Introducing My Virtual Bookshelf - a new regular feature

As a new monthly feature, I'll be sharing with you what I've added to my TBR list each month. I'm a pretty avid list nerd, so I have a fairly extensive backlog of books already. Though I do weed it out occasionally, I find my list endlessly helpful and LOVE adding new possibilities. A few years ago I remember making the self-commitment that I'd take a book OFF my TBR for each new book added. Somehow I thought my list was getting too long (around 800 titles) and this was a solution. That idea didn't even last a few months - my list is my list. It just makes me happy to know there are all those appealing books out there waiting to be read! And, it's the perfect reference when I see a book on s

A candid autobiography from a leading actress... Inside Out by Demi Moore

Inside Out, Demi Moore Genre: Autobiography Published 2019, 272 pages As I was picking up some books I had on hold at the library, this new release was on a front rack and I grabbed it on my way to the check-out desk. I read quite a lot of celebrity biographies and autobiographies and I’ve enjoyed Moore in a few movies, so why not? I hadn’t read any reviews on it, so was going in blind. First, she is extremely candid about everything – her awful childhood (no love or affection given by either parent, father cheated, moved a couple times every year, mom attempted suicide, parents drank and did drugs), Bruce, Ashton, her drinking, her movies, her body issues (see below), etc. The one thing sh

We have EIGHT mini reviews for you this month, in a wide range of genres.

January brought some interesting books into our lives. Read our short reviews to see if you want to add one of these to your TBR. You'll find reviews for the award winner The Friend by Sigrid Nunez, the unexpected pleasure of Self Portrait with Boy by Rachel Lyon, 5th Avenue, 5 a.m. by Sam Wassom, a little fantasy with The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker, The Guardians by John Grisham, nonfiction The Sun Does Shine by Anthony Ray Hinton, Elevator Pitch by Linwood Barclay, and a play by David Henry Hwang M.Butterfly. The Friend, Sigrid Nunez Genre: General Fiction Award: National Book Award Published 2018, 224 pages Terrie's read Short, underwhelming, a spark of a twist. Written almost

A graphic memoir about the Japanese internment camps, They Called Us Enemy is by actor George Takei

They Called Us Enemy, George Takei Genre: Memoir Published 2019, 208 pages Another first in my reading experience - my first 'graphic' anything. They Called Us Enemy is actually a graphic memoir. It's an autobiography, a history lesson, a heartbreaking story of a despicable time in American history, and yet it's a story of kids being kids and thinking they were on an adventure. It is George Takei's (rhymes with okay) story about his family's internment in the US Japanese camps. He presents it in 2 perspectives - his view as a child and his memories of the camps and his view now, as an adult, thinking back to what it was like for his parents. It tracks his life from a young child to a curiou

January Buddy Read: I Let You Go is a thriller with SO many twists and turns

I Let You Go, Clare Mackintosh Genre: Mystery Published 2014, 371 pages Donna's Thoughts The story starts out with a heartbreaking scene where mom and son are walking home on a normal day and as he gets close to their house he pulls away from his mom's hand, runs across the street, and is hit and killed by a car that leaves the scene. Whew! (no spoiler, it happens immediately) A few months after the accident, mom Jenna can't deal with her guilt, feeling it is her fault that her son is dead so she leaves and ends up at a small coastal town where she begins a new life. Slowly she makes friends with a gregarious shop owner, and meets a veterinarian who is a possible love interest. The story go

Buddy Read: The best kind of historical fiction, set in India and based on real people and events

The Twentieth Wife #1, Indu Sandaresan Genre: Historical Fiction Published 2002, 371 pages Terrie's Thoughts This is a debut novel by a local author (Seattleite) that we chose because of our joint interest in stories set in India. The Twentieth Wife is a well researched historical novel rich in details of 1500s India during the Moghul Empire. The novel focuses on the story of Mehrunnisa, a young Persian girl whose family finds refuge in India and whose father gets a job with the court. The royal court of King Akbar and one of his sons, Prince Salim, are the corollary story line because, of course, she falls in love with the Prince and dreams of being Empress. Her dreams are thwarted when the

For Your Convenience: We've compiled comprehensive lists of award winning books across many genres

In our ongoing efforts to provide valuable information to help on your reading journey, we've gathered together, IN ONE PLACE, lists of award winning books in a wide range of genres. There are SO many book awards given that we restricted our efforts to the better known, more commonly read awards. And we wanted to make sure to cover as many genres as possible. If you can think of a particular award that isn't represented that you'd like to see, let us know and we'll add it. Currently each list goes back to the year 2000. We'll gradually work on going further back and making complete lists. The lists of Award Winning books are located on the top-of-the-page menu under the Award Lists tab. You

The Right Side: A female soldier returns from war and travels cross country with a found dog

The Right Side, Spencer Quinn Genre: General Fiction Published 2017, 323 pages LeAnne returns from service in Afghanistan minus an eye and with scarring on her face, her body weak and her memory damaged – unable to hold on to simple things - what day it is, what time it is, what she had been about to do. “Things were going on in her head that weren’t her.” Angry and confused, swearing and bulldozing her way uncertainly through her new life, running from therapy and family, she sets out across the country with an unexpected companion at her side. “She had years and years of contrary stored up inside her, like a smoldering mound just waiting for a blast of oxygen.” “…the windshield wipers whip

Is Kingsolver too political in this novel, Unsheltered?

