First line: It would be inaccurate to say that my childhood was normal before they came.
When Libby Jones turned twenty-five she receives and envelope telling
her that she has inherited a house from the estate of her dead parents.
She never knew who she was or where she came from but the answers are
finally being revealed.
Twenty-four years before the police were
summoned to a mansion along the Thames. Inside were the three dead
bodies and a baby girl in a crib. It appears to be a suicide pact as
part of a cult ritual. But neighbors reported seeing older children in
the house but none are found on the night in question. What happened at
16 Cheyne Walk that fateful night?
My Thoughts: I love
Lisa Jewell! Every book I have read by her has been a lot of fun. This
one is no exception. I really considered giving it a 5 star rating. It
flipped between three characters. Libby, the baby, who recently
inherited the house. Henry, who is telling the story of what happened in
the house. And Lucy, who is struggling to keep her family afloat while
living abroad in France.
Henry was by far my favorite chapters
because we got to see how life at 16 Cheyne Walk changed over time. His
story is told chronologically from the beginning to the end. It fills in
the gaps that Libby is trying to uncover. But his narrative is much
darker and more sinister than the others.
I struggled to
understand that point behind Lucy’s chapters. It seemed like they were
filler or a separate story. She lives in France with her children and is
trying to find a way to get back to England. It just did not seem to
fit with everything else.
But the ending. It literally gave me
goosebumps and sent a chill down my spine. What a way to close a book.
Great job again Ms. Jewell!
FYI: Perfect for fans of Shari Lapena and Gillian Flynn.
Well the Forbidden Forest Read-a-thon is over! And I did it. I finished the challenge with 2 days to spare. I was getting a little nervous at the end but I finished in time. I really enjoyed having a set list of books to read. I was not sure how I would feel but it was almost freeing knowing exactly what was next on the list. How did your challenge come along?
In the last week I completed four books. First was I Know Why the Caged Birds Sings by Maya Angelou. I had previously read Mom & Me & Mom. I liked both and found them very interesting. Next I finished Master and Apprentice by Claudia Gray. She is a wonderful writer for the Star Wars books. The writing is great and the story is always fun. Then I finally read Virgin Earth by Philippa Gregory. I had read the first in the duology years ago but never finished it. I am glad I did. It spanned years of English history and two continents. I was constantly looking up plants mentioned in the book. And it was a perfect companion to our Big Read theme. But my favorite of the week was Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.
Summary: In the eighth book in the Harry Potter series we find out what happens years after the Battle of Hogwarts. The wizarding world is at peace. Voldemort is defeated. And Harry Potter is a father. His son Albus is heading to Hogwarts for his first year when he meets Scorpius Malfoy on the train. They become close friends to the chagrin of their fathers. When rumors begin to appear about a Time Turner that escaped the destruction at the Ministry, Albus tries to step out of the shadow of his legendary father by changing the past in hopes of saving someone his father could not.
My Thoughts: I had been putting this
off for years. I have owned the book and loved the rest in the series.
But knowing that it was not written by J.K. made it not a priority. It
is written as a play for the stage in London. The format seemed a little
intimidating and strange. Kind of like the first time I picked up a
graphic novel. It does not feel comfortable at the beginning but as it
progresses it becomes much easier. When Alyssa announced the Forbidden
Forest Read-a-thon I knew that I had to include this book on my list.
can see how many other Potter fans are not happy with it but I really
enjoyed it! A Potter and a Malfoy best friends?! Seriously. I loved
their friendship. I felt that the playwright was able to capture the
spirit of Harry Potter and bring the story further. The little twists
and turns were fun. I loved going back into the past and seeing how
someone’s actions can affect the present. And it was great to see how
Harry, Ron, Hermione and Draco changed after their years at Hogwarts.
They each matured and learned some important lessons along the way.
really hope that one day I can see this performed on stage! If you have
been a little skeptical about picking this up then listen to me and
give it a try. The story is good. It revisits everything that made the
original so good while adding to it as well.
FYI: J.K. Rowling has accepted this as part of her canon. It is considered Harry Potter #8.
Week three of the Forbidden Forest Read-a-thon is behind us and I still have 4 books to finish! Up until this week I was able to finish three books a week but this week had a really long book. It is taking me longer than anticipated. How is everyone else coming along?
