Book Reviews

Top Ten Reads of 2022

This year it didn’t seem as hard to pick my top ten reads, not because I read a lot of boring or disappointing books, but because these books just really stood out to me.

1. The Sanatorium by Sarah Pearse – This was my first really good read of the year! It’s a secluded location thriller, set in a Gothic-y resort that used to be a psyhiatric hospital. This one kept me turning pages late into the night. If you love thrillers, you’ll enoy this one.

2. The Agathas by Katherine Glasgow and Liz Lawson – This is a YA mystery. Two girls who are complete opposites solve the murder of a classmate. Not only was this also a pageturner, but I loved the friendship that formed between the two girls.

3. The Messy Lives of Book People by Phaedra Patrick – This is a general adult fiction book. It follows Liv Green, a maid who wishes to be a writer. She gets her wish, when her famous author boss dies before finishing her book. Liv has to finish the book, but in doing so uncovers secrets, including one that has a surprising connection to herself. I finished this book in one night. It was full of heart, hope, and a dash of mystery, and I kept thinking about it long after I had closed the book.

4. A Comb of Wishes by Lisa Stringfellow – This is a MG fantasy about a girl who gets a wish from a mermaid and has to figure a way out of the exorbitant price the mermaid is demanding in exchange for said wish. This is an excellent book – everything you are looking for is there. It would be great for use in the classroom, but I think any fan of fantasy (no matter their age) would enjoy it.

5. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens – I know there are some people who didn’t like this book, and some who avoided it because of some controversy, but this is an excellent story. It has the quality of a classic book, and I have no doubt it will become a modern classic. You do have to understand the style of writing is different from a typical popular book, but that is part of what makes it such a good book. It is a true examination of human nature, both the positve qualities and the negative ones. The movie is excellent as well!

6. The House Across the Lake by Riley Sager – Also a thriller, this one took an unexpected turn from the author’s typical books. I know some people did not like it because of that, but I loved it. It was masterfully done and hooked me in from the first page.

7. The Housemaid by Freida McFadden – Another thriller that hooked me immediately. Also, there is second book coming out in 2023, so as soon as I heard about it, I added it to my TBR list.

8. I’m Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy – A step away from my normal genre, but so good! This is a memoir from one of the child stars from the Nickelodeon show iCarly. So honest and humorous, it was especially great on audio as Jennette reads it herself.

9. The Haunting of Maddy Clare by Simone St. James – I have enjoyed every book I’ve read by this author, but this one is a bit different than some of her others. It is historical, set in the 1920’s, and is supernatural, but is so well written it was hard to put down.

10. Survive the Night by Riley Sager – I know this is the second book by this author, but what can I say? Riley Sager is king of writing thrillers you just can’t put down.

Have you read any of these? Let me know in the comments!

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Fairytale Reading Challenge, Reading Challenge

Fairytale Reading Challenge

Hi all! Today I am sharing the Fairytale Reading Challenge for 2023! This is the third year I have hosted the challenge, and it is always a lot of fun!

This is a laid back challenge – you can read a retelling or the original fairytale. Some people also like to do the added challenge of watching a movie or tv show based on each fairytale.

Share what you read or watch on social media with #fairytalereadingchallenge.

You can get a free printable bookmark for the challenge from here. I left a bit of white space on the bottom as I didn’t like how long last year’s bookmark printed out. If you would prefer a longer one, just let me know and I’ll send you the link for it.

What fairytale are you most excited to read? Let me know in the comments.

Happy Reading!

World Princess Week

World Princess Week – Cinderella and Belle book recomendations

It’s World Princess Week, so I’m sharing book recs for some of the Disney princesses. These are books I think they would read and love. I’m also sharing a retelling that I love for each one. (If you follow me on Instagram, you may have voted in the poll to help choose these princesses.)

First up is Cinderella. Some of Cinderella’s best qualities are often overlooked. She is kind – even in the face of unkindness she still remains kind. She is courageous – despite the unfortunate circumstances she faces she looks for the best in every situation, and she still dreams of a better life. She is confident – even though she has been mistreated, she still knows her own value, and she knows she is eligible to go to the ball despite what others try to tell her.

