8 books in our December mini reviews

Even through the busyness of the holidays, we managed to review a few books. Some of these are ones we read a while ago but feel like we want to share - dive in and see what appeals to you to try in January. Try Wild by Cheryl Strayed, Ladder to the Sky by John Boyne, Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum, Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri, Pretending to Dance by Diane Chamberlain, Amarillo Slim by Amarillo Slim Preston, To Night Owl From Dogfish by Holly Goldberg Sloan and Meg Wolitzer or Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders. Wild, Cheryl Strayed Genre: Memoir Published 2012, 315 pages Terrie's read Strayed writes of her life-changing experience in walking the length of the Paci

In 'On Writing' Stephen King reflects on his life, his writing, and his craft

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, Stephen King Genre: Memoir Published 2000, 320 pages First, I am of reader of many of King’s books - not all of them are great, of course, but I’ve read some really good ones. This was a terrific read and I highly recommend it. You don’t have to be a fledgling writer or want to write books to enjoy this book. You might think this subject matter would be dry reading, but it’s not. (I was going to write it’s “absolutely” not, but after reading this book and about King’s aversion to adverbs, it stopped me. (see below where this is discussed) King starts by relaying various stories of his early life that show why and how he became a writer. He talks about worki

A young woman wants the perfect life depicted on YouTube but is everything - What It Seems ?

What It Seems, Emily Bleeker Genre: General Fiction Published 3/2020, pages TBD (ARC) A quick read, this is an interesting story about Tara/Angela, a 20 year old young woman who is totally dominated by a creepy and truly abusive 'foster' mom. She has been abused physically and mentally since she was 8, so if that's a trigger for you, you might want to avoid this book. Her one lifeline is an ancient computer with limited access that has allowed her to discover a You Tube family that becomes her idea of the perfect family - a life she doesn't have. "With the Feelys, I've been to Disney World. I've experienced Alyssa's pregnancy, ultrasound, baby shower, labor, and delivery of Ryland. I know t

Happy Holidays!

Just a quick note today to wish you and your friends and family a most wonderful Christmas. Donna and I hope you enjoy it to the fullest. And may the packages under your tree contain at least one new book for your new year! Merry Christmas from Terrie and Donna

Our 18 BEST READS of 2019

Who doesn't love a good list? December and January are prime months for zillions of "Best of 2019" lists. We're happy to join the party! AND, watch for our upcoming "Best of the Decade" list and reflections coming next week. Here's our most memorable reads in 2019 list- not all of these are 2019 releases; we just read them in 2019. Like many of you, we don't have access to ARCs (advance reader copy) so we're often reading back list titles. But, a good book is a good book, whenever you find it. And, in case you're still wanting more, at the end of the post we've included links to what other websites/magazines have picked as the "Best of"......surely you'll find some great options that you ma

Dec. Buddy Reads: a classic Christmas tale contrasted with a contemporary Christmas family story

For the holiday season, Donna and I selected two Christmas reads: A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens and The Christmas Sisters by Sarah Morgan. An old classic and a contemporary holiday story should be an interesting contrast! A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens Genre: Classic, Fantasy Published 1843, 104 pages Terrie's Thoughts: "I am sure I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round - apart from the veneration due to its sacred name and origin, if anything belonging to it can be apart from that - as a good time: a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time: the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their s

Born a Crime, the Memoir by comedian Trevor Noah (don't expect funny)

Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood, Trevor Noah Genre: Memoir Published 2016, 285 pages Wow. Fascinating, disturbing, eye-opening, funny, and informative. This story of Noah growing up in South Africa and coming of age at the end of apartheid is so good. That word feels inadequate. He put a face on poverty and racism that is new for me. It made me think in a new way. A good book can do that. In some ways the book broke my heart. Describing his lonely childhood spent hiding in his apartment because it was dangerous for him to be seen on the street since his color didn't match that of his neighbors, describing the constant ostracism he faced because he was either too black or

The Prince is cursed and can only be cured when a woman falls in love with him.

A Prince has been cursed and once a year he turns into a monster that kills people. The only way to break the curse is to have a woman fall in love with him. A different version of The Beauty and the Beast. A Curse so Dark and Lonely (bk #1), Brigid Kemmerer Genre: Fantasy Published 2019, 484 pages In recent years I have discovered that I enjoy fantasy books, and I loved this one. Eighteen-year-old Prince Rhen is cursed by evil enchantress Lilith and each year in the autumn he turns into a monster that goes on a killing rampage. After the rampage, his loyal commander Grey brings him a girl from the “regular” world (only Grey can go between the two worlds although it’s not explained why) hopi

Christmas Gift Ideas for the reader on your list (that isn't books!)

