Monday, October 10, 2016

Review: A Change of Heart by Sonali Dev

A Change of HeartA Change of Heart by Sonali Dev
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed her first novel so I was excited to hear about this one. This novel has an intriguing premise that I thought played out well throughout the story. The characters were well done and the story was well developed. I love how her stories center around other cultures and offer a great deal of cultural diversity. I feel like I come away from her stories feeling like I get not only a good story but also a better understanding of cultural identity.

I really like how this one is focused around black market organ transplants. I found that part of the story to be very well done. It added to the mystery of the overall novel.

Although I quite liked this novel, I didn't find it quite as engaging as the previous novel of hers. The character development was good but not as good as before. It took quite awhile to connect with them or to feel connected to their relationship. It eventually came together but it took longer than I would have liked.

NOTE: I was given an ARC of this novel by the publisher for an honest review.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Review & Giveaway: Sparking the Fire by Kate Meader

Sparking the Fire
Book 3
A Hot in Chicago Novel
Kate Meader
Pocket Books
September 27, 2016
ISBM 9781476785936

Praise for Sparking the Fire, Book 3

"The tale of hot firefighters and the women - and one man - who love them has come to an end. Meader ends this series with role playing, fierce family loyalty and multiple orgasms. The male protagonist goes through a transformation that showcases his vulnerability, insecurities, and protectiveness. The many instances of family sticking together through it all are more than enough to tug on the heart strings, but the steamy sex and sentimental pillow talk make this book a must-read.
- RT Book Reviews Fourt Star Review, Scorcher

"Can a fire fighter anda  movie star really make it work? Meader (Rekindle the Flame, 2015) immerses you in Wyatt's tight-knit family of foster siblings that she's built throughout the Hot in Chicago series, and readers will feel like part of the family in no time. Her descriptions of Chicago will leave fans wanting to travel to the Windy Cindy and fall in love with their own firefighters."
- Booklist

About Sparking the Fire, Book 3

Heating up reading lists this Fall will be Kate Meader’s highly anticipated Sparking the Fire, the “sexy and sassy” (#1 New York Timesbestselling author Jude Deveraux) steamy third novel in the Hot in Chicago series, where former lovers unexpectedly reunite for a sizzling affair that will have the director yelling, “Quiet on the set!”

AN OLD FLAME STILL SIMMERS … Wyatt Fox, resident daredevil at Engine Company 6, needs a low key job to keep him busy while he recovers from his latest rescue stunt. Consulting on a local movie shoot should add just enough spark to his day. But then in struts Molly Cade: the woman who worked his heart over good, and then left him in the Windy City dust.

BUT WILL A NEW SHOT AT LOVE LEAVE HER BURNED? Actor Molly Cade, America’s fallen sweetheart, finally has her shot at a Hollywood comeback with a dramatic new role as a tough-as-nails firefighter that promises to propel her back into the big time. And she’s not going to let anything stand in her way—even a certain brooding, blue-eyed firefighter she’s never quite been able to forget…Their story is straight out of a script: irrepressible, spunky heroine meets taciturn, smoldering hero. But these two refuse to be typecast, and when the embers of an old love are stoked, someone is bound to get burned…

About the Author

Kate Meader was raised on romance. An Irish girl, she started with Catherine Cookson and Jilly Cooper novels, and spiced it up with some Mills & Boon. Now based in Chicago, she writes romances of her own, where sexy contemporary alpha heroes and strong herioines match each other quip for quip. When not immersed in tales of brooding mill owners, oversexed equestrians, and men who can rock an apron or fire hose, Kate lives on the web at

Where to Buy this Book

My Review

4 stars

I am a huge fan of Kate Meader's Hot in Chicago series and I am loving this most recent (and final) book in the series. We finally get to find out Wyatt's story! But, I am bummed that this is the final book ... I'm going to miss these characters and the world Kate Meader has created! I love the idea of a group of foster kids who come together to find their own family. The love and sense of family that these characters display in the series just warms my heart. PLUS, the romances are all fantastically done!

In this one, we learn more about Wyatt and his relationship with Molly who is essentially America's sweetheart. I have to admit that Molly took a little bit to grow on me but I eventually found myself loving her as well! She and Wyatt were a great match and there was lots of heat between them! One of my favorite things about this series is the funny banter and wonderful dialogue! Wyatt and Molly certainly have all of that in their relationship!

