Book Review – A Hundred Suns

A Hundred Suns by Karin Tanabe / Genre: Historical Fiction

SYNOPSIS:

An evocative historical novel set in 1930’s Indochine, about the American wife of a Michelin heir who journeys to the French colony in the name of family fortune, and the glamorous, tumultuous world she finds herself in—and the truth she may be running from.

MY THOUGHTS:

This was the first book that I’ve read by this author. She did a beautiful job describing Indochine (which later becomes Vietnam) and making the reader feel like they were there. The book also deals a lot with societal class (upper class vs. working class . . . the haves and the have nots).

I would absolutely say that this is a slow burn but it doesn’t take too long for the story to heat up and grab the reader’s attention. As I was reading the book I felt as if the story could have almost been split into 2 separate books, but with that being said both of the story lines were tied together nicely at the end so it all made sense. A good read for anyone who enjoys this genre.

I gave this book 4/5 stars.

Book Review – A Fatal Grace

A Fatal Grace by Louise Penny / Genre: Mystery

SYNOPSIS:

Welcome to winter in Three Pines, a picturesque village in Quebec, where the villagers are preparing for a traditional country Christmas, and someone is preparing for murder.

No one liked CC de Poitiers. Not her quiet husband, not her spineless lover, not her pathetic daughter—and certainly none of the residents of Three Pines. CC de Poitiers managed to alienate everyone, right up until the moment of her death.

When Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, of the Sûreté du Québec, is called to investigate, he quickly realizes he’s dealing with someone quite extraordinary. CC de Poitiers was electrocuted in the middle of a frozen lake, in front of the entire village, as she watched the annual curling tournament. And yet no one saw anything. Who could have been insane enough to try such a macabre method of murder—or brilliant enough to succeed?

With his trademark compassion and courage, Gamache digs beneath the idyllic surface of village life to find the dangerous secrets long buried there. For a Quebec winter is not only staggeringly beautiful but deadly, and the people of Three Pines know better than to reveal too much of themselves. But other dangers are becoming clear to Gamache. As a bitter wind blows into the village, something even more chilling is coming for Gamache himself.

THOUGHTS:

I really enjoyed this book! It’s the second in Louise Penny’s Inspector Gamache series and while I liked the first book (A Still Life) a lot, I think this book was even better! I was happy that some of the characters from the first book were in this one as well and I got to know them even more. Anyone who has read these books probably mentions Ruth at some point in their reviews . . . she is quite the character and I hope I will see more of her in this series!

I will be honest in that I was able to figure out ahead of time one of the twists in the book. That didn’t disappoint me though because I didn’t see the ending coming at all.

If you haven’t started reading this series, I would absolutely recommend diving in. Reading them in order is probably the best way to read them (in my opinion).

I gave this book 4.5/5 stars.

Rating Books I Read

When I read books, I like to rate them so that when I post reviews, either here or on other platforms, people will get an idea of how much I liked or disliked a particular book. I’m not a professional reviewer. I do have a NetGalley account and will periodically request and receive an electronic copy of an ARC to read and review, but I receive no compensation for doing that.

I rate books using Stars and have broken it down below on what those stars represent to me:

5 Star Rating – I absolutely loved everything about the book. I couldn’t put it down and was thinking about the book long after finishing it. I also highly recommend a book with this rating.

4 Star Rating – I enjoyed the book. It might have been a little slow in capturing my interest, or there might have been something with either a character or the storyline that I didn’t care for but overall I thought the book was really good and would still recommend the book.

3 Star Rating – The book was just ok for me. It kept my attention throughout but nothing really stood out for me. I wouldn’t not recommend the book but would definitely indicate that it was just an ok read for me.

Anything lower than a 3 Star Rating – Most likely I’m going to DNF (did not finish) this book. I have had a hard time in the past with doing this because I can usually find something to like about a book. However, I do notice that with these books, I’m finding reasons not to sit down and read it so I have given myself permission that’s it’s ok to not finish a book when that happens.

Books are subjective and just because I didn’t like a book doesn’t mean that someone will feel the same way. The same can be said if I love a book and someone else didn’t. I won’t post specifically about a book that I had to DNF. What I will do is mention in my monthly wrap up if I had to DNF any books. Luckily, this doesn’t happen very often with me!

