Book Review – Before We Were Yours

Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate
Genre: Historical Fiction

Synopsis:

Memphis, 1939: Twelve-year-old Rill Foss and her four younger siblings live a magical life aboard their family’s Mississippi River shantyboat. But when their father must rush their mother to the hospital one stormy night, Rill is left in charge — until strangers arrive in force. Wrenched from all that is familiar and thrown into a Tennessee Children’t Home Society orphanage, the Foss children are assured that they will soon be returned to their parrents — but they quickly realize the dark truth. At the mercy of the facility’s real-life director, the cruel Georgia Tann, Rill fights to keep her sisters and brother together.

Aiken, South Carolina, Present Day: Born into wealth and privilege, Avery Stafford seems to have it all: a successful career, a handsome fiance, and a lavish wedding on the horizon. But when she returns home to help her father weather a health crisis, a chance encounter leaves her with uncomfortable questions and compels her to take a journey through her family’s long-hidden history, on a path that will ultimately lead either to devastation or to redemption.

Thoughts:

This book is gut wrenching at times. To think of the horrors children lived through in the orphanage is unbearable, especially knowing that all of them didn’t survive. Rill Foss is a character that I will not soon forget about and this extraordinary story will stay with me for a long time. I can’t think of a better way to kick off 2020 than reading this book which is also the January pick for a book club I belong to. Please, if you haven’t read this book and you enjoy historical fiction, get this book and read it!

If it wasn’t apparent from my thoughts, I gave this book 5/5 stars.

Book Review – Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Synopsis

Eleanor Oliphant struggles with appropriate social skills and tends to say exactly what she’s thinking. Nothing is missing in her carefully timetabled life, where weekends mostly consist of frozen pizza, vodka, and phone chats with Mummy. But everything changes when Eleanor meets Raymond, the bumbling IT guy from her office, whose big heart will ultimately help Eleanor find the way to repair her own profoundly damaged one.

Thoughts

This was the first book chosen to read for a book club that I recently joined and it did not disappoint! It was funny and was very moving. I was cheering on Eleanor throughout her journey. There are some twists at the end of the book that I didn’t see coming which broke my heart. A great book to finish 2019 with . . . a definite must read if you haven’t done so yet!

A gave this book 4.5/5 stars!

Book Review – How Mrs. Claus Saved Christmas

How Mrs. Claus Saved Christmas by Jeff Guinn
Genre: Historical Fiction (Holiday)

Synopsis

It’s 1620, and Mrs. Claus’s beloved husband is off in the New World, planting the seeds for what will become a glorious Christmas tradition. Meanwhile, Mrs. Claus has chosen to stay in England, where the first signs of a dangerous threat to Yuletide cheer are in evidence. The Puritans have gained control of Parliament and appear determined to take all the fun out of Christmas. But Mrs. Claus knows that it’s time for serious action when, in 1647, a law is passed by Parliament that actually punishes anyone who celebrates Christmas. Based on the actual events of Christmas Day in 1647, when ten thousand peasants marched through the streets of Canterbury demanding their right to celebrate a beloved holiday.

Thoughts

This is the 2nd book in Jeff Guin’s The Christmas Chronicles and just like the first book in the series The Autobiography of Santa Claus, there are 24 chapters which are to be read one at a time beginning December 1. Another wonderful holiday read!

I gave this book 4/5 stars.

Book Review – The Autobiography of Santa Claus

The Autobiography of Santa Claus by Jeff Guinn
Genre: Historical Fiction (Holiday)

Synopsis

This enchanting holiday treasure combines historical fact with glorious legend as Saint Nicholas reveals the definitive story of Santa Claus.

In The Autobiography of Santa Claus, Santa shares his story with readers for the first time. Nicholas (his real name) was born in Lycia, in Asia Minor, to wealthy parents who died when he was young. The kind people of Lycia taught him the lessons of goodness and generosity that led to his lifelong mission to remind the world about the importance of giving.

Thoughts

This is definitely a feel good holiday story which I refer to as an advent book. There are 24 chapters to be read one at a time beginning on December 1. A great book to read with your family!

I gave this book 4/5 stars.

Book Review – Winter Solstice

Winter Solstice by Elin Hilderbrand
Genre: Chick Lit

Synopsis

It’s been a long time since the entire Quinn family celebrated the holidays under the same roof, but that’s about to change. With Bart back safe and sound from Afghanistan, the Quinns are preparing for their most joyous holiday season ever . . . After all, Bart’ return isn’t the family’s only good news: Kevin is enjoying married life with Isabelle, Patrick is getting back on his feet after paying his debt to society, Ava thinks she’s finally found the love of her life, and Kelley is thrilled to see his family reunited. But it just wouldn’t be a Quinn family gathering without a few surprises and upheavals. A celebration of everything we love — and some of the things we endure — about the holidays.

Thoughts

This was my favorite book of the entire series! It is probably the saddest as well as the Quinn’s prepare to say goodbye to Kelley who has terminal brain cancer. You will laugh and cry and won’t be disappointed. I cannot recommend the Winter Series enough. Get these books! I gave this book 5/5 stars. The series as a whole averaged out to 4.5/5 stars.

Book Review – The Only Plane In The Sky: An Oral History of 9/11

The Only Plane in the Sky – An Oral History of 9/11
By Garrett M. Graff
Genre: Non Fiction

Synopsis

The first comprehensive oral history of September 11, 2011 — a panoramic narrative woven from the voices of Americans on the front lines of an unprecedented national trauma. Over the past eighteen years, monumental literature has been published about 9/11. But one perspective has been missing up to this point — a 360-degree account of the day told through the voices of the people who experienced it. Drawing on never-before-published transcripts, recently declassified documents, original interviews and oral histories from nearly five hundred government officials, first responders, witnesses, survivors, friends and family members, Graff paints the most vivid and human portrait of the September 11 attacks yet. The Only Plane in the Sky weaves together the unforgettable personal experiences of the men and women who found themselves caught at the center of an unprecedented human drama. The result is a unique, profound and searing exploration of humanity on a day that changed the course of history, and all our lives.

Thoughts

I thought I had read everything that was out there about the events that transpired on 9/11, but this book proved me wrong. I listened to the book on Audible every chance I got and I must say that version is superbly narrated. I enjoyed it so much that I purchased the physical copy of the book to keep in my personal “library”. I would highly recommend listening to the book if you get a chance. I gave the book 5/5 stars.

Book Review – Winter Storms

Winter Storms by Elin Hilderbrand
Genre: Chick Lit

Synopsis:

The stormy weather of the past few years seems to have lifted for the Quinn family: Mitzi’s come home, Patrick’s about to be released from prison, Kevin and Isabelle are finally getting married, and there’s hopeful news about Bart, who has been captured by the enemy forces in Afghanistan.

But that doesn’t mean there aren’t still some dark clouds on the horizon. As Kevin and Isabelle’s special day approaches, a historic once-in-a-century blizzard bears down on Nantucket, threatening to keep the Quinn family away from the place — and the people — they love most. Before the snow clears, the Quinns will have to survive enough holiday intrigue to send anyone running for the spiked eggnog.

Thoughts:

Each book in this series gets better and better! Tissues will definitely be needed for the end of this one. I gave this book 5/5 stars.