Although this book can easily be read as a stand alone, I highly recommend you start with Flirting with Fire which is the first book in the series. I suspect you won't be able to stop reading until you get to this one! If you like romances with strong heroines and interesting heroes, you don't want to miss this one (or the series)!

Fire Giveaway

We are exited to do a Fire Giveaway to celebrate the third in Kate Meader's Hot in Chicago series, Sparking the Fire. This giveaway will include Flirting with Fire (Book 1) and Playing with Fire (Book 2). You can visit all sites on the blog tour to enter the Fire Giveaways - but keep in mind you can only win once! U.S. Only!

Hot tip: Kate is also offering a $25 Amazon gift card during the Sparking the Fire release tour. It will run Monday, September 26 to Friday, October 7. Enter here.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Blog Tour

September 14:
RT Book Reviews - Excerpt

September 20:

September 23:

September 26:
Harlequin Junkie - Interview
Under the Covers - Interview

September 27:

September 28:

September 29:

September 30:

October 3:

October 4:

October 5:

October 6:
The Librarian – Blog Talk Radio Author’s on the Air - Interview Only - Listen Live at 7:30 pm ET!

October 7:

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Review: All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood

All the Ugly and Wonderful ThingsAll the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow ... what a book! I'm not sure what to even say other than it was wonderful and disturbing and beautiful and disturbing. Not a happy go lucky sort of book. Very dark and well, disturbing. It's about a number of things but mostly it tells the story of Wavy who is being raised by her drug addict mother and who is raising her younger brother. She's on her own in more ways than one. It's the story of a girl who lives in difficult circumstances and her ongoing relationship with an associate of her father's who is considerably older. It can be very uncomfortable when you remember their ages throughout the story so if that might be an issue for you, this is not the book for you.

What I liked about it was how Bryn Greenwood never made a stance in her writing of this story. She let their story happen and leaves the reader to determine what they think about it. This was a really effective way to explore a taboo subject in a thoughful way. I love that the author didn't avoid the ugly things (hence the title). This girls life is hardly ideal but this is ultimately a story about taking care of yourself and finding your way in the world when you don't have the support every child should have. I found the story interesting and thoughtful. Very well done and realistically done which I think is one of the reasons that I loved it so much. It didn't wrap anything up in a pretty package - it went to a place that felt real and honest.

This is a really unique novel that I couldn't put down. I came away thinking about these characters and their lives long after the book was over. If you can get past the uncomfortableness of a story about a young girl and her relationship with a man, it's so worth the read. It's a beautiful story with characters that I think will stay with you for some time!

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Recent Reviews - Part 2

A Scot in the Dark (Scandal & Scoundrel #2)A Scot in the Dark by Sarah MacLean
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I am having a hard time with this review because Sarah MacLean's books are all amazing - her amazing is better than most people. This one, however, isn't her best. It's good - better than most people's best work. I can't believe that I'm giving one of her books 3 stars but I just didn't connect with this story like I have with all of her others. The love story eventually came together for me but it took over half of the book for me to connect with them. I usually plow through her novels in a day or two, this one took close to four which is unusual. In the end, I quite liked it but I can't deny that it took awhile to get there which is why I'm rating it 3 stars. If you haven't read Sarah before, RUN and pick up any of them. Come to this one eventually. If you're already a fan, you'll definitely want to pick this one up because even what isn't her best is quite good!

Losing ItLosing It by Emma Rathbone
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I was really hopeful about this book but I just didn't enjoy it. It was ok, just meh. I'm still not completely sure that any of it was successful for me. The characters felt a bit flat to me. I just never connected with them or felt they were real. The story felt like it would begin to go somewhere interesting and then fall flat. I usually love books that are focused around internal dialogue but this time it didn't work for me. It felt random and, at times, boring. I really wish there'd been more Aunt Viv and less of the main character. THAT would have been interesting! I just think this one didn't work for me. Which is a shame because I was so hopeful based on the premise. Unfortunately, I can't recommend this one wholeheartedly but there are others who've quite liked it. Maybe give it a shot if it sounds promising to you ...

A Bollywood Affair (Bollywood)A Bollywood Affair by Sonali Dev
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It was quite nice to read a romance that had diversity in it. I feel like romances are always focused on white people so it was nice to have some cultural and racial diversity in this romance. In addition, I found the characters and the story to be really quite well done.

