Tuesday, March 30, 2021

An Amish Cookie Club Christmas

Sarah Price could write a phone book and I would read it. Listening to her Amish stories are always a joy. Edna's holiday season is jam packed - she makes and serves meals to tourists in her house and she is overbooked. She needs helps desperately. When she voices her concerns to her friends at her cookie club they come up with a plan to help her; what they don't realize is that their solution may have other unintended affects. Bethany is a shy and painfully quiet girl who doesn't even like to leave the house. When her mother forces her to go into town to get supplies after breaking her ankle, Bethany quite literally runs into a charming young man. The young man happens to be Edna's son and before you know it - the cookie club is up to their scheming ways. Can they match these two young couples? Great narration on the audiobook - that's for sure and certain. 

Mum's the Word

I wanted really bad to like this. My mom LOVED this whole series - but I just felt that this cozy mystery was over the top. It's repetitive, far fetched, and there was far too many moving parts. Abby Knight dropped out of law school and bought a flower shop and a yellow Corvette. Business isn't exactly "blooming" so she passes the time by sticking her nose into everyone else's business. Abby is short, skinny, VERY busty, and has the brightest red hair for miles - so she's not exactly inconspicuous. When someone backs into her convertible and speeds away, Abby is convinced that person was a murderer after she learns that someone was murdered right around the same time and area. Abby then finds a new bar owner (who is an ex-cop and very studly) to partner up with. Filled with bad flower puns, flat characters, and an exasperating storyline. I'm really hoping the Hallmark series is a lot better. I will give the second one an attempt... someday.

Monday, March 29, 2021

Finding Freedom

I love a good chef's memoir. I won't lie - before reading this book I had never heard of the Lost Kitchen or of Erin French - but you better believe that as soon as I finished reading this I went online to look for photos and videos. It is such a powerful story - Erin went to hell and back to make her dream come true. Growing up in her father's diner, Erin realized at an early age she loved to cook. At first Erin was desperate to leave the small town of Freedom, Maine and go to the city - but later,  twenty one and pregnant, she was right back where she started - sweating in a diner. She eventually overcame that hurdle and finally moved out of her parents and was able to work at a bistro and a catering job and while there she met a man. Fast forward to a marriage, an adoption, and an illegal supper club - things seemed to be improving - but in fact everything was about to come to a head in the worst way possible. I won't give too much away - but what Erin was able to overcome and achieve is damned impressive and inspiring. The way she writes about her hopes, dreams, cooking, parenthood, and more is wonderful. This memoir is lyrical, hopeful, and resilient. I will definitely be reading more about Erin and her restaurant. 

Thursday, March 25, 2021


The artwork is stunning and the worldbuilding is pretty developed for such a short graphic novel. In a post-apocalyptic world where an earthquake has destroyed civilization, a seventeen year old girl sets off to find her long lost mother. Eight years ago her mother abandoned Ginny, her two brothers, and her father and hasn't been seen since. When Ginny receives a package in the mail from her mother - it's the first news they've had that she's alive. She sneaks out in the night to try and find her, only to discover that her two younger brothers have tagged along for the journey. They realize how different and unsafe it is the closer they get to the coast. Rival gangs, swindlers, cannibals, and more await them. Exciting and unique. The only thing I didn't love was the ending. Is there going to be more? Is this a series? I need answers!  

Virgin River

This contemporary romance was a little saucier than I imagined, but that honestly improved things. Mel is a nurse and midwife who is escaping painful memories and traumatic hospital injuries. She decides that she needs a slower change of pace so she signs up to be a small town midwife in the middle of nowhere, Virgin River. Little does she know that there is a LOT more to small town living than she thought. When she arrives in town she is so distraught over her falling down cabin and the crochety doctor she is supposed to work with that she almost runs right back to the city. But when a newborn baby is dropped off at the clinic she has to stay to make sure that everything turns out alright. It doesn't help that the local bar owner is a charming hunk either. And despite her initial misgivings - Virgin River starts to grow on her. Sappy, predictable, and everything turns out alright. This was okay enough that I'll check out the show. 

In a Book Club Far Away

Three estranged friends are reunited when one of them texts out an SOS. Regina, Sophie, and Adelaide are army spouses - they met and bonded over book club - but ten years later Regina and Sophie aren't on speaking terms. Bouncing back and forth between 2011 and present day - readers learn about what drew the three friends together and at the conclusion learned what pivotal event drove them apart. Adelaide's husband is stationed in Germany when the pains start. She'll need surgery and she'll need someone to watch her two year old daughter - there is no one she trusts more than her two friends and maybe she can bring them back together in the process. A story of female friendships and a discovery that family isn't just those related by blood - it's the people will choose. Totally okay book, but not mind blowing. 