Just what you need to start shopping for your bookish friends (or for yourself). Go ahead, browse for inspiration. BOOKISH JEWELRY Declare your love of reading in a visible, but fun, way with one of these delightful pins. Affordable enough for each person in your book club! Or maybe one of these customizable pins suits you better - one for each favorite book? AROUND THE HOUSE There are many options for great smelling candles with bookish themes. Try one of these: A candle with a mix of mahogany, leather, and coffee - a delightful mix to enjoy with a new book. This "LIBRARY" candle seems to have a very rich, woodsy scent - it would make a fun white elephant gift under $15. Ready to snug

CELINE is a gentle mystery with a 68 year old female PI on the trail of a missing person

Celine, Peter Heller Genre: Mystery Published 2017, 334 pages This book definitely qualifies as a cozy mystery, but not in the traditional sense of an amateur sleuth figuring out a who-done-it. A cozy mystery is typically one with a mystery at the core needing solving, usually by a heroine, but no overt violence or sex. This book checks all those boxes, BUT, the mystery doesn't revolve around a murder, but a missing person, and the heroine is no amateur, she's an experienced PI. Nonetheless, this gentle read definitely qualifies. Much like his book The River, this novel is character driven. Celine and her Maine husband are a couple I would want to be friends with. He's the stereotypical taci

A dystopian novel is our current Buddy Read.

A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World by C.A. Fletcher Genre: Dystopian Published 2019, 365 pages Terrie's Thoughts I was surprised at the front of the book to see the author request that the story "remained a bit of a secret between us". Now that I've finished the book, I can understand the request and will absolutely honor it. You should discover the secrets of this book yourself. And I strongly recommend that you do. This book grabbed me from the first page. And the second page. The apparently oft-quoted phrase is on page one and perfectly sets up the story, "And there may be no law left except what you make it, but if you steal my dog, you can at least expect me to come after you. If

A science fiction future where some children are raised only to become organ donors.

Through human cloning, individuals are raised from childhood in a protected environment and as "students" are faced with a future as donors of their organs. Never Let Me Go, Kazuo Ishiguro Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopian Published 2010, 288 pages Strange book. Reviews call it a mystery. I don’t consider it a mystery at all, certainly not in the traditional sense of a crime was committed and someone is trying to solve it. There are a couple of unknowns, secrets that you discover the answer to late in the book. Also, if you’re looking for action, this is not the book you want to read. Nothing really happens. It's also what I would call light on sci-fi. Set in 1990s England, this story focuse

A folktale or a mystery? Magical fantasy or a ghost story? Once Upon a River will carry you away....

Once Upon a River, Diane Setterfield Genre: Fantasy Published 2018, 464 pages "A river no more begins at its source than a story begins with the first page." Setterfield is a terrific storyteller. (Did you happen to read The Thirteenth Tale?) This one reads like a fable or fairy tale told to you by your grandma..... As I struggled to find words to describe this book to my husband, I found I was using my hands more than my words. Soothing, calm, placid, smooth. Those words all make the book sound boring - it's definitely not! It's a masterful way of using words to tell a story and yet not rely on shock and violence to do it. There's not much "action" and yet I was eager to turn every page. "T

#1 in Chaos Walking YA sci-fi trilogy

"The noise is a man unfiltered, and without a filter, a man is just chaos walking.” The first of a trilogy, this sci-fi book takes you on a roller coaster ride as a boy-about-to-become-a-man tries to stay alive on a hostile planet. The Knife of Never Letting Go (#1 Chaos Walking), Patrick Ness Genre: YA, Sci-Fi Published 2008, 512 pages Told in first person by Todd, an almost 13 year old (almost a man!), as he's forced to leave the only place he's ever known by the two people he loves best. He's forced to run for his life from the townspeople who watched him grow up and now apparently don't want him to make age 13. Todd's town is populated only by men. 145 men. Men who can't quiet or control

Welcome to Bookshelf Journeys. My goal is to encourage, support and enrich your reading life. I'll share reviews, news, decorating and gift ideas - whatever might be of interest. Let's talk books!

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"Happiness is not a possession to be prized, it is a quality of thought, a state of mind."

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Daphne du Maurier

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© Bookshelf Journeys, 2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Terrie Purkey and Bookshelf Journeys with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.   2019

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