PW Book Club



Looking for something to read?  Here is the list of books I read this year as part of my New Year’s Resolution to read over 100 books.

Wizard for Hire

This book is unlike any other YA book I’ve read in the past few years.  We live in a world where we leave the fairy tales in the books or up on the movie screens.  But what if magic was real in the world around us?  After Ozzy’s parents are kidnapped, he is left to fend for himself for seven years.  When he stumbles upon a mechanical raven his father built, his life begins to change.  He starts to venture outside of his home in the middle of the woods.  He discovers the beach, other humans, regular food (not in a can), and school.  His desire to get out into the world lies more with his quest to find his parents.  He ends up hiring a wizard that may or may not be magical.  As they go deeper into this labyrinth of truth, you have to question if magic in our world is real…or not.  BOOK REVIEW.

[I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  This post contains affiliate links.]

The Abundance Project

For those who feel stuck in a moment, Derek Rydall shows you how to get out of it.  Sometimes when you are feeling like nothing is going right. Or maybe you are lost and need to find a way out.  Wherever you are in your life, Rydall will teach you how to tap back into the great Source of abundance.  If you want a life of abundance, start here.  This goes beyond the law of attraction.  You will learn to go within, to the permanent source of who we are and what we are to become.  You can read more here: book review.

[I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  This post contains affiliate links.]  

The Great Gatsby

Before reading Gatsby, I began with “The Art of X-Ray Reading.”  This book highlights 25 great works of literature, starting with Gatsby.  I decided to read each of the works mentioned in X-Ray after reading each chapter.  In the Gatsby chapter, he talks about the use of color and use of certain words that foreshadows the events that are about to occur.  For instance, if you did not know how the book ends, or what was up with Mr. Gatsby, Fitzgerald’s use of the words imagination, wonder, and dream occurs frequently throughout the book, especially at the end of each chapter.  He also describes the use of color and its symbolism throughout the book.  For writers wanting to learn how to write better, he suggests reading certain sentences out loud, or even writing them down.  It will help you become a better writer by churning the beauty of words around.  For readers, X-Ray will help you have a deeper meaning in the material you are reading.

As for this book, I can’t believe I did not read this sooner.  It is so beautifully written.  Fitzgerald is a master of words.  I sighed many times as I read this 180+ page book, because of the words, not because of the story.  This is the way the love of words should come together.  It is magical.

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Anansi Boys

In curating my library, there is one thing that is certain, Neil Gaiman’s stories are ones that are meant to be kept in hardcover and never given away.  In his epic novel, “American Gods,” we are introduced to Anansi (the spider god).  In Anansi Boys, we are introduced to the trickster’s sons: Fat Charlie and Spider.

Fat Charlie Nancy’s life is boring.  He works a dead end job in London where the job turnover is high.  He is engaged to an incredible woman with a future mother-in-law out to get him.  When he gets news that his father has died, he returns to his childhood home in Florida to bury him.  This is when he learns he has a brother.  The old lady tells him to tell a spider that he’s looking for his brother and his brother will show up.

So what does Fat Charlie do?  He tells a spider.  When Spider arrives, he is nothing like Charlie.  He is a god, living it up and more than happy to steal the life his brother has, including his job and his girl.  So when Charlie tries to get rid of his brother, he goes to the other gods for help…ones that don’t like his father (the trickster) so well.  Some have a bone to pick and are willing to destroy the Anansi line in the process.

An excellent read.

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Skylight Confessions

A haunting tale of love, destiny and regrets.  When Arlyn’s father dies, she decides to test fate by casting her own spell into the universe and declares that the next man that comes up the road is the man she is destined to marry.  A young man, John, shows up at her home,  lost.  He stops to ask for directions, but all of a sudden feels tired and needs to lie down.  She invites him in and he sleeps it off on the couch.  When he awakens, he finds her naked in the kitchen and their fates become intertwined.

They marry and have a son.  While the boy is attached to his mother, the father refuses to have anything to do with the child.  He regrets marrying her, thinking it was all a big mistake.

They move into the infamous glass slipper in Connecticut that was built by John’s father.  As their unhappiness grows, Arlyn begins to believe she made a mistake.  Maybe she should have waited for the next man to come up the road.  As her loneliness grows and her neighbor’s flirting with her husband increases, Arlyn turns to another man to fulfill what she is missing in her life.

After the birth of her second child, Arlyn discovers a lump in her breast.  As the years pass, the family’s pain grows and the question of whether fate led John to love Arlyn or not is answered.  There are some loves you can never let go of, no matter how much you push it away.

[This post contains affiliate links.]

Potion Masters: The Eternity Elixir

From the publishers that brought us the incredible FableHaven series by Brandon Mull comes a new YA series about a young potion master caught between the forces of good and evil.  Gordy Stitser has many natural talents that are uncommon to most children, let alone elixirists.  He is well advanced in his potion making skills, like his banished evil grandfather who is imprisoned in a cave in Greenland.

Gordy’s mother works for B.R.E.W. and is constantly traveling the world, teaching at conferences and selling products.  Unbeknownst to him, that’s not what his mother really does.  She is out trying to stop the bad guys from destroying the world.

When a mysterious package arrives from his Aunt Priss, trouble begins for the Stitser household.  The bad guys arrive looking for the Eternity Elixir, and it’s up to Gordy to figure out on his own that these guys are not as nice or innocent as they proclaim, his father is under their spell, and he needs to keep them from getting the potion or risk the world falling apart.

This is a fun, new adventure for those looking for a new YA series to read.  The beginning is a little slow as the author introduces the characters, but once the adventure really starts to take off, be prepared for an incredible ride.

[I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  This post contains affiliate links.]

Arcadia

One of my favorite poets is Lord Byron.  When I first started reading this play, I had no idea this was about an event that may or may not have happened in Lord Byron’s life.  Set in Sidley Park, we switch between the days of Byron and the current day.  In Byron’s day, we meet Thomasina and her tutor, Septimus Hodge.  What are they discussing?  Carnal embrace.  A foreshadowing of the main topic: Lord Byron.

In present day, Valentine (Bill Nighy starred in the first stage adaptation) discovers a book once owned by Septimus containing three letters.  This book was discovered among Byron’s books.  Valentine, working with author Hannah Jarvis, attempts to try to find the connection between Sidley Park, Septimus Hodge, Thomasina and Lord Byron.  Was he in Sidley Park?  Could what happened here be the reason why he fled England shortly afterward?

As the past unveils and the future tries to erroneously put two and two together, hilarity ensues.

Well written and extremely interesting.  Who knew there was a society devoted to the life and works of Byron?

[This post contains affiliate links.]

Anna and the Swallow Man

When I started reading this book, it reminded me a lot of “The Book Thief.”  I read the letter from the publisher and understood why.  The editor for “Anna and the Swallow Man” is the same person that edited “The Book Thief.”  What did that tell me?  I was in for a heartbreaking, but incredible story about World War II.

It’s 1939 in Kraków, Poland.  Anna’s father is a linguistics professor who’s taught his daughter how to speak several languages fluently (like a native).  These skills are all that he passes on before all of the intellectuals are purged from Poland.

Anna’s father leaves her with the local pharmacist one day, but never comes back.  The pharmacist does not know what to do, so he tries to send her back home.  But the doors are locked and her father is nowhere to be seen.  She goes back to the pharmacy and sits outside, waiting for her father.  That is when the Swallow Man appears.