I loved reading about the cultural pieces in this novel. It really gave the novel that something special that kept me even more engaged than usual. I loved the hero and heroine in this story. They had chemistry that flew off the page. The way their relationship developed over the course of the book was fantastic! This had everything I love in a good romance plus some cultural diversity which was fantastic! Definitely recommend this one!

The WonderThe Wonder by Emma Donoghue
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is one of those books that is a slow burn. It's not fast paced. It's not going to keep you on your toes. And yet, it's so well done. And it does build steadily and suddenly it all catches up and you're overtaken with how wonderful it all is.

So atmospheric. Beautifully written. The characters in this novel feel like they are real in every way. I felt as if I was following the characters around and watching. The details of the world in that time period were outstanding. There are a great number of moral quandries in this novel that really made me think about things. Such a beautiful story. I highly recommend this one!

Monday, October 3, 2016

Recent Reviews - Part 1

November 9November 9 by Colleen Hoover
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

4.5 stars

Oh, Colleen ... you have done it again. Broken my heart into tiny pieces and then slowly put them back together! Colleen never seems to fail me - I can always count on her novels to give me a strong story, engaging characters, heartbreaking moments and lots of great romance! This is a fantastic novel that yet again made me sob like a baby more than once! Such a good book! If you're a Hoover fan, you want to pick this up! If you haven't read her, pick this one up (or Ugly Love or It Ends With Us). SO. GOOD.

 You Will Know MeYou Will Know Me by Megan Abbott
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Megan Abbott and gymnastics ... YES, I am so in! No one writes about young people better than Megan Abbott so I could not wait to get my hands on this book since it centers around the world of gymnastics. The narrator perspective Abbott chose was an interesting choice here as it was not the teenage child but the mother. Ultimately, I think it worked well as it really helps the reader to get inside the head of a parent of an elite gymnast and the world they live in as a result of being a part of that world. The view into this very exclusive world was one of my favorite things about this novel. The depth of exploration in this novel was superb!

I love how Megan Abbott peels back the layers of what you think you know, unveiling how little we actually know. She is such a master at this peeling back! And I found the 'twist' or mystery at the heart of the novel to be quite good.

All in all, another great novel from Megan Abbott. Although this features a teen, I would not necessarily call this strict YA - it's very appropriate for teens AND adults. Pick it up! It's a great novel that will keep you on your toes!

NOTE: I received this novel from the publisher for an honest review.

Carry On, Warrior: Thoughts on Life UnarmedCarry On, Warrior: Thoughts on Life Unarmed by Glennon Doyle Melton
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

I'm struggling a bit in reviewing this becaue I really loved it for the most part but there were aspects that didn't work for me. I love her overall themes of being honest, and taking ownership for your life. The essays focusing on her children, husband and sister were some of the best, in my opinion. The thing that fell flat for me was her focus on religion. I get it that religion is a big piece of her life and her story. Which is great. But, for those who are not 'religious' (me), it can get to be a bit too much. I'm quite spiritual but I'm not a Christian or a Muslim or a Buddhist, etc. I get the spiritual nature of her journey and appreciate her sharing it. In fact, I loved that she called out the fact that many Christians seem to forget the very teachings of Christ when they don't embrace other people whether they are 'good' or 'bad.' But, at one point, I foudn myself saying ok, I get it - you love God. You are religious. I GET IT. I wanted more of the other stuff about her life - which, frankly, speaks to her religion and it's impact in her life. Maybe it's just me but I wanted less overt religion and more of the day to day stories of her life.

So, I'm rating this one 3.5 stars because it didn't completely resonate with me. On her blog, I can generally skip the essays that are 'too religious' for me but that wasn't as easy in this book. However, I highly recommend this book overall. Very raw and real.

The MiniaturistThe Miniaturist by Jessie Burton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I am so glad that I finally picked this novel up! It was even better than I'd expected. The premise didn't particularly grab me but the reality of the book is so wonderful! Jessie Burton is a great writer and she builds such wonderful characters in this novel. I loved learning about 7th century Holland and what life was like in that time. The story itself was quite well done - very nuanced and interesting. This novel explored a number of things that I wasn't expecting in a novel about miniatures (according to the premise) ... it's so much more than miniatures although that component is also an interesting part of this novel! There is definitely a gothic feel to this novel. Very creepy but not scary. The setting, the characters, the story .. it was all quite good. I definitely recommend this novel - especially if you're a fan of historical fiction or gothic stories!