  1. So This is Love by Elizabeth Lim – I chose this as the retelling of Cinderella. I really enjoy these twisted tales, and I absolutely love the cover of this one!
  2. From Twinkle, With Love by Sandhya Menon – So after I read this, I immediately thought of the Cinderella motto – “Have courage and be kind”. Cinderella values both kindness and bravery, and Twinkle exhibits both of these qualities in this light-hearted read.
  3. The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon – Natasha faces adversity, but also finds some unexpected things, like falling in love, along the way.
  4. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins – Katniss also faces hardship, but she still maintains hope for a better future.
  5. Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli – Stargirl stays true to herself despite what others do or say to her.
  6. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens – Pip’s adventures are much like Cinderella’s, and he also gets his happy ending.
  7. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak – Fair warning: This book will make you cry, but the spirit of it is amazing! Liesel faces unspeakable horrors and still mananges to stay positive and rise above them.

You can shop for these books on my Bookshop list here.

Next up is Belle. Belle is a dreamer and a life-long learner, combing through books to find the knowledge she seeks. She also yearns for adventure. She values family – giving up everything for her father’s freedom. Belle is loyal, curious, and compassionate.

  1. Lost in A Book by Jennifer Donnelly – This is my absolute favorite Beauty and the Beast book, so it had to be my retelling pick!
  2. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott – In the Disney version, Belle doesn’t have sisters, but her familial bond with her father is very strong. Family is one of the most important things to Belle. I also think she would relate to Jo’s independent spirit.
  3. Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley – Belle would relate to Daunis’s curiousity and drive to figure out what really happened to her father and her friend.
  4. A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson – Pippa also shows a desire to find the truth, just like Belle.
  5. Educated by Tara Westover – This is the only nonfiction book on the list, but we all know Belle reads widely. She, just like Tara, has a desire to seek out the truth and learn everything she can.
  6. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens – Kaya was seen as different, and so was Belle. Yet like Belle, Kaya found ways to broaden her world through books.
  7. The Messy Lives of Book People by Phaedra Patrick – Belle would pick this one up just based on the title alone (kind of like I did), and find enjoyment in the adventure Liz sets off on in an attempt to finish her late boss’s book.

You can shop these books on Bookshop list here.

Who is your favorite Disney princess? What book or books do you think they would read? Let me know in the comments. Up next is Mulan!

Blog tours, Book Reviews

With Fire in Their Blood Book Review

About the Book

With Fire In Their Blood is a simmering supernatural romance set in the crumbling Italian city of Castello, where mafia clans make the rules, dark magic pulses the streets and the sins of the past threaten to consume the present. Perfect for fans of These Violent Delights, The Darkest Minds and V.E. Schwab.

When sixteen-year-old Lilly Deluca arrives in Castello, she isn’t impressed. A secluded town in the Italian mountains is not where she saw her last years of high school playing out.

Divided for generations by a brutal clan-family war, the two halves of Castello are kept from destroying each other by the mysterious General, a leader determined to maintain order and ‘purity’. . . whatever the cost.

Lilly falls in with the rebellious Liza, brooding Nico and sensitive Christian, and sparks begin to fly. But in a city where love can lead to ruin, Lilly isn’t sure she can trust anyone – not even herself.

And then she accidentally breaks Castello’s most important rule: when the General’s men come to test your blood, you’d better not be anything more than human . . .

My Review

This book is very atmospheric and I love it! There are lots of Gothic-y elements and one scene actually reminded me of Miss Havishim’s dining room in Great Expectations. There were so many lush descriptions, the setting really came alive for me. Being set in another country, especially in an isolated setting, also added to the intrigue of the story.

The characters were compelling and diverse. Lilly was relatable and likable. She had a strong voice that pulled me into the story and kept me there. I liked how she discovered things from the past that were affecting her present. Liza, Nico, and Christian are all complex characters that gave depth to the book.

I think this will appeal to any reader who enjoys dark or Gothic books, especially fans of Chloe Gong, The Darkest Minds series, and Lakesedge.

About The Author

Kat Delacorte was eleven years old when her family moved from the United States to a small town in central Italy. She soon began writing stories about her new friends developing superpowers, and hasn’t looked back since. She graduated with a BA in History from Columbia University, and lives in Venice, Italy.

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

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.

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!