Book Reviews

The Agathas Book Review

I recently finished reading The Agathas by Kathleen Gasglow and Liz Lawson, and I really enjoyed it! This book was released yesterday, May 3rd. The launch event took place at a local bookstore, One More Page Books, and I was able to attend. It was a lot of fun and another bookstore for #22in22, so I’ll be posting about that experience soon. (To find out more about the #22in22 challenge, check out this post.)

About the Book

Last summer, Alice Ogilve’s basketball-star boyfriend Steve dumped her. Then she disappeared for five days. Where she went and what happened to her is the biggest mystery in Castle Cove, because she’s not talking. Or it was, at least. But now, another one of Steve’s girlfriends has vanished: Brooke Donovan, Alice’s ex–best friend. And it doesn’t look like Brooke will be coming back. . .

Enter Iris Adams, Alice’s tutor. Iris has her own reasons for wanting to disappear, though unlike Alice, she doesn’t have the money or the means. That could be changed by the hefty reward Brooke’s grandmother is offering to anyone who can share information about her granddaughter’s whereabouts. The police are convinced Steve is the culprit, but Alice isn’t so sure, and with Iris on her side, she just might be able to prove her theory.

In order to get the reward and prove Steve’s innocence, they need to figure out who killed Brooke Donovan. And luckily Alice has exactly what they need—the complete works of Agatha Christie. If there’s anyone that can teach the girls how to solve a mystery it’s the master herself. But the town of Castle Cove holds many secrets, and Alice and Iris have no idea how much danger they’re about to walk into.

My Review

This book was so good! I loved the nods to Agatha Christie, and the suspense kept me turning pages. I’m also really hoping that this will become a series, because I think it would make a good series, and I want to read more about Alice and Iris. (At the launch event, the authors did confirm that there is second book in the works, slated to be released in May 2023.)

The character development was great! I liked how the Alice and Iris were from such different backgrounds but were able to find common ground and cultivate a friendship. This book also had all the great things about a classic mystery story – It wasn’t immediately obvious who the killer was, and there were some nice twists to keep the reader guessing.

For me, this was right up there with One of Us is Lying and A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder, and I think fans of both those books will also enjoy this one. I think any fan of the classic who-dun-it story and Agatha Christie or Nancy Drew will also like this book.

About the Authors

Kathleen Gasglow

Kathleen Glasgow is the author of THE AGATHAS, YOU’D BE HOME NOW, GIRL IN PIECES (a New York Times bestseller and Target Book Club pick), and HOW TO MAKE FRIENDS WITH THE DARK. Visit her on Twitter (@kathglasgow), Instagram (misskathleenglasgow), her website (www.kathleenglasgowbooks.com), or TikTok @kathleenglasgow.

Liz Lawson

Liz Lawson’s debut contemporary YA novel, THE LUCKY ONES, released from Delacorte Press/Random House in 2020. Next up is THE AGATHAS, a YA mystery she had the pleasure of writing with Kathleen Glasgow (NYT Bestselling author of GIRL IN PIECES).

Currently, Liz resides in the DC metro region, where she lives with an adorable toddler, a fantastic husband, and two VERY bratty cats.

Find her on Instagram and Twitter: @lzlwsn.

Book Reviews

Carnival Of Ash Book Review

I was excited to recieve a copy of The Carnival of Ash by Tom Beckerlegge as part of The Write Reads blog tour. Read on for my review!

About the Book

Book Info

Genre: Adult Fantasy

Length: 528 Pages

Publishing: 15th March 2022

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1786185008/ 

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/58438204-the-carnival-of-ash 

Blurb

An extravagant, lyrical fantasy about a city of poets and librarians. A city that never was.

Cadenza is the City of Words, a city run by poets, its skyline dominated by the steepled towers of its libraries, its heart beating to the stamp and thrum of the printing presses in the Printing Quarter.

Carlo Mazzoni, a young wordsmith arrives at the city gates intent on making his name as the bells ring out with the news of the death of the city’s poet-leader. Instead, he finds himself embroiled with the intrigues of a city in turmoil, the looming prospect of war with their rival Venice ever-present. A war that threatens not only to destroy Cadenza but remove it from history altogether…

My Review

This book was very creative and different from any other book I’ve read. It is labeled adult fantasy, rather than YA fantasy, so that could be partly why. It is well-written, written in the style of literary fiction.

The book was not exactly what I was expecting from the blurb, as it ended up being more political and historical than an actual fantasy story. And I was a little disappointed that the libraries played such a small part in the story.

I liked the world building, and I thought some of the characters were relatable. However, there were a lot of characters, so at times it could be tricky to keep straight who was who. Also, it was difficult at times to tell how the characters were all connected.

