February found me coming & going and unable to read as much as I wanted. I was able to finish four books, one of them being a repeat I enjoyed last year. I think you might enjoy a few of these, too.
Open Book, by Jessica Simpson
This was the first pick of the month and it did NOT disappoint. I opted for the audiobook because Jessica Simpson herself was narrating her memoir. I would HIGHLY recommend listening to the audiobook if you have the chance. There are certain points throughout her narrative where her voice cracks and shakes, her vulnerability palpable. I didn’t have high hopes going into this one, but was pleasantly surprised at how well written (albeit thanks to the help of a ghostwriter) & relatable it was. I unabashedly give this one a 5 out of 5 stars. You can read my full review of this memoir HERE.
Where the Forest Meets the Stars, by Glendy Vanderah
Where do I even begin?! This book was so incredibly moving and poignant, so well told, that I know I’ll reach for it again and again. I just wish I could read it for the first time once more!
Where the Forest Meets the Stars is a magical tale of a quirky little girl who mysteriously shows up at the rental cabin in the woods of ornithologist & researcher, Joanna Teale. Jo notices that this mysterious little girl, Ursa, is dirty and covered in bruises and when asked where her family is, the little girl proclaims she’s an alien who can’t go home until she witnesses five miracles. Jo scours the internet for missing children bulletins and even enlists the help of a neighbor, Gabe, to help her get to the bottom of Ursa’s story.
These three characters whose lives so unexpectedly intertwine try their best to deal with the hands they’ve been dealt, and this story so beautifully tells how their friendship heals the wounds of life’s injuries. It’s a story that fills the reader with a sense of hope and expectancy and reminds us that finding love in any form is the most beautiful miracle of them all. I wanted to savor every word as the last page drew near, but couldn’t wait to see how this author would tie up her debut novel. The pages of my copy are tear-stained and dog-eared…a book so special I didn’t want it to end.
This book has a bit of a “Where the Crawdads Sing” vibe to it and if you enjoyed that book, I think you’ll love this one. I give Where the Forest Meets the Stars a very enthusiastic & tear-filled 5 out of 5 stars and can’t recommend this one enough. Dare I say this could possibly be my favorite book of 2020 (so far, anyway)?!?!
Time Bomb, by Joelle Charboneau
“To get what you wanted in life, you must inspire trust – even if you intended to break it.” – Joelle Charbonneau, Time Bomb
I love Young Adult books. I’ve been on a mission to read more of them so that I can talk about them with my oldest. He’s a voracious reader and always wants to talk about what’s he’s reading & books he’s read, so when he asked me to read Time Bomb, I was happy to acquiesce.
Time Bomb is a story told from the POV of six different high school aged characters. A bombing takes place in their high school while they’re in the building. As they race to escape a series of bombs that detonate after the initial blast, the characters find themselves together in a room trying to figure out how to escape before another bomb blows. What they finally come to realize is that the bomber is in the room with them, each one of them a suspect.
This book started off running and never let down in pace or intensity, weaving a tale that kept me turning each page wanting to know more. In an age where mass violence in schools is all too familiar, this wasn’t a story that focused on the act itself, rather the mysteries and unspoken secrets and motives of the characters within the story. Although I had my suspicions as to who the bomber could be early on, I appreciated the way the author allowed the story to unfold and reveal the perpetrator over time.
This book has a few political undertones and touches on mental illness and morality as well. It reminds the reader that things aren’t always what they seem and stereotypes aren’t always a reflection of reality.
My 12-year-old loved this book and gave it 4 out of 5 stars. For a child in middle school, I could see how this book would suck him right in. It’s a well told, fast paced story with a great storyline. For me, I’d give this one a 3.7 out of 5 stars. It’s enjoyable and easy to read…definitely a page turner. However, I found parts of the story lacking and wanted to know more by the end….it almost seemed like there was a missing chapter or two?! That said, my son thought it was perfectly told and didn’t think it was missing a thing! All in all, I’d recommend this one…especially if you’re reading this with your YA child (or class!)
The Book of Essie, by Meghan MacLean Weir
“A debut novel of family, fame, and religion that tells the emotionally stirring, wildly captivating story of the seventeen-year-old daughter of an evangelical preacher, star of the family’s hit reality show, and the secret pregnancy that threatens to blow their entire world apart.”
I was recently asked by a friend if I had any random book recommendations. She wanted something a little scandalous and entertaining..light, but heavy. I laughed. Clear as mud, right?! I had to think on that for a minute and then remembered reading The Book of Essie last year and thought it would fit the bill. I remembered not being able to put it down. I devoured it in a day. So I figured I’d read it again for fun because I wanted to relive the story in between those pages all over again.
The summary is a bit misleading as this isn’t a book about religion or Christianity. While religion plays a role in this narrative, the story doesn’t try to convert its readers nor does it aim to offend…it just happens to be an integral part of the character personas and lays the groundwork for how the story unfolds.
The Book of Essie is told from three different POV’s and centers around the story of Essie, a 17-year-old girl whose father is a preacher at a mega church and the star of their hit family reality TV show, Six for Hicks. Kind of reminded me of Chrisley Knows Best (if Todd were a preacher). Essie ends up pregnant and her family & PR people scramble to cover the truth because, after all, what will people think? This story is well told and ends up going in a direction I did NOT see coming. At its core, this story is about ignoring the truth for the sake of appearance.
WARNING: this book may be a trigger for some. It deals with some pretty heavy stuff. Teen pregnancy, sexual abuse, nepotism, religion, corruption…just to name a few. That said, these concepts are approached in a gentle, yet straightforward manner as the author has a beautiful way of storytelling that I personally found compelling.
I absolutely LOVE this book. It definitely has some YA elements and is packed full of scandal and “whoa” type moments. The Book of Essie, for me, is a 4.5 out of 5 star read and I’m so glad I took a couple of days to reread this one again!
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