Sister Dear by Hannah Mary McKinnon

Rating: 5 out of 5.

What I Loved:

Well, this book was just fabulous! I absolutely loved that the story kept taking me in a different direction. I would think I knew what was happening, and then something would change, and I’d be blown away by the new information. It was absolutely wonderful!

My Synopsis:

Eleanor Hardwicke has just found out that her father, a man she wholly loves and respects is not actually her biological father. She has just the name of her actual father and begins to research who he is. What she finds is a half-sister she didn’t know she had living the life she feels was meant for her.

Victoria, Eleanor’s newly-found sister seems to have everything and as Eleanor learns more and more about Victoria, she wants nothing more than to be her.

How I Felt:

The characters in this book drew out such emotion from me. I would be infuriated by Eleanor’s actions, and then the next minute, I would totally understand her anger and resentment. She is a deeply flawed character, and I felt that this made her easier to connect to. Eleanor’s relationships with everyone, except her father, are terrible. She has trouble connecting with others, and I really enjoyed her character arc as she begins to explore who her real father and his family are, and what kind of relationship she could have with them.

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Little Secrets by Jennifer Hillier

Rating: 5 out of 5.

What I Loved:

Little Secrets was such an amazingly well-written story. I was completely entranced by it! I loved how I kept thinking I knew where the plot was headed, and then a twist, and I’d be completely off-guard again!

How I Felt:

How have I never read a book by Jennifer Hillier?!?! Her writing is amazing! I have NEVER cried while reading a mystery/thriller before. This is a first for me. Her ability to draw every possible emotion from the reader was impressive. I fully enjoyed this book, and I look forward to reading another one by her!

The writing was excellent! I mean, I cried. And it’s a thriller! Who cries reading a thriller? Well, I did, and I can’t really tell you why because that would be a spoiler, and I don’t do that. BUT I will say that Jennifer Hillier connected me to the characters in such a wonderful way. They were people my heart went out to…and a little bit because I’m a mom and the book got to me. Regardless though, I was feeling this book deep down thanks to the writing. I loved it.

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Reads that Gave Me a Book Hangover

“A book hangover is a condition where a reader’s emotional investment in a book leaves them at a loss once the book ends. They can’t get into another book, and they want all their next reads to be as good as the last book. This can last days, or weeks, depending on the book.”

She Just Loves Books describing a book hangover

Book hangovers are real…I know I have a book hangover when I go to open my kindle, audible, or physical book and am disappointed when I realize the book I’m currently reading is no longer that last book.

So, here’s my list of recent reads that left me with a book hangover because they were that good! I want you to know about these, because while they will cause a book hangover, they can also cure one. It’s a bit like the hair of the dog…

Wildland by Rebecca Hodge (See Review)

Why the hangover?
🍸 Amazing Character Growth
🍸 Harrowing Rescue Attempts
🍸 Beautiful Writing
🍸 A Don’t Give Up Story

A Witch in Time by Constance Sayers (See Review)

Why the hangover?
🍸 Reliving Lives
🍸 A Man to Love
🍸 Lovely writing
🍸 Witchy Happenings

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Where the Lost Wander by Amy Harmon – Book Review

Rating: 5 out of 5.

What I Loved:

This was a beautiful story that I loved reading. The overarching idea behind this story was to show the hardships of traveling west for people in the 1800s. I was completely drawn into Where the Lost Wander from beginning to end by the descriptions of the travel and the people. I loved every single page of this story.

How I Felt:

Amy Harmon has quickly become one of my favorite authors! Her ability to write so many different types of stories leaves me speechless each time I finish a book. This is my favorite book she has written, however, I have enjoyed every book I have read, and I can’t wait to read more!

I’m going to start my review a little backward today because there is something at the end of the book I wish I would have known when I started the story! Amy Harmon provided an author’s note at the end of the book that was fascinating to read. She discusses that John Lowry, the male main character, is actually an ancestor of her husband’s. The family that the story follows out West are the May’s, who were Harmon’s own pioneer ancestors. In addition, many of the other characters like Lost Woman, Chief Washakie, and Chief Pocatello were real people. I started this book thinking it was historical fiction where the “historical” came from the overall event of westward migration. I would have loved to have known how much of this was founded in actual history when I started, so I wanted to share that with you!

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The Book of Lost Friends by Lisa Wingate – Book Review

Rating: 5 out of 5.

No two readers read the same book, because we all see the words through different eyes, filter the story through different life experiences.

The Book of Lost Friends – Lisa Wingate

What I Loved:

Well, I loved EVERYTHING about this book. The Book of Lost Friends gave me an absolutely stunning story with amazing characters, adventure, a quest for answers and missing people, and above all, insight into the history of the time. It was a beautiful story, and I cannot say enough how much I loved this book.