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Good Luck with That

I adored this story - it was brave, courageous and hard to read at moments - but it resonated with me so much. Good Luck With That is the story of three women who became best friends at fat camp and vowed that they would all change their lives and be skinny someday, but it opens up with a tragedy. Marley and Georgia have stayed really close - in fact they live in the same building - their pal Emerson though still lives a state away. It's been a few years since they've seen her and they are shocked when they get the call that she is on her death bed. When they arrived that are STUNNED at just how large Emerson is, she isn't just fat she is super morbidly obese and dying. What happened, how did she get so bad. They've all had weight issues their entire lives, but this is over the top. She gives them a letter and makes them promise to do what's in it. Sadly Emerson dies and they realize that she has given them the list from summer camp of all the things they said they wanted to do when they got skinny - get a piggy back ride, do a photo shoot, tuck in a shirt, etc. Marley and Georgia may not be super obese but they are both fat and they both have insecurities - is this list too juvenile... is it too hard? Wonderful and eye opening - a look at insecurity, weight, family, trust, and more. A wonderful novel. 

Monday, March 22, 2021


I thoroughly enjoyed this. The writing style was great and it mixed crime and horror into a nice little package that wasn't nearly as long as many other King novels. Jamie Conklin isn't just your average kid, he's got a special talent that no one would believe. His mother knows about it, but he's never needed to use it for anything - until his mom asks him for a favor and he starts to realize the implications of using his "talents." Growing up has never been more complicated or scary. I don't want to give too much away but this is basically a mix of The Wire and The Sixth Sense - but way cooler. A stellar new novel from Stephen King! 

Sunday, March 21, 2021


Great potential, but honestly it was too meandering and complicated for a feminist teen fantasy. When Tanya's guardian (the owner of the tavern she works at) unexpectedly die - Corpsmen under seize the tavern and she has nowhere to go. She's only seventeen but the best years of her life were spent working there, brewing beer, breaking up barfights, cooking, and cleaning. She's at a loss for what to do when she decides that she will accompany the contingent of men who requisitioned her bar and stole her supplies to the capital to see the Queen. Along the way there are bandits, thieves, junkoff (magical spill off), romance, detours, and unexplained magical objects. Tanya finds herself wielding a magic feather with the potential to change the world as she knows it. The only question is why she, a teenage tavern wench, can use it and not the wizards and magic users of the realm. This book was ALL OVER THE PLACE. Great concept - poor execution. 

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue

This book was SO HYPED - personally I didn't get the hype until the last quarter of the book. I though the first 75% was slow and at times tedious. I still ranked it a 4 out of 5 though because I LOVED the ending. Readers just have to go through a lot of build up to get to the good bits! Addie LaRue is cursed - no one remembers her name or face. Everything will be fine until someone leaves the room and falls asleep and then she is a clean slate - someone they have never ever seen before. It's no way to live a life - let alone an eternity. For three hundred years she has roamed the Earth - invisible to all but the one who "granted her wish." She just wants to be noticed - to leave an impression on someone - anyone. One day she walks into a New York bookstore and everything changes. Very slow build up but SUPER satisfying ending. Completely unique and original concept!

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Girl, Wash Your Face

Keeping up my string of controversial readings, I decided to finally read this book after I was given a free copy. I've had friends that loved it and friends that loathed it. I can definitely see both sides of it. I will say this book definitely coming from a place of entitlement. Rachel thinks she is "everywoman," but she has so many privileges that her advice often falls flat. Don't get me wrong it's not all horrible advice, but not everything she's "selling" is achievable for women who come from far less entitled circumstances. A lot of it common sense advice viewed through a Christian lens and accompanied by her personal stories of overcoming adversity. There are some good takeaways but nothing you wouldn't find in another self-help book. The advice I liked best was about how we shouldn't break promises to ourselves because we wouldn't break promises to our friends. We need to treat ourselves with more respect. But that was my biggest takeaway. Honestly, I don't get all the fuss.

Saturday, March 13, 2021

The Soul of a Woman


Allende, Isabel. The Soul of a Woman. digital. 2021. Books on Tape. 

Bestselling author, Isabel Allende, offers up an intimate memoir on the impact feminism has had in her unique and fulfilling life. As a child and later as a young woman in the sixties; Isabel realized that women were often seen and not heard. Her mother's circumstance and that of many other women in Chile inspired her to a life of action - she is nothing, if not passionate in all her undertakings. Three marriages, two children, one heartbreaking loss, and travels around the globe have brought her closer to the human condition and the hearts of women everywhere. Women want not just love, but safety, bodily autonomy, value, respect, and connectedness. The Soul of a Woman is a quilt of stories, poetry, anecdotes, and truths that women carry - in every culture and continent. Passionately narrated by Gisela Chipe; filled with warmth, feeling, and emotion. The book concludes with the hope that Allende will "light the torch of our daughters and granddaughters with mine. They will have to live for us, as we lived for our mothers, and carry on with the work still left to be finished." Beautiful and fulfilling; a must read for women everywhere. Erin Cataldi, Johnson Co. Public Library, Franklin, IN

Thursday, March 11, 2021

Freiheit!: The White Rose Graphic Novel

I've heard about the university students who resisted Hitler by forming the White Rose, an underground resistance movement that distributed fliers  - but I really didn't know too much about them (I didn't even know they all died - I'm some history buff). This graphic novel shows how and why they banded together to speak out against Nazi Germany and it uses lots of direct quotes from the fliers and from Nazi leaders. These students knew what they were doing was highly dangerous and in fact, they all ended up being executed - but their story and heroism inspired thousands of resistors. It's not a casual, pick up for fun, graphic novel but I think it is an accessible education tool that is wonderfully illustrated. After the conclusion of the graphic novel - all six of White Rose's resistance letters are printed in their entirety. 

