years ago, they are the very best of friends. For most of the year they live far apart—she’s in New York City, and he’s in their small hometown—but every summer, for a decade, they have taken one glorious week of vacation together.

Until two years ago, when they ruined everything. They haven’t spoken since.

Poppy has everything she should want, but she’s stuck in a rut. When someone asks when she was last truly happy, she knows, without a doubt, it was on that ill-fated, final trip with Alex. And so, she decides to convince her best friend to take one more vacation together—lay everything on the table, make it all right. Miraculously, he agrees.

Now she has a week to fix everything. If only she can get around the one big truth that has always stood quietly in the middle of their seemingly perfect relationship. What could possibly go wrong?

From the New York Times bestselling author of Beach Read, a sparkling new novel that will leave you with the warm, hazy afterglow usually reserved for the best vacations.

My Thoughts

So, I feel like my rating is slightly not fair because I started to get into a reading slump while reading it and it is not the book’s fault!

I really enjoyed People We Meet on the Vacation and the different ways Emily Henry pays homage to When Harry Met Sally…. She did a great job of capturing the essence of the movie, but yet making it a unique story.

I loved getting to know both Poppy and Alex and seeing their relationship dynamic over time. There were times I wished, especially in the present day sections, that they had communicated a bit more. I also found Alex to be frustrating sometimes and his lack of taking action.

I loved that while this was a romance, we also see both characters grow, especially Poppy as she tries to figure out what she wants from her life. I also really liked how both Poppy and Alex get to make their own speeches similar to Harry’s speech near the end of the movie. I definitely shed a tear when I read Alex’s speech.

My only complaint is that, while the book starts out with some great banter between the two characters, it kind of fizzles out and I missed it. I also felt like the book dragged on a little, but that could be due to me starting to get into a slump.

I still think this was a great read from Emily Henry and I am sure I will reread it in the future. And she has definitely solidified her place as an auto-read author in the future. 4/5 Stars.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Book Review: A Touch of Darkness by Scarlett St. Clair

Hello everyone,

Today’s review is on A Touch of Darkness by Scarlett St. Clair.

About the Book

Persephone is the Goddess of Spring by title only. The truth is, since she was a little girl, flowers have shriveled at her touch. After moving to New Athens, she hopes to lead an unassuming life disguised as a mortal journalist.

Hades, God of the Dead, has built a gambling empire in the mortal world and his favorite bets are rumored to be impossible.

After a chance encounter with Hades, Persephone finds herself in a contract with the God of the Dead and the terms are impossible: Persephone must create life in the Underworld or lose her freedom forever.

The bet does more than expose Persephone’s failure as a goddess, however. As she struggles to sow the seeds of her freedom, love for the God of the Dead grows—and it’s forbidden.

My Thoughts

I was little hesitant going into this because it has mixed reviews from several people I follow. However, I loved this reimagining of Greek mythology, more specifically Hades and Persephone. I loved getting to know both of them, as well as the other characters.

I think if you are a fan of Lore Olympus by Rachel Smythe, you will love A Touch of Darkness, it was the perfect read while I waited for Volume 3 to come out. I also really liked the steamy scenes, I though they were well done, and I loved the tension between Hades and Persephone as they get to know each other.

I am looking forward to seeing what happens to them in the next book. 3.75/5 Stars.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Book Review: Arsenic and Adobo by Mia P. Manansala

Hello everyone,

Today’s review is on Arsenic and Adobo by Mia P. Manansala.

About the Book

The first book in a new culinary cozy series full of sharp humor and delectable dishes—one that might just be killer….

When Lila Macapagal moves back home to recover from a horrible breakup, her life seems to be following all the typical rom-com tropes. She’s tasked with saving her Tita Rosie’s failing restaurant, and she has to deal with a group of matchmaking aunties who shower her with love and judgment. But when a notoriously nasty food critic (who happens to be her ex-boyfriend) drops dead moments after a confrontation with Lila, her life quickly swerves from a Nora Ephron romp to an Agatha Christie case.