How I Felt:

After reading Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate, I knew that I wanted to get my hands on The Book of Lost Friends once the release had been announced. Her ability to write about a time in history is one-of-a-kind. She creates a dual-timeline for the story, giving you perspective into the historical timeline as well as the present-day timeline and the impact the history had on today.

I was drawn into the love of literature that is written about in this book. There were so many beautiful and poignant quotes that hit home for me. I’m sprinkling them throughout this review because they were amazing and I want to share them!

If there is magic in this world, it is contained in books.

The Book of Lost Friends – Lisa Wingate
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Sin Eater by Megan Campisi – Book Review

Rating: 5 out of 5.

What I Loved:

I love historical fiction. I appreciate that an author took the time to research some event or timeframe in history and then spent countless weeks, months, or years to create a story about it. It’s especially exciting for me when I find a historical fiction book that surrounds an event or person that I didn’t know anything about previously.

I got everything that I wanted out of Sin Eater. I loved that this story was about a working position in history that I knew nothing about. I was fascinated by what the Sin Eater must do and the long list of things they must not do.

How I Felt:

I found Sin Eater as I was wandering the virtual shelves of NetGalley. I saw the cover, which has changed since I originally found it, but it just called to me. I KNEW it was a book I needed to read, and then Atria Books was kind enough to send me a copy! I am SO glad that I had the chance to read this book. It was just wonderful.

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A Top 2020 Read: Under Glass and Stone by A.N. Willis – Book Review

Rating: 5 out of 5.

What I Loved:

Under Stone and Glass was such an amazing story with a well-written plot and I loved all of it. I was blown away by the story of the house. A.N. Willis wove such an intricate story in such an amazing way, I was absolutely captivated.

How I Felt:

The characters give a young adult feel to this story, however, it’s perfect for adults. Evelyn, our main character, is a high school student plagued by terrible dreams that feel more like memories of the house across the street. Everyone thinks she is obsessed with the house and needs to move on. She’s such a determined character and knows deep down that something is not right. She meets Alex and quickly finds that she’s infatuated with him, but also that he may hold secrets that she needs to know. Alex was a great character. He’s a bit about breaking the rules, but also wants to do the right thing. It was a nice mix for his character that kept me wondering what his motives were.

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Ready Player One by Ernest Cline – Book Review

Rating: 5 out of 5.

What I Loved:

The world Ernest Cline has created is one that completely envelopes the reader and takes them into the story and into the game. I loved this world. I do play video games. I remember the Atari I couldn’t wait to turn on when I visited my aunt and uncle, and when I got my Nintendo, I was SO excited. So, even though I don’t play much anymore, it was so much fun to delve into this crazy virtual reality world that Cline built.

How I Felt:

I listened to Ready Player One and while I am sure that reading this book will elicit the same exciting response I had to this story, I would like to highly recommend the audio edition. The narrator was wonderful. If you do not like to pay for audio, I found it through Libby at my library!

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A Top 2020 Read: Wildland by Rebecca Hodge – Book Review

Rating: 5 out of 5.

What I Loved:

I am unable to say the right words to express to you just how much I loved this book. The author’s ability to utterly hypnotize me with her words was wonderful. I was 100% invested in Wildland and could not put it down. What an excellent job Rebecca Hodge has done with this book!

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A Top 2020 Read: A Witch in Time by Constance Sayers – Book Review

Rating: 5 out of 5.

What I Loved:

I LOVED this book. Every single word, every page, every character. Can I also just throw in my massive cover-love for this one! It was a wonderful, exciting ride filled with a witch’s curse, a romance that spans lifetimes, secrets, and so much more!

Continue reading “A Top 2020 Read: A Witch in Time by Constance Sayers – Book Review”

The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris- A Review

Rating: 5 out of 5.

What I Loved:

The Tattooist of Auschwitz featured a new perspective for me in the overwhelming number of WWII historical fiction books out in the world. While the main character, Lale, is a prisoner, he is also working with the Nazi’s as the Tätowierer, the tattooist. I knew that many jobs within a concentration camp were done by the prisoners, but had never encountered a book focused on the person tattooing the people there. It was such an interesting story and I really loved it.

Continue reading “The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris- A Review”

Fabulous Suspense: The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware – Book Review

Rating: 4 out of 5.

What I Loved:

The Turn of the Key is a re-imagining / re-telling of The Turn of the Screw. I haven’t read the Turn of the Screw, but I definitely want to now! I loved how Ruth Ware was able to take an existing story and make it her own. The book was filled with suspenseful moments and chilling thoughts. I loved her ability to creep me out in this story!

How I Felt:

The Turn of the Key is my FAVORITE Ruth Ware book so far. At this point, I have read four of her books and I can’t wait to grab the next one. This is Ruth Ware’s most recent release, published in August 2019. After reading all of these books by her, I really feel that she is developing as a writer and finding a way to make her books more and more suspenseful!