Of the two books I finished I really enjoyed both of them. Below I attached my review for the new Elton John autobiography, Me. But I also read Carrie by Stephen King. I have never seen the movie but I had a basic understanding of the story line. I was shocked by how much I liked it. If you want to read my review sign up for our monthly newsletter. It will be in the November 2019 issue.
First line: I was onstage at the Latino club in South Shields when I realized I couldn’t take it anymore.
Summary: In his autobiography, Elton John takes us through his life from his childhood as Reginald Dwight to his life with his husband David. He gives us a look into the world of a rock star. He is very honest about his drug usage and other addictions. He discusses his friendships with other musical legends like John Lennon, Freddie Mercury and even Lady Gaga. After years of pain and loneliness he decides that he has had enough of the rock ‘n roll lifestyle and enters rehab and starts his own charities for AIDS relief.
My Thoughts: I loved this book! And look at that cover! Gorgeous. First of all I listened to the audio book version which is read by Taron Egerton, who played Elton in the biopic, Rocketman, released earlier this year .
found Elton’s life to be unbelievable. He knows everyone. He has done
so much. I loved how honest he was about his struggles. He took every
drug known to man. He tried to commit suicide several times. I cannot
imagine living his life and coming out of it okay. He does though. He
survived stuff that would have ruined many others and did. But he is
still standing. He has met the love of his life, has two beautiful boys
and tries to help others around the world.
I learned a lot about
him. And I found him even more interesting than I did before. He is
currently doing his final tour and I wish that I could see him in
concert. My parents did in 1984 in Tacoma, Washington. I am super
jealous. Oh well I will just watch concerts on Youtube and rewatch Rocketman again.
FYI: I highly recommend the audio version but also grab a copy of the book so you can see the pictures!
Alrighty. Week two is completed along with three more books. I was not sure that I was going to be half way done at the end of the second week but I accomplished it. Plus I finished two of the longer books this last week!
I greatly appreciate audio books. I know some people do not consider these “reading” but I certainly do. I get the story and I am engaged in the plot and its characters. Two of the books from last week were ones that I partially listened to thanks to our book on CD collection and Rb Digital.
This last week’s reads include The Loving Cup by Winston Graham, Hatchet by Gary Paulsen and A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer. Each one was a four star read. All of them had fantastic characters and stories. I am hoping to soon read the rest of the books in each series. However, my favorite book this week is by far Hatchet.
First line: Brian Robeson stared out the window of the small plane at the endless green northern wilderness below.
Summary: Brian’s parents split up recently and on his way to Canada to spend a few months with his father. He is flying in a small plane with only himself and a pilot. As they are flying over the forests of Canada the pilot suddenly has a heart attack. Brian is left alone in an airplane, thousands of feet in the air and no idea where he is or how he is going to land the plane.
For several hours he keeps the plane in the air until he decides to try and take it down on a lake. When he crashes he finds himself alone in the Canadian wilderness with only the clothes on his back, his wits and the hatchet his mother had given him. How long will it take for someone to rescue him? Will he be able to survive alone in the forest?
My Thoughts: I picked this book
because it has been years since I heard the story. I remember having it
read to my class while I was in school. It was a good story then but now
that I am older I realize that it is a great story. I usually recommend
this to young boys who ask for something to read. I am happy to see
that it is still popular and has a hold list.
A thirteen year old boy is lost in the wilderness with nothing. He survives using what he knows from nature shows and his school science classes. Not many people would be able to do this. Paulsen does a splendid job of mixing the adventure with facts. Not many kids books can stand the test of time but I believe that this one can. It is still engaging and fun and perfect for all ages.
It has been just over one week since the start of the Forbidden Forest Read-a-thon here at the library. And boy has it been one heck of a week. You do not realize the pressure you are under when you are given a set number of books to read in just a month! It is a little intimidating.
Going into the challenge I figured that this would be a piece of cake. I have already read over 100 books this year. Twelve books should be easy right?! I have finished three at this point which is a fairly good place to be but they were the shorter ones. Several on my list are hovering around five hundred pages. Yikes! Maybe I was overly ambitious but I am determined to finish this challenge.
So far I have finished reading A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett, We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson (we own the movie but not the book) and The Umbrella Academy: Apocalypse Suite by Gerard Way. Each has had their ups and downs but I would say my favorite so far has been The Umbrella Academy graphic novel. I have even read book two and have three on my desk for later.