I think fans of political historical fiction will actually enjoy this more than fans of fantasy as there were no actual magical elements to the story.

Just FYI, there are some trigger warnings – violence and sexual content.

About the Author

Tom Beckerlegge grew up in the northwest of England in a house filled with books. Writing as Tom Becker, he won the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize with his debut novel; The Carnival of Ash is his first adult book. He lives in Enfield with his wife and young son.

Book Reviews

Dog Star Book Review

I recently finished Dog Star by Megan Shepherd, which I really enjoyed. I recieved a ARC in exchange for a review. This book was released on Tuesday, January 11th, 2022.

About the Book

Laika is a Cold Dog, a stray pup fighting for her life on the streets of Moscow. Then, one winter night, she is plucked from her alley to become a starflyer, a dog trained to travel into space. Distrustful of people, Laika tries to do everything she can to escape. That is, until she meets Nina.

Nina is a Cold Girl, lonely and full of questions. Her best friend has moved to America in a rush, leaving Nina to face the school bullies all by herself. Plus, her father’s work as a scientist in the Soviet Space Program grows more secretive by the day.

When the two meet in her father’s laboratory, their growing bond slowly warms the chill that has settled in each other’s hearts. As the Space Race between the United States and the Soviet Union grows fierce, Laika and Nina uncover shocking secrets and hard truths that will test their friendship. How will they find the courage to chase their dreams all the way to the stars?

Based on an incredible true story, Carnegie Medal nominee and New York Times–bestselling author Megan Shepherd crafts a harrowing, propulsive girl-and-her-dog tale that will linger in your heart long after the last page.

My Review

I really enjoyed this book. It’s great for the classroom, as it covers historical events as well as lots of other topics that are great for discussion. I loved the way there were alternating chapters from the dog, Laika, and the girl who loves her, Nina. Megan Shepherd did a great job of telling the story from both the girl’s and the dog’s POV.

Both characters had strong voices and that is part of what kept me turning pages. I also enjoyed reading about the history of the space dogs, especially since it is something I didn’t know much about before.

One spoiler (because this is something I’d appreciate knowing going into the story), since the story is based on history, the dog dies in the end of the book. However, I will caveat that by saying that the author does an excellent job of writing this instance so that it is not sad.

I think anyone who loves middle grade books, as well as historical fiction fans will enjoy this book.

Also, Megan Shepherd just announced that she’s publishing her first adult thriller – Malice House and I can’t wait to read it!

About the Author

New York Times bestseller and Carnegie Medal-nominated author Megan Shepherd grew up in her family’s independent bookstore in the Blue Ridge Mountains. She is the author of many acclaimed middle grade and young adult novels including The Madman’s Daughter series, The Cage series, The Secret Horses of Briar Hill, and the Grim Lovelies series. She now lives and writes on a haunted 125-year-old farm outside Asheville, North Carolina, with her husband and children, cats, chickens, bees, and an especially scruffy dog.

Book Reviews

The Little Women Devotional Review

I’m SO excited to be part of the launch team for The Little Women Devotional. Little Women is one of my favorite books and as soon as I heard about this devotional, I knew I wanted to read it!

About the Book

The Little Women Devotional offers lovely inspiration that explores the themes of faith, family, contentment, wisdom, and joy in the classic Louisa May Alcott novel, cherished by generations of readers.

Each reading corresponds with a chapter from the book and invites you to embrace God’s guiding hand in your life as His cherished daughter. This beautiful chapter-by-chapter devotional includes original artwork throughout, and each reading includes examples from the novel, scripture, life application, and prayers perfect for groups, book clubs, or personal reflection.

My Review

If you have been following my blog long, you know how much I love Little Women, so I was so excited to find out about this book. And it didn’t disappoint. It is so encouraging, and I love the way each devotional piece corresponds to a chapter in Little Women. It was a lot of fun to read through a chapter of Little Women and then read the corresponding devotional. There are some adorable illustrations included throughout the book as well. It’s a devotional you could read over again and still gain some new insights. I’m planning to read it again and journal my thoughts for each day as I read through the book.

I think this book is perfect for literature enthusiasts as well as anyone who enjoys Little Women.

Do you have a favorite devotional book? Let me know in the comments!

About the Author

RACHEL DODGE is the bestselling author of The Anne of Green Gables Devotional: A Chapter-by-Chapter Companion for Kindred Spirits and Praying with Jane: 31 Days through the Prayers of Jane Austen. Rachel teaches college English; speaks at libraries, literary groups, and teas; and writes for Jane Austen’s World. A true kindred spirit at heart, she loves books, bonnets, and ballgowns. You can visit her at RachelDodge.com or on Instagram @kindredspiritbooks.