With the cops treating her like she’s the one and only suspect, and the shady landlord looking to finally kick the Macapagal family out and resell the storefront, Lila’s left with no choice but to conduct her own investigation. Armed with the nosy auntie network, her barista best bud, and her trusted Dachshund, Longanisa, Lila takes on this tasty, twisted case and soon finds her own neck on the chopping block…

My Thoughts

I liked Arsenic and Adobo and learning more about Filipino culture and food against the backdrop of a cozy mystery. I enjoyed getting to know all the characters, especially the aunties. I also appreciate that the author didn’t shy away from the prejudice that minorities face every day, especially when it comes to the justice system.

I found the plot to be slow at times, and I’ll be honest, I did not like how everyone dogpiles on Lila because she moved away and came back. I also found Adeena (Lila’s best friend) to be kind of childish towards the end when she gives Lila the silent treatment.

I did like the several possible love interest, and I am looking forward to seeing how that unfolds over the rest of the series. 3.5/5 Stars.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Book Review: Call Me Athena by Colby Cedar Smith

Hello everyone,

Today’s review is on Call Me Athena by Colby Cedar Smith.

About the Book

This enchanting novel in verse captures one young woman’s struggle for independence, equality, and identity as the daughter of Greek and French immigrants in tumultuous 1930s Detroit.

Call Me Athena: Girl from Detroit is a beautifully written novel in verse loosely based on author Colby Cedar Smith’s paternal grandmother. The story follows Mary as the American-born daughter of Greek and French immigrants living in Detroit in the 1930s, creating a historically accurate portrayal of life as an immigrant during the Great Depression, hunger strikes, and violent riots.

Mary lives in a tiny apartment with her immigrant parents, her brothers, and her twin sister, and she questions why her parents ever came to America. She yearns for true love, to own her own business, and to be an independent, modern American woman—much to the chagrin of her parents, who want her to be a “good Greek girl.”

Mary’s story is peppered with flashbacks to her parents’ childhoods in Greece and northern France; their stories connect with Mary as they address issues of arranged marriage, learning about independence, and yearning to grow beyond one’s own culture. Though Call Me Athena is written from the perspective of three profoundly different narrators, it has a wide-reaching message: It takes courage to fight for tradition and heritage, as well as freedom, love, and equality.

My Thoughts

I didn’t know about this book until I was going through the poetry finalist for the Goodreads Choice Awards 2021. I came across Call Me Athena and was intrigued to pick it up.

This was a great novel-in-verse in which we follow 16-year-old Mary growing up in 1930s Detroit and her fight against her parents expectations of being a “good Greek girl>” The novel then flashes back to World War I following a young Greek man, Grigos, and a young French woman, Jeanne and how their lives intersect.

I loved this novel and the characters, as well as learning various historical facts. It was also interesting to learn that the novel was based on the life of the author’s grandmother.

Overall, I really enjoyed Call Me Athena. I don’t know what else to say because it is a novel that I really want others to experience. I really hope to read whatever Colby Cedar Smith puts out next. 4.5/5 Stars.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Book Review: Daughter of the Moon Goddess by Sue Lynn Tan

Hello everyone,

Today’s review is on Daughter of the Moon Goddess by Sue Lynn Tan.

About the Book

A captivating debut fantasy inspired by the legend of Chang’e, the Chinese moon goddess, in which a young woman’s quest to free her mother pits her against the most powerful immortal in the realm.

Growing up on the moon, Xingyin is accustomed to solitude, unaware that she is being hidden from the feared Celestial Emperor who exiled her mother for stealing his elixir of immortality. But when Xingyin’s magic flares and her existence is discovered, she is forced to flee her home, leaving her mother behind.

Alone, powerless, and afraid, she makes her way to the Celestial Kingdom, a land of wonder and secrets. Disguising her identity, she seizes an opportunity to learn alongside the emperor’s son, mastering archery and magic, even as passion flames between her and the prince.

To save her mother, Xingyin embarks on a perilous quest, confronting legendary creatures and vicious enemies across the earth and skies. But when treachery looms and forbidden magic threatens the kingdom, she must challenge the ruthless Celestial Emperor for her dream—striking a dangerous bargain in which she is torn between losing all she loves or plunging the realm into chaos.

Daughter of the Moon Goddess begins an enchanting, romantic duology which weaves ancient Chinese mythology into a sweeping adventure of immortals and magic—where love vies with honor, dreams are fraught with betrayal, and hope emerges triumphant.