The Umbrella Academy: Apocalypse Suite by Gerard Way
First line: It was the same year “Tusslin’ Tom” Gurney knocked out the space-squid from Rigel X-9…
At the exact same moment forty-three babies were born to women who had
previously not been pregnant. Of the forty-three newborns born, seven of
them were adopted by the eccentrically wealthy Reginald Hargreeves. He
knew that there was something special about these children. For years
they lived quietly hidden away in his mansion until one day when they
reappeared in order to save the world. They called themselves The
My Thoughts: I am not one that is much interested in graphic novels but they are slowly growing on me. I have now read a handful and started to enjoy them. The Netflix show based on the graphic novels is why I chose this book for the reading challenge. There are many similarities between the two but lots of differences as well. Each stand well on their own. The art is very interesting to look at. It is not realistic but it is not too cartoonish.
I liked the story because it is dark and imaginative. The authors create such an interesting world that it is not hard to get sucked into it. One of the characters, Number One or Luther, is part man and part ape. He is gigantic and spends quite a bit of his youth on the moon. Who thinks this stuff up? It is different which makes it fun. I am looking forward to book three and on.
There is a lot of violence which did not affect me at all but it may be
too much for younger readers. This is book one in the series.
First line: Cilka stares at the soldier standing in front of her, part of the army that has entered the camp.
Sixteen year old Cilka Klein was sent to Auschwitz along with her
family. One of the head SS officers of the camp notices her and moves
her away from the other women. Over the three years she is kept in
barracks 25 until the day the camp is liberated by the Russian forces.
Upon their arrival she is arrested and charged with collaborating with
the enemy. She is sentenced to fifteen years in a Siberian gulag.
she arrives at the prison she finds a world that she has unfortunately
become very familiar with. The forced labor and brutal conditions of the
camp are not new to her. She makes friends with several of her fellow
inmates but when she catches the attention of the female doctor her luck
begins to change. With her work in the hospital she finds a way to make
amends for the guilt about her past and maybe even start to feel love
My Thoughts:The Tattooist of Auschwitz was such a heartbreaking story. But I was beyond shocked by the story of Cilka. She was forced into a Russian prison after suffering for years in a concentration camp because she was raped for three years. It makes no sense. The poor girl is stronger than I can imagine I could ever be. I really cared about what happened to Cilka while reading her story. She did so much good in a terrible place. If only there were more people like her.
I never even considered that things like this happened
to some of the survivors. It is sad that the “liberators” were nearly as
cruel as the Nazis. Her time in the gulag is unbelievable. I know that
the author did lots of research and she does a great job of bringing it
to life. People need to know these things in order to try and stop them
from happening again.
I felt like this was much better put together than the first book. It was not nearly as choppy.
FYI: This is a sequel to The Tattooist of Auschwitz.
First line: A bitter wind sheared through the darkness, biting into my exposed flesh and lashing my hair across my face.
Sadie Keller is determined to find out what happened to her brother on
the night he died. She does not believe the story told to her by his
wife, Crystle. But the police do not believe that there is enough
evidence to allow them to look deeper into the events.
hoping to escape from her small Kansas town. Her family are involved in
some dangerous activities and she wants to leave before she is sucked
My Thoughts: I loved the author’s previous book Arrowood. It was thrilling. This was sold to be a thriller but it really fell flat. I was hoping for more but it took almost 60% of the book to get to the more interesting pieces. The beginning was about the town, its people and the life in small town Kansas. This made it easy to connect with at least, as a girl from a small town in Kansas.
I liked the characters
but they needed something more. We got glimpses into Sadie’s past with
her brother. I would have liked more of that. Henley seemed like a
filler character. She did reveal some information that lead to big
reveal but her story was blah.
First line: This is a book about an extraordinary woman called
Almina Carnarvon, the family into which she married, the Castle that
became her home, the people who worked there, and the transformation of
the Castle when it became a hospital for wounded soldiers during the
First World War.
Summary: Written by the current Countess of Carnarvon we are taken into the past to meet the woman that helped inspired the hit television series Downton Abbey. Almina was the daughter of Alfred de Rothschild. Her dowry was used to help support the struggling estate. Almina opened the house to be used as a hospital during World War I and her husband was part of the team who discovered the tomb of King Tut. Using information from letters and diaries of the occupants of Highclere Castle, we get the true story of this great house.
