Thursday, January 17, 2019

Audio Book Review: Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

Pages: 384
Genre: Adult Historical Fiction
Pub. Date: August 14, 2018
Publisher: Putnam
Source: Personal Copy/Audio Book
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "For years, rumors of the "Marsh Girl" have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. She's barefoot and wild; unfit for polite society. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark.  But Kya is not what they say. Abandoned at age ten, she has survived on her own in the marsh that she calls home. A born naturalist with just one day of school, she takes life lessons from the land, learning from the false signals of fireflies the real way of this world. But while she could have lived in solitude forever, the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. Drawn to two young men from town, who are each intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new and startling world--until the unthinkable happens."

Kya grew up on the marsh in North Carolina in the 1950s and one day her mom leaves and doesn't come back.  Kya is left with her drunk of a father and her siblings who are older and are slowly leaving one by one.  As time goes on, Kya finds herself alone out on the marshes and having to fend for herself.  The one constant in her life is her beautiful surrounding of the North Carolina marsh.  Instead of spending her days at school, Kya finds herself studying the birds, the tides, and her other aspects of nature.  Time continues on and she befriends Tate Walker who teaches her to read, but once he goes off to college she finds herself alone again.  The narration alternates with a 1969 with murder investigation.  Someone has died out on the marsh and we find out it is Chase Andrews.  He was the town's golden child and star quarterback.  Readers slowly find out that Kya somehow had a relationship with Chase at one point and during the investigations many hands are pointing to Kya, the "crazy" mash girl and wild child.  Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens has surprisingly many aspects to it that somehow work. There's romance, a coming-of-age tale, a survival story, and even a murder mystery that kept me completely entertained.

Kya is the type of character that your heart immediately goes out to in Where the Crawdads Sing.  She is abandoned not once, but twice and is living alone out on the marsh.  How could your heart not break for her? She makes the best of her situation by finding solace in nature and learning about her world.  She collects shells, feathers, and other things to entertain herself. Slowly she branches out socially to both Tate and Chase, but their stories are complicated.  

The murder mystery aspect of Where the Crawdads Sing definitely left me on the edge of my seat along with the events that ensue including the trail. Readers just want things to go simply for Kya for once, especially since she survived her atrocious childhood, but the death of Chase Andrews really complicates things.  

What stood out to me was Owens's descriptions of nature, the birds, the tides, the sun, and the other marsh animals in Where the Crawdads Sing. I found out that Owens wrote many non-fiction books on this very topic as she is a scientist, so it was very apparent that this is where she truly shines. She brought the marsh to life for me and really painted quite a beautiful picture with her memorable descriptions.

I'm glad I listened to this audio book as it was very well done. The narrator was Cassandra Campbell and she brought Kya's accent and the eloquent descriptions of nature to life.  

Where the Crawdads Sing is a fantastic debut and especially perfect for readers that appreciate nature and a coastal setting.  Have you read this book? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. 

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Can't Wait Wednesday: When Summer Ends

Can't Wait Wednesday is hosted by Wishful Endings and helps us spotlight upcoming releases we're eagerly anticipating!

When Summer Ends by Jessica Pennington
Pub. Date: April 9, 2019

Goodreads says, "Aiden Emerson is an all-star pitcher and the all-around golden boy of Riverton. Or at least he was, before he quit the team the last day of junior year without any explanation. How could he tell people he's losing his vision at seventeen?  Straight-laced Olivia thought she had life all figured out. But when her dream internship falls apart, her estranged mother comes back into her life, and her long-time boyfriend ghosts her right before summer break, she's starting to think fate has a weird sense of humor.  Each struggling to find a new direction, Aiden and Olivia decide to live summer by chance. Every fleeting adventure and stolen kiss is as fragile as a coin flip in this heartfelt journey to love and self-discovery from the author of Love Songs & Other Lies."

It's that time of the year again where I start to plan what I want to read this summer and this one is high up on the list. I always love a good YA summertime read and I love the sound of this one. What do you guys think?

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday: New to Me Authors I Read in 2018

I read a lot of debut authors in 2018, but for this post, I am focusing on new-to-me authors that have been writing for awhile, but I never got around to reading them until recently.

1.  Susan Meissner - I read As Bright as Heaven and thoroughly enjoyed her writing style as well as her ability to bring a historical place to life. 

2.  Edward Rutherfurd - I read Princes of Ireland this past St. Patrick's Day and was impressed by all the research that went into this massive historical novel.

3.  Jenn Bennett - I FINALLY read a Jenn Bennett novel this past year! I fell in love with Starry Eyes and can't wait to read more of her novels in the future.

4.  Christina Lauren - Sometimes the romance genre really doesn't work for me, but boy, did Christina Lauren impress me. I love that Christina Lauren is actually two authors writing together. In 2018, I read Love and Other Words. Which of her novels should I read next?