Uncategorized

My Favorite Romantic Movies

It’s hard to believe we are more than a week into February already! It’s one of my favorite months, mainly because it’s my birthday month, and I love celebrating all month long. This year one of the ways I’m celebrating is by watching some of my favorite romcoms. A few are not actually romcoms, and I’ve noted these. So in no particular order are the movies I’m planning to watch:

  1. How to Lose A Guy in 10 Days – Matthew McConaughey and Kate Husdon work well together and this one always makes me laugh.
  2. Miss Congeniality – This is an all-time favorite. Sandra Bullock is one of my favorite actresses and I’ll watch anything she starrs in.
  3. Ever After – (Not technically a romcom)This one is also an all-time favorite. I love that it is a Cinderella retelling and that Da Vinci plays a role in the story!
  4. 27 Dresses– I also love this one. It’s a unique storyline, and I think that’s why I like it so much.
  5. Just My Luck – This one is another kind of unique story line which is why I think I like this one as well.
  6. When in Rome – I really like Kristen Bell and watch pretty much everything she is in. I also liked the whole traveling to another country aspect in this movie.
  7. John Tucker Must Die – This one just makes me laugh so much!
  8. Yesterday – This is the newest movie on the list. I think it came out in 2019, and it was one the best movies I’ve seen in the last few years, so it made the list.
  9. 13 Going on 30 – This is another all time fav. I love the flashback to the eighties too!
  10. What A Girl Wants – This is another teen flick, but I really like it, especially because of Daphne’s laid back vibe.
  11. While You Were Sleeping – Another all time favorite                                  
  12. The Proposal – Sandra Bullock, what can I say? 🙂                                                              
  13. Never Been Kissed – another classic favorite.                                                                             
  14. Just Go With It – Another one that makes me laugh everytime.                                            
  15. Life As We Know It – This one features one of my favorite tropes – parents die and unsuspecting couple has to raise their kid(s).

And these last five are based on books:

16. The Princess Diaries – I love this one! It came out my senior year in high school, so there’s a lot of nostalgia tied up in this one. Also, Julie Andrews as Queen – yes please!

17. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before – I read the book first, but really like the movie too!

18. Water for Elephants – (Not a romcom) I saw the movie first and loved it, then read the book and loved it even more. It was a book I couldn’t stop thinking about for awhile after I read it.

19. Emma (1996 version) – I haven’t actually watched the new one yet, because I’m kind of afraid to. I feel like Gwyneth Peltrow did such a good job portraying Emma, that no one else could surpass it.

20. Little Women (1994 version) – (not a romcom) I did enjoy the newest version that came out in 2019. However, I thought Beth wasn’t portrayed accurately – she doesn’t have red hair for one, and her character came off as too flat to me. So the 1995 version is still my favorite. There’s also nostaglia tied up in this one as it’s the one I watched over and over as a kid.

Have any of the same favorites? If not, what are your favorites? Let me know in the comments!

Reading Challenge

The Storygraph – A Book App

I’ve seen this app on both Bookstagram and Litsy and decided to take the plunge. I do love a bookish app. Some people apparently use this as an alternative to Goodreads, but I am still going to be using both because there are different advantages to each, so rather than a replacement it feels like an addition to me.

The Storygraph is cool, because it gives you all kind of stats about your reading.

You can also join reading challenges and track you progress with them on the app. It allows you to create your own reading challenge which others can join in on if you want them too.

I decided to add my #fairytalereadingchallenge to the app. (If you don’t know about the fairytale reading challenge, you can find out more here.)

My username on The Storygraph is charityann, if you’re already on the app, feel free to add me as a friend!

Are you on Storygraph? Do you have a favorite bookish app? Let me know in the comments!

#22in22

#1 Bookstore (#22in22)

So last Saturday, I stopped by my first bookstore of the year, Park Books. (This is for the #22in22 challenge, and you can find out more about it here.)

Park Books is one of my local bookstores, and I’ve been there several times. I also participate in the book club they host. My favorite book clubs are when they have the author visit to sign the books! 🙂

On this stop, I signed up to participate in their year long challenge. I purchased Daughter of Sparta by Claire M. Andrews for January’s prompt – A book published last year.

Ever since this book came out last year, I’ve had it on my TBR, so I decided it was time to read it!

What is your most recent book purchase? Have you read this one? Let me know in the comments.

#22in22

#22in22 Bookstore Challenge

So I’m super excited for this challenge hosted by Zibby Books. The challenge is to visit bookstores 22 different times in 2022. I love finding and visiting new bookstores, both locally and when on vacation or out of town, so this is the perfect challenge for me!

I’m going to be posting on both my Instagram and Tiktok pages, but I’ll also do a post for each bookstore to tell a little more about each one, like whether this is my first visit to the store, or what I like most about the store and so on.