He is a unique man.  The birds are his friends.  When he calls a swallow to him to keep Anna from crying, she is entertained and enthralled.  He leaves her with a bit of advice to keep her alive and out of sight, but her intrigue of the Swallow Man leads her to follow him into the wilderness where she not only saves him, but they save each other.

Over the next few years, Anna and the Swallow Man walk all over, living in the woods.  As the war deepens, they find themselves in the crosshairs of a battlefield where they must learn to survive among the dead with the enemies on all sides, and people that will turn them in if they only knew who the Swallow Man was and just how dangerous he was.

[I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  This post contains affiliate links.]

The Tuner of Silences

When I interviewed Kim Thúy (author of Ru and Mãn), she referenced Mia Couto’s “The Tuner of Silences” in her interview (“it feels like their organ to dream had been amputated from them.”).  I immediately ordered the book.  The only reason why is because Thúy wrote so beautifully and saw the beauty in words.  I wanted to know what inspired her phenomenal works.  This is a story of loss and pain, wandering through emptiness due to regrets and trying to live, yet not live at all because you are scared to face your truths.  You will never forget Couto’s work.

Set in an abandoned animal reserve in Africa, Mwanito lives with his father, brother and former soldier.  His uncle sometimes visits, bringing them supplies.  Mwanito grows up believing that they are the only people left in this world.  He is eleven years old before he sees a woman for the first time.

What he doesn’t know is that he is being forced to live in his father’s world…a place to forget and to be forgotten.  Why they are there is the question.  Are they in prison for something his father did? Or are they in a prison of his father’s own design?

Beautifully written.  When we are introduced to the woman, Couto’s writing changes into something much more passionate that will make you sigh at the beauty of his words.

[This post contains affiliate links.]

You are a Badass at Making Money

As a followup to Jen Sincero’s “You are a Badass,” she dives further into the concept of generating more money by bringing us “You are a Badass at Making Money.”  This is the book I started 2018 reading.  What I learned from this book is exactly what I’m seeing repeated in every book I’ve read about creating wealth and abundance.  It’s all about changing your mindset and tapping into that wealth.  Wealth is already available to each of us.  We just have to learn how to access it.  A lot of this has to do with facing our fears and taking a good hard look at how we view money.

For many people, we look at money negatively.  We don’t see money as a means to an end.  When we receive money, we are happy.  When it is taken away from us, we are sad.  When we don’t have any money, we are scared, fearful, and missing it like an ex-lover that has left us.  Yet, money gets a bad rap.  People claim it is the root of all evil, when in fact it is not money that is evil.  Money is a medium.  It is what we decide to do with money that determines whether the use of money is good or evil.  In other words, it is the person using the money that is innately good or evil.  We are the ones who decide that, not money.

By dealing with how we view and treat money, this book is designed to help us get to the root of why we are in the predicament we are in when it comes to money.  It is up to us to deal with and change how we view money, especially if we want an abundance, rather than a lack of it.

[This post contains affiliate links.]

You are a Badass

Stop what you are doing and get this book.  This book will help you get your shit together and believe in yourself.  You will learn how to reconnect with yourself (and a higher power) to bring greatness into your life.  It all starts with you and how you think and believe.  This was the last book I read in 2017.  The timing of it was perfect, because it helped me to formulate my goals and resolutions for 2018.  This book helped me come up with my theme for the year: Love Yourself.  This theme may have a little something to do with this book because she ends every single chapter with words aimed towards loving yourself.  That is the key ingredient.  Pick this book up.  Follow what she says to do.  Become inspired to start living your most awesomest life.

[This post contains affiliate links.]

Cirque du Freak: Tunnels of Blood (Book 3)

As we go further into this series, we start to learn more about the secretive vampire Mr. Crepsley.  An old friend of Crepsley’s stops by the Cirque to deliver a message…there’s a bad vampire killing people in his hometown.  He packs things up and brings Darren and Evra (the snake boy) with him.  For Darren and Evra, this is a mini vacation away from the Cirque while Crepsley sneaks around town.  He doesn’t tell the boys why they are there, while the bodies keep piling up.  Darren assumes that the murderer is Crepsley and seeks to stop him by ending his life.  Evra and Darren start following Crepsley, only to find that they’ve put their own lives in grave danger.

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Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant (Book 2)

In Book 2 of the Cirque du Freak series, Darren Shan is trying to adjust to being a half-vampire (and hating every moment of it).  The thought of drinking blood sickens him.  The thought of drinking human blood repulses him.  But if he is to survive, he must eventually drink human blood or he will die.  Mr. Crepsley brings Darren to the Cirque so he can have friends, something he was missing from being alive.  At the Cirque, Darren bunks with the snake boy and they become fast friends.  They help out at the Cirque by doing chores and even feeding the Wolf Man.

One day, a young boy that lives near the camp shows up, wanting to run away with the circus.  As much as they try to scare him off, nothing works.  They also meet and befriend an activist, but things go awry when he sees the Wolf Man.  Thinking that he was a caged animal, he attempts to set him free, not knowing just how deadly that can be.

[This post contains affiliate links.]

Cirque Du Freak: A Living Nightmare (Book 1)

It started off as a random, yet strange collection.  I went from library book sales to second hand booksellers in search of a rather strange YA series called Cirque du Freak.  The protagonist of the story purports to be the author, Darren Shan, a young boy turned vampire.  But upon further discovery, Darren Shan is really Darren O’Shaughnessy, an Irishman living in Limerick.  He created this 12 book series as his first children’s book series, following it up with the Demonata series.  What I thought would be a series about a Circus turned into a tale not just about a circus, but about a boy who stole a spider and had to become a vampire to save his friend’s life.  He became a half vampire, an assistant to a full-fledged vampire.  They travel with the Cirque du Freak, where they are surrounded by a protective community of people that are not like anyone else.  While the movie “The Vampire’s Assistant” was a good movie, the books, as always, are way better.

In this first book, we are introduced to Darren Shan.  A normal teenage boy whose best friend is not such a good kid.  They sneak out to the Cirque du Freak one night.  Steve recognizes that one of the performers is a vampire.  After the show, he approaches Mr. Crepsley and asks to become a vampire.  Crepsley refuses because he sees the evil in Steve.  Steve, feeling dejected, vows to become a vampire hunter.

Darren, meanwhile, is looking for his friend, but stumbles upon Mr. Crepsley’s magnificent spider and decides to steal her.  This winds up being the biggest mistake he’s ever made, because it is this spider that changes his fate.

[This post includes affiliate links.] 

Long Way Down

One of my favorite books of 2017.  Jason Reynolds is a master storyteller and a man of words.  “Long Way Down” may be a quick read, but the message lasts forever inside your heart.  Will’s brother was just shot and killed.  The rules of the hood (no crying, no snitching, and revenge) dictate that he must kill the person that did this to his brother.  He thinks he knows exactly who killed him, so he takes the gun his brother hid away and decides to go after the suspected killer. As he takes the elevator for the short ride down, the lift stops on every floor.  Spirits of people he knew from the past get on.  People that were shot and killed.  Friends.  Playmates.  Family.  Father.  In a matter of sixty seconds, Will has to decide if he is going to have his revenge.  The people getting on the elevator are the ones shaping his decision.

Jason Reynolds is one of the best writers I encountered in 2017.  Everything I’ve read by Reynolds so far is inspiring and very well written.  He blows my mind with his stories and the lessons he is trying to teach the younger generation.  “Long Way Down” was one of the few books I read in 2017 that made it to my curated bookshelves.  This is a story you will keep locked away in your mind thinking this man Reynolds is something else.