5.  Tony DiTerlizzi - I read The Spiderwick Chronicles with my son and we both absolutely loved this children's fantasy series.  

6.  Holly Black - Somehow I have never read any of Holly Black's YA novels despite the fact that I met her a few years back.  I did read The Spiderwick Chronicles with my son, which she is the co-author of along with Tony DiTerilizzi.  Maybe I should try and read her YA novels next. Which one should I start with?

7.  Deborah Harkness - I read A Discovery of Witches this past year and really enjoyed Harkness's  ability to weave historical fiction into her tale. Who else is excited to see the TV version of this show? It premieres this week on Sundance.

8.  Tom Fletcher - I have never read his children's books before I picked up The Christmasaurus and read it with my son. I'm so glad I did; it was such a fun middle grade story that's perfect for dinosaur lovers!

9.  Fiona Davis - I love historical fiction, as you know, so I'm glad I had the opportunity read one of Davis's novels. I started with The Address and it didn't disappoint!

10.  Jennifer Lynn Barnes - Many of my friends have read her YA novels, but I never found the time. I am glad I was able to  read her YA mystery, Little White Lies, this past fall.   

What new-to-you authors did you read this past year?  Let me know in the comments. This meme is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Stacking the Shelves (86)

Book Review: One Day in December by Josie Silver
Can't Wait Wednesday: The Golden Hour

This week I'll be sharing my thoughts on one of the most talked about books of 2018, Where the Crawdads Sing. I listened to the audio book and it didn't disappoint! 

When Summer Ends by Jessica Pennington - Thanks to Tor and NetGalley
Bethlehem by Karen Kelly - Thanks to St. Martin's and NetGalley

The Golden Hour by Beatriz Williams - Thanks to William Morrow and Edelweiss
You, Me, and the Sea by Megan Donohue - Thanks to William Morrow and Edelweiss

Have you read any of these books? Are they on your TBR list? Let me know your thoughts. Thanks for visiting! This meme is hosted by Kimberly at Caffeinated Book Reviewer.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Spotlight on Harry Potter Board Games

Long before I was reading the Harry Potter series with my oldest son, I was a hardcore Harry Potter fan. Still am, actually. I love sharing this magical world with my kids.  It's exciting that my oldest son has become a big fan as well.  So, when Pressman Toys asked me to check out their Harry Potter games, I jumped at the chance, because who doesn't like board games?!? 

Over our holiday break, my family and I played these games and I want to share my thoughts on them with you guys.  First up, we played the Tri-Wizard Maze Game, which is perfect for ages five and up. I liked the retro aspect of this game with its plastic popper for the die. This makes things so much easier! Plus, the popper made for a fun and quick paced game that's perfect for a family game night when you have a younger crowd.  Your wizard has to race around the maze, but there are always things in his way. If you land on a draw space and then draw a card, it may include a particular spell or curse that could either help you or set you back. It was definitely fun and I liked that the directions were simple and not too elaborate like many other board games out there today.  This is my son's favorite game of the two and requests to play it quite often. 

The other Harry Potter board game that we played is the Harry Potter Magical Beasts Game. This game was a bit more elaborate and the rules were a little more involved; however, it is recommended for ages 8 and up.  I was really impressed with the swinging game board, which makes the board game a little more exciting than the usual ones we play as there are so many things to see. On one side of the game board is the inside of Hogwarts with many familiar landmarks from the books and movies. Then you can swing the game board over to reveal the ground of Hogwarts with more landmarks. 

Fans of  the Harry Potter series will especially like this game since it includes all the details from the books and movie, such as The Great Hall, Aragog's Cave, Hagrid's Hut, and more.  This game involves a little more strategy as you have to collect clues to capture the magical beasts that have escaped and are running amok.  My son loved trying to figure out which magical beast he was 
tracking down.  

As opposed to the Tri-Wizard Maze Game, this one is a little bit more involved and has a little bit longer playtime, so I definitely recommend this game for older elementary school crowd or avid game player. Harry Potter Magical Beasts Game would make for a great gift for any Potter fans out there and it's perfect to play as a family.  

Thanks again to Pressman Toys for sending me these games to share with you guys. Go check out their website or their Facebook page for more information on these games as well as others to play with your family and friends.  I absolutely love family game night (it's a nice break from all the screen time!) and these board games would make for a great addition to any family's collection.  They will surely be played with for years to come!  

Do you have any literary games? Have you played these Harry Potter board games? Let me know thoughts as well as your favorite family board games in the comments below. 

