Sunday, December 23, 2018

"The Innkeeper's Wife" by Savannah Jezowski

Awwwwwwww.  This is such a lovely story!  As someone who struggled with getting pregnant initially, though I've since had three healthy babies, I really identified a lot with things going on in this book.

Ginny and Caleb are in their mid-thirties.  They own and run a bed-and-breakfast.  They've wanted children for years, but never conceived.  In the middle of a Christmas snowstorm, a young couple arrives at the b&b, which is full.  The young woman is great with child, to say the least, and Ginny struggles to be courteous, let along kind, with this girl who has what Ginny so desperately wants.

Over the next few hours, Ginny comes to understand that what you want isn't always what you need, and whether or not you like a situation, that doesn't mean you can walk away from it.  I shed a tear or two over this story, but good tears.  The happy kind.

Particularly Good Bits:

Were all those tears for nothing?  Just salty water to fill up a well of pain that would never be emptied?

If This was a Movie, I Would Rate It:  PG for discussion of childbirth-related behavior, the mention of "missing periods" and taking pregnancy tests, and other things younger kids might not be ready for or interested in.  Nothing gratuitous, no bad bad language or violence or smut.

This is my second book read and reviewed for the Literary Christmas Link-up.

Friday, December 21, 2018

"Holiday Grind" by Cleo Coyle

This was an engaging, fun mystery.  I liked the main character, coffeehouse manager Clare Cosi.  The mystery itself kept my interest, too.  Clare's friend who dresses as Santa and collects money for charity gets murdered, and the police think it's just a mugging.  Even Clare's NYPD detective boyfriend thinks so.  But Clare is sure there's more going on, and of course she uncovers the truth after many mishaps and missteps.

While I did enjoy this mystery while reading it, it faded from my consciousness awfully quickly.  Two days later, and I'm struggling to recall character names and plot details.  Like a foamy latte that I barely remember an hour later, it was frothy and tasty while it lasted, but not ultimately a favorite.  Still, fun while it lasted!

If This was a Movie, I Would Rate It:  PG-13 for some non-graphic intimate moments between Clare and her boyfriend, lots of innuendo in the dialog, bad language, and violence.

This is my first book read and reviewed for the Literary Christmas Link-up and my 16th for the Mount TBR Challenge 2018.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

New Story in a New FREE Anthology!

It's true!  My "flash fiction" piece called "Knighthood" now appears in the brand-new anthology It Happened in a Flash presented by Holly Lisle.  You can get the e-book for FREE on Amazon or on Barnes and Noble, and other places too, I'm told.

The sixty-four stories in this anthology all revolve around something impossible happening, and they're all 500 words or less.  And if you think it's tough to cram a full story into 500 words, with a protagonist, antagonist, setting, and plot -- you're right!  But it's totally possible, as the stories in this attest.  Including mine!

My story "Knighthood" is about an actor named Andrew who realizes one day that he can stop pretending to be a knight and actually be one.  If you want to read a little about what inspired me to write it, check out this post on my other blog.  Then download the ebook (did I mention it's FREE?), read it, and leave some feedback wherever you download it, or on Goodreads!

Please note that while my story is 100% squeaky clean, the anthology as a whole would be rated PG-13 -- no really smutty stuff, but there may be some mildly objectionable content in other stories.  I've only read six or seven of them so far -- none have been something I found distasteful so far, but your standards may be different from mine.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

"Mr. Popper's Penguins" by Richard and Florence Atwater

I'm afraid I liked this book better as a kid.  It's still cute and fun, but my suspension of disbelief got stretched a little too far for me to totally enjoy it.  Not that it was a huge favorite of mine as a kid either -- I remember reading it and wishing my parents would let us have snow in the house, but that's about all I recall, so I must have only read it once or twice.

I read it now because my 8-yr-old loves penguins.  This is the last book we'll be reading this semester for our homeschool co-op lit course, and I chose it because she would enjoy it.  And she did.  So that's a win, really.  And it only took me a couple of hours to read, so it's not like I was stuck with a book I didn't thoroughly enjoy for very long.

Mr. Popper's Penguins involves a very nice man who wishes he was an explorer instead of a house painter.  Imagine George Bailey from It's a Wonderful Life if he was even poorer.  In fact, James Stewart likely would have made a very effective Mr. Popper if they'd made a movie of this sixty or seventy years ago.

Anyway, Mr. Popper is given a penguin most unexpectedly.  Most of the book involves his family adjusting to life with a penguin.  And then life with many penguins.  They aren't rich, but they never really begrudge those penguins the money they have to pour into keeping them, though Mrs. Popper frets now and then.  Eventually, they find a way for the penguins to earn their keep.  And Mr. Popper's dearest wish comes true -- it's a very, very happy ending.  And I definitely liked that.