The Lost for Words Bookshop

Based on the cover of the book - I pictured in my head an entirely different novel - and that is why you never judge a book by it's cover. I thought this book would be cute, quirky, and fun. It was... to an extent - there was also some really deep emotional elements that I wasn't expecting. Loveday Cardew works at the Lost for Words Bookshop; it's her safe space and refuge and she's worked there since she was 16. Books are safer than people - her only real friend and family is Archie, the owner of the book shop. Readers learn pretty early on that Loveday came from a foster home - but finding out what happened to her family takes the whole book. There are flashbacks to when she was 9 living with her real family to when she was in her early twenties dating a college student to the present. Loveday is essentially a hermit but slowly she starts to open up more. She goes to a poetry night, she laughs at jokes, she goes on a date. Maybe it's never to late to change? Cute, heartbreaking, and sentimental. 

Monday, March 8, 2021

Dolly Parton, Songteller

Discover the rich history behind over 150 Dolly Parton songs in this wonderfully compiled book of history, quotes, interviews, photos, and more. Dolly Parton is an American icon and this book pays wonderful tribute to her over sixty years of songwriting and singing. Told through Dolly's own voice (transcribed interviews and quotes), fans will delight in getting the back story to many of their favorite and forgotten gems. From Jolene to I Will Always Love You to The Coat of Many Colors - Dolly discusses the inspiration behind the story in each song. Dolly may not be a traditional storyteller - but she prides herself on being a lifelong song teller. As a bonus, the audiobook version is completely narrated by Dolly and is an absolute joy to listen to. This collection is a must for fans of Dolly and for those interested in country music history. 

Friday, March 5, 2021

Ready Player Two

The reviews were overwhelmingly negative for this book so I went in skeptical - but honestly it was an enjoyable ride. Was it necessary? No. But it was still fun. The pop culture references were a bit overkill (imagine ten times more than the first book) but what Wade is fighting for is really unique and imaginative. Same with the ending - I didn't expect it to go where it went. Basically - it boils down to - there is another quest - Seven Shards of the Siren's Soul - and Wade is under a HUGE time crunch to solve it before something unimaginable happens to all the people he loves. He gets the crew back together (along with a few new friends) and they have to combine all their obscure pop culture knowledge to save the world (literally). Fun and supremely over the top. This won't be everyone's cup of tea and if you would prefer to skip it - it's not a needed sequel. 

The Third Wife

This is relationship fiction mixed with dashes of suspense and mystery. For a story about a dead wife- there was certainly a lot happening. Adrian Wolfe is a man always looking for the next best thing. He left behind wife number one and their two kids - for wife number two and three more kids - and left her for wife number three, Maya. She was young and beautiful and then one evening she got too drunk and fell in front of a bus. Now widowed and grief stricken, Adrian doesn't know what to do. He's never been alone in his life and to say that he's overwhelmed is an understatement. He had a good life, they were happy... or where they? As time progresses upsetting facts about Maya's life begin to emerge - was her death an accident after all? Were any of Adrian's ex-wives or children involved? And what's with the young, beautiful blond who seems to be stalking his family? Twisting and turning - this novel is lush with prose. Adrian's big, blended family is larger than life and a true work of art. A unique character driven novel with suspenseful moments and shocking twists. 

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

The Champion's Desire

A fantastic follow up. Book one was the slow burn as Lady Natalie got to know Brandon the Bear. Book Two is all about the sizzle and the struggle of trying to keep their relationship private so that Brandon won't get kicked out of the Champion's Guild. The novel opens with them trying to find Henry because they know that he is responsible for the attack on Blackmere and death of some of their friends. They discover that he has escaped to the Guild and he's already lied to the Guild Master, saying that it's all a terrible misunderstanding. Unable to make Henry pay for his crimes, Brandon decides that he will face Henry the Dragon in the Midsummer Melee and make him pay in the arena. They both spend six months training their asses off at the guild and sending each other penetrating glances. Not getting to touch each other or get any moments of privacy is hard on their relationship. Can they defeat Henry? Will their relationship survive? Fantastic. Great ending and I can't wait to read the third and final installment in this series!

Monday, March 1, 2021

The Four Winds

Wow - this book was compelling and impossible to put down. It was also VERY SAD. I was hoping there would be a few more uplifting moments in it (hence the four star rating), but it was still supremely well written and emotional. The Four Winds is a great depression novel that starts in the Dust Bowl of Texas. It's sad, emotional, and will only get worse as the story progresses. Imagine Grapes of Wrath but instead of focusing on a male you have female lead and it's twenty times more sad and depressing and that is the best review I can give it. You will cry your eyeballs out, but you will love the story and the characters in it. You've been warned. Now read and enjoy this book (if it can be called enjoyment).