So there you have it! I either love a book, enjoy a book or just like a book. Or, sadly, I will DNF a book.

How do you rate books and do you have a hard time making the decision to DNF books? Let me know.

Happy reading friends!

Reading Plans For The New Year

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the goals/changes I want to make for the upcoming year.

I’ve been really bad with posting to my blog about the books I read in 2020 and so that is at the top of my list for the upcoming year. I will definitely be posting consistently to my blog about what I’m reading. I also plan on sprinkling in additional content from time to time related to books and reading so stay tuned for that!

I always post about what I’m reading on my Instagram page, so if you’d like to follow me there, I’ve included a link below to my account:

https://www.instagram.com/beckysreadingjourney/

I don’t know about you, but I bought an insane amount of books during 2020. I think it was a coping mechanism for me to deal with everything that was going on in the world (at least that’s what I’m telling myself!). So for 2021, the majority of my monthly tbr piles will consist of books that I already own. If I participate in any group reads throughout the year, and I don’t have the book, then I’ll get it from my local library.

Book purchasing will be done using gift cards if I’m lucky enough to receive any during the year. I’m not going to lie, this part will be the hardest for me.

As for the number of books I plan on reading in 2021, I’m going to attempt to read 45 books. I’ve done the Goodreads challenge the last couple of years and I ended 2020 reading 45 books so that’s how I came up with that number for my goal. If you’d like to follow me on Goodreads, click the link below:

https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/12148396-becky-powell

I can’t wait to post about all of the books I’ll be reading in the new year. They might not always be positive reviews, but they will always be honest ones!

Have a safe and healthy New Year everyone and here’s to tackling my overflowing book piles in the coming months!

Book Review – Mrs. Everything

Mrs Everything by Jennifer Weiner Genre: Women’s Literature/Historical Fiction

Synopsis:

Do we change or does the world change us?

Jo and Bethie Kaufman were born into a world full of promise.

Growing up in 1950s Detroit, they live in a perfect “Dick and Jane” house, where their roles in the family are clearly defined. Jo is the tomboy, the bookish rebel with a passion to make the world more fair; Bethie is the pretty, feminine good girl, a would-be star who enjoys the power her beauty confers and dreams of a traditional life.

But the truth ends up looking different from what the girls imagined. Jo and Bethie survive traumas and tragedies. As their lives unfold against the background of free love and Vietnam, Woodstock and women’s lib, Bethie becomes an adventure-loving wild child who dives headlong into the counterculture and is up for anything (except settling down). Meanwhile, Jo becomes a proper young mother in Connecticut, a witness to the changing world instead of a participant. Neither woman inhabits the world she dreams of, nor has a life that feels authentic or brings her joy. Is it too late for the women to finally stake a claim on happily ever after?

Thoughts:

This book truly is EVERYTHING! The relationship between Jo and Bethie resonated with me and I thought about it long after finishing the book. It is beautifully written and I absolutely loved it!!! I will definitely be checking out other books written by Jennifer Weiner. I would highly recommend this book.

I gave this book 5/5 stars.

Book Review – You Are Not Alone

You Are Not Alone by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Synopsis:

You probably know someone like Shay Miller.
She wants to find love, but it eludes her.
She wants to be fulfilled, but her job is a dead end.
She wants to belong, but her life is so isolated.

You probably don’t know anyone like the Moore sisters.
They have an unbreakable circle of friends.
They live the most glamorous life.
They always get what they desire.

Shay thinks she wants their life.
But what they really want is hers.

Thoughts:

I liked this book and it kept my interest from beginning to end; however, there weren’t that many twists and turns in it and only one that I didn’t see coming. This is the second book I’ve read by these authors and I definitely liked the other book (The Wife Between Us) better. Don’t get me wrong, this book was good but I just don’t think it was as good as the first book I read by them.

I gave this book 3/5 stars.

Book Review – The Couple Next Door

The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Synopsis:

Anne and Marco Conti seem to have it all–a loving relationship, a wonderful home, and their beautiful baby, Cora. But one night when they are at a dinner party next door, a terrible crime is committed. Suspicion immediately focuses on the parents. But the truth is a much more complicated story.

Inside the curtained house, an unsettling account of what actually happened unfolds. Detective Rasbach knows that the panicked couple is hiding something. Both Anne and Marco soon discover that the other is keeping secrets, secrets they’ve kept for years.