If you want to join in the challenge, you can find out all the info at #22in22. Are you doing this challenge? What would you like to see in my posts for each bookstore I visit? Let me know in the comments!

Reading Challenge

My Reading Challenges for 2022

So, once again I am participating in several reading challenges. Most of them are on Instagram, one is on Litsy, and one is my Goodreads challenge.

First up is the DInsey Reading Challenge:

This challenge is on IG, and it lasts all year. Each of the five movies have five prompts and there is also a bonus prompt:

Next up are the Taylor Swift reading challenges, one for Red, Taylor’s Version, and one for 1989, as we’re all hoping we get Taylor’s Version soon! 🙂 These challenges are hosted by @aliciaclarereads on IG, and last all year.

I’m also doing an Agatha Christie challenge hosted by @officialagathachristie on IG. Also a yearly challenge, there is a prompt for each month. I’m starting with Death on the Nile since the movie is coming out soon. 🙂 To get the prompts you have to sign up for their email list.

I’m hosting the #fairytalereading challenge both on Instagram and Litsy. You can read about all the details here.

Next, I’m doing my usual Goodreads Challenge to read 200 books this year:

I’m also reading twelve books recommended by friends on IG. Here are the twelve recommendations I recieved:

And last but not least, I’m doing the #bookspin challenge hosted by @theAromaofBooks on Litsy. Each month, you choose 20-25 books, the host rolls two numbers, #bookspin and #doublespin. You can read one or both, and/or complete the bingo board the host also makes to go along with the books. You can check out all the details on the host’s blog, here. I’m all in, so here’s what my board looks like:

What reading challenges are you doing this year? Let me know in the comments!

Book Reviews

Top Ten Best Reads of 2021

Hi everyone! I read a lot of books this year, not quite as many as last year, but I met my Goodreads goal, so I’m happy!

I read a lot of thrillers this year, both YA and adult, which is a bit of a departure from what a typically read, YA fantasy. I also joined a book club at my local bookstore, and that turned out to be a good thing, since a few of my top ten picks were the book club choices. Here are the ones I chose as my top ten:

  1. Chasing Starlight by Teri Bailey Black (YA historical mystery) – This book has a great vintage vibe and was a NetGalley read. Check out my review here.
  2. A Curse So Dark and Lonely and Defy the Night by Brigid Kemmerer (YA fantasy) – I combined two here since they are by the same author, but I really enjoyed both of them. A Curse so Dark and Lonely is the first book in the Cursebreakers series. Defy the Night, the first in a new series, is the author’s latest book. My local bookstore chose this book as the book club pick and I was able to meet the author and get my copy signed. If you like YA fantasy, you’ll likely enjoy both of these.
  3. Lost in the Neverwood by Aiden Thomas (YA fantasy) – This is a retelling of Peter Pan. It was very good, but fair warning, it will probably make you cry.
  4. The Broken Girls by Simone St. James (Adult thriller) – This a book I chose for one of my Book of the Month boxes. A journalist investigates a haunted hall where students had been killed fifty plus years earlier.
  5. Mirrorland by Carole Johnstone (Adult thriller) – This was another ARC read, a book I recieved as part of a blog tour. You can read my review here.
  6. Instructions for Dancing by Nicola Yoon (YA contemporary) – I also read this one as part of a book tour. It was another great read, but be warned that it’s not just a fluffy story – you’ll probably cry, I did. You can read my full review here.
  7. The Stranger in the Mirror by Liv Constantine (Adult Thriller) – This was another book club read from my local bookstore, and again I was able to meet the author and get my book signed. This is a thriller where the main character cannot remember who she is. She only has her husband’s word telling her who she is, but more and more things happen causing her to doubt him. I could not put this one down and finished it in two sittings.
  8. I Don’t Forgive You by Aggie Blum Thompson (Adult Thriller) – Another book club read, I also got my copy of this book signed by the author. This is about a photographer who has just moved to a cliquely DC suburb, and on top of navigating the new setting, she also gets framed for murder. I read this one in one sitting.
  9. Dark and Shallow Lies by Ginny Myers Sain (YA Thriller) – A girl returns to the small town where she spends her summers. But things are different because one of her best friends has been missing for six months. As she tries to figure out what happened, she uncovers secret after secret. Set in the swamps of Louisiana, the setting only added to the suspense.
  10. Shiver by Allie Reynolds (Adult Thriller) – I just read this one last month, but I’d had it on my TBR for awhile. Five friends who have not seen each other for a decade get invited to a ski resort. The same ski resort where one of their friends went missing ten years ago. No one knows who invited them and they appear to be the only ones there. Strange things keep happening making them believe someone else is there watching them. Creepy and haunting, I read this one in a day.

What were your favorite reads of 2021? Let me know in the comments!