My Thoughts: I have been a fan of the series Downton Abbey
from the start. I watched each season religiously. I even got my mother
hooked on it. I knew that much of the inspiration for the story was
drawn from real life events. I have been meaning to pick up this book
for years and with the upcoming movie I figured it was the right time.
It is easy to see that author had access to many primary sources and a wealth of information. She fleshes out the woman who saved the family from ruin and brought them into the 20th century. I loved hearing about her life before and after her marriage. She did so much for the house but my favorite part by far was the discovery of King Tut’s tomb. From a hobby in the desert and a final chance to find something worth the money they find one of the greatest discoveries of all time.
First line: The church was grey against a light grey sky, the bell tower, like a watchtower, dark against the darker clouds.
It is 1648 in England. The country is in turmoil. Alinor is a poor
woman living on Sealsea Island with two children. Her husband
disappeared several months before and left his family with nothing. One
night while Alinor is holding vigil at the local church she stumbles
upon a man hiding in the churchyard. He asks for her help to guide him
to the home of the local land owner. She learns that he is a priest who
is working as a spy for the imprisoned King Charles I.
silence about the mysterious visitor she earns the respect of the
Peachey family. As she gains favor from her landlord she also draws the
suspicions of her neighbors. In this time of witchcraft and
superstition, Alinor is in danger of being accused of using spells to
bewitch them to advance her ambitions.
My Thoughts: I
absolutely loved this book. It is a beautiful story. The descriptions of
the land are as vivid as a picture. It is easy to imagine the small
island village in the south of England where life is controlled by the
Alinor is a poor simple woman but she stands out from all
the other people on her island. She is knowledgeable about herbs, she
can read and write. Gregory does an amazing job writing about strong and
interesting women. Alinor has been abandoned by her husband but she is
able to continue to survive using her own gifts.
The time of
Charles I is not one that I am very familiar with. Wikipedia is one of
my best friends while reading about a new era in history. I have heard
of the English Civil War and the Oliver Cromwell but I have never spent
much time reading about it. Gregory did extensive research in order to
bring the turbulent time to life. The fear of witches, the hatred of the
king and the devastating poverty are just a few issues she covers. It
was a time of great change.
Throughout the novel I was
constantly worried for Alinor. She is a wise woman. Many of her
neighbors come to her for help in delivering babies or curing a
sickness. But it is easy for people of the time to turn on women like
her. I kept waiting for something to happen her. I was completely
invested in her life. As I read the last few pages I was praying that it
would not end. I want to know what will happen next for Alinor and her
Last week I was lucky enough to get to travel to Denver and meet Philippa Gregory. My cousin, Alaina, accompanied me to the event. It was a on my bucket list to meet and have a signed copy of one of her books. I was beyond excited to meet her. She was absolutely lovely to listen to. She did several readings from Tidelands and answered audience questions. I love attending author events. For me it is like meeting a movie star. I was literally shaking and nervous. I am so happy that I made the eight hour drive to Denver to meet her. It was surreal.
First line: It was Miguel who called 911 at 4:07 a.m. on an icy Sunday morning.
Vincent and his financial team from Stanhope and Sons is told to attend
a team building exercise on a Friday night. When they arrive they enter
an elevator that takes them up several floors where it stops and the
clues begin. As the team tries to figure out how to get out of the
escape room they realize that the clues are very specific. However, as
the clock clicks on they are not let out of the room. Tension begins to
mount and the team begins to let their fears and secrets come to the
surface. Will they survive the escape room?
Following a popular trend with thrillers now we have a book split into a
two part narrative. We meet Sara Hall, a young business school graduate
who is looking for a job. She lands the job of her dreams at Stanhope
and Sons in New York City. She works on big accounts and makes tons of
money. But the hours are long, the work is grueling and the people are
not very nice.
The other side is the team in the elevator. It is
a group of very unlikeable people stuck in a very tight space together.
I really enjoyed these scenes as their true personalities came to the
forefront. We find out what secrets they have and how truly terrible
they are. I could honestly say that I did not care for any of them but I
was very interested to see where their story ended.
Even though the ending was rather predictable it was loads of fun! Our staff did an escape room for our Christmas party last year. We had a great time. There are tons of clues and just a short amount of time to put them together. If you have a chance to try one you should but maybe not in an elevator. 😉
FYI: Great for fans of Ruth Ware and Shari Lapena.