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Review: When Stars Collide by Micalea Smeltzer

When Stars Collide (Light in the Dark, #2)When Stars Collide by Micalea Smeltzer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Although I hadn't read the first book in this series, I didn't feel like I missed anything by starting with number two. This can definitely be read as a stand alone novel. I really liked the characters in this series (and plan to go back and read book 1). I really enjoyed the story in this one. Although it's based on a fairly typical premise (brother's best friend), I found it to be unique and interesting.

I really liked Xander and Thea ... their banter was great, their relationship felt very real. I had a bit of an issue with the idea that Thea, who has loved Xander for years, would react the way she did to their waking up married in Vegas. But, I was able to overlook that as the story moved past that. Beyond the romance (which I think was quite well done), this novel explores themes that I don't typically see in your average romance such as child abuse and family violence. And, I think it explored it rather well. It was handled effectively and gave the story itself that something special.

All in all, I recommend this one and plan to go back and read the first novel in the series!

Review: The Hopefuls by Jennifer Close

The HopefulsThe Hopefuls by Jennifer Close
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I enjoyed this so much more than I'd expected to ... perhaps given the fact that it takes place in DC and in the world of politics? I don't know but I did really like this one quite a bit! I think this was a fun read that also had depth. It explores political life, friendship as well as marraige quite well. Although not a perfect book, I found it to be very engaging and I enjoyed the inside look at a life in politics and DC.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Review: The Fireman by Joe Hll

The FiremanThe Fireman by Joe Hill
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I just adore Joe Hill and this book was even better than I'd expected. He just knows how to tell a story. How to keep the reader engaged despite length. I loved the idea of Dragonscale and how the world reacted to it. It just made sense. Some people found this one to lag but I didn't. I felt it kept moving at a great pace and I never felt remotely bored. There were a few times that I wondered where we were going with the story but that's it. Just curiousity.

I loved the little odes to his father's work that Joe wove into the narrative. Those of us who are King fans will pick up on those and smile!

All in all, I really liked this one. Although not a perfect book (very few are), it's such a great ride! Lots of fun, intriguing and creative! I definitely recommend it!

Friday, September 30, 2016

Review: I'm Thinking of Ending Things by Iain Reid

I'm Thinking of Ending ThingsI'm Thinking of Ending Things by Iain Reid
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This is one of the most diffiuclt books I've had to rate ... I'm ultimately going with a 2 because I just can't say that I really liked it it. I see it's merits clearly but I can't say that it worked for me overall. Was it suspenseful? YES. Was it intriguing? YES. But did it wow me, nope.

I was definitely on the edge of my seat but I was also terribly confused .. I had a hard time really assessing how the book made me feel given all of the conflicting emotions. I kept wondering where it was going and what the point was. After finishing, I understand the reasons for the conflicting emotions but I'm not sure it was enough for me. Very creepy but also so confusing. I'm not sure what else to say about this one. It's a quick read which was nice but I just don't think it was as impactful as it could have been based on the lead up and such.

If you like suspense and don't mind not knowing what's going on for most of a book, this one might be right up your alley. I'm glad I gave it a shot but I don't love it. It was ok. Nothing more, nothing less. Just ok.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Review: Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue

Behold the DreamersBehold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Please read this book. Especially given where we are in our country at the moment with a presidential candidate who says such horrible things about immigrants. Given that we're a nation created by immigrants, I think this book is key to better understanding this key demographic. This book gives life to the immigrant experience in an incredible way. It gave life to the very topic that I've been seeing on the news for months.

Between the novels exploration of the immigrant experience and it's exploration of the fall of Lehman Brothers, it's a strong novel that also makes you think so much about poverty and wealth, family, how we treat other people and what we might do to find a better life for ourselves and our families. I think this is a book that can really allow people to better understand what it's like to leave your country and seek a life in America. It's certainly not for the faint of heart. And putting the life of wealth beside the life of an average immigrant, really makes those culture differences all the more stark.

The thing that I most appreciated about this book was how it focuses on the small details of life and how they come together in the lives of people. It really gave a great deal of texture to the story.

As I mentioned before, I highly recommend this novel. It's such a timely, charming and important novel!