My Thoughts

Book Haul #4

Hello everyone,

Welcome to another book haul! Here are the books I got in the first half of October (oops!).

The Blue Castle by L. M. Montgomery

I came across this at Half-Priced Books for about $4 and decided to get it because it’s considered L. M. Montgomery’s more popular adult novels.

Forever, Interrupted by Taylor Jenkins Reid

This was another one I came across at Half-Priced Books, and I almost never see any of her backlist books so I knew I had to snatch it up. It follows a couple who have a whirlwind romance, but the husband is killed in an accident and the wife, along with the mother-in-law who didn’t know she existed, learn to work through their grief.

As Long As the Lemon Trees Grow by Zoulfa Katouh

I chose this from the picks for October’s Book of the Month. It sounds really good, I’m personally trying to go in without knowing to much, except it is set during the Syrian fight for freedom (Arab Spring?), and it is probably going to break me.

The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood

I decided to do an add-on for my October Book of the Month box, and I went with The Love Hypothesis because I loved it so much when I read it in September. It also matches my copy of Love on the Brain!

The next three books are ones that I picked up at my previous job when we did an event where several YA authors came and did panels and workshops. There were copies of the books for sale, and we were able to get them signed by the authors at the end of the day. Here are three I bought and got personalized.

Wings of Ebony by J. Elle

A Forgery of Roses by Jessica S. Olson

Full Flight by Ashley Shumacher

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Book Review: The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood

Hello everyone,

Today’s review is on The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood.

About the Book

As a third-year Ph.D. candidate, Olive Smith doesn’t believe in lasting romantic relationships–but her best friend does, and that’s what got her into this situation. Convincing Anh that Olive is dating and well on her way to a happily ever after was always going to take more than hand-wavy Jedi mind tricks: Scientists require proof. So, like any self-respecting biologist, Olive panics and kisses the first man she sees.

That man is none other than Adam Carlsen, a young hotshot professor–and well-known ass. Which is why Olive is positively floored when Stanford’s reigning lab tyrant agrees to keep her charade a secret and be her fake boyfriend. But when a big science conference goes haywire, putting Olive’s career on the Bunsen burner, Adam surprises her again with his unyielding support and even more unyielding… six-pack abs.

Suddenly their little experiment feels dangerously close to combustion. And Olive discovers that the only thing more complicated than a hypothesis on love is putting her own heart under the microscope.

My Thoughts

I picked this up right after finishing The Astonishing Color of After because I needed a boost of serotonin. And I wasn’t disappointed. In fact, I read a huge chunk of it in one sitting. I believe I read it at the right time and I loved it.

It had a lot of great laugh-out-loud moments, and when I say that I mean I literally laughed out loud! I loved the banter between Olive and Adam, as well as Olive’s inner monologue. I found myself writing down a number of quotes that I loved and some that I just found hilarious, here is one in particular that had me rolling:

“He lifted an eyebrow. “I doubt a language exists in which the thing you just ordered could be referred to as ‘coffee.'”” (p. 71).

And there were so many others! If I hadn’t borrowed it from the library, I probably would have tabbed and underlined a lot more than what I jotted down. Maybe I need to get a copy so I can mark it up if I re-read it. But back to the review.

I loved the characters, and even though I guess this is kind of Reylo fanfiction, it isn’t not really. Yes, our love interest is named Adam and his mother is a diplomat, and both our main characters are described as looking similar to Adam Driver and Daisy Ridley. I honestly was able to separate them from this fact in my head. I loved getting to know both of them.

I found Olive in the third act a bit annoying, especially when she hides something from Adam. I also loved Adam, but there were times I felt he could have been more assertive, but considering their situation it makes sense.

Also, and this is a spoiler of sorts, can we talk about how much I hate Tom Benton. What a sorry excuse for a human being! He got what he deserved.

So I guess I really like fake-dating as a trope? Also, I love how the characters were self-aware that what they were doing was a popular romance trope!

This was a great romantic comedy and it was a new favorite. I look forward to reading what Ali Hazelwood puts out next. 5/5 Stars.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

November Hopefuls (A TBR of Sorts)

Hello everyone!

Welcome to my November TBR/ Hopefuls. I really don’t know how many books I’ll be able to get to this month, because I just started working full-time and as a result do not have as much time to read. But I thought I would share a few of the books I am hoping to get to this month, however, whether that will actually happen remains to be seen.