[I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  This post contains affiliate links.]

Little Bigfoot, Big City

I am not going to lie, I really loved this story.  Sure, the book is for kids, but for this blogger who is always using social media, I learned a few things from these kids.  I did not read the first book, but I plan on picking it up (as soon as I get through the other 87 books I have to review).  This story follows two young girls, Millie and Alice.  These two girls are a little different than most kids.  For one, Millie is a bigfoot.  Alice, on the other hand, knows there’s something different about her, but she doesn’t know what that is.  Millie dreams of becoming a famous singer, so  she enters an online contest and uses one of the girls at school to lip sync while she sings.  She learns the importance of being more internet savvy to get votes (a little lesson for myself).  But while she’s pursuing her dream, her friendship with Alice starts to wane.  While Millie is busy trying to become the next big star, Alice starts looking for some truths of her own.  This sends her down a very dangerous hole filled with government conspiracies and cover-ups.

An excellent and fun read.  For parents, this is a book to read to your children.  They are going to love it. Or if you’re like me and just want a little escape from reality, pick this book up.  You’ll fall in love with the littlest bigfoot.

[I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  This post contains affiliate links.]

A Moonless, Starless Sky

This book is one of the most important books you need to read.  It is so well written and brings to light the stories of four people in Africa who are fighting extremism.  These stories will enlighten you, rattle you, anger you, and make you very sad.  In one story, a young girl wants to play basketball.  That is all she wants to do.  Yet, because she is a woman, she faces death threats.  In another story, children are kidnapped and forced to kill their families and entire villages.  They are victims forced to kill or be killed.  What happens when they try to escape?  What happens when they try to go home after what they’ve done?  In another country, a man fights to end slavery and receives backlash from religion and the slave owners.  And then there’s the story of the girls that were kidnapped by Boko Haram.

This book was one of the best books I read in 2017.  Alexis Okeowo did an incredible job telling these four stories.  It was so well written that I added this book to my curated library.  For writers and journalists, pick this book up and follow Alexis’s narrative on how to cover and write a story.  For readers, pick this book up for the written word and to discover the stories of incredible people seeking to change the world for the better.  It will inspire you.

[I received a copy of this book from the publisher.  This post contains affiliate links.]

Living Forward: A Proven Plan to Stop Drifting and Get the Life You Want

If you are stuck in life and trying to figure out how to get out of that rut, this is the book for you.  This book helps you create a plan in your life.  Instead of dreaming about doing X, Y and Z, this book helps you create actionable items to help you create the life you want.  It also helps you focus on all aspects of your life that you need to concentrate on.  You may be successful in one or two categories, while completely negligent in other areas of your life (like health, family, relationships, etc.).  This book will help you focus on the things that matter as you put the pieces together and create a life plan that will work for you.

I highly recommend picking up this book.  It is one of the pillars that helped me design my resolutions for this year and stick to them.

[This post contains affiliate links.]

Saturdays With Hitchcock

A coming of age book that will make you remember what it was like when you were a young teenager (if you’re an adult).  Or if you are a teenager, you will relate to the growing pains of trying to figure life out.  The reason why I decided to pick up this book was the whole part about movies and Hitchcock.  Since I am trying to watch all of Alfred Hitchcock’s works, of course a book paying homage to the late director would catch my eye.  The surprise is that even though Maisie and I share a love for movies, this story is not just about Saturdays with Hitchcock.  Maisie is just like any average 12 year old trying to switch from being an innocent child to becoming a teenager.  Hanging out with boys is no longer just hanging out.  Now, there are crushes and love triangles.  That boy you can’t stand is now hanging out with your best friend all of the time.  Your best friend likes boys, and you don’t really care about that stuff…yet.  You have a grandmother that is forgetting everything, and then there’s a grumpy old man that all of a sudden has a change of heart.  Growing up is not easy, but the lesson in this story is that you will make it and grow into a better person.  This is a very quick read.  I read it in one sitting and highly recommend.

[Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.  This post contains affiliate links.]

The Edge of Winter

The Edge of Winter is a beautifully written tale mixing the present day with a unique part of World War II history in Rhode Island.  Neve and her daughter, Mickey, live in a small coastal town in South County.  Mickey’s love of birds has her risking her life to save a rare Arctic Owl.  With the help of a local surfer, they head to a bird sanctuary run by an old World War II veteran, and the father of the ranger that patrols the beaches.  As the richest man in town seeks to pull up the old German sub from off the coast to make it into a tourist attraction, Mickey and her new friend seek to stop it.  Neve, meanwhile, struggles to pay the bills as she tries to get an art show off the ground of a mysterious painter native to Rhode Island.  Her interactions with the ranger opens up her heart a little more as she lets love back in.  The history of this sunken German sub is so unique and worth the read (if you can get past the love story).  A relative of Rice was on the American sub that shot the German sub down, so she has very rich details to share of this moment in US history that they don’t teach in the history books.

[Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, meaning at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.]

Norse Mythology

Marvel gets it wrong. Perhaps they should have picked up the old Norse Mythology stories before developing the movies.  It was because of the Thor comic books that this book exists.  Neil Gaiman loved Thor.  He loved the comic books and the Norse stories.  The books that told the old stories started to disappear, so Gaiman decided to preserve the tales as best as he could and release “Norse Mythology.”  In these stories, you’ll find similarities to the Rick Riordan “Magnus Chase” demi-god books.  You will even find how wrong Marvel’s Thor Ragnarok was.  [Spoiler: In the movie, Hela is Thor and Loki’s older sister.  In the mythology, she is Hel, daughter of Loki.]  If you want to expand your knowledge of human history, you must read this book.  These stories are the old stories of the Northern gods.

[Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, meaning at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.]

As You Wish

Due to be released on January 2, 2018.  Imagine on your 18th birthday you can make one wish and it will come true.  What would you wish for?  That is the question Eldon is faced with as he approaches his wish day.  He has no idea what he wants to wish for.  His mother wants him to wish for money, so they are not stuck struggling anymore.  His sister’s medical bills are breaking them.  Maybe he should wish for his sister to be ok, and not comatose.  But then again, if he were to do that, the medical community would ask questions.  Then the town of Madison’s little secret would be revealed.  As Eldon questions what to wish for, he notices something…everyone who made a wish already are unhappy.  Their wish did not bring them happiness.  He wants everyone to be happy, but what could he possibly wish for that will bring everyone in Madison happiness?  You’ll never guess what his wish will be…

[Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.  This post contains affiliate links, meaning at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.]

American Gods

As America became the new land people throughout the world immigrated to over the last few centuries, they brought their gods with them.  Now, the gods of yesterday (Norse, Egyptian, etc.) battle against the gods of today (the internet, television, etc.) for survival.  Shadow is thrown in the middle of this war and he has no idea why the gods have taken an interest in him.  Wednesday (Odin) hires him as his driver as they seek out the gods of old to join in the war against the new gods or risk becoming extinct.  What no one knows is that there’s a two person con going on.  Who are the con men in this story?  That is the question.  For those who’ve seen the Starz series, this book will give you a sneak peek into next season and what you can look forward to.  Excellent story and a great way to learn about the gods of old from all around the world.  I couldn’t wait to find out what would happen next.  Also, watch the Starz series if you haven’t yet.  Great show!

[Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means if you click on any of the links, I may receive a commission from the sale.  That commission goes to help fund this site.]

