Review: Bel Canto

Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

bel cantoGenre: Fiction
Maturity Level: 4
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Rating: ⋆⋆⋆⋆⋆


In an unnamed South American country, a world-renowned soprano sings at a birthday party in honor of a visiting Japanese industrial titan. Alas, in the opening sequence, a ragtag band of 18 terrorists enters the vice-presidential mansion through the air conditioning ducts. Their quarry is the president, who has unfortunately stayed home to watch a favorite soap opera. And thus, from the beginning, things go awry.

Among the hostages are Russian, Italian, and French diplomatic types. Swiss Red Cross negotiator Joachim Messner comes and goes, wrangling over terms and demands. Days stretch into weeks, the weeks into months. Joined by no common language except music, the 58 international hostages and their captors forge unexpected bonds. Time stands still, priorities rearrange themselves. Ultimately, of course, something has to give.


I don’t know how to adequately express how much I loved this book or why. It was so beautiful, and I connected with it so deeply. Continue reading

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Review: The Winter of the Witch

The Winter of the Witch by Katherine Arden

the winter of the witchSeries: The Winternight Trilogy
Genres: Fantasy, Historical Fiction
Maturity Level: 4
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Rating: ⋆⋆⋆⋆


Now Moscow has been struck by disaster. Its people are searching for answers—and for someone to blame. Vasya finds herself alone, beset on all sides. The Grand Prince is in a rage, choosing allies that will lead him on a path to war and ruin. A wicked demon returns, stronger than ever and determined to spread chaos. Caught at the center of the conflict is Vasya, who finds the fate of two worlds resting on her shoulders. Her destiny uncertain, Vasya will uncover surprising truths about herself and her history as she desperately tries to save Russia, Morozko, and the magical world she treasures. But she may not be able to save them all.


What a great end to this amazing series! The Winter of the Witch was everything I hoped it would be. It answered all my questions, gave my favorite characters good arcs and development, fleshed out the magic a bit more, and went in a completely different direction than I was expecting! Continue reading

Burnout Solution Check-In

So way back in June I wrote a post about how I was getting burnt out on YA, mostly because I was reading sooooooo much of it. I’ve always been a reader who prefers lots of variety, and tend to read any old thing that catches my interest. But since I started blogging I’ve been reading lots of YA books.

My solution that I devised for myself was that I separated my books into loose “genres”, and read one from each before I could do any repeats.

The good news: it’s going GREAT! I’ve read so many AMAZING books this year, and several of them are books I probably wouldn’t have ever picked up if I hadn’t started this process. In particular I’ve read three SciFi’s that I’ve loved, and a couple really good mysteries, which were genres I’d definitely been neglecting. I’ve been very happy with each and every book I’ve picked up in the last six months, and I’ve felt so refreshed. It’s nice knowing every single book is going to be a change of pace!

The things that need to be improved: since I was primarily focused on reading more genre fiction, everything else got sort of lumped together. Historical fiction, chick-lit/contemporary, literary fiction, they all got kind of thrown together. The result is that I’ve read exactly zero literary fiction since then. And while it’s not my favorite genre, there’s a couple of literary fiction novels that have been sitting on my tbr for years, and at this rate I’ll never get to them! I also haven’t read a lot of historical fiction, and that IS one of my favorite genres. Continue reading

Review: The Baby Plan

The Baby Plan by Kate Rorick

35068764Genre: Chick Lit, Fiction
Maturity Level: 5-
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Rating: ⋆⋆⋆⋆


Meet the mothers…

Nathalie Kneller: Nathalie’s plan: to announce her pregnancy now that she’s finally made it past twelve weeks! But just as she’s about to deliver (so to speak) the big news to her family, her scene-stealing sister barfs all over the Thanksgiving centerpiece. Yup, Lyndi’s pregnant too, swiping the spotlight once more…

Lyndi Kneller: Lyndi’s plan: finally get her life together! She’s got a new apartment, new promotion, new boyfriend. What she didn’t count on—a new baby! She can barely afford her rent, much less a state-of-the-art stroller…