What follows is the nerve-racking unraveling of a family–a chilling tale of deception, duplicity, and unfaithfulness that will keep you breathless until the final shocking twist. 

Thoughts:

I absolutely loved this book! It had twists and turns right from the beginning and they continued throughout. The ending was awesome!! Can’t wait to read more by this author.

I gave this book 5/5 stars.

Book Review – What You Wish For

What You Wish For by Katherine Center
Genre: Romance

Synopsis:

Samantha Casey loves everything about her job as an elementary school librarian on the sunny, historic island of Galveston, Texas—the goofy kids, the stately Victorian building, the butterfly garden. But when the school suddenly loses its beloved principal, it turns out his replacement will be none other than Duncan Carpenter—a former, unrequited crush of Sam’s from many years before.

When Duncan shows up as her new boss, though, he’s nothing like the sweet teacher she once swooned over. He’s become stiff, and humorless, and obsessed with school safety. Now, with Duncan determined to destroy everything Sam loves about her school in the name of security—and turn it into nothing short of a prison—Sam has to stand up for everyone she cares about before the school that’s become her home is gone for good.

Thoughts:

I received an advance review ecopy of What You Wish For for free from NetGalley and am leaving this honest review voluntarily. The book is due to be published on July 14, 2020 from St. Martins Press.

I have quickly become a fan of Katherine Center’s books! Her newest book is laugh out loud funny with lovable characters. While it’s a light hearted fun read, it also tackles the serious topic of ptsd and finding joy in life after living through a tragic event. This book did not disappoint and I think it will make a great summer read this year!

I gave this book 4/5 stars.

Book Review – The Chalk Man

The Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor
Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Synopsis:

In 1986, Eddie and his friends are just kids on the verge of adolescence. They spend their days biking around their sleepy English village and looking for any taste of excitement they can get. The chalk men are their secret code: little chalk stick figures they leave for one another as messages only they can understand. But then a mysterious chalk man leads them right to a dismembered body, and nothing is ever the same.

In 2016, Eddie is fully grown, and thinks he’s put his past behind him. But then he gets a letter in the mail, containing a single chalk stick figure. When it turns out that his friends got the same message, they think it could be a prank . . . until one of them turns up dead.

That’s when Eddie realizes that saving himself means finally figuring out what really happened all those years ago.

Thoughts:

This book took me a bit to get into, but once I did, holy cow what a ride! I had to read it during the day because it is definitely full of creepy vibes. And let’s talk about the ending . . . blew me away!!! I’m definitely going to check out some of C.J. Tudor’s other books.

I gave this book 4/5 stars.

Book Review – American Dirt

American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins
Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Synopsis:

Lydia Quixano Pérez lives in the Mexican city of Acapulco. She runs a bookstore. She has a son, Luca, the love of her life, and a wonderful husband who is a journalist. And while there are cracks beginning to show in Acapulco because of the drug cartels, her life is, by and large, fairly comfortable.

Even though she knows they’ll never sell, Lydia stocks some of her all-time favorite books in her store. And then one day a man enters the shop to browse and comes up to the register with a few books he would like to buy—two of them her favorites. Javier is erudite. He is charming. And, unbeknownst to Lydia, he is the jefe of the newest drug cartel that has gruesomely taken over the city. When Lydia’s husband’s tell-all profile of Javier is published, none of their lives will ever be the same.

Forced to flee, Lydia and eight-year-old Luca soon find themselves miles and worlds away from their comfortable middle-class existence. Instantly transformed into migrants, Lydia and Luca ride la bestia—trains that make their way north toward the United States, which is the only place Javier’s reach doesn’t extend. As they join the countless people trying to reach el norte, Lydia soon sees that everyone is running from something. But what exactly are they running to?

Thoughts:

There was a fare amount of controversy surrounding this book when it first came out and I did my best to not pay attention to it. I wanted to be able to read it without any preconceived opinions formed. I’m so glad I did that, because I truly loved this book!! I read it every chance I got and I thought about it when I wasn’t reading it. My heart ached for what Lydia and Luca went through and what they had to endure making their way to freedom in the U.S.

If you haven’t read this book yet, I would highly recommend doing so.

In case it wasn’t obvious, I gave this book 5/5 stars!