Review: Playing Fast by Melanie Scott

Playing Fast (New York Saints, #5)Playing Fast by Melanie Scott
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I just adore this series! I think they are so much fun! I love the way that Melanie Scott builds a story and how she creates interesting and complex characters! I'm not even a big baseball fan and yet this series is fantastic!

I really liked this newest book as it focused on the farm team of the New York Saints which was a interesting twist. It gave us a new place and organization to learn about. I was interesting to see what she'd do with the Finn Castro character given his actions in the 4th book. I really found myself liking him a lot more than I'd expected and his love interest, Eva, was fantastic! I found their relationship quite interesting! I think their stories were really done well and I was appreciative of how it wasn't particularly saccharine but it was still sweet.

I think this was a good addition to the series. And I can't wait to see what comes next with the series ... If you're just starting with the series, I recommend starting with the first! It's a really good series that I highly recommend for romance fans who like good writing and strong characters!

Review: It Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover

It Ends with UsIt Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What a wonderful book. First things first ... the cover is WOW! Such a beautiful cover.

Ok, now on to the book. It's so good. Just a fantastic read that explores a very personal issue with depth and honesty. I recommend that you read as little as possible about this book because I think it's better to come in with little knowledge about the plot.

Here's what you need to know ... it's a love story but SO MUCH MORE. It explores relationships in ways that aren't always easy but always feel real. I think this novel will make us think about our assumptions and our initial reactions about relationships in very important ways.

The characters are so well done, the plotting is quite good, and the story itself builds perfectly to the last page. It's a tale of strength, growth and intimacy. It's about making the right decision even when it kills you to make it. This is a story for everyone.

This is one of the best novels covering this topic, in my opinion. It explores that things in life are often grey - that black and white is rarely reality. I think it does this with nuance and respect.

I highly recommend it ... it's a wonderful story that gives you perspective and helps you understand how to look beyond the obvious.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Review: The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

The Underground RailroadThe Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was so excited when I heard about this book. I love the concept as well as the execution! All in all, this was a darn good book! I love this idea of the Underground Railroad being an actual railway to take fugitive slaves to other places. Really interesting concept that I enjoyed exploring. I have read a great number of slave narratives in the last few years and I really think this one was quite good. It gave me a lot to think about. It explored so many aspects of race and the hope inherent in the immense suffering of slavery. I think it brought the slave experience (as well as the African Amercian experience) to life in it's pages. Whitehead is such a good writer and I think he does very well with this subject. I could tell he did incredible amounts of research which really made the story feel grounded and real.

This isn't an easy read - there are great horrors within it - but it's something we all need to understand and witness. These very horrors are still impacting our country today. We need to understand and acknowlege their impact if we ever hope to get beyond it. I think this is a fantastic and thoughtful read. I can't recommend it more highly! Go pick up this one! It's so good!

NOTE: I recieved an ARC of this novel from the publisher for an honest review.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Review Catch Up

I'm sorry it's been so quiet here. Life keeps getting in the way. But, I'm going to catch up on some reviews here today and I'll get back to reviewing here on the blog a bit more regularly! Thanks for hanging in there with me!

First and foremost, I have to tell you about an amazing book that I recently read and cannot recommend more highly, particularly given what's going on in America today when it comes to race -

HomegoingHomegoing by Yaa Gyasi
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow. I'm a bit stunned by what a wonderful book this is ... I am amazed at with Yaa Gyasi has created with this novel. Truly amazed. This book is a masterpiece.

The story is rather simple - it's the story of two sisters and what happens to each of their families. One will marry a white man, a British official who lives in the upper part of the Cape Coast Castle. The other sister finds herself in the lower dungeons of the same castle but is sold as a slave and transported to the American South. The story starts in 18th century Ghana and weaves up to the modern era. And she does that in just 300 pages! I was sure something would pay the price for the brevity of telling such a big story in so few pages. But, it doesn't. In fact, I'd argue that its MORE impactful by the very nature of the novel's structure. Although you don't end up getting to go in depth with each subsequent generation, I didn't find myself feeling less connected. I felt she was able to tell a full story of each character in a place and time. I didn't feel like I was missing anything.

The novel explores much ground - civil war, the end of slavery, the great migration, modern civil rights and more! And the writing ... wow. I'm just crazy in love with Gyasi's prose! She is one heck of a writer! I can't quite believe this is a debut novel. I didn't feel any of the usual problems that I expect from a debut.