Unsheltered, Barbara Kingsolver Genre: General Fiction Published 2018, 480 pages I'm a longtime Kingsolver fan, primarily due to The Poisonwood Bible. For me, this book is a mixed bag. Set in alternating time frames, the 1870s and 2016, the two storylines have similarities. I liked that format for this book. In both cases the male characters are teachers and have lost or are losing their jobs. In both cases there are female characters who are bucking the establishment, trying to make a difference (Mary in 1900s and Tig in 2016). Also, in both timelines the families are living in ramshackle homes in desperate need of repair but with no funds to do so. Many of the reviews I read complained of

Remarkable novel of a boy born with red colored eyes

The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell, Robert Dugoni Genre: General Fiction Published 2018, 434 pages From an author who usually writes legal thrillers, this novel is a major departure. The premise is: a little boy is born with ocular albinism, a condition giving him red pigmented eyes, and he struggles through his childhood and adulthood to find acceptance. Sam is bullied mercilessly in school but makes two lifelong friends that help him survive. His friends, Eddie (the only black child in the Catholic school) and Mickie (a rebel of a girl) are also outsiders at school and the three become best friends. The characters of his friends Eddie and Mickie are excellent and their 3-amigos friendship

Heaven, My Home: a Texas Ranger faces racism and a crumbling marriage while hunting a missing boy

Heaven, My Home #2 (Hwy 59), Attica Locke Genre: Mystery Published 2019, 295 pages (audio) As a second installment, this book rocks! There's no drop off in character development or plotting. It's an equally engaging crime peopled with an interesting mix of characters and, of course, Darren. I agree with others that it's definitely helpful to have read Bluebird, Bluebird first since it sets up much of what happens to Darren here. Locke provides some context but doesn't waste time retelling the first book. I really like the main character of Darren. He's so flawed and normal seeming.....trying to help and do the right thing and it seems each thing he tries to do comes back to bite him. The cas

Howl: A collection of contemporary dog wit.

Seventy personal stories and essays by various writers including #DaveBarry, Al Franken, Roy Blount Jr. and many more. Howl, from the Editors of the BARk Genre: Animals, Humor Published 2007, 331 pages This is probably a book that only dog/animal lovers will enjoy (of which I'm one). That’s all this book is about. I read this book over a period of several months. Because it’s just brief, unrelated stories, I would read a couple chapters then set it aside for a few nights, then read a couple more chapters when I needed another dog fix. The chapters were very short, most were 2-4 pages long. This book is mostly (see next paragraph) about the humor of having a dog (and the occasional cat) – fro

The classic story of Gulliver and his imaginative world adventures

Gulliver’s Travels, Jonathan Swift Genre: Classic Published 1726, 318 pages I thought it was time I read a classic. I’ve read a few over the years; enjoyed some, others not so much. Gulliver’s Travels was not an easy read due to the old-time style of writing, but I was determined to finish it! The story itself was actually fairly entertaining. The story is told in four parts - four different voyages that Gulliver takes, leaving his wife and children for a period of several years each time. On his first voyage he is shipwrecked and washes on shore at Lilliput, an island inhabited by people only 6” tall. When he awakes, he discovers he is tied up because the people fear him. Eventually they c

The Water Dancer: a powerful story of slavery and the underground railroad - with a splash of magic

The Water Dancer, Ta-Nehisi Coates Genre: Historical Fiction, Magical Realism Oprah's Book Club 2019 Published 2019, 403 pages What a remarkable first fiction book. This is the first novel written by Coates who has 3 well-praised nonfiction books to his name. Beautifully written prose with dialog that feels so authentic. Slightly formal speech patterns yet with bad grammar which felt 'of the south' in that time. The novel is another entry in the historical fiction field about slavery and the underground railroad, but this one feels so much more ...... real somehow, in spite of being full of magic. It was the writing more than the story, I think. I love this reflection on his young love: "I

Heartbreaking. Heartwarming. Grief and Loss. Love and discovery. Harry's Trees by Jon Cohen

Harry's Trees, Jon Cohen Genre: General Fiction Published 2018, 432 pages I'm going to say it right up front: I loved this book. Here's what drew me in. I loved how there are two main threads of the story and both start with loss - not in a way that is graphic or overly dramatic, but, tears start the story. Then as thread #1 begins and Harry tries to deal with his loss, he returns to his first love, trees, forest, nature. The writing style is simple and accessible though covering topics like loss, grief, guilt, love and restoration. “It's only five words long—she died a year ago. And I'm out here to say goodbye. Which turns out to be a long and complicated process. I'm not sure I'll ever fi

Finishing up the 2nd and 3rd books of the Chaos Walking series

The Ask and the Answer (#2 Chaos Walking), Patrick Ness Genre: YA, Sci Fi Published 2009, 520 pages I finished up the Chaos Walking trilogy in December. This YA sci-fi series is a quick and very enjoyable read. Don't be put off by the page count, these books read VERY quickly - the plotting is straightforward, the characters are familiar, and there's lots of action to keep you zooming through the pages. The first book, The Knife of Never Letting Go, introduced us to Todd and Viola, 13 year olds trying to find a safe place to get away from the army pursuing them. They're running toward Haven, the last community that might help them. "If you ever see a war, she says, not looking up from her cl

Stephen King's The Long Walk

The Long Walk, Stephen King writing as Richard Bachman Genre: General Fiction Published 1999, 370 pages Although this is a King book, it is not a horror book except in the very real horror of youths needlessly dying. Ray Garraty, just 16, joins 99 other boys for The Long Walk – they walk and walk and walk until there’s only one person alive. If anyone stops or delays for longer than 30 seconds they get a warning. They get three warnings, on the fourth they’re shot dead. One major problem for me is we don’t know a reason for The Long Walk. Is this something the government is running? There was no background on the Walk except that it’s been happening for years. Why did it start? And most of a

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!

Understanding that reviews are very subjective, I'll be doing my best to give you enough information to decide if a particular book is for you.

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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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© 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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