Sing, Unburied, Sing

From the author of Salvage the Bones comes another great American novel set in the rural south of the Gulf Coast of Mississippi where young Jojo lives with his grandparents and baby sister.  His white father (Michael) is locked up in the state penitentiary.  His mother (Leonie), a drug addict and sometimes mother, is absent from their lives most of the time.  This leaves Pop with the duty of teaching Jojo how to become a man, while they take care of Mam, who is dying from cancer. When news comes that it is time for Michael to be released from prison, Leonie decides to take the kids with her, along with a friend, to pick him up.  This proves to be a thoughtless decision, because she does not have a mothering bone in her body.  This road proves to be a horrible mistake for both Leonie and the children.  In the spirit of those deep seeded southern stories of the supernatural and spirits of the dead walking the earth, we find that this family has a special gift.  This gift will bond mother and daughter, brother and sister during some of the most challenging times in their lives.

We live in a time where there are very few well written novels entering the market.  Jesmyn Ward is one of the most exceptional writers of our modern time.  For book collectors, her works should be added to your library.  She was added to mine.  This book is one of the most important books to read in 2017. 

The Last Namsara

Due to be released on October 3, 2017.  Asha is the Iskari – bringer of death to dragons.  As daughter of the dragon king, she hunts down dragons and tries to extinguish the old stories, the poisonous tales that killed her mother.  As a child, Asha told the stories to dragons until her mother died.  The first dragon wanted her all to himself, but when she said she would not continue the stories, he hunted her down and burned her.  The commandant found her and brought her home.  As a reward for saving his daughter, the king promised that when she came of age, he could have her hand in marriage.  As Asha  approaches her 18th birthday, her father allows her a way out of the wedding.  Bring him the head of the first dragon, and she is free.  As she begins the hunt, the old gods begin to visit her in her dreams and set her upon a mission that will reveal the truth about everything that happened to her, the dragons and the kingdoms around her.

An incredible tale of courage that challenges you to question everything you’ve ever been told.  Sometimes the real enemy can be the person you trust the most.

[Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a review.  This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I may receive a commission.] 

Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow

Due to be released on Halloween 2017 (or shall I say “Hallowmas”).  In the advanced copy I received, the publisher said that this book came to her shortly after the election last year.  She needed a place to escape and this book became a wonderful escape.  I have to say that I agree with her.  I’ve read many amazing books this year, but this one quickly became my favorite one of the year (so far).  Meet Morrigan Crow.  She’s cursed.  Every single thing that goes wrong is blamed on her.  On Eventide, all cursed children are killed.  As the hour approaches for her death, a strange gingered hair man arrives to take her away to a place where she cannot be killed on Eventide.  That land is called Nevermoor and here, Morrigan has been selected to become part of the Wundrous Society.  There are many applicants, but only nine places available.  They only accept those with the best knack.  As Morrigan goes through each trial, she wonders what her knack is.  She has no idea, only her patron knows what that is.  With the Stink (cops) breathing down their neck because they know Morrigan is an illegal in their republic, Morrigan must face her fears and win each trial in order to stay in Nevermoor.  If she doesn’t secure a spot, she could be killed if she is sent home.  The problem though for Morrigan is that the final test is the Show Trial, where she is supposed to present her knack to everyone.  She doesn’t have a knack.  The ending will surprise you.  I absolutely love this book and hope you will enjoy it as much as I have.  It’s a world you want to escape to.

[Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a review.  This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I may receive a commission.] 

Sour Heart

An incredible debut novel from Jenny Zhang.  This book is a collection of stories from Chinese immigrants in Queens, New York.  This is not for the faint of heart.  In our political climate today, there is a bit of arrogance that goes along with the immigration experience.  People assume all immigrants (both legal and illegal) show up and begin using welfare the second they arrive.  The people in this book are too proud to live on handouts.  They live in complete squalor.  Five families sleep in a room together in an apartment run by a slumlord.  The building should be torn down, but these families live together, sleeping in one room, just trying to make it.  They are literally working 18+ hours a day, going to school, taking ESL classes, and starving just to make it in America.  They live in extreme poverty in the most inhumane conditions.  Reading these stories, you have to ask why this dream was better than their previous life.  Each story tells of parents that chose to live in extreme poverty and take a chance that they could make it in America, rather than go back to China.  They had a better chance of surviving in America…and that says something.  This book is a must read to understand immigration in America in a totally different light.

[Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book.  This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I may receive a commission.] 

Stay With Me

Stay With Me is one of the most phenomenal books of 2017.  Written by Ayobami Adebayo, this debut novel takes us to Nigeria where we are introduced to Yejide and Akin.  Yejide and Akin are happily married, but are missing one thing…a baby.  Akin’s mother begins to pester the couple about an heir before bringing members of the community to their door to suggest Akin take on another wife to produce an heir.  Yejide is infuriated.  She does not want to live in a polygamous household.  She is so desperate to have a baby, she seeks the help of shaman.  When she leaves the mountain she believes she is pregnant.  Her belief is so strong that her body starts to fake her pregnancy.  Akin becomes worried about her and her sanity.  He begins to accuse her of betraying her until nine months later, there is no baby.  A year goes by and still there is no baby.  Akin goes to great lengths to give Yejide what she wants, even if that means destroying their marriage in the end.  This book is a powerful novel about love and marriage.  It shows how other forces can interfere and ruin marriages all for the sake of an heir.  They blame the wife as if all infertility is her problem, not realizing that the issue may lie with the husband.  A very sad, but incredible story.  A must read for 2017.

[Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a review.  This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I may receive a commission.] 

The Exact Nature of Our Wrongs

This book is set to be released on September 19, 2017.  Exploring the dysfunctional family dynamic, Peery takes us into the lives of the Campbell family.  Just how does a family become dysfunctional?  Does the book ever find an answer?  No, but then again, maybe it does.  For those who come from families struggling to love each other, this book helps you to see that a) you are not alone, and b) there are people out there who have it worse than you do.  Or perhaps you may see yourself and your own family in these pages.  You may ask how you can escape going down this same path.  If anything, this book is eye opening in that it helps us look within our own pain to find some sanity in the place where the pain hurts the worst…the wrongs committed against us by the people we are supposed to love and they are supposed to love us…our family. [Review]

[Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a review.  This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I may receive a commission.]  

Invictus

Due to be released September 26, 2017.  Imagine Guardians of the Galaxy meets Doctor Who, and you have Farway Gaius McCarthy and his band of misfits scavenging for priceless artifacts throughout time aboard their ship, Invictus.  From the Titanic to the Library of Alexandria, Far and his friends steal precious items for clients until things begin to go wrong.  Far was born outside of time.  His mother gave birth to him on board the ship while they were traveling between Ancient Rome and 2354 A.D.  As a result, it created a disastrous ripple effect in the universe.  The universe now needs to set things straight, even if that includes destroying all traces of Farway in every dimension he exists.   An excellent read and incredible adventure worth following as Far and his friends travel through time together, trying to escape being erased from existence.

[Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a review.  This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I may receive a commission.]  

Sisters

This book is set to be released on September 5, 2017.  Have you ever wondered about your significant other’s previous lover?  Have you ever compared yourself to her?  In this book, the protagonist obsesses a little too much over her husband’s first wife.  She tries to calculate how many times they had sex.  Was she happy in the beginning?  Was she better than her?  But then again, don’t we all think these things?  This book explores the second wife’s mind, while she fails to focus on her own marriage and the poor decisions she makes.  Sooner or later she finds herself as the former wife when she makes one too many mistakes.  A very quick read (i.e. you can finish it in one sitting).

[Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a review.  This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I may receive a commission.]  

Rich People Problems

I really love this series.  In book three of Kevin Kwan’s “Crazy Rich Asians,” Ah Ma is dying.  Everyone descends upon Tyersall Hall to say goodbye and stake their rights in the Will.  Nick and Astrid find themselves banished from their ancestral home.  It takes a couple of servants to sneak them in to see Ah Ma one last time before she dies.  What erupts afterward is the same old drama.  They fight over what will happen next with their legacy.  Astrid is plunged into a sex tape scandal and could lose custody of her son.  Nick is trying to amend past wrongs with Ah Ma and keep her legacy alive.  Eddie is his usual, “It’s all about me.  Pay attention to me.”  Kitty is trying to destroy her step-daughter, Colette, the same woman behind Rachel’s poisoning in book two.  Colette has also found an upgrade and a way back into society, but she’s looking at it from a global scale after her humiliation in China.  All in all, it’s your basic everyday billionaire drama.  You know, the kind of tabloid gossip you can’t look away from.  It’s Gossip Girl Asian style.

[Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I may receive a commission.]

A Wrinkle in Time

In anticipation for the upcoming movie starring Oprah Winfrey, Mindy Kaling and Reese Witherspoon, I thought I’d pick this book up to get an idea of what I should anticipate this spring.  Meg, her brother Charles Wallace and new friend Calvin, embark on a journey across dimensions to find Meg’s father.  He’s been missing for three years.  With the help of Mrs Who, Mrs Whatsit and Mrs Which, they journey across the universe to a dark planet that is overcome by evil.  Everyone is under some spell.  They must fight whatever is controlling everyone to save Mr. Murry.  One will fall victim to its spell.  One must learn to fight through their anger in order to save the one they love.  This is the first book in a series.

[Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I may receive a commission.]

See What I Have Done

Lizzie Borden took an axe
And gave her mother forty whacks.
When she saw what she had done,
She gave her father forty-one.

Or did she?

This is the story of Lizzie Borden and what happened that fateful day when her father and step-mother were brutally murdered.  Did she do it or did someone else?  All throughout the book, you are second guessing what you know.  Did Lizzie do it?  Or was it her Uncle?  Was it the maid?  Was it a drifter?  It is difficult to assess whether Lizzie really did it, although she is a weird one and you are left saying to yourself, there is no doubt this whack job (must be where the term comes from) did it.

For the author to dive into the mind of Lizzie Borden is a scary feat.  I am actually surprised she made it out alive.

[Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a review.  This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I may receive a commission.] 

Who Moved My Cheese?

Touted as one of the most important books all businesses need their workers to read, “Who Moved My Cheese?” is about change.  In business and in life, we need to learn to adapt to change or be left out.  Businesses need to evolve in order to survive. Along with that, employees need to grow and change.  If you don’t change as technology advances, you could be without a job.  This book tells the parable of four mice running a maze.  When they discover a huge block of cheese, they stay until the cheese runs out.  It’s what happens when the cheese runs out that is a very important lesson.

[Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I may receive a commission.]

Building a Story Brand

This book is set to be released October 10, 2017.  If you are a blogger, an entrepreneur, boss…this is the book you need to read.  This book teaches you the importance of building your business by focusing on the only thing that matters: the customer.  Everyone is a hero in their own story, but in order to make it in this business, we need to focus on being the customer’s guide.  We need to show them that what we offer will benefit their lives.  This book is the only Marketing 101 book you will ever need.  You will learn a lot.  Buy a physical copy of the book and get your highlighter ready.  There is so much important information in this book that you will thank Donald Miller for sharing his insight.  

[Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a review.  This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I may receive a commission.] 

The List

This is the new 1994 of our age.  This YA book is 1984 for our kids.  Mixed with the realities of our age, this book explores a grim future for human beings after our world changes due to climate change.  Letta is the new Wordsmith in one of the only civilizations left.  She is responsible for creating The List, a set of words that each person is allowed to speak.  They are not allowed to speak any words outside of The List.  They believe that words were part of the world’s demise.  Animals survived, but humans barely survived.  Letta lives in a world where one man rules and will go through great lengths to keep the world safe, even if that means silencing and killing all of humanity.  Letta and her new friends seek to save humanity, with that comes letting go of the establishment and safety to do what is right.  One of the best books I’ve read in a long time.  A book you will never forget (like 1984).

[Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a review.  This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I may receive a commission.] 

Miles Morales

This book is due to be released on August 1, 2017.  This is by far one of the best stories I’ve read this year.  I gave it 5 stars because this is more than just a Spider-Man story.  This is about a kid facing adversity, just like every other kid out there.  He may have super powers, but it does not mean that he is not a victim of society.  He is learning how to be a hero, not just a superhero fighting super villains.  Jason Reynolds is an excellent writer.  The story is absolutely incredible.  I had a hard time putting the book down.  I couldn’t wait to get back to reading it again.  This is a must read for everyone.  Get this book for your kids.  Read it yourself.  I don’t like Spider-Man, but I do love Miles Morales.  Excellent read. [PW REVIEW]

[Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a review.  This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I’ll receive a commission.]  

The Burning Girl

This book is due to be released on August 29, 2017. A coming of age novel set in Royston, Massachusetts.  Two girls, Julia and Cassie, grow up together in this small town.  Julia is from a good, middle class family, while Cassie is from the other side of town.  Having known each other since nursery school, the girls spend one last summer together before middle school.  They seek out and discover an old asylum where they spend their days playing and pretending.  Without knowing it, these are their last days together being close friends.  When they enter middle school, Cassie finds new friends and becomes popular.  She starts dating the boy Julia has a crush on, a complete betrayal.  Then one day, Cassie’s mother marries, changing the dynamic in their household.  Cassie slips into a deep depression that changes everyone’s lives.  She disappears.  Even though they are no longer friends, Julia is the only one that can save her.  She must go back to the place where she lost her friend.  This is a story about friendships and dealing with depression.  It doesn’t effect just one person, it changes the lives of everyone around that person.

[Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a review.  This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I’ll receive a commission.]  

The Trials of Apollo, Book Two: Dark Prophecy

Oh, Apollo.  Lester (aka the pimply teenage version of Apollo) finds himself in Indianapolis with Leo and Calypso.  Their search for the second emperor Commodus (the Commodus of Gladiator fame) has them teaming up with two old acquaintances of Apollo.  They need to free two griffins, find (and heal) a missing girl, and receive a prophecy from Apollo’s foreboding son.  All the while, they have to stop an attack on the demigods’ safe haven.  Of all of Rick Riordan’s characters, Apollo/Lester is the wimpiest one of them all, but he still manages to save the day.  

[Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I may receive a commission.]

Unraveling Oliver

Unraveling Oliver is set to be released on August 22, 2017.  A prominent Irish children’s book author snaps and puts his wife into a coma.  People that know Oliver Ryan help put the pieces together to explain why this happened.  Who exactly was Oliver Ryan?  What could make him snap that day?  As the pieces unravel from the various points of view as told by the people that knew him and Oliver, we discover the truth and the lies that were spun since he was a child.  An excellent read.  This book is one of the must reads of 2017-2018.  This debut from Liz Nugent is among the top buzz books selected by publishers to be the IT book of the year.

[Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a review.  This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I’ll receive compensation.] 