Quick overview of My Thoughts:

* Great overall plot and story
* Wonderfully suspenseful moments that make you want the light on

* I would have liked just one more chapter
* Some character decisions left me scratching my head

The Characters: The main character in this book is Rowan, and I felt that she had some really nice character development. I was fully connected with her, and really just kept thinking, “Get out of this house Rowan!”. So, I found that Ruth Ware managed to get me worried for the main character and I enjoyed that.

There are, of course, other characters in this story, but they are peripheral for a lot of the book. They come and go and I did not feel a need for the same amount of character information for them, so I didn’t mind that there was not as much time spent on them. Jack, one of the characters felt so mysterious and some of his secrets, I couldn’t quite understand why he was keeping them. I understand it made the story spookier, but I didn’t understand his motivation for doing it. I also just want to parent shame for a second. What parent hires a new nanny and just leaves her kids? There are a few things in the mother’s ENORMOUS book of how-to-care-for-my-kids that I felt should have been given verbally instead of just expecting Rowan to read it all. I don’t want any spoilers, so I won’t tell you what those were.

The Writing: Ruth Ware’s story-telling choice for The Turn of the Key was such a great idea. The entire story is told through a letter that Rowan is writing to a lawyer. She is explaining what happened and why she needs help. The letter-writing grabbed me right from the start! I loved how the story unfolded. We know right from the beginning that a child has died and that Rowan is in jail for the death. She then goes back and starts from the beginning in her letter and I loved it.

The suspense that Ruth Ware was able to bring to this book was wonderful. I could feel the goosebumps and fear that Rowan had as all these things keep happening. There is one scene where Rowan is sleeping on a couch instead of her room and I swear, I had to put the book down and check under my bed (HAHA!). You’ll totally understand why when you read that part of the book. Well done Ruth Ware!

The Plot: Rowan wants a new nanny position and how posted for one at Heatherbrae House. Her first visit for the interview goes well, but she finds a drawn picture with a weird message and before she leaves one of the children warns her that the “ghosts wouldn’t like it” if she came to stay. I think this would have been it for me, “no thanks”. Rowan perseveres though. She is offered and accepts the position.

As soon as she moves in, the mother and father are off to a conference leaving Rowan alone with the children. There are so many things that make the story suspenseful from here. The odd walking noises that are “upstairs” when there isn’t actually another floor above Rowan, the very “Smart” home that keeps functioning improperly, keys that go missing, etc. It’s filled with so many weird and creepy moments. It’s wonderful!

The Ending: The ending was fantastic. It was gripping and mysterious, and a bit heartbreaking. I would have loved just a little more information because there were a few loose strings. However, it’s always fun to not know and have those discussions with your bookish friends too, and the ending does make the book more mysterious.

Content Warnings: Child death.

Overall: I enjoyed this book for its suspenseful story. I could not put this book down and needed to know how it ended and just what was going on in this house!

To Read or Not To Read:

If you are a fan of Ruth Ware, you should ABSOLUTELY read The Turn of the Key. If you haven’t read Ruth Ware before, this was worth the read. If you enjoy the little (and big) creepy things that build a good suspenseful story, you’ll enjoy this book.

Where to Find This Book:

The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware is available at these sites.

Amazon Kindle | Amazon | Audible | Goodreads

When she stumbles across the ad, she’s looking for something else completely. But it seems like too good an opportunity to miss—a live-in nannying post, with a staggeringly generous salary. And when Rowan Caine arrives at Heatherbrae House, she is smitten—by the luxurious “smart” home fitted out with all modern conveniences, by the beautiful Scottish Highlands, and by this picture-perfect family.

What she doesn’t know is that she’s stepping into a nightmare—one that will end with a child dead and herself in prison awaiting trial for murder.

Writing to her lawyer from prison, she struggles to explain the unravelling events that led to her incarceration. It wasn’t just the constant surveillance from the cameras installed around the house, or the malfunctioning technology that woke the household with booming music, or turned the lights off at the worst possible time. It wasn’t just the girls, who turned out to be a far cry from the immaculately behaved model children she met at her interview. It wasn’t even the way she was left alone for weeks at a time, with no adults around apart from the enigmatic handyman, Jack Grant.

It was everything.

She knows she’s made mistakes. She admits that she lied to obtain the post, and that her behavior toward the children wasn’t always ideal. She’s not innocent, by any means. But, she maintains, she’s not guilty—at least not of murder. Which means someone else is.

Just the Facts:

  • The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware
  • Genre: Mystery / Suspense / Thriller
  • Page Count: 352 pages
  • Publisher:  Gallery/Scout Press
  • Pub Date: August 6, 2019

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