Book Review – The Gown

The Gown by Jennifer Robson
Genre: Historical Fiction



The announcement of Princess Elizabeth’s wedding came in 1947. England was experiencing one of the harshest winters ever and food was in such short supply that rationing had to take place. The wedding announcement was thought to be a joyous event for the country.

The story surrounds the creating of the wedding gown for Princess Elizabeth and the women who were involved in bringing it to life. Two of those women were Ann Hughes and Miriam Dassen. Both of the women were embroiderers at the fashion house of Norman Hartnell. The story follows their friendship and the trials and tribulations they experience during the time that the gown is being created.

In 2016, Ann’s granddaughter, Heather, is left some embroidered squares after Ann’s passing. Heather is determined to find out the mystery behind these squares and why her grandmother thought it so important to leave them to her.

Anyone who knows me, knows that historical fiction is my favorite genre. The author did a great job of switching between 1947 and 2016. I loved the friendship that developed between Ann and Miriam. A beautifully told story that I rated a 4.5/5 stars! I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who is a fan of this genre!

Book Review – The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

This book is about a man (A.J. Fikry) who has lost his wife and his business (a bookstore) is failing. He isn’t the easiest person to be around either. His life changes when he discovers a small child has been abandoned in his bookstore with a note from the child’s mother wanting him to raise her daughter. The arrival of the girl gives AJ a new lease on life and allows him to see things in a more positive light. He also discovers love again when he meets a new book sales rep that is assigned to his store.

This was a fantastic book! It made me laugh out loud, and at the end it even made me cry. It was beautiful to see A.J. transform into such a loving father and husband and watch him turn his life, and his business, around. There were some twists towards the end that I didn’t see coming involving some of the characters too!

I gave this book a 4.5/5 stars!

January 2019 Wrap-Up

I can’t believe we are already at the end of January!

When I set goals for myself at the beginning of the year, I told myself that if I was struggling with a book, I would give myself permission to shelve it and not finish it. In the past, I would absolutely have stuck it out and finished reading it. By doing this, though, it would take me probably twice as long to read it. This doesn’t mean that a book is bad, it’s probably just not the right time for me to read it or it’s not a book that is relatable for me and that’s ok.

I got a subscription to Audible last year and every month I would download a book. I listened to 2 books during 2018, but struggled to get through both of them. I attempted to listen to Becoming by Michelle Obama this month and I didn’t even make it to the halfway mark when I gave up. The book itself is great and Mrs. Obama’s narration of the book is superb; however, no matter how I try to listen to books on Audible, I always find my mind drifting off thinking of other things and not absorbing the material. I have finally come to the realization that audio books are not for me. I am a visual person and I need to see the words on the page in order for the book to capture my attention. I think Audible is a fantastic service, but it just isn’t for me and I have cancelled my subscription.

I read 3 books in January which is average for me. Two of the books I took out from my local library. I forget what an asset local libraries are to a community and my goal this year is to get at least 1 book a month from my library! In total I read 971 pages and all 3 books were from authors that are new to me! Reviews of those books are in prior posts here on my blog. Short recaps of the books are below:

Notorious
by Allison Brennan 4 / 5 Stars
Library Book
The Bear and the Nightingale
by Katherine Arden
4 / 5 Stars
Library Book
No Exit
by Taylor Adams
5 / 5 Stars
BOTM Book

I’m working on compiling my TBR list for February and can’t wait to see what books I get through. February is traditionally the coldest month weather-wise where I live so it should be a good month to cozy up with a good book and a cup of tea.

Happy reading my friends!!

Book Review – No Exit

No Exit by Taylor Adams

Genre: Thriller

Darby Thorne is a college student who is on her way home to
Utah to see her mother who was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Darby is forced to pull off at a rest stop in the mountains of Colorado due to a blizzard and the roads being impassible. She finds 4 other individuals at the rest stop waiting out the storm. In addition, Darby discovers a young girl who is locked in a dog cage in the back of a van in the parking lot of the rest stop. Darby has no cell service and is trapped at the rest stop with these 4 strangers. Darby must find a way to save herself and the young girl.

This book was SO GOOD!!! There were several twists and turns throughout the book and it kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time. I gave this book a well deserved 5/5 stars!

Book Review – The Bear and the Nightingale

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

Genre: Historical Fiction/Fantasy

This story takes place in medieval Russia where the main character, Vasilisa, has grown up listening to fairy tales being told to her by her nurse. Vasilisa has powers but attempts to conceal them from her family (especially her stepmother). Danger is coming and her family is threatened so Vasilisa defies those that she loves to call upon those powers in hopes of saving those that she cares most for.

This is the first book in the Winternight Trilogy by Katherine Arden and I loved it! The book left me wanting more at the end and I can’t wait to read the next book in the series. It’s a perfect book to read this time of year and I gave it a 4/5 stars.

Book Review – Notorious

Notorious – By Allison Brennan

Genre: Mystery/Thriller/Suspense

This book centers around Maxine Revere, an investigative reporter who solves cold cases all over the country.

Maxine’s best friend was murdered when she was in high school. Another of Maxine’s friends, Kevin, was accused of that murder but was not convicted for it. Everyone in the community felt he was guilty of the crime except for Maxine. During that trial, Maxine found out that Kevin had lied to her about his alibi and while she still didn’t think he was guilty of the crime, their friendship suffered from the secrets and lies.

Several years have passed and Maxine is coming home to attend Kevin’s funeral. Through the years he abused drugs and ended up committing suicide. Kevin’s sister doesn’t believe that he took his own life and asked Maxine if she would look into it. At the same time she’s looking into Kevin’s death, she is also asked to take a look into another murder that recently happened at her old high school.

Maxine uncovers many dark secrets and lies that date back to her best friend’s murder and she discovers that both of these cases could be related.

This was the first book I’ve read by Allison Brennan and I really enjoyed it!! It was a fast read for me and kept me guessing until the end! I will definitely be picking up more books by this author to read in the future.

I am rating this a solid 4/5 stars.

2019 Reading Goals

I’ve done a lot of thinking of what reading goals I want to set for myself in 2019. I’ve never really tracked how much I’ve read before. I’ve had a Goodreads account for some time, but found that I wasn’t using it until part way through 2018. I also want to be realistic about my goals and not set myself up for failure. This next year will be a learning curve for me as I will be doing a much better job of tracking what I read, so I’m heading into the year recognizing that I might not reach my goals (but I’ll certainly have fun trying!).

With all of that being said, I have set up the following reading goals for myself for 2019:

  • Read 40 books / Listen to 10 audiobooks
  • Have at least 1 book a month come from my local library
  • Read 6 books over 500 pages
  • Read 10 books by authors who are new to me.

I will post an update of how I’m doing with my goals in June. Do you set reading goals? If so, share in the comments section with what they are!

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I hope you all have a Safe, Healthy and Happy New Year!