A Dog’s Purpose

For those who love animals, especially dogs, this is the book for you.  This is the story of a dog who lives many lives and one day finds his purpose with a boy named Ethan.  With each life, he remembers his previous life and it helps him get through that life until one day, he finds his boy again.  An old man now, Bailey tries to bring Ethan joy again, to give him purpose.  He finds Ethan’s first love and brings them together again.  All the while, Bailey hopes that Ethan will see him as he truly is, the dog he loved as a boy.  This is an incredible journey.  The story makes you hug your furbabies (or fur monsters) a little closer and appreciate the joy they bring to your life.  As far as life lessons, you start to see how all of the various things that happen in our lives happen for a reason.  It all leads to our own purpose in life.

[Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I’ll receive compensation.]    

The Hearts We Sold

The Hearts We Sold is set to be released August 8, 2017.  Imagine going about your regular life and all of a sudden you learn that Demons really do exist.  As in, the whole world now knows that Demons exist.  They do not harm humans, but will grant you your wish in exchange for a body part.  It becomes acceptable to see people with missing limbs.  Dee Moreno is on the verge of being kicked out of school, because her scholarship program is coming to an end.  She can’t bear the thought of returning to her dysfunctional home, so she makes a deal with a demon in exchange for her heart and errands as he commands.  She works with a group of teens to run those errands for the demon.  She has no idea what this means in the grander scheme of things.

[Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a review.  This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I’ll receive compensation.]

The Leaf Reader

An incredible story from Emily Arsenault.  This mystery will keep you guessing all the way to the end.  Andrea Quinley disappears.  She is presumed dead.  There are no answers to the many questions everyone has on her disappearance.  Marnie Wells is a classmate of hers that everyone thinks is strange.  One of the popular girls becomes obsessed with her tea leaf readings because of its accuracy.  She starts to tell everyone about it, which leads to Matt Cotrell, Andrea’s best friend, to seek Marnie out for a reading to see if she can find Andrea.  There are so many twists and turns throughout this book, you will never guess what will happen, who dies, or who killed who.  An intriguing thriller you will enjoy.

[Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a review.  This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I’ll receive compensation.]  

The Land Beyond the Wall

The Land Beyond the Wall is set to be released December 1, 2017.  This is an amazing story of how Veronika Martenova Charles left her country.  The story is mixed in with her immigration tale of how she wound up in Halifax after her parents went missing.  The challenges of not knowing a language, being alone and an orphan in a new place makes you see the plight of a refugee in a very different light.  The book is beautifully illustrated and written.  It is a book that all children should read so that they can understand the plights of the many children around the world who are alone, orphaned and just trying to find a new home away from the tyranny of their homeland.

[Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a review.  This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I’ll receive compensation.]  

The Only Way I Can

Have you ever wanted to be something you weren’t just so you could live your dream?  In this book, Rabbit wants to watch the sun set.  He sees Bird flying around and wants to see the sun through his eyes.  Bird tries to help him learn how to fly.  After several failed attempts, Rabbit doesn’t give up.  He finds another way.  This tale is about finding your own way by using your own strengths to achieve your goals.

[Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a review.  This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I’ll receive compensation.] 

Dragonwatch

Brandon Mull continues the beloved FableHaven series with a spinoff called “Dragonwatch.”  Kendra and Seth killed the Demon King back in FableHaven, but in doing so have created a whole new problem…the rise of the dragons.  Each sanctuary exists to protect creatures of myth, but each species is dependent on the other to keep the other in check.  With the Demon King gone, the dragons want to be free.  Kendra and Seth head to the dragon sanctuary to be its new caretakers, but can two children keep the dragons in control?  This is an excellent read for those who love YA and the FableHaven series.  If you haven’t read FableHaven yet, you are missing out on one of the most amazing series in YA fiction.

[Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a review.  This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I’ll receive compensation.

The Tea Dragon Society

The Tea Dragon Society is set to be released on October 31, 2017.  This beautifully illustrated book is about a young girl who learns how to make tea from special leaves from a tea dragon.  This children’s book is a great way to introduce children to tea and its healing properties.  While reading this book, tea should be sipped.  I learned a lot about tea in this book.  I loved the magical characteristics Katie O’Neill brings to the story.  Tea takes on a fairy tale like story as we learn the importance of the tradition.  The book is beautifully done.  For those who love animé, you’ll love how this book is illustrated.

[Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a review.  This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I’ll receive compensation.]

Breathe Like a Bear

“Breathe Like a Bear” is set to be released on December 5, 2017. If you’re looking for a way to get your young’uns to stop a moment and take a breath, this is your book.  This is a great way to introduce meditation and relaxation to your kids.  It teaches them how to calm down and relax.  There are 30 different techniques in the book.  Even though this is great for kids, it is also great for the parents who read this to their kids.  It allows for you take a moment and breathe right beside your kids.  The book is beautifully done.  Kira is also a very charming lady. This is a wonderful book to add to your kid’s library.

[Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a review.  This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I’ll receive compensation.]

Sister Bear and the Golden Rule

One of the most important rules in life is to do unto others as you would have them do unto you.  In this case, Sister Bear learns the importance of being kind to others, no matter how horribly they treat you.  When a new girl arrives at Sister’s school, she isn’t nice to her.  What happens next is a life lesson on how important it is to remember to be kind to others.

[Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a review.  This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I’ll receive compensation.]

The Magic Misfits

Neil Patrick Harris is releasing his first young adult book series November 21, 2017.  For those who love YA, you can get through this book in a few hours.  What I love about this story is how a young boy overcomes bad circumstances to find a family of his own.  Carter is an orphan who is sent to live with a family relative, a conman who uses magic tricks to con people.  When his guardian tries to force him to steal, he decides to do the right thing.  He returns a stolen necklace to an old lady that was kind to him and runs away from his guardian.  He stows away on a passing train, waking up in a New England town.  A carnival run by criminals happens to be in town.  Carter takes a look around, running into a real magician who sees magical potential in him.  He doesn’t believe magic is real, but he then discovers a group of young magicians who practice real magic.  Carter’s life begins to change.  Even though he is homeless and afraid to tell anyone that he has no family, this group of friends takes him in and shows him the time of his life, all the while trying to stop B.B. Bosso and his cronies from stealing a precious diamond.  If you liked the Lemony Snicket series, “A Series of Unfortunate Events,” you will like this story.  After all, it is befitting to use the Baudelaires as an example, because Neil Patrick Harris plays Count Olaf in the Netflix series.  Looks like he took some inspiration from Snicket and created a new magical world for an orphan looking for a family of his own.

[Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a review.  This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I’ll receive compensation.]

Princesses Wear Pants

Today Show co-anchor Savannah Guthrie has a new book coming out on September 12, 2017 and if you have a little girl, you must include this book in her library.  Princesses wear gowns and tiaras, but some also wear pants.  I loved this story, because this princess is me in a nutshell.  When I gave this book to someone, I mentioned it was a princess that wore pants under her gowns.  They laughed, because she is me.  I wear pants all of the time, even under the most elaborate gowns.  What I also love about this story is that Princess Penelope’s partner in crime is a cat called Miss Fussywiggles.  My partner in crime is a Maine Coon cat named Matthew Lucifer.  My friends had a great laugh at this wonderful story about a princess that wears pants, because…like I said…Princess Penelope is me in a nutshell.

[Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a review.  This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I’ll receive compensation.]