Sophia Nunez: Sophia’s plan: Once she gets her daughter Maisey off to college, she’ll finally be able to enjoy life as make-up artist to one of Hollywood’s biggest stars, and girlfriend to one of rock’s hottest musicians. But after 18 years she discovers the stork is once again on its way…

Now these women are about to jump headlong into the world of modern day pregnancy. It’s a world of over the top gender reveal parties (with tacky cakes and fireworks); where every morsel you eat is scrutinized and discussed; where baby names are crowd-sourced and sonograms are Facebook-shared. And where nothing goes as planned…


This is EXACTLY what I was looking for in a Chick Lit about three pregnant women! It was funny, touching, light, and just a little over the top. I laughed, I cried (it’s probably just the postpartum hormones…), I couldn’t put it down. Continue reading

Review: The Best Christmas Pageant Ever

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson

y648Series: The Herdmans
Genre: Middle Grade, Fiction
Maturity Level: 2
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Rating: ⋆⋆⋆⋆


Ralph, Imogene, Leroy, Claude, Ollie, and Gladys Herdman are an awful bunch. They set fire to Fred Shoemaker’s toolshed, blackmailed Wanda Pierce to get her charm bracelet, and smacked Alice Wendelken across the head. And that’s just the start! When the Herdmans show up at church for the free snacks and suddenly take over the Christmas pageant, the other kids are shocked. It’s obvious that they’re up to no good. But Christmas magic is all around and the Herdmans, who have never heard the Christmas story before, start to reimagine it in their own way.

This year’s pageant is definitely like no other, but maybe that’s exactly what makes it so special.


This book didn’t age quite as well as some of my other childhood favorites. It has the 70s written all over it, prejudice abounding. Reading it out loud to my class, I had to censor quite a bit. I skipped an entire two pages of Imogene Herdman making fun of fat kids because I didn’t want to make my overweight students uncomfortable. Also a lot of the language and stuff doesn’t resonate with kids anymore. They were completely unoffended by the Herdmans stealing pennies out of the birthday jar, because what the heck are you going to buy with a penny anymore? Continue reading

Review: Rosewater

Rosewater by Tade Thompson

38362809Series: The Wormwood Trilogy
Genre: Science Fiction
Maturity Level: 5
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Rating: ⋆⋆⋆⋆


Rosewater is a town on the edge. A community formed around the edges of a mysterious alien biodome, its residents comprise the hopeful, the hungry and the helpless—people eager for a glimpse inside the dome or a taste of its rumored healing powers.

Kaaro is a government agent with a criminal past. He has seen inside the biodome, and doesn’t care to again—but when something begins killing off others like himself, Kaaro must defy his masters to search for an answer, facing his dark history and coming to a realization about a horrifying future.


I feel like I need to lead with this book is NOT for everyone. It’s bizarre, kind of grotesque, and pretty gritty. It was sort of like a Sci-Fi American Gods, actually. However, I don’t typically enjoy gritty books and I really had a great time reading Rosewater! Continue reading

Thoughts from A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

220px-TreeGrowsInBrooklynGenres: Fiction, Classics
Maturity Level: 4
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Rating: ⋆⋆⋆⋆


The beloved American classic about a young girl’s coming-of-age at the turn of the century, Betty Smith’s A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is a poignant and moving tale filled with compassion and cruelty, laughter and heartache, crowded with life and people and incident. The story of young, sensitive, and idealistic Francie Nolan and her bittersweet formative years in the slums of Williamsburg has enchanted and inspired millions of readers for more than sixty years. By turns overwhelming, sublime, heartbreaking, and uplifting, the daily experiences of the unforgettable Nolans are raw with honesty and tenderly threaded with family connectedness — in a work of literary art that brilliantly captures a unique time and place as well as incredibly rich moments of universal experience.


I wasn’t sure, before I started, whether I would like A Tree Grows in Brooklyn or not. I don’t typically enjoy 20th century American literature, and it’s so LONG. But the longer I read the more enchanted I became. Continue reading