Ship Wrecked by Olivia Dade

I read Spoiler Alert and All the Feels earlier this year and loved them both, and ever since I read the synopsis for Ship Wrecked I have been eagerly waiting for it’s release. Also, I did pre-order it, so as soon as I get it I plan on reading this. Not only does it have plus-sized female character, but also a plus-sized male character and I am here for it!

The Heart of the Sun Warrior by Sue Lynn Tan

I fell in love with Daughter of the Moon Goddess in September, and shortly after starting it, I also placed a pre-order for the sequel. I don’t know too much about it, and I want to keep it that way! But I am ready to immerse myself in the Celestial Kingdom again.

Tash Hearts Tolstoy by Kathryn Ormsbee

I picked this up on my recent trip to visit my close friend Allison in Colorado. I remember it got a lot of buzz back when it came out and I am very curious to pick it up. It follows an aspiring filmmaker who makes a web show based on Anna Karenina (does anyone else remember when those were a thing on YouTube? I miss them!), that takes off.

Station Eleven by Emily John St. Mandel

This is one of the few books that I still need to read for my 22 Books to read in 2022. I’ve heard really great things about it. I know it follows a troupe of actors before and after a pandemic and how their lives and the world has changed.

One to Watch by Kate Stayman-London

I have been meaning to read One to Watch for a few years, but for whatever reason kept putting it off. I love the concept and I think I will love it. It is about Bea who enjoys a Bachelorette-like show but is disgusted by the lack of diversity, especially when it comes to size. She then ends up becoming the first plus-sized “bachelorette” on the show and out of her comfort zone.

These are all the November hopefuls. We shall see if I get to them!

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Book Review: Fullmetal Alchemist Volume 1 by Hiromu Arakawa

Hello everyone,

Today’s review is on Fullmetal Alchemist Voluem 1 by Hiromu Arakawa.


After an alchemy experiment went wrong, leaving Edward Elric without an arm and a leg, and his brother, Alphonse just a soul in a suit of armor, they set out on a quest for the philosopher’s stone, in the hopes that it will undo the effects of the experiment. After sometime, Edward is appointed as the state alchemist which means he is bound to obey the orders of those who command him, even if it means killing someone. As they journey through their world they will discover treacherous villains and tyrants, as well as those also versed in the ways of alchemy, but use their skills for evil.

The Elric brothers are briefly introduced and the manga opens with a nippet of a scene following their experiment with transmutation. However, it is then revealed in further dialogue some of what happened to them and why they are the way they are: Edward has a metal arm and leg, Alphonse is merely a soul in a suit of armor.

One of the main themese in this first volume is exposing fruad and hypocrisy. In the first two chapters they are in a town that is devoted to following a charlatan who claims to be an emissary of the god, Leto. He gained a following by performing “miracles,” however the Elric brothers discover that he is really an alchemist and he is able to perform his miracles by breaking some of the cardinal rules of alchemy because he possesses part of the philosopher’s stone. The second chapter explores his hypocrisy being exposed, as well as some of his devoted followers, like Rose, who are crushed after realizing that everything they beleived about the emissary was a lie. Rose now has to figure out what she believes and is left feeling hopeless. The end of this chapter introduces the incaranations of two of the seven deadly sins – Lust and Gluttony – who are revealed to have been the masterminds behind Father Cornello’s plot, and they even had him duped too.

Chapter 3 is an episodic tale in which Ed uses cunning and breaks the laws of alchemy against a corrupt and incompetent lieutenant who has been terrorzing a mining town that he owns the rights to. It can be said in this case that Ed has to be a little corrupt in orer to take down the corruption that has been caused by Lieutenant Yoki.

Chapter 4 is more of just an action epsidoe where the Elric brothers have to go up against a group of goons that have hijacked the train that the general and his family were on. We’re also introduced to another alchemsit at the end – the fire alchemist.

This first volume of Fullmetal Alchemist was a good introduction to the series, however it felt like chapters 3 and 4 were merely episodic and did not seem to connect much with the first two chapters. But maybe in futre volumes they will connect more than can be seen in this first volume. It is also intriguing that the seven deadly sins have a role in this series and it will be interesting to see how they factor into the overarching storyline.