China Rich Girlfriend

I love the Kevin Kwan series about insanely rich Asians and how they live, invest, make money, and spend money.  A mom with an Hermes Birkin obsession (and has a whole closet full of them), boys who love their luxury cars, young women who love every luxury designer look?  I mean…it’s every fashionista’s dream book (like the Shopaholic series, but these people have the money to spend it).  This is book two in Kwan’s series.  In book two, Rachel and Nick head to China on their honeymoon where she has found she has a brother, but more importantly, she’s discovered who her father is.  They are led into the world of the Chinese billionaires and their extravagant homes, airplanes, and lifestyle.  Rachel is there to see her father, but there is a plot to keep her from ever seeing him, and that may cost her life.

[Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I’ll receive compensation.]

The Heart

This book takes course over a 24 hour period after a teenage boy is involved in a car accident.  His brain is dead, but his heart is still beating.  We watch as the parents must decide to donate his organs or not.  We watch as they remember their lives together, and the lives the boy touched.  We face every sad emotion associated with loss and being forced to say goodbye when we are not ready to.  This is a very sad story, but beautifully written, like a poet writing a novel. The first sentence went on for two pages with no period in sight.  This is a writer making love to a very sad story.  After you read this, it will be difficult to pick up another book, because she has hit you right to your core.  She’ll break your heart.

[Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I’ll receive compensation.]

The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane

Lisa See brings us into the incredible world of pu’er tea.  Hidden away in a remote Chinese mountain village lives the Akha, farmers of pu’er tea.  Here, we meet Li-yan and her family.  Li-yan’s troubles begin when she meets a young boy who has stolen a scallion pancake and offers it to her.  They are caught and punishment (cleansing) ensues.  They are not a good match for each other, so their parents do not agree to a marital match.  Li-yan is the only daughter, which entitles her to an inheritance of a special grove of tea trees that holds medicinal properties, a place no one is supposed to know about.  It is a grove that only she and her mother take care of on top of all of their other duties.  We watch as Li-yan grows up, goes off to school, falls in love with the wrong boy who runs off after getting her pregnant with promises to return after he has found gainful employment.  He doesn’t return before the child is born, so she is forced to give up the child.  When he does return, it is too late to get the child back.  We watch as Li-yan travels many miles, has many trials of sadness and defeat before discovering happiness in Pu’er tea.  An incredible journey marked with so much wisdom, you will feel like you learned so much following Li-yan on her journey, hoping that she will one day find her daughter.

[Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a review.  This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I’ll receive compensation.]

The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto

If you are looking for an incredible, well written story, look no further.  Our narrator is Music, itself, and it wants to tell the story of one of his favorite musicians, Frankie Presto.  Frankie is a bit of a magical wonder.  His beginnings are sad.  His mother died giving birth to him.  A nun pretending to be his mother couldn’t handle taking care of a baby, so she floated him down a river where a hairless dog finds him.  The dog’s owner takes the baby in and raises him as his own son.  Thinking that the boy was going blind, he thought, what kind of job could this boy have?  He thought of a blind musician he had seen years ago and decided to take the boy to him to teach him how to play the guitar.  During this time, Frankie meets a girl and falls in love, but then she disappears.  As political upheavals happen, Frankie is sent away and finds himself in America, being a roadie for some of the greats in music, learning from the best, all the while looking for the woman he thought was his mother, which ended up being someone else.  Frankie goes about his life, chasing after the girl he fell in love with, finding her and losing her over and over again.  All the while, Frankie is making legendary music for the world without even realizing it.  He doesn’t even see how his life comes full circle from his horrible beginnings to chances at making everything alright again.  Frankie Presto is some kind of wonderful…and he doesn’t even know it.  [BONUS: There is a recording of music inspired by the book.]

[Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I’ll receive compensation.]

The Woman in Cabin 10

If you liked “Girl on the Train,” this is your kind of book.  A reporter is covering a story about a luxury cruise liner for her magazine.  Days before they embark, her apartment is burglarized while she is in it.  Despite being frazzled and injured from the incident, she still goes on the cruise because she realizes the importance of her career advancement.  What she doesn’t realize is that a murder is about to go down in the cabin next to hers.  Or was there a murder?  With no one missing from the ship, and everyone, including the staff accounted for, did she dream this up?  Being on medication and drinking alcohol incessantly does not help the situation as the people aboard think that she is inept and is making up the whole story, while she is adamant that she is right.  Someone was killed in the cabin next to hers.  Either she is going crazy or someone is making her go crazy.

[Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a review.  This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I’ll receive compensation.]

Round Midnight

A story of how four women’s lives are intertwined in a Las Vegas casino.  One woman falls in love with a jazz singer.  Another is a mail order bride who gets lucky in the casino one night.  Another has a mysterious past she is trying to find answers to.  And one woman finds herself entrenched into the dark stories of each of these women after losing her son.  How this all plays out in the end is not what you expect.

[Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a review.  This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I’ll receive compensation.]

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

If you always wondered what it is like to be rich and famous, take a step out of your world and into the world of Evelyn Hugo.  A beautiful siren during the golden age of Hollywood, we follow her life from a young age in Hell’s Kitchen to the many husbands that helped to escalate her career in Hollywood during a time when your choice of husband dictated your level of success.  Without a man, it was difficult for a woman to rise to fame and success was all Evelyn Hugo ever wanted.  Yet, the question is who was the husband she loved the most?  Her answer is revealed in these pages.  In this book, you are instantly transported into the glamour of Hollywood where even in the drama that plays out around the characters, you want to stay in that world, because despite all the pain and suffering, you want this story to be real. [BOOK REVIEW]

[Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a review.  This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I’ll receive compensation.]

The 5 Second Rule

Like the tagline for this site says, the purpose is to be better than we were yesterday.  This book helped me to stop procrastinating by putting off all the things I want to do and just do it.  The 5 Second Rule is the reason why I wake up at 5AM to get things done.  It helps me to be a better version of myself.  Thanks to this book, my main rule for my life is that every single day I must do something that brings me closer to the dream I have for myself.  I recommend getting the hard copy of this book and not the electronic version.  She uses a lot of social media success stories to describe how this rule works and it can be very difficult to read on an e-reader.  If you’re looking to change your life around, stop procrastinating and achieve the goals you set out for yourself.  This 5 Second Rule will change how you approach those goals in order to accomplish them!

[Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I’ll receive compensation.] 

On Writing: A Memoir on the Craft

For those who are writers, this is essential reading.  For those who are Stephen King fans, this gives you a glimpse into the stories that became legendary.  I read this book cover to cover and absorbed all of the knowledge King dished out on how to be a better writer.  He helped me improve upon the mistakes I make often, in order to write better.  King was a school teacher before he became a best-selling novelist, so he is a stickler about language.  One thing I learned is that you’re not doing this right if you are not scared to death along the journey of writing your novel.  More importantly, the only way to conquer that fear is to do it.  Just keep on writing.  Read as many books as you can.  Read great writers, so you can pick up on their style and language. This is all part of learning how to become a great writer. You learn from the masters.  King is one of those masters.  If you are a writer or aspire to be a writer, this is one of the most important books you need to read.

[Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I’ll receive compensation.] 

The Japanese Lover

At the end of every year, Isabel Allende knows what she will write about when she begins her writing season.  It was closing in on December 31st when she was out with a friend, walking around in Brooklyn when her friend was telling her about her mother and her Japanese gardener.  They had been friends for over 40 years.  Isabel responded, “They were lovers.”  The friend taken aback, laughed and said, “No, they were just friends!”  Isabel said she could not imagine being friends with a man for 40 years and never sleep with him once.  Thus, the inspiration for the tale of “The Japanese Lover.”  Allende is a passionate woman and she brings that to her writing.  The book is well written and a beautiful story set in the present day and during World War II when the Japanese internment camps took many Japanese families away from the lives they built.  The book also dives into a time when races were not mixed.  A must read.

[Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a review.  This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I’ll receive compensation.]  

Grave of Hummingbirds

A woman is murdered and her body is found in the shape of an angel, leaving a village completely stunned.  Years later, a woman who looks just like the dead woman arrives in the village with her son on a holiday.  As the town remarks on the significance of her arrival on the anniversary of the last woman’s death, people fear that the murderer will strike again, especially after the woman goes missing and her son is left to find her with little to no help from the villagers.

[Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I’ll receive compensation.]   

Destiny: Step Into Your Purpose

If you are looking for your path in life, this book will help you find your purpose.  Jakes writes about finding your path, and gives you clues on how you’ll know you are on it.  You will know when you see the universe conspiring to help you.  Opportunities will open up to you.  All of the right people will come into your life.  Make a wrong move, and the universe will slap you in the face.  If you try to rush things, the universe will put you in your place.  This is a great book, especially for those looking to understand their purpose on this earth, and trying to live the dream they have instilled within their soul.

[Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a review.  This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I’ll receive compensation.]  

I Am Jim Henson

Jim Henson is an important part of most childhood stories.  Everyone remembers how Sesame Street, The Muppets and The Dark Crystal played some part in their story.  Jim Henson was the one who gave children a childhood to love, one filled with happiness.  Henson wanted to be in television, so he showed up at his local TV station and asked for a job.  They said, “No.”  On his way out, he saw a flyer for ‘Puppeteers Wanted.’  He took the flyer, went to the library and learned everything he could about puppetry.  A few months later, he returned to that same TV station and asked for a job again, this time as a puppeteer.  The rest is history.  For those who aim to dream big and do something incredible for the world, look no further than to be inspired by the legend.

[Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I’ll receive compensation.]  

I Am Helen Keller

Ordinary People Can Change the World.  Brad Meltzer tells the story of Helen Keller in a way that helps both children and adults learn how despite the odds working against us, we can become anyone we want to be.  Setbacks and challenges only mean we have to work harder at pushing forward to make the world a better place.  An incredible story that teaches us that despite the diversity, we can change the world.

[Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I’ll receive compensation.]

I Am Rosa Parks

Ordinary People Can Change the World and that is what Brad Meltzer and Christopher Eliopoulos are setting out to do by choosing 100 of the most influential people in human history to tell their stories.  While these books were made for children, every single person should read them because you can learn that each hero wasn’t born a hero.  They were just ordinary people like you and me.  In Rosa Parks story, we see the world she lived in until one day she decided enough was enough and took a stand (or a seat, in this case).  This is the story you share with the world.  All of us can be heroes.

[Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I’ll receive compensation.] 

Darkness Fair

Book Two in the Dark Cycle Book Series.  For those who love stories about good vs. evil, heaven vs. hell, this is your kind of book.  In book two, Aidan is still learning more about his powers and what happened to his sister Ava.  Stuck between his love for two girls, all struggle in their choices.  One love was a spell and that spell is killing her.  The other is his soulmate.  The one he chooses though, hurts everyone in the end. It’s not his fault that a wrench was thrown into the fate lines.  Somehow, they have to fix this.  Meanwhile, Aidan and his crew must keep darkness at bay, and keep the demons from entering the earthly realm.

[Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I’ll receive compensation.] 

Everything Everything

Imagine living your entire life inside of your house, never able to leave because you are sick.  You don’t have friends, because you can’t play with other children for fear they may make you sick.  This is Maddy’s world.  The only people in her life are her mother, her nurse and her tutor…no one else.  On the cusp of her 18th birthday, Olly moves next door and everything changes.  Olly is allowed to come into her world, which gives her the courage to be in his world…if only for one day.

[Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a review.  This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I’ll receive compensation.]  

After the Red Rain

[Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a review.  This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I’ll receive compensation.]

In a post-apocalyptic world, a young man (Rose) appears, intrigued by a young woman that attempts to save him from toxic waters.  She goes about her life working in a factory for food rations, when one day she volunteers to scavenge metal with her boss.  When he tries to take advantage of her, Rose intervenes to save her, when unbeknownst to them, the incident was recorded by one of the drones.  Shortly after, her boss is found dead, and Rose is the prime suspect.  Rose is smart, yet very strange.  He is different than everyone else.  There’s something about him that is unusual that she can’t quite put her finger on.  It is discovering what Rose is…that is what will save them all.  If you liked the Twilight movies, you’ll notice that Peter Facinelli (Dr. Carlisle Cullen) is one of the writers.  A really great read if you like young adult fiction.  In light of our current political climate, it is very scary to read this Orwellian book knowing we are heading in that direction.  

Silence

Christianity in Japan is all but wiped out. Two young Portuguese priests venture to Japan to find their teacher, only to be met by Christians who hide their religion.  If they are discovered and do not denounce their faith, they are killed.  As they go from one village to another in search of their teacher, it is only a matter of time before the lords of the land find them and force them to sacrifice their own beliefs or die.  This story was made into a film by Martin Scorsese, which received a 2017 Oscar nomination.  This is a very powerful story of what men of God will do in order to protect their flock, when they themselves question whether God is real and if he is listening to their cries for help.

[Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I’ll receive compensation.]  

A Man Called Ove

Things aren’t going so well for Ove.  He lost his wife and all he can think about is joining her in death.  As handy as he is, he really sucks at dying.  Every single attempt is foiled right as the world comes at him to let him know that he is not alone.  Right when he thinks he is alone in this world, new neighbors push their way into his life, as well as the old ones.  While he thinks the world doesn’t need him, the world shares with him how important he is to them in their world.  Set in Sweden, this book will make you laugh, cry and love this old man called Ove.  The film was nominated for a 2017 Oscar.  [Book Club Review]

[Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I’ll receive compensation.]

Lost Horizon

For those who love setting off on adventures, this book takes us into the mystical realm of Shangri-La.  For those who watched Netflix’s “The Iron Fist,” this is the book that is the original background to where the story of Danny Rand began, deep in the Himalayan mountains, saved by monks.  Rand’s back story is based on the original tale from “Lost Horizon” of a plane stolen and flown deep into the Himalayas where a group of monks finds the passengers and invites them into their monastery, a place like no other.  When having to choose between staying in paradise, living a very long life with access to knowledge beyond imagination or going back to Western Civilization, which would you choose?  That life of unhappiness out in the real world, or a long lifetime of peace and tranquility living in the most beautiful place on the planet?

[Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I’ll receive compensation.]   

Saving Fish From Drowning

Once upon a time, when Amy Tan was in New York City, she found herself caught up in a torrential downpour.  She took refuge in a private library at the American Society for Psychical Research where her intuition brought her to the story of Bibi and her tale, “Saving Fish from Drowning” began to unfurl.  This book is in every sense of the word, a trip gone wrong.  It begins with Bibi’s death, the woman who was supposed to lead a group into China and down into Burma.  Her death was the first omen that should have persuaded the group not to go, but they went anyway.  The cursed group goes missing in Burma and the search is on to save them, even though no one knows exactly what happened to them.  Bibi serves as the narrator of the story as Tan takes you from the most beautiful parts of China and into Burma.  Tan opens your eyes to new cultures and to how dangerous political climates can be for the people around you.

[Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I’ll receive compensation.]