I cannot wait to see what Yaa Gyasi has for us in the future. This book was intense, raw and thoughtful. It made me think about the legacy of slavery in new ways and opened me up to more of the nuance that helped me see the ripples more effectively. I highly recommend this one. It's just fantastic!

Here are others that I definitely recommend you pick up -

What Lies Between UsWhat Lies Between Us by Nayomi Munaweera
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow. Wow. Wow.

I was just knocked out by this novel. Such a wonderful surprise as I read it not having any information about it except that a reader that I trust saying that it affected her as much as A Little Life.

And, boy, was she right! This is a book that is utterly engrossing and beautifully rendered. Uhhhh. I didn't want it to end. It overs so much ground - Sri Lankan cultural history (which I knew very little about so this novel opened a whole new world up to me) is a big focus but it's also about motherhood, how we see things as children, the immigrant experience, marriage and love.

I don't want to give much away as I found it so wonderful to ease into this novel without knowing much about what was to come. Just know that it's beautifully written ... emotionally devestating (in that way a great book can be) ... haunting and intimate ... I just can't recommend it more highly.

Nayomi Munaweera's writing is superb, her pacing is SO good, and her storytelling is just fantastic. I can't wait to read her first novel which has been on my TBR since it's release ... it's now moving up the list. I suspect that I'll love it and that I'll continue to keep an eye open for her future work.

Go get this book. You won't regret it!

(By the way, although heartbreaking, I wouldn't say it's particularly graphic or difficult to read. There is sadness and pain but nothing gratuitous or anything. I often preface any A Little Life recommendations with a 'be careful - it can be very graphic and impactful' but I don't think I feel compelled to do that with this novel).

Lily and the OctopusLily and the Octopus by Steven Rowley
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Wow! If you love animals, particularly dogs, then you'll love this book. As a fairly new dog owner, I found myself completely relating to the story and my heart broken just thinking about the story! Such a lovely book about unconditional love, grief and the place that animals can take in our hearts. I was expecting it to be very cheesy but I was pleasantly surprised at how not-cheesy it really was. It tells a beautiful story of a man and his pup! Highly recommend this one!

(... and it just might make you cry like a baby)

Sleeping Giants (Themis Files, #1)Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this one! It was a fun and interesting book! Good storytelling combined with unique ways to tell that story. Left me with just enough questions but not too many. The story raced along, keeping me intrigued the entire time. I found the story and the science within the story to be facinating! I highly recommend this one! It's the first of a series so know that going in ... it'll be some time before we get book 2!

ShelterShelter by Jung Yun
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I kept hearing great things about htis novel and now I know why. It's a really fascinating look into family and home. The book's structure and character development were very well executed. Yun really gives you a detailed undersatnding of the characters and where they've come from. The themes of finding a way to have a relationship with your family despite their flaws was so well done. The way that Yun unfolds the narrative is so well done! At it's heart, it's really about a family and how they come to terms with what they've done to each other.

The themes are so fantastic and come together so fluidly - marriage, racism, domestic violence, crime, immigration and responsibility. It gave me a great deal to think about - particularly as it relates to the importance of finding peace with the past and present. I definitely recommend this novel! It's very though provoking but immensely readable!

KindredKindred by Octavia E. Butler
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book has been on my radar for awhile but I just didn't ever feel compelled to pick it up. But, I recently read a friends review of it and decided that it was time to pick it up. And I'm so glad that I did. It's kind of science fiction for people who don't love science fiction. Although there is a time travel component which takes it into the science fiction realm, it's really more of a historical fiction/literary fiction novel.

This book could have been so bad ... but Butler handles it delicately and with grace. The narrative really brings to life what it must be like to wake up in another time and find yourself completely powerless and without everything you know. The idea is truly horrifying. Butler makes antebellum Maryland come alive in all it's pain, suffering and hurt.

This novel gave me so much to think about. I highly recommend it. It's truly fantastic! I now understand why so many praise Octavia Butler's work so highly!

Mr. SplitfootMr. Splitfoot by Samantha Hunt
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow. I just don't think I can capture, in words, just how much I loved this novel. I have never read anything quite like it. I never completely knew what was happening but I could NOT put it down. It's weird and strange and nutty in all the best ways!