If This was a Movie, I Would Rate It:  G.  Squeaky clean.

This is my 11th and, presumably, final book read for the Old School Kidlit Reading Challenge.  Don't think I'll have time for another junior fiction book before the end of the year.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

"I'd Rather be Reading" by Anne Bogel

What a perfectly delightful book!

Really, reading this made me wonder sometimes if Anne Bogel had been reading my thoughts and copying my life.  I identified with her behavior toward books so fiercely in so many ways!  I'm book-bossy.  I need due dates to help decide what books to read.  I've been known to go to the library multiple times in one week.  I don't have any book twins, but I've got loads of book friends upon whom I rely for recommendations.  I rearrange my bookshelves.  I never have enough bookshelves!  And on and on and on.

I've read Anne Bogel's blog, Modern Mrs. Darcy, a few times, though I don't follow it.  I might start following it now.  We'll see.  But I will definitely be rereading this book in years to come, if only for the sense of, "I'm not alone!  Someone else understands!" that it gave me.

If you're passionate about books, or if you know someone who is passionate about books and want to understand them better, try this book.  It's delicious.

(Another of my Instagram pics)

Particularly Good Bits:

...a bookstore is full of nothing if not possibility (p. 78).

Reading is often viewed as a solitary act; that's one of the reasons I love it, and it's certainly my favorite escape and introvert coping strategy of choice.  But reading is also a social act: readers lovet o connect over good books.  If I read a book that legitimately changes my life (what a find!), or a book that becomes a new favorite, or even a breezy novel that's tons of fun, I can't wait to talk about it with my fellow readers (p. 138).

If This was a Movie, I Would Rate It: PG for a few iffy words, I think?  Honestly, I inhaled this book so quickly, I don't remember the content.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

"Death by the Book" by Julianna Deering

The more Drew Farthering Mysteries I read, the better I like them!  I've been reading them all out of order, but it hasn't mattered, as each one has been fun in and of themselves.  And I have enough practice reading book series that I can add to the timeline in my head a little helter-skelter, as needed.

In Death by the Book, Drew Farthering, his girlfriend Madeline, and his pal Nick Dennison must solve a series of seemingly random murders.  Each murder draws closer and closer to Drew himself, which is worrisome.  Also, Madeline's Aunt Ruth arrives from America, determined to separate Madeline and Drew for good.  Toss in a lot of cryptic messages left at the murder scenes and Inspector Birdsong being his usual gruff self, and you have a charming entry into the series.

(From my Instagram)

If This was a Movie, I Would Rate It:  PG-13 for violence, danger, kissing, and Aunt Ruth implying that Drew is trying to steal Madeline's virtue, as it were.

This is my 15th book read and reviewed for the Mount TBR Reading Challenge 2018!

Monday, December 10, 2018

"Twenty and Ten" by Claire Huchet Bishop

A few homeschooling mom friends recommended this to me a few years ago when I was teaching my oldest about WWII and trying to figure out how to explain the Holocaust to him because he's very sensitive, and was even more sensitive back then.  Unhappily, I never found a copy before we were done with school for the year.  Happily, I DID find a copy last year sometime, and finally managed to read it myself this fall.  

Even though my son is in 5th grade now, I'm still going to have him read this.  But I think I'll also have my 3rd-grade daughter read it too.  It's a solemn, but hope-filled story.  

When the Nazis occupy France during WWII, twenty French children are sent to the mountains to live with Sister Gabriel, a nun who teaches and cares for them.  They survive quietly there until one day a man arrives and asks if they would be willing to hide ten Jewish orphans who have fled the Nazis.  They agree to take in the ten extra children and share their meager food and clothing.  

At first, it's fun to have more playmates.  But one day, suspicious Nazi soldiers descend on the children while Sister Gabriel is gone.  It's up to those twenty French children to endure interrogation and intimidation... or else their ten new friends will be found and captured.

Based on a true story, this book is definitely serious, and tense in places, but not quite tense enough to be scary.  I'm really glad friends recommended it to me, and I look forward to discussing it with my kids later this year when they're studying WWII.  Courage, kindness, integrity, and ingenuity are all featured here, making a powerful impact in very few words.

If This was a Movie, I Would Rate It: PG for tense and serious subject matter.

This is my 24th book read and reviewed for the Classics Club.

This is my 14th book read and reviewed for the Mount TBR Reading Challenge 2018.

And this is my 10th book read and reviewed for the Old School Kidlit Reading Challenge 2018!  Wahoo, I reached my goal for this too!