The art style was good. The actions sequences were done in such a way that was just right – they had enough details to show the action, but it was not bogged down with little details that can overwhelm readers who are trying to keep up with what is going on. I am looking forward to reading the next volume soon! 4/5 Stars.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Revisiting Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Hello everyone,

Today’s post is a review on Cinder by Marissa Meyer. However, the one thing that makes this review different from some of the others is that I have already reviewed Cinder. In fact, if you have been following my blog from the beginning, it was one my first reviews that I posted (Click here if you would like to read what 2015 me had to say about the book). I thought it would be interesting to revisit Cinder 5 years later and write a review of it, to make sure it isn’t an exact replica of my first review, I have not looked at it before writing this review. When I am done writing it, I think I will write a postscript describing the few differences that I might have since I read it back in 2015.

Cinder is sci-fi/futuristic retelling of the classic Cinderella story. However, in this instance the story is set in what is called New Beijing in the Commonwealth Empire several hundred years in the future. In this world, the moon was colonized centuries ago and is a separate planet from Earth, in fact the Lunars are considered to be pariah in this society because they are typically a cruel and manipulative society. Enter Cinder, a cyborg mechanic who has no memories of the time before she was a cyborg. She lives with her step-mother and two step-sisters, and she is forced to make a living as a mechanic not seeing a penny of what she has earned. One day she gets a surprise visitor at her booth, Prince Kai, the heir to the Commonwealth Empire. After this chance encounter a series of events occur, including the outbreak of a deadly disease in the marketplace, and Cinder eventually being taken in for testing to help discover a cure for the disease. However, over the course of the tests, both Cinder and Dr. Erlander discover that there is more to Cinder than she knows, not only is she a cyborg, she is a Lunar. And the upcoming visit of the Lunar queen, Levana, could be potentially be dangerous for her if she doesn’t disappear. Espcially since there is even more to Cinder than what even Dr. Erland eventually knows.

I really enjoyed my reread of Cinder. Marissa Meyer does a great job of creating a futuristic world that easy to imagine, as well as creating characters the readers both love and hate. And even though I have already read the entire Lunar Chronicles series, I must admit that there were some details that I had completely forgotten about. The main detail being the deadly Letumosis that plagues Earth. It was interesting reading about a fictional pandemic, especially in the midst of a real pandemic. Which as I was reading this I realized that a lot of my favorite YA books have a pandemic sub-plot in them.

One of the elements that is noticeable are the elements from the original Cinderella story that are included, for example Cinder slaves way as a mechanic and often has grime on her in order to earn money for her step-mother to spend on herself and her daughters on frivolous things. Her step-mother is cruel to her, in fact she blames Cinder for the death of her husband, and later on the death of one of her daughters. There is also a ball, where almost everyone is invited to attend, and the original purpose of the ball is for Prince Kai to try and find a bride. However, instead of a fairy godmother, there is a faulty android named Iko that helps get Cinder ready for the ball.

Of course, there are some other fairy tale elements that are evident in Cinder, for example some of the overarching plot of series is a Snow White retelling. Especially when the ultimate bomb is dropped the Cinder is Princess Selene, the lunar princes who has been thought to be dead after a deadly fire broke out in her room, and if Queen Levana discovers that she is alive, she will have to run for her life.

Another topic that is covered in Cinder is that of discrimination. In this world, the people of Earth are extremely prejudiced against Lunars, mainly do tot he fact that they are known to be cruel and master manipulators. However, Cinder is constantly discrimnated against because she is a cyborg and considered to be less than human because she has some mechanical parts. Which also asks the question, which doesn’t fully get answered in this novel, what does it mean to be human? What classifies someone has human? One of the arguments used against Cinder is that part of her heart is a machine that helps keep her alive, but she still has feelings, even if she can’t fully express them due to her cyborg features, for example, if she is embarassed her system immediately alerts her that she is overheating and does what it can to cool her down.

Cinder is an intersting novel, not just because it takes a classic fairy tale like Cinderella and turns it on its head a little bit, but while doing so also covering serious topics like belonging, discrimination, what it means to be human etc. However, it is also a fun read while doing so!

I highly recommend Cinder for those who are interested in YA, fairy tale retellings, as well as just a fun read.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.