The structure of the book - alternating chapters with two different narratives - make the book feel unsettling in some ways. You know they will come together but you have no idea how or when. The world that Hunt creates is mesmerizing and odd and wonderful. I don't typically like not knowing where I'm going when reading but if the writing is good enough, I can go along with the ride. And boy, did I go along with the ride on this one. SO. DAMN. GOOD. Someone described this as a 'fever dream of a book' and I think that is such a great description of this one.

There are some startling and poetic moments in this novel. I think it's probably not for everyone but I highly recommend it. Especially if you enjoy great literary fiction ... this is literary fiction that knocks it out of the park!

When Breath Becomes AirWhen Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Wow - what a powerful book! Although I don't think I loved it quite as much as others, it really was a fantastic read. If only all doctors cared so much about patients and their experience as Paul did! His story is fascinating and heartbreaking at the same time! His story is so worth reading and thinking about. He was such a wonderful HUMAN ... I can't recommend this one enough. It's a beautiful book!

Still Life (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, #1)Still Life by Louise Penny
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

So glad that I FINALLY read this one! It was so good. I love the characters (especially Armand Gamache)! The mystery was fantastic. These felt in some ways like Tana French's novels - very well written and plotted. I'm not saying all mysteries aren't good but this felt like it was almost a notch above the rest (in the way I think Tana French is). I love the human aspects of this story (and the series, from what I hear). They are very good in terms of character development and Louise Penny makes these men and women come alive on the page. They are real, complicated and compelling. The pacing felt different than a 'typical' mystery novel. It was more meandering and strange in some way. And I loved it! I can't wait to read the rest in the series! Highly recommended!

The NightingaleThe Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This novel really felt like a departure for Krisin Hannah for some reason. It wasn't fast paced but it also wasn't slow. It felt thorough in the best ways. The quality of this story was very high. The writing was great, the story itself was compelling. It's just fantastic! At times, I get tired of WW2 novels that seem to tell the same stories over and over. I liked that this one gave you multiple perspectives so Hannah was able to really explore a lot of facets of the war. Wonderful characters, excellent storytelling. I can't recommend this one highly enough! So good! Very moving story.

(I'd probably give a 4.5 rating on this one)

Dreamland: The True Tale of America's Opiate EpidemicDreamland: The True Tale of America's Opiate Epidemic by Sam Quinones
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a fabulous look at opiates in America. It's fascinating, frightening and so compelling. It's one of those books that every American should read in order to understand how we got to where we are today when it comes to opiate use in the US. I had no idea of the fascinating history or how a number of factors came together so effectively to create the epidemic we hear about so often in the news. Amazing storytelling. Some of the best narrative non-fiction that I've read in a long time! I highly recommend this one!

EuphoriaEuphoria by Lily King
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Really interesting book, liked it quite a bit. The writing is exceptional, the story is compelling and heartbreaking. Definitely recommend this one.

The Chronology of WaterThe Chronology of Water by Lidia Yuknavitch
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was such a painful but lovely memoir. Lidia Yuknavitch has a way with words and I found myself mesmerized by this book! So raw and emotional. Beautiful and sorrowful and just everything. Very raw so it's not for everyone but if you can handle it, it's so good.

Here are some of the great lines that might give you a sense of her voice (which is amazing):

“So yes I know how angry, or naive, or self-destructive, or messed up, or even deluded I sound weaving my way through these life stories at times. But beautiful things. Graceful things. Hopeful things can sometimes appear in dark places. Besides, I'm trying to tell you the truth of a woman like me.”

“You see it is important to understand how damaged people don't always know how to say yes, or to choose the big thing, even when it is right in front of them. It's a shame we carry. The shame of wanting something good. The shame of not believing we deserve to stand in the same room in the same way as all those we admire. Big red A's on our chests.”

“Your life doesn’t happen in any kind of order. Events don’t have cause and effect relationships the way you wish they did. It’s all a series of fragments and repetitions and pattern formations. Language and water have this in common.”

“He scarred as shit past and body as chapters of a book he wanted to hold in his hands and finish.”

Don't miss this one ... it made me think about my life, about my kids, about my husband, about my parents ... all in new ways. Read it. You won't regret it.

Our Souls at NightOur Souls at Night by Kent Haruf
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What a beautiful book! I highly recommend this one for any and all! Such a quiet and meaningful story! Just blew me away!

Okay, that's it for now. If you want to see all of the books I've read so far in 2016, I have a 'read in 2016' shelf on Goodreads that links to all of my reviews!