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Book Review: One Day in December by Josie Silver

Pages: 416
Genre: Adult Fiction
Pub. Date: October 16, 2018
Publisher: Broadway
Source: Library
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "Two people. Ten chances. One unforgettable love story.  Laurie is pretty sure love at first sight doesn't exist anywhere but the movies. But then, through a misted-up bus window one snowy December day, she sees a man who she knows instantly is the one. Their eyes meet, there's a moment of pure magic...and then her bus drives away.  Certain they're fated to find each other again, Laurie spends a year scanning every bus stop and cafe in London for him. But she doesn't find him, not when it matters anyway. Instead they "reunite" at a Christmas party, when her best friend Sarah giddily introduces her new boyfriend to Laurie. It's Jack, the man from the bus. It would be.  What follows for Laurie, Sarah and Jack is ten years of friendship, heartbreak, missed opportunities, roads not taken, and destinies reconsidered. One Day in December is a joyous, heartwarming and immensely moving love story to escape into and a reminder that fate takes inexplicable turns along the route to happiness."

It's a snowy day in December and Laurie is taking the bus home through the bustling city streets of London.  While peering out the bus window, she sees a man at the bus stop and she locks eyes with him.  She immediately feels butterflies and an undeniable connection to him.  Does he feel it to? She isn't sure, but she knows he doesn't look away.  She should have gotten off the bus, but alas, it drove away quickly taking her with it.  She spent years looking for her bus guy.  She'd be at a crowded pub in London, her eyes would always search for him, but a few years went by and she never saw him again.  She always wondered what if. What if she got off that bus and actually talked to him? What if he was the one? What if true love at first sight actually exists and isn't just reserved for Disney movies and Romeo and Juliet? Instead she finds him when she least expects it. Her best friend, Sarah, introduces her boyfriend to Laurie at a Christmas party.  Guess who Sarah's boyfriend is? Bus guy.  His name is Jack and he is still perfect.  Cue the awkward situation, especially as Laurie tries to figure out if Jack remembers seeing her at the bus stop a few years ago.  But even if he does, she could never steal him away from Sarah; after all, Sarah is pretty much the perfect girlfriend not to mention her best friend.  Laurie finally moves on, but readers can't help wondering if they will ever have their happy ending.  Josie Silver's One Day in December is like sitting down on the sofa with your favorite blanket and a hot cup of tea. It's heartwarming, it's romantic, it's heartbreaking and it's the perfect holiday/wintertime read.  
Oh, Laurie. She is almost like a Jane Austen heroine in One Day in December. She's tragically flawed and she's totally got her head in the clouds when it comes to love...but how could readers not enjoy her? I really wanted to believe in her love at first site scenario, but the skeptic in me kept wondering if Jack actually felt it too. I mean it seems pretty far fetched that he would remember her from that brief, but special moment. Or maybe Laurie just conjured it up in her mind. Nonetheless, the fact that he is dating Sarah makes it extremely challenging not to mention awkward for all involved.  As the years go by, Laurie tries to move on and while we think maybe, just maybe, there's a chance for her to be happy, we can't help but wonder.....what about Jack? He seems to always be in the back of her mind and their story takes many wrong terms in order to get to that final destination. 
Jack isn't my usual swoon-worthy love interest, but I still really liked in him One Day in December. Like Laurie, he is flawed and makes horrendous decisions, but I couldn't help liking him.  I was rooting for him from the beginning.  I loved how he had Laurie's back through many difficult situations and their friendship spanned many years.  I won't say much more, because I don't want to give it away, but I thoroughly enjoyed their complex story.
If you love Bridget Jones and Love Actually, then you will adore this novel. I am SO glad I read it around the holidays, because it's the perfect feel-good read to snuggle up with and get lost in.  This novel had me feeling all the emotions, so I definitely recommend you curl up with One Day in December this winter.  It ended up being one of my favorites for 2018. 

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Can't Wait Wednesday: Meet Me in Monaco

Can't Wait Wednesday is hosted by Wishful Endings and helps us spotlight upcoming releases we're eagerly anticipating!

Meet Me In Monaco by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb
Pub. Date: July 23, 2019

Goodreads says, "Set in the 1950s against the backdrop of Grace Kelly’s whirlwind romance and glamourous wedding to Prince Rainier of Monaco, New York Times bestselling author Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb take the reader on an evocative sun-drenched journey along the Côte d’Azur in this page-turning novel of passion, fate, and second-chances.  Movie stars and paparazzi flock to Cannes for the glamorous film festival, but Grace Kelly, the biggest star of all, wants only to escape from the flash-bulbs. When struggling perfumer Sophie Duval shelters Miss Kelly in her boutique, fending off a persistent British press photographer, James Henderson, a bond is forged between the two women and sets in motion a chain of events that stretches across thirty years of friendship, love, and tragedy.  James Henderson cannot forget his brief encounter with Sophie Duval. Despite his guilt at being away from his daughter, he takes an assignment to cover the wedding of the century, sailing with Grace Kelly’s wedding party on the SS Constitution from New York. In Monaco, as wedding fever soars and passions and tempers escalate, James and Sophie—like Princess Grace—must ultimately decide what they are prepared to give up for love."

This sounds like the perfect historical beach I right? I love all things Grace Kelly, so I immediately added this to my TBR